2023-02-05-JH: Coming to the Path Talk by Jonathan Hager
5:14PM Feb 10, 2023
Okay, today is February 5 2023. My name is Jonathan Hager. And this is my coming to the path talk. So Trueman first approached me to give this talk the year before the pandemic, the before times. And I was in the midst of a suicidal depression at that point, I didn't think it was a good time to give the talk. More on that later. So yes, yes. So I said no. And then he approached me this past fall. And I said, Yes. And then I got COVID. And some of you may have seen I was scheduled for the talk a few couple months ago, and wasn't wasn't over COVID yet, so it got canceled again. But Trueman persisted. Despite all the signs of the universe, telling him I shouldn't give this talk. Here I am.
So when I was thinking about coming to the path, for me, the the title of my talk is a little bit more coming to the path and staying on the path. So I'm going to talk not just about how I how I got here, because a relatively short story, but a little bit about my time here. My struggles with the practice, my wanting to leave the practice, not leaving the practice. So yeah, some of that stuff. I know that the in thing on college campuses these days is just trigger warnings on books and lectures. So here's my, here's my, my trigger warning, there's going to be a lot of talk about anxiety, depression, cancer, suicidal thoughts,
the death of a young baby I'll probably cry. I might need a hug the end. But it's also going to be a talk not just about all those struggles, but about resilience and hope, courage and healing, a lot of healing
i hope i Don't babble too much. I might my personality tendency is to plan plan plan. I especially noticed this in the last machine that I am which I pre rehearse conversations that I'm going to have with people I doubt I'm the only one that does that. So in an effort not to go down that rabbit hole I didn't plan this talk too carefully. So we'll see what happens. So we'll start at the beginning. My birth was a little traumatic Yeah, I was I was an emergency C section because the cord was wrapped around my neck. And you know, as as, as I've spent the last 10 years, you know, staring at a wall investigating myself and you know, wondering, why do I have so much anxiety it can't came to me like well, maybe because I almost died when I was a baby that that imprinted on me in a way windows. And then I listened to desert rays talk recently as for inspiration for mine, and she talked about how she talked with her parents before her. So I called up my parents and said, What was that like as a kid and let's talk a little bit more. And my mother also told me that she thought I was a near SIDS death. She she's convinced she walked into my crib one time. And I didn't know the story until two days ago that she walked into my crib one time and I was limb placid and not responsive. And she's she's convinced if she hadn't been there at that moment that I might not be here given this talk. So I don't know if those are just curiosities in my brain, but I asked my mom and dad, you know, to give kind of one word of their, their memory of me as, you know, youngest child under 510. And, and they said easy going. And I said you have the right kid. Interesting. How are parents perceptions and our own perceptions can be so different. I think they felt that I was easygoing because I was obedient. And that's another that's another theme that's going to come up during my talk and my Zen practice. I was I was always a good kid. I wasn't in trouble. I wasn't rebellious. My, my, my big moment of rebellion, if you can call it that in high school was my parents were out of town for the weekend and you know, left their teenage college kid or teenage high school kid home alone, which is never a good thing to do but and I, we had we had the classic deadhead Volkswagen camper. This was back in the early 80s. And, and my rebellion was was getting as many friends as we could packed into that camper with a keg of beer, driving around the suburbs of Cincinnati from party to party. I can only imagine if I had gotten pulled over, I wasn't drinking, but still 1010 under 21 year olds in a car with a keg is not not a good thing. But that was that was the extent of my rebellion. I was very anxious. I had a lot of social phobia. Still do. This talk is not easy for me.
We moved around a lot. I lived in Baltimore until I was about seven or eight and we moved to Florida. And I was there until through freshman year of high school. So I had to move again in the middle of high school, which is also not fun. You know, losing friends trying to make new friends especially if you're anxious and socially phobic. Those kinds of changes are are not fun. And so I was in Cincinnati for three years for high school and I went off to college in Philadelphia I was a high achiever. Like I said, I was obedient. I got good grades. I didn't get in trouble. I never got in trouble. Part of that was the fact that my father was the assistant principal at our school. So that was another kind of awkward thing being the kid of the assistant principal and when he moved schools just he was a regular teacher and so it was always I avoided him like the plague. I managed never to take classes from him. My sister took classes from him, but I didn't.
