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 honourably.
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 as been sent
as a guide from beyond.
by Rumi, translated/interpreted by Coleman Barks
This poem, by Rumi, is well known to Mindfulness practitioners. It is shared near the end of the 8 week Mindfulness Based Living Course and Mindfulness Level One – Being Present.
It is very natural for us to want to resist and push difficult thoughts and emotions away. When shared before practicing the RAIN (Recognise, Allow, Intimate investigation, Non-identification) meditation, it helps us to use the analogy of a guest house to allow painful thoughts and emotions to arise. To invite them in. To allow them to be present. To notice, in detail, how their presence makes us feel. Then, just like a guesthouse, we open the door and allow them space and to be free. Allowing them to pass through without us attaching to them. This practice encourages us to meet our thoughts and emotions with courage and warmth and kindness.
When we are in the midst of difficult times in our lives – when our hearts are wide open, or when we ruminate over our dark thoughts, we often dwell on the pain.
Rumi shows us that, even though we cannot see it at the time, allowing the difficult emotions and thoughts to pass through, creates space for something better to come. A bit like having a spring clean. Then the challenging thoughts and emotions can eventually pass through, if we allow them to. Like guests in a guesthouse. They come, they go.
It is hindsight that has shown me the power of this poem and the RAIN practice and to trust in the process of my practice. And to trust in the flow of life, rather than resist and fight it, especially when times are tough.
I wish you well.
Until next time…
PS from Kristine – we have become aware of issues around the translation from Coleman Barks of this poem, which seems to be more ‘inspired by Rumi’ rather than a translation of words originally written by Rumi. For more information please see this video here.