Sunday, February 28, 2010

Interspiritual Wisdom Sharing the Mystic Heart

I had been to churches, I had attended a few different Hindu prayers, I had attended mosques with people of so many different nationalities, I had attended ataashkade, but had never been in a place with so many different spiritual backgrounds.
I am going to write my excerpts from the interspiritual meeting I attended yesterday and I am not going to make any cautious decision on what to write and what not to write here today, it may be confusing but it will be respectful. So do your judgment in whether or not you like to read the rest :)
I wanted to be with Kabir and Camille this Saturday, I was not able to go to Santa Cruz for a few weeks; I had missed them and being with them. When I learned that this weekend they would be presenting in an interspiritual conference I ached to go there. I weighed different scenarios and plans but it didn't work out. I could not register on time and the night before it seemed that there was no room left either. But still it seemed that it worked out at the last minute for me to go the city very early in the morning and successfully register at the door. I heard later that there were more people interested to register at the door but they were sent away as there was absolutely no room left. It was a blessing to be there!
The venue was at the First Unite Lutheran Church in San Francisco. The chapel in which the meeting was held had very narrow and tall windows with patterns resembling plants and flowers colored yellow, green, blue, and very few spots of red. In the morning the light was coming through the east windows making a bright yellow shadow a couple feet in front of me. I looked behind me, where the light was coming through; I wanted a blue light on me. The window on the west seemed the only one that could fulfill that but it needed the sun to travel west and go really high for me, seemed not possible actually with my position and the position of the blue on the window. I was hopeful though that something might happen in the afternoon.
There were six presenters with a wealth of experience from within their spiritual path of their choice, each speaking not for the religion, but from within the tradition, the way Ed Bastian put it.
First it was Rabbi Rami Shapiro talking about the mystic heart of Jewish faith. Reading verses from the bible, he explained how the mystic heart of the religion calls you out of the box of forms and your parent’s house and belongings and nationality and political beliefs to the unmapped territory. "God is calling you to just go, to the places you don't have the map to". And it struck me deeply. I was thinking about the security of mapped territories in my life and the insecurity of any thing beyond that, and then the first speaker of the day made me think above and beyond, to come out of the security of my parent’s and my society’s house and beliefs and try to understand “the space between the arcs of the angles”. To go beyond the box. The emptiness without a form. I was then thinking how mysteriously dangerous the mind can be as when you set your mind on a particular thing it seems it is powerful enough to harmonize everything with it. So watch for your thoughts!
I liked it very much when he explained that believe has content, but faith is content less and how he was trying to convey messages from the faith and not belief. And how “I used Judaism to escape from what is jewish”.
He made us chant a very beautiful song with the rhythm of waltz. People stood up and started rocking left and right with the rhythm and soon they all hold hands rocking in a union. I loved this experience. It reminded me of the vahdat prayer I enjoyed as a kid. A true unity in humanity. When the chanting was over an old couple in the row in front of me embraced and the old lady kissed the old man on the cheek; I smiled, wondering if they both wanted to come and she kissed him because they were truly together in the experience or whether he didn't want to come and came just because of her and she kissed him because she was thankful. Whatever it was, it had a huge love element in it.

