the myth of the missing moon

December 2nd, 2017

Let’s consider whether we see a crescent moon, a half moon or a full moon. In any of the phases of the moon before it is full, is anything truly lacking? — Maezumi Roshi

One day a girl looked up at the sky through a veil of clouds and saw that half the moon was missing.

The moon is missing! The moon is missing! No one could convince her otherwise. In fact, she had seen it shrinking for some time, and every night came more proof of her worst fears.

I was right! This conviction was a miserable consolation.

Where others might have seen a sliver of shine, all she saw was the deepening hollow of absence.

There is something you think you don’t have. A virtue, quality, or substance you need to acquire. Courage. Strength. Patience. Wisdom. Compassion. As soon as I name it, you see it as missing from you, quick to disavow the suggestion that you are complete.

I’m only human, you might say. I’m not at all whole and perfect. I’m injured, inadequate, and yes, even a little bit robbed. Especially robbed.

She tried filling the hole with tears, shouts and bluster. She bought a toaster, a Sub Zero, and a Maserati, a pile of shiny objects. They overflowed her house and storage unit. She stomped her feet and kicked up dust. All of it made a mess, but nothing more. You can’t fill a hole that doesn’t exist.

And so, exhausted, she gave up and sat down, head heavy, heart leaden.

She didn’t notice the shadows shifting into light, the wind lifting, the clouds parting, the days passing. One evening she opened her eyes and saw the moon. It was full, of course. It was full all along, doing what moons do, reflecting light. Only our perspective changes. We rob ourselves when we mistake the unreal for the real.

Your heart is always whole, just as the moon is always full. Your life is always complete. You just don’t see it that way.

Just let everything and anything be so, as it is, without using any kind of standard by which we make ourselves satisfied, dissatisfied, happy or unhappy. Then you’ll see the plain and clear fact.

Excerpted from the book Paradise in Plain Sight ©2014 by Karen Maezen Miller. Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA.

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  1. Thank you. I love you.

    Comment by Michelle — February 12, 2012 @ 7:45 pm

  2. Absolutely wonderful post, Karen. You truly inspire people in the Netherlands as well. Thank you,

    Vincent van der Zee

    Comment by Vincent — February 13, 2012 @ 12:35 am

  3. Thank you is the first thing that comes into mind.
    I most definitely needed to read this before starting my week. Thank you!!

    Comment by Roos — February 13, 2012 @ 12:44 am

  4. […] the myth of the missing moon. […]

    Pingback by the myth of the missing moon « Running Toward Home — February 13, 2012 @ 4:05 am

  5. The perfect words to start this week. Thank you.

    Comment by Barbara H — February 13, 2012 @ 4:45 am

  6. Thank you for these words on this day, I definitely needed a perspective adjustment.

    Comment by Laura — February 13, 2012 @ 5:49 am

  7. your use of the moon has allowed me to hear and see the truth of my own heart, incredible, simply incredible

    Comment by MJ — February 13, 2012 @ 7:47 am

  8. perfect timing!

    you rock.

    Comment by bk — February 13, 2012 @ 8:32 am

  9. always whole… words to live by. (as if there were a choice..:)

    Comment by kate — February 13, 2012 @ 8:58 am

  10. loved this…thank you

    Comment by Connie — February 13, 2012 @ 9:00 am

  11. glorious and timely. thank you.

    Comment by denise — February 13, 2012 @ 12:10 pm

  12. Beautiful…I will always remember this when I look at the moon. Thank you.

    Comment by Allison — February 13, 2012 @ 1:49 pm

  13. Perfect and complete, lacking nothing. I want to remember this at every moment but I frequently forget. Is it sometimes enough for me to recognise when I am NOT practicing?
    Thank you for your work.

    Comment by Judith Smith — February 13, 2012 @ 5:42 pm

  14. Thank you, as always, for sharing your wisdom.

    Comment by Hugh — February 14, 2012 @ 7:18 pm

  15. […] can I choose between the Infinite within and the Infinite beyond?             twin energies swimming together                                         with all of my […]

    Pingback by The moon guides me to the Infinite through the Beauty in Small Things — February 19, 2012 @ 11:52 pm

  16. oh wow! this is beautiful! If we all can just remember that..hehe… beautiful xx

    Comment by Lynne Malan — March 7, 2012 @ 11:31 pm

  17. Thanks for this post today. It’s the second time I’ve read it, and it still makes me feel full. I’ve been spending lots of time with the moon, doing a new moon practice where I give something up and a full moon ritual where I burn regrets, give thanks for the fullness of fulfilled desires, and plant new hopes.

    I wrote about you here: and first time here:

    Hope you are feeling like the full moon today. Thank you thank you thank you.

    Comment by Jeannine — October 3, 2012 @ 11:22 am

  18. This is lovely Karen, as always. Having just enjoyed the full moon but guilty of not always recognizing its fullness in myself all the time, this is right on time and I love it.

    Comment by Katie — October 3, 2012 @ 12:04 pm

  19. Your life is always complete. You just don’t see it that way. I love this! I enjoy watching the moon and will now think of this post whenever I do. Thank you!!

    Comment by Kelly — October 3, 2012 @ 9:52 pm

  20. Wow. Lovely. This takes my breath away. Shine or emptiness, it’s all in the angle from which we look, isn’t it? xox

    Comment by Lindsey — October 4, 2012 @ 5:44 am

  21. Today I am feeling unwell and frustrated that I can’t carry on with my typical daily activities. Your post has helped me remember to see things as they are. I am a full moon and just need to get some rest. Thank you.

    Comment by MangoGirl — October 4, 2012 @ 8:39 am

  22. You can’t fill a hole that doesn’t exist. It makes perfect sense. Thank you!

    Comment by Shelby — October 5, 2012 @ 12:24 am

  23. Needed to read this today, thanks!

    Comment by Emily — January 23, 2013 @ 2:59 pm

  24. […] – Karen Maezen Miller the myth of the missing moon […]

    Pingback by Daughter Moon | Jena Strong — October 17, 2013 @ 3:12 am

  25. This hits so close to home that I am giggling and tearing up at the same time, thank you, Maezen. I LOVE this and I LOVE you!


    Comment by Clare — September 29, 2015 @ 8:31 am

  26. ” You can’t fill a hole that doesn’t exist ”
    Oh my. This. Taking it all in this morning and reaching for that book to read again. Obviously, it is time.

    Comment by Bonnie Rae — December 3, 2017 @ 8:53 am

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