August 12, 2013

Zen-timacy. ~ Ben Neal

“Enlightenment is intimacy with all things.”

~ Dōgen Zenji

What does it mean to be intimate?

It means to touch the places that tickle, that tingle and tremble. To brush your fingers lightly across your lover’s cheek. To kiss and to nibble neck, ear and inner thigh… To touch the skin and touch the heart, to feel the body and the soul as one.

It means to play with a child—to leave your personality at the door and really be a wizard, a pirate or a princess. To look into the eyes of a newborn babe and drown in oceanic innocence and wonder.

It means to sit with a loved one who is torn open by grief, consumed by pain. To give up any notion of healing or fixing them and just be the silent presence of compassion, bearing all.

It means to be relaxed and open, totally yourself in the presence of another. To relate without expectation, to listen with rapt attention, to see without judgement. To smile and laugh without crippling self-consciousness. To touch and embrace without restraint.

It means to step outside to greet the day; to breathe the early morning air and savor the way it dances on your taste buds. To let the sunlight and the breeze embrace you. To delight in the aliveness of the grass beneath your feet, the majestic poise of the trees and mountains, the sound and the fury of the city streets.

It means to run out in the rain without your shoes, to get soaked to the bone and wiggle your toes in the mud. To rumble and roar like a thunderous drum and do a leaping lightning dance.

It means to be naked. To face the world without hiding or holding back. To touch the universe with raw, exposed nerves.

It means to be close… closer… no, closer.

Ah, yes. Right here.

You see, Zen doesn’t happen later, after work or after supper. It doesn’t happen later, after the kids are sent to bed.

It doesn’t happen tomorrow, or next weekend. It doesn’t happen on vacation. It doesn’t happen on your next yoga or meditation retreat. It doesn’t happen after this semester is over, or after you retire.

It happens now.

Now—when you stop waiting and searching and putting it off.

Now—when you just stop and breathe and be.

Now—when you reach out and touch something, anything. When you reach out and really touch someone you love. Take off your inhibitions. Forget about being cool or polite. Remove the psychic distance we’ve created. Get intimate.

When you look into the eyes of the person next to you, who’s there?


Zen never happens later. It happens now.

It happens right here—your mind touching mine, spirits intertwined. No longer are there two of us. There’s just this sudden, unspeakable ah-ha!

When you realize that this isn’t just some article, some philosophical dissertation. It’s a timeless moment that we share together. A knowing wink, an inside joke. It’s a cup of wine we all can sip from.

Stay here, don’t go away. Drink deep.


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Ed: Sara Crolick

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faith Feb 10, 2014 2:02pm

I really really loved reading this and holy moly when I saw you wrote Allah! I was raised Muslim but now that I’m almost 26 I have decided to be spiritual and let God be God. He is who I think he is and if my God is different than yours, that’s ok. Mine has proven to work for me and that’s the God I give my praise!

Good job on the writing! Seriously… shukran 😉

emilyalp Feb 9, 2014 1:37am

I LOVE this. <3

Sherri Feb 8, 2014 5:37pm

Beautiful. I completely agree <3

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Ben Neal

Ben Neal is a father, a musician, a mystic poet and lover of Zen. He lives with his beloved in Kansas City, writing and teaching meditation and experiential spirituality, tending his garden, raising his son and riding the wave of global Awakening. He loves to have passionate philosophical discussions on the nature of ultimate reality over hand crafted Belgian-style ale. He aims to suck the marrow out of life, and infect the world with unbounded Love and Freedom. Connect with him on Facebook or on his blog.