Dear ones.
Dear ones.

My face is tired of crying and my heart is so bursting out of my body for the small ones, the grownups and the families in CT that are, no doubt, reeling from the shootings today.  It’s almost too horrible to write that sentence. I’m so sad.

This letter was written by Ram Dass to parents who lost their child.  I sobbed when I heard them read the letter in the movie, Fierce Grace. I needed to read this again today.

Dear Steve and Anita,

Rachel finished her work on earth, and left the stage in a manner that leaves those of us left behind with a cry of agony in our hearts, as the fragile thread of our faith is dealt with so violently. Is anyone strong enough to stay conscious through such teaching as you are receiving? Probably very few. And even they would only have a whisper of equanimity and peace amidst the screaming trumpets of their rage, grief, horror and desolation. 

I can’t assuage your pain with any words, nor should I. For your pain is Rachel’s legacy to you. Not that she or I would inflict such pain by choice, but there it is. And it must burn its purifying way to completion. For something in you dies when you bear the unbearable, and it is only in that dark night of the soul that you are prepared to see as God sees, and to love as God loves. 

Now is the time to let your grief find expression. No false strength. Now is the time to sit quietly and speak to Rachel, and thank her for being with you these few years, and encourage her to go on with whatever her work is, knowing that you will grow in compassion and wisdom from this experience.

In my heart, I know that you and she will meet again and again, and recognize the many ways in which you have known each other. And when you meet you will know, in a flash, what now it is not given to you to know: Why this had to be the way it was. 

Our rational minds can never understand what has happened, but our hearts– if we can keep them open to God – will find their own intuitive way. Rachel came through you to do her work on earth, which includes her manner of death. Now her soul is free, and the love that you can share with her is 
invulnerable to the winds of changing time and space. In that deep love, include me.

In love,

Ram Dass


17 thoughts on “horribleness.

  1. The first Noble Truth in Buddhism speaks to holding suffering in our hearts, shielding it with the shell of our breath of mindfulness. When I get stuck with the idea during yoga, I think of a time release capsule that is the cavity of my body… the place that processes my breath, my food, my tensions… and this is the time (like today’s shooting) when I pull myself down into the base of my belly and breathe as I sob my way through Vinyassas. I sob, and I sob, but I also know that my brain is storming… and that emotions are like wind whipping the neurons of my brain wildly in this storm of awful, awful, tragic… devastating news. I know it’s not less horrible than other horrors that hit the news today. It’s the reality of what happens when a sickness of the soul relieves itself through murder, rage, and pain that hit me.

    To feel nothing is impossible for me. To not sit with it, breathe with it, and trust the potential of “all things that have yet to come”… during a company holiday party… this I must make possible. And it went all right at times when it was important not to cry, but sit with it I do. Because it’s here, and it’s not okay. Nothing’s okay with this kind of thought. Where is our humanity failing?

    I cannot, tonight, be fine with an act of violence that dropped me this afternoon… as if everyone lost belonged to me… like family. Maybe it’s because we are ALL family… and this is tragic again, and again, and again because this human family is dropping the ball. Is it me? Is it you? Is it all of us? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we must, must, MUST listen to these broken souls differently and change our minds about the way we handle horror. And I’m not talking about just Connecticut… I’m talking about the whole world. Our universe. Our Everything.

    I believe that it is within our power–every one of us–to sit with this horrific tragedy (even if only for a minute, a breath in, and then out… (whatever it takes) and be one with it, rather than fight the emotions, the pain, and all the tensions that today’s shooting brings to heart and mind. We have to. If we do not sit with all the hurt we push away, we will never learn a better way to be… a way to live better… we won’t learn how to live more compassionately with ourselves and others if we don’t make a point of doing so every day.

    No one’s above making tragic choices. No one.