So yeah, the rest of you know, my upbringing was pretty unremarkable. I mean, it was we had a middle class upbringing. My dad was a teacher, my mom's a nurse. You know, we didn't have lots of money, but we had enough we had driving around vacations I never got on a plane until the end of high school. But yeah, seemingly other than other than that cord wrapped around my neck as a baby and note no major traumas that I was ever aware of. And yet there was always this anxiety and social phobia.
And low self esteem was a huge part of all this. And I'm sure that was a driver for the studying and the good grades and trying to trying to please people, you know, being a people pleaser. And this would persist for a long time. Off to medical school. Again, high achiever in medical school, didn't help low esteem low self esteem still there.
My religious upbringing was Episcopalian, so my father was Episcopalian, my mother is Catholic. Some people see only a slight difference between those mother really lapsed Catholic didn't she was pretty anti religion. She spent some time with a Unitarians, so maybe that was a big influence on me. I remember going there as well. I would go sometimes with my mother to the Unitarian Church and sometimes with my father to the Episcopal Church. I had sort of a mixed feeling about church growing up you know, most 12 and 13 year olds don't really want to be in church but I did like the the aura the ambiance. My father still to this day sort of gets into some old man rants about modern churches and he loves the old classic classic cathedrals and and I do too, you know, I still still walk into now having been to Europe and been to some amazing cathedrals. You know, I walk into these places and I have I just have a feeling of awe
and safety and comfort. But yeah, but I was bored in church a lot.
But I was an altar boy until middle school in the choir, but then high school kind of dropped doff and that's when you know the doubts about God, you know, which many people here have gone through, started, you know, filtering in that things just didn't make sense to me. The suffering just didn't make sense. I couldn't, I couldn't accept the explanations that I was given in church. So, you know, I faded away from it. College, you know, this got worse. It took some philosophy classes, again, looking for looking for those answers that a lot of us come here for. And philosophy classes, you know, raise more questions than they do answers. And you just spend a lot of time thinking, thinking thinking. So it's interesting, you know, that we ended up here. My first exposure to Buddhism was in a Buddhist philosophy class in college. I don't remember now, why I picked it, I don't know, doesn't matter. I don't remember a lot about the class. Other than that, the professor was really like this gorgeous Indian man with flowing hair and very expensive suits. We thought he just kind of floated around the room. And there was a cute girl in there that I liked a lot, too. So that was part of the reason I think I liked the class. But my, my big paper, you know, the final exam paper for that class was, was on biology and Buddhism. And I, I've wondered, many looked so many times my we moved around so much that, you know, I'm the paper got lost. And I would love to have be able to find that paper now. Because I don't have any recollection of what I wrote it about. But But I was, you know, I was looking, I was looking in both realms, essentially, for understanding. Academically, I was always a Math Science Kid. I'm a very linear thinker, A goes to B goes to C. And, and I hated poetry, oh, boy, I just could not do poetry. So yeah, I was looking for answers in science. And it made sense geometry, you know, just made so much sense. And then, you know, as I got to higher level math, then things got confusing again. That hit the limits of my innate intelligence. Same thing with with physics. Biology, you know, seemed to make more sense. Or at least I believed that it made sense. And part of what's been fantastic about this journey, is I've as I've circled back to realizing that they don't have a clue that this illusion of knowledge, you know, that I bought into for years that that science was going to answer all of this for me. You could explain it all with just the right mix of protons and electrons and neutrons. So yeah, so that's why I wrote this paper in biology and Buddhism that was trying to try to synthesize these two things to get understanding. But of course, I didn't get it, that understanding. And as we know, there's many theoretical physicists who are still searching and searching and searching. And that's what we're here doing, just in a very different way than I used to do.
