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ANDREW SHUGYO DAIJO BONNICI, PH.D.
Applied Zen Meditation & Core Mindfulness Based Therapy
Zen Buddhist Roshi & Minister of Faith

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LIVING THE HEART OF ENLIGHTENMENT
IS THE PRACTICE OF BODHISATTVA INTIMACY


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Dr. Andrew Shugyo Bonnici
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Breath is the Bridge between Meditation in Stillness and Action
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CHAPTER ONE

SHAKYAMUNI BUDDHA IS THE
BODHISATTVA WAY

When any human being sits down to practice zazen meditation, he or she is exactly the living body of Original Faith----a preconscious conviction or deep inner confidence that One Vast Creative Wisdom simultaneously penetrates the physical body and the Infinite Universe as a Whole. As we sit in zazen meditation as the Body of Original Faith, each of us has the opportunity to completely rest in the "experiential grace" known as "jijuyu-zanmai". Jijuyu-zanmai is the Japanese word that makes reference to Shakyamuni Buddha's felt experience of peace as he rested in the ease and joy of zazen meditation, the authentic practice body of living enlightenment itself. In other words, jijuyu-zanmai is the body of the Buddha lingering in the peaceful aloneness, tranquility, and wonderment of originally enlightened Being. Jijuyu-zanmai is exactly Buddha's body in intimate experiential communion with the One Vast Wisdom Nature that creates and upholds the infinite realities of all life and the infinite realities of all death. However, the historical Buddha showed us by his own lived example that jijuyu-zanmai, as his tranquil bodily communion with Vast Wisdom Nature is essentially a precursor to his devoted practice of living Enlightenment in the world of human affairs and interpersonal relationships.

During his deep tranquil absorption in the body of jijuyu-zanmai, Shakyamuni Buddha experienced the emergence of a deeply empathic and compassionate interconnectedness with all human beings . It was out of that empathic and compassionate identification with all human beings that he made his historical and loving commitment as the first "Bodhisattva". The word, "Bodhisattva", makes reference to a loving and caring Being who gives up the tranquility, aloneness, and inner solitude of jijuyu-zanmai in order to passionately engage the world of relationships with the practice of "personal integrity, compassionate action, and upright wisdom" for the mutual benefit of all human beings. Shakyamuni Buddha manifested the meaning of Bodhisattva heart/mind by relinquishing the seated repose and serenity of jijuyu-zanmai to wholeheartedly reenter the "ocean of samsara"----an Vast Ocean of karmic human relationships endlessly tossed about by waves of ignorance, craving, greed. aggression, desire, impermanence, and suffering. By intentionally embracing the Bodhisattva way of life, Shakyamuni became our primary exemplar of how an "enlightened being" never forgets human caring and compassionate action for others.

Shakyamuni's caring and compassion for others began with the unconditional embrace of own embodied humanness and extended itself from there to include all human beings. What this means is that Shakyamuni embodied the Bodhisattva way of life precisely because he identified with and embraced the full range of those joys, sufferings, frailties, strengths, and vulnerabilities which he shared with all human beings . Thus, the expression of Shakyamuni Buddha's caring and loving compassion for all humanity is fundamentally an expression of a deep self-compassion and loving acceptance of his own felt experience of being human.

In actuality, Shakyamuni's loving care for all sentient beings is a reflection of a Bodhisattva's capacity to realize the transparency and insubstantiality of a separate personal identity while acknowledging and unconditionally embracing the totality of his/her own inner samsaric world of endlessly arising thoughts, feelings, needs, and desires. Without the humble acknowledgment of his shared humanness and his unconditional embrace of the full range of his own felt human experience, Shakyamuni's loving compassion for all sentient beings would not have been aroused and his Bodhisattva way of life would not have been embodied or realized.

Shakyamuni's example reveals to us that when we make the daily commitment to relinquish the tranquility of jijuyu-zanmai and wholeheartedly arise from the body of zazen meditation to engage in human relationships, we are essentially manifesting the vow to live the Bodhisattva Way---a Way which recognizes the insubstantial nature of individual personality while honoring the experiential integrity and wisdom of one's own bodymind functioning and the bodymind functioning of others. For Shakyamuni Buddha, honoring the integrity and wisdom of the human bodymind meant compassionately embracing the full range of his mortal feelings, thoughts, needs, and desires as they arose in each moment within himself. In this way, Shakyamuni nourished an unconditional Bodhisattva compassion and loving understanding for himself and all human beings in his life-long engagement with relationships in the world of samsara.

