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Welcome all guests

The Guest House

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're 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 whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

— Rumi (The Essential Rumi, versions by Coleman Barks)

In "The Guest House" Rumi is telling us that the entirety of human experience is valuable. None of it is to be discounted as unnecessary or even avoidable. All emotions are valid and indeed desirable, even those we wish to evade. One moment is joyful, another is depressed, even meanness demands attention. Accept and honor them all, he says, because each portends a new state of being. Each is the portal to new awareness. Accepting each state is accepting the entirety of one's being. The shadow and the light carry equal weight. Although he doesn't expressly say it, implicit in his poem is the truth that emotions that are repressed come back to haunt us in malicious forms. When we look the dark thought in the face, allow the shame to be loved, it ceases to demand our attention. All the ugly children, the orphans, only want to be admitted into conscious awareness and no longer considered unlovable. When each is admitted and embraced, the prodigal son comes home. When the visitor is given welcome, a new dispensation is permitted.

The only way I can know the truth of Rumi's poem is by its relevance to my own life journey. When I allowed my deep toxic shame to see the light of day, for my own exiled self to be embraced, only then could the shamed little boy be allowed to heal by feeling loved as he is. He thought he was unlovable with his unacceptable desires to love other boys. Only when he could love his shamed self could that self be transformed. Only when he allowed himself to be revealed authentically, could he be released from his prison of shame and self-judgment. It isn't in being lovable that he found release, but in being unlovable that he could step into a new self-definition.

Rumi's poem reveals the truth that being human is messy. Admit all feelings to the banquet of love or else they will destroy you by their insistence to be recognized, embraced and admitted to full conscious awareness. Rumi validates my own life experience and inner knowing, reminding me to be grateful for all my inner family, the dark and the light, the shame and the triumphant spirit, the malice and the generosity of spirit.

The poem ties in beautifully with Jung's concept of the shadow. When feelings are disowned and banished to the unconscious, they exert undue influence on our lives. They demand to be recognized despite our attempts to repress them. Jung understood and elucidated this principle. Conversely, when disowned parts of self are recognized and integrated into conscious awareness, we become a more whole version of ourselves. This is similar to the fractured being that fragments into several distinct personalities to survive. The split personality or dissociative identity disorder may result from intense sublimation of unaccepted aspects of self. When all parts are accepted or integrated, the house welcomes all guests.

Julian Spalding is former publisher of Albuquerque Arts magazine. He retired to the Ashland area, place of his birth, in 2009. He now writes poetry and is a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant creating personalized ceremonies to mark life's milestones. His poetry can be found at julianspalding.wordpress.com

The Ashland Daily Tidings invites residents of the Rogue Valley to submit articles on all aspects of inner peace. Send 600- to 700-word articles to Sally McKirgan, innerpeaceforyou@live.com

See articles on inner peace www.dailytidings.com