Mar 30 2011

Health, Spirit & Support

Published by at 10:03 am under Ivan's Story,Poetry Chaikhana Misc.

Ivan M. Granger

I am often asked why I don’t publish a book. I usually give one of several standard answers that are all partly true, but the real reason is that I suffer from chronic fatigue. Balancing my day job, nurturing the Poetry Chaikhana, and maintaining my spiritual practice is often a challenging struggle for me. I just don’t have enough energy left to put together a book, at least for now.

Ivan’s Work

I now find myself with a difficult decision… The company I work for in my day job, my primary source of income, has had to cut my work hours by nearly half. The change should be temporary, for a few months perhaps. But I still have to find a way to make ends meet while keeping the Poetry Chaikhana going.

I may have to consider taking on a second job. But it’s difficult to find work that is adaptable to my up and down schedule due to chronic fatigue patterns. I’d have to reserve as much energy as possible for the new job and either drastically cut back on the Poetry Chaikhana work or possibly put it on hold. That’s not the way I’d like to go.

To avoid that scenario and keep the Poetry Chaikhana going in a good rhythm, I need to reach out and ask for your support. As a community of more than 10,000 regular readers, we can cover enough of the daily expenses to support the Poetry Chaikhana — allowing me to continue to write commentary and send out the daily poem, maintain the poetry database, research and add new poets, update the website, and respond to your emails.

If the Poetry Chaikhana brings something special to you each day, please consider supporting the Poetry Chaikhana by sending a donation or signing up for a voluntary subscription. Your contribution is truly appreciated!

But please don’t feel as if I’m asking you to contribute more than you can comfortably afford. Even a small amount — from many people — is immensely helpful. Many contributions from many people makes the Poetry Chaikhana a stronger community project, maintained by many helping hands.

Ways you can contribute:

  • You can send a check or money order in US funds made out to “Poetry Chaikhana” and addressed to:
    Poetry Chaikhana
    PO Box 2320
    Boulder, CO 80306
  • You can make a secure donation online in any amount through PayPal by clicking the “Donate” button below or on the Poetry Chaikhana home page
  • You can sign up for a voluntary subscription of $2/month or $10/month by clicking either the “Subscribe” or “Support” PayPal button, also below or at (A regular monthly amount is often easier on your pocketbook and allows the Poetry Chaikhana to plan finances over the long term.)

I also want to thank everyone who has been so generous to the Poetry Chaikhana already, through donations, through notes of thanks, through supportive thoughts and prayers. Every contribution, financial and energetic, is sincerely appreciated.

A warm thank you to everyone!


I know I’m not alone with health struggles. I thought I’d share an excerpt of something I wrote a few years ago, a meditation on Health, Suffering, and Spirit. I hope it you find it helpful and inspiring.

Here’s the thing: Not every disease or discomfort is meant to be overcome.

That’s a hard thing to say, and even harder to accept. But it’s true. If disease dares to show up in our lives, we want it fixed, removed. We want to get on with life and refuse to see disease as being part of life. Even in the holistic health community which views illness as a teacher, we often want to learn the “lesson” so we can quickly dismiss the teacher.

Sometimes, though, dis-ease is an annoyingly persistent teacher. It teaches us interior awareness. Not something learned quickly. It teaches sheer endurance. And, maybe the most difficult lesson, surrender. Many of us get into the world of “alternative” health as a way to take control. But surrender, that’s much more difficult to achieve with grace. It requires real subtlety to even distinguish between surrender and defeat. I don’t think we should give in or give up. I personally keep trying new things, new approaches, new… strategies. Maybe it’s my Aries nature, but I sometimes think of it as a sparring match. I don’t necessarily get into to it to win. I just like the sparring. Like a martial artist. The back and forth teaches me more about myself.

Don’t speak of your suffering — He is speaking.
Don’t look for Him everywhere — He’s looking for you.



One other thing that has come to me over the years — one of the mental reflexes for suffering is… jealousy. That’s not the first emotion one normally associates with illness, but it’s often lurking in the background. I’ve certainly noticed it.

Why should I have so much of my life and attention diverted by this, when everyone else has it so easy?

Says Farid,
I thought I was alone who suffered.
I went on top of the house,
And found every house on fire.

Baba Sheikh Farid

I’m always being reminded that no one has it easy. Sure, some people have less struggle, while others have heartbreaking levels of suffering. But, when the weariness clears, I glimpse a surprising truth: None of that is the point. The purpose of the human spirit isn’t to be free from difficulty.

That may sound like a cold statement, but it is not. When deeply embraced, this understanding opens us to greater levels of empathy and compassion, and it begins to create a profound resilience within ourselves, allowing us to encounter suffering without shutting down. In other words, if you hold in your mind the idea that suffering is inherently and always wrong, then when you encounter it, you will instinctively shut down. If, however, you accept the existence of suffering — in yourself, in others — your eyes and heart remain open and your hands become willing in the midst of struggles. Accepting suffering gives you greater ability to genuinely alleviate it.

