I try to open to both suffering and freedom from suffering. If I see only suffering, then I am caught in the relative nature of existence: we are nothing but suffering. But if I see only the pure and vast heart, then I am denying our human experience.
See if you can find fresh ways of looking at pain that make it your ally, not your enemy. Reach out to it. See what it needs; you may not know what to do, but your pain might. Give your pain space. Don’t irritate it. Be a good listener to it, and try not to reject it. See what it wants to teach you. And practice, if you can, separating pain from any stories about it, so that the one arrow of pain doesn’t necessarily have to be followed by a second arrow of suffering.
~Roshi Joan Halifax
We begin to collect many broken lives……this is aging in the time of knowing…..
inquiry for today~ how many lives do you honor? loss? remembering?
There is in grief a pitfall for many who think of themselves as spiritual. A tendency to push away deep feelings, thinking that they are “unspiritual.” “If I were really spiritual, I wouldn’t be so frightened or angry or upset.” And on the other hand there are those who regard only their emotions as real. They say, “All this transcendental stuff is a way of trying to suppress my feelings.” But in grief one cannot push away hell in order to attain heaven any more than one can grasp heaven in one’s teeth by embracing hell. It is not either/or- it is both/and. Which brings to mind a photograph of the silent Indian teacher Hari Dass standing with his chalk board on chichis written, “We must do all.”
There is a story of a Zen monk, mourning beside the grave of his recently dead teacher. One of the monks comes up to him and says, “You are supposed to be a monk, why are you crying?” The grieving monk turns and says sternly, “I am crying because I am sad.”
When understanding comes, when we see the root out of which experience arises, there is room for everything. There’s room for the joy of our original nature, without grasping or holding to it, without hiding behind it as an idea that allows us to suppress our feelings. There’s room, too, for sadness.
It is perhaps in grief that we discover the force that carried us once again into incarnation, the reason we incarnated in the first place. It is in the tearing open of the heart that we discover how guarded our lives have become, how small a cage we have traded off for safe ground. We see how our work is to be more loving, to live more fully in an often confusing world.