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.

No comments: