Loss February 22, 2018

We can lose anything. We’re losing things all the time, really.

We often ruminate over things we’ve lost in the past. We sometimes obsess over the things we’re losing in the present. We worry about what we’re going to lose in the future. When we expect loss we sometimes get the idea that we can’t handle it. The truth is that we can.

We think things should be permanent. The nature of things is to change and we can be aware of that and still freak out when things do. We are often so confused.

The Buddha experienced loss. His mother died soon after he was born. When the story of the Buddha is told, it’s usually said that he didn’t experience much suffering and pain in his youth. I humbly submit that that is probably not the case. I think the loss of his mother informed his life and teachings.

Zen Master Dogen experienced loss too. Both his parents died when he was a child. He was an orphan when he became a monk.

Zen Master Ikkyu was taken away from his mother at the age of five and raised by monks.

These great masters have great stories of loss, of seeing impermanence firsthand in their childhoods.

There was a woman named Kisa Gotami who lived in the Buddha’s time. She had a son who died. She went to the Buddha and said, “Can you bring my son back to life?”

People asked the Buddha for all sorts of things in those days.

He said, “Bring me a mustard seed from a home where no one has ever died and I will bring your son back to life.”

So, Kisa left and went from house to house asking about death. Of course she couldn’t find a house where no one had ever died.

The point of the story is that we’re all experiencing loss. We’re all going to lose our loved ones.

How do we deal with it? What helps?

Just be nice to each other. Just understand that the bad times are going to pass too, just like the good ones. Everything is going to pass. The least we can do is just be kind to each other. Everyone you meet is struggling.


 Daniel Scharpenburg is a meditation instructor and dharma teacher in Kansas City. He regularly gives teachings through the Open Heart Project, the largest virtual mindfulness community in the world.
Find out more about Daniel on his website 

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