Sunday, September 11, 2011

911 As Seen Through A Waxed Paper Veil: A Personal Story Of Spiritual Clarity

For me September 11, 2001 is seen as if through a waxed paper veil. I was blind in the year 2001. But not “black blind.” “Blind” has many shades to it. A metaphor, if you think about it, for psychological and spiritual blindness as well as for actual physical impairment.

Sometimes what the blind person sees is “black blind.” Sometimes, as for me, blind allows in varying amounts of light. Notice, again, the metaphor.  How often do we “blind” ourselves to what is really going on, yet simultaneously “know” that we are not fully allowing ourselves to “see”? The “emperor has no clothes,” we say and are satisfied.

In blindness, I could see, at least enough to make out vague shapes. Occasionally, muted colors could be distinguished. (That is what I am seeing now in my recently blinded right eye.) “Blind people” know this distinction, making use of even the smallest bits of light to accomplish amazing feats for daily survival. Some have gone as far as to pass as “sighted,” obtaining employment, not otherwise granted to a blind person, and, on occasion, even to risk driving. One can be quite clever at doing whatever one must when survival is at stake.

I learned to walk on the mountain road near my home by being hyper vigilant; extraordinarily cautious and alert to the sounds of the infrequently approaching car. There are very occasional cars and trucks up here in the mountains. On weekends a burst, now and then, of a motorcycle brigade. But who cannot hear the oncoming sounds of an approaching Harley?

Motorcyclists, particularly, love a ride through here on a stolen autumn weekday or weekend. When you can “see” it, sometimes it is almost breathtaking where I live, especially when the leaves are turning. But, then, of course, I have my biases.

The most significant trick, I discovered after losing my eyesight, so as to continue being able to walk my beloved mountain road, was that I could make out the difference between the black top of the road and the various ground covers with my feet as well as through the haze that veiled my vision, if I was very careful. That is how I managed to continue my walks. And, that is how I “saw” 911 that day of those horrific terrorist attacks; “feeling” my way and “seeing” through a veil of haze like waxed paper.

Because I was blind at the time, the televised sight of the buildings of the World Trade Center crumbling was markedly indistinct for me. So I immediately responded to what was happening, spiritually. That is what I had become used to, unable to rely on my eyesight. As Helen Keller noted:

“The spiritual world offers no difficulty to one who is deaf and blind. Nearly everything in the natural world is as vague, as remote from my senses, as spiritual things seem to the minds of most people.”

Before I lost my eyesight I saw the world in my self determined way with the imperatives I had been reared to value; material success and survival. As I matured, I added psychological well being to the mix. However, although I was brought up in a traditional Jewish family, transitioning from Orthodox Judaism into Conservative as they moved from being Eastern European immigrants into twentieth century assimilation in America, my spirituality was my own creation. For the uninformed or misinformed, being “Jewish” is not necessarily about being spiritual. For me, as it turns out, “Jewish” is primarily about culture.

Thus, my spirituality had come upon me as a surprise on New Year’s Day, 1983, as I walked out of the movie “Gandhi.” Having just seen the story of this man’s life on the big screen had brought me, within hours, head first into my first out of body experience. However, even with that auspicious beginning, it took my losing my eyesight in 1998 to really get it that I was not the main “One” in charge of my destiny. Surrender comes to us with its various, challenging lessons. Losing my eyesight was, perhaps, my biggest test to date though, not by far, the only one.

Since I have regained my eyesight and then, finally, returned to work in 2006, learning how to navigate back and forth between the spiritual life I had developed in blindness and the physical plane has significantly tested me, again. I don’t know, yet, which plane tests me more. However on September 11, 2001, I had barely more than the spiritual. With the loss of one’s eyesight a major way of coping can be to narrow in one’s field of functioning. Certainly this is what I did. Unable to see physically and thus unable to drive or obtain alternative transportation, my mountainside home became my fortress.

In this narrowly defined physical world that I had been living in for more than three years on September 11, 2001, I saw the terrorist attacks on the towers of the World Trade Center, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon primarily through the perspective of a mystical visioning. While others watched the unfolding tragedy at Ground Zero and elsewhere around the country on television, I observed it through a lens of divine proclamation; the lens to the world as I had come to see it in blindness.

That was all I could see, beyond that hazy veil that separated me from the outer world outside my protected fortress.

As I viewed the horrifying scenes of 911, as soon as myself and my property manager of that time, Scott, were alerted by an urgent phone call from Scott’s mother, I “saw” that a message of Divine proportion had been sent to America. Not simply from Al Qaeda, as later it turned out to be, but from the grand Cosmic Intelligence of the world beyond our seeing. That message proclaimed that we Americans needed to pay attention to what the Final Authority on life had in mind for us Americans. We needed to surrender our control games to something higher, the great intelligence of the cosmos. Not our small minds. After all, had anyone of us put the stars in the sky?

Of course, I am far from the only one to proclaim 911 a wake up call to America. Yet from the view I have I am still called to wonder, too frequently, how well we have done with this curriculum of learning our lessons. Certainly, what I witnessed, behind the scenes and still as yet painfully unresolved in key areas, in our local, 2006 Jewish/Muslim controversy has definitely not been an “A” grade. And that was our midway point to today, five years ago. The movement in that local situation, back and forth between the spiritual plane and the physical, has a ways to go to really making the grade.

There is some serious “seeing” needed here, if we want our locale to be an authentic part of a country of healing, unity and respectful diversity as our bill of fare. But that is not all. Our survival is at stake!

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