As our "Original Bodhisattva Exemplar", Shakyamuni relinquished seated zazen meditation and his experience of jijuyu-zanmai to arise and endlessly deepen compassionate intimacy and authentic engagement with his own felt human experience and the felt human experience of others. In other words, Shakyamuni Buddha arose in the body of Original Faith to embrace the constant samsaric flow of his own inner human feelings and desires and to live Enlightenment by extending Bodhisattva caring, compassion, openness, and integrity in his daily relationship with himself and with others. Thus, we are all called by Shakyamuni's own example to daily relinquish the repose and tranquility of zazen meditation, rise up in the body of Original Faith, intimately embrace our own felt experience of humanness, and endlessly practice the "Bodhisattva Path" as our devoted engagement in authentic relationships and genuine human intimacy for the benefit of all sentient beings.

CHAPTER TWO

SITTING AS BUDDHA TO PRACTICE
A JOYFUL BODHISATTVA LIFE

As our historical exemplar, Shakyamuni Buddha embraced the full range of his felt human experience with unconditional compassion, sat zazen meditation as the Body of Original Faith, reposed in the peace and joy of jijuyu-zanmai, relinquished his seated tranquility of peaceful aloneness, and arose to live the Bodhisattva Way for the benefit of all sentient beings. Shakyamuni's own process of practicing and living enlightenment encourages us to honestly face the Truth in ourselves while compassionately embracing the full range of our own felt experience in each passing moment. He calls us to arouse the heart/mind of Original Faith, to sit down completely in the grace of jijuyu-zanmai and the body of living enlightenment, and to fully enter and embrace our life and our relationships according to the Bodhisattva Way. The progression of Shakyamuni Buddha's lived experience shows us that his arousal of Original Faith, his embodiment of jijuyu-zanmai, and his authentication of original enlightenment and innate Buddha nature all precede the actual flowering and actualization of his Bodhisattva's Life. Simply stated, Shakyamuni showed us that we have to sit down as Buddha before we can enter the way of Bodhisattva life.

If we are to follow Shakyamuni Buddha's own experiential progression, we must recognize that the arousal of Original Faith and the embodiment of seated Buddhahood without gain are necessary precursors to the flowering of Bodhisattva practice in everyday life. Shakyamuni, himself showed us the rhythm of Living Enlightenment by being fully amongst others, perpetually returning to zazen as the seated embodiment of Original Faith, daily nourishing himself in jijuyu-zanmai, and forever arising to practice the Bodhisattva Way in the world of samsaric relationships and human intimacy. Shakyamuni could not endlessly extend himself to others as a Bodhisattva if he did not continue to nourish himself daily in the seated embodiment of Original Faith and the pervasive tranquillity and repose of jijuyu-zanmai and Innate Buddhahood without gain. By expressing self-care as his ever returning in zazen meditation to the Compassionate Root and Wisdom Source of his life, Shakyamuni showed us that we need to always nourish ourselves in the heartfelt repose and experiential grace of jijuyu-zanmai and the tranquil body of original enlightenment before we arise to engage in the fullness of Bodhisattva Action for the benefit of all sentient beings.

Shakyamuni demonstrated to us that the life of a Bodhisattva is nourished and upheld by the daily practice of seated meditation and the true embodiment of Original Faith. He showed us by his lived example that Original Faith Body and its fundamental experience of Oneness and Interdependency are continuously expressed through our compassionate and caring practice of authentic interpersonal relationships genuine human intimacy. He revealed to us that it is by practicing daily zazen that we can experience the actual felt texture and tangible bodily meaning of being Original Faith and Original Enlightenment. This felt embodiment of being Original Faith and Original Enlightenment gives us the confidence and the courage to arise and live the Bodhisattva Way with openness and trust in our life, just as we are, just as It is. Our felt experience of Original Faith in the midst of the ever present demands of daily living and social interactions would not be possible without the daily embodiment of that Faith as exactly the body of zazen meditation itself. This felt embodiment of Original Faith as zazen meditation and the sincere practice of that Faith in the world of our immediate experience and interpersonal relationships is no other than Shakyamuni Buddha living the Bodhisattva Way of Enlightenment in and through our very bodymind.