Spirituality and Health

There is a related unconscious thought we often carry that suffering and illness are the sign that something is imperfect about ourselves spiritually. Saints get cancer and have heart attacks. Sages suffer epilepsy. Medicine women get migraines. The body, being a limited vehicle designed to operate in a sometimes disharmonious environment, will sometimes ail. The mark of attainment is not a lack of struggle, but how we respond to that struggle.

Our lives are simply stories. Sometimes the drama and the heat are high, sometimes they are quiet. What is important is the meaning we discover and reveal through that drama. It’s a supremely difficult paradox: We have to engage intensely in the body and the challenges of life, yet, at the same time, it’s not personal… it’s a fascinating story being told through us.

The hallowing of Pain
Like hallowing of Heaven,
Obtains at corporeal cost –
The Summit is not given

To Him who strives severe
At middle of the Hill –
But He who has achieved the Top –
All – is the price of All –

Emily Dickinson

Meaning and Suffering

The ultimate question is one of meaning. When we discover meaning in suffering, the suffering becomes endurable. Even comfort and ease, without meaning, eventually become unbearable.

Illness may be devastating, but discovering meaning feeds a hunger even more fundamental than the desire to be free from pain. It feeds the hunger of the soul know itself.

That hunger, when left unfed, is the real source of suffering in the world.


how can the heart in love
ever stop opening
– Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

15 responses so far

15 Responses to “Health, Spirit & Support”

  1. Wayne Fergusonon 30 Mar 2011 at 11:07 am

    Enjoyed all these thoughts, Ivan. St. Paul comes to mind:

    “Therefore, to keep me from being too elated [considering the exceptional character of the revelations], a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. 8 Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, 9 but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong” (II Corinthians 12:7-10).

    Also, this excerpt from the Prologue to Demian, by Hermann Hesse, which I have probably shared with you before:

    “[Each human being] represents a unique and valuable experiment on the part of nature . . . the very special and always significant and remarkable point at which the world’s phenomena intersect, only once in this way and never again. That is why every [person’s] story is important, eternal, sacred; that is why every [person] as long as [he or she] lives and fulfills the will of nature is wondrous and worthy of every consideration. In each individual the spirit has become flesh, in each [person] the creation suffers, within each one a redeemer is nailed to the cross. Each [person’s] life represents a road toward [himself or herself], an attempt at such a road, the intimation of a path. No [person] has ever been entirely and completely [himself or herself]. Yet each one strives to become that–one in an awkward, the other in a more intelligent way, each as best [he or she] can.” ~ from the Prologue to Demian, by Hermann Hesse

  2. Davidon 30 Mar 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Ivan…thanks for sharing very personal information. my eldest daughter has Chronic Fatigue Immunology Disorder and has had this for 10 years (she’s 22 now). I know how difficult this is/can be and I wish you the best. I just wanted to tell you that your words regarding Sprituality and Health and emotional responses such as jealousy and the “teachings” possible through difficulties like diseases are helpful to read and consider. We’re all in this LIFE experience together–each with our unique situations and yet we have the opportunity (ies) to learn from whatever comes our way and hopefully come out the “other side” with more wisdom and understanding and humility….I also hope I can send some $ your way…this website continues to be a blessing.

  3. Susan Fisheron 30 Mar 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Thank you Ivan for your words on illness and suffering. Very fabulously put. I am going to send it to my friends and print out a copy for myself. As a Buddhist, what you say makes 100% perfect sense. Many blessings and metta to you, Susan.

  4. Suzanne Boyer Lalandeon 30 Mar 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Hi! Bonjour Yvan,
    Thank you for sharing with us these challanging times you are going through with such candor and honesty in “Health, Spirit & Support”. I learn, enjoy, appreciate, look forward to and welcome with such joy your writings and your findings. So I am sending you this poem which I’m sure you allready know and if yes then I hope you enjoy reading it another time and you find it inspirational and soothing to you.




    By John O’Donohue

    On the day when
    the weight deadens
    on your shoulders
    and you stumble,
    may the clay dance
    to balance you.
    And when your eyes
    freeze behind
    the grey window
    and the ghost of loss
    gets in to you,
    may a flock of colours,
    indigo, red, green,
    and azure blue
    come to awaken in you
    a meadow of delight.

    When the canvas frays
    in the currach of thought
    and a stain of ocean
    blackens beneath you,
    may there come across the waters
    a path of yellow moonlight
    to bring you safely home.

    May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
    may the clarity of light be yours,
    may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
    may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
    And so may a slow wind work
    these words of love around you
    an invisible cloak to mind your life.

  5. Kathy Stewarton 30 Mar 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Dear Ivan,
    Reading your words breaks my heart wide open – compassion flows upward and outward to you and all beings! And this is another blessing of your work, sharing what you can to help others who walk with you. Thank you dear heart, and I can only echo Suzanne’s poem.

  6. Barrie Barklaon 30 Mar 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Surrendering is the opposite of quitting. True surrender involves creatively engaging with what-is, just as it is.

