“This being human is a guest house.
Every morning, a new arrival –
A joy, a depression, a meanness.
Some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
Who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture,
Still treat each guest honorably –
He may be clearing you out for some new Delight.
The Dark Thought, the shame, the malice –
Meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
Because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.
Ask not, “Why is this happening to me?” –
Ask, “Why is this happening for me?”
This is one of my favorite pieces by the great 13th century Sufi poet and mystic, Jalaluddin Rumi. (Though, to be truthful, there are dozens of Rumi’s poems that I call my very favorite – because they are!) Rumi’s guidance can help in three very different situations: when the difficulty comes from without; when it’s borne within; or when we create a darkness where little exists.
First, there are times when you can be hit over the head with difficulties. It’s very hard to open the door laughing if what you meet there is a challenging health situation, losing your home, or some other significant event. In those cases, even if you can’t bring yourself to laugh, you can (and must) still investigate how these recent events can guide you. What can you learn? How can this lead you back to the divine self within? If you work with these questions, you can discover a lighter place and a greater power to help you.
Then there are the times when the trouble you experience comes from your own inner feelings and responses. The dark thought, the shame, the malice – these can spring forth even on the sunniest of days. If you can open the door laughing at these, it can help you see your inner child who needs your love in that moment. Seek to understand the source of these emotional responses. Each is a call to heal and awaken. Now is the time to redefine yourself as the God within whose power, love, and light are always present. You’re never as vulnerable as you think.
Finally, there are those occasions when you might get irritated or angry about the computer breaking down, spilling your coffee on your desk, your son’s room being a mess, someone driving too slowly, or any number of things that seem to make a much bigger problem when there really is none – none of any great consequence any way. Even those technical problems that may require some time and money to repair don’t have to cause a cloud in your day. Just smile and remember that in the eternal life you have forever, this event is hardly a blip on the radar (though the way you respond to it, if you give it so much power that it makes you unhappy, can actually create karma for future lifetimes).
So, however you experience trouble knocking at the door, open it laughing. Find out what this guest brings to you in discovering greater power and truth. The most important lesson for you (and for everyone) is simply to become who you have been forever. When you do that, what’s not to smile?