Miracle or Curse

Certain ideas can be so powerful, so beautiful, that merely thinking about them can bring one to grateful tears. Of course, in order for tears to fall, the mind that thinks about those powerful ideas must be open to their ability to unleash unbounded gratitude. Gratitude for, not gratitude to. Simple, but overwhelming, appreciation for the mere fact that an idea can be embraced by an understanding mind.

Zen in its essence
is the art of seeing
into the nature of one’s being,
and it points the way
from bondage to freedom.

~ D. T. Suzuki ~

Zen is not a thing. It is an idea—an idea whose foundation is beauty and serenity and receptivity to an environment in which peace resides comfortably. But I am not a practitioner of Zen; I am only an observer. So my concept of Zen may be radically different from those who are more deeply engaged in the simple complexity of Zen Buddhism. There is room in the universe for enormously divergent ideas, yet no room for hatred. Hatred, though, muscles its way into consciousness by strangling tolerance and leaving it struggling to survive. Love—the kind that carries with it the broad, overwhelmingly powerful enchantment with everything—is the only idea or emotion or experience that can overpower hatred. Unfortunately, conquering hatred does not occur automatically. It requires active engagement and support—too often missing in this tiny pocket of time we occupy.


Meditating deeply…
reach the depth of the source.
Branching streams
cannot compare to this source!
Sitting alone in a great silence,
even though the heavens turn
and the earth is upset,
you will not even wink.

~ Nyogen Senzaki ~


Peace, at all costs. At ALL costs? No matter that the costs might be war or famine or abject, unending poverty? The war to end all wars. Such a dream. A naive, hopeful, gullible dream. Yet there are those among us whose naiveté and hope and willingness to believe in the possibility of everlasting peace may one day be the sparks to achieve the unachievable. Their willingness to believe the unbelievable may be the only true salvation—saving us from ourselves.


Even with the fuel of two espressos, I remain uncertain about whether I have the brainpower to think as deeply as I desire. Actually, I am certain; that amount of brainpower has always eluded me. Yet I want to think into being the ONE solution that will solve every problem. The single answer to every question. The impossibly simple explanation that will untangle all the world’s confusion, past and present and future. I do not have to be the one who thinks into being that solution; I would be delighted for anyone to think into existence that all-inclusive answer to every troubling question. Even if the thinker were someone I hold in pure, unmitigated contempt—I want that someone to think into reality the ideal environment in which unending joy replaces endless misery. That is not asking for too much, is it?


The Christmas season—which has not yet begun, but which one could never tell by looking around at all the decorations—will never again be the celebratory period it once was. My wife died just six days before Christmas. Since that time, I have felt myself spiral downward for a month or so before that awful anniversary, lasting for a month after. Even during that period of depression, though, there are many times when happiness breaks through the fog of grief. But that fog remains; not as thick, perhaps, but there it is. I am eternally grateful to mi novia, who comforts me and demonstrates her love, even when I am at a low point. I am grateful to return that love. Yet that comfort can feel like a double-edged blade. Eventually, time may dull the sharp edges that visit me every day; especially the ones that slice into me at certain predictable moments. Time will tell, perhaps.


It is late, already 8. I have been dragging lately. Dragging more and more. Even caffeine seems to have no appreciable impact on my energy level. Could be age, I  guess. How in the hell did I ever get to this advanced age? It’s a miracle or a curse.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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