“Ba-Ba!” shouts my grandson Malik whenever he wants some comfort. At 1 ½ , a little bottle of milk is often enough to do the trick. And each morning, his 5-year old sister sits on the couch with her warmed bottle. Both enter some zone of tranquility, a memory of being at mother’s breast, where all is comfort and peace and safety.
And so while my grandchildren sip on the couch, I sit zazen meditation on my cushion and it seems we’re both in the same place. Following Buddha’s practice, I’m nursing at the breast of World with breath, posture, intention and attention. Much more effort than the newborn with Mama or the toddler with the bottle, but once you get the hang of it, a similar effect. Held in the embrace of a life-sustaining Universe holding you in love. Not exactly a personal love, but an earned assurance that you belong to it all and the all is part of you.
Then you come off of the cushion or put down the bottle and there you are, a separate entity often at odds with World, trying to figure out how to be something called a self while also habitually dissolving that self. It’s tricky. Music can help as you blend into something larger while singing in the choir, but after the song is over, you might still dislike the soprano next to you. The natural world is always ready to accept you without judgment, while at the same time it could kill you without remorse. You might be so lucky as find your soul-mate in a marriage, but there’s no way you’re going to get out of shouting matches about who unloaded the dishwasher last. Like I said, it’s tricky.
But it helps to start the day with the ba-ba, Buddha’s or otherwise. And end the day in the same way. Good New Year’s resolution?