Practice is intimacy, intimacy as the whole universe, intimacy as our life, this moment. In ordinary language, in ordinary life, we use the word intimacy and think we know what it means. We use intimacy in terms of specific relationships, specific activities, or periods of activities, such as music, arts and sports. In fact, the enjoyable, nurturing and enlivening aspects of these activities are related to being intimate. Nevertheless, understanding intimacy only in this so-called ordinary way, especially in terms of the pleasurable and seductive quality of activity, may lead us to miss the most basic and underlying aspect of intimacy.
We feel intimate with another in relationship as long as they fit our expectations. What is expected, what is included or excluded? I am intimate with my parents except when they are critical of me, or demanding, or boring or needy. I am intimate with my partner except when they are troublesome, not enjoyable to be around, not the way I want, when it does not feel intimate. Do you cut off this moment, from your life? This 'cut off' maintains self-centered suffering. How is it when a person manifests habits that I don't like, is not doing what I want? What if they have terrible tastes in clothes, music, etc..? Intimacy is resting on the icy couch of this moment. Often I would rather run from this moment by reacting with anger, avoiding what seems to be painful to experience. Holding to emotion-thoughts and reacting from them cuts off the intimacy of life.
We often associate intimacy with certain pleasurable feelings of closeness of relationships. Do you say 'I like the intimacy of our relationship but don't ask for a commitment?' Do you want the relationship and intimacy when it feels good but not when it does not feel good or comfortable? Commitment is not dependent upon circumstances. And commitment comes from beyond self-centeredness. True commitment grows out of who we truly are, manifests who we are.
Commitment is vital to pracitce. All of us know this-if you want to learn to play a musical instrument, if you want to learn an art, a skill, a craft, a language, you must make a commitment. We make a commitment despite the fact that it gets hard, boring, dull, or unappetizing. Some do not commit, are not willing to experience what is hard, boring, dull. Commitment grows from what might be said to be 'deeper' than small self.
At times we believe intimacy is unpleasant, and is something to avoid, since it doesn't feed the rational 'I want, I like, I enjoy'. 'It is not exciting enough, deep enough, does not produce the results I want, is uncomfortable, does not go anywhere'-all sorts of reasons. Sitting is being just this 'does not suit me'. Sometimes we talk about intimacy, say all sorts of things, know all sorts of things about it but refuse to be so. We may talk about practice endlessly and yet, talk does not reach. Avoiding is refusing this intimacy that is life, avoiding this bodily moment.
Commiting to practice, to who we truly are, does not mean that at times it is not hard or that we do not feel like running; yet we commit. Intimacy is our life, it is not something added on, it is not something special to do. This is raising the illumined mind.
Illumined is who you are-it is only the clinging of attachments, self-habits, self-discomfort, self-thinking, that confuses, that cuts us off and blinds us. Being this bodily moment as is, forgetting self, life functioning manifests naturally, intimacy blooms.
Everyday functioning, morning to night, are opportunities of intimacy. The whole of our practice is nothing but intimacy. The whole of our life is nothing but intimacy.
By/ Elihu Genmyo Smith