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What arose in meditation this morning?

The suffering of Philippines, Syria, a friend losing her son, another losing her home, all children suffering from poverty, alcoholism, war, violence, child abuse.  Yet, as much as sorrow “is like a river of tears, so vast it fills the four oceans,” the flowers continue to bloom. The tree outside my meditation porch is so strong and tall, the blue sky so beautiful, the clouds soft, the dawn glorious.

Even in the Philippines, the sun rises, thousands of people rush to bring aid to the suffering.  Suffering is the other side of the same piece of paper Thich Nhat Hanh holds up to an audience.  Pain is not separate from peace, joy and relief.  It is the same, just the other side of the coin, the paper, the face.  Suffering and happiness inter-are.

In his August retreat at Blue Cliff Monastery, Thay often expressed the theme: “No mud, no lotus.”  He said that we need the mud, the suffering, in order to blossom into the lotus of happiness.  We don’t need to look for mud or create it in our lives.  Humans suffer illness, old age, death and the loss of people and things we hold dear.  Our actions are the ground upon which we stand, our only true possessions the words, deeds, thoughts and feelings that we send out into the Universe.

In meditation we consciously nourish the energy of mindfulness, aware of the suffering in our bodies, minds and feelings.  We wake up, become more and more aware, not only of our own suffering but also of that of the people in our lives, the people in our neighborhood and community….the people in the world suffering as we suffer.  Someone somewhere is suffering in exactly the same way we are suffering at this moment.  Some are suffering much more in this moment.  We are interconnected in our hearts, even with people we will never meet in person.  We can keep opening our hearts, discovering more compassion.

How can my friend who recently lost her son have so much insight, calm and ability to mindfully open her heart and express her needs?  I don’t know that I could do what she has done, but her ability to survive and take care of her grief gives me hope.   She is reading the Discourse on Love over and over:

“Just as a mother loves and protects her only son at the risk of her own life, cultivate boundless love to offer all living beings in the entire cosmos. Let our boundless love pervade the whole universe, above, below and across. Our love will know no obstacles. Our love will be absolutely free from hatred and enmity. Whether standing or walking, sitting or lying, as long as we are awake, we maintain this mindfulness of love in our own heart. This is the noblest way of living.”

In his poem “Please Call Me by my True Names, Thich Nhat Hanh asks,
“Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughter at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one….
so I can wake up and the door of my heart could be left open,
the door of compassion.”

Please let my heart continue to open to my own suffering and that of my fellow humans.



  1. Just in awe my friend. Such a beautiful blog and deep reminder for me to read. You have touched my heart and soul. Thank you for sharing this wisdom and light (it came at a much needed time for me) Blessings to you!

    • Thank you so much! You encourage me to keep writing and publishing.

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