In this world of relativity, we are all relatives.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“We are born and reborn countless number of times, and it is possible that each being has been our parent at one time or another. Therefore, it is likely that all beings in this universe have familial connections.”
~ H. H. Dalai Lama, from ‘The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom”.
“When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him, you will see yourself. As you treat him, you will treat yourself. As you think of him, you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose sight of yourself.”
~ A Course in Miracles (ACIM)
“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”
~ Fred Rogers
“For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven
is my brother and sister and mother.”
~ Matthew 12:50
Ask and it shall be given; Seek and ye shall find.
~ Matthew 7:7
A “Holy Encounter” – Synchronicity Story
Have you ever met a stranger who seemed familiar, or with whom you felt an effortless instant rapport? If so, did you wonder why?
Buddhists might explain such meetings as reencounters with people we’ve known in other lifetimes. They say that our mind-stream incarnates so many times that we may have familial connections with all other beings.
In all events, however we may explain such encounters, we can view them as synchronistic evolutionary opportunities. A Course in Miracles (ACIM) teaches that every encounter can be a “Holy Encounter”, enabling us find “salvation” by transcending our illusionary self identification with seeming separation and by discovering our true wholeness and Holiness – our true self identity with Universal Spirit.
In recent years I have had many synchronistic meetings with strangers which have become “holy encounters”. One such meeting happened on a late September afternoon.
While walking by the Bay, I stopped and sat at a picnic table in a beautiful Fort Mason nature place. Soon a stranger named Nick appeared, and we engaged in an extraordinary and extended dialogue about perennial spiritual questions, the kinds of questions that motivated me to launch Silly.Sutras.com. While we talked, Nick’s energy seemed familiar, even though we’d never before met.
The next day Nick sent me an email asking to be added to the SillySutras circulation list. Also, he expressed appreciation for our meeting (in which he had asked many questions), and he asked one more question, which he said he’d forgotten to previously ask, viz:
“Throughout the days, there is a witness who watches all the events of my life; whether in calmness or through the most frantic events he remains unperturbed. Who is this observer?”
I replied to Nick, an observant Christian, as follows:
“The answer to your question is – like the Kingdom of Heaven – within. Seeking it you shall find it.
Do you equate your word “witness” with “awareness” or “consciousness”? If so, here is an apt quotation from Ramana Maharshi, a renowned mystic master from the past century:
‘Consciousness is always Self-Consciousness. If you are conscious of anything, you are essentially conscious of yourself.’
~ Ramana Maharshi”
More than six months after our synchronistic encounter and exchange of messages, I was surprised by an email from Nick, telling about his experience when we met.
In reply, I asked Nick’s permission to share his letter on-line. He agreed, and explained:
“I wrote because I felt the need to express my gratitude, to you, of course, but above all to our celestial Father, for this blessing.”
Here is Nick’s letter:
My name is Nick; I don’t know if you remember me. We met last fall. I had just lost my beloved mother. I was walking along the shore in dazed despair. At one point, near the Municipal Pier, I thought: “If there were just one person, one soul in this whole city that I could talk to!”
I think it an odd paradox that it’s precisely death, the ultimate “limiting factor”, that should, perhaps more than any event, bring humans face-to-face with the Infinite. It was precisely this quandary, more than immediate injury and loss, that pained and perplexed me that day.
When I got to the top of Fort Mason, at Black Point, I walked toward the picnic tables. There, at the spot where my mother and I used to gaze out upon the Bay, I saw a small figure, sitting silently at a table; it reminded me of a heron or some other seabird I had spied, in stillness on the shore.
At that point, I felt I had “arrived” and had the urge to speak. But, at a loss on how to engage the conversation, I remember instead awkwardly staring out at the water. You broke the ice with these words:
“It’s good to be here!”
A little startled, I asked whether this was intended as a geographical or metaphysical statement. Your answer, I believe, was that it could be understood as either (I rather agreed with the first; less with the second interpretation; though, of course, the two seem difficult to separate).
I don’t remember too many of the particulars of the wide-ranging conversation that followed across the picnic table (St. Francis, Buddha, the Kaddish, suicide, the apocalypse..) . What I do recall is that it precisely addressed all the points that caused me such perplexity that day, and that in its course my wounds seemed to get bandaged up, my pains assuaged.
Most vividly, I remember you asking me whether I knew the meaning of the term “synchronicity”, which, in answer to my avowed ignorance, you proceeded to define. In truth, I required few explanations: a while earlier, down by the Maritime Museum, when I’d exclaimed “God, if there were just someone in the world to talk to!”, this hadn’t been a prayer in any formal sense, not even a request with any expectation of fulfillment, but a simple cri du coeur.* [*cry from the heart; heartfelt appeal]
Now I understood what synchronicity meant.
I’m afraid I detained you longer than reasonable, as twilight settled over the trees.
You gave me your card, I checked out your website and signed up for your episodic postings.
Whether freezing my ass off in my mother’s drafty old farmhouse in Burgundy in the dead of last winter, hiking some warm canyon in the Southwest, or just sitting in my room here in San Francisco, scratching my head and wondering what’s next, these have proved a reliable source of comfort and elevation. Most often, as I read them, I can’t help but repeat “Yes, yes, yes!” ; sometimes I disagree, or don’t understand. They’ve made a difference for the better in my life, and I eagerly look forward to them. All and all, they have the effect of a gentle voice enjoining me to wake up from an overlong nightmare. Which brings to mind [this verse from Pedro Calderon De La Barca’s play La vida es sueño – Life is a Dream ]:
¿Qué es la vida? Un frenesí.
¿Qué es la vida? Una ilusión,
una sombra, una ficción,
y el mayor bien es pequeño;
que toda la vida es sueño,
y los sueños, sueños son.*
I’m still confused ; still sorely miss my mother, angel of beauty; but I’m very grateful to have made your acquaintance. And when I take a walk at Fort Mason, I always hope I’ll find you sitting at the table. No luck, so far. I reckon you just can’t force synchronicity…
[ English translation:
What is life? A frenzy.
What is life? An illusion,
A shadow, a fiction,
And the greatest profit is small;
For all of life is a dream,
And dreams, are nothing but dreams.]
Moral of this story:
Heartfelt calls to the Divine will be answered and rewarded.
Every encounter with others; especially each synchronistic encounter, can be a “Holy Encounter”.
“Synchronicity is an ever present reality for those who have eyes to see.”
~ Carl Jung
“Our deepest fears hide our highest potentials.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Ask and it shall be given; Seek and ye shall find.
~ Matthew 7:7
During my frequent walks to Aquatic Beach, I occasionally met there a lovely young woman swimmer, Simone, who found time to swim. while attending school and working to support herself. Several times we talked before or after her swims. During one of our chats, Simone remarked to me that some day she’d like to swim out at the opening of the harbor where it was deep with different tides than those closer to the beach where she was then swimming. But she said that she was afraid to swim there alone, and wouldn’t try to do so without others accompanying her.
Later, in November on a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon, I took one of my frequent walks out onto the San Francisco Municipal Pier. The pier juts far into the Bay and is a breakwater for the Aquatic Beach harbor. The deep waters at the end of the pier had enticed Simone as a new place to swim, but her fears had precluded that experience.
As I walked toward the very end of the pier, I saw a large crowd gathered there. Never before in many such walks onto the pier had I ever seen such a crowd. So I was quite curious as I neared them. And when I arrived at the end of the pier, I discovered that the people were gathered around and observing a young woman in a swimsuit who had climbed over the wall of the pier, and was standing on the ledge above the water, poised but afraid to dive into the water. It was Simone, fearfully hesitating for a long time before jumping off the pier to swim back to Aquatic Beach.
As we recognized each other, Simone asked for my encouragement. I obliged and, motivated by my reassurance, Simone finally jumped into the water, as the large crowd of well-wishing onlookers cheered her on. Just as Simone finally ‘took the plunge’ I gave her a “namaste” salute. Thereafter, she swam back to Aquatic Beach with Ned, another regular swimmer with whom I also was having synchronistic encounters and chats. Responding to Simone’s wish for a deep water swimming companion, Ned had walked with Simone onto the pier and had been treading water awaiting her dive to join him in swimming back to the beach.
As Simone and Ned swam together back to the beach, I wondered how Simone would feel after overcoming her fear of swimming in such deep waters. So, I intended to quickly walk back to the beach and greet them when they arrived there. But that didn’t happen.
Instead, I had a very long and lovely synchronistic and spiritual chat with one of the other onlookers, Janice, a long-time Buddhist practitioner who had observed with curiosity my “namaste” salute to Simone. So I didn’t again see Simone or Ned that day as wished, and wondered thereafter about Simone’s experience of breaking her fear barrier about deep water swimming.
More than four months passed before I again saw either Simone or Ned. Then, on a Sunday afternoon in March, just as I began walking onto the sand at the West end of Aquatic Beach, I encountered Ned who was walking in his swim suit toward the Municipal Pier, where he planned to jump into the Bay and swim back to the beach. We chatted for a while about that November day and about Simone. He told me that he had seen pictures of Simone taken on the pier that day by an onlooker, but didn’t have them. As we parted, at my request, he offered to try getting me the pictures via email exchange with Simone, with whom he’d continued to communicate. And I asked him to give Simone my regards, expressing a desire to see her soon. We thereupon parted and I continued walking toward the East end of Aquatic Beach, as Ned walked to the pier.
A few minutes later, just as I arrived at the East end of the beach, a female swimmer emerged from the water and began drying off. It was Simone. My wish to see her again was almost instantly fulfilled. Then I told her about my encounter with Ned, and wish to see pictures of that memorable November happening. She took my email address, and later sent them.
Though neither Ned nor Simone was aware of each other’s “coincidental” presence that day on the beach, the Lone Arranger knew, and staged those quick consecutive encounters fulfilling my wish to see Simone and the November pictures of her.