"Mom, look! Look at me! Mom, Dad, look at me! Watch this!" The exclamation points skimmed across the surface of the lake hitting the perfect center of my ear drums as I sat zazen facing Northwest. I guess I weep a lot when I sit. It could have been a recording of me and my sister Ange from 45 years ago demanding someone share the joy with us. Splashing in the water and diving under was like landing on the moon. We adults forget that intense wonder and true joy exists in each moment and we are the conduit. Kids have a great memory and a pure mettle.
A practice we do at Conway Sangha and with No Traces Sangha is of bearing witness to each other. We speak and listen spontaneously with our hearts. That's at best. It's a practice to become completely vulnerable and just speak from our experience. Even share secrets. It's a bit of surprise to find out that to truly listen, to listen from the heart, also makes us completely vulnerable.
Listening is refraining. Refraining from thinking the other person is doing it wrong while they speak, or, refraining from overlaying our own experiences on the other person's story and comparing as they share.. That's only half listening because we are also thinking about our opinions and our stories. To fully listen, or fully experience is to forget the self.
I breathed out completely and I hear "oh that smells nice," from the dad. He must have been referring to the incense because the family was ten feet away with just some bushes between us. That made me feel okay and the sounds continued to mix up in zazen. The highway hummed with tires as it hugged the shore. A canoe silently floated by with the couple inside facing each other. The boy swam and splashed in the brilliantly clear, cool water. "I peed," he yelled through his huge smile as his dog paddle swayed is shoulders back and forth.
The sharing with our sangha often ends up as us restating a teaching from a teacher or from the reading we just did. Sometimes it's a sharing of a practice or a technique. I often catch myself thinking and wanting the person to share from their experience. I try to remember to listen from my heart even if it is a share like this.
Sharing is a practice of opening our hearts to this very moment and listening to what it has to offer. Then to speak from this as it mixes with our experiences and our hearts. Listening to ourselves is also surprising when we let it speak through us and we listen with the same disattached ears that we listen to others. I've been surprised by what I shared and it has revealed wonderful "trailheads" to explore in myself.
The mountains surrounding us towered in the reflections on the rippling surface, swirling and mixing up sitting there on shore of Chocorua Lake. I bowed and rang the bell twice to end the period.
"I hope I didn't disturb you," I said after I packed up my blue bag with the Buddha and the bell. "Oh no, not at all. We hoped we didn't disturb you." The mom said. I thought about how the boy said hi to me sitting in the meditation posture when they first got there. How warm that made me feel.
The dad mentioned the smell again and I said it was sandlewood incense, smiled and wished them a great day.