Words of WonderVijaya - Victor - Matty Weingast

Vijaya – Victor

When everyone else was meditating,
I’d be outside circling the hall.

Finally I went to confess.
I’m hopeless, I said.

The elder nun smiled.

Just keep going, she said.
Nothing stays in orbit forever.

If this circling is all you have,
why not make this circling your home?

I did as she told me,
And went on circling the hall.

If you find yourself partly in
And partly out –
If you find yourself drawn to this Path
And also drawing away –
I can assure you,
You’re in good company.

Just keep going.

Sometimes the most direct path isn’t a
straight line.

adapted by Matty Weingast


This morning, I wasn’t in the mood for musing on a poem. Feeling unsure as to whether I could connect with something meaningful from a disconnected place, I opened The First Free Women by Matty Weingast (a very popular book of poems, although there’s been quite a bit of criticism of the way it was presented  which suggested the poems were translations of rather than inspired by the “Verses of the Elder Nuns”. It’s now been published again with a new subtitle and book description).

With anger and anxiety gripping my chest, I read the poem above. It was as if the old nun spoke the only words that would have got through to me! ‘If this circling is all you have, why not make this circling your home’. And of course, immediately I felt a whisper of peace entering my heart. I felt comforted by these gentle wise words. The situation became workable. Yes, I can make this angry, anxious circling my home, and actually when I do it feels like someone has let the pressure out of a very taut inner balloon. Phew!

On another note, and in response to the second part of the poem, do you ever feel caught between your deep motivation to practice and a part of you that would rather do anything but? In my experience of teaching many people mindfulness, this plays out with most of us at one time or another. We know the path is profoundly important and that it connects us with growth, understanding and possibility in a way that our busy doing self can only dream of. And yet we resist. ‘Just keep going,’ says the poem. If we commit to something – 10, 20, 30 minutes, almost daily and invite whatever is around for us into that space, something can happen. We can internalise the kind, wise old nun. The world needs quiet whispers of peace. Our practice is a birthplace for peace.

May we all find peace.

Ps. We warmly invite you to our weekend of reunion in person, at Samye Ling. The title of the weekend is Finding Peace within to grow Peace in the World…

Photo by Tim Bechervaise on Unsplash