Suffering – by El Collie

‘Pain’ – Collage by El Collie

Suffering
That’s the word I’m working with
The one that keeps coming back
To greet me like a Zen koan
I’ve carried through endless meditations
Suffering
A venerable, primordial word
Perhaps the oldest
To find its way to the tongue
Erase suffering from the mind of man
And there would be no history books
No records
Perhaps no memory at all
All things pass,
But suffering passes heavily
And drags deep ditches in its trail
Buddha said that’s the whole of it
Suffering is the show
The charade,
The long and short of it
The entire human thing
Ninety nine billion varieties of pain
Everything hurts
In its own unique way….
I want to turn it around
I want to heal
Myself, you, him, her,
Anyone, everything.
I want to penetrate suffering
With an alchemist’s torch
And transform the anguish
Into ecstasies
I want to perform the heroic
Consummate act
Which beneath the fear
And rage and despair
We all long to do.
I want it to be time
To end the wars of life on life
I want the world to wake up
To itself, happy and whole
I want an end to history
I want life illumined by love
And strong with laughter.
Suffering
I want to reach into the center of it
To feel into its barren heart
And find what gives it sustenance
I want to know what shapes
This thing that shadows us
I want to know why and how it lives
And if it has any motive
Other than to maim us.
Suffering
What is it but my test
My tormentor
My teacher
And my time-honored
Truest friend
Who is with me still,
Even when
Everything else has gone….
El Collie
1985
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