A Thinning of The Veil
In Cafe Zero, the cobwebs are hanging thick on the front of the counter. I’m tempted to tell them to have a word with the cleaner but only in jest. I’m back in Glastonbury at Samhain - Halloween if you’re not a pagan, the date that marks the Celtic New Year. At this time, the veil between the living and the dead is said to be especially thin, apparently facilitating the entry of spirits into this tangible world - if you’re a Wiccan or a pagan, that is, and if you have a propensity to connect to this unseen world anyway.
I too am a seer of ghosts and of the unseen world, even though I am neither a pagan nor a Wiccan. I connect to what is unseen whenever I allow myself to look past the superficial presentation of the visible world – the buildings and bodies, the haunted egos and the grasping at wispy ghosts of satisfaction, past the stress and suffering caused by attachment to desire and the preferring of the self. And when I do, I awaken first to my own awareness and then to the silence, the spirit, or God, if you will, to what lies below all that which is superficial, which we are apt to prioritise. When I do so, when I really let go, I am reminded of how little it all matters – the ambition, the ownership, the craving for status and recognition that drove my motives and actions for so long. Now that I acknowledge the silence, I am learning that sufficient is always enough and that, very often, very little is sufficient.
I do not mean this in a callous, patronising way, you understand, not in self-satisfaction. For the more I occupy this space of awareness, the more conscious I become of need and suffering around me – the psychological suffering by those who prioritise ego, certainly but also the very real physical suffering of the many, many who go without and suffer physically daily. That bag lady who was the first person I noticed on walking into town this morning; the people in this morning’s newscast in Israel and Gaza, aching with the pain of fear and destruction and loss on both sides of the border; the overwhelming number that launch flimsy dinghies from the coast of North Africa, sold a fictitious dream of safety and gold-paved streets in a Europe whose ability to absorb them has all but collapsed, and which is now increasingly looking for means of turning them away.
I cannot meditate alone in my room and then emerge into a world of such overwhelming need without reaching out to that suffering. I cannot tell a bag lady with an empty belly to detach from her desire. I cannot tell a fleeing Ethiopian to meditate in order to release himself from his suffering. I cannot tell a hungry young farmer in Borneo to stop working for the palm oil company because he is damaging the planet. I cannot do any of this without taking action, without the gifting of my energy, be it financially or by way of my time, or my voice, or any other method available to me.
The deeper I go, the thinner the veil becomes. And that veil I’m talking about is not one between the physical world and the spirit world. It is the one between you and me, him and me, her and me. If my awareness of our oneness, of our non-duality means anything, it has to mean that I reach out in an embrace of giving, as I let the energy and resources flow to where they are needed, to where the suffering is greatest.
This is Buddhism. This is Christianity.This is Wicca. This is paganism. This is humanism. The veil is so thin between them all. On this Samhain I redouble my dedication to reach across it.