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Bhikshuni Vasetthi: Oh, My Heart

When a child dies, everyone grieves.

But a mother’s grief is different.

Not more real or more important.

Just different.

I can talk about it like this now.

Back then I just wandered from place to place.

I don’t know if I ate.

I don’t know if I slept.

From the bottom of darkness, I heard a voice.

It was just a whisper, so I leaned towards it—

and became a bucket, pulled slowly up from the bottom of a well.

In the same way, I called out to my grief and drew it toward me.

I held my grief and gently rocked it.

Shh, I said. There, there. There, there.

People sometimes ask,

Wasn’t it painful? Weren’t you afraid?

Yes, it was painful. So is giving birth.

Oh, my heart, you mustn’t fear the pain.


This verse is adapted by Matty Weingast from the Therigatha, a Buddhist text consisting of a collection of 73 short poems of women who were senior nuns. The poems date from a three hundred year period, starting in the late 6th century BCE. It is the companion text to the Theragatha, verses attributed to senior monks. It is the earliest known collection of women’s literature composed in India.

Source: Great Middle Way

4 comments on “Bhikshuni Vasetthi: Oh, My Heart

  1. Rose Mary Boehm
    January 13, 2023

    A powerful and moving poem. Thank you.

    Like

    • Vox Populi
      January 13, 2023

      Yes, I love these ancient Buddhist nuns. They were so profoundly insightful.

      >

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Susie Cronin
    January 13, 2023

    Such a powerful poem, Michael. I’m so impressed with the variety and depth of things you find to post.

    Thank you!

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This entry was posted on January 13, 2023 by in Poetry, spirituality and tagged , , , , , , .

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