A game of hide and seek

Eleanor playing under one of the old throw rugs in the kitchen

Eleanor peeking out from underneath the ratty old throw rug in the kitchen

In Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, You Are Here, he talks about birth and death in a way that feels whole… and sane. Even the words, “Life and death are just a game of hide and seek” are so foreign-sounding to many of us (who have been raised with the concept that death is a tragedy) but they strike me as so liberating as well.  I love the idea of using language about death that is more light, more playful, more hopeful.

On page 120 he writes,

“Don’t hold out hope that life will be possible without death. You must accept both of them, birth and death…..Living is a joy. Dying in order to begin again is also a joy. Starting over is a wonderful thing, and we are starting over constantly.”

Then he talks about someone singing (to a person who is about to pass from this life) “a verse that is drawn directly from a sutra written by the Buddha”, and he explains the calming, uplifting effect this had on the dying man.

The words to the sutra go like this;

This body is not me, I am not caught in this body.

I am life without boundaries. I have never been born,

    and I shall never die.

Look at the ocean and the sky filled with stars,

    manifestations of my wondrous true mind.

Since before time, I have been free.

Birth and death are only doors through which we 

   pass, sacred thresholds on our journey.

Birth and death are just a game of hide and seek.

So laugh with me,

hold my hand,

let us say goodbye,

say goodbye, to meet again soon.

We meet today.

We will meet again tomorrow.

We will meet at the source at every moment.

We meet each other in all forms of life.


14 thoughts on “A game of hide and seek

  1. I love this Mary…when my mom died in hospice a wonderful Chaplin helped so much w/this concept there…i’m not sure what i would have done without her…i am going to print this out….blessings to you!!!!

  2. Thank you, Mary, for this, as I approach the 3rd anniversary of my ex-husband’s passing… David was my ex only on paper, he remained, and remains still, in my heart. Elaine

    • Interesting, Elaine, how you say yourself, he was ‘ex’ only on paper – sort of what Mary is telling us today, our spirits have no boundaries or borders and are ever present, cannot be “ex’d” I guess is what I’m trying to say. Once someone has been part of our life in that deep way, part of us can hopefully always carry them with grace in our hearts. Mary, again, another one going into the WFF folder. Thank you!

    • Elaine, you’ve managed to put your feelings in such a beautiful way regarding your former husband. Having lost my first husband to death many years ago, I’ve found, too, that he remains in my heart as well. Anyone, a husband, wife, parents, children, close friends, they do remain in our hearts. You have loved generously.
      SandyP in Canada

  3. Thank you, Mary, deep down inside I have always believed this, now I have words of affirmation to hold on to when my all too human mind wants to waiver.

  4. Indeed, Mary…..our culture treats death as a tragedy rather than the ending part of life that it is. Look at the poem “Thanatopsis” by William Cullen Bryant….at the end he states “go not like the quarry slave at night, scourged to his dungeon, but sustained and soothed by an unfaltering trust approach thy grave like one who wraps the draperies of his couch about him and lies down to pleasant dreams”. (the full text can be found here http://www.poetry-archive.com/b/thanatopsis.html ) Thanatopsis will help me as the anniversary of my dad’s death approaches.

  5. So beautiful and comforting, the idea that “birth” and “death” are only thresholds we cross, not beginnings or endings. There is something on the other side of each, something that for some reason we as humans are not to know until we experience it ourselves. Beautiful thourghts for all of us who have let go of the physical person we love.

  6. Thank you so much for your blog, Mary. I frequently send on to friends and what usually happens is that they wind in a few days, I get a msg saying they have subscribed so I can stop sending 🙂
    Anyway, do love your work and love the kitty pics. Have three of the little beasties of my own.

  7. Today’s post is a spiritual banquet, Mary. Food for thought. It is a comforting way of looking at birth and death, how the one is so celebrated; the other, so feared.
    SandyP in Canada

  8. Oh, I am so touched by this post. I think of people and loving animals I’ve lost. Thanks Mary, Cindy

  9. I loved your blog today Mary as my boss who was 68 and would have been 69 last Friday died the week before from a massive stroke which he had after leaving the office where he had been talking with me about business issues. I am still in shock as I worked for this man for over 9 years and he was the best boss I ever had and a kind, understanding and patient man. I keep wishing he would walk through our office doorway.

    I will not be working there alot longer I imagine however I am there to help wrap up all the loose ends and there are many at this point in time.

    Your words helped me look at death through a different perspective…I have been very lost, upset and depressed over his sudden death.

  10. My brother is actively dying of a brain tumor. This is his total self right now. I have never seen anyone accept all that is happening to him with more grace and dignity. He is terribly upset to have to leave his wife, 12-yr-old son and other grown children and step-children, mother, sisters and extended family and friends, but at the same time, he is actually looking forward to the beauty he knows he will find during and on the side of this journey. And I am forever grateful to be able to share his daily progress with him. We have talked more in the last 6 months than we have in the last 6 – 20 years and for that alone I am very grateful.

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