On this day that we’re commanded to turn our minds toward community and gratitude, I find myself sorrowful. Of course I can’t share that with my loved ones. 

It’s that ancient sadness, have you ever felt it? Vast and impersonal. An unexpected twist on the urge to be part of something “greater than oneself.” It moves with my mind, that black water, and I’m watchful of all those old tricks I try to play to relieve it.

Sure, I could get rid of it in a flash. One thought of Buddha nature or emptiness and it would turn into a puff of smoke. But I’m not sure if escape is the point. Intuition tells me to just sit with it, to do my duty as a charitable host.

Because I was wrong: not all guests leave when they’re getting shitty service. Some just get more tenacious. Can I be kind to my sadness? Can I spare it some of my time and a listening heart?

It’s an old friend, really. As much a part of me as my blood. Can I let it flow?

I can’t dance around it after all. No matter how much I might distract myself and fool myself into some kinda Illusion City, I’m still standing outside the gate with my hand on the latch. “There is no gate,” is unhelpful, another card up my sleeve. A koan master would have better luck Waking Up a mossy rock than me.

So here’s this old wall of mine, still standing. Every bit as real or unreal as Bodhidharma’s damp little cave. Does anyone understand me? That’s the question on everyone’s minds. This wall feels old because it isn’t mine. It’s our wall. Our Heart. Why wouldn’t it feel ancient?

I imagine that the creators of Stone Henge had this Heart in mind when they set about building it, this Heart and this loneliness. When you feel like you can’t pass through a gate, what better way to express that feeling than by building one?

I’m thankful for all of the loved ones in my life – I live for them and cheesecake. An apprentice asked me, “How do you bear it?” We just do, don’t we? Until there’s nothing to bear.

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