My suffering is better than your suffering

Atalwin & Izzy

Note to self: don’t get caught up in your own story. Don’t exaggerate the importance of your doing, not even when it feels ‘right’. Actually, be very aware when you start feeling ‘right’. And don’t fall into the trap of comparing. Don’t think you are actually comparing your experience to the other’s experience, you are not. When you compare you are merely measuring your own judgment to your own experience. By rejecting what you consider futile, you are only projecting your arrogant and superior version of life on the other. Remember how crappy it felt at times when your own suffering was discarded for being futile (and remember how much this is now part of your story). Projecting your expectations is harmful, it is as if you create laws against being honest and truthful in your Universe. If your laws are obeyed you create ungenuineness, inside and outside of yourself. The pain you felt when you received the email is the pain you are still carrying inside. Don’t blame others for making you aware. Be thankful.

This is how we roll. Yallah!

I feel sad. Tomorrow I am leaving and today I am meeting with people to say goodbye to them. It touches me more than I expected. I have tears in my eyes as I type. I really wish them well. I wish I could have done more. But I have a feeling I will stay in touch with a few of them and that I will come back in the future.

Tomorrow I will fly to Cairo where I might stay at the place of friends of friends or I might have to find a place through couchsurfing.com or stay at a hostel. But I am aiming for cool people who want to hang out with me for a couple of days. Then I will fly to Baghdad and stay there for 3 weeks. The plan is to work intensely for 5 to 10 days with a group of around 20 young Iraqi’s, to help them find inner strength and peace and to create strong bonds founded on honesty, respect, honor and integrity. I hope to contribute to the creation of honorable and integer leaders. The planet needs Noble Warriors everywhere but certainly in Iraq.

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Deep down we are all Warriors

Workshop Beirut III

So what have I learned? I have learned that human beings are very much the same. It doesn’t matter if they are Dutch, Greek, Israeli or Lebanese. It doesn’t matter if they are wealthy or less wealthy. We all experience loneliness, separation, suffering, doubt and sadness. And we all have the potential to embrace ourselves.

Another lesson is that it seems that the weight of every day life is heavier in a small community with quite a few social restrictions. That sounds like an open door when I write it down but it felt humbling when really being present with it. I saw quite a few caged people here, locked up in palaces, literally and metaphorically.

As I come almost to the end of this post I realize that I hope that people don’t see me or my journey as somebody or something exceptional but as something within their reach too. We can all identify our fears and then do the work to overcome them. Deep down we are all warriors. The only thing we need to do is start acting accordingly.

The eternal dance of giving and receiving

It feels as if I rediscovered the eternal dance of giving and receiving. It is like our breathing. If we just let it happen, it feels so good, natural and relaxing. When we inhale universal love enters our body, when we exhale our personal love flows back into the universe. The more we surrender to that rhythm, the easier our life goes. The challenge is to really trust that what we give will come back to us. We are afraid of giving too much and as a consequence we give too little, trying to make a love-profit. And a way to create such a challenge is by going on a mission to make a difference with little money. Then there are no other options then letting the goodness of the universe work on us. Trust me. 😉

“I drove the ambulance”

Roger the ambulance driver and me

Since it was Sunday the traffic wasn’t completely clogged, thank God. My taxi was driving unexpectedly fast, swerving fluidly from lane to lane, passing cars on the left and on the right. I am enjoying and appreciating the fact that this man will help me get into the snow faster than I had hoped. His English was not so good. I pat him on the shoulder and say: “you drive very good”. Then he said: “In 1988 we had war. I drove the ambulance”.

The eyes of goodness

Beirut sunset

This morning I felt somewhat nervous and depressed. I get that feeling when I don’t feel useful and limited. Here I feel physically limited by the city. I miss exercise and tried running a couple of days ago but the exhaust fumes of the traffic make it uncomfortable to breath (just walking outside feels already unhealthy). Second is that I don’t get the amount of work done because of limited access to the Internet. I am starting to feel guilty and to feel I am losing control over my project: things are not going as I hoped and expected. I was very easy to make appointments but they were cancelled and postponed just as easily.

I would like to make a contribution but I don’t want to intrude. People are working here. I feel frustrated, I feel sad. And I’m getting angry because this post is taking it’s own direction. I don’t want a sad post.

What can I do? I can accept, surrender and start all over again. I can stop taking myself so fucking serious. I can overcome my embarrassment to offer something and I can take no for an answer. I can be flexible. I can be less ambitious and more sensitive to what is needed.

Bearing Witness in Beirut

Mleeta sign

In Tripoli we went into a mosque during prayer. I was invited to pray with them, which I did. I like to experience the ritual. First I had to wash myself in a traditional way (hands, underarms, face, nose, ears, mouth, feet) then I joined them during prayer, mimicking the movements. Afterwards an imam-looking guy (who turned out not to be an imam but we didn’t know until later) wanted to speak to us. Somebody else translated his words. I think that around 20 people stayed to hear what the guy had to say to us. Basically he gave a small talk, arguing why Islam was the highest truth, using a lot of rhetorical questions that didn’t leave a lot of room for a different point of view (“Do you agree that God created all things?”). What I felt was that he had the need to convince us of something he was convinced of himself. What was most striking to me was the similarity between the Chassidic Jews in Tsfat and this guy: similar clear eyes and similar strong convictions.

Fearlessness put into practice (after having the body and heart fed)

Happy after meal

It is amazing what a good meal can do. I find myself in Tawlet Restaurant, owned by Kamal Mouzawak. Friend and connoisseur of the Arabian cuisine Merijn Tol introduced him to me. It’s the second time I’m here and the first time by myself (Kamal is traveling). The food was so good it almost made me cry.

I truly feel that our planet is teaching me about the relationship between the earth and what I put in my mouth. What I ate here wasn’t some über culinary experience but it is feels very, very honest. It is authentic and integer. I don’t now how to describe it. This is what comes up: there is no ego in the food. But it has dignity instead. What I had on my plate resembles my ideas of spirituality: honest, simple, good.