Guest house – a meditation

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.

— Rumi

I keep coming back to this poem. Recently I have been faced with some challenges in accepting aspects of myself. Rumi reminds me that whatever comes will have value, even if I can't see it today, and that I ought to welcome it as a guest.

A few days ago, I dropped my son off to begin the next phase of his young adult life, in a state almost 1000 miles away. He has made some choices about how he intends to live. I don't agree with those choices, and I fear that it will go badly for him. I was not accepting that fear, but was pushing back against it, not wanting to welcome it into the guest house of my humanity. Through listening and meditation, I have come to realize that this inability to accept my fear cut me off from being able to hear any concerns and fears that my son might have about his choices. And also makes it hard for me to share his excitement about this new venture he is embarking on. I am harmed, and our relationship is harmed.

Another “visitor” that I am having trouble welcoming in, is my fear around my mother's failing health. When I am sitting in my fear, not accepting it and welcoming it in, it is hard for me to be with her. I deny her my presence and I deny myself opportunities to be with her during however much time she has left on this earth. If I avoid the potential pain of seeing her decline, I am essentially saying goodbye to her now, pre-grieving her eventual death. I cannot visit her frequently, as my parents live a day's drive from me. I had an opportunity to visit recently. I handed my fear and anxiety to god, held in compassion and love her struggle with simple tasks, and had a good visit.

It is not easy, when a “dark thought, a shame, a malice” comes to my door, to “laughing invite them in”. But when I do, I often find that they have “been sent as a guide from beyond.”

A meditation for August 14, 2013.

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