Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

Letter to My Grandson

--by Daniel Gottlieb (Dec 06, 2011)

Change is difficult for all of us.  The older we get, the more change we face.  All change involves loss, and whenever we lose something, we ache to have it back.  Everything I have lost in my life -- big things and little things -- I've wanted back at first.

So because we know that all change is loss and all loss is change, your mom and dad worried about how you would react when it was time to give your beloved pacifier -- your "binky".
Now that you're four, you no longer have your binky; you have nothing to protect you from your anxiety.  That's why transitions are hard.  Those transitional objects give us the illusion of security.  When they are gone, we are left with the insecurity that's been there all along.
Sam, almost everything we become attached to we'll eventually lose; our possessions, our loved ones, and even our youth and health.  Yes, each loss is a blow.  But it's also an opportunity.  There's an old Sufi saying: "When the heart weeps for what it's lost, the soul rejoices for what it's gained."
As much as anyone who loves you would like to rescue you from your pain and give the binky right back to you, that wouldn't be a good idea.  Each stage of growth involves loss.  Without it, you can't have the gain.
So when you feel the pain of loss, please don't grab at something to take away the pain.  Just have faith that pain, like everything else, is transitional.  Through it, you will learn about your ability to deal with adversity.  You will learn about how you manage stress.  You will feel pride.  On the other side of pain, you will learn something about who you are.
A friend of mine recently told me she had so many difficulties in her life that she felt like she was living in a nightmare and didn't know what to do.  I told her to find the bus station and wait for the bus!  She looked at me like I was crazy.  I explained that all emotions are temporary, and we can wait for them to pass as though we were waiting for a bus.  We can wait with frustration, anger or feelings of victimhood, but that won't make the bus come any faster.  We could wait with patience and relaxation, but that wouldn't make the bus come faster either!  We just have to have faith that it's coming.  
--Daniel Gottlieb, in Letters to Sam

Add Your Reflection:

Send me an email when another comment is posted on this passage.
Name: Email:

Previous Reflections:

On Dec 2, 2011 Nita wrote:

 Beautiful! As a mother of two teenagers who struggles everyday with wondering if I am being the best mother I can be, this was particularly useful. Thanks.

On Dec 3, 2011 Edit Lak wrote:


Ohh my goodness, as I read this the tears rolled down my face,

As the truth of this passage is forever true.. If I only had a grandfather to teach me, If I only had a grandson to teach....   My heart couldn’t believe what has been written..  So, the truth is out there!!!

Well, it’s now later on in my life that I have learnt the words of Gottlieb.

My life; Dysfunctional family, Poverty, addictions, Isolations, loss, Cancer, Questioning spirit, Rejection, Pains.. Life.....Life, Life... Yet, in my life, and in all of these experienced ‘hardships’ I have created the amazing me .. I love the ‘life’ me..  Ha, as I just look back and think of my life,

my life as this journey, I realised I LOVED every moment of every step I took... Even the word ‘death’ didn’t distract me from the love of ‘being’ It more fuelled the fire to ‘BE’...  Look, each one has his or her own story, and anyone that doesn’t relate to this passage needs to go back to ‘young’ years and grow – now...  As many adults live in such ‘binky’ insecurities, I know I certainly did. Many adult are adult immature, many adults hide in the shadows of ‘something’, many adult are scared to feel, many adults just don’t know how..   That’s not a life, that’s not this life at all...  Life is to experience the inner thunder of the soul and spirit, it’s to be shaken up to realise we are here and we have a purpose, the validation of this is ‘breath’ while we breathe, we have a purpose... 

Anyway,  I’m just going to go and wait for the bus now,  to take me to the book shop, and buy as many copies of this book as I can  ‘Letter to Sam’ so I can read it fully, and give the rest away as a gift of LIFE and LESSON...


Much Love and Thank You


On Dec 3, 2011 susan schaller wrote:

My housemate told me yesterday that she was talking to a healer about her pain from Lyme disease and Diabetes.  She said the pain was so great she has had to learn how to disassociate from it in order to function.  The healer said that the practice of being unconcious - disassociation - may numb the pain, but it also disconnects her from her body's power to heal itself.

