Call the world, if you please, “the vale of Soul-making.” Then you will find out the use of the world…There may be intelligences or sparks of the divinity in millions– but they are not Souls till they acquire identities, till each one is personally itself. Intelligences are atoms of perception – they know and they see and they are pure, in short they are God. How then are Souls to be made?… How but by the medium of a world like this?… Do you not see how necessary a World of Pains and Troubles is to school an Intelligence and make it a Soul? A place where the heart must feel and suffer in a thousand diverse ways.… As various as the Lives of Men are– so various become their souls, and thus does God make individual beings, Souls…of the sparks of his own essence…….John Keats
receiving all sensations…..self and me and mine and the old me and the hopeful me…..they battle and they play endless games and they softly acquiesce into an old discomfort that is easily held in its familiarity…another paradox……and then the giant wave of mercy introduces itself once again asking about the finer points of joy and sorrow…..this is where we find our choices…..our path….our humanness….
A dead monk leaves behind little-
days, strung together like prayer beads,
have slipped through his fingers.
Nights he burned like a vigil candle
through the darkness
have all melted away.
Even the three religious medals
found in his drawer- so old no one could tell
who the holy personages are-
resemble the life here:
worn faces you pass,
day after day
in the hallway.
Saints you don’t
Our grief manifests as a self-judgment, as fear, as guilt, as anger, and blame. It is that insistent mercilessness with ourselves and a world which we hardly let within. Our grief is our fear of loss, our fear of the unknown, our fear of death. Grief is the rope burns left behind when what we have held to most dearly is pulled out of reach, beyond our grasp. Examining what we feel, not analyzing why, we discover the labyrinthine patterns of our grief and unfinished business, the skeletons of so many moments of life which became lost by the wayside. And the darkness of a thousand moments of helplessness and hopelessness is illuminated in a clear and merciful awareness. That which has seemed so untouchable in the past is cradled in the arms of forgiveness and compassion, and the armoring begins to melt. Those who know their pain and their grief most intimately seem to be the lightest and most healed of the beings we have met……Stephen Levine