In between sessions I went to the front of the chapel to convey my greetings and regards to Shaikh Kabir and Camille. It was amazing being embraced with them both and their loves for me.
Then it was Swami Atmarupananda talking from the heart of Hinduism. His talk sounded more philosophical than not to me. He said, and I am not quoting but I like to talk from his perspective, that: I am, it is my existence that I am sure of. Not my senses because they can be faulty, I cannot trust my mind either, because I may be crazy and in my insanity I think I am the only one who is sane. But I don't doubt about my existence. He explained that: how that existence is separate from body and feelings, that I am not sick, but I am aware of the sickness in the body, that I am not sad, because I am the light of presence. He said the good thing about glasses is that at first you see them but soon you don't see the glasses any more but you see the world through the glasses. So every thing can be a window to infinity. In continuation of what Rabbi Rami said he explained that you need to understand the box to be able to understand what is outside the box. About the interspirituality he exampled from the 3D effect in the cinema and how we are looking at the reality the way different eyes look at it from different angles, and to be able to learn the reality it helps to look at it from different angles. And I was thinking how I had heard this before, several times actually, quoted from Imam Ali, that the knowledge is the knowledge of religions, elm aladyaan. I felt so in line with it all. He quoted that it is good to be born in a church (place of worship) but not to die there.
Then it was Mary O'hara Wyman talking from within Christianity. She started telling us about her background upbringing being born to a Catholic farmer family in Missouri belonging to a Catholic farmer church where miles from their church there was a Lutheran German Farmer's church and how the most disgraceful thing a child could possibly do was to attend the other congregation. She explained how they were being empowered to be against each other and how she needed to start interspirituality from interchristianity.
She recalled how they prayed a lot in her family, that her parents blessed all crops and the chickens and their meal and every thing, that at noon when they were busy in the field they would all stop whatever they were doing hearing the sound of the bells inviting to noon prayer and gather together; her parents would pray together. She explained how she was taught to be weary of the ultimate mercy who was watching her and all her actions all the time. She said: "I was here, and the God was there". But she quoted she knew deep down that "we were mysteriously resting in God". That "God was loving within me, adoring me as I adored him. Best of all, he forgave me in love" and I found my eyes all watery in her explanations. She quoted from Father Thomas that "we are all cradled unceasingly by the love of God". She said she understood that Jesus let go of judgment, Jesus forgave simply, and Jesus lived fully. And she said Christians were those who manifested the Christ, which was love. She said "I and my father are one. Jesus is the Christian way to the truth and life. Letting go and doing the will of the father, letting go of own human power and acting through power of Holy Spirit, this is the Trinity".

I needed the intermissions between sessions. I would go outside and walk in the small backyard exploring the structure of the church having a cup of tea. I met Kabir in the break room and in my inquiry to him that I felt so content where I was I didn’t necessarily felt like going to the heart of the city afterwards to meet my family he advised “embrace it all” and to look at each experience as a new “damm”, breath. It went right to my heart.
Then it was my beloved Shaikh Kabir and Camille talking through Islam and Sufism. How love is the essence of existence and what gives meaning to life. That: this is a spiritual universe, meaningful in its structure, and if one really observes sees the mercy that is operating. Like the arrival of messengers through the time who reminded us that this universe is merciful. He wrote Bismilla Arrahman Arrahim on the board and made us all chant it together. It was beautiful and a sense of pride cloaked me for a second finding all around me chanting through my faith, but soon, consciously, I let go of that pride how Rabbi Rami had instructed earlier. It was then just beautiful! Kabir said "in my view you are all Muslims, seeking the divine. If not in a true surrender but the seeker of the surrender through the religion of your choice." He explained how presence and being present at each moment is fundamental and essential. How the five prayers we do are the responses we give to the calling from God, not us initiating the call to God. “Your calling to him is his answer to you” and I cried again. He advised: find tranquility in each praying postures; the whole world is the place of our prostration. He said we are what we put our attention on so the matter of our attention is the master of our spirituality. From Rumi he said "if your thought is a rose you are a rose garden, if your thought is a thorn you are kindling in a fireplace". And finally Camille read the va AlAsr verses from Quran with her heavenly voice. She sang it to testify all people in all faiths were truly on the right path.

It was almost an hour to the end of the conference and there was no blue light on me yet. The sun was still so high and the blue section of the window so low it seemed impossible if a blue ray would come through to where I was sitting.

Just before the last session though we had a breathing experience for which we had to stand up and face west between the isles to have enough room to move. I was in a higher position compare to where I was sitting now. And surely, there was the blue light right on my eyelashes! I was trembling in joy.

Last session was with Ed Bastian talking from the mystic heart of Budism. He was a very nice man. I found my capacity already full though with all the beauty going around me.

It was time to part. I was supposed to meet M and A in downtown. Walking there I was stopped by a lady. She looked young, shorter than I was, with two wide eyes colored with so many different colors. She was looking straight into my eyes in the middle of the ocean of people who had gathered to watch the Chinese New Year Parade. Then she extended a business card to me, “call me, I want to read you”. I couldn’t stop looking into her eyes. She continued “you have a very strong glow around you it is shining in the middle of the people”. I smiled back “well, that may be because I just came back from an interspiritual conference”. “May be” she replied. “But I want to read you. Call me”. I just shook my head smiling and left. But somehow I cannot stop thinking about the sincerity in her eyes, I found myself so tempted to call her.

