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Tathagata means neither coming neither going. In the non-temporal dimension it negates here and there. As in when we are six feet apart I say I am here and you are there and you say no,

I am here and you are there. This is a difficult awareness to experience is based on logic, which is good, as I am not going to try to be logical.

Rather, I ask that you join in a thought-experiment; here goes. How close are you to your husband, wife, grandchild, dog, friend, student, and/or grandparents? I suspect most of you thought of distance in terms of loving-kindness-sometimes referred to as "Feeling Close, or not so much." This is not the same as spatial-distance. Here, my teacher Taiun Elliston-roshi speaks of personal sphere. One could say psychological distance. Yet in this thought-experiment, you did not use terms you just experienced.

We can also conceptualize temporal-distance in a similar way. So here we go again with thought experiment #2. What time is it? If you say a time-of-clock it is contrived based on norms and affected by government mandated time-zones. The time when ever questioned is always answered "now."

Social-distancing related to COVID-19 is not that at all, rather we are all close "now," in our social awareness (some more than others) regarding the illness. This closeness places emphasis on our being inter-are, or our interconnectedness-a common mind-ground. What we have been asked to create is "Spatial-Distance," not social distance/awareness. When we get close enough we share time together in a common space. But we can be also be "close" with being spatially distant.

Does distance make the heart grow fonder? If there is no contact, memories are personal constructed ideas of the other-hologram. We wonder if the other still feels the way she/he did when we shared time and space. Now in the time of COVID-19, we get to test these assumptions.

Some of use are sheltering in place with one or more people. We are working on our interpersonal/social skills because we may not have spent so much time in a closed space with the other before or for a long-time. And/Or, while we also have to maintain spatial-distance from someone next door. Today telecommunication is a kind of telaportaion in the form of ZOOM or FaceTime. This answers the age-old question of people who spent weeks waiting for a letter when all they wished for was...I just want to see your face!

Zen is awareness (deep) of moment. It is just this side of visceral. I suggest that yen-yang is Mokurai. In every moment dukkha and sukha await our awareness based on which conditions and variables take hold. Our compassion for people becoming ill need not short-change the joy we feel for spending more time with our children home from school. This is living without the demands of either, nor or.

FSZS is online for ZEN ON ZOOm each Tuesday (7:00-8:00 ET) and BEACHLESS ZAZEN every morning from 6:30-7:15 at

We are reconfiguring ideas of distancing, time, and space...

May you be safe and well,


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