Loving

Not speaking of the way, not thinking of what comes after,

Not questioning name or fame,

Here, loving love, you and I look at each other.

YOSANO AKIKO

 

When the front door opened, he wagged his tail and ran across the yard.  This was his routine greeting.   Poochie was a mix of dog breeds with a short, compact build and a lighthearted personality.  My older sister and I surmised that he had come from the circus.  This was, in part, because he had magically strayed onto my dad’s farm shortly after we had buried our prior dog.  Poochie also intrigued us with his tricks, such as dancing on his hind legs.

This little dog gave me lifelong lessons.  He effortlessly embodied love.  He offered me a raw experience of loving, and being loved, which in turn led to an experience of wholeness and universality within myself.  When I was outdoors with him, separateness disappeared and the labels of “girl” or “dog” melted away.  Our common earthly substratum – the elements of earth, water, fire and air – playfully danced on the eternal horizon between the manifest and un-manifest.   There was that simple lesson that all I needed to do was open the door – and there was love.

These poetic words of Shō Hō , pen name Yosano Akiko, invite an exquisite taste of love. Although known for her sensuous voice, I feel Shō Hō’s symbolic poetry is like a flower. On the surface, she binds us to our earthly nature with the desire to capture and hold onto the beauty and freshness she offers.  Yet, when we reach for the “you” and “I,” at the end of the poem, she gracefully points us back to a fullness and completeness held in “loving love.”

In the face of our times that values and promotes what Shō Hō refers to as “thinking what comes after, name and fame, and speaking of the way,” I still believe in the potential of love to blossom within each individual. In the next few weeks, each morning I will recall the love that Poochie taught me, and that my ancestors modeled, in an effort to live by that love in all that I eat, touch, and say.  I hope you will join me.

Practice

This short practice can be done anywhere, anytime. It brings awareness of the loving support in the world around us.

  • Prepare – Set your phone on airplane mode. Interlace your fingers, stretch your fingers out in front of you, and reverse your palms. Invite two to three full breaths into your lungs. Let your hands release into your lap and notice their natural weight on your thighs.
  • Practice –
    • With your hands resting in your lap, recall being in a place, or situation, where you felt completely safe, trusting, supported, calm, joyful, and maybe even in presence of unimaginable magnificence.
      • If you have difficulty doing this, slowly look around at your surroundings and find something from the natural world that you find beautiful – a flower, a plant, a wooden floor, a cotton fabric. (Ideally, the choice is not an image of another human.)
    • Invite this memory (of being totally safe, trusting, supported, in awe, and/or being loved) to seep into your awareness.  Imagine as though this sweet memory is spreading throughout your entire being.
      • You may wish to imagine that with each inhale this sense is slowly expanding outward from deep within your heart center.   Like rays of the sun, it radiates out in all directions. And, each exhale, you savor the sweetness as it nourishes each cell.
    • Take your time with this. You may feel or notice resistance. If you do, try to gently coax your awareness toward this subtler, more peaceful memory.
  • Once you feel the sweetness having gently filled your entire being, sit quietly.
    • Imagine: awakening into this feeling; moving through your day; eating your meals; talking and interacting with others; and, falling asleep with this feeling.
    • Know that this sweet, gentle part of you is always there.
    • Throughout, invite the facial, neck and shoulder muscles to release.  Invite a soft gaze in your eyes.  Your breath is easy and relaxed.
  • Transition back into your day –
    • Invite this feeling to settle into the tips of each of your fingers.
    • Take your time before returning to your phone. Instead, consider sealing in this practice within the environment around you through touching your surroundings. (If you are in a public place, you can imagine touching the senses or your surroundings.)

 

This poem is from Mala of Love: 108 Luminous Poems, page 31, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt, translated by Kenneth Rexroth, and published by New World Library.   The photo is of an anonymous dog.

One thought on “Loving

  1. Yes, dogs are so amazing! They offer only love. They never judge. They ask for nothing and give everything of themselves. If we are sad, they know. If we are hurting they are there. When we are happy, they are happy. They only want the best for us and will do anything to please us. They mirror our emotions and respond to our needs, and do so without judgement. For them, there is nothing before or anything after the moment: they live in that moment. No matter what the circumstances, they are present and looking for joy. They don’t fret or worry, or try to change us. They just love us. Unconditional love is difficult to find but with our dogs, it is always available. I guess that is why humans love their dogs so much. For the past 50 years, I have never been without dogs in my life and can’t imagine not having them. My two Border Collies are always there for me and are simply happy to be with me. That is their ultimate happiness. If all humans could emulate the dog’s beautiful spirit of love and grace, the world would be a more beautiful place! This was a thought-provoking post Kate. It made me appreciate my two beautiful boys all the more. Thank you! I am really looking forward to your next post. Love you!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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