Intimacy with all life

To be enlightened is to be intimate with all things.

– Dogen Zenji, ca. 1200-1253, founder of the Soto School.

An essence of healing and awakening is intimacy with all life, with whatever is here.


Awakening asks us to be intimate with what we notice. What am I in my first-person experience? What do I find when I am honest with what I notice? When I am willing to set aside, even for a moment, what others have told me I am? We are already intimately familiar with what we are, we may just not notice.

We are intimately familiar with ourselves as capacity for our experience, and what our field of experience happens within and as. We may just not consciously recognize or acknowledge it because we are so caught up in our collective and universal stories about what we are, and what I am.


Intimacy is also an important component of emotional healing.

Healing asks us to become intimate with our experience, and specifically to become intimate with contractions and emotional issues. To befriend them, get to know them, listen to them. Treat them with respect, kindness, patience, and gentle curiosity. Treat them as we would like to be treated when we are scared and confused. Notice that they happen within and as what we are. We share true nature.

In a very real sense, these issues are maintained because we tell ourselves they are different from us and that we can put distance to them. So the remedy is to notice the intimacy that’s already here, befriend these contractions, and find a different and more intimate way to relate to them.


There is already intimacy here – with what we are and with the contractions in us.

What we are is already what we are, and we are already familiar with it even if we may not notice.

And these contractions are already happening within and as what we are. They are not separate, even if we tell ourselves they are and we perceive and act as if they are, to the best of our ability.

Intimacy is already here. What we are asked is to notice, and to explore and become familiar with it.


It’s not always so easy. Our habitual patterns often move us away from intimacy, in the ways possible.

So one thing to become intimate with is the gatekeepers, the ways we hold ourselves back from intimacy.

What do I fear? What are the stressful stories?

Some I find for myself are:

It will never change… it’s hopeless. Distraction is easier… I can do it later. It’s too much… I can’t do it on my own.

What happens when I explore these? When I befriend these scared and scary stories? What happens when I find intimacy with these energies and contractions? When I find intimacy with these stories and what’s more true for me?


If there is already intimacy, how come we seem to be able to move away from what’s here?

Both are true in their own way.

We cannot escape any experience since it’s already here and it’s happening within and as what we are.

At the same time, we can perceive and act as if we can move away, and that creates the experience and consequences of moving away. This seems to happen because of (unloved, unexamined) fears and parts of us hold scary stories as true.

Our minds created those patterns, often early in life, in order to protect us. Today, from our adult perspective, we may know other ways. We may know more insightful and loving ways. So we can help these parts of us release and align more with love and reality.

There is an infinite amount to explore and discover and become more intimate with here.


As I have suggested, this is about more than intimacy.

Intimacy implies there is an “I” here becoming more intimate with something. That’s not wrong since it’s often part of our experience.

And yet, when we become more intimate and familiar with what we are, we see that this is more than intimacy. Our experiences happen within and as what we are.

Both are here and there is a fluidity between the two, at least for me for now.

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