my birthday present

my birthday present
My awesome birthday present 1/26/11 (see story under my first post)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

What you resist, persists

This week I have been reading a book by Pema Chodron  titled Always Maintain a Joyful Mind. It comes with a cd that explains  tonglen, defined in the following excerpt from her book When Things Fall Apart.

 “In tonglen practice, when we see or feel suffering, we breathe in with the notion of completely feeling it, accepting it, and owning it. Then we breathe out, radiating compassion, loving kindness, freshness; anything that encourages relaxation and openness.”

Chodron was born in the US then converted to Buddhism and then became a Buddhist nun. She writes extensively and conducts workshops and retreats. For more detailed explanation click here.

The basic premise is to fully accept the pain we encounter in life, which is of course, counterintuitive. Humans instinctively avoid pain and discomfort of any kind. It struck me though,  that this technique is  essentially the same as the philosophy of Rumi in Guest House.  I looked through my stash of poems and found two more poets echoing the same idea.  I think it is interesting to see the  premise of Buddhist tonglen in Rumi,  a 13th century Sufi mystic, in Rilke, a German (1875-1926) and in a contemporary psychotherapist,  Jennifer
Welwood . Carl Jung said that which you resist, persists. Ekhart Tolle advices that we “accept what is.”  No doubt great advice, but very hard to do.
Guest House
This being human is a guesthouse.
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 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.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~
Part One, Sonnet IV
You who let yourselves feel: enter the breathing
that is more than your own.
Let it brush your cheeks
as it divides and rejoins behind you.
Blessed ones, whole ones,
you where the heart begins:
You are the bow that shoots the arrows
and you are the target.
Fear not the pain. Let its weight fall back
into the earth;
for heavy are the mountains, heavy the seas.
The trees you planted in childhood have grown
too heavy. You cannot bring them along.
Give yourselves to the air, to what you cannot hold.
(In Praise of Mortality, translated and edited by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)

- Jennifer Welwood

Willing to experience aloneness,
I discover connection everywhere;
Turning to face my fear,
I meet the warrior who lives within;
Opening to my loss,
I gain the embrace of the universe;
Surrendering into emptiness,
I find fullness without end.
Each condition I flee from pursues me,
Each condition I welcome transforms me
And becomes itself transformed
Into its radiant jewel-like essence.
I bow to the one who has made it so,
Who has crafted this Master Game.
To play it is purest delight;
To honor its form--true devotion.


Jayne said...

I have been struggling so much lately with how to handle the pain of seeing people around me suffer and struggle. These poems give me new eyes to see and a new perspective on how to handle the pain. Thanks so much, and congratulations on welcoming a brand new woman to this magfificent world.

Loretta said...

Each of these poets echo a part of my life. From the time I was a child I got very bad headaches. As I grew older, they were identifide as migraines. I was told to make them my friend. This sounded just silly enough to try. Instead of relying strong meds, I calmed myself and pampered myself with TV time or whatever I deemed to be a treat at the time. Sure enough it helped.

Now, as Jayne points out it is hard to handle the pain of seeing others suffer and struggle.

I am greataful that Pam is sharing thes poems wilt all of us.