CHAPTER THREE

SAVING ALL SENTIENT BEINGS
THROUGH THE VOW OF INTIMACY

When we consciously vow to embrace and nourish a mutually deepening intimacy with another human being, we surrender ourselves completely to the practice of human relationship in the Bodhisattva Way . This vow of intimacy necessitates a sincere commitment between two individuals to continuously practice these five behavioral ingredients: 1) extend unconditional love to each other; 2) honor and trust the innate integrity and wisdom of both self and other; 3) drop off all pretension which hinder authenticity, congruence, and genuineness; 4) remain faithful and loyal to the priority of their relationship in everyday life; and 5) openly and honestly share and clarify the fullest range of their sensual, feeling, thinking, spiritual, material, and intuitive life with each other. In the process of daily practicing these interpersonal ingredients as the sincere expression of their deep commitment to a growing intimacy, both human beings have the unique opportunity to live enlightenment together in the Bodhisattva Way.

When two human beings express their vow of intimacy as their mutually dedicated practice of living the Bodhisattva Way, they acknowledge the value of embodying Original Faith and honoring the Truths of Totality, Interdependency, and Non-Obstruction in their relationship. When they honor the Truths of Totality, Interdependency, and Non-Obstruction they recognize that the practice of their intimate relationship interpenetrates and effects all other human relationships without hindrance or impediment. They understand that deepening and refining intimacy in an immediate and tangible relationship is the same as deepening and refining all humanness throughout space and time. They perceive that the face they meet in intimate relationship is not only their own, nor just that of the one they love. They see that it is also the shared face and embodiment of all humanity. They understand that all sentient beings live in and through their intimacy, and that their intimacy lives in and through all sentient beings. Thus, their commitment is not only to their relationship, but also to a realizable Bodhisattva vision of saving all sentient beings through their vow and devout intention to nurture love, trust, clarity, wisdom, compassion, and forgiveness within and between each other.

When two people consciously make an intentional vow to deepen their relationship in intimacy they ultimately risk the ever present samsaric possibilities of hurt, anger, abuse, resentment, jealousy, and separation. The daily relational practice of living enlightenment in the midst of these ever present samsaric risks challenges us to liberate our innate capacity for courage, faith, openness, caring, vulnerability, and tenderness. If we are to live up to this challenge and exemplify the fullest meaning of the Bodhisattva Way, we must step forward into intimate relationship with vision, forthrightness, and dedication to living the Truth. We can not be true to Shakyamuni's own example if we cling to a transcendent and idealized compassion for all sentient beings, while neglecting to fully risk ourselves and explore the meaning of our own frailties and vulnerabilities within a committed and intimate relationship with the other. If we sincerely honor the Bodhisattva Path, we must recommit ourselves daily to relinquishing our clinging to zazen meditation and any attendant experiences of spaciousness, purity, tranquillity, and amorphous compassion. We must rise like Shakyamuni and willingly immerse ourselves in the difficult and joyful flow of interpersonal relationships and genuine human intimacy.

CHAPTER FOUR

PRACTICING BODHISATTVA LISTENING, EMBODIMENT, & COMMUNICATION

To practice the Bodhisattva vision in the authentic commitment of intimate relationship, two people must recognize the importance of nourishing a mutual willingness to always surrender themselves to the clarification of the Truth that exists before their own personal identities, opinions, judgements, and defenses. When two human beings live Bodhisattva intimacy they are called to surrender to the Truth just as it is, embody the practice of Original Faith, and honor Vast Wisdom and Innate Buddha Nature within each other. The conscientious willingness to mutually live the Truth and yield ones self completely to seeing things just as they are provides the growing edge of living enlightenment in a relationship which encourages openness, integrity, humbleness, self-honesty, and authenticity. On the other hand, the sincere intent to be ever mindful of yielding to innate Buddha Nature and Vast Wisdom within each other provides the interpersonal soil within which the seed of genuine trust and mutual respect can grow. The intentional practice of these ingredients may be likened to a "sacred container" that allows the relationship to live through turmoil and confusion while providing the impetus to begin again and again with courage, gentleness, compassion, forgiveness, caring, and love.

