The spirit world dominated. It was Tae, the bond with her and the beautiful pulsing One. The deep practice, allowing her to take me, all of me like an immense stream that flowed through me, a blissful state of samadhi with Tae and the deep forest and the light of the Absolute; the pattern of wild things, the shaman rhythm, the music of my gods; pieces, melodies made at the height of their power, their contribution flowing relentless pounding like thunder, rolling underneath.
The way was revealed as I wrote it. Part of my understanding came from the page. It was how I knew the world, but it was often unsuitable for others. I worried that my next letter to her would be an atom smasher, if I went into details, if I revealed what was on my mind. But it could pass. I could let her be free. She was doing what was best for her. I didn’t expect her response to stimulate the field.
After waiting a month, I decided to send the letter:
“Life being what it is, as intense as the practice life can be, I wanted to write to you, just in case I don’t see you again. I wanted to tell you that I love you. I know we are both monastics, but I wish I could be close to you now. Our relationship is unusual… I don’t know. It makes a beautiful resonance on the cushion. It’s a safe place, for me, in a world that has none. It is very harmonious with the One, the movement of things, the abandoned fields. It’s ambition that impedes, not love.
I waited for your letter, but it will be a month soon. Maybe you sent an email? I have no way to check.
I’m sorry if I caused you any distress with the material on Sangmi. It was cathartic, something I had to investigate through the medium. It’s how I live. Here’s how I wrote you:
What I noticed with Tae, what she meant to me was revealed through the writing, my higher self worked through the writing to mark her as the important person she was, to me. She enjoyed me the way I enjoyed all of the strange personalities in my life. She knew how to love me.
The difficult part of being a writer is what it reveals about yourself to others. If it wasn’t provocative, true to the mark, if the point wasn’t dead serious, there would be no reason to write. But I gain so much, as do my readers (I hope). I allow them to see my internal process. My love, my grief becomes something everyone can share, and know. Also, in the process of writing I realized many things about you and me:
She was the first to love me in an ordinary way, as an individual — not just an object of desire or conquest. She was at the head of the wave, the pattern folded around her, the way it should. An effortless harmony that arose from our joy of being together, a joy of each other. It wasn’t so unusual. We were at the end of a very precise filter. Very few made it through to the Zen Hall. Only a handful sought to ordain. Us. I loved her from a distance. I didn’t know what to do. There were forces at work that operated beyond our feeble attempts to establish boundaries, and I wasn’t a man of logic. It had to flow — the rhythm, the beat, the heat of the night air; restlessness, longing, pacing, long walks in solitude lost in thoughts of her, trembling and crying, forgetting the way, the swell of love imploding, cascading into the resonant field of meditation, as perfect a natural and pure as the light from the source, beating together from one to the next, a kaleidoscope of the human mind encountering its origin, holding the thing most dear; a wave of understanding, the most sincere moment. Cry, but don’t move, don’t breathe.”
I dreamt of Pearl Harbor, Mishima’s flags. Everything suspended, I waited. I wanted her to be the one to share the important years, to help me to become a great man. I could have done it alone, with only my connection to the Void, but with her it would’ve been more human.
I feared her rejection, that I would again be thrust to the edge, abandoned, with only the sound of the wind to comfort me; her wonderful caring for me to disappear under the weight of days. I was made of unsuitable things bound together by some force of will, of unimaginable power. I was suspended in the magnetic field of its ceaseless movement, hanging in space like an apparition. No human contact! I was to remain untouched, disintegrating, blown by the wind into the haze of summer, drifting — the beat of wings — quietly into the forest, the dark forest of my youth.
A week went by with no response. I was sure it had made a strong impression on her, and that it was unexpected. Still, for a person who knew nine languages, it seemed difficult for her to write. I was in turmoil waiting for her, completely unsure how she would handle it, moving quickly through stages of denial. Day after day the interactions with her spun into a web of light that swelled to a crescendo of trembling before the One. The flow was tremendous, so hot! I was so enraptured both with her and the final, the filaments coming together into a wondrous whole, that I feared to remove her, to return to me alone falling into the abyss. If she had any idea what I faced hour by hour, both the rapture and the uncertainty… but what joy to live in those brief moments with her.
So close! Everything matched so perfectly… only that she was new to the path and I was far, far down the road. I could take any form, be anything, but she had to follow the numbers, the way it said in the book. One day she’d understand, probably after I’d gone.
We were made to seek each other out, to combine DNA. We were attracted to each other for a reason. Human life depends on the chance meeting, the moments together; sharing, killing time. We’d grown together imperceptibly. The way we moved was altered, the way we laughed.
At the height of the wave I wanted to bond completely with her, to merge together into a single entity, to combine our streams into one. But we were not one, finally. And we remained as friends and I walked into the forest as I always did, to sit under a tree and write, play out the scenarios, wonder at the complexity, the beauty, like the wings of a butterfly – so hard to understand.
The experiences I had… Tae. Neither of us were interested in romance. We were surviving a tough haengja life together and came to know each other as a matter of course. Slowly I knew her in such minute detail, the love grew deep. But there was no time to sort out our emotions. We raced from one training environment to the next and were separated, with no communication. It was a bomb with a slow fuse that suddenly turned bright and hot. What was I to do? I had no idea what process she was going through. I was a phosphor cloud of burning white. How long before I began drifting above the earth? The cataclysm of the practice world coming into being, a thing of light; giving and receiving, a membrane made to collect the emanations from the source… there was no other activity. The deep practice wanted, and received, all, every fragment of a life consumed in an instant. The fire only grew. It would be my end, there was no question. Like the serpent biting its tail, I was consuming my own entrails and would soon vanish. But I wasn’t only a man. There was something much greater blasting through the walls. I gave myself to it, fully. In return it obliterated me. Everything of Tae and the forest consumed, only the sound of it, the wild chaos of it. All my life to face it, to know it.