It’s a beautiful day I tell myself as a light spring breeze brushes my face. I have stopped for a moment as I admire the blue skies, the giant oak trees, and the sun playing hide and seek with the clouds above me as I sit at my favorite coffee shop by the lake and soak in all the magic of the universe. It was perfect! A good book to read, a hot cup of coffee and this beautiful weather. As I sat there reading my book and catching turtles playing in the lake with the corner of my eye, I noticed two people at a table few over from mine. I could only see their backs, a woman sitting in a black and white dress with short wavy blond hair and a tall skinny man standing next to her dressed in jeans and a casual t-shirt. At first they seemed like any ordinary couple relaxing at the café by the lake and soaking in the sun. I quickly got absorbed in my book, Eckhart Tolle’s “A new Earth” and was trying to grasp his teachings on spirituality and being awakened to our life’s purpose. Who doesn’t want that, right! I would look up from time to time to glance around me and the beautiful lake. I noticed that the man was still standing in the same position, a very unique one. His right hand was placed on the upper back of the woman, right below her shoulder as she sat still staring into the void. I got a little curious, it was a “hmmm…that’s odd?!” moment.
I got lost in my book diving right back into the theories of human consciousness, detachment from material possessions, identifying being from ego and so on. I get to the chapter that talks about the difference between spirituality and religion and get very excited about this topic, and as I finish reading, I glance up and see that the couple is still standing in that same position 20 minutes later. Now, I am very curious and puzzled. I ask myself, has time stopped? Am I stuck in this infinite loop where I see the same things over and over. What’s happening here? For my amusement I started taking Snapchats of these frozen statues and asking my fellow Snap-chatters if I am indeed stuck in time. If you follow me on Snapchat you know what I’m talking about. This dance of me watching them, them staying frozen, me taking more Snapchats continued for the next 40 minutes and finally after what felt like an eternity the man moved, and sat down in front of the woman. They both looked exhausted as if they just walked out a hot Vinyasa yoga class and I grew more curious. By this time I couldn’t focus on the book anymore and was extremely curious to find out what’s happening on that table. A few minutes later the woman puts her bag on her shoulder, stands up and they both start walking towards me, and as they were passing my table, the man looked at me with as much curiosity as I had looked at him for the past hour and said in a quivering voice, “Hello, how are you?” This was not a regular hello but it felt like he knew that I was waiting to talk to him, so I immediately responded saying that I was watching them from the past hour and was very curious about what they were doing? “Were you guys doing some kind of meditation?” I asked in my extremely curious yet non intrusive tone, which takes talent btw. And the woman responded with a smile, “We were praying to Jesus the Lord, and feeling the holy spirit come in us.” Hmmmm…! That’s interesting I though so what did you feel I asked. Her eyes lit up as she started telling me how she felt overwhelmed with the presence of the holy Spirit in her, how it engulfed her and healed her. I was skeptical to start a conversation but soon realized – What the heck! If nothing, I’ll get a good story out of it, and I asked them to join me.
What are the odds that I just finished reading a chapter on the differences between spirituality and religion and the next minute I’m in conversation with two Christians about that. She started talking about Adam and Eve, the original sin, the angel who defied god, the hierarchy of god, angels and humans and the best part – how man got power back from Evil by being good. In my head I’m like, wait! Man is evil, which world is she living in? She continued about how our sole purpose is to serve God. How Christianity is the highest form of Religion and how she converted to it and it healed from her illnesses, how she has seen miracles and beaten cancer, how Christianity has shown her “the truth”….yeah, all really good stuff! Well obviously I had a lot to say, so I gave her a spiritual philosophical point of view based on what I had just read. For example, she said she felt the holy spirit come into her body, I explained that what she felt is energy, the energy that surrounds all of us and if you sit really still and pay attention or meditate, you will feel a certain vibration…try it. Think of how you feel a certain vibe from people you meet or places you visit. It’s all energy! She was not convinced, her belief in her faith couldn’t allow her to see this point of view. She said only Christians will go to heaven, Ok! I have a real problem with this idea of being special which most religions claim, mine included. Which makes me realize that this is their elevator pitch, this is how they attract people by making them feel they belong to a special higher organization. The only thing that this statement does is divide me and her. So If I am not Christian I can’t go to heaven, so that must mean I am not worthy or am lesser of a human being? So I retort explaining that we are all equal, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jew…Whatever! We are human first, we are all made of the same bone, blood and skin, we are all made of matter. In the words of scientist and astronomer Carl Sagan of the original Cosmos science documentary television series, “We are all made of Star stuff.” I know it’s dramatic but it sounds too cool not to say.
The big question here is why do we so desperately need to identify ourselves with race, religion, ethnicity, status etc. Why can’t we just be what we are – Human Beings! Just another living thing on this planet. We are intelligent, yes! But yet so stupid in continuous need of affirmation and our need to belong to something – religion, nation, even relationships. We are consumed by a false sense of pride by the things we claim to own that we are losing our true selves. For example, the original Americans believed that they belonged to the land, not the other way around like their murderers who claimed “their” land. The irony is that the concept of owning land was alien to these native people. Going back to my conversation, the woman claims that in the religious hierarchy, humans are next to god. What she so plainly forgets to see is that before humans came the Earth and all the other living organisms, plants and animals on it, so how are humans ranked the highest? Is it purely based on Intelligence? What gives us the authority to claim that we are more intelligent than other life forms? Because we developed civilizations and machines that are polluting the very planet we rely on, yes! Very intelligent indeed.
As a traveler you meet people from all over with various points of views and the one thing that I have learned is that people everywhere are the same, they react to joy and pain in the same way I do, their eyes light up when they talk about something they love just like mine do. And when we sit and chat some more we realize that we are not different at all. These people I met in the café was no coincidence, we met to understand each other. For me it proved that identifying with preconceived religious beliefs is just another way for our ego or mind to identify itself, to find something to cling on to. It’s our thoughts trying to find meaning to reach the ultimate goal – the search for peace or enlightenment. But what is peace? It’s a feeling isn’t it. So whether you feel peace as holy trinity or energy – does it really matter? What matters is being aware, living each moment to the fullest, being open to different ideas, being curious, looking beyond the obvious and most importantly not following other people’s beliefs with blinders on. It’s sad when I see people stuck in the rat race – more money, bigger house, bigger car and so on. What we as a species are missing out on is that what makes us is not our possessions or our achievements but how we live our life, how we spend every minute of everyday. It’s easier said than done and I am on my journey as well, to not get lost in what others expect of me but seek what really matters to me.
By the end of the hour, the man had tried to heal me of my back soreness – (the after effects of a killer cross fit workout) by placing his hand on the injury and praying. Did it work? I doubt it but it was sweet of him to do so. We discussed religious wars, science, the universe, karma, angels and demons, auras, vibrations, the power of singing hymns, the power of believing, the law of attraction, Buddhism, Islam and a lot more. It was a great conversation for sure and the woman was happy to see that I am ‘searching for the truth’ is how she put it. We shared warm hugs and kisses and we went our separate ways. In the end I realized that we both feel the same thing, what she feels as god, I feel as the universe, what she feels as the Holy Spirit, I feel as energy, and so on. In the end it’s all a matter of perspective! Moral of the story – let’s pay more attention to how we FEEL – I travel so I can feel the excitement of seeing something for the first time, because that first time happens only once.
These are the ramblings of a curious travelling mind 🙂