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When someone we care for is hurting and will not seek help or listen, we too can suffer greatly, feel guilty and helpless. There are wonderful ways of reaching this person though, creating a healing connection that can heal anything.

The Zen Master and His Nephew

Here is a beautiful story describing a Zen master and his nephew, who was going astray. This story points to what is needed for a person to feel truly cared about and for a relationship to grow.

A Zen master’s brother called him one day and begged him for help with his son. This boy, the Zen master’s nephew, was unruly and getting worse. No matter what the brother tried to do, the young man wouldn’t listen. He was out late at night carousing, drinking, listening to wild music; he wouldn’t obey his family at all. The master’s brother was desperate. “We are at our wit’s end. I need you to come to our home for a week to help.”

Accompanying Another

The Zen master agreed. He went to his brother’s home, unpacked, and greeted his wild nephew warmly. The nephew didn’t know what to expect. The Zen master then simply decided to spend the week accompanying the young man wherever he went. He went along with the nephew to the bars at night, joined his group of friends.

The young man waited to hear a scolding when they came home, but the Zen master said nothing at all. He then accompanied his nephew to parties, rock concerts, houses of ill repute, wherever the young man went. At the end of each day the young man waited for a lecture, but it never came. The Zen master simply joined him, kept him company.

Finally, the week ended, and the young man didn’t know what to think. The time came for the Zen master to go home, and he went to his room to pack his things. Sad that his uncle was leaving, the young man joined him. He sat quietly watching his uncle pack. Still no words of guidance were offered.

Then the Zen master bent down to tie his shoelace, and as he did, a tear fell from his eyes, down his cheek. The nephew saw it and was shocked. He was so touched, he could not say a word. After that, even though he may have wanted to, the young man could not return to his old life again.

What Happened?

What changed the nephew's heart? He'd been expecting to be reprimanded all week long. And it didn't happen. It wasn't being preached at or told what was wrong with him. It was when he saw the tear roll down his Uncle cheek, realizing that his Uncle, the Zen Master truly cared for him. He was touched and also saw for himself how his behavior effected others. The power of accompanying, going through an experience with someone, without judging or reprimanding them, is very great. You are just with them, wholeheartedly, sharing whatever they are going through. Actually, this is the essence of love itself.

Can You Accompany Yourself?

What does it take to truly accompany a person, with no judgment and no blame? Who do you truly accompany? Can you accompany yourself?

To experience love and connection, you must be willing to accept yourself and others just as they are. Let go of demands that others be a certain way, and rejecting them if they are not. The Zen master could do that, and in accepting and living each moment fully, a spontaneously loving response occurred that allowed his nephew to heal and grow naturally.

Your Authentic Self Is Healing

What else is needed to live from your authentic self, to dip into your innate storehouse of courage and strength? A wonderful teaching from the Lankavatara Sutra (Buddhist teaching) helps answer this:

“Don’t look for what is real. Just let go of all that is unreal, and that which is real will come to you all by itself.”

First become aware of the ways in which you cling to that which is not real—to games, pretense, toys and diversions. Often these provide a sense of self-worth. But that sense is not long lasting, and a hollowness comes later on. But when you let go of that which is unreal, your authentic self appears all by itself.

“When we are little we play with toys. When we grow up we want the real thing.”

—Kosho Uchiyama Roshi, Zen master

The Real Thing

How much time you spend each day with what would truly make you happy? How much time do you spend escaping it? Take note of how many times you offer a prefabicated response to someone, not really looking, listening, speaking, or sharing who you really are? Behaving this way inevitably drains the meaning from your life, joy out of your day and lessens the ability to heal and inspire others.

Learn To Be There For Yourself

Discover your heart treasures. Too many have numbed themselves and blocked it out. But in order to truly be there for someone else, we must also learn how to be truly there for ourelves.


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