When two individuals are mutually willing to embody Original Faith and clarify the Truth in their relationship, all pretensions, manipulations, and defensiveness between self and other can be dropped-off. The sincere vow and devoted practice of constantly letting go of prejudicial stances, one sided views, ego pretensions, and self-illusions allows the individuals in an intimate relationship to cherish listening to each other as they yield to the Truth in each precious Moment of life and death. To completely surrender to the Truth of this Only Moment Body is to relinquish all false justifications, rationalizations, projections, righteousness, denial, and pride. To relinquish our attachment to all false views of self and other is to manifest the Bodhisattva Way. To manifest the Bodhisattva Way is to endlessly practice the Body of Enlightenment with clarity, integrity, wisdom, forgiveness, and compassion for self, intimate other, and all sentient beings.

This vision of Bodhisattva Intimacy also necessitates the mutual intention by two individuals to live Original Enlightenment as their daily practice of genuine listening, open dialogue, and upright communication. The practice of these relational ingredients must be applied with the same diligence and devotion as one applies to the seated body of zazen meditation. When we are expressing the life of Non-Duality, the diligent practice of Bodhisattva Intimacy is no other than the zazen practice of upright Being, wakeful embodiment, open and clear vision, self-compassion, beginner's heartmind, and endlessly beginning again as the fruit of enlightenment itself.

The practice of genuine listening entails a wholehearted respect for our own embodied integrity and the embodied integrity of our intimate other. The true practice body of deep listening includes a moment by moment relinquishment of our reactive opinions, prejudices, pre-judgments, projections, and general mental chatter while genuinely connecting on an empathic feeling level to the emotional life of the intimate other. In other words, we listen to the intimate other with the same intensity as we would listen to our True Nature and Infinite Wisdom in the seated body of zazen meditation. Listening to our True Nature and to the Intimate Other are both fundamentally a reflection of the practice of being the body, coming back to breath, letting go of passing thoughts, misidentifying with mental chatter, opening the heart, and seeing the illusory nature of a separate self. Relinquishing our conditioned and reactive views, opinions, judgments, and verbal mental chatter during genuine listening upholds the practice of No-Mind and Mind-Not-Knowing. This is called, as one embraces the integrity of Only Moment Body while turning the face away from mental-chatter, self-preoccupation, and self-defensiveness, the experiential truth and felt wisdom of embodied self and embodied other emerges unhindered.

When we practice upright communication with sincerity and devotion, it is the same as practicing the upright mind of zazen meditation itself. When we practice upright posture in zazen meditation we arouse the Body of Original Faith while sustaining an alert integrity of awareness that does not indulge or identify itself with the ongoing passage of self-centered thoughts. Similarly, when we practice upright communication we must arouse an awareness of Original Faith Body, while simultaneously allowing space for the validation of the other's experience by not clinging to self-centeredness, self-pity, and self-righteousness. The practice of this balanced quality between honoring Original Faith in oneself and validating the experience of the other is fundamentally necessary for upright communication to occur. On the one hand, if we sympathetically indulge the emotional life of the other while closing our eyes to our inner lamp of Original Faith, we diminish our authentic presence in the relationship and demean the integrity of the Truth as it arises within ourselves. Likewise, if we desperately cling to sustaining confidence only in our own experience while ignoring, suppressing, or demeaning the validity of the other's experience, no genuine listening, understanding, intimacy, or communication is possible. Thus, upright communication necessitates the willingness to constantly practice an alert mindfulness of the Middle Way. The Middle Way means not to cling to separateness and confidence only in one's own embodied self, nor to become attached to empathic enmeshment or indulgence of the other's feelings and emotions. In the practice of this Middle Way, we must equally trust our lamp of Original Faith, have confidence in being Only Moment Body, yield to the Truth of not-knowing, uphold the integrity, wisdom, and dignity of the Intimate Other, and cherish our empathic Oneness with the felt experience of each other.

The relational practice of open and embodied dialogue is dependent on three factors: first, our sincere commitment to live the Truth of bodily presence just as it is; second, our devoted intention to expose and open ourselves to the fullest range of feelings in the relationship; and third, our sustained willingness to honestly share our feelings of hurt, love, joy, withdrawal, anger, and vulnerability with the other. More than any other relational ingredient, open dialogue necessitates the authentic embodiment of commitment, courage, gentleness, forgiveness, and compassion for self and other. This is the true practice of living original enlightenment in the Bodhisattva Way.

