Recognising the other as a Human Being

While staying at a friend & teacher in Goa, mainly working on the computer and hardly leaving her house, she would sometime take me to what she called a “hospital tour” and I would call a “picnic in the hospital, day out of the house!”.

religions wheel, that welcomes the arriving in the hall of a hospital in Panjim

This picture was taken in one of the hospitals from the tour, a hospital that had marble floors . For me westerner, marble flooring is a sign of wealth (I know from my job as a content writer for tourism website that some of the most famous churches are layered with precious marble), but apparently here in india marble is quite abundant and way cheaper then in the west (weird to say “west” as I’m a middle eastern, but here it is considered west as my bringing up, mind and opinions are rather western).

Anyway I learnt that if you are wealthy enough- hospitals in india are not to be feared. And also, I met this sign that gave me some hope amongst other less hopeful banners of the BJP that I saw flagging around Goa, and realising what are some of the opinions “behind the scenes” in small villages of Goa towards muslims from some hindus (clue- not as tolerant as one might imagine india).

Coming from a jewish country with so many conflicts with muslims that seems to be coming from religion (but actually are stemming from leaders on top), seeing a sign that combines them all and tries to output that we all are just human beings warmed my heart. But then again, I gotta be also a bit realistic here: how much of it is a sign to present some show of peace and tolerance, and how much of it is that there are defining restricting borders between one belief to the other, and that one must not cross the line?

I find it sad that Israel is so full of muslims, but the cultural difference and segregation between the communities, and the fear and anger, has never really got me to really befriend muslims. And only outside of Israel I can meet in the clinic Talal from Kuwait or Pearl originally from Kashmir and be so deeply touched by the human relation that we experience between each other while going through the up and down process of healing and aligning the spine. And see them as what they are- human beings. Rather then “muslims”. It is only outside the zone of fear and hate of Israel that I can see humans from this religion as humans and not as a ‘potential threat’.

Talal from Kuwait and me, in Cola Beach- one of the most beautiful beaches of Goa, enjoying the weekend off clinic. Talal was my first muslim friend only when I got to have 3 decades of age, as I grew up as a jew in a society in Jerusalem which is quite  segregated from muslims. I was wearing a scarf to protect myself from the bright Goa sun, and he found it funny that I look quite Arab. Not a surprising fact as 25% of my family origin is Yemen and another 25% Turkish (Photo by courtesy of Talal).
Qamar, “mother of Pearl”, who is my dear friend Pearl’s mom. They are originally from Kashmir and so I find it so amazing that bonds between an Israeli Jew and Kashmiri Muslim can be formed. She had hosted me in her house as a daughter, so hospitably and warm hearted. That had touched my heart deeply (Photo by courtesy of Pearl).

And speaking about Israel and Israelis reminds me a funny occasion of communicating oneself that shows the feelings behind of non-humaness. I met an Israeli in my guest house here in lower Dharamkot that apparently thought he is the only Israeli in the house. When I spoke hebrew to him he was amazed and said “I did not know that there are Israelis all the way down here, I thought I am completely alone“.

Just to clarify- we are talking about quite a touristic destination in the peak of the season, the guest house is in it’s full capacity, all the rooms are occupied (occupied as in the neutral sense of the word).

I was amused by the fact that he thought that he is ‘all alone‘ and told him “You are not alone, the guest house is full of people”, but he answered “no, you know what I mean- I mean Israelis”. As if non-Israelis are not people, and as if, if there are no Israelis it means he’s all alone.

Well, no. At that moment I didn’t get what he meant, cause a person is person, Israeli or not…

***

I attended a reception with his holiness the Dalai Lama yesterday, where he told the story of how at the beginning when he would meet leaders and people in key-position he would get a bit nervous, but now all he sees in them are just people: just human beings. I wish for a world where we all simple human beings are able to see one another as human beings, and that it would not be only a thing that a well-educated-and-practiced-in-compassion man as the Dalai Lama can grasp.

Reception with his holiness the Dalai Lama at Daharmsala that I luckily attended. The taking of this photo ignited in me some interesting thoughts about holiness and how we humans perceive it. From his holiness words in the reception: “In the past, although we Tibetans traditionally prayed for the welfare of all sentient beings, we weren’t really concerned with what happened in the rest of the world, remaining isolated behind the mountains that surround our land. However, the reality today is that we are all so interdependent, trying to preserve such isolation is inappropriate and out of date. We need instead to think of the oneness of humanity.” (Photo by courtesy and all rights reserved to www.dalailama.com)

But when I am walking alone in a dark street at night and hear the footsteps of a stranger male behind me- I can not grasp him as a human being, my automatic nervous system only recognise this male as a potential threat. And then I am the same as the Israeli guy in the guest house- he did not consider un-Israelis as people, and I do not consider man in dark alleys as human beings, but merely a potentially dangerous threat.

I wish for a world where people would be just people- human beings- before being an indian / a muslim out of context / a male in a dark alley / an old lady that speaks too much. But what does it mean that people would we just people? As they are already so, it is only my perception that refuses to recognise them as such.

***

Sunrise guest house in lower Dharmakot, my home for the coming three months.

I am staying in a guest house in lower Dharamkot called Sunrise. At the beginning when I got to this guest house I had some uncertainties cause the caretakers of the place are Jesuits and from previous experiences in my life (including a converted ex boyfriend when I was only 22 of age) I know “such people” to be missionaries. Having bad feelings against religion, both the one I was born to and also all of the other religions, I did not know how it would be, living in a guest house with religious caretakers.

But then I saw the caretaker Benny praying through songs, and I heard his story of how he got to be a Jesuits and thought to myself- had there not been the context of a god in it, had I switched the word Yeshua (Jesus) in the word divine, I would perceive it as just an “acceptable” (acceptable by my senses) spiritual yearning, a spiritual practice of love and Bhakti- devotional commitment and service to the the path one walks upon. Have I not been committed and devotional to the path and teaching that I am following in such similar ways? Have I not prayed in ayahuasca ceremonies in such emotional ways? So what am I holding against this religious practice as long as it too serves him to be a more complete, honest, moral, and real man?

“Have I not been committed and devotional to the path and teaching that I am following in such similar ways?” Photo taken during a Gurdjieff Sacred Dance retreat

In the meanwhile, marble precious or not, all I can do is just look at this religions wheel of Panjim’s hospital and before judging a religion just because I’m against religions, I try to grasp that this might be a different way to yearn to the divine, to practice inner search, to try to be a complete human being. One that recognises the human beingness of the other- even if the other calls it “god” instead of “divine” or “Allah” instead of “Elohim“.

A few months ago I wrote so sharply against patriarchal organised religion, the religion that has been kidnaped by fanatic orthodox jews that claim to know what is the only way for a jew to pray and believe. Because of these people’s deeds and many other reasons I’ve been so strongly against religion for so many years, and maybe finally i’m finding some reconciliation for this whole matter. Pray in peace, believe in peace, as long as one can accept the other’s humanity.

I do not expect anymore from people to work on themselves or trying to become full human beings that go above and beyond their automaticities of the man-machine. This is a path for true seekers. All I expect for is recognising the humanity of each other. Maybe when a soldier will see through the sights of a rifle a human being instead of an enemy, he would not wish to shoot. Maybe like this we would be able to live in peace. Cause anyway the true enemies are the politicians on both sides that decides upon wars (how come in Israel there is always a war before elections?). And them, even them, are somehow eventually human beings, even if it seems like they forgot how to be that.

Photo by courtesy and all rights reserved to Mana Neyestani

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.