Now imagine for a minute that your little darling – Mike, Anna, Jack, Mary or whatever else you might have decided to call your Zen Master for the duration of your lessons - is in fact God speaking directly to you. In exchange for the teachings, you are providing the Master with food, shelter and other daily necessities.
Would you give God take-out every night or cook delicious, nutritious meals with love? Would you leave God in front of the TV for most of the day or provide an environment buzzing with creative stimuli? Would you lose your temper every time God gave you a difficult lesson, or would you accept it simply and with grace? Would you presume to tell God exactly what to eat and when, what to wear, how to cut his hair, which friends to hang out with? I hardly think so.
Not that I, by any means, am saying that this is easy. Spiritual lessons seldom are. In fact, just this week my own Zen Masters have given me some pretty harsh lessons in compassion – compassion for myself that is. For when you have worked non stop, cooked, sorted, been available for reading stories and singing songs and all the other hundred things a mother does in the course of her daily tasks, and then been screamed at, had one long tantrum after the next and an uncountable amount of other things designed in pitch and volume to test your patience, one is allowed, sometimes, to crack. And when you do, and your Zen Masters are looking at you like their student just lost the plot, it is not the time to pile on the self-guilt.
Compassion. It starts with you.
One lesson down, one million, eight hundred thousand and fifty four to go.