BOOK REVIEW - The Unshakeable Road to Love by Brenda Shoshanna, Ph.D.
Spiritual, Self Help, Relationships / Zen
Date Published: October 15, 2022
Build your relationships upon an Unshakeable Foundation, based upon Eternal Principles of Real Love.
Based upon the teachings of All World Scriptures, including Zen, the book explores the difference between Real and Counterfeit Love. As we do, it is easy to see that all suffering in relationships is due to being caught in the trap of Counterfeit Love.
This is a Book of Practice, which provides many insights, exercises, turning points and interventions, so we can apply the powerful principles in all our relationships.
As we do, pain, upset and conflict dissolve on the spot.
As someone who has worked for years to unburden my mind with other peoples’ expectations, this book resonated with me on several levels. I have always been interested in combining aspects from a variety of sources to create my own internal Zen. I found this book to be inspiring with a template that is easy to incorporate into any lifestyle.
The book is well written and full of wisdom. I appreciate the level of depth when explaining the how and why we wind of in bad relationships. How to recognize the signs and make plans to move forward on a more positive path. This book is honest and raw. There is no sugar coating, and the reader is encouraged to see behavior for what it is and explains the intentions behind it to stop making excuses for things we know aren’t right.
The author’s expertise come shining through. This book is thoughtful in the way the material is presented while also inspiring the reader to want more form their lives. This book shows them a path forward filled with acceptance, love, positivity, and success. I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading more from this author!
TRUE GIVING AND RECEIVING
The Gift of Giving
“True giving is its own reward.”
The Zen Master and the Robber
An elderly Zen master was living in a small, bare hut on a mountain with only a few possessions he needed. One night a robber broke into his hut and took everything, including the clothes the Zen master wore on his back.
After the thief left, the Zen master looked through the window at the moon that was shining in. He sighed and said, “Too bad I can’t give him this beautiful moon, too.”
Nothing the Zen Master Had Could Be Taken Away
This robber could not rob the Zen master because the Zen master only wanted to give whatever he had. There was nothing the Zen master had that could be taken away. He was deeply fulfilled by each moment of his life and his desire to hold on and accumulate was gone. Of course, given his condition, he had no need to reject or hate the robber. He had only compassion for him.
Only Wanting to Give
Much suffering arises from our experience of loss. The suffering includes distrust of others, fearing they will take what we have and run away. Many become reluctant to give due to this. Stinginess of heart develops, constricting all aspects of their lives. Some will give only if they can get something in return. Or they give reluctantly with constant suspiciousness, imputing bad motives to all.
But the Zen master only wanted to give the robber this beautiful moon. He wanted to give him a way to taste the fullness and beauty of life. When we only wanted to give, bear no grudges and are not grasping at what we have, our hands and heart become wide open. Not only can we give, but we are able to receive what life is offering.
What a wonderful way to live and to be in relationship with life. But first we must understand what true giving and receiving are.
When you give to get something in return this is not true giving. It is barter, like being in the marketplace. Often we give to hold onto others, or to feel good about ourselves. Sometimes we give gifts that are too costly for us and resent the gift later on. This balance between true giving and receiving is vital for a healthy relationship.
Turning Point: Don’t Give to Get
Some give from a sense of debt, feel they must give to another constantly even when they are drained or receiving nothing in return. This too is not true giving. True giving fills a person. That kind of giving is itself the reward.
Some feel they are useless and empty, with nothing to offer anymore. For these individuals, especially, it is necessary to give whatever they can, a smile, a drawing, a word of encouragement.
The very act of giving and receiving freely opens our hands up and helps to let go. But there can be many hidden agendas when giving. We may want to hold onto someone, to flatter, cajole, make them dependent. Some give expecting a big return on their gift. They give with the feeling that the person is now indebted to them. This is not true giving, just a way to assert their own power and control.
The more we give, the more we realize we have. The best way to stop feeling deprived and empty is to open up and give what you have, a smile, a word of encouragement, a letter, a song, some food.
Pillar of Love: Giving Without Wanting Anything in Return Brings Joy.
Turning Point: True Giving Is Its Own Reward
This kind of giving is called Mushotoku in Japan. You just give, without focusing on the consequences of giving, or on wanting anything in return. The joy and fulfillment comes from the act of giving itself. This state of being is freeing and joyful. You are not demanding any particular outcome, just making an offering with a full, sincere heart. That is true giving, and the person who receives the gift is freed by it as well. Along with giving to them we are freeing them from any debt to us, or having to do or give anything in return.
The pain and anguish we feel in giving comes from our inner demand for something in return.
Give others what they want. This may sound either foolishly simple, or revolutionary. However you think of it, it’s a powerful act. But ultimate generosity is ultimate joy. Just say yes.
Give them whatever they want, without expecting anything back in return. Don’t secretly demand that they even appreciate your gift, or that it makes them happy. Let them feel as they do. Demanding that your gift makes them happy is creating a reward for you.
Practice: What do you give in relationships? What do you withhold?
Make a list of what you give in relationships and to whom.
And what do you refuse to give, and to whom?
So often our giving is conditional. We feel someone must deserve or earn our gift.
But the sun gives warmth to all, no matter who steps beneath it. It is extremely powerful to give unconditionally when the moment or need arises. And, of course, as we do so, we are also giving to ourselves. When we give in this manner, there is nothing more we need to receive.
Pillar of Love: True Giving and Receiving Are One.
True giving and receiving are one. When we give fully, without wanting anything in return, we become full. There is no giver or receiver there, only an open heart. Once we are able to offer what we have to others, we will see that we do not lose anything at all. The world is continually offering itself to us as well.
We breathe in and breathe out every day. We take in air and return air to the universe. In so many moments of our lives we experience letting go, giving up, or giving back what we have.
Giving and receiving are interlinked. Once we give fully, in the next moment we have room to receive what is next. Without breathing out, we cannot breathe in. Ultimately we will see that it is the very act of holding on that keeps all true nourishment away.
The Zen master showed us the more we give the more we will be able to receive the incredible moon that is constantly shining on us all.
About the Author
Brenda is a psychologist, author, speaker, playwright and long term practitioner of Zen.
Her work focuses upon integrating the practices and principles of East and West and making them real in our everyday lives.
Brenda offers on going Zen talks for the Morningstar Zen community, founded by Fr. Robert Kennedy, Roshi. She has spent many years involved in Interfaith work and dialogue. She also offered talks on Zen and Psychology at the New York Zendo for eight years.
For the past four years Brenda has presented a weekly podcast, Zen Wisdom For Your Everyday Life. Over the years she has provided many talks ad workshops dealing with personal and spiritual development and living an authentic, meaningful life.