It struck me when reading that she had a choice - loss of consciousness and less growth or more consciousness with more pain (loss of some relief) and growth.

In my life, my greatest growth spurts were triggered by pain.  As long as I was comfortable enough (disassociated - unconscious), I would not look at myself and change.  Pain, often, was the needed mirror leading to self reflection, change and the growing of my bigger, connected Self. The more I uncover the resources of my greater Self (as opposed to my squirrel brain ego), the more I tap into security and love, supporting independence from temporary and illusory security blankets.

On Dec 3, 2011 Conrad wrote:

Thanks for the opportunity to respond.  What has helped me move beyond the apparent insecurity of change is realizing that everything constantly changes.  Accepting "what is" is a key to peaceful living. My practice and study of Zen Buddhism has helped me greatly. A  friend sent me an e-mail with the following points that I call the  mental stem  learnings. They help to bring about peace and happiness. They are:

1.  Increase the tendency to let things happen rather than make things happen.

2.  Have frequent attacks of smiling.

3.  Have feelings of being connected with others and nature.

4.  Have frequent, almost overwhelming, episodes of appreciation.

5.  Have the tendency to think and act spontaneously, rather than from fears based on past experiences. 

6.  Have an unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment, and to make the best out of each experience.

7. Lose the ability to worry.

8. Lose interest in conflict.

9. Lose interest in interpreting the actions of others.

  10. Lose interest in judging others.

  11. Lose interest in judging self.

  12. Be compassionate to self and others without expecting anything in return.




On Dec 4, 2011 Thierry wrote:

As adults, with yet a tendancy to resist change as regard to ourselves and others, we are able to see  what's implied in the psychological process of attachment. What does it actually mean when we say we are attached to someone? What we are attached to, in reality, is whatever past knowledge we have about that person. So much so that when he or she changes, meaning does'nt behave according to our expectations, we then feel insecure. So the attachment is not to the person for it's own sake but to the past and to the inner comfort we derive from thinking we 'know' that person. 'Detachment', when it occurs, is only towards this persistent seeking for inner comfort and security in relationship. As we grow aware of this compulsion we are more likely to allow space for ourselves and others to change. We gain inner space and others too, by the same token.  

On Dec 5, 2011 brinda wrote:

I really liked the analogy of waiting for a bus....this is so true! How we choose to wait makes a big difference.

On Dec 5, 2011 Ashok Vaishnav wrote:

The sense of memory is as much a bane as it is boon to the human beings.

As one moves ahead in the life, one has to keep on making one's cup empty enough to keep on receeving.

What we empty out, may be very dear to us, and hence may leave pain of having to leave it.

But, the memory comes a boon here. One can recall such 'dear moments' of the past and can relieve the pains of the present.

The article has so aptly ended on the note that you may have any types of emotions for the event that has happened or happening or is to happen, but that does not make any impact of the evenet as such. So, why not recall Steven Covey's '90:10 Principle' - "You really do not have any control over 10% of what happens. The other 90% was determined by your reaction."

On Dec 6, 2011 JPSingh wrote:

nothing ever changes. the river is always the same river. the illusion that the river is not the same river is an illusion.the idea of movement is an illusion.the matter is an illusion.the space is an illusion.time is an is all happening within us the idea of pleasure .the idea of pain. the idea of hunger. the satiation.the light or is all in the is all a sum of illusions marked on celluloid.none has ever seen any of these things.none has ever seen this world.all have only believed this to be the case. the solid liquid or is all chemical within mind which creates illusion of something existing and something not existing.the illusion is created by constantly drawing lines in mind make one shorter or longer one against each other.every illusion is subject to another illusion.the concepts create counter concepts. and we  constantly get caged and bonded due to these concepts that are illusion.the important thing is to stop. witness this movement and the dream of maya creating illusion and reality. it is creation ,evolution dissolution.though actually nothing actually evolving  or devolving . as heracltus rightly said that you cant step in river twice,because in infinity which is the actual character of this river called reality ( haqiqat of sufis)how can anyone step in a river that never was.the time that never was the matter that never infinity how can anything be and not has to be beyond be and not be.

