when I was with him at a Be With in San Francisco in a
hotel ballroom, was asked if he'd ever lived in a
His response has held its power over the years. It's as powerful and as
relevant today as it was then.
In many places (if you listen for it) you could experience holiness ie
whole-iness. In a mosque, in a kramat you may hear
Allah in the mezzuin's call. In a cathedral, in a church
you could visualize
on a cross. In a synagogue, in a shul you might feel the
presence of Yahweh, Jehovah, Adonai at the ark. In
studio you may find inner peace by the incense. In a psychotherapist's
office you might become self-actualized on a couch. In an
ashram you could attain satchitananda, absolute
bliss consciousness next to the puja table. In a
room you may realize samadhi on a cushion. In a
you might get satori in a flash. And if you're
really listening acutely, anywhere you are on
at any time, you could get any or all of the above.
what got me
that day with Werner at the Be With in San Francisco is this:
In a hotel ballroom I got enlightenment under a plastic chandelier.
No props. No
No symbols. No icons. No beliefs. Just the
of This Is
And of course that was it ... in retrospect. But hindsight
however is always 20/20 vision. What's distinct about this
particular hindsight is it bodes just as well, it's just as valid as a
view, as a way of looking for now and for the future.
I have a deep respect for piety. I really do. If you're going to do
anything at all you may as well do it 100%. If you're going to worship
at all you may as well go all out.
What I'm wary of, quite frankly, is not to collapse piety with
exclusivity when it comes to distinguishing where the experience of
is available. I'd like to blur the lines of demarkation
which have the experience of piety only available in some places but
not in others. Even though certain agreed on places (mosques, kramats,
cathedrals, churches, synagogues, shuls,
studios, psychotherapists' offices, ashrams,
have the availability of all appropriate accoutrements, props,
supplies, icons, and beliefs, I say the collections of
symbols of piety are insufficient in and of themselves to
generate the experience of enlightenment, of This Is
I wouldn't bet on grace either, by the way, to generate it
for you. I would, however, bet on You to generate it for
With Werner in a hotel ballroom I got enlightenment under a plastic
chandelier. That grants access to it anywhere in all conditions under
all circumstances to all people yesterday, today, and tomorrow. That's
no ordinary talk. That's remarkable. But then again, that's
I'm in a coin laundromat. I watch people who work bone numbing hours of
manual labor in the vineyards of the
They're washing their clothes. They're washing their families' clothes.
They come here because they can't afford washing
and dryers of their own. The floor is grimy and dusty. Any item of
dropped on the floor may as well be thrown in the trash. Sticky.
Why should the owner wash the floor? He doesn't have to. He's already
Is this not
I'm standing at a bus stop. There's litter all around on the ground, so
much so the waiting trash bin must have been deliberately ignored. I
avoid sitting on the rusted benches for fear of getting discarded
spit-bubbled chewing gum stuck to my Levis' backside.
graffiti defaces the advertisement posters. The
shields are scratched with a plethora of four letter words, impossible
to erase or to repair. And of course the bus is running late. Is this
Its switch is always on, lighting life, that plastic chandelier.