Tell me how it happened,
how, without warning on a typical day,
when the morning was filled with possibility,
everything you ever loved shattered like glass.
Tell me how you refused to let the world unravel.
How you began, slowly, methodically,
to gather the scattered pieces
to order the rubble, to build anew.
The Well of Grief
Those who will not slip beneath the still surface on the well of grief
turning down to its black water to the place that we can not breathe
will never know the source from which we drink the secret water cold and clear
nor find in the darkness the small gold coins thrown
by those who wished for something else.
~ David Whyte
Hold on to what is good
Even if it is a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe
Even if it is a tree that stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do
Even if it is a long way from here.
Hold on to life
Even it is easier to let go.
Hold onto my hand
Even if I have gone away from you.
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises
was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being,
the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine
the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit,
the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart
and you shall find it is only that
which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see
that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,”
and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board,
remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver,
needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.
~Kahlil Gibran, "The Prophet"
The Wounds of Grief
Grief deepens you. It allows you to explore the parameters of your soul.
Grief is a gateway to certain levels of understanding and it is a hard taskmaster ...
grief forces you to look at these parts of yourself that are not yet healed.
If you can look at grief as a teaching, you will grow ...
the seeds of wisdom are planted within the wounds of grief.
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever; I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood,
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
~ W.H. Auden
The Buddha's Last Words
O bhikshus! Do not grieve!
Even if I were to live in the world for as long as a kalpa,
our coming together would have to end.
You should know that all things in the world are impermanent;
coming together inevitably means parting.
Do not be troubled, for this is the nature of life.
Diligently practicing right effort, you must seek the way of liberation immediately.
Within the light of wisdom, destroy the darkness of ignorance.
Nothing is secure. Everything in this life is precarious ...
Time is passing. I am about to cross over. This is my final teaching.
~ the Parinirvana Sutra
A Parable of Immortality
I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze
and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength,
and I stand and watch until at last she hangs
like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says,
" There she goes! "
Gone from my sight . . . that is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull and spar
as she was when she left my side
and just as able to bear her load of living freight
to the place of destination.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment
when someone at my side says,
" There she goes! "
there are other eyes watching her coming . . .
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout . . .
" Here she comes! "
~Henry Van Dyke