Why it´s good to have Tea with your dead Aunt once in a while

In my late twenties and early thirties, I was really into Zen Buddhism. I took zazen meditation lessons (stopped it, I think it´s just not for me…), practiced martial arts, and read almost anything related I could get my hands on. I remember a story that was about conquering our fears, where a monk would lay his head inside a dragon´s open jaw – in order to rid himself of the fear of…well…dragons.

I deeply sympathize with this approach of “accepting what´s there” – it´s one of those crucial points where the more helpful spiritual and therapeutic traditions of East and West regularly meet and become friends (e.g., see Kristin Neff´s outline on self-compassion to get an idea for a more Western take on the concept).

I’ve got 99 problems and 93 of them are completely made up scenarios in my head that I’m stressing about for absolutely no reason. (multiple attributions)

John_CageWhile writing this, I remember another sage basically taught me the same lesson almost a decade before my deep-dive into Buddhism. One of my all-time favorites on TV is Ally McBeal. Every other year or so, I start another binge-watching weekend. I still love the affectionately exaggerated characters, the idea of visually externalizing the protagonists´ feelings, and the fabulous blending of music with plot and personal development. Here´s the dialogue that came to my mind:

John: I used to have a hallucination where my dead aunt kept wanting to have tea with me. It went for two years before I finally stopped her.
Ally: How did you stop her?
John: I had tea with her.

Here´s to our dead aunts!

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