The world is on fire. Three days ago a plane filled with primarily Dutch tourists was shot out of the sky by pro-Russian rebels in the Ukraine, a week or so ago Hamas and the IDF went to mini-war against each other and ISIS is doing their best to cause death and destruction in Syria and Iraq. Due to the new function on Facebook to play videos without clicking on them in combination with the many contacts I have in the Arab world and their habit to show death from close up I can now see beheadings and executions first thing in the morning, today combined with dead Palestinian children and the bodies and body parts of my countrymen in a desolate field somewhere in the Ukraine.
Some weeks ago fellow blogger and fellow contributor at Elephant Journal and The Good Men Project Kate Bartolotta rocked the internet with a post called “How to Get Flat Abs, Have Amazing Sex and Rule the World in 8 Easy Steps”, harvesting some 96k or so shares on Facebook. And guess what? Her post doesn’t even tell you how to get flat abs! So forget about amazing sex and ruling the world. So I wondered what my newly restored flat abs could teach me. Let me share with you what Kate didn’t: the road to flat abs and inspiring the world with help of Nelson Mandela’s teachings.
For some reason I felt I had a good chance. She looked like a girl that is so pretty that she doesn’t care that much about looks anymore. I felt I only had to prove to be able to overcome the obstacles. I felt as if she was waiting. She didn’t make it hard on me. I only had to figure out how to get to her. But I did not pass the test.
Since we haven’t spoken a word my image of her is still untainted. By now she has grown in my mind into this warm, loving, sexy, smart and sensual woman who is a wise and funny conversation partner, a great lover and cooks as good as she dances. Now that I think of it: she probably would be a great mother for our children too.
I quite often notice rushes of happiness though. They come and go. When I am riding my bicycle to the morning meditation for example. I cross bridges and ride along side canals, the sun is rising, the city is still quiet and the water is like glass. I feel love or joy coming up. It is really as if a bubble comes up from deep down, and is rising upwards, at one point crossing the borders of my consciousness and entering my body, spreading a warm feeling from my lower belly upwards. I sigh and smile. It is a feeling similar to looking into beautiful loving eyes.
By witnessing pure communication – that is the best way I can describe it – I realized how contaminated our average day-to-day communication is. When we feel free, open and courageous enough to let the words flow from our hearts everybody has something interesting to say. Not that anybody made any effort to impress, be funny or profound. It is quite the opposite. When the masks are dropped everybody shows up as human, vulnerable, tender, authentic. Words seem to come effortless from varying places. Sometimes from a deep, raw and tormented place, sometimes from a blissful and graceful place, and everything in between.
My fellow practitioners have been visiting the same sesshins as me for many years, many of them even a lot longer than me. So I see the same faces every time I go on retreat. Today I noticed how we ripen over the years. I really saw it! And I don’t mean aging but maturing. We all have our personalities with good sides and blind spots and in some way it feels so familiar to be here, as if nothing ever changes. But we do change. And we go step by step. Somebody said something like: “I am always preoccupied with the steps I want to take or wished I could take – the big and impressive steps – but I am never too appreciative for the steps I am taking. The small steps seem less interesting”. It was so beautiful and so true. I saw the faces of my fellow students and realized how many small steps they have taken over the years. If it is true for them it must be true for me too. (Quite self-evident but we do tend to place ourselves outside of that equation, I have fallen in that trap. But this time I didn’t) I realized how our lives take shape by the little steps we take and how I am taking my own small but deliberate steps.
Now I want you to watch this video. Dustin Hoffman shares an insight he got from making the 1982 movie “Tootsie”.
In preparation of the movie wherein he plays a man who poses as a woman he explores with makeup artists the possibility of turning him into a believable woman. The makeup artists turn him into a woman but not a woman that he as a man would find attractive. He does not meet his physical expectations and standards and he realizes he would never approach himself on a party. He says: “there are too many interesting women I did not have the experience to know in this life because I have been brain washed”.
The video is beautiful and touching. And it hit home. I realized that I probably would have never noticed the girl I am seeing tonight if she wasn’t attractive.
The past 6 weeks I spend with the girl who I met a year ago in India when we both attended a tantra course. At the time we both weren’t available but unexpectedly ‘something happened’ during one of our Skype calls months later. Somewhere in January, when I was in Colombia, I decided to do whatever necessary to meet her, which meant going to the other side of the world and coming up with plans how to finance that along the way. I went from Colombia to Argentina, from Buenos Aires to New York and from New York to Hong Kong. We finally met in Thailand.
All this time I referred to her as the Shakti Princess and she called me her Shiva Warrior.
In Istanbul and other Turkish cities people are protesting against their government. They are tired of getting their liberties taken away step by step. Young and liberal people are getting beaten down hard by the riot police who use a lot of tear gas, water canons and physical violence. Many protesters are getting injured. The people feel happy and empowered though: they feel united and unstoppable. People want to be free.
I care because I know people who are involved. I have made real friends in Istanbul and I have learned about their situation and complaints against the ongoing increase of government approved Islamic influence, slowly becoming more and more suffocating. I am very proud and happy that my friends are standing up for what they believe in.
Eeerrmm.. it is not often that I don’t know what to say or how to say it. The whole idea of my practice on this website is to just sit down and write what comes up. But this time.. well, it feels kind of inappropriate because the one who I have most to say about its sitting next to me, chatting with her friends.
I can tell you it is quite an experience to first start off with some sort of virtual relationship and then try to translate that into real life, especially when both parties made each other into symbols of respectively masculinity and femininity. Turns out the symbols are pretty human too.
There is a saying that goes like “if you think you are enlightened go live with your parents for a week”. I feel similar. If you think you have done a lot of work on yourself try living in the same room with a woman from a different culture for a week.