Thursday, February 3, 2011

Welcome Your "Guests"

I am hoping you all have bad memories and think you haven't seen this little collage before! Another nice Dharma talk by Heather Martin at the Gate House last night. The part that resonated deeply for me had to do with having unconditional friendliness toward what she called "the defilements". I am more familiar with them as the 5 hindrances (remember Buddhism is the religion of lists, not to be confused with making a religion of lists). And I am definitely familiar with the unsuccessful and wasted effort involved in trying to push them away. And the delusion in thinking that experiences these arisings makes me somehow "faulty" or a bad practitioner.

We are all familiar with these hindrances:
desire (which has a range, including rejecting)
anger or ill will
sloth & torpor
agitation, restlessness, worry

She reminded us to look deeply inside when these things arise, get familiar with them. Our usual inclination is to look at the object of the feelings. We focus on the person who made us angry, the source of our worry. She suggested that we might view them all as visitors, not laden with the heavy self ownership we can imbue them with. And she reminded us of the lovely Rumi poem called "The Guest House" that I will leave you with. Now go forth and attend with loving kindness to your guests!

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'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.

~ Rumi ~


  1. Neat. Our sentiments (reflected by the "chopsticks") are what we use to feed ourselves.

    Just had to take my friend, Paranoia, to a meeting so she could see there were no boogey-men in the shadows. ;-)

  2. Love the Rumi poem...

    Pema Chodron calls them "poisons" and the medicine is to get in touch with the wound of the heart underneath them, the pain of the heart - making friends with our pain. And then feeling the tender heart beneath that - the soft heart of bodhichitta - the heart of compassion... I experienced this this weekend - very interesting...

  3. 108 - Glad to see you are chauffeuring your friend paranoia around and offering her what she needs!

    MeANderi- yes, Pema Chodron has such a wonderful clear way of making the practice come alive. It sounds like it was the thing you needed to hear this weekend!

  4. Beautiful, inspirational post . . and a good reminder to not try to "push" away the "negative." Thank you for posting.

  5. I hadn't seen the fabulous collaged bowl eye is so happy with those chop sticks and all those patterns.

    And Rumi's Guest House...swoon swoon.

    Poisons, toxins, roadblocks, demons:'lean into those sharp points' and watch how they dematerialize...hopelessness and toast we call it...cuz the hopelessness usually comes around to visit at about 2 am and so we make toast and read a little dharma passage aloud.
    poof. and the house smells yummy.

  6. Jann - I can never have too many reminders on this one!

    merci33 "hopelessness & toast" I love it! And I love this picture of you sitting around the table at 2 in the morning in you pjs eating toast and reading Dharma with the yummy smell of toast wafting on the air.