one only needs to witness a really enlightened person an avatar or a perfect master  as i said in my comment last time ( god when he created this illusory universe only created with one assurance - man will never be without a perfect master/sadguru/prophet awatar,the one trully all knowing persn. man will not be left in the world without one or the revelation to guide him in this illusory journey of life) one who has transcended the illusionary boundaries of maya. and witnessed reality as it is and not as he know who this he is ,this i is, we or  they are . he has not only seen but witnessed the whole play of maya .not with eyes but without eyes . he is all knowing without knowledge.all seing without sight , all hearing without ears. omniscient .all potent without potency.without any body or instruments he touches all .with his all compassionate and mercy-ful glances.the god or whoever the creator is has created both this ideal copy of himself who moves in body without body .because his reality is beyond not just body but beyond both.

because god when created this cage in which all mankind is bonded he also created a window for one or two to fly out .and be  a free bird as per the ideal reflected in the letter to my granson thought..avatar or perfect master or qutb is just that .he is a holy ideal towards which we all are aspiring.

it is he alone who has the capacity to stand at the bus-stand and wait for the bus indefinately without becoming perturbed.if he created despair he also created hope. if he created anxiety he also created patience.if he created fear and insecuruty he also created security .he created the lap of a mother beloved or perfect master or of himself 'the nirakar brahma' the art of waiting ,the art of cultivating resignation the art of reinforcing faith by constantly looking up and reinforcing the holy aspiration in this corpse like physical body. the art of believing in the reality of love.the reality of attraction.the whole concept of holy . the only concept worthy of love . worthy of reverence.

sorry if i was carried away. becoming too philosophical.but may be one or two might some sense in them



On Dec 6, 2011 kvakutty wrote:


Our troubles don’t last, they linger
for a while and vanish. We should
not entertain in memory and recall
them to savor the feel of self-pity.
When a man in sorrow is seen by
his dear ones  he feels diminished.
If left alone, he gathers  sufficient
strength to accept it with courage.
A contrived laughter is no gift to
those whom we love. It exercises
the muscles. A genuine  laughter
gives joy to oneself and others.
Joy and grief follow each other.
Viewed as a cycle, they are seen
as inevitable. Darkness is not for
ever. Light comes to displace it .

On Dec 6, 2011 Gail Quarles wrote:

 When I was in agony from firbromyalgia and Lyme disease and a head injury, I read the works of Mira Alfasa, the Mother  Sri Aurobindo. She taught me how to walk through and beyond the pain. As long as we recognize it as an enemy, we butt up against a wall of pain, and it is not bearable. When we walk though it to the other side, we see it's transitory nature, and we become sperate from it and it becomes bearable.  It truly works. I also took the catholic teaching of the Mother Mary of Jesus that when you consecrate your pain, it becomes useful, and you balance karma thereby. So I began to consecrate my pain for the unborn who would be aborted, and the abused children of the world. I had immediate relief. I still hurt, yes, but my pain became a gift to mankind, and not a vicious creature in itself.  Mankind is to take dominion over the world, and if we own and use our pain, it will not own us. As Buddha said.. ride the bull , and St. Francis said that we should ride brother ass(our bodies) and not let it ride us ! 

On Dec 6, 2011 Noor wrote:

This is a right and wise story. Emations are temporary and bus won't come in anger or in another tpye of feelings but normally its time.

Change is also another job which needs one to come near loss.

whoever wrote must had learned something about life.


On Dec 6, 2011 Debbie wrote:

Thank you, this is very wise and helped me with the change I am currently experiencing in my life.  I am living with loss of my parent thru dementia and empty nest with my children.  The statement: "Those transitional objects give us the illusion of security. When they are gone, we are left with the insecurity that's been there all along", is exceptionally powerful.  I also enjoyed the words "So when you feel the pain of loss, please don't grab at something to take away the pain. Just have faith that pain, like everything else, is transitional." 



On Dec 6, 2011 Randie wrote:

Thank you, I needed this. I have been struggling with getting older. Looking different everyday, feeling little more pain.  I needed this story and this web site.  All I do is work and worry and never know how to relax. I love reading stories like this and God. I know Change is difficult, but even when you know it is hard.  Bless you for this story. 