So throughout college, I got more went from doubting God to agnostic to, you know, that I remember, they're kind of the first time I said, I'm an atheist, I'm gonna just, you know, put my foot down and say it, you know, I was just sort of hedging my bets and you know, wanting to be on both sides of the fence in case I was wrong. You know, I didn't want to leave that God and just in case you know, but I finally did it I finally said it, you know, I don't I don't think I ever got as militant as was a Dawkins is that he's the guy right? I know, I read his book, but I don't I don't think I ever quite got that militant. But you know, and then then you go to medical school, and you just don't have time for any of this stuff, right? I mean, it's just thinking about, even though we spend our whole day dealing with life and death You're You're not thinking about it in those terms. So yeah, you know, you're incredibly busy. You put these things to the side. First day of medical school, I met my future wife, you know, I fell in love that first year of medical school. So you're in love and you're trying to study it's good luck with that. But yeah, so so all these existential things got put on the back burner. Except for the except for the understanding part, you know, wanting to understand. Obviously, there's, there's tons of explanations in medical school. And, you know, I always admire I always admire the PhDs because they're immersed in the questions, you know, even though they're looking for answers. Medical School, you're kind of taking the shortcut and somebody's giving you the answers. You know, we do a lot of memorization. There's a lot of thinking too, but not not the kind of thinking that a PhD scientist or PhD of any kind is doing. Didn't really have the patience to be a researcher. I've developed much more of that with 10 years of this practice. Searching, searching, searching
so yeah, finished medical school. wife and I decided to settle down in Rochester, do our residency here, started having kids about a year after residency ends. So you're starting to practice to do young doctors, both career people, young kids, you know, we tried to limit our schedules keep it from being too crazy kind of work in three quarters time. It's busy. And so yeah, again, not really spending a lot of time. You know, the religion popped into my head again, when we had kids, I'm thinking, Well, I gotta do something here. I got I'm responsible now for for the development of two beautiful daughters. So I started going back, taking them a little bit to a couple different churches around town, seeing if I could reenter even if even if I still didn't really believe in the God thing. There was, you know, there was a lot of benefits to churches, even if you don't believe in the God thing is a lot of great messaging, great community. Just the atmosphere that that feeling of being in a sacred space was was never left me. It just just popped into my head. The one at one of the one of the most sacred spaces I ever had church service in was in the woods of North Carolina. My parents sent me to a sleepaway camp when I was about 10 or 11. And it's funny I have I have, you know, a handful of memories from this camp because it was extremely traumatic. I was horribly horribly homesick. I did not want to be there. But I had fun doing the sports and archery and these things, and it was looking back on it now I know that it was there was a religious basis to the camp, because they they took us to church. Every Sunday, we had a church service. And they they'd carved out a little set of pews in, in the woods. So we were you can imagine, you know, there's just benches like a normal church would have, you know, flat benches carved out of trees, nothing formal, and, you know, trees arching over you. It's in the mountains in North Carolina. It's just absolutely gorgeous. So, yeah, that that that atmosphere, you know, has always been with me so, yeah, I revisited it with with the birth of the when the kids got a little bit older and start taking them a little bit but you know, my wife is totally non religious. So there wasn't, wasn't really a lot of interest on her part in pursuing this with our kids and kind of fade it out a bit. So we yeah, we were living our lives, working and taking care of the kids
and 2009 I woke up in the middle of the night with the worst pain I've ever had. It was like somebody was stabbing me with a knife and my ribcage, my right side of my ribs by my liver. And I couldn't do any Anything I couldn't, no position was comfortable, I had to sit absolutely still. Or it would be like somebody stabbed me with a knife, couldn't even breathe, I just need these teeny tiny breaths, because it hurts so much to take a breath. And I ended up in the emergency room, and they scan me and blood tests and No, no real explanation and went away. A few months later, it came back. No, no real explanation and, and being the just push, push, push push personality that I was on just you know, get through go on. I just moved on didn't really pay much attention, because I seem to be pretty okay. In between the episodes, you know, I was tired in between the episodes, they'd last a few days. Nobody could really, you know, and I didn't didn't get good explanations from the doctors I went to. And you know, I started laying down when I would come home from work. And I just said, that's normal. You know, you're working hard. You got two kids. Only in retrospect, you know, do I know that? That wasn't normal. So this goes on for almost two years. I go back and forth for a variety of tests. And yeah, no, no, no answers. But I'm getting I'm getting worse. And I think back at that just the powerful level of denial or something that goes on in the human psyche, because, you know, I was a very competitive squash player, I was playing in national tournaments. And the last tournament I played in before the big day was in New York City. And I, you know, you play four or five matches over the course of a weekend. So you're playing in the morning, you have a break, you play again in the afternoon, and I remember I was laying down on a couch trying to get some rest in between my matches, because I was so tired. And yet, I kept playing. That stubbornness might help me along the way, I suppose with my Zen practice, but I think it has. So finally, I you know, I wonder that we got to do something, they they concluded I was probably having some kind of spasms in my gallbladder that was irritating my diaphragm and causing these pains. And so, you know, I went to a good friend who was a surgeon, okay, take your gallbladder out. June 11, whatever day it was. So I go in routine gallbladder surgery, you know, in and out, you go in, you're gonna call him the same day. And
I wake up in the recovery room when my wife tears pouring out of her
telling me that I had a liver full of cancer
and, of course, you know, being a doctor. I know of no disease, no cancer, that you have a dozen tumors in your liver that is not uniformly fatal.
So that's the short answer of how I got to Zen right there. Fortunately, the news, you know, fortunately, there was stuff I didn't know. And stuff that most oncologists don't know. You know, the first the first week or 10 days, of course, were you know, more than that was pure hell, but the first 10 days, especially because, you know, we were just what kind of cancer is that? They couldn't tell me you know, they thought that gallbladder cancer, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, you know, none of those are good. And fortunately, there was a very smart pathologist to I don't even know the person's name now that I think about it. Who determined I had this exceptionally rare type of sarcoma. It's a sarcomas are cancers of like the connecting tissues. So even though the tumors are in the liver, it's not the liver cells are not cancerous. It's the blood vessel in my liver that has the cancer
And so you know, we get this diagnosis and and go on the internet and Okay, well, average life expectancy is five years. Okay, well that's better than what I thought and so now I started the search right because no one no one at University of Rochester had ever seen this cancer before. It's so rare Roswell, nobody in Buffalo Roswell I've ever seen it before. So I'm going all over the country. You know, I'm fortunate I had the resources and the ability to get all the top notch medical care. Go to Boston, go to Pittsburgh. And the, the part of this story that I think is, you know, really relevant for for me and Zen practice, not of not just, of course, the existential trauma, which is obvious. But for me, this was about self discovery, self agency listening to experts, but not listening to experts knowing when to listen, knowing when to ignore. And that's, that's, that's been applicable in my Zen practice, which I'll talk about in a little bit. So yeah, at Harvard, they wanted to, you know, put me on hardcore chemo. I was nervous about this, I'd seen some things online about some softer stuff that you know, might really work. And I found I found an oncologist at MD Anderson in Houston, Texas, you know, in one of his research papers now, you have to do all this research yourself. You know, it's, it's, it's given me a whole new appreciation being a doctor and how hard it is to be a patient. Because you really you have to advocate for yourself. The doctors are so busy that they do what they know. And the guys at Harvard, no chemotherapy, and that would the conversation ended but I didn't want to just go with that because these are toxic, toxic things. So I emailed this, Dr. Ravi in Houston.
I'm just getting choked up just thinking about how fortunate I am that this man had the compassion. Think about this. You get a random email from a patient in New York State. I have this cancer I can remember exactly where I was. I was driving my daughter to Hochstein for cello lesson in the in the car the phone rings through the car and it's it's Dr. Ravi at eight o'clock at night on a Tuesday calling me and saying I want to talk to you about your cancer
um, I'm fully convinced if he had not called me I would not be here right now. Because I would have done the chemo at Boston that I'm sure there's no way I would be still alive here 11 years later. With that, because it doesn't it doesn't cure this disease. It just kind of keeps it at bay a little bit, but then it weakens your immune system. And Dr. Ravi had the wisdom to say let's just do some gentle stuff and watch and wait and be patient.
You don't you don't have to do anything. Just sit there he didn't say that. That's my little Zen tweak. So I hadn't come to Zen yet. I was still you know desperately trying not to die.
