Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Thread Underneath The Pearls: Final Reflection on Tour Bus

by Chris Fici, Monk and Teacher at the Bhakti Center 
From the Faith House Manhattan blog

One of my favorite verses in the Bhagavad-Gita is when Krishna tells his warrior friend Arjuna of how He is the connecting thread behind all reality.

O conqueror of wealth, there is no truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread.

I’ve noticed how this thread connects out to a recent update of the Faith House tag line, which now reads Experience Your Neighbor’s Faith, Deepen Your Own.  This is a personal revelation a lot of us have shared recently on the Faith House Bus Tour, as the different sounds, colors, tastes, and waves of devotion we have experienced together in our different houses of faith have made a deep communal resonance in our souls.

Too often (at least from my own perspective) our own practice can become caught in the mechanical.  Living as a monk, in an intense and insulated environment, I often see how my consciousness during our morning meditation is directed towards how tired I am, or how I might be upset with this monk or that monk.  The beautiful essence of our prayers and singing and dancing together remains lost to me.

As I was soaking up the whirling sanctity at our wonderful Bus Tour event at the dergah of the Nur Ashki Jerrahi Sufi Order, the pain of my own disconnection in my own practice became manifest, and that void was quickly filled by the wonderful and mystical people I saw around me, deeply absorbed in the love and vision of the Divine.  I came to realize that what they were experiencing was something I had access to every day, if I chose to.  I saw very clearly how we were all pearls on the same thread of God’s mercy.  I returned to my own community and practice with a sense of renewal that has stayed with me ever since.

The interfaith experience is very important for me, and I think for all of us as a common human family.  The turbulence of our age calls for a communication between peoples of faith that transcends our superficial differences and allows us to drink from the immense well of wisdom God has given us, to give solace and take profound action to help cure our shared ills.

This turbulence also calls from us a tremendous maturity from our humility, from a recognition that we cannot possibly have the exclusive answers, that the pieces of the puzzle we need come from our brothers and sisters in faith. In Thomas Merton’s journals of his final and fateful journey to India and Indonesia, where he breathed deeply of the Eastern faiths that had always intrigued and inspired him, he related a realization in this regard that has deeply touched me.

He says that those who are mature in their faith are able to enter into the experience, philosophy, and practice of another faith and gain a practical wisdom which they can take back into their own renewed and strengthened spiritual life.  This is the essence of my own personal adventure in interfaith.  To be able to see of and hear of and speak about and taste of and move within the common thread of our faiths together is one of the most profound experiences I have ever had in my life.  It links me to the maturity needed to answer the spiritual call of our time, and I imagine it may do so for you as well.

I am always eager to point out to others that New York City is a deeply spiritual place.  I want to encourage others to develop the vision of the great rivers of faith which run through this town, which are not always visible beyond the surface tumult and loosely organized chaos.  I think we most easily get this personal revelation through the communities we keep and build and hold together, through the families we cherish and keep in our faith and interfaith communities.

In the love we attempt to cultivate together, for each other and towards God, we see we are all the same wonderful pearls on the thread of His love and reality manifest in this world, drawing us towards Him in our unique but shared pathways.

So I am very happy and grateful to be allowed to be part of the Faith House community, and very grateful to be able to share my thoughts with you, and I hope now and into the future some of these thoughts, simply chances for me to pass on the wisdom I have received, may inspire you in many diverse way in your faith, and that they may help us all in the great and wonderful task of opening our heart and opening our mind.

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