How Far Can We Reach?
Often my patients will say, “You’re the first person who has ever really listened.” Of course that’s not true, of course someone before me has heard their words with gracious intent. When I hear this statement of gratitude, I understand that my patients are pointing to my Zen training. I am the impossibly fortunate beneficiary of a centuries-long lineage of vigorous inquiry and tenacious training in what it is to be fully human. My teachers and their teachers are the reason I know that I don’t listen to the patient talking; rather we are together, energetically entrained and resonating, so that we know deep in the recesses of our beings that connection is real, and separateness is a painful illusion.
I wish I could say this ego-effacing presence for the alleviation of suffering happened every time I encountered another human. Mostly it doesn’t. So I train in Zen. Consistent, diligent practice is required for this way of being to stick. So I do my best. This training is vital to me realizing my full potential as a healer. However we are called to serve, Zen training amplifies our efforts and equips us to touch the most lives in the most positive way.
This is what makes a dojo so important. It’s about the people who train, yes, and more importantly the far-reaching impact those folks have through the people they encounter. You begin to see the magnitude of the task, and of the potential to do good in the world. We’re building a Zen dojo in Madison, WI. If you haven’t already, please consider lending your support.
Adrienne Hampton, MD, Zen student