We met with a couple colleagues and their families for dinner after the parade. It was a very nice evening and I really liked the food in the restaurant our Chinese colleague recommended in China Town. It was so nice to see A so content in presence of a few people most of whom he had not met before. And it was great just to be in the city walking under the full moon late in the evening.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Depth

Sitting by the window she is staring at the raindrops on the pool. Drip Drop. She can imagine the sound of the splash, the clash of raindrop on the water, wondering how it can really sound within the depth of the water.
It is a rather chilly night. She opens the window, the room fills up with the sound of the rain all around.
Pulling up the zipper on her sweatshirt she opens the french door. Inhales all the rainy air into the deepest corner of her lungs. She starts running in the rain. She is smiling, laughing, tasting the rain drops in her mouth, squinching her eyes involuntarily feeling the cold of the rain in her eyes. Panting and giggling like a child, she can just speed up. Her hair and face and body are all wet.
She drops the sweatshirt on the ground, dives into the pool, listening to the raindrops from the depth of the water.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Couple of Quotations

Before leaving home this morning I read for a few minutes from the book pick article in a rather usual magazine I was reading from, the Costco Connection, but read this sentence a few times and could not stop rereading it:

"... that life is short, that you must chase your passions, your dreams."
Abraham Verghese

Then in the office, I was searching for a book by Gibran Khalil Gibran that I stumbled upon this verse yet again; I loved reading it back during my university era, loved it as a child back then, love it as a mom now, and I know I had written this before in my blog, in Farsi, so here is the original quotation:

"Your Children are not Your Children

They are the sons and daughters of life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


A: What is that car doing?
Me: Which car?
A: That car over there, over the ramp, by the window
Me: He is going through drive through pharmacy
A: Why?
Me: Because he needs to buy medicine
A: Why?
Me: Because he or someone he knows is sick
A: Why?
Me: I am not sure, may be because they didn't wash their hands and ate with yucky hands
A: Why?
Me: I don't know baby! May be because they didn't know they should have washed their hands
A: Why?

A: Oh the Sun is going down!
Me: Yes baby! The sun is setting
A: Why?
Me: Because the day is coming to an end
A: Why?
Me: Because the night is starting
A: Why?
Me: Because we need the night to rest
A: Because my pretty moon is coming?
Me: Yes baby! Because your pretty moon is coming :)

Me: A! Please hang your towel on the hanger
A: Why?

A: Mommy what day is today?
Me: Thursday
A: But Why?
Me: ??! :)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My 10th Valetine's

I got home late on Friday to find that M had already packed his and A's stuff and I had to only take care of mine.
Saturday morning M took care of our road snacks neatly. All was ready to hit the road to South Lake Tahoe.
It was a pleasant ride. He had picked us the back roads rather than the highway with an amazing scenery. It was unbelievable how all the spring fresh sprouts would lead to snowy mountains by the lake.
It is beautiful here!
On Sunday I got a very beautiful gift. Later I got to ski all by myself while M was taking care of A. I missed them on the lifts but I kind of cherished the loneliness too. I had not skied for four years but it came back to me easily. I actually felt pity for all the years that I had skied in Toronto. It is a totally different experience to ski at just below freezing rather than -20C!
I enjoyed my time very much! I was actually spoiled!
Chinese new year has began. The year of Tiger. Per CM, my Chinese technician, I am going to have a successful year. It may or may not be. I have experienced it several times: it does not stay the same. There are times of happiness and times of sadness, there are times of success and times of defeat. In the end of the story, they all pass. I am going to cherish all the beauties that come to me and try to stay patient with the inevitable ugliness of life as well. In any case, happy Valentine's and Happy Chinese New Year!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


The California poppies are blooming, the wildest orange flowers I adore. There are also the yellow wildflowers I don't know their name but similar to the ones bloom in spring back where I grew up. They recklessly cover an area of the wild greens yet they are very innocent in their beauty. These wildflowers remind me of my mother. I think she loved these flowers. I have an image of her in the middle of a vast prairie filled with these flowers and a wide smile on her face. I adored her when I was kid. I still do but I think in a different way.