On Dec 6, 2011 Manisha wrote:

This piece comes just in time as I found myself "waiting for the bus" (train) this morning -- along with hundreds of commuters, all in a rush to get to work. Instead of checking my watch to try to calculate how late I'd be, I lowered my eyes to the ground and began to observe myself in waiting. I noticed how my heart started beating a bit faster, my chest subtly tightened with anxiety, and how I became defensive of "my space" so that more physically aggressive people would not push me out of the way. It was a rich learning experience. :) This passage inspires me to continuously observe myself so that I can accept change with balance, grace, and faith. Thank you. :)

On Dec 6, 2011 David Doane wrote:

 I very much like "Letter to my Grandson." Thank you. I would offer only two comments. One, we lose everything we become attached to and everything we don't become attached to, not almost everything -- that's life. Two, pain is transitional, as you say -- pain like joy is transitional, with another or more pain or joy to follow. There is no painless living. We have choice in how we suffer the pain and in the amount of joy we allow.

On Dec 7, 2011 Nagaraj wrote:


Thank you for the "Letter"...Its simply superb..I'm really inspired by the last couple of lines. Awesome!!

Sometimes We've  to loss..,else we can't enjoy the taste of success...

On Dec 7, 2011 Dora wrote:

I appreciate your letter its inspiring.

Of the truth,each lose is a blow but also an opportunity.The earlier human beings appreciate this fact the better for them.



On Dec 8, 2011 ayush agnihotri wrote:

the letter gives a brief reflection of what we face in life................thats gain something we have to loose also......


On Dec 8, 2011 maureen aiza laoan wrote:

love it! :0 more of this stories :)

On Dec 8, 2011 sachin agarwlla wrote:

In one word problms will come fade away like algebra class.But lessons we will learn  will last a lifetime.

On Dec 9, 2011 Toni wrote:

WOW...simply beautiful and perfect - thank you:-) - Toni

On Dec 9, 2011 Zeina wrote:

 Nobody gets what he wants unless he forgets

On Dec 9, 2011 Kazi wrote:

Reminded me of the Bob Marley song, "Three Little Birds"..."don't worry about a thing, cause every little thing is gonna be alright..." - it's become easier for me to face many things since I started believing this...Thank you for such a nice piece of writing... 

On Dec 10, 2011 Sumit wrote:

Thanks for sharing your thought !! "Nothing Lasts Forever" is a bitter truth and also a pleasant relief

On Dec 10, 2011 jo wrote:

Thank you for sharing, I myself am going through some life changes, I'm planning on moving to a big city to attend a college there. I've always been a small town girl, and I'm feeling a bit axiouse about the change. Whenever I go anywhere I always feel a compulsion to take along with me several books and anything els I can grab at the last minit. I don't konw how I'm going to manage moving to a new place, but this story helped me see change in a different light, thank you.


On Dec 10, 2011 scharleyne wrote:

 Thanks for sharing your story .Now i myself can say to the world that i can go passed all the changes around..changes can move myself..or my career into something new and dont be afraid of it because it help me to better person more


On Dec 12, 2011 Pancho wrote:

 My family calls me Pancho and many of you don't know me, but I'd like you to know that I love you all.

