Heading home

Heidi Rakels © Stephan Vanfleteren

Growing old
I love the quiet that used to disturb me.
I have distance on my life.
The boast and pity of self-regard
have fallen somewhat behind.
Heading home,
the home I carry with me,
I settle into the clouds.
On the mountain
I sit quietly in a sage meadow
visited by the same bees that make lovers
of flowering bushes.
I become part of the golden comb hidden
in the hive humming with delight.”

Stephen Levine


My Mind? No. The Mind.

portrait, black and white

Imagine if for the next twenty-four hours you had to wear a cap that amplified your thoughts so that everyone within a hundred yards of you could hear every thought that passed through your head. Imagine if the mind were broadcast so that all about you could overhear your thoughts and fantasies, your dreams and fears. How embarrassed or fearful would you be to go outside? How long would you let your fear of the mind continue to isolate you from the hearts of others? And though this experiment sounds like one which few might care to participate in, imagine how freeing it would be at last to have nothing to hide. And how miraculous it would be to see that all others’ minds too were filled with the same confusion and fantasies, the same insecurity and doubt. How long would it take the judgmental mind to begin to release its grasp, to see through the illusion of separateness, to recognize with some humor the craziness of all beings’ minds, the craziness of mind itself?”

“But I think it is very useful, and indeed more accurate, to call it “the mind” instead of “my mind.”

– Stephen Levine


Stephen Levine, 75, is an American poet, author and Buddhist teacher. He was born in Albany, New York, Levine attended the University of Miami. He spent time helping the sick and dying, using meditation as a method of treatment.  He is the author of several books about dying, Levine and his wife Ondrea spent one year living as if it were their last. For many years, Stephen and Ondrea have been living in near seclusion in the mountains of Northern New Mexico. They are both currently experiencing significant illness which prevents them from travelling and teaching.  One of the most significant aspects of Stephen’s work and one for which he is perhaps best known, is his pioneering approach to working with the experience of grief. Over 34 years, Stephen and his wife Ondrea have counselled concentration camp survivors and their children, Vietnam War veterans as well as victims of sexual abuse.  Although Stephen acknowledges that our experience of grief is perhaps at its most intense when a loved one dies, he also draws our attention to grief’s more subtle incarnations. “Our ordinary, everyday grief,” accumulates as a response to the “burdens of disappointments and disillusionment, the loss of trust and confidence that follows the increasingly less satisfactory arch of our lives”. (Source: Wiki)


Credits: Thank you Whiskey River from the Stephen Levine and Ondrea Levine’s Book titled Who Dies?.  Portrait: Abdelkader Benali by Stephan Vanfleteren 

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