by Devin R., Practice Leader

At four this morning I woke up spontaneously, noticing that my mind had turned to writing a blog post in my head.  Did I want to be writing at four in the morning?  No I did not. And then I noticed the irony and began to chuckle–because the idea that woke me was to write about one particular poem and its relationship to mindfulness and compassion. 

You will recognize this poem, as it’s one of the pieces most quoted by meditation teachers around the globe.  You’ve probably read it a thousand times yourself.  (If not, allow me to introduce you to its wisdom.)

It’s about greeting every moment and every one of the ten thousand things that arise, without judgement. 

So there I was, trying to get back to sleep and annoyed with myself.  “Darn it, why am I awake?  I need to sleep for another two hours.  This is going to make me cranky all day.  I don’t need to be awake and thinking about this.  Why do I do this to myself?  Why can’t I get back to sleep?”  You get where I was going here, until the darned insistent poem kept coming back into my head and I started to laugh.  Here it is.  If I may make a suggestion:  Read it twice, slowly.

The Guest House

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 are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
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 whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


Often I repeat this particular poem to myself just before beginning meditation.  It has taught me so much about beginner’s mind, fresh-mind, open mind, compassionate mind.  I never tire of it.  As a “guest blogger” here, I wanted to begin with a welcoming to you and a poem about all the guests we meet, moment by moment. 

A good poem is like an arrow:  Quiet.  Stealthy.  Surprising.  And opening a pathway–to Awareness.

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