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 they are 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 whatever comes.
Because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— Jelaluddin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks
Many of us have spent periods of time in depression, fear, anxiety, anger or despair; feeling stuck and at the mercy of the experience, seemingly unable to make any kind of meaningful shift.
Much of our inability to cope with emotions is because of judgment. Many of us are taught it’s not okay to be angry, or depressed, or sad; or we’ve been taught that we’re bad if we have ‘inappropriate’ sexual feelings; we’ve been taught to judge ourselves harshly if we become jealous or if we gossip or if we have a desire to hurt somebody. Each of us has something that at times will bring up shame and self-judgment and the belief that we are somehow not worthy of happiness, or even of life.
The truth is, we are human. Thoughts and feelings arise in us, unbidden, every hour of every day. None of these thoughts or feelings define who or what we are. What we are is spirit, beyond all thought and all feeling and all imagining. Who we are is determined by the actions we take that are expressive of, or not expressive of, this truth of what we are. The thoughts and feelings are almost beside the point.
Each time we meditate we contact the place of Being within, the place beyond thought. We rest in this place of Being, healed by it, uplifted by it. And then, in our eyes-open state, we remind ourselves of this other thing we are. We make the effort to step back from thoughts and feelings, to not be swept up in them; to let them roll through us, while knowing we are something else. Knowing we are the silent witness of it all – the whole parade of humanity that streams through us continually. And as this silent witness, all these thoughts and feelings and moods become for us what they actually are: passing waves and ripples on the vast ocean of life, coloring our experience for a moment and then gone.
Today I will accept some thought or feeling or idea within myself that once was unacceptable. I will see myself exactly as I am and accept myself exactly as I am, as I know that God/Life/Nature accepts me.
Temple Lake, Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, India