The purpose of Zen is to break your heart wide open. Instead of loving a small circle of people, when your heart breaks open there is just love. There is no lover, no loved, it is just free flowing love.
It is not easy to break your own heart. We like to protect our hearts, that is why we are so careful about who we trust with our hearts. We develop our egos to help keep the love contained in our hearts. Our egos know that our hearts can’t contain all that love, that it needs to flow, so they are always on the lookout for safe places to let the love out. Close friends and family provide opportunities for the love to flow. When those relationships become strained, it is extra painful because the ego tries to resist the love flowing. The love still flows, but the ego gets in the way and transforms all that loving energy into pain.
With romantic relationships, between partners, the heart finds a great outlet for love. When the relationship ends, the ego gets in the way, and pretends that the love can no longer go in that habitual direction. The pain that comes from the ego standing in the way of that intense flow of love is intense. That is the feeling of the broken heart.
If you turn to Zen to try to get away from the pain of a broken heart, you can find some comfort. Zen offers a way to peace and equanimity, those very feelings that are missing when you are suffering from a broken heart. Zen, however offers no safe haven for the ego. You can’t stop feeling like your heart is breaking if you are still trying to stand in the way of all that powerful love. You can’t stop feeling the burn if your hand is in the fire. The regular feeling of a broken heart is just a crack. Zen welcomes that crack as an opportunity to break the heart wide open by exposing the ego’s life-long habit of holding the heart hostage. In Zen, it is not the heart that breaks, it is the ego.
Zen meditation and compassion can comfort a broken heart in many ways, but it is always secretly swinging for the fences, not by trying to put the pieces back together, but by exposing the raw love at the heart of it all. Crack!