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The Spiritual Society

by: Heather on 12/18/2007
Posted in: Community

Sharif Abdullah is the author of The Power of One and the founder and director of Commonway Institute. The following entry is reprinted with permission from his blog. Thanks Sharif!

The Spiritual Society

[This was written a few Christmas seasons ago:]

It is so easy to fall back into the rut -- naming the old society. Protesting the old society. Lamenting the old society. Struggling to reform the old society. Thinking that if we could only get rid of the old society, we would then have a the society of our dreams, our ideals.

This past December, I was sitting at one of my coffeehouses ( not my favorite, but one that makes great eggnog lattes). I was reading a good book, and was in the middle of the buying frenzy on 23rd Avenue. Suddenly, I realized that I was depressed.

I tried to analyze my feelings. I wasn't a part of the buying frenzy around me; I don't really participate in the "Xmas Thing", so I don't have any seasonal guilt, angst, etc. I thought for a moment that I was "homesick" for Sri Lanka -- after all, I do spend half of my year there. But a quick internal check said that I didn't want to be in Sri Lanka. I didn't want to be ANYWHERE.

That was a sobering thought. There was no society, no country, no city I preferred to inhabit. I didn't want to be in the land of shallow materialism, where success is measured by how much litter we leave. I didn't want to be in Sri Lanka, wondering whether the guy at the train station smiling at me is distracting me from a pickpocket doing balance-of-trade, or making a sexual overture for a different type of balance of trade, or was just being friendly. I didn't want to be in Prague, or Kampala, or Hong Kong, or anywhere else. I had no home.

I'm not being overly melodramatic. I have enjoyed my time back in the States, experiencing cold, actually enjoying chipping ice off my car in the frozen mornings. My feeling is that all of us have a core to retreat to in the face of all of the madness coming at us from all sides. We go home, pull in the walls around us, hopefully with someone who feels the same as we do, and retreat from the yawning emptiness all around us.

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