"The human condition is to be constantly subject to both the bitter and the sweet. However, when the sweet comes along we want to hold on to it and ensure that it will remain with us forever. When bitter times come we want to push them away, numb ourselves, withdraw. From the Zen point of view a bitter taste is bitter, a sweet taste is sweet. In the course of life, we must taste everything. If we spit something out, more will just come later on.

"To seek only the good and to reject that which is painful is the way most of us live our lives. This way of living keeps us forever lopsided, cutting much of our experience away. It keeps us in a false cocoon of safety, which is always broken into anyway. Not only relationships, but also life itself is filled with sudden shocks and blows. Our most cherished expectations go awry. This is the nature of cherished expectations. The most unexpected wonders are a step away. That is the nature of unexpected wonders. By refusing to taste bitterness as well as honey, we are refusing to be part of the ineffable nature of love itself.

"We learn how to taste everything in the zendo. We enjoy the beautiful sound of the gong when it rings and we receive the sting of the stick when the time comes for that. We do not add anything to what we are experiencing. The gong does not ring out because we deserve it, the stick does not sting because we are bad. A bitter taste is simply bitter. A feeling of pain is just a feeling of pain. It is not the world crashing down around us. We do not torment ourselves with confusion and guilt. If we feel pain at some juncture, it does not mean we are worthless or that love has forever gone. In fact, it may be said that love is not a feeling at all — it is an ability to be at home with all that comes to us."