Spent a beautiful weekend at a Tibetan Buddhist monastery – on a mindfulness course which had a theme of being kinder to everyone, particularly ourselves. There was such ease of trust, intense sharing, some tears and much love and joy as concrete around hearts got chipped or even got exploded off by realisations of old defences we were carrying around. And we were gently taken out of our comfort zones too by the facilitator. For me this meant public speaking.
At the ending ceremony the 30 of us in a big circle and we had to say what the course had meant to us. My name was called second. Usually I crumple in self-consciousness, and splutter out a few rushed words to get it over with. This time I was able to say with confidence and dignity that every person in the room had touched me in a different way and that I appreciated and recognise the unique individual sovereignty of every person present. I expressed my gratitude and thanks.
This was a big turn around. At the beginning of the course in April last year my mind had judged various people, as boring or interesting, safe or scary, beautiful or ugly, advanced or not, disturbed or balanced. This was as a result of my threat detection system being stimulated by being in a room full of ‘strangers’.
By the end of the course I was unable to compare myself with anyone or compare people with each other. I could see instead how astonishingly beautiful and powerful each person is including myself, a combination of qualities and experience and characteristics amounting to nothing less than divine expression, to be honoured and revered and cherished, not judged. No separation any more. To judge or feel threatened seems absurd now. I have taken this with me and I am enjoying looking at people through these new eyes. I am reminded of a song by Jah Wobble.
Here are the lyrics.
And now the buildings change.
Now the people change.
Spirit and matter most apparent.
Realised there never was anything to worry about, to doubt was insane.
The limited, callow, isolated individuals living on housing estates in Chingford, large detached houses in Kew, tower blocks on the Tottenham marshes, become my gods.
I see an accounts clerk from Tooting, I see Zeus.
A sanitary inspector from the London Borough of Haringay, and Brahmin stands resplendent before me.
For five minutes I love everybody.
There is only love. All action ceases.
The Mile End Road, once a blood-stained battleground of Bacchanalian excess, becomes the Garden of Gethsemane.
A bitter, 72-year old ex-docker becomes the ever-compassionate Buddha.
A Cypriot minicab driver becomes St Francis of Assissi.
The 22-year-old Glaswegian checkout girl is the divine mother.
I love everybody. My spirit is free.
I am limitless in space, time and matter, simultaneously the planet Neptune, part of the structural support to Vauxhall Bridge.
I am your left breast, I am Stepney, I am Peru, I am divine and so are you.
I love everybody. I am nothing except a mere cluster of notes, a road sign in Skelmersdale.
I ran the Roman Empire.
I was a lavatory attendant in Hull.
I am everybody and everybody is me.
Who put the spirit in matter?