Quote of the Week: Pir Vilayat Khan


Sufi teacher Pir Vilayat Khan asks us to view pain in this way:

220px-Vilayat_Inayat_KhanOvercome any bitterness that may have come because you were not up to the magnitude of pain that was entrusted to you.  Like the mother of the world who carries the pain of the world in her heart, each one of us is part of her heart, and therefore endowed with a certain measure of cosmic pain.  You are sharing in the totality of that pain.  You are called upon to meet it in joy instead of self-pity.

What is your reaction to his suggestion?

From:  Pir Vilayat, Khan, Introducing Spirituality in Counseling and Therapy (New York: Omega Press, 1982).

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7 thoughts on “Quote of the Week: Pir Vilayat Khan

  1. A beautiful sentiment that is much harder to put into practice. Researching family trees gives me a little insight into the idea of shared pain, I think. I see these patterns in family members year after year: cancer, suicide, abandonment. As I uncover their stories, my heart sings when things are good for them and breaks when tragedy strikes. It reminds me often of how connected we are to each other. And there’s a comfort in that.

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    1. I like the comparison you make. I agree that our family legacy is an example of shared pain. I think learning to look at pain from the larger perspective is a life long lesson for all of us. It is definitely not an easy one.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

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  2. I love the phrasing, “you were not up to the magnitude of pain that was entrusted to you.” We are all gifted in different areas, and I believe our portions in life are never more than we can bare if we trust in our greater purpose. If you fall and someone else picks you up… then that is the very reason why you were allowed to be knocked down. We are infinitely connected and “good or bad” – what we experience will somehow make ourselves or others better for it. At least, that’s what I believe. 🙂

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  3. The way I read this, it is a privilege to carry pain. I like the Buddhist though to embrace pain for there is enlightenment after the darkness of pain. Yet that quote also makes sense…when I feel my pain, I consider myself lucky that I can actually still “feel” and the pain means I am truly alive in all my senses.

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    1. Yes, that is how I read it too. Many, many years ago I had an incident where I felt overwhelming grief that didn’t feel like mine. At the time, part of me “knew” I was feeling the grief of the women in Bosnia. That had never happened before and has never happened since but when I first read this quote I was reminded of that occurrence. It did feel like a privilege.

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