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The Faithful of Our Times

As I was walking through the stalls, I could not stop smiling at the exhibitors, who invariably beamed back their own warm smiles.  It was an unseasonably mild and balmy winter afternoon, with lazy breeze, oblique sun, and falling leaves of gold and fire.  Dallas was celebrating its 6th Holistic Festival.  There was an enchanting air permeating the spacious halls, making the invisible web that is connecting us so palpably felt.  The crystals, charms, herbs and candles were alive with their colors and smells, reminding me of the hidden universal essence within each and everyone of us.

  I stopped at the booth of Dallas Kabbalah Society, mesmerized by the Sephirot pattern on one of the exhibitors’ T-shirt.  Two Hispanic -looking men cordially handed me a pocket-sized Zohar, and briefly expounded the teachings in this Jewish mystical work.  As they proceeded, I couldn’t help exclaiming:

  “Wow, it is eerily similar to Kybalion, or the Emerald Tablet by Thoth (which I just finished reading on my Kindle)!” 

  They apparently haven’t heard of Emerald Tablet or Thoth or Hermes Trismegistus.  Then I tried Eastern philosophies, such as Taoism and Buddhism.  The man in the Sephirot T-shirt immediately nodded, telling me that his sister, who has been a Buddhist for 25 years, has so much to concur whenever they discuss their respective belief systems.  My smile broadened:

  “Exactly!  What are the religious sects squabbling about?  Your God is better than mine?  Logically speaking, there is and can only be one God and one truth!  While they always find differences and reasons to belittle the other, I always find the same core teaching in all these vastly diverse traditions, be it eastern or western or tribal or aboriginal!”

  “Yes, yes!”  They laughed, adding they are Catholics, not Jewish.

  It’s time to come together, after so many centuries’ conflicts-I thought.  A warmth rose in my heart as I thanked them and walked along.

  I walked into a conference room where a swami of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness was giving an exposition on the conscious self and the physical self. 

  “I looked into the mirror sixty years ago and saw a five year old me; I now look into the mirror and see the sixty-five year old me.  The physical me changes (drastically worsened-I giggled inwardly), yet I feel the same me.  Who am I?” 

  “Well, doesn’t consciousness also change?”  A man behind me raised his question.

  “Excellent question!  No, it doesn’t change.  Consciousness always existed, and will always exist.  It doesn’t have a beginning, nor an end.  It is immortal, and you are that!”

  Then all of a sudden, the lecturer and many in the audience, all of western descent, simultaneously started chanting Sanskrit scriptures, with such deep conviction and devout emotion.  It reminded me of a similar scene I witnessed during a recent trip I had visiting my family in China.  In a Buddhist temple on the east coast, throngs of people were praying in front of the Buddha statue with joined hands, some reciting Buddhist Sutras, some singing in tears.  The hum, mingled with the rising smoke from the burning incense, against the backdrop of multi-colored autumn leaves and translucent blue sky, left an indelible impression on my mind.  We were moved.  Soon, a group of young Buddhist novices walked past us, their youthful faces exuding innocence and joy, in stark contrast to our stereotypical impression of stoic, sorrowful monks.  I instinctively felt that faith is reviving under the deepest waters of materialism in today’s world.  After some silence, my brother remarked:

  “People in the west today are not this devout, right?”

  This time, I felt impelled to defend people of faith in the west (I used to refute Christians’ low opinion on eastern belief systems).

  “The true faithful in the west are no less devout.  I can feel the religious sentiment and spiritual longing in all people around the world of the same noble quality and beauty,” I replied.

  The two scenes, one from America, the other from China, reconfirm to me that no matter what belief systems we adopt, true faith will eventually lead us to the same truth, because there is only one God that creates all that is.  That is the One, that is the All, that is the Whole, or whatever people call it, and we are all part and parcel of It.  We choose our own paths that best resonate with us, without passing judgement on other people’s choices.   

  After the swami’s lecture, I wandered into another one by the Anthroposophical Society in America.  Outside, dusk was falling, and the sky was turning into dark blue, with a tinge of purple in the distant horizon.  I was a little uneasy that it was late and I might disrupt the lecture.  However, upon pushing open the door, I was relieved that other than the two presenters, there was no audience.  Good, I was the first!  One of the presenters was a tall slender young man, or rather, a big boy.  He had a fresh boyish look and blondish hair.  I immediately recognized him from the brochure.  The other one was of a slight build and fine features.  He had a sparkle in his greyish eyes, shoulder length dark hair parted in the middle, making him look rather cool, and familiar.  Yet, he was not on the brochure-the second presenter should be a woman.  As I was taking stock of the situation, the shorter man beamed me a sweet smile, and the big boy also joined.  I felt welcome.

  They seemed relieved to have at least one audience in me, and we started an informal chat.  The tall boy is Benjamin, the shorter man is Chris.  They wondered how I learned about their lecture.  I half-jokingly told them that it was a result of synchronicity.  Chris chimed in that he was not supposed to be here either.  We all knowingly laughed.  I then teased them if they were initiated in the Anthroposophical order.  Chris affirmed that and told me his story.

  Chris has a remarkable journey.  He has risen from despair and abandonment to spiritual awakening and a devotion to service for the lost ones, after encountering Rudolf Steiner’s teaching and a series of spiritual experiences.  I was so touched by his story, and when he finished, I couldn’t help marveling at his likeness to the popular image of Jesus: no wonder he looked so familiar at the first sight.  I am sure he is motivated by the Christ energy, and even his name is reflecting that- another synchronicity!

  Ben had his first encounter with Steiner’s teaching while in college, and has followed the footsteps ever since.  He is organizing regular study groups in the Dallas area, and helping more people find their spiritual footing.

  I feel so blessed to have met all the wonderful people at the Holistic Festival.  They show me what faith is like in our times.  With faith and the faithful, the world today is a place of great hope, in spite of the seemingly unceasing chaos and strifes.

 

 

Dallas, December, 2017

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