a heart broken open

Posted on March 30, 2012


Living life on the surface, never going below… anything… to the deeper things beneath. Oblivious… numb… lethargic… nostalgic… stagnant… I was cruising along at a high altitude, knowing what I think I know, doing what I think I should, living according to all the indicators apparent from the perspective of life on the surface.

Then life happens, the earthquake hits, the storm ravages everything I’ve ever known, leaving nothing intact and nothing unturned. A heart shattered, broken into a million pieces; trying to piece it all together again, shards tearing at bloodied fingers . . .


. . . a heart broken open into greater capacity for understanding, love, and living. I’ve heard the story of a Jewish Rabbi being asked why in Deuteronomy does God refer to putting his words ON our hearts rather in IN our hearts. The Rabbi replied, “They are put ON the heart so that when life breaks open the heart, they will fall IN the heart, when we are in greatest need of them.”

As great pressure crushes stone…

So also, that same great pressure is necessary to create a diamond.

Oh the paradoxes of creation!

How is it that we shall live?

With a heart closed and fearful, so hard that it becomes brittle, cracking under pressure?


With a heart open and pliable, prepared and ready to expand to greater capacity for compassion?

Will we enter INTO our pain, experience it fully, and wrestle from it the wisdom it carries for us?


Will we turn tail and run for the hills, too afraid of the vulnerability, the humility, the humiliation that accompanies heartbreak?

No matter where we turn, life is full of heartache and heartbreak. What we do with these broken dreams dashed against the rocks is what defines our lives. Do we have the will to get up again after the fall? Do we keep trying? Do we use our experiences to keep our heart open to the hurt of others? Does our hurt expand our understanding of what others are struggling with and what they are going through? Or is our heart so hard that it shatters into a million pieces, jagged and splinterd, leaving us with no hope of bringing anything back together again?

When heartbreak happens, what will we do with it? Do we expand and become greater in love, compassion, and understanding; or do we shrivel up in pain, disappointment, and fear. In Shambhala practice, an ancient tradition in Tibet, we learn to be a warrior, full of courage, and willing to face life fully and completely. No running. No hiding. As a warrior, we learn to face life from our heart, with our ribcage split wide open exposing our tender hearts, and our tender hearts feeling all of the pain and anguish of the world, so we can fully live the human experience. Are you as brave as a Shambhala warrior… fearless of the pain we might experience… embracing the pain of others? I hope I can be…

“Ring the bells that still can ring.

Forget your perfect offering.

There is a crack in everything.

That’s how the light gets in.”

(Leonard Cohen lyrics, Anthem)