Touching the Heart Mind

Later today I will drive to the Temple in a likely swirl of emotions. I will leave my family behind for a four-day retreat, an opportunity that is a great gift. Yet I will be driving away from goodnight kisses, baseball and t-ball games, and chalk drawings on the driveway. Away from faces asking me why I have to go. I’ll leave behind my wife to pick up these pieces with grace and great generosity.

Sesshin, the name for extended retreats in Zen, translates as touching the heart mind. When I returned home from an eight-day sesshin last summer, the weight of this touching was almost too much to bear, too much to express. I wrote these words for my wife:

opening the door,
seeing each of you,
touching each of you,
tears not from missing you
[though how I did] --

but rising from a heart
once, twice, innumerably papered over
by each and every part
of our rushing lives.
a heart stacked upon
by ten thousand necessities
pressing down
on a space deep inside.

a heart now broken
so that the tears
streaking down my cheek
contain my whole life,
falling onto the rise of your shoulder.

14 thoughts on “Touching the Heart Mind

  1. pujakins

    So Lovely. I have reblogged you to Facebook. The tenderness you express so beautifully enlivens this work deeply. Warm Wishes on your spiritual process, the path to Light is One. Warmly, Tasha,

  2. charlotteporter9

    How lovely that you have the opportunity and resource for this type of retreat, and that you have a family that supports your spirituality. BTW, I thought of your poem about your daughter’s ear piercing the other night as I gazed upon my baby’s perfect lobes, thinking how weird it will be to one day see them altered. Namaste.

    1. bussokuseki Post author

      I am very fortunate and grateful for the support of my family, my wife especially, in allowing me the opportunity for this practice. And thank you so much for the compliment about the poem – it means a lot. Be well~

  3. claresspace

    I have just returned from a 4-day sesshin and your poem was so timely. My husband, unknown to me, had arranged for a dear friend to build a beautiful teahouse/zendo in our garden while I was away. I returned and walked into the garden, where my heart broke open with many tears soaking my soul mate’s shoulder. Thank you for the gift of your poem and I hope you return to your family with love in your open heart.

    1. bussokuseki Post author

      What a beautiful story and wonderful gift from your husband. So happy that you shared it with me. Thank you as always for the gift of your presence here. Be well~

  4. Zen Doe

    Your poem is perfection. Well written, and captures the re-entry so very well. Thank you for sharing it. Wishing you an excellent retreat. May your knees stay strong, and, in the words of James Ford Roshi, “if you’re lucky, your heart will break”.


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