Open embodied dialogue necessitates a deep commitment to expose ourselves in vulnerability to the ongoing Truth of our inner experience and to our relationship with the intimate other. Such a commitment is no other than our Bodhisattva Vow to live the Truth and immerse ourselves in the tumbling flow of Samsaric joy and suffering for the mutual benefit of self, other, and all sentient beings. When we practice being open in an intimate relationship to the raw texture of our felt experience and are willing to share that felt texture with the other, we deepen our Bodhisattva practice of embodying Original Faith and living Innate Enlightenment in this Only Moment of life and death. In a very real sense, the practice of living with embodied Faith and wholehearted vulnerability in an intimate relationship is a mirrored reflection of our devoted intention in zazen meditation to be deeply intimate with the truth, vulnerability, and impermanence of our self and our whole life; just as we are, just as it is. Likewise, our willingness to honestly face, clearly discern, and authentically share the arising of our mixed feelings, thoughts, and emotions in an intimate relationship is exactly our zazen practice of resting in upright posture, embracing our self with compassion, trusting the clarity of not-knowing, yielding to Infinite Wisdom with each passing breath, and living the body of enlightenment just as we are.

CHAPTER FIVE

RECOVERING THE OPENNESS OF
OUR BABY HEART

Vulnerability to our own experience is the immediate reflection of our dedicated practice to expose ourselves and our vulnerabilities to the other. To be exposed means to let down our emotional shields, our ego-defensiveness, and our illusory self pretensions. It means to open ourselves completely to the samsaric possibilities of being wounded or being loved. Like the small infant whose awareness has not yet attached to an ego identity or conditioned self constructs, we must trust in openness, take refuge in tenderness, and have faith in the resiliency of our baby heart.

None of us has ever lost the genuine feelings and emotions of our baby heart. But we have lost faith in its resiliency and openness to life. The loss of that faith is evident when we continue to erect emotional shields and defensive ego pretenses to protect our baby heart from emotional pain and suffering. However, such protection can rigidify over time into barriers which hinder authenticity, communication, and the deepening of intimacy with self and other. By clinging to our emotional shields and ego pretenses, we succumb to our instinctive avoidance of suffering and our reactive aversion to experiencing emotional pain. However, if we numb ourselves to pain, we necessarily numb our innate capacity to experience life with the vividness and openness of our baby heart and mind.

We must become mindful in our relationships that within vulnerability and tenderness lies our basic openness to life and the dynamic resiliency and sensitivity of our baby heart. To nourish the relational exposure of our baby heart and open ourselves to its original vulnerability, is to drop off all pride, pretension, reactivity, denial, projection, and defensiveness. When we find the courage to yield to Infinite Wisdom and soften our tight hold on pride, defensiveness, hurt, and anger, we liberate ourselves from the isolation and prison of ego protectiveness while recovering the tenderness and resiliency of our baby heart/mind. To return to infant heart/mind is no other than the precious practice of zazen meditation. To return to infant heart/mind and practice Bodhisattva intimacy is the fruit and function of living enlightenment in this very body.

Once we immerse ourselves in the Truth of our Only Moment Body and open ourselves to the other with infant-like vulnerability, we have to be willing to take the further risk of verbally sharing our feelings with each other. When we actually commit ourselves to verbal dialogue, we reveal our willingness to face the Truth together, risk our vulnerability, and open ourselves completely to be embraced or hurt by the other. We express our sincere Bodhisattva commitment in dialogue when we choose to become intimate with and communicate the raw texture of our relational experience, rather than succumbing to impulsive withdrawal, instinctive shielding, or reactive aggression. Thus, the courage to delve deeply into our immediate experience of hurt and pain is extended into the courage and mindfulness to sustain openness and exposure while verbally sharing our feelings and vulnerability with the other. We must remember that the practice of open dialogue also necessitates gentleness and compassion toward ourselves. When we recognize that we have faltered in our mindfulness and succumb to conditioned and reactive tendencies toward the other, we need not judge ourselves. Rather, we should embrace ourselves in tenderness and recommit ourselves to Bodhisattva mindfulness. This tenderness with ourselves is no other than the compassion we practice in zazen meditation itself. For in zazen meditation we are always prepared to gently forgive ourselves for succumbing to passing thoughts, while constantly recommitting ourselves to mindfulness of breath. Thus, we practice the wonderful diligence and compassion of zazen meditation when we continuously recommit ourselves to open dialogue and Bodhisattva mindfulness, while tenderly embracing our reactive tendencies and reoccurring feelings of verbal inadequacy and emotional confusion.

