Struggles with Illness and Loneliness

Loneliness has been the topic of a rather poignant forum conversation on Unfettered Mind Ning recently and I was reminded of that conversation when listening to this passage from Then and Now.

Loneliness (from TAN12: Then and Now (class) 01:13:56.04 - 01:16:16.06)

(download into iTunes)
So, the way that you end the suffering of change, is you experience things just as they are, moment to moment. There's a poet--I should have brought him this evening--a Japanese master called Ryokan. There have been a couple of volumes of his poetry translated into English. My favorite one of the two or three that's been translated is, One Robe, One Bowl.

In some of his poems he describes how he relates to each moment. So he's playing ball with the children. And it's just completely happy. And then evening comes, and he realizes he has spent the afternoon playing ball with the children and not begging for food. So he has nothing to eat. So he goes back to his cabin with nothing to eat. And he's totally sad about that, but that's his experience right there. It's just so. You read his poems and they're just about what he's experiencing right there. They're quite wonderful that way. So, One Robe, One Bowl is the name of the book.

When I was in the three year retreat, I had a great deal of illness, and so a lot of physical and emotional pain from that. Someone sent me this volume in the middle of the retreat. It was very helpful to me, because Ryokan describes himself, struggling with illness and struggling with loneliness in retreat. He's able to relate to these experiences just for what they are. This is the way we end the suffering of change.