Stephen Levine: Exploration of Grief

This chapter-long “exploration of grief” by Stephen Levine is connected to (and in his book, immediately follows) the guided meditation on grief that I posted yesterday. This “exploration of grief” is profound, and I recommend it to everyone, whether you are presently grieving a major loss or not. It may feel particularly relevant and urgent to anyone who has recently suffered the loss of someone very important in their life, but who among us doesn’t carry grief in our hearts and bodies, who among us doesn’t have grief to explore? As Levine writes:

All of us have grief to explore, the grief of incompletion, of not having what we wish, the loss of face or actually the loss of facade, the despair of no control in the shifting sands of impermanence, in the ever-varying winds of an unknown universe. It is the death of friends. It is the loss of one’s pet as a child. It is good friends moving away and old pains returning. It is all the moments of being unloved… It is the ordinary grief, our unfinished business, our daily dying out of life. (247-8)

As these lines suggest, though this chapter by Levine is ostensibly about “grief” in particular, his exploration actually encompasses the whole of life, and what he says in this chapter about working with grief is deeply relevant to the whole of one’s practice life.