You know, obviously very depressed, you know, can't work. And because you know, and even Dr. Ravi says I have no cure for you. So, you know, I pull out I was always as far as most traditional doctors go, I was always quite open to quote alternative medicine. So, I hit I, I sought out acupuncture. And I remembered in medical school, there was an emergency room doctor of all things and emergency you're the last person you would think an emergency room doctor. He was a nice guy, of course, he was Canadian. And, and he used to do chi gong on people in the emergency room. Right. So I'm in one room, he'd be doing CPR and given epinephrine and the other room, somebody was having a migraine, he'd be, he'd be giving them Qigong. And, and, you know, he popped into my head, I hadn't seen him since in since in probably 1015 years since I was in training. But again, the way these puzzles come together is just, it's just mind blowing. So I remembered him and, and I sought him out. And it turns out, he left traditional medicine completely and set up an acupuncture, Chinese herbal practice, and Pittsford. So I started going to him and getting acupuncture three times a week, and then taking the herbs and, and he had me doing, he had me doing the kind of Qigong exercises myself, and that's, you know, started to get into the meditation realm. And that, you know, he was having me visualize things and, and I said, I guess I really need to learn more about meditation. And then again, here's, here's where all the weird, you know, the 1000 coincidences that bring us here. So when I, when I was, you know, a seriously competitive squash player, you know, you get hurt and friend of mine sent me to a massage therapist, and I'd hurt my back. And the massage therapist says, You really got to start doing yoga. I says, Well, I don't know anything about yoga, where do I go for yoga? And she said, go to this place called open sky. So this was, I don't know, five or seven years probably before my diagnosis. I went out back there and went to open sky for I don't know a year and a half or so and did yoga. And I remember I remember Francoise would used to make jokes about the he wouldn't he did it very lovingly, you know that the crazy people that sit and stare at the walls in the building next door I just that went in one ear and out the other and obviously it must have stayed in the brain. Because when when I when I thought about where can I meditate that yoga? said oh, there's that Zen Center next to the yoga place. I'll call up the Zen Center. So yeah, back injury massage therapists yoga teacher cancer, here I am giving a talk 11 years later
so really, again, in some ways, and you've heard this from other people here these these seeming catastrophes that happen to us our blessings, Truman, what's our time ending 1020 Yes, okay
yeah, so so you know when the catastrophes become blessings You know, I had no choice but to practice you know, it's hard a lot of you know, I see I see new faces here I've never seen before there's a lot of people that are you know, coming to coming to Zen out of the pandemic and trying it out and it's hard it's a difficult it's a it you know, as we say in the websites, it's simple but not easy. But for me, I had no choice I have a I have a as Deborah Zaretsky likes to say the sword of Damocles you know, hanging over me
so, yeah, the motivation, you know, was was was forced upon me. I mean, I suppose I could have turned to drugs or alcohol, but fortunately, I didn't. You know, I tried to escape of course. But this this disease that I have is, you know, there is no escape. Whose book is that the wisdom of no escape? Somebody's got a book that Pema children, right, yeah. I think I read it. So yeah, you know, I'm here. Not to say I didn't fight it a lot. I remember my early times, coming here. I would wait almost until that third bell was struck to run to my seat so I could, I could avoid sitting on that mat as long as possible. But because when you know when when you've been given this diagnosis, and then you're staring at a wall with nothing to distract you, it's pretty tough. It's pretty tough not to think.
But I had no choice. So I persevered. And slowly, slowly, it got easier. The tumors kept growing, obviously a source of anxiety. They grow for the first couple of three. Let's see, yeah, three years after I was diagnosed, they were still growing, I'm still kind of declining, I would work part time. And I got some radiation treatment, which seemed to stop them from growing. So that you know, it's given me some breathing room made it a little bit easier to sit that that maybe the end is not so near.
So, stay staying on the path. I plugged along for those first bunch of years, and had some great experiences and machine which reaffirmed my my faith and the practice. Again, I was lucky that I had such a powerful motivating force to get me into the room. Because once I did, then you start having some experiences that reaffirm reaffirm for you, that this really does work. I have yet to be I've yet to find something that I have been taught here that is not true.
So then the next catastrophe happened in my life, more than life of this other family than me. But just about four years ago, January, we had some new neighbors over for a dinner party. Welcome. Welcome to the neighborhood. We're there to two daughters, one of them a young baby. And the next day, she was dead.
And it turns out, she ingested a pill, there was an on the floor of my house that my mother had dropped
and an unspeakable tragedy. Any parent that's lost a child, which I have not. I can only imagine the know the suffering that they're going through
so this was a setback. anxiety for me that you know, when this was discovered there was a big police investigation.