Last Wednesdays I shared a brief story and a reflection of our true nature. The CF-parents were not at the Kindness Temple since they were spreading loving-kindness and the real (r)evolution in the part of the Planet we call India. This snippet gives you a flavor of the magnitude of an entire family in full service to humanity. Subtle beauty at its best :-)
Because Mamá Harshida and Papá Dinesh weren't physically there with us, I'm writing this piece. These were the three points that flowed through me, and while I shared only two that night, here are three ;-):
1. Cultivating Gratitude: Not So Lost Wisdom
2. Every Breath, Every Step
3. The US%
1. Cultivating Gratitude: Not So Lost Wisdom
All Wednesdays and Saturdays, we host a vegan lunch --cooked by one of the anchor volunteers-- for all volunteers at the Free Farm. Last Wednesday, as we were about to hold hands before lunch, a group of students from London showed up to learn about the farm. They only had an hour or so to be with us, so they chose to have a tour instead of having lunch. A kind veteran volunteer offered to give them the tour. Then a dear sister, a woman descendent from Native Americans, approached me and the sweet elder asked me: "I saw you preparing that beautiful plate of food, and then you left it on the center of the table, and it's been sitting there. Are you offering it to the Great Spirit?".
It caught me by surprise. 
I was not thinking about the Great Spirit or the Creator. I was preparing a plate of food for the tour-guide volunteer. So my answer was: "No" and then I corrected myself and said, "but Yes and No" :-) I explained that my original purpose and then she, very gently, and full of love as if she wanted me to feel without any sort of guilt, she suggested: "you can always offer a small collard tree leaf with some rice." She succeed. Beaming smiles, she accepted my hug and I accepted the wisdom of gratitude coming from this wise elder. Cultivating gratitude at the farm.
Then, I felt an immense joy and, combined with the wisdom of people from the Wednesadays' carpool, this flowed through me:
2. Every Breath, Every Step
What if every breath we take on the Earth is an offering to the Universal Love? What if every step we take on the Earth is an offering to the Universal Love? The power of a pure and noble soul is in every person's heart and it will grow as a seed as we breathe in a sacred manner, it will grow as a seed as we walk in a sacred manner. If every breath we take is an offering to the Universal Love, then we will always be breathing in a sacred manner. If every step we take is an offering to the Universal Love, we will always be walking in a sacred manner.
3. The US%
As the bus in the passage, the Great Turning is coming. The 1% cannot get physically rich without the consent of the 99%. In this problem, we, the 99%, share most of the responsibility. Stop cooperating. Start facilitating the healing of the 100%.
May all become compassionate, courageous and wise.

On Dec 18, 2011 jimmi wrote:

Our lives these truths we cannot ignore yet our dreams are always within reach with each and every breathe we believe in a power greater than ourselves as we reflect on the life everlasting free from sin free from evil grow in me almighty spirit and allow me to release and evdure the love you have for me like the growth in each and every moment of my journey.

On Dec 26, 2011 Ruby wrote:

 Everything on earth is temporary, even our very lives. James 4:14 says, " Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." And so, Matthew 6:20 suggests, " But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal."

On Apr 23, 2012 Dianne wrote:
 Blessings and thank you, Dianne              I AM

On Apr 23, 2012 Ricardo from Brazil wrote:
At this moment this is more for me than for my grandson?...great explanation and comparison with the bus station. Thanks for that .

On Apr 27, 2012 Vipul Shaha wrote:
There's a poem in my language (Marathi), the chorus says 'Vichitra Jagati Karma Asay, Mann Chintite Hoat Nasay' (The world is peculiar with law of Karma at play all the time. What the mind desires doesn't always come about),

The poem ends with this encouraging line: ‚Äč'Ya Karmanna Jinkuni Gele Tech Jagi Yaa Dev Khare...'

(Those who overcome these Karmas, are the true divine beings...)  

On Jun 23, 2012 Grace Binas wrote:
 "When the heart weeps for what it's lost, the soul rejoices for what it's gained."

On May 1, 2013 madhur wrote:

Loved your comments, thanks for the wisdom. 

On May 1, 2013 Someone wrote:

 Hope your journey is going good. Have faith, you may lose out on few things which give false sense of security but gain few others which help you evolve as a person. I remember my past and some of younger friends , relatives present on reading your piece. I can assure all will be good for soul, go with trust in universe!


On May 1, 2013 someone wrote:

Thanks for sharing your observation, it is helpful indeed for others too. It is true that we create anxiety, tension and excitement etc. Its our reaction to a situation which  gets reflected in our behavior. The observance as you did is similar to what is taught in vipassana. Pratice of 'samta; and 'pragya' is very useful for each awareness.

On May 1, 2013 luv4all wrote:

Your explanation of attachment , detachment is apt and a good learning. Thank you. 

On May 1, 2013 luv4all wrote:

Thank you for sharing useful insights and ways of dealing with pain. These shall be good and helpful, I am sure.

On Feb 6, 2014 GITA wrote:

Guess we all have a grandfather somewhere in the form of someone telling us such beautiful words of wisdom. In my case it was this grandfather!!