this is love

One evening, after a Dharma talk at the Cambridge Zen Center, a student asked Sueng Sahn Soen-sa, “What is love?”

Soen-sa said, “I ask you: what is love?”

The student was silent.

Soen-sa said, “This is love.”

The student was still silent.

Soen-sa said, “You ask me: I ask you. This is love.”

from Dropping Ashes on the Buddha: the teachings of Zen master Seung Sahn compiled and edited by Stephen Mitchell

Every year I send out a little letter to those close to me thanking them for their support and care.  I’m always amazed by the ones who call or write back saying they were blown away by the idea that they are that special to me.

It’s so simple.

Thank you for always asking,


PS: the foam art is one of Frank’s new passions – creating visual koans in my chai latte.  Him, I don’t have to ask.

2 thoughts on “this is love

  1. This is my personal, all-time, number one story involving Zen Master Seung Sahn. In its simplicity, it reveals the important give-and-take of human relationship that comprises love. Of course (riffing here on today’s Ox Herding), we have to be willing to *show up* to the other, if love – in all its silky wildness – is to appear. But what else are we going to do with our one wild and precious life?

    • You can imagine how long I’ve been waiting to use it!? Ah, that “showing up” clause… it’s not in the fine print but writ large in our terror, no? I’ve such a string of “now you see me, now you don’t” relationships, I wish I could hie me to a monastery! Life is too long to be so tentative, so fearful of “having to be good” (Mary Oliver again on Wild Geese).

      Oh, let’s continue the Mary Oliver riff from that awesome ox herding post of today at

      Loving begins with loving ourselves:

      One day you finally knew
      what you had to do, and began,
      … to save the only life you could save.

      But it dies if left there in that “cautious zone.”

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