Zen-timacy. ~ Ben Neal

Via Ben Neal
on Aug 12, 2013
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“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


About 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.


15 Responses to “Zen-timacy. ~ Ben Neal”

  1. sara says:

    Holy crap. Thanks.

  2. I think Dogen Zenji meant intimacy as eating rice and going to the bathroom with vitality. I think it meant swallowing this moment and spitting out this moment simultaneously.

  3. bneal817 says:

    Thanks for your comment, the pleasure is mine.

    ~ Ben

  4. bneal817 says:

    Thank you, my friend. Peace!

    ~ Ben

  5. Barb says:

    What a gift! Powerful wordsmith-swept me away completely. Bravo!

  6. bneal817 says:

    I admit I do not know the context of this quote, and so I cannot speculate on what Master Dogen might have meant. The article is not intended to represent his philosophy or any other.

    Certainly eating and shitting can be intimate and vital – indeed they are essential. But so too is sex and relationship. The meaning of the word "intimate" can be pretty openly interpreted. This is just one such interpretation, a poetic one at that.

    It is hoped that the poetic soul will feel the words and experience the meaning. Zen is ultimately experiential.

    Thank you for your comment Kogen. Peace, my friend.

    ~ Ben

  7. bneal817 says:

    Thank you Barb. I'm glad you enjoyed the ride!

    ~ Ben

  8. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks!!!! I love the way you express what you feel, what you understand, I feel connected!!

  9. bneal817 says:

    You are connected, to everything, always. And it is beautiful.

    Thank you for your comment, Elizabeth!

    ~ Ben

  10. Renee says:

    Yes. <3

  11. Michele says:

    Love this!

  12. Sherri says:

    Beautiful. I completely agree <3

  13. emilyalp says:

    I LOVE this. <3

  14. faith says:

    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 😉