Reflections of Light
Updated: Sep 12, 2020
On the flight back to Europe I stop to reflect on my time in Israel. Being there, in an environment so different from the one I have settled myself into, seems to conjure up extreme emotions, as thoughts about my present life are violently contrasted with my past. In my thoughts a recurring theme arises: the dichotomy between falling asleep and being awake. This theme colours every experience with a certain light: either a dark shade, like purple flames and grey smoke intermingling on a background of unfathomable black, becoming denser and denser, engulfing me. Or a brilliant blinding white with ripples of yellow around the edges, making everything simple and clear in a silence that contains all truths.
Meeting with long time friends and family can often force you to face your inner demons. As the late Ram Das once said: “if you think you are so enlightened go spend a week with your family”. And so I find myself on the road leading from hedonism to restlessness with no route of escape. Recalling Oscar Wilde’s 'I can resist everything but temptation', as food, weed and the cellphone play “catch me” with my attention and pull my body downward with an enormous weight; a weight fuelled by my toxic criticism towards myself, towards the other and towards the world. How can they be so blind? How can they not see where they are heading? Where we are heading… I now recall that this morning I made a promise to myself to go for one week without criticism - strike one.
Watching my brother's daughter can be such an eye-opening experience. The way she is fascinated by everything around her; the way everything is a game; and the countless hours a day she spends smiling and laughing. A sense of discovery, playfulness and simple happiness: children can teach us so much about what we have lost and what we must relearn (and unlearn!) if we want to create a better future, for us and for them. But are we open-minded enough to observe the lessons? Noticing that most of my friends also have newborn girls I muse to myself about it being an intervention from above because we Men really fucked things up with our huge egos and stupidity – strike two.
I talk to a friend I’ve known for most of my life, I try to explain, to shed some light on why I see the world the way I do, why we have to change ourselves and our consciousness if we are to survive. I am reminded of a story from a lecture that Stockhausen gave in 1970. A young girl came to him after a concert of HYMNEN – a two hour journey of electronic music traversing the nations of the world, inter-modulating their national anthems to construct a new pluralistic utopia. The girl seemed quite distressed and so she asked the composer “must we really go through such destruction?” His answer was a stark and prophetic yes. He explained that a new species is evolving from Man, not biologically but spiritually, and that the ensuing destruction will be caused by the fear of those who are unable to make it. What a horrible thing to say, regardless of whether it is true or not, sawing such fear in the hearts of men. The fear that we are not going to make it, that I am not going to make it! Can this really be the answer? As I tell this story to my friend I see him more engaged in his video game… strike three.
A few days ago we marched from Kefar Sava to Jaljulia as a protest against Trump's "peace plan" (read: annexation plan). According to one part of the plan citizens from Jaljulia and other Arab towns that are now within the state of Israel would be stripped of their Israeli nationality and be integrated into a future Palestinian state. But for now that state does not exist so practically speaking they will remain stateless – business as usual in Israeli politics.
On the road I met a wonderful free spirit, a woman called Fadeaa who lives in another Arab town called Tayibe. She works as a nurse and has two daughters in their early twenties. Her husband is not too supportive of her activism but she is not willing to be deprived of her freedom, sit idly at home and play the good housewife. She likes to see the world and connect with people from different cultures. When I flattered her for her orange headscarf she told me that it's the colour of sexuality! We marched under one banner in Arabic and Hebrew saying “Standing together”.
When we reached Jaljulia everything looked so beautifully different: the houses, the mosque – a foreign land so close to home. I found it ironic that I actually had to leave my country in order to discover it. And I found it sad that these had to be the circumstances. Outside the mosque some people were giving speeches. One of them decried the pushing out of Arabs from the political sphere as if they are some kind of vermin or second class citizens at best. Their denaturalisation will lead to our dehumanisation, and history teaches us where that slippery slope leads. But is this differentiation into ‘us’ and ’them’ not part of the problem in the first place?
Like Stockhausen, Eckhart Tolle also speaks about the arising of a new consciousness: “The transformation of human consciousness is no longer a luxury, so to speak, available only to a few isolated individuals, but a necessity if humankind is not to destroy itself." While the message is the same the words are coloured by the light of optimism and hope, where one does not feel left out but pulled upward to realize the best within oneself: to heal one’s self, to heal the other and to heal the world. Spending this time with Fadeaa I felt that when we cross the borders in our minds and let our imagination set sail in the sea of dreams the borders of the world will soon disappear.
And so here I am stranded on an island. The ocean around me in one moment seems like the sea of dreams and in another the menacing deep. Must we intimately know the depths so that we can gather the necessary willpower to climb to new heights? Is it part of our human nature to get acquainted with the entire spectrum of light?
It is through an act of grace that a tiny crack appears in your heart.
And through that crack the light enters you,
making it bigger and bigger,
opening your heart to the world.