TWENTY THREE

The stalker, magnificent, sat next to me for a two-hour class on etiquette. Shaking with revulsion and anger, my mind developed fissures I’d never seen. I wasn’t sure I could hold it together.

 

He hid behind our “cultural differences,” but his groping and stalking behavior was hard to dismiss. He never talked straight. Whatever was said, he continued his attempts. I knocked him back further each time, but it took four months before the group began to work on him. They were mortified because we all had to live together, and they’d been allowing it to continue for so long, and they don’t have gay people in Korea.

 

The day filtered down to a few quiet moments. I walked by the stream for some time, talking to myself, writing things out. We’d sat as far apart as we could, for different reasons, mine a mix of fear and revulsion, his to protest my disgust, to reflect my behavior. Every possible opportunity he seized like a madman. He didn’t touch me, usually, but he was always trying to. He followed from the garden. I was distracted talking to the elder monks. I couldn’t do that. I had to remember to stop and check the perimeter, always.

 

It was Sunday. No mail, but I wasn’t waiting anymore. It had been too long. If she sent something then it would be peculiar. I was going on the assumption that she wasn’t able to send mail from the monastery. I may have been dead wrong, but what else did I have? Love anguish, the sound of the river. It would be a miracle if things turned out okay. How could I work with that? It would be different than what I’d imagined, better or worse. There was no helping me.

 

Day 21 down

 

Meditation was a constant soothing balm, infinite peace in a world where there was none. It came to me in every quiet moment. It had grown deeply into me, all through me. I didn’t hold back, not anything, not since Tae. The days were passing so quickly. The only marker was the journal entries, or else there would’ve been no trace, solely my own experience. If it was never brought into a public space, would it contribute in some way, internally? I had my doubts, but contributions aside, my feeling that the Tae situation would fail in spectacular fashion continued. I was having those practice conversations with the forest, where I’d attempt to explain all I’d gone through, what became Of Human Bonding. I realized that if she wasn’t receptive to me she wouldn’t care to read it. It wouldn’t matter. It wouldn’t save the world.

 

During this process Tae transformed from a deity to some quality of light, seeing and caring in unforeseen ways. When my mind understood why it was soothed — there was some relief that I’d never experienced before — it ceased, broke open, cool water ran down through the cracks; the constant stream that was Tae. I bathed in her light as I slowly came to my senses, infused with her brightness, her Dharma. She knew how to flow with me without disrupting the process. That was how she developed a deep trust in me. The boundaries, the defenses, fell. There was no hesitation from either of us, to clear the way.

 

A letter to the Zen Master:


 


“I’ve been working with the One Mind for about 10 years now, since I had the first deep experience at Taegosa in 2004. I say it’s the One Mind but actually have no idea, for convenience. These days it’s either a strong presence in the background or it completely takes over, usually toward the end, every time I sit. The mind states I’m experiencing now are incredible, but there appears to be some limitation — the need for space. That’s the way I understand it. During this time I was trying to resolve a deep connection with a woman that I couldn’t simply abandon. She’d grown into me too deeply. I didn’t feel strong enough for the emotional disintegration, so I turned to the One Mind, and gave my life. I didn’t want it anymore. After a few days I began to feel better, but always things appear. Everything I gave to the One, still do, anything that appears, I give away.


It occurred to me this morning that I’m living in two worlds. What am I to do? The first thing that came to me, which I thought kind of funny, was to be in the moment. But if you’re manifesting the true self, it makes sense. Is living in the moment the way for the One Mind to exist in the world?”


 

Zen Master Seung Sahn only taught not knowing, as a rule. He never explained anything. All the things I was experiencing weren’t part of the official Buddhist doctrine, which, to me, was beginning to look more and more like old science. What could I do? I had to remain open, to wait, to let the experience teach me. I waited a whole lifetime to know the One Mind space. I had to live it, to be it. There was no other way.


“Only meditation practice can give you this experience (One Mind) directly. When this experience becomes completely yours, you attain your wisdom.” -Zen Master Seung Sahn.