Beyond Brushstrokes

In this time of global upheaval, our country has experienced natural disasters full of devastation, suffering and anguish. For millions of people there is confusion and uncertainty. Illness and death struck suddenly — so close to home.

One tries to grapple with disbelief while reaching for a sense of balance. There seems to be no consolation. So many others are going through their own disruptions and personal devastation. What was a graph and statistics in the news became a reality in the context of one’s family.

Losing a loved one, a sibling or parent is very personal and profound.

No two individuals can ever feel the same. It is incomparable and immeasurable. It sears the soul and tears the heart. It lingers deep within for a long time. Then it surfaces abruptly and explodes when it is least expected. It has one purpose — to make one strong and resilient in the avalanche, turmoil and fear.

But there is some comfort when others reach out unexpectedly, from distant places, to offer support — a hand to hold, a shoulder to lean on, and soothing words of solace — albeit virtually.

This experience is an indescribable period — the catharsis, a purging that one can compare to a coal in a furnace. The polishing under extreme heat and pressure creates a brilliant, indestructible diamond. There have been a series of losses the past years. The wounds heal but are torn open with yet another loss.

Reclusion, retreats are the chosen phases in one’s life — when there is safety in a chrysalis. It is a rough-hewn cocoon of darkness during the cold months, or the rainy season.

The lockdown has made staying invisible and quiet seem like a normal state.

After much effort and extreme stretching, the cracked cocoon releases the translucent, luminous butterfly. Free at last.

Many of us who have suffered a personal loss may feel the oppressive haze will never lift. We try to keep a stiff upper lip and keep our wits about us. We try to stay stoic and steady.

There is an antidote to depression. By reaching out to help other people — the abused and vulnerable, the marginalized and jobless, we can focus the mind and channel the energy.

Despite personal grief, it is uplifting to think of the people out there who need our prayers and immediate relief during this seemingly endless crisis.

The act of helping others goes beyond the self.

One seeks guidance, a sign from above.

In the spiritual realm, one can find divine grace and serenity.

Happiness cannot be found through great effort and willpower,

But there is in letting go.

Only our search for happiness prevents us from seeing it.

It is like a rainbow

Which you run after without ever catching it,

Although it does not exist, it has always been there and accompanies you every instant.

Wanting to grasp the ungraspable, you exhaust yourself in vain.

As soon as you relax this grasping, space is there

Open, inviting and comfortable.

All is yours already.

Don’t search any further.

Don’t go into the inextricable jungle looking for the elephant

Who is already at home.

Nothing to do.

Nothing to force, nothing to want.

And everything happens by itself.

— Venerable Lama Gentun Rinpoche


Maria Victoria Rufino is an artist, writer and businesswoman. She is president and executive producer of Maverick Productions.