A gave me a purple card in the shape of a heart with pink hearts pasted randomly on it. I loved it!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Castle

The candles were lit all around the hall. It had stopped raining outside, the rain drops still sliding down the tall windows sparkling against the dark garden. There was the sound of live music coming from the music room filling the space softly. They were sitting on the huge and old sits at a rather darker corner of the hall silently sipping steaming drinks. They had just come back from an early dinner following their late afternoon runs. They had just started the running ritual but already felt it was an unbreakable habit. It was hard to convince themselves to part, to go to their rooms to get ready for a whole new day tomorrow. They decided to go for a long walk instead.
There was a path through the garden bending around the castle, all wet and slippery but inviting, mysteriously welcoming. There was a grand and heavy door, the unreachable great door, at the end of the path as if holding the surrounding walls together. Since their arrival she had spotted the door at the end of the path through the window of her room. She had desired to discover the door and what it was hiding behind it but had not found the courage. Tonight though his presence had erased any concern.
The closer they got to the door the taller it appeared.
They had to push the door really hard to make the squeaking hinges budge. They could now hear the sound of the unimaginable waves beyond the walls.
There they were, standing on top of a huge rock looking down the vast sea. The full moon appearing from behind the clouds.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

ELEGY (2008)

Loved the movie!
It has been a long time since I enjoyed a movie so much!
The screenplay was based on a book named "the dying animal" by Philip Roth. I may like to read it one day. Although I am afraid doing so may ruin the image of the relationship the movie was screening. Such a unique relationship starting from a beautiful "shell" and ending with beauty. It was a real "work of art"!

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Mr Elegance is a newly discovered friend. I know him for more than two years now but we never chatted like now. I think it all started with him reviewing my and my friends' posts in facebook and inquiring about the meaning of "joon"; the phrase we add after each others name at the beginning of our conversations to show our respect and friendship to the person, like "darling". He calls me "midnight joon" now and also "my only Iranian friend". Honestly that makes me a bit concerned. I am not sure why but I do not necessarily like to be coming across as all Iranian. I think there are other unique stuff about me that matters. It is charming nonetheless and gladly I do not think that is all he sees in me either. What intrigues me about him is his honest remarks and curiosity about my background. Again, it is hard really to try to convey which part of me is my background culture and which part is really all me: a mixture of persona, different cultures I have lived in, inner self, learning, and original thoughts . True though, ones culture affects her personality a lot.

He knew I was struggling with a subject for a couple of nights last week and when I explained to him what that was after the fact he exclaimed it was a trivial matter in the "grand scheme of life". I contemplated on that and I cannot agree with him more. I felt a new appreciation for the grand scheme of life today.

The fact is that the more I get to talk to him the less I think I know him. He is interestingly capricious. On the other hand I have told him so much about myself, my background, my choices in life, my concerns, my dilemmas, I feel vulnerable to some extent. I feel I have lost the unpredictability of the rabbit; the way don Juan had advised Carlos Castaneda; "it is more exciting not to know which bush the rabbit is hiding behind than to behave as though we know everything". I don't think I need to worry about this with him though.

Last night, interestingly, I even surprised my M and I really enjoyed it. The subject was nothing to brag about but the fact that there are nuances in my reactions that are even unrecognized to my M was refreshing.

sweet acquaintance

I was in the parking lot walking towards the preschool to pick up A. There was a very young girl carried by her dad. As soon as she saw me she told him "oh, that is A's mom". Wasn't I flattered?


There was a day when nothing would break. Nothing that would break shattered. Nothing that would shatter mattered.

It was a common practice to forget those things that weren't worth remembering.

Being able to forget is a blessing!

I am waiting for the turn of the moment...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Stary night

It was still wet from an earlier rain fall but the sky was all clear now. She was walking back home. Her head towards the vast night sky. It was refreshing to look at the stars after several cloudy nights of showers and rain. It was refreshing to smell the secret scent of spring. A new beginning was just around the corner.