Our house was searched. We had to get a lawyer in the newspaper The reason I mentioned as a kid that I never got in trouble.
I was so afraid of getting into trouble as a kid. I don't know why but I was now this
anxiety was unbearable. Not sleeping for you know, weeks at a time led me to you know, I despite the cancer diagnosis, I had never taken any anxiety medicine, any antidepressant. So Zen was my medicine. And here I had to take something and the first dose of one of these SSRIs that I took 15 hours later I was acutely suicidal. You stop that medicine obviously. But but the two months of sleep depression and asleep sleep deprivation and anxiety and just the existential angst of the loss and the suffering of our neighbors. On top of my ongoing illness, I just spiraled down into this horrible, horrible depression.
Again no medicines didn't really help. I went to the psychiatrists therapists but I'm three different and I was on three different antidepressants at the same time and is still suicidal I never did it I never acted on it but I had a I had a hole in my chest or here Senator my center my chest I never had my entire life I described like a black hole just all joy all every just sucked sucked into my chest. So now is on a new search. How do I how do I how do I deal with this? And this is this is where staying on the path really hit home for me because Zen just wasn't I had a crisis of faith. I'm like I've been meditating hard for how seven years before this happened. And it was like, it felt useless. Felt like the practice had completely abandoned me. total panic mental health never worse. I started shopping around for I went to the Tibetans for a bit I never left here completely. But I was shopping around for other practices. I couldn't just sit and stare at that wall. I needed guided meditations, I wanted something to help me. I did gratitude meditations. I wrote gratitude lists I you know, did all the things. And they were it was just everything was an empty empty exercise with all the intellectual exercises
so I had to search again on my own. I found psychedelic psychotherapy did a different number of treatments there.
I kept doing Zen. I did other stuff to a lot of the guided stuff.
I even sat through the machines the virtual machines during the pandemic. Right so Yeah, talk about a bad timing right you're already suicidal in the pandemic it's my daughter last daughter went off to college we had empty nest pandemic It was rough really rough so sitting in 16 by myself in my walk out apartment in my parents house I'd go to I could have a whole place to myself with this hole in my chest. And I I just I hated Zen at that time I don't know why I kept doing it. I just did I guess I had no choice I don't know what else to say I just kept doing it
I got angry I was so angry I Roshi How can you let me sit here with this hole in my chest not wanting to live? This can't be right
and the reason I mentioned my obedience and my non rebelliousness as the kid was my my next act of rebellion was was to stop sitting every day. Whoa, whoa, crazy. But you know, you hear the message sent every day is that every day is that every day and I did I was obedient. I did. I sat every day for seven, eight years. Mike, I have a hole in my chest. I do not want to live. This cannot be good for me to sit here and think about this. Of course not Roshi is not telling me to think about it. Of course, he's telling me not to think about it, do not do your practice. So I finally you know, gave him the virtual finger. And I'm stopped sitting. Well, that lasted about, I don't know, a week, two weeks, maybe when I was back there, but just doing it made a different you know, just just making the decision that I was going to take charge of my practice. And that's that's that's, you know what I've been learning about this combination of listened to experts and listen to yourself. I had to listen to myself when it came to my medical care. But at the same time, you know the old saying a doctor who treats himself has a fool for a patient so yeah, Same thing in my Zen practice, listen to the experts. Listen to myself. So I persevered, persevered, resilience, just keep sitting, keep sitting, ketamine seemed to be the bomb for me, that kind of, you know, it's impossible to know what got me through all this, I will certainly say that sitting through all of that and directly experiencing a hole in my chest, I completely believe that it did help me get through it. We say this all the time, you know, the only way out is through. You can't avoid it. All I wanted to do was avoid it, but you can't. So. So some combination of ketamine, and all those machine improved. And I've been off fall antidepressants for a year and a half my mental health has never been better.
