Grief & Suffering
A friend of mine died suddenly and tragically this past weekend. At the time I am writing this, few details are known to me. I saw a post by another friend, asking people to help get the word out that she was missing, along with details about her car and where she was last seen. Some time after sharing the post, I began my morning meditation practice, as usual. During the practice I imagined sending light and Reiki energy to my friend. As I sat praying for her safe return, the words came to me, "She is wrapped in the loving arms of the Creator of All Things." Literally - those words filled my being along with a ray of light. I stopped praying. Something in me knew...but still hoped for her return. Later in the day, I saw the news that my friend's body had been found in the woods in Princess Anne, MD. My heart filled with grief at this loss - a beautiful, kind, intelligent and talented woman who had so much to give this world. I felt comforted by the words I had received earlier in meditation, but I also know she has a husband and 2 little girls - and the thought of them growing up without their mother is incomprehensible to me. That led me to think about grief and suffering. In my own life, I have learned to handle my own suffering. I am human, and I may get angry or sad or feel life is unfair at times, but I have the tools to deal with healing my own grief and loss. However, I have never been able to accept the suffering of innocents - especially animals and children. I wrote this blog post as my own therapy. Shannon Kaiser wrote, in "10 Healing Mantras for a Heavy Heart", "When loss, sickness or death occur we have two choices, we can lash out and become bitter at the world, or we can turn inward and hold love. Choosing love doesn’t prevent us from feeling the loss, but it can help us feel more purpose in the pain." (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shannon-kaiser/mindfulness-practice_b_5629029.html) According to Yoga Sutra 1.36, "One of the great mysteries of life is life itself." "When we inquire into what life is and what keeps us alive, we may find some solace for our mental distractions. Consideration of things greater than our individual selves helps us put ourselves in perspective." - Translation from T.K.V Desikachar's "The Heart of Yoga" Certainly, the news of this tragedy caused me to set my own mind's preoccupations aside and to be in the moment: To sit with the greater knowledge that someone I cared about was gone, and that her family was suffering. Knowing others suffer and there is nothing in your power to end this suffering is humbling - seeing a greater picture that we are not in control of, nor can it be comprehended or prevented. Before he became "The Awakened One", Sidhartha Gautama sat under the Bodhi tree seeking the cause of suffering and how to end it. During his enlightenment, he discovered 3 universal truths: 1) Nothing is lost in the universe - Matter turns into Energy and Energy turns into Matter. A dead animal fertilizes the soil for new growth to begin again. There is no ending without a new beginning. The sun sets at the end of day and rises every morning. We are all part of this sacred web of life. 2) Everything Changes - I find this truth to be comforting. For we know that nothing lasts and while that means pleasure may be fleeting, it also means suffering is not forever. Pain and pleasure are both part of life. We cannot fast forward through pain and suffering. In fact, if we are to learn from it, we must sit with it and seek the lesson. But we can take comfort in knowing that suffering will not remain forever.
3) Law of Cause and Effect - The Law of Karma - We reap what we sow...This is one I have had difficulty accepting. We can get into all kinds of discussions about past lives, karma we carry with us, and the wheel of samskara, but suffice it to say, I'm still working on developing a clear understanding and acceptance of Karma. I have seen far too many evil people reap good things and too many good people suffer. I think most people tend to define Karma too literally, and it's more subtle than we think. I've also heard people use the concept of karma to ignore the suffering of others, because, "It must be their Karma". For me, the law of "Cause and Effect" is not always visible, but I do believe that as part of the sacred web of life, what we do to the web, we do to ourselves...The seeds of goodness we sow in this earthly life WILL LIVE ON, even if we do not live to see their fruition, and although we may not see people who are unkind to others suffer the consequences of their own bad actions in this lifetime - they do have to live with the knowledge of their deeds, which creates a darkness in the mind and the heart and truly separates them from Bliss. Sometimes, when there is no comfort to be found from the experience of suffering, I turn to music and prayer. So, I conclude this week's blog post with this beautiful Sanskrit prayer. May the Creator of All Things surround my friend's family with light and love and peace.
Asato Maa Sad Gamaya (From ignorance, lead me to Truth,) Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya (From darkness, lead me to Light) Mrityor Maa Amritam Gamaya (From death, lead me to Immortality) Om Shanti Shanti Shanti (Om, Peace, Peace, Peace)