I'm sharing a guest article written by a beautiful being Selima Gurtler. Her personal account of earth shaking awakening may touch your hearts and perhaps heal and inspire.
The time has come. In December 2016 I turned 60. How I managed this extraordinary feat is completely bewildering to me after the trials and tribulations of a dramatic life starting with my Eurasian birth in 1956 into a viciously racist London, the capital of an empire which had recently lost India. My father was from Bengal, India (1922) and my mother (1931) is from London, English and French. My unusual childhood, filled with overflowing and unconditional love, was however disturbed by the deep underlying cross-cultural challenges of my parents’ marriage over 60 years ago, at a time when racial prejudice really prevailed; something which nobody on the street today can or would understand.
An Experience of Dramatic Awakening
It has become clear to me that as I reach this respectable age, I have to tell a story. This is difficult for me because I am old-school and don’t particularly like discussing my private affairs, but healers, close friends, acquaintances and the casual man in the street who have graciously listened to me over the long years, have recently urged me earnestly to speak about my life as a modern source of inspiration. I hope I am able to be of value in this way.
I am sure all single parents are so, however, particularly those without any meaningful or compassionate practical support. I also make a difference between single and solitary parents and it’s obvious why. I had to return from Europe back to the UK in 1996, where I had no credit line, with little work history since I had left in 1983, and where London culture had completely changed.
Throughout all my life, I have taken counsel from my silent witness through which I penetrated when I finally entered the Kingdom. This is the silence which pervades from the watchtower within (known as the witness or observer in eastern traditions), and had always guided my direction and behaviour in life. More correctly, my reference to the witness was my light in dark avenues, and in 2000, in order to maintain my individual self and my sanity, and to create great beauty out of the anguish and desperation while raising my child, the idea of EmW Peace started to blossom.
There were times when I did not leave the house for a year apart from grocery shopping because I could not find a baby-sitter, and during the days of the teenage depression, I sat in twilight in the house for 5 years because my son could not stand any sunlight to shine in. He hated his school life and was a solemn, unreadable child because of all the house/school moves and general lack of direction in his life. I moved house each time he changed schools so he would not have to travel the 100 miles a day that I undertaken as a schoolgirl in the 1970s. I had to keep the momentum of our life moving and hold him in the cradle of my being to see him into adulthood.
In great, traumatic never-ending emotional pain, often there is a profound desire to project great beauty in forms of art – via the visual, musical or written – as the wounded healer who produces a holy solace or sacred balm to ease a breaking heart. Broken, because my responsibilities and loss of myself through my relationship left me for years as the fragile shell of a mother, daughter, sister, lover and vibrant woman that I had been, notwithstanding the physical toll of innumerable house relocations on my body. I don’t think I slept for over 20 years because I had a supremely heightened awareness for danger. Solitary parents become a Cyclops, with one eye always open in case of emergency, particularly at night. I was so wired that for ten years electric sparks used to fly if I touched metal.
As the years went by, I took knock after knock as a floating cork smacked against a wild, merciless ocean clutching my child with the only thing I had – my life. I could not even find an Executor for my Will who would act on behalf of my son without payment if I had died. I remember asking the parents of one of his few school friends if they would look after him if anything happened to me, and they did not reply to my request. I asked my physiotherapist if I could give his name, he asked me to book an appointment and billed me. I used to pray my son would reach 18 without anything happening to me.
There was a difficulty too. With my early vision for EmW, something profound had started to happen. I could not find the energy to talk about something that I could no longer feel. I couldn’t find the mental creative mechanism to discuss the intricacies of the similarity between the world’s religions and how we can bring the common threads into society for the good of all. I was weary and tired. Global societies had moved on with people from all walks of life, colour and creeds marrying inter-culturally and happily without a second thought. Perhaps I was of no use with my vision for EmW Peace and Understanding; should I let it go, as I had with most aspects of myself and my life? What did I have to offer? Another spiritual teacher saying – what, exactly? I had nothing really to offer anybody anymore.
My life continued to implode as my now adult son left university early to return home. I took the mantle of responsibility for my mother’s descent into dementia and assisted a family member through a highly acrimonious divorce during which he was accused of unspeakable acts against his children. He spent much time with me during this phase.
I found myself trapped in a life of living hell, trying to find a way out into beauty but finding none within or without. I had lost all sense of myself since 1987, and in 2012 I was finally brought to my knees when my mother, who could still communicate through her dementia, telephoned me to say her care person had walked out without notice demanding money.
I was due to leave the country for Italy in 3 weeks with son and dog, and we were vacating our home.
I went to see my gynecologist, a man I had known for 20 years, and explained that I had no sense of body, and that my energy was escaping through my crown. I didn’t dare say my mind was gone because physically, I looked and was, in great shape, and it was not obvious what was happening to me. He was so alarmed he told me to see a psychiatrist and not to leave the country. My life had entirely imploded and the self I had been seeking since 1987 was gone. I was no more.
The complete and alarming emptiness of the body and its vacuous expression left me left with the natural non-state, and my brain within the body/mind is still rewiring. This magnificent organ is totally unrecognisable from the previous 55 years. I am able to halt the mind at will and sit quietly in no-man’s-land, holding it at bay for hours on end; this is NOT the same thing as sinking below or behind the diaphragm of the mind into the vastness of being, and exploring being with being. This is the great understanding that is reached. Controlling the mind is static, consciousness exploring itself is the never-ending cosmic dance.
May I conclude my loving welcome to you with the following: I have partied and lived an extraordinary life with wonderful, exciting people in the world, but I have also spent much of my life in contemplative solitude working quietly to understand the motor of my being, and certainly before the Internet and cell phones.All this is just a story, including the tale of my early life as a little girl with two spiritual energy systems a decade after WWII and Indian Independence; but it still seems that I could offer something from this perspective simply because I have been Eurasian for so long, and that I came through a dramatic realisation to answer the ultimate question, “Who am I?”
There is little reference in the canon of spiritual literature to this kind of awakening, I understand, although Meister Eckhart refers to it in the Christian tradition. In Zen Buddhism, it is known as the Great Death, neither of which I had any knowledge about. Hence, the pervading great terror and trauma associated with it when the body/mind is completely unprepared. I am grateful to Adyashanti for his once remark about the works of Suzanne Segal and Bernadette Roberts from 30 years ago who described exactly the same as I. Through those pieces of literature I was able to come to terms with living through the death of the illusory self.
If my love and understanding can inspire, lift up and soothe anybody who is drawn to EmW, I truly stand here quietly awaiting your gentle command…
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
His Grace Archbishop Desmond Tutu
I am indebted to these two eminent peace icons for supporting my early vision.
Copyright Selima Gurtler 2017. All rights reserved. firstname.lastname@example.org PLEASE DISTRIBUTE FREELY but kindly make any links to www.emwpeace.org