CHAPTER SIX

BODHISATTVA SACREDNESS
OF LOVING SEXUAL COMMUNION

One of the most sensually and emotionally fulfilling experiences shared between two people who are practicing the Way of Bodhisattva Intimacy is the genuinely felt sense of "embodied communion" and "sacred at-one-ment with each other" during the act of sexual union. In Bodhisattva intimacy, this shared experience of sacred oneness and embodied communion is an immediate expression of the willingness of both individuals to drop off all egotistical focus and self-pretension, yield completely to the blending embrace of Oneness, surrender self-control, and mutually entrust themselves to the primitive power of orgasmic energy. The felt sense of embodied communion, wondrous at-one-ment, and deep contentment which emerges from the experience of shared orgasmic ecstasy may be said to reflect the mystery of two bodies mutually experiencing themselves as the One Infinite Creative Energy Source of a Whole Living Universe.

When two individuals freely surrender their separate and encapsulating sense of bodily form and ego identity during shared orgasmic intimacy, they may be said to immerse themselves in loving sexual communion with each other and the Infinite Creative Universe as a Whole. It is in that sacred sexual communion that they mutually share a Divine Energy of an Ecstasy that is before purity and defilement, good and evil, male and female, control and chaos, spiritual and animal, samsara and nirvana. Thus, sexuality in Bodhisattva relatedness is the expression of intimate communion, pristine openness and vulnerability, universal love, compassion for all life, and the sacredness of Oneness and non-duality. Orgasm in loving sexual intimacy is a 'religious' experience in the original meaning of that word because it "binds all things together as One". This means that shared orgasmic ecstasy is spiritually profound, not just because of the mutual experience of physical bliss or sensual satiation, but rather because it has the innate power to experientially reveal the illusory nature of our physical boundaries, our sense of ego isolation, and our attachment to an individual selfhood. Thus, the spiritual or religious nature of shared orgasmic ecstasy or bio-energetic communion lies in its dynamic power to momentarily obliterate our localized experience of bodily existence and return to our Original Nature as that One Infinite Energy Wisdom that penetrates all life and death, all space and time.

In its bio-energetic capacity to momentarily shatter linear time and dissolve those facades and pretenses which sustain our separate sense of ego, personality, and self-identity, loving sexual intimacy and its shared experience of ecstasy is an immediate reflection of our simple and unpretentious bodymind yielding to felt Truth in this Only Moment of Life and Death. In a very real sense, sexual ecstasy as a shared bio-energetic experience of wholeness, wonderment, and heartfelt contentment is a transient glimpse of living the true practice body of enlightenment as Heart-Not Wanting and Mind-Not-Knowing. Therefore, the practice of mutually releasing control and yielding to the bioenergetic power of sexual intimacy and shared ecstasy is not primitive, crude, or animalistic in the negative interpretation of these terms. It is rather the sacred bodily expression of two human being who are willing to surrender completely to the simplicity, spontaneity, contentment, wonder, and at-one-ment of their Original Nature. Thus, the Bodhisattva practice of shared ecstasy and orgasmic communion during sexual intimacy is more than a reflection of wildness; it is an immediate bodily expression of our capacity to abandon ourselves completely to the Body of Original Faith, tenderly and passionately merge with the intimate other, and surrender ourselves to that Infinite Creative Wisdom that penetrates two bioenergetic beings and the Universe as a Whole.

