With palms together,
Crying , the deep convulsive sort of crying, the crying born of years of unwanted and horrific memories, was comforted by my brothers yesterday. At the Vietnam Memorial in Truth or Consequences I broke down in torrents of grief, anger, and hurt. Within a few minutes a young veteran put his arm around me in silence. We stood there together. Then another two veterans joined us. It has been nearly fifty years since I left Vietnam and yet, in a nano second, I am there again.
This time my tears were not just about me, however, this time they were also about my younger combat veteran brothers and sisters who each day struggle with their demons. I feel great sorrow about this as I know they have years to come, years of the same sort of pain I experience 49 years after the fact. This is just not right.
The night before a young lady, a female veteran, was considering suicide. We talked with her, listened to her as she paced the sidewalk, and in the end, our love and respect for her gave her the support she needed, just as the men surrounding me, offered me their love and support in my time of need.
All I can say at this time is this: life is worth the suffering it demands. The suffering is a requirement for our hearts to open. And with open hearts we can love. So, perhaps the karmic consequence of suffering is love itself. As well as an awakening to the fact that none of us are alone, that we are each interconnected and interdependent. Human beings require mutual aid to survive: a baby unloved will waste away in non-organic failure to thrive. Just as we will fail to thrive if we close ourselves to others in our pain and suffering.
Our practice in Zen is to release ourselves even in the most turbulent of emotional storms. We practice to float, like a duck in a pond, free and easy. Yet, even with years of practice, floating is sometimes a serious challenge. In those times it is good to be with others, even as we feel we need to be alone. And this willingness, my friends, this willingness to be a human being in the company of others is true courage.
Let us each become heroes in our suffering.
Yours in the Dharma