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caregiver’s curiosity

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I hosted a jizo ceremony for members of our mediation group yesterday — an occasion to reflect on personal losses, sew little garment, and place them on statues in our meditation garden. All done in silence, except for a couple of chants and poems; solemn, some tears. Afterwards two people wrote to say that “it was more profound and beautiful than I could have imagined. We both noticed a sense of lightness ….”

While I guided the proceedings, I also visited my own grief. Once everyone had left, I marvelled at this wonderful practice. How did I get to be so fortunate (blessed?) to have the tools and opportunity to be of service? I felt drained and took to bed; woke up an hour later, refreshed and still.

Many friends are caregivers: nurses, counsellors, health care providers, volunteers, companions, teachers, parents. How do you do it, day in and day out?

What motivates a caregiver’s actions?
Why are we willing to be with another’s pain?
Who can say?
We want to help,
but that’s not the whole story.
We feel obliged,
but that’s not it either.

Beneath the many motives of the conditioned mind
rests the mysterious Tao,
which is the true source of all caring.
We can’t see it or understand it.
We can only trust that it
is the origin of what we do
and the power that helps us see it through.

source: Martin, W. & M. (2011). The caregiver’s Tao te Ching. Novato, CA: New World Library, p. 24. The Tao te Ching is a 2600-year old Chinese text. The term tao can be translated as “way” to mean course of life and its relation to eternal truth. 


3 responses »

  1. Yesterday afternoon I threw out the tv set. In the early evening, instead of sitting in front of it, I took a walk. On the way out, I passed under a tree from which a crow was cawing and who started to dive-bomb me as I passed. I looked around but didn’t see any trouble I was giving it, and asked what was the problem, but receiving no answer I continued on my way. On the way back in, I passed the same way. Crow was still there, obviously disturbed by me or by something. And this time, I saw the problem. His or her mate was on the ground with–probably–a broken wing. It couldn’t do more than flutter across the grass. I debated taking it to a vet, but it was Sunday evening, none were open, and the animal hospital was far away and I without a car. And doubts entered: would a vet think it worth the trouble to repair a crow? I abandoned it–as did Basho a child on his trip to the Far North. At home, I was tired and lonely. I went back to get the tv set so I could avoid myself, but thankfully it was already gone from beside the dumpster where I had left it. And I finally thought whether it might have been kinder to go and kill the crow, instead of it’s having to wait for a slower death. But there is no way to answer that question. I didn’t. Their plight pulled at me. This morning, on my way out again, I passed the spot where the crows were, and both were gone.

  2. yesterday (June 5)on CBC radio ‘Tapestries’ program, they talked about funeral ceremonies in a vancouver cemetary; it made me think of the Jizo ceremony…

  3. Thank you kindly for leading the jizo ceremony. I realized how much residual loss, grief and sadness that I am still carrying with me from experiencing a miscarriage. Sewing the little shoulder bag, feeling the fabric with my heart, presence with each stitch, tears washed over me. Placing a message of remembrance in the bag reflecting a personal loss. Placing it on Jizo… another healing step.

    Lost… not named … parents love not forgotten. Impermanence.

    I am grateful for the sacred space you provide and your sharing of your own grief. Deep bow. Tracy


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