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What Does Love Taste Like?

"Hey Jamie, you want a burger?" I almost always say no thank you. I'm discovering that is about my fear of intimacy with others and my aversion to the feeling of obligation. This time I said sure, thanks. "Do you want your bun toasted?" "Sure," I said. I was at the rec center for the end of summer camp barbeque. I'm not sure if Johnny, Mike, Lynore and crew know what a gift they are to our town. At that moment it was a delicious gift.

I've learned that generosity, in the zen practice sense, is not only about giving. The act of giving needs a recipient and a gift. In an authentic generous act the giver, the receiver, the gift all disappear into the act. That's the lack of attachments and aversions. If I can let go of my fear of intimacy or sense of obligation I can be free to receive. It's a gift to the giver to receive the gift.

Zazen is like that too. Giving to the moment. Just sitting down, stopping, giving myself, my breath and staying and watching and listening. Giving my attention to everything that arises and not eliminating anything, giving everything my attention all at once. Watching the flow. Just being awareness. But, who is the giver and who is the receiver and what is the gift in zazen?

Johnny and everyone are always trying to say thank you to me when I come to the rec center to get photos for the paper. They love the coverage, mostly because they love the kids. I hear them and I say your welcome, of course. This time, I wanted to give a direct thank you to them. Something real. I gratefully received what they offered to show my gratitude for theirs instead of stingily saying no and going off to eat my own food by myself.

So, I sat in the grass against the brick wall to eat my burger and Doritos near the grill. To be near Johnny and Mike. To lunch on my fear of intimacy and aversion to obligation. To totally welcome it as Mujo says.

My inner voice thanked all "72 labors that brought me that food and contemplated how it came to me." It felt free and right as though I was all of sudden one of those labors. I never thought about that till writing this. The meal gatha includes receiving as one of the 72 labors.

As I sat, I listened to the Bruins Stanley Cup game they were watching on the computer. I mixed all the flavors of that moment as I took a big bite and chewed. The flavors of the toasted bun, the ketchup, the mustard, burger and chips mixed in with all of the sounds of the game, the feel of the bricks against my back, my fear and my aversions. It all tasted like love. I just chewed them all up in a delicious mouthful. I washed it all down with a cold bottle of water. Then I asked for another bottle.

Just looking at life is not quite practice. We can remove the fence and jump into life with all of our fears, attachment, aversions and desires. Just being present with them and allowing and not pushing away. We discover our true self is not the self.

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