CHAPTER SEVEN

PRACTICING ROMANTIC INTIMACY
IN THE BODHISATTVA WAY

When we completely surrender ourselves in interpersonal intimacy to the practice of embodied truth, deep caring, and unconditional compassion, we can express our love and joy for being with the intimate other through various forms of physical contact, playful sensuality, and sexual union. The physical expressions of loving kindness and caring include all forms of body contact which communicate gentleness, sensitivity, appreciation, commitment, loyalty, compassion, and mutual caring. This would include such communicative gestures as holding hands, embracing, kissing, cuddling, and caressing. The Bodhisattvic expression of physical contact in an intimate relationship reflects the sincere commitment to nourish a devoted, sensual, passionate, and embodied mindfulness of the other. When two individuals manifest this practice of loving mindfulness, wholehearted caring, and passionate freshness for each other, they may be said to personify the True Body of romantic Bodhisattva intimacy. As the abundance of loving mindfulness and wholehearted caring increases in intimate Bodhisattvic relationship, it cannot help but overflow into a genuine caring, compassion, and loving kindness which extends itself out to immediate others and sentient beings as a Whole. This relational practice of romantic Bodhisattva intimacy and its loving extension into the lives of others is exactly the fruit and function of embodied zazen meditation and living enlightenment itself.

The Bodhisattva way of romantic intimacy does not mean seeing the other as an idealized mental projection that completes our personal deficiencies, thereby giving us the illusion of inner wholeness and completion without any personal inner work or effort. When we romantically idealize the intimate other, we tend to ignore his or her human frailties while mentally embellishing and identifying ourselves with those human qualities we deem to be of value in enhancing our inner feelings of self-completion, self-worth, and inner wholeness. What makes romantic intimacy in Bodhisattva relatedness unique is the grounding of both individuals in the mutual practice of seeing things as they are, living the body of Original Faith, clarifying beginner's heartmind, and cherishing one's personal integrity and the integrity of the other as the embodiment of Universal Wisdom. In this way, two people come together with a clear sense of each others authenticity, mutual respect, and infinite worth. Hence, romantic Bodhisattva relatedness does not mean that two halves embrace as one whole to complete each others deficiencies or lacks. But rather that two wholes come together in the practice Body of Integrity and Original Faith to mutually appreciate and share the uniqueness, freshness, and limitless worth and value of their romantic relationship with each other.

Romantic intimacy may also be said to reflect that warm quality of wondrous feeling two individuals experience when they are effortlessly drawn to each others total uniqueness, just as it is, for the first time and every time anew. This quality of ever experiencing the 'just as it is' uniqueness of the other anew is not something that just happens between two people and then continues on its own. Many people have this kind of idealized conception around the experience of falling in love with each other. However, such a misconception does not take into account the natural human tendency to habituate or gradually take for granted and ignore that which is constantly or repetitively before us in our interpersonal life. Thus, as two individuals develop more constancy and repetitiveness in their expressions of physical caring with each other, they increase the ever-present tendency to ignore or habituate the sensual vividness of their interpersonal contact and romantic wondrous presence together. The physical expressions and gestures of relational caring become more and more desensitized and ignored, while the loving and passionate mindfulness of each other begins to diminish in quality and intensity. Ironically, the more visual and physical contact we have with those we love, the more we increase the tendency toward habituation and the negation of a vibrant and authentic interpersonal intimacy. This is one of the fundamental paradox we enter when we commit ourselves to a long-term intimate relationship with another.

In Bodhisattva relatedness, we are called to constantly answer the samsaric tendency toward interpersonal habituation with the diligent and devoted application of the mental and emotional postures of zazen meditation. Thus, when we practice mindfulness of breath and immediate bodily impermanence in the zazen of relationship, we foster the interpersonal awareness of sharing and appreciating this Only Moment of life and death together. When we sincerely practice zazen detachment from passing thoughts and relinquishment of linear time in the our relationship, we nourish the Moment of Wonderment in interpersonal contact and the immediate sensual appreciation of Beginner's Heart. When we drop off all self-pretensions and yield completely to wakeful vulnerability in meditation as relationship, we inspire an ever renewed sensitivity of feeling and heartfelt freshness of authentic interpersonal contact with the other. When we constantly practice our devoted zazen mindfulness to see things just as they are and yet to see all things anew in each moment, we can nurture a compassionate and honest acknowledgment of interpersonal habituation while endlessly beginning the practice of romantic intimacy, sensual love, and deep caring again and again and again.

May all beings embody original faith, Live original enlightenment, Sit down completely, Embrace peace as their true nature, and Arise in the bodhisattva way for the mutual benefit of all sentient beings.

Copyright 1995 Andrew Shugyo Bonnici, Ph.D.

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