  7. Qahiraon 30 Mar 2011 at 7:58 pm

    Beloved brother on the Path:
    You feed our hearts and souls with your sharing of your life and your poetry. May you be fed with the power of the One to assure you the level of energy you need to do that which is your destiny in Love.

  8. Patricia Tayloron 31 Mar 2011 at 12:00 am

    Dearest Ivan,

    I am indeed blessed to know such an enlightened person; someone who knows ‘surrender’.
    My husband and I are pensioners, and it isn’t such a long time back that I sent you monetary assistance. God knows you deserve it, but we can’t give anymore just now. You & your beautiful ministry remain in my heart and prayers,
    Trish Taylor

  9. Patricia Tayloron 31 Mar 2011 at 12:21 am

    Suzanne, you may enjoy my poem about Anam Cara by John O’Donohue… a poem in praise of a poet is called an ‘ars poetica’:
    My Anam Cara, Dear Celtic friend, your words spill over me, stealthily stealing my soul. Suffusing my being with the light of one who has searched and found a truth that must be shared.
    I reach for your pages with a sense of anticipation,
    of something extraordinary happening. And indeed it does. I am awash with love, at peace with myself, and in wonder and awe of the beauty you have put into words.
    Soul friend, may I always embrace the gentleness of the time we share. You the writer, I the reader. Great waves of gratitude enfold me, and I find a twinning of my soul with the Divine. Exquisite and elegant thoughts reach across each page. I am transported to the sacred space within.

  10. nasihaon 31 Mar 2011 at 12:54 am

    life is suffering, as Buddha said and no one can remove all suffering and thats what completes or makes or breaks a life.
    Thank you for sharing your innermost emotions and i wish you all the best in everything path you take. Yoga heals and it is the greatest discipline that will unite the mind, body and spirit and here at Chaikhana you are aware of it, all the time because like yoga, poetry heals and yes life is beautiful!
    thank you Dear Ivan!

  11. Shubaon 31 Mar 2011 at 6:28 am

    Beautiful beautiful, Ivan! Truth and compassion flows through your words. Your mail is my cup of tea in the day, when I stop everything I’m doing and listen for inspiration. Thank you for continuing to do this, and continuing to embrace everything life has to offer.

  12. Sharon Georgeon 31 Mar 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Hello Ivan,
    I appreciate you sharing your suffering with our community. I understand full well the suffering of a disease that one cannot truly diagnose nor understand as I suffer myself from Fibromyalgia. Today I came home early from work and put myself to bed as it is day three of this episode and usually the worst day of my episode. I am hopeful that it is, because this means I will start feeling better tomorrow! It is difficult when you are limited physically by something that many don’t even recognize as being valid or real. I have suffered from this for 15 or more years and I know first hand the limitations it puts on my life and relationships.

    I do so enjoy the the Poetry Chiahkana and have been a monthly subsciber and donator for a couple of years. Please let me know if you have not been getting my monthly donations and I’ll be sure and rectify that.

    I wish you warm peace and prosperity and most of all healing love. Namaste


  13. JAWAHARon 31 Mar 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Hi Ivan,
    Your writing is heart-touching and poetic. I did read your
    “I know I’m not alone with health struggles. I thought I’d share an excerpt of something I wrote a few years ago, a meditation on Health, Suffering, and Spirit. I hope it you find it helpful and inspiring.
    Here’s the thing: Not every disease or discomfort is meant to be overcome.”
    and all
    12 Responses to “Health, Spirit & Support”.

    I would like to give you some input on issue of health. Until 50 I was suffering from chronic arthritis, elephantiasis, sinusitis, dysentery, asthma, and acidity and was undergoing medication. I came across
    The Water of Life: J.W. Armstrong (Author) and followed it. Results appeared quite fast. Since last 15 years I have no problems and no medication. Now it is
    Above leads me to believe that Mother Nature has unalterable laws and disease is manifestation of noncompliance of laws. Unfortunately those laws are not written. One gets inspiration from others or sometimes intuition.
    Mahatma Gandhi as I have understood was naturopath and was against medication. As per American journalist William Shirer he maintained athletic health and used to walk 5 miles in the early morning. Gandhi’s view on health – Quote. “If I die of a lingering illness, nay even by as much as a boil or a pimple, it will be your duty to proclaim to the world, even at the risk of making people angry with you, that I was not the man of God that I claimed to be. If you do that it will give my spirit peace. Note down this also that if someone were to end my life by putting a bullet through me and I met his bullet without a groan, and breathed my last taking God’s name, then alone would I have made good my claim.”

  14. Kimon 01 Apr 2011 at 4:34 pm

    Dear Ivan,

    Thank you for all the beauty and grace you send to me and everyone.

    May all be well,


  15. Suzanne Boyer Lalandeon 02 Apr 2011 at 10:26 am

    Bonjour dear Yvan,
    A tsunami of love and healing is now coming your way from all of us who care and treasure you Yvan. Can you feel it???? Blessings!
    Thank you so much Patricia Taylor for your poem about Anam Cara by John O’Donohue . I love it. You really touched it by putting into words what the heart and soul feel when we have the joy of reading something beautifull, touching and inspiring.Merci !

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