What is familiar and what is foreign?

A soul’s journey is, while in the body, in the eye of the beholder.
Kurt Leland, author of Otherwhere: A Field Guide to Nonphysical Reality for the Out-of-Body Travel, writes of encounters to other planes of reality in terms of metaphors.
Kurt (or rather “Charles,” his spirit guide) informed us that we would be making a large leap in our soul’s education by moving to the island.
Actually, love is the ultimate answer and it is far deeper than blue skies and warm oceans. The first time I read the Bahamas national anthem something unlocked within me, even in cold winter of a Cambridge, Massachusetts bookstore. The second time, I heard the anthem sung, and was also moved. Perhaps I was an Atlantean after all (the civilization, not the resort) and this spirit that moved then also quickens now.
Who knows what our “DNA” remembers and what our “soul” remembers? And what is memory, anyway? Something quickens, we feel the pulse of God more strongly in our hearts. What is this mystery?
These days everyone in the ‘global village’ is ‘international.’ Well, almost everyone. We still have affiliation and exclusion taken to the level of genocide.
But for those of us who are ‘international,’ national boundaries are things requiring passports and paperwork, while the human family shares a larger destiny.
Let’s just say that it’s good to live in this country. A simple rule: if you’re cool, everyone is cool. If you have an attitude, you’ll get attitude. Action-reaction, that simple.
About appreciating different peoples and places.
I learned a lot from my father as a child growing up. I was twelve, coming out of synagogue on the holiest day when we learned that the Yom Kippur War had been initiated against Israel. Of course we were deeply concerned for Israel, and my father also taught me that we regarded life as sacred. “It doesn’t matter whether the person killed is from one people or another–there is still a person and a family involved.” I kept that lesson. Whether chanting in an ashram or finding fellowship in a synagogue, church or mosque, the universalism of my father’s philosophy still resonates.
Emotions. They are handled differently from culture to culture. Some cultures repress emotion, others vibrantly express it. You can guess which end of the spectrum we’re now on.
Emotions and negotiation.
I liked Ury & Fischer’s book, Getting to Yes. He offers helpful suggestions such as: “separate the people from the problem,” and find solutions based on objective criteria. I spent some hours in the company of Roger Fischer, absorbing his tales of how he applied his famous principles to help resolve various international disputes.
As always, I think, there is a balance, a dance: this culture has much to teach Americans about fullness of expression, and in return, the pragmatically-minded Americans can bring teachings about effectiveness in dispute resolution.
Separation of church and state is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. Conjunction of church and state is a way of life here.
Paradox: the revolving door from one state to another leaves deep satisfaction with the way each has evolved.
I have landed in a largely Christian country. My childhood was steeped in Judaism. My wife teaches yoga and has a deep connection with Buddhism. Next week I travel to an Islamic country. And since being here, I have hosted a swami from the Indian, Hindu traditions.
Perhaps now, if anyone asks, ‘what are you,’ I can give Gandhi’s answer to the question as to whether he was a Hindu: “Yes I am. I am also a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist and a Jew.” Of course, the answer may be anathema to each one. But it resonates with my journey. gandhiji.jpg
I attended a memorial service for someone within the Jewish community here. A feeling of community truly was present in the room.
Perhaps the quantum soul leap to which “Charles” alluded has to do with this feeling of community, for there are many communities here, religious, social and professional. In contrast, while I lived in New York, Harrisburg, So-Cal (Orange County), Iowa City and Boston, a heavy isolation bore down.
The combination of physicality of expression, open emotionality, and passion for truth creates appreciation for the striving toward essence over false personality, toward being authentic within a community of vibrant equals.
As they say: onward, upward, forward, together. These four words of the national motto locate us in relational time and space–we move in community horizontally toward common objectives, vertically toward higher ideals, and toward some shared transcendental space whose dimension of “forward” lies entirely at the apex of faith and mystery.