18 April 2014 5 Comments

Pearls from Pain, Part 15: Expressing the Universal

Profound grief has a transcendent dimension. Powerful pain can bring us right into our humanity, in a base and primal way or in a ways that touch the beauty of spiritual unity. The state of one’s heart is the determining factor.

My most transformative experience of transcendent grief occurred several decades ago, following a crisis that lead to the sudden and monumental loss of an intensive spiritual study group I had been cultivating for three years. This was the only time I had been in an intimate group that felt like lifelong bonds. I felt like dying.

I remember lying down on my bed, staring down shock and grief and taking stock of my life. At the cost of giving up attachment and accepting what life was dealing, I could go anywhere and do anything. I did not WANT to, but I could. I realized that my body was innocent. No use taking things out on my vehicle. Nothing could be done. I would go on. I grieved.P1080209

Profound spiritual traditions say, “Die before death.” The freedom of letting go of our conditions is one part of what they are alluding to. I released my conditions for participating in life as it had just become.

As I began to sob I first heard strain my tone. I felt guided to keep my heart open instead of contracting around the pain, and practiced relaxing my throat, letting the sound of my weeping pour through me like breath through a reed flute. I sought to let the pain breathe me and to stay soft.

Gradually I began to listen to my grief like an ancient song of the universe, primal and eternal. Entering my pain even more fully I embraced it and let it expand, remembering places in the world where cultures support this full expression, like the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and a procession of mourners in a Greek village.

Since my heart could hurt no more  intensely, I began to visualize wrapping my heart around the pain being sung aloud by people on several continents. Expansion beyond Self felt good, even as I hurt. Accepting my pain was drawing me into profound compassion.

From this place of beauty I felt generous, nearly at peace. I thought about Western culture, how we repress pain; of all those in terrible pain who cannot cry. I contemplated the anguish of being locked inside one’s self with such distress, while no one around knows, and becoming too stiff and shut down to release it. My clean, pure pain was like a river of life.

Then a fascinating kind of joy arose as I began to pull through my wide open circuits the pain of those who cannot voice it. I prayed to be an outlet or release point for their pain while I flowed in this eternal song of grief, connected to all Beings, yet safely at the center of my own experience.

This timeless passage gradually resolved to land me gently in the here and now, relaxed and in a state of wonder. I saw fresh and clear the light and shadows in my room, textures, shades of color. I thought  again about the losses I was grieving, now without angst or resistance. I just noted them. I felt like someone waking up on an island after a shipwreck, aware of tragic loss but also of transcendent grace. Life stretched out before me with its particularities and possibilities–the miracle of standing before life like a painter with an empty canvas.

If part of you ever feels like dying, remember: Your body is innocent. If you feel like dying, let ego die to your demands of and illusions about life. You can build a new life.  Your body is a gift. You can create new possibilities and perhaps even experience transcendence by releasing any conditions you place on happiness, and participating in the Greater Whole.

What part of you, or your life circumstances, belongs with your past now, but not your future?

Who can you become more fully if you accept this loss and expand instead of contracting?

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5 Responses to “Pearls from Pain, Part 15: Expressing the Universal”

  1. Therese 18 April 2014 at 9:21 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I could feel your pain was intense. I’m sorry for the loss you experienced & grateful for what you learned. Again, thank you for sharing.

    I don’t think I’ve had anything like this or maybe I did but was unable to express it. I’ve had so much loss in my life & it use to keep me closed off & afraid to reveal any feelings of love. But one day I truly figured out nothing ever leaves & experiences are lessons for our benefit though we may not understand them at the time. So I view death & loss very differently now.

    As an example, I recently helped one of my cats transition. While I was crying, the crying was more around my realization I’d failed my cat by keeping him with far longer than Was best for him. I was blinded by my desire to keep him around. Hopefully, I’ll get it right in the future.

    • Teresa Dietze 18 April 2014 at 9:58 pm #

      Hi Therese.

      I feel so much reading your response. Your ability to observe, accept and stay open with your process around this is wonderful. Yes, nothing ever leaves. Loss can build up and snowball, though, and it can become cumulative when there’s a spate of it. Working to embracing loss and death is a strange and sometimes lonely path, yet I think we must walk it if we aim to age and decline intact.

      Bittersweet realization about your cat. Your love. Your willingness to learn. The unselfishness of your honesty with yourself around your experience is touching. It’s rare and beautiful to bring such lovely sincerity and spiritual purpose to that rich and vital arena.

      I’d like to share a talk a dear friend gave: Life, Death, Near Death & Beyond: An Exploration



      • Therese 19 April 2014 at 8:25 am #

        Thank you for the video. I resonated with a lot of it. I know I’m not afraid of Death. Of course, that is easy to say since no one has told me I’m dying. I don’t think another person’s opinion would affect my belief system but only time will tell. The only thing I think about, when thinking about Death, is knowing how my family will grieve. Hopefully, I would have time to help them with that. I know there is nothing I would change if I knew I was going to die in a month. Well, ok, I’d write down my passwords so my husband would know how to access everything. 😉

        • Teresa Dietze 19 April 2014 at 10:03 am #

          I like his comments: “I am less concerned wondering whether there is life AFTER death than with whether or not there is life BEFORE death.” and “We do not die for ourselves–we die for our communities.”

          A client’s Father is dying. He cannot read or do much, and chose intentionally to reflect and set things right. In the process he has come out of an almost lifelong semi-silence to show staggering depth, consideration, forethought, gratitude, wisdom and love. He is sharing his insights and reflections about life with his children, telling them all the things he wants to make sure they know about him and how he feels about them. It is incredibly beautiful!

          Funny: I was saying a few days ago to my Mother (we have been filling out end-of-life paperwork for our files) to be sure to put passwords in her file.

  2. Therese 25 April 2014 at 2:48 pm #

    Yes, passwords are important these days.

    I’m so thrilled for your client & his family. Those stories, his thoughts, & his feelings likely mean so much to them. I’m glad his work with you helped him get to this place in life. Well done all around!

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