“We all share the experience of grief when something we love is lost. Grief is natural. It is human. But don’t stop there. In the core of your grief is a precious treasure, simply waiting for your willingness to discover it."
Participant: I have a number of dear friends and family who are close to death, and grief has been hitting fast and hard right now. I guess I’ll just cut to the chase: I am very angry at God. As a minister, I am surprised and embarrassed by this because I’ve never felt this way before. Yet in the face of this grief, I feel so angry that God would set it up like this.
Gangaji: Thank you for coming up and speaking about this, because anyone who has ever experienced enormous grief knows that it can seem like a bottomless pit. It is actually easier to feel anger than it is to feel grief, especially if you can find a target for that anger. Right now, that target is God, the God “who is in charge.”
Yes, because I am really going to miss these people.
Yes, this is beautiful. You love these people and you are going to miss them. This thought itself evokes grief, but you don’t have to stay with this thought, you can go deeper. You can let your consciousness be completely enveloped by grief without resistance to it. You can open to the grief. I promise you that your willingness to experience grief all the way through will lead you to more love. If you close down around those feelings, it will only lead to more anger and armoring of the heart.
You don’t waste time, do you?
Why would we waste time? We have known each other some time now, and I know that what you want is the deepest truth. So let us jump together right now into the fire of grief. All the way. No control. This is where there is choice. Even anger feels better than grief because there is some power in anger. “What is God thinking? First there is the promise of life, and then the beauty of life, and then it is over. How did we end up with a god like this?" It can seem almost malevolent at times that everything we love will die and that we will die. One day even the earth itself will die. As legitimate as the anger can feel, if you stay there, you will continue to live your life in avoidance of the reality of death. Death is not separate from life. To the extent that you are avoiding death you are also avoiding life.
The grief really does feel bottomless …
Yes, it does, and this is why we avoid it. But it is possible to let there be no separation between you and grief. If there is no hope for the grief to be over, then what?
(… sitting quietly, taking some deep breaths.)
What are you experiencing?
It doesn’t even feel bottomless; it just feels completely here.
And what is the experience of it just being here?
There is just a lot of sadness, and now I feel some fear coming up, fear of my own death.
This is just right. Now, just for this moment, let’s put the sadness aside, and let yourself drop directly into the fear. This is what we avoid the most, because even sadness is easier than fear.
… (sighing) It just feels so out of control.
Well, that’s the choice. You are choosing in this moment to not be in control. Without a story, without control, what is here?
I’m feeling different impulses come up, like the impulse to start crying dramatically or to go back to the rage.
That’s right, every impulse can seem like a legitimate justification for avoiding what must be met. Yet you know resistance is futile. Feelings of grief, anger, and fear are here, are they not? There’s nothing wrong with any of these feelings, but now you are being presented with the possibility of going even deeper by actually letting yourself be one with any feeling. This is a very sobering inquiry. Right now, stay with the feeling of fear, and with your consciousness fall even deeper into it.
Now, what are you experiencing?
I feel completely hemmed in, and now there’s just this feeling of doom.
Yes, this is just right, doom is even deeper than fear. Doom is what is under fear. Fear is actually easier than feelings of doom. The despair of birth and death, barren of hope, and the realization that you have no control over any of it. Is it possible to not tell a story about that and just let yourself be one with that doom?
(shaking, crying…) It’s just that this sense of doom is reverberating throughout my whole body…
And what’s the experience of doom reverberating throughout your body?
Well, there’s a lot of trembling and like my body is falling apart.
And how does that feel? Because from here it looks great.
(laughing) … Well, actually, it feels like a release of pent-up energy.
The body feels like it follows the thoughts, you know? There is anger and the body wants to lash out. There is fear, and the body trembles. There is doom, and the body feels like it’s falling apart.
And how about you? Where are you in all this?
Well, I’m … Oh my gosh …Oh! (laughing uncontrollably)
(Gangaji turns to the audience, laughing). Can you see this? Because it’s not in the words, obviously.
Yes, there are no words for this! I have friends who are facing the same grief and loss as I am, and they’re not running circles around it as I have been. They seem to be at peace with it, and I have felt envious of that.
Is this what you see? (Gangaji holds a small mirror up to his face so that he can see himself.)
Yes! That is what I see. I see life. I see life in them. I see life in you. I feel such life in this room … I can’t explain it. I give up. (laughing) Thank you! I feel so dumb because I know I have seen this before.
All I did was point you deeper into your experience. It was your choice all along. I simply pointed you where Papaji pointed me. It’s not to say that there shouldn’t be grief and tears over the loss of the people you love. Of course there are! Grief is natural. It is human. But don’t stop there. In the very core of your grief is a precious treasure.
Thank you so much for sharing this moment with me.
Likewise, thank you. We’re here to share this moment, this brief moment of life that doesn’t exclude death. It’s always a fresh moment. A moment of real inquiry.
It may take lifetimes of screaming and wailing and cursing and shaking and cursing some more. It takes as long as it takes. If you recognize that you have support, just as Papaji supported me, and you are willing to be stopped in your tracks, just as Papaji stopped me in mine, there is a discovery that includes everything. It is the discovery of what is always here—in joy and in grief and sadness, anger and fear, despair and doom, power and powerlessness. You, as you truly are. You can wake up to yourself.
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Gangaji is the author of The Diamond in Your Pocket, Freedom & Resolve: Finding Your True Home in the Universe, You Are That, and Hidden Treasure: Uncovering the Truth in Your Life Story.