Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Guides from Beyond


This poem by Rumi has come as a guest into my “home” recently. A series of events over last fall and the beginning of this year have left me at various times elated, terrified, energized, devastated, regretful, confused, excited, upset, exhausted, stunned, content, happy, and lost. This poem knocked on my door and offered me a framework for holding all these events in my heart with gratitude. 

The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness
comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if a they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

“Each has been sent as a guide from beyond.” That’s a comforting, or at least an encouraging way to view things, isn’t it? Each guide comes bearing a gift, if I’m willing to receive it. Every experience, the pleasant and the brutal, has something to teach me, to reveal to me. 

Guiding me towards...what? Something profound? Maybe even enlightenment? Dare I hope? 

Perhaps nothing so grand. Perhaps putting our welcome mat out for whoever or whatever stops by leads us towards the simple acceptance of what is. We cease to judge. We cease to struggle or resist. Or to grasp and try to hold on. We make our peace and fall in love with life. All of it.

The Buddhist story is told of Milarepa, who came back to his cave one day to find it filled with demons. He didn’t know how to get rid of them. He tried to teach them Buddhism. They ignored him. He got angry and attacked them. They just laughed. Finally, he gave up and said, “I’m not going anywhere and it seems that you are not either. I guess we will have to live here together. Let’s have some tea.” 

The story says that upon Milarepa’s offer of hospitality, the demons promptly disappeared. But I wonder. I think perhaps they stayed, along with the neighbors and artists and pets and politicians and dust bunnies and laughing children and kings and beggars and lost lovers and birth and death and everything in between and beyond.

Who is knocking on the door of your guest house today? Will you let them in?

You give yourself to life out of love, and it is to love more fiercely that you walk through the fires of sorrow that forge the heart into boundless affection. ~Adyashanti

12 comments:

  1. Some of my demons aren't as allergic to hospitality as Milarepa's, I'm afraid. But for the neighbors and artists and pets and politicians and dust bunnies, etc., it sounds like a great idea. And make sure that God is among the houseguests, that will do for the demons.

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  2. I love that poem. Not only is it about acceptance, but playful acceptance. Thank you!

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  3. Wow, that poem, Galen! It truly spoke to me, too. Our lives will be filled with guests, some wanted and some unwanted, but if we simply accept who they are and what they are, and remain open to the possibility that we are being shown/taught something, we can roll with it.
    Blessings!

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    1. I know. I have read it so many times in the last few days. Like your phrase--we can roll with it. I know you are rolling with some things in your life right now. Hope you are all right.

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  4. Love the poem. Also wanted to tell you that I am re-reading (how many times now?) your book, 10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place, and enjoying it. I am curious about more of your life story - what took you to all those exotic places etc. Have you written about that? I followed your other blog, but not the earliest posts. Maybe I should dig into it a little more. Or maybe you have another book cooking....that would be great.

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    1. Judy, I'm so pleased that you continue to enjoy the book. And I'm glad that you continue to drop by this blog.

      Thank you for your interest in my background. I have not written my "life story" in one place. Bits and pieces come out as they relate to something else I'm writing about. I have been fortunate to travel and live in many other countries. Some of that was young adult travel adventures. I stretched my "gap year" into four(!) and hitchhiked/backpacked from Alaska to South America.

      Later I lived overseas in Thailand, Cote d'Ivoire, and France in connection with my work in international law and was lucky to travel extensively in those regions.

      That's it in a nutshell. I'm happy to answer any questions you have. Feel free to email me at galenpearl@gmail.com.

      No book cooking now but I so appreciate your interest and encouragement. Thank you. Stop by anytime.

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  5. Enjoyed the post Galen, and i've copied the poem to my collection of 'inspirations' - acceptance of all that comes one's way, a good thing to remember always, which I do try to put into practice. It can be a tough concept to describe to someone else who doesn't read much in the way of self development - I was trying to describe it to my husband the other day! Also interesting to find out about your book, I'll be looking into it!

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    1. That's an interesting observation, Lynne, about the different ways that we understand (or don't) some of these concepts. And what language or images we use to communicate with people who look at things a different way. And conversely, can we understand the language and images they use? I would have enjoyed eavesdropping on your conversation with your husband!

      Yes, I used to write a blog called 10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There). It's still online although I don't add new material to it anymore. The book grew out of that blog and has the same title. You can order it through Amazon or Amazon.uk if you are interested.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. Oh, my dear friend, I did want you to know that I loved your poem, "Storm".
    I especially enjoyed reading this post. I do think life experiences is what makes us who we are depending on how we choose to accept and react to them. These guests are gifts to help us grow.
    The poem and the story says it all, perfectly.
    Thanks for sharing your wisdom today; it was perfect for the guest that is visiting my house today.
    Sending warm thoughts and hugs your way!

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    1. Thanks, LeAnn. So glad you liked the poem. Thank you for being a most welcome guest in my home anytime!

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