How would an enlightened person mourn the death of someone they are close to?

I have personally seen a spiritual teacher speak of the loss of his teacher and cry. Two things struck me about it. His tears were gone in about 30 seconds and he kept right on teaching.

When a person of spiritual accomplishment experiences an emotion, it goes by rapidly, because she or he experiences it mindfully.

When we aren’t mindful of our emotions, we get caught up in the story. The story is comprised of thoughts like, “Oh poor me! Why did this happen to me! People are always leaving me!” These thoughts cause more emotions and those emotions cause more thoughts. These compounded emotions can overwhelm us and we want to lash out or retreat. We are now victimized by our emotions and the resulting behavior is adversely affecting our relationships. This is suffering.

The solution is to be present with the emotion–letting go of the story, not fighting it and not judging it. It will be painful and it will end. It will end much faster than if you fight it or indulge it.

My teacher loved his teacher and was grateful for his teachings. Love is a spiritual quality. The death of someone you love will cause grief, even if you believe in reincarnation. It is a pain as real as stubbing your toe. Although the enlightened don’t suffer, they still experience pain. Grief is a painful, human emotion and teachers are human beings.

©2016 Stephen L. Martin

Painting: Stańczyk by Jan Matejko

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