Before I get into the substance of today’s post, a few cool things:
1. I received a wonderful e-mail from a reader who is about to graduate as a medical doctor (M.D.) and is studying neuroscience. He shared with me that my Emotional Freedom Technique (“EFT”) postings have inspired him more than I know! This makes me very happy :-)
2. For those who haven’t yet tried EFT, which I’ve written articles about on this blog and posted a lot about on RSDN, you can learn the basic recipe here.
I also cannot emphasize enough how much more powerful EFT can be if you work WITH someone who knows what they’re doing. I have an advanced EFT certificate, and for fun I do EFT on a regular basis with a friend of mine who also does EFT professionally. Last night we worked on some fears of intimacy, and I kid you not, the two guys she is interested in both called her within an hour after our session!!! That is how powerful EFT is.
If you want to learn more, email me at email@example.com.
3. I’m also pleased to announce that Hristiyan (who was mentioned in an earlier blog post on being irrepressible and has his own sexy website here) has invited me to his workshop in Los Angeles next weekend. I have heard amazing things about Hristiyan’s deep inner game and transformational work, so I’m hoping to be able to attend and report back to you all about what we learn.
All right, now on to the substance of today’s post: Zen Love or Tough Love? After reading yesterday’s post about letting go, Player Girl sent me an excerpt from what looks like a cool book, called Zen and the Art of Falling in Love. Chapter Three has this Zen saying as a jumping off point:
“If he comes we welcome, if he goes we do not pursue.”
What a great mantra! Of course, it’s a bit of an oversimplification, because it’s important to be willing to reach out to people and make oneself vulnerable in that way. But still … what a beautiful saying.
Chapter Three of the Zen book goes on to talk about how we come into this world wanting to control everything and everyone, and how Zen is about relaxing our grip on people and things. It says:
“As we meditate, we learn to let each moment, each breath and each person be exactly as he is. … We do not control or manipulate anything. This is the great work of doing nothing.”
A Course in Miracles (ACIM) talks about this too: “I need do nothing.”
The Zen chapter goes on to say this:
“We welcome anyone who comes, not with blame, demands or disappointment, but with the understanding that each person is a precious gift, given to us for a certain period of time. When the time comes for that person to depart, we honor his departure and do not pursue — we do not create guilt or blame that he is departing. When others feel the respect and space this gives them, it opens the door for them to be all they can and creates a fertile ground and a safe place for love.”
Now, I like this a lot, I like how relaxing and peaceful it sounds. And at the same time, I feel an inclination to balance it by saying that this does NOT mean to be a doormat. The Zen stuff is very powerful, but it is also powerful to be aware of and take action in situations that we cannot feel good about and tolerate. Even in those situations, though, we need to focus on the factors that are within our control, rather than on trying to control the other person.
So the Erika position is a blend of Zen on the one hand and James Dobson’s Love Must Be Tough on the other hand. The Erika answer is to have soft vulnerability and loving toughness both available to us in any given moment.
Again, the perennial question, how do we know which is a situation for doing nothing and which is a situation to act decisively? When do we act with softness and when do we act with loving toughness? The only faithful answer I’ve found is to be fully present and flexible in each moment, and to become more and more attuned to our intuition.
ACIM has these two fascinating passages:
“Recognize what does not matter, and if your brothers ask you for something ‘outrageous,’ do it because it does not matter. Refuse, and your opposition establishes that it does matter to you. It is only you, therefore, who have made the request outrageous, and every request of a brother is for you. Why would you insist in denying him? For to do so is to deny yourself and impoverish both. He is asking for salvation, as you are. Poverty is of the ego, and never of God. No ‘outrageous’ requests can be made of one who recognizes what is valuable and wants to accept nothing else.”
“The meaning of love is lost in any relationship that looks to weakness, and hopes to find love there. The power of love, which is its meaning, lies in the strength of God that hovers over it and blesses it silently by enveloping it in healing wings. Let this be, and do not try to substitute your ‘miracle’ for this. I have said that if a brother asks a foolish thing of you to do it. But be certain that this does not mean to do a foolish thing that would hurt either him or you, for what would hurt one will hurt the other. Foolish requests are foolish merely because they conflict, since they always contain some element of specialness. Only the Holy Spirit recognizes foolish needs as well as real ones. And He will teach you how to meet both without losing either.”