Song to the Spirit of Life

The Buddhist scriptures describe experience, profound religious understandings. Each day we sing/recite many of them central to the teachings of Zen. They are configured in poetic form. I remember somebody saying that the scriptures were written at deaths door. Meaning for me that the understanding contained in them was hard-won, that’s the absolute allowing of the dropping away of the illusion of an enduring separate selfhood. In effect to die while still alive.

These days and months I seem to be ‘tuning into’ what that all means for me personally. The dropping away, it’s not an option or anything to do with virtue. I’ve had contact with many who find themselves in extremity and see them ‘drop away’. In some cases there is no choice, the extremity leaves no choice. The following was written by a devoted Christian person early on in his diagnosis of ALS –  Lou Gehrig’s disease

Read/sing lest we forget the depths of our being. Yes, the language is theistic, the sentiments universal.

Spirit of Life, remind me
to listen to the sound
of your whispered voice
and to feel your presence in my soul.

Calm my mind
so that I might hear
the gentle melody of life
that murmurs beneath my busy thoughts.

Help me be still
and quiet, desiring nothing
but acceptance of your will
and understanding of your purpose.

Please give me this gift
of peace each day
so that I never forget
to love my life and to share that love.

You are always with me,
The strength, the light and the joy of my being.

Lessons of ALS – Facebook

The merit of this post is offered to all those who face, live with and struggle to accept the day-to-day realities of ALS and similar conditions of the nervous system. One cannot even imagine. The chap who wrote Lessons of ALS as his condition progressed was eloquent on the whole matter of mortality.  Not to mention his describing what it feels like to lose the use of ones body and retain ones mind.

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7 thoughts on “Song to the Spirit of Life”

  1. This is so poignant, and deeply felt knowing ( sort of ) the conditions that were presenting themselves to this fine man. That he could hold this grace and suffering… these opposites, is a very rare teaching for me.

  2. Please explain a little further what you mean by people finding themselves in extremity.
    In gassho
    Stephanie

    1. Hi, I just looked up extremity and one of the meanings is thus: An extreme condition or state (especially of adversity or disease). That’s about how I use the term ‘in extremity’. I use it at the end of a post as a way of including everybody when offering spiritual merit. I’ll sometimes have somebody specific in mind too but it isn’t appropriate to mention somebody by name for privacy reasons.

  3. It’s perhaps worth mentioning that in the UK, ALS is generally referred to as MND (motor neurone disease). Professionally, I met a number of individuals, and their families, who were living with this extremely difficult condition, and was often impressed by their humour and gentleness. It’s extraordinary how people can respond from some deep part of the spirit when faced with such circumstances.

  4. Thanks Mark. I’d been a bit confused and this has cleared it up. MND it is. I was just thinking this morning about people who not only endure hardship but thrive through what most of us would crumble under.

    Bows to you.

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