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