The thief left it behind: the moon at my window - Ryokan

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

When a beloved passes

“Last year at the end of August my father died.... I loved my father very much and for some months after he died I entered a strange sort of place. I found out I couldn’t relate to many things I usually do. So much seemed utterly irrelevant. I didn’t feel depressed, in fact looking back it was as if part of me was sort of in the realm of the dead, with my father in some way, kind of seeing him through. But so much in ordinary life, so much of peoples concerns, what people wanted to know, what people were concerned about, seemed pointless. Meaning was in the experience of mourning my father’s passing. Of fully acknowledging his passing. Meaning was in the experience of meeting people heart to heart. They as living, breathing beings. Meaning was in fact looking at leaves in the sunlight or listening to bird song in the early morning. Meaning was in these things. So much else seemed like empty noise.”


This morning while I was driving my son Neville to school, we were listening these words in a recording of a teaching by Padmavajra from Padmaloka Retreat Centre. As I heard him describe his experience at the time of the death of his father, I felt for the 1st time that my experience at the time of Gra-anna’s passing and the year that followed had been put into words - I said to Neville, ‘that’s just how I felt!’... and to some extent still feel. It’s as though the passing my child has forever made an imprint on me. What I’m more conscious of these days is how she has opened my heart to compassion. I am aware that through her I feel the suffering of all beings. She has torn my heart wide open.

The other day, Courtney, who was like a sister to Gra-anna, therefore a daughter to me, said she felt that with Gra-anna’s passing my spiritual journey began. I hesitated because in a sense I’ve always been on a spiritual journey. My precious mentor for seven years, Bill Ainslie, whose 20th memorial it is today, was a formative person in my life in terms of raising my awareness in so many ways. Among so much else, he introduced me to the stories of Mullah Nasrudin and Rumi’s poetry, which Gra-anna loved. But certainly it is true that I have never been the same since Gra-anna’s passing.

Look at love
how it tangles
with the one fallen in love

look at spirit
how it fuses with earth
giving it new life

why are you so busy
with this or that or good or bad
pay attention to how things blend

why talk about all
the known and the unknown
see how the unknown merges into the known

why think separately
of this life and the next
when one is born from the last

look at your heart and tongue
one feels but deaf and dumb
the other speaks in words and signs

look at water and fire
earth and wind
enemies and friends all at once

the wolf and the lamb
the lion and the deer
far away yet together

look at the unity of this
spring and winter
manifested in the equinox

you too must mingle my friends
since the earth and the sky
are mingled just for you and me

be like sugarcane
sweet yet silent
don't get mixed up with bitter words

my beloved grows
right out of my own heart
how much more union can there be



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