    1. Meredith. Yes.

      The sorrow is even more profound than the exquisite pain of children and loved ones lost. It is this evidence that we are failing. We are failing to teach our children to embrace their humanity –the anger the pain, the emotions and the tensions, as you say–so that it doesn’t have to become the deranged experiences of shame and self-hatred. We are failing to protect the people, like this man, who turned to unspeakable violence, instead of being able to have the sense that there is love in this world. We are failing to feel the struggles of those in our communities who live with less. Because if we allowed ourselves to feel, then we could not sit back. Painful emotion is inherent in all human life on this planet. There are only a few who are pulling our humanity along, teaching us that it is okay to be angry, that we must be able to feel things deeply and know that it is only a part of what we are capable of. These teachers are asking us to help carry the load. We must allow humanity to be present in our lives, however painful and ugly and frightening so that it doesn’t amass quietly inside of us and become the unspeakable and the tragic.

      And what the fuck automatic weapons. Major fail.

  2. My heart aches for the parents who lost their precious children in this horrible tragic. As a parent myself, I cannot imagine the pain and sorrow they are going through. It’s heart breaking.

  3. My husband, four sons and I live 15 minutes from Newtown, CT. The pain these families are experiencing is unimaginable. Your words and posting of the letter from Ram Dass are so helpful, thank you. Our whole area is in mourning; this is going to take a long time to move through.

  4. Hearing news that happen in other parts of the world, don’t always register immediately with me. Sometimes it feels more like, oh no, not another one… moving on. Blending into one with other tragedies. That is where your words connect the news to the destinies behind the news. The pain and the suffering. I was fighting with my son all day today feeling sorry for myself and really hard done by. But this puts things in perspective… practicing gratitude every day for my blessings. Feeling the sadness… thanks for sharing Amanda.

  5. Thank you for those lovely words from Ram Dass. It has to start with ourselves – we have to have love for ourselves and the world and peace within our own hearts. We cannot teach our children that; we have to be that. Truly, that is our work here.

    1. I think you are so right…loving ourselves is our work and for some more than others, it is about unlearning the stuff that got us to not love ourselves along the way. Tragedies like this one (certainly not the only horrible thing that has affected us deeply even on this one day, much less over history) reminds me that our work is with ourselves first and ultimately, but what does that look like when it extends to our families, schools, communities, nation? What do we do? How do we support each other in a way that demonstrates the love that we have for ourselves, that we ARE and in the moments that the love is hard to find and to see in ourselves, who or what resources do we offer each other to help us to make our way back to loving ourselves?

      1. a couple of big questions there Amanda :). I can’t answer for all of humanity, and there are many ways to do this; but for me, when I feel the negative feelings filling me up and taking me over, whenever i can (before, during or after) I come back to presence. How am i right now? Breathe. what is actually happening to me right now? Breathe. is this reaction the best most appropriate reaction? Breathe. Step back, look up. Get perspective. It works for all of humanity because all of our energy is linked like a big electrical grid. So while it seems miniscule, the effect isn’t. That is why we are told to send love along the grid that connects us all instead of more pain, hate and anger. We can feel those emotions, but as you wrote the other day, we let it go, too. xxx Sara

      2. Sara, I so appreciate you sharing your process and the sense of connectedness that motivates you for several reasons. I’m seeing how staying connected and keeping perspective and knowing how to move reactive, fear-based energy to love is important work that we can only do for ourselves. I’m also becoming more clear, for myself, on how else to use this kind of energy— sometimes it is for the inward journey, sometimes it inspires outward action and helps us to see our dharma more clearly. such good food for thought.

  6. Not easy to express the anguish that we are all feeling. The fact that we can not undo what has been done is hard to accept. For me it is releasing to the One that is greater than I. This has brought me comfort and a bit more understanding. My focus, as I am sure others feel as I do, has gone inward. To make sure that I am being the mother, the wife, the daughter, the woman, the human being that I need to be. It has to start with ourselves. It has to begin with me. We need, each one of us, to become the change we want in the world.

    As a mother of three children, one of them autistic, I feel the pain deeply. Thank you Sara for sharing. I don’t have television, by choice, so the news media has been kept to a minimum. But the sadness is very real.

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