In a recent dinner conversation with a new friend, she mentioned that many young Arabs are hungry for educational or spiritual experiences that can assist them to see themselves differently…not just as students who need to learn new skill sets to land a well-paying job but as individuals hungry to know what it means just to BE in a rapidly changing world where plummeting oil prices are dimming high hopes for more of this or that (you may fill in the blanks).
As our dinner conversation became more and more animated with ideas about ways in which we could help these young men and women experience a deeper sense of Being and living from a place of true identity, I remembered my early college days that were so full of hope and despair. I didn’t know it consciously at the time but I was deeply hungry for a new experience of life. Yet, by the end of my first semester of community college I was filled with disappointment and ready to drop out. Whatever I was looking for was not happening on campus and the only thing that was happening that had everyone’s attention were student protests against the Vietnam war. I was not happy and to my observation, no one else was really happy or at peace.
I was deeply hungry for that something that would fill the hole in my heart and enlighten my mind as to my purpose, only I did not know where else to look. My studies of various civilizations and philosophies had been only partially successful in filling the void I was experiencing. Then, a friend saw a poster advertising a lecture hosted by the Ontology Club. I had no clue as to what ontology was but the title sounded interesting, so off I went. As I later found out, ontology is the study of the nature of being. The guest speaker, I remember, was happy and I found that quite strange and that got my attention and curiosity stimulated. I wondered, didn’t he know that there was a war going on and so much pollution? How could he be having an experience of peace in a world full of war?
Strangely enough, something he said really got my attention, “If you don’t like your experience, change your expression.” To make a long story short, I could not deny that I had heard something that was absolutely true for me and anyone else and that helped change the direction of my thoughts and feelings about life, college and also gave me a big clue as to knowing my purpose. The quality of this man’s living reflected in his words helped change the course of my life and recreated my consciousness. For that gift I will always be most thankful.
Who has helped you recreate your consciousness? That notion is expressed beautifully in this poem:
The Opening of Eye
That day I saw beneath dark clouds
The passing light over the water
And I heard the voice of the world speak out,
I knew then, as I had before
Life is no passing memory of what has been
Nor the remaining pages in a great book waiting to be read.
It is the opening of eyes long closed.
It is the vision of far off things
Seen for the silence they hold.
It is the heart after years
Of secret conversing
Speaking out loud in the clear air.
It is Moses in the desert
Fallen to his knees before the lit bush.
It is the man throwing away his shoes
As if to enter heaven
And finding himself astonished,
Opened at last,
Fallen in love with solid ground.
– David Whyte
(From Songs for Coming Home)