This past Sunday, I went to Open Circle at Lake Chapala Society.
I had been there many times before. Open Circle is like a non-church-goer’s alternative to church. Every week, a different speaker shares a topic with the audience. Sometimes it’s spiritual; sometimes it’s informative; sometimes it’s entertaining; and sometimes all three.
I went because a person I know was speaking. He is a professional story teller…really. How does one get a gig like that?
Story-telling is a big activity down here. People come from all over the world with greatly varied lives and experiences. And many times, when you talk with people, the lives they re-live in their “stories” seem to be a little…exaggerated. I’m sure that in some bar on the other side of town two Gringos are knocking down a few Coronas, and one of will claim that he used to be the Minister of Finance for Zimbabwe. And, I’m sure he’ll leave out the part that he had to flee from Zimbabwe because he was the Minister of Finance!
I’m also sure that some of the people I’ve engaged in tit-for-tat thought I was just as nutty as my stories seemed to be. But honestly, as nutty as some of my stories are, they’re all true!
So having engaged the Open Circle speaker several times over past several weeks, I had to test the veracity of his story telling claims. I also think he’s a nice guy, and why not support him?
When you go to Open Circle, there are rituals that starts every meeting. One of the rituals is an opening meditation led by a member of the community. On this occasion, a spiritual young woman gave the meditation. She was really into this close-your-eyes and connect with your inner being stuff, as so many of the meditation leaders are.
In so many ways, I’m a contrarian. I’m just not into that group-think stuff. Please don’t take offense if you are. So when the leader, whomever it might be, says to “close your eyes,” I can’t keep my eyes open enough.
So, as a good spiritual leader does, the woman asked the congregants to close their eyes, and then softly started to lead them into imagining that they were in some special place.
Contrarian me has a real problem with this whole thing.
I’m sitting in a beautiful garden (see the pictures below), in one of the most beautiful places on this planet (see the top photo), and someone is telling me to imagine I’m in a special place? Why do we need to shut our eyes and imagine it?
Open your eyes, people, and take the time to look around you. It’s not in some special recess of your head, mind, or body. It’s real.
Despite the distraction of the speaker’s voice, and instead of obsessing over my inner consciousness, I took the time to look at the world around me and the peace within it.
As I sat in my chair, I raised my head to see the Galeana flowers start to blossom in the tree above. A light wind from the lake gently moved the leaves on the tall trees across the street. Birds of all sizes and shapes flew around and sang their songs. I didn’t need a person telling me I should observe the whisper of leaves… and singing of the birds…and sense the smell of the flowers. All with my eyes wide open!
By the way, the following presentation was excellent. My story-telling friend passed the veracity test with flying colors and on all three counts, He entertained about 100 people with an informative and, at times, spiritual presentation.