Friday Night Zen: All About Boundaries

:: Post Submitted by Rev. Jinzu Minna Jain, Executive Director, Clouds in Water ::

Below is an email that I sent out to our Friday Night Zen community a few days before our last meeting. I share it here with you so that you can get a taste of the work we did that night and engage in your own reflections. May it be of benefit!

The topic that I would like to talk about this week is good boundaries.

One of the central teachings of Zen Buddhism is sometimes summed up as “interbeing” or “interconnectedness.” The idea that there is no separate “me” or “you” who isn’t in intimate relationship with everything in the entire cosmos. Or, as Carl Sagan famously said, “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.” But, if there is no real or meaningful separation between me and you… how do we navigate good boundaries together? 

*Content Notice: in the quote below, the author uses the word “blind” to mean “unexamined” or “ignorant,” which is outdated and ableist.    

In his book Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects us from What Really Matters, Robert Masters says, “When we are driven by blind compassion, we cut everyone far too much slack, making excuses for others’ behavior and making nice in situations that require a forceful “no,” an unmistakable voicing of displeasure, or a firm setting and maintaining of boundaries. These things can, and even should be done out of love, but blind compassion keeps love too meek, sentenced to wearing a kind face. This is not the kindness of the Dalai Lama, which is rooted in courage, but rather a kindness rooted in fear, and not just the fear of confrontation, but also the fear of not coming across as a good or spiritual person.”

Some questions to think or journal about:

  • What does “kindness rooted in courage” feel like for you? 
  • How do we lean into our “yes” without abandoning our “no”? 
  • What does it look like to practice interconnection AND good boundaries? 

Jinzu Minna Jain (they/them) is an artist, writer, and racial equity educator. They identify as BIPOC, disabled, queer and nonbinary. Jinzu has been practicing Sōtō Zen Buddhism for over twenty years and is a priest in training and the Executive Director at Clouds in Water Zen Center. They are also the Director of Learning & Development with Real Transformation Today, a racial equity education group. Jinzu is mostly curious about how to be human well, how to meet themselves and others complexly, and how to enjoy our little lives a little more.

The purpose of this group is to build community in the Twin Cities amongst people ages 18-45ish who are interested in meditation and mindfulness, or for those who are new or curious about meditation and want to try it in a more supportive group setting. Our bi-monthly meet up also has a topic and optional sharing after 30 minutes of meditation which is partly silent and partly guided. We meet the first and 3rd Friday of each month. Learn more here.