Sansaku: To Open, Not Close
I was writing about resistance yesterday, and the theme of “pull, don’t push” is a common one in dreams. It’s also one of the great topics in psychology and therapy. In the analysis of dreams, it’s often where we start.
A good friend of mine says, “You’re like my daughter: you hate change, but once it happens, you don’t want that to change either.”
When I traveled, I used to fall in love with a village, a campsite, a group, and would never want to move or leave. And surprise, I’m still that way. I’m happy right here and now and don’t intend to change. Or is there something I’m resisting? Probably.
One of my favorite Pema Chodron books begins with this quote: “Confess your hidden faults. Approach what you find repulsive. Help those you think you cannot help. Anything you are attached to, let it go. Go to the places that scare you.” God help us.
When she gets to chapter one, she opens it with a sentence from The Little Prince: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” And then she tells a story that has this moral at the end: Little girl, don’t you go letting life harden your heart.”
When I think about the psychology of resistance, the push and the pull of conflicts and wounds, the image of a shell and then teeth come to mind. We try as best we can to protect ourselves, and none of us succeed. Life has a way of having its way with us.
And these wounds that come unbidden are sensitive to the extreme, which is why we guard and defend so closely. Touch on one, you’ll know. It’s why we have all kinds of ways to deal with them, but we also long for healing. It’s quite the dynamic.
Chyako reminded me that the Japanese say, when it comes to romance, if pushing doesn’t work, try pulling. And there’s the comic nightmare where the man is trying to escape by pushing on a door that clearly says pull. Of course, it’s the opposite if you’re trying to get in.
Our lawn is not the tidiest on the block, although I do think it’s one of the more interesting ones. We have lots of trees including a dead aspen, and the grass grows well enough. But I have a slight wound.
I’m a bit embarrassed when I look at our yard through the eyes of two neighbors. Both have waged war on weeds and brown spots. It’s obvious I haven’t. I start to compare, and forget that when I look in the mirror a similar kind of yard is looking back at me.
I had a zen teacher in college who was from Korea and found great amusement in some of our sayings. One day he said, “You say that the other man’s grass is greener.” And then he paused and laughed, “Don’t you know that grass is grass?”
I try to remember that; just like I try to remember that what I see in others is most often a reflection of what I’ve projected onto them. It’s hard to argue against this in dreams. And it’s why Jung said, “We meet our self in a thousand disguises along the path.”
And that’s a can of worms, to open, not close.