Selected by Debie Thomas

If Prayer Would Do It
by Stephen Levine

If prayer would do it
I’d pray.

If reading esteemed thinkers would do it
I’d be halfway through the Patriarchs.

If discourse would do it
I’d be sitting with His Holiness
every moment he was free.

If contemplation would do it
I’d have translated the Periodic Table
to hermit poems, converting
matter to spirit.

If even fighting would do it
I’d already be a black belt.

If anything other than love could do it
I’d have done it already
and left the hardest for last.

Stephen Levine (July 17, 1937 — January 17, 2016) was an American poet, author and teacher best known for his work on death and dying. He is one of a generation of pioneering teachers who, along with Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein and Sharon Salzberg, have made the teachings of Theravada Buddhism more widely available to students in the West.

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