The Paradox of Passion

The sign of a successful caring organization may reside in how its impact ultimately overshadows its origins.

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In 1981, my wife and I founded The Hartsbrook School not far from Mind and Life’s offices here in Hadley, Massachusetts. At the time, Hartsbrook was merely an idea voiced among a few new friends in our living room. There were no students yet, no teachers, no facilities. There was only an idea, one that became our passionate aspiration. We longed to not only educate children intellectually (as important as that is), but also to cultivate their imagination by integrating the arts, music, theatre, and poetry throughout the curriculum. We wanted to teach environmental values through a program that included gardens, goats, chickens, sheep, and milk cows. And most importantly, we believed these bright young beings should experience the ever-present care and love of their teachers for all of who they were: body, mind, and spirit. Read More

Longing After Loss

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Out
Of a great need
We are all holding hands
And climbing.
Not loving is a letting go.
Listen,
The terrain around here
Is
Far too
Dangerous
For
That.
—Hafiz

Falling in love can enliven us. Feeling seen and held can ground us; it can put us at ease. Love can also grant us a sense of safety and security. Falling out of love, on the other hand, can unravel us.

Losing love can trigger a cycle of craving and attachment that not only exacerbates our suffering but also can last a long time. As a feeling that once seemed like it would last forever starts to fade, we can become so addicted to the feeling of having been in love that we are willing to try anything to maintain that feeling—by “fixing” our former bond, changing ourselves, or persuading our partner to change. We might even be willing to endure difficult, or even unhealthy, situations in order make that love last. In the face of loss, our minds become fixated on finding something— anything—to fill that void left by love’s absence. Because loss on this level can make us feel we are not worthy of being loved at all, we also become guarded and therefore unwilling to be vulnerable once more. We can risk the hardening of our hearts.

When faced with such loss, great spiritual teachers often warn against this very thing: building fortresses to guard our hearts. These teachers ask us not to abandon love because it is a profound experience necessary for compassion. Rather, they encourage us to recognize more stable and fundamental sources of love within ourselves instead of some external source. Tsoknyi Rinpoche calls this “essence love.” Read More