Thursday, June 24

Tag: WS Merwin

Mindful Monday: Dark Though It Is

Buddhism, death, mindfulness, Spirituality
I posted this poem (see below) by W.S. Merwin a month ago, but it keeps drawing me back, so I'm posting it again for another look. At first glance, the poet makes what seems an absurd assumption: that we are or should be ever-thankful for the myriad ways we suffer. Say what? Thank you for pain, horror, disease, loneliness, and humiliation? The gall! The guy must be cruel or crazy. If we peer through a Buddhist lens, however, perhaps the poem means that it is to our benefit to say thank you to whatever pain comes because, used well, it keeps us keenly aware of the sorry fact that each one of us will suffer and die, and in so knowing, we cannot help but be compassionate to ourselves and others. We say thank you, not despite the fact that we will suffer and die but because of it. Give thanks...

Mindful Monday: No Complaint, Part 2

Buddhism, Joy, mindfulness, peace, Spirituality
Last week, I posted about a teaching, allegedly given by a Zen master named Sono: "Thank you for everything. I have no complaint whatsoever." The story goes that Sono shared this mantra with everyone who came to her for advice or healing, no matter the problem. Unsurprisingly, people rarely appreciated this advice. Most left puzzled, irritated, and unsatisfied, but the few who chose to practice the mantra reportedly found peace and healing. Alan Cohen, who wrote the article linked above, focused on the gratitude-building aspect of the teaching: "Thank you for everything." Indeed, the psychology research on the effectiveness of using gratitude practices to increase one's happiness is impressive. My personal experience with gratitude practices, though, is that they initially feel forced -- h...