Marpa’s Grief

“It is said that when Marpa, the great Tibetan meditation master and teacher of Milarepa, lost his son he wept bitterly. One of his pupils came up to him and asked: ‘Master, why are you weeping? You teach us that death is an illusion.’ And Marpa said: ‘Death is an illusion. And the death of a child is an even greater illusion.’

Marpa showed his disciple that while he could understand the truth about the conditioned nature of everything and the emptiness of forms, he could still be a human being. He could feel what he was feeling; he could open to his grief. He could be completely present to feel that loss.

There is nothing incongruous about feeling our feelings, touching our pain, and, at the same time understanding the truth of the way things are. Pain is pain; grief is grief; loss is loss – we can accept those things. Suffering is what we add onto them when we push away, when we say, ‘No, I can’t.”


Ayya Medhanandi Bhikkhuni 

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