In my experience, “Relationship,” is the nature of existence Itself. Oftentimes when we hear the word ”Relationship,” what comes to mind is the connection to people we know; on a spectrum. It can be so ubiquitous that we take it for granted… kind of like sunlight and air, passing through and by relationship in such a way that we can be dulled or somewhat numb to its presence. In Buddhism… The practice of Universal Loving Presence… Buddha referred to experience of “Relationship,” as mindfulness with the “Vast jewel array of Indra’s net,” that holds existence together.
We have the relationship with ourself, and obviously other people. It can also be obvious that one moment they can be healthy, and in the next unhealthy. One moment we can be physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually available, and in the next instance “Ghost,” ourselves or others. The influencing force is whether our relationships are healthy or unhealthy is a relationship we have with our head… and the three basic aspects of mind… the ID (survival instincts), Super Ego (the aspirational highest best version of how mind see for us), and the Executive Ego (the aspect of mind that takes relationally that harmonizes the ID and Super Ego. It’s kind of like the fable of Goldie-locks we don’t want a mind that‘s too hot or to cold… we want as Zen Master Nyogen Senzaki said, a mind that’s “Warm.”)
Being a member of Recovery communities from addiction, and having experienced formal Zen training on more than just a casual level, I’ve decided to accept the gifted opportunities to work with, and take responsibility for the mind and life that I carry within my body; and how I relate to people, places and things that I encounter. Learning to harmonize the relationship with the mind while simple in principle had been really difficult for me. The ID particularly does not fondly appreciate being constrained. It’s our base-code, and has a lot of grievances about anything that limits its range and scope of influence, having a range of tools that can try to persuade us to give up on ourselves. I had to actively and passively work on my relationship with Recovery Fellowships and Zen Training.
The practice of Recovery and Zen has guided me to have conscious contact and mindful relationship to not just my body… but my values and spiritual principles… the conditioning and programing of my family and society… and quite obviously my lived experiences, and what’s the meaning the mind connected to those relationships, and what are the meanings that I can assign or reassign to them today. Though we are powerless over 90% of what happens, we’re not powerless 100% in how we can respond. And this is where manifesting inherent Buddha-DNA comes in.
When I was younger, most of my life… say even in the first 3 or 5 years of recovery was prone to habit energy, and living by my “Defaults,” instead of conscious intention and choice making. In other words as my mentors told me, I needed to shift from immaturity to maturity. Today I would restate that as moving from fear-based living, to Love with L.O.V.E. (Lots of Voluntary Effort) living.
Whether our process and practice is being a Recovering… Uncovering Addict or a Recovering and Uncovering human-being the process of doing so is precisely the same. We have to be self-honest, open minded, and willing to examine, and heal the relationship with our heart and mind, progressively expanding from there. Here are some questions… inquiry… excavations and explorations that I needed to take up and did so that I could accept responsibility for my heart, mind and actions:
* What’s the relationship like with my head? Is it friendly or unfriendly? Do I experience the relationship with the mind as running me, or am I running it?
* What’s the relationship to my values, and spiritual principles? Do I tend to support or neglect my values? Do I understand that the relationship with my values and spiritual principles are my “Boundaries?” Do I get that if my relationship with my values and spiritual principles are shaky and inconsistent then so are my boundaries?
* What‘s the depth of my relationships with myself and others? Is it the shallow end of the pool, the middle, the deep-end, or not even really in the pool?
* How am I intentionally or unintentionally showing up in my relationships? Am I showing up as the student, teacher, or equal in the given relationship? Am I distant and aloof, or present and actively engaged? Am I actively listening or distracted in my listening cause the mind is being needy and greedy even though my fundamental nature isn’t?
These are just a few questions that I use to introspect and check into the nature of how I’m doing in terms of relationships. And this is where an interesting teaching of the Shakyamuni Buddha comes in wherein he points out a misunderstanding of his cousin who said, “Relationship is an important part of the practice,” and Buddha said… “No Ananda! Not so, Not so, Not so! Cultivation of Healthy Relationship is the whole of our practice.“ Please practice without holding back, and verify for yourself.
一We Are Individual Waves Emerging From The Same Ocean