Today I went to one of my weekly meditation gatherings for my regular sitting, walking, then dharma conversation. While I was sitting a thought popped into my head… “How can I be detached but still love people?”. Almost immediately the thought returned back to me, but this time phrased as a question and from outside myself. The question I got back was “How can you really love someone if you are not detached?”.
In Zen we do not strive to think about “nothingness” or push feelings or emotions back while we sit. We do not strive to be somewhere else, but we strive to be fully here and fully aware. If I get a cramp in my leg I don’t ignore it – I meditate on that cramp. When an emotion come up from out of nowhere we don’t push it away, but instead as ask ourselves what emotion it was and why it came up. Why do I feel this way?
So when this came into my head – I thought upon it.
If I am disconnected would not that result in me being some kind of cold jerk? Would I not loose all care for others? Why would I have any kind of compassion or motive to help others?
Ah but what is motive to help others? If there is self… if there is the “I”, or “id” involved is it real compassion and love? You see if I am not disconnected then when I show love, help, or compassion to another person I am still expecting some kind of a response for my efforts. It is not selfless. I expect a “thank you” or I expect them to get well, I expect them to like me more, to appreciate me, or even if I am striving to be some kind of total martyr about the whole situation – am I not striving to please myself and feel better about me?
No what it is needed is Action without Expectation. The closer we get to God, the more we will be filled with compassion for other living beings. This compassion is what will motivate us into action. If there is no action, there was no compassion in the first place. Compassion results in action, but this action needs to be selfless and without expectation.
In Mark 3:3-5 we see this principle in motion (Book of Mark in the Bible, Chapter 3, Verses 3-5).
We hear a story of 5 close friends. One of these men was a paralytic, and the other 4 friends cared so much about him that they carried him on a stretcher (for God knows how long) to try and get him to Jesus. Jesus was inside of a house preaching and there was such a large crowd there that the men could not get their friend through the doors to see Jesus. So what did they do? Did they give up? Did they get mad? No – their utter love and compassion for their friend compelled them to action. They climbed up to the top of the house, cut a hole in the roof, and lowered their friend down by rope to Jesus. Their compassion resulted in action.
Now did not their action have expectation though? Were they not expecting Jesus to “do something”. Probably so… but were they expecting anything from their paralized frined? I am not talking about what people are expecting from the higher power – what was expected of the paralized friend? Nothing. That’s the correct answer. What was expected of the friend? Nothing was. Nor should it be.
What else can be learned from this story? Well as a final thought – they did take their friend to Jesus, and they left him in his hands. From that point on it was up to God as to what happened next. Maybe we can learn from this and realize that when we are moved by compassion to act we need to think about what we are giving the people in the end. Are we trying to mend people ourselves or are we trying to help guide them into the hands of a higher power that can really take care of them? Are we trying to give a man a fish or teach them to fish?
Anyway, that’s what I learned today.
For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com