Bodhisattva Prayer for All Humanity

May I be a guard for those who need protection
A guide for those on the path
A boat, a raft, a bridge for those who wish to cross the flood
May I be a lamp in the darkness
A resting place for the weary
A healing medicine for all who are sick
A vase of plenty, a tree of miracles
And for the boundless multitudes of living beings
May I bring sustenance and awakening
Enduring like the earth and sky
Until all beings are freed from sorrow
And all are awakened.

Shantideva, Indian Buddhist sage 700 AD

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I have a very vivid memory of being around twenty years old at my sister’s house on spring break, sitting on the floor in her guest room as she helped me pack to go back to college.  She was crying, holding my hand, telling me how worried she was about me.  How sad she was that I was so sad.  How much she loved me and wished she could save me.  She saw the shell of her little sister teetering precariously over the edge and was desperate to pull me back.  I stared at the floor, stone faced.

 

 

There are many reasons why those with depression isolate emotionally from those closest to us.  Sometimes we just don’t have the energy.  Often, we don’t actually believe that there is anything they could do for us and we don’t feel the need to terrify them with what actually goes through our heads.  It is already a heavy burden for us and often we simply want to spare our loved ones.

When I was in the depths of my own depression, I could not fathom verbalizing even to my sisters or closest friends that I had spent my entire day fantasizing how to off myself in a way that would release them from any sense of responsibility, like a car accident.   That I had found a bridge where I could attach rope and leave it to some poor morning jogger to find me so it didn’t have to be a friend who stumbled across my lifeless body.  That I was so angry that I couldn’t push the blade deep enough into my wrist to empty out my life source because the pain was too much and I considered that a weakness in myself.  That I had a plan to schedule an email to go out after the deed was done so that my dogs would not go too long without food or a walk.

But something about that moment with my oldest sister always stuck in my heart; the gift she gave me of being with me, as I sat glazed over.  She held space for who and where I was in that moment, in my numb and hollow world of despair.  Her tears were not tears of fear, even though she was probably terrified that I would go and do something permanent.  In that most mundane of moments on her floor, with my clothes strewn and a suitcase between us, she wept the tears that I could not weep for myself.  The tears I could no longer muster.  She sat with me in my pain.  She was my Bodhisattva.

A few months ago, I had the rare joy of spending five days in London one on one with her.  As sisters do, we found ourselves reminiscing, talking about the past and our plans for the future.  I mentioned that I was dedicating the memoir that I was working on to her.  Her brows shot up in surprise and her eyes watered as she confessed that she had always felt that she failed me as a big sister.

I was shocked to hear this.  Her recollection of these dark times were her phone calls going unanswered and unreturned.  Constant worry over my safety.  Her own anguish over my deep despair and hopelessness in those times.  In her mind, she had tried to be there for me and failed because I failed to respond.

She was completely blind to the extraordinary support that she had been for me because she never saw me taking ahold of what she offered.  What she didn’t realize was that even though I didn’t have the energy to respond to her in those dark times, the very fact that she never stopped was a lifeline.  Knowing that she would never abandon me, even if I seemed to have abandoned our relationship, that her love was unconditional and constant helped me to keep going.

My heart is for those who are suffering.  I offer you some space to just be here.  I invite you to find yourself in my story.

If you are suffering, I offer the knowledge that you have a sister here in me who holds you in my heart, who aches over the despair that you endure. Asking nothing, telling nothing.  I sit with you.  I hold your hand.  Maybe I weep even though tears have long dried up for you.  And maybe, just maybe, this gives you the strength for one more day.  Or even just one more step.

For the healing of all,

 


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