And so sheen about 15 months ago
you know, I'm such a planner and the linear person that I, you know, it's so hard for me not to go into machine with expectations. And we all struggle with this to an extent. But every time something good happens in sesshin, it's out of the blue. And it's unplanned. And I mean that November's machine and I'm just struggling. And even even the last this last Rohatusu I every machine I still hate it at some times and I'm never doing this again. I can't do that. I'm not coming back here. What Why am I here? I mean, how many have I been to I still do this? So I was I was in one of these temper tantrums in this November's machine and I'm like why am I struggling so much just relax and I I took some relaxation breaths that I you know how many times have I done that in 10 years of practice? But there was something different about these that that I tell people it changed my DNA
it was that it was that profound and then the next thing that followed was stop beating yourself up I had been so hard on myself my whole life
I'm not going to say it's been 100% Your I still have my moments
but it was transformative
and it may not be you know, it may not be is not a Ken show type experience but for me enlightenment. I saw things about myself. That's enlightenment to me. And my burden. My burden is lighter
and what more can you ask for than a lighter burden? With this life that we all live in, I know you all have burdens to anybody. Anybody here could come up here and give a talk like this
so I'm going to end with some poetry because now I like questions more than answers and that's another thing that's changed with 10 years of this practice. So I gotta go with Rumi of course
out beyond right doing and wrongdoing, there is a field I only you all there
stop now and take questions.
I'm sure GSI has the mic on so just a couple of things about So Jonathan, when someone in here ask the question repeat the question so people online can hear it and for people online if you want to make a comment or ask a question put it in the chat box send it everyone I've got a device here I can I can read it out and with that
Jonathan, thank you
thanks to Dr. Robbie we're so glad he was there and in for you being just talking to yourself and we're all you just yes
can relate to hold the chest
hang in there yeah
where do I get this special okay
my mom's a minor so Komatsu, by herself threw her out don't call this cancer. She doesn't have Zen but she's a deacon in the church. Yeah.
I'm just curious. Like, come get really good friends. But we haven't spoken about one part of your talk that you mentioned today. And I was just curious like
the the part of your story about the trauma when you were born. But how do you how is that something that came into your consciousness when the tragedy happened in your house? Or is that something that you've already thought about before?
No. Oh, yes. Thanks for the question from Rachel was the my birth trauma with the core to wrap my neck? Is that something that I had thought about before did that just come to me with the death of the baby at the house?
I don't know the answer to that. I. I mean, timewise it didn't come to me until after the baby had died. But I don't know that it was directly related. Obviously, you know, the things that are buried deep in our subconscious are powerful.
At the risk of putting everyone into tears, right before we leave, I'll relate a different version of that that did relate to Maisie during one of my psychedelic psychotherapy sessions, you know, you're you're prepared, you set an intention and there's just you know, you make the setting for what you want to achieve and I, I had put, I had put photos on the wall of me because I again being in the planner that I am in and trying to make something happen I put I was going to regress myself psychologically and go back in time so I had photos of me college, high school middle school elementary school me as a baby then I had photos of both sets of parents like I did like a family tree on the wall grandparents have photos of everybody back as far as I could go. And the psychedelic session was going horribly was awful. And I ended the therapist on my I can't say can't settle down this isn't working I was having another temper tantrum like a sesshin one and I went to the photos and I started taking down the photos this is not working take down the photo of me in college. Me in high school.
Me and my sailor outfit I think to me as a nine month old baby
I just lost it I was not in like I really had not been thinking about her in a long time. And it was there and I cried grief that I've never experienced in my entire life
I felt that I was grieving for every parent that had ever lost a child and all of eternity
and again, it was another one of these things where what you think is a horrible experience turns out to be that that was that was what I needed to heal that loss
and that it really resolved it so yeah, was the birth trauma part of that? I don't know. That was a lot more than you asked
seems to need your talk. That it wasn't any one thing. I mean, we talk about cause and effect. There should be causes and effects because there's so much some comes together some of it falls apart. This is I guess this is what I'm experiencing in this practice actually. And you know, so I've been questioning cause and effect doesn't really exist but at any rate, the way you're taught which is just on this confluences coming together I really appreciate that yeah, it's a lot of pain it's dukkha candidate but we you know I've gone through a lot of some of that stuff I remember one session and I cried the whole oh gosh, I was memory take a breath I cried for a whole row we have a turkey and afterwards I felt like
God yeah but there's still a lot of grief and so I think that's the whole but it is what it is, you know be with it as best I can.
Okay, we'll have plenty of opportunities to talk Johnson after mahogany. Example recite the four vows