August 18

A Few Muddled Words About Connection

Posted by William Berry | Filed under Blog | 4 Comments

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I haven’t had much time to write lately. Or maybe with the new semester approaching, I’ve just been relaxing preparing for a very busy schedule. But I don’t want to neglect this site, so I’m going to write a little on spirituality and being in the moment.

The past week or two or so, I’ve been around a few spiritual people. Or maybe I’m just more focused on the spiritual in people lately, I’m not sure. But either way, here are a few of my thoughts.

When thinking of what to write next, I bounced around a few ideas in my head. Recently a former client of mine died by his own hand. I thought of addressing death again as a way of making life more immediate and valuable to those trying to live. But I’ve done that recently, don’t want to overdue it, and on some level I think I wanted to let his death resonate with me, rather than focus on living more fully.

I also have had the idea of posting this old Irish prayer / toast that affected me strongly many many years ago. Only when I googled and found it, it wasn’t what I remembered (although definitely the same toast). Isn’t it amazing how malleable memory is? I remembered it as this great prayer about worrying being nonsensical. I remembered it as profound. After rereading it I see it more as humor than profound. The prayer mentions heaven and hell, neither of which I believe in, but that is kind of the point of this post.

I have heard from clients and others that they believe life is hell. They believe that this life they are living is hell on earth, and that death will bring them relief from it. I have heard others point to heaven and the rewards of it as the reason’s they do what they do. And I want to say I believe you can experience nirvana, bliss, a heaven like state, right here right now. I believe heaven is in the moment.

I have connected with many individuals (and those who know me might believe I have difficulty sustaining the connection). But regardless of my pitfalls as a spiritual being, I do connect. I connect in therapy, I connect in the beginning of romantic relations, I connect with my children, and I connect with my class (or at least the students paying attention) at times. The reason for this connection is beginners mind. In the situations where connection happens it is usually because I am in the moment, with no preconceived ideas of how the moment should be or might be. I let my thinking go and I just experience the moment.

This weekend I connected with all of my boys (my daughter is away at college). This isn’t always easy. But with each at some point this weekend I was in the moment, experiencing the wonder and beauty of them. Recently I have connected more with clients, and the reason is the same. Rather than thinking of which technique to use, rather than diagnosing or trying to “get to the bottom” of their issue, I had beginners mind and just tried to experience them. And there are others who I have met and experienced this with recently as well.

Part of the human problem is we want these connections to last, or as the Buddhists say, we grasp. And by grasping we lose the connection. I have damaged relationships by doing this in the past. The desire to be connected becomes the focus, and in so being chips away at the connection. Day to day life contributes to this as well. So here we are, at a place I often find myself in Buddhist teachings (whether trying to explain or trying to understand), at a point where I am encouraging others (and being encouraged myself) to let go and get connected, but not to try to connect. (I feel a LOL is appropriate here, but this isn’t an email or text)! So this may be a great Zen koan: how do you connect without wanting to connect?

The answer is through the practice of beginners mind. Let go of everything, and just see your loved one. Just try to absorb them in the moment. Be as if you have known nothing of the person, and you are trying to understand. Your day is full of moments where you have the possibility to be in the moment. Chances are there are times you are, and they go largely unnoticed. Or perhaps you don’t call them Zen moments. Look at pictures of your loved one, and re-experience the moment. Connect with them without effort. This might be heaven on earth.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 18th, 2009 at 10:09 AM and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Responses to “A Few Muddled Words About Connection”

  1. William Berry on August 18th, 2009 at 10:11 AM

    Here is the Irish toast, in case you were wondering.

    In the end, there are only two things to worry about:
    either you are well or you are sick.
    When you’re well, there is nothing to worry about.
    But if you’re sick, then there are two things to worry about:
    either you get well or you will die.
    When you get well, there is nothing to worry about.
    But when you die, then there are two things to worry about:
    either you’ll go to heaven or you’ll go to hell.
    When you go to heaven, there is nothing to worry about.
    But when you go to hell, you’ll be so damn busy shaking hands with friends,
    you won’t have time to worry!

  2. Twitted by wilberry on August 18th, 2009 at 10:17 AM

    [...] This post was Twitted by wilberry [...]

  3. Ursula? on August 18th, 2009 at 5:07 PM

    This post brought me back to when I was religious studies undergrad (and single–i find traditional romantic relationships are antagonistic to a zen lifestyle): always living in the moment. Since then I graduated and had to ‘snap out of it’ and put that mentality on hold to chisel out a new era of my life. …Oh but there is always time for a little mindfulness?? -Yes especially when a storm is just about to roll in. I recommended taking a stroll on hollybeach in the late pm’s/ early am’s for that paradoxical ‘connecting without connecting’ experience. I was there last week and to my luck a storm was rolling in so the whole boardwalk was terribly gusty; picture: there [you] are walking against the flow of a sea of people with nothing separating [yourself] from the others but cool gusts of wind. However, nature’s fury piques my interest more than people–so i head to a lifeguard tower to experience the storm. It sounds juvenile on paper, but it is a nice break from routine.

  4. William Berry on August 18th, 2009 at 8:14 PM

    Thank you for your comment Ursula.
    I agree, nature, including weather can be a great way to connect with the universe. I often do when driving on the highway and looking at the beautiful Florida sky.
    You added a great dimension to the blog, thanks again.

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