Posted inHenry's Messages

Message from Henry: Friends

October 8, 2014

Sometimes I wonder if the greatest value of our Dharma practice is what it does to our ability to relate to one another. Could it be that all our practice is, in the end, a pretext for the truly great event: being together without our ordinary social minds?

3650612859_ef395832c0_zThe reason we sit in silence without any of the customary social eye contact and greetings is overtly to help each of us focus on our practice. But another way of looking at it might be that it is precisely to allow us to meet one another in a much deeper way than our “social minds” can permit.

So …. what is the deeper way?

Back in the old days I remember how I used to choose friends, liking some more than others and so on. But the fact is, each of us possesses an absolute treasure. As Unmon said, “Everyone has their own bright light.”

Underneath the ripples and turbulences of our personalities and psychological selves is a clarity that we all share. Each of us has it yet it is one fact. Therefore the great joy of the practice is uncovering and disclosing this great singular fact. And the more we do, the more we see that it is completely shared with all people.

In other words, what may begin as a vague sense of meeting in “another way” when we sit in silence together becomes less vague and more precise over time. It’s not just that we’re opening to another way of receiving one another’s presence (or something like that).

Zazen is actually allowing the tide of our delusions to recede, and uncover an incredible reality about who we really are. And one aspect of this marvel is that we share it absolutely and fully: as it becomes clearer to us, so our absolute closeness to one another becomes clearer.

Then more and more we find that everyone is equally precious, and equally close. More and more, we yearn to act in ways that correspond to this fact, and to deplore our failures to do so, and to work harder to minimize them. More and more we long to support one another as much as we can in the time we have on this earth. What could possibly matter more?

By Henry Shukman, from our December, 2013 newsletter.
Image: Fishermans Friends, by Hartwig HKD, CC BY-ND 2.0, from

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