In winter’s house there’s a room
that’s pale and still as mist in a field
while outside in the street every gate’s shut firm,
every face as cold as steel.
In winter’s house there’s a bed
that is spread with frost and feathers, that gleams
in the half-light like rain in a disused yard
or a pearl in a choked-up stream.
In winter’s house there’s a child
asleep in a dream of light that grows out
of the dark, a flame you can hold in your hand
like a flower or a torch on the street.
In winter’s house there’s a tale
that’s told of a great chandelier in a garden,
of fire that catches and travels for miles,
of all gates and windows wide open.
In winter’s house there’s a flame
being dreamt by a child in the night,
in the small quiet house at the turn in the lane
where the darkness gives way to light.
Ahm… I am in New York City, in lockdown, and I am comfortable in my awareness with my… my self, my soul, my… Infinite… whatever we want to describe it as. But when you mentioned the tantric thing… ahm… it made me wonder if… I was sort of feeling this energy, like a kind of pull. I wouldn’t say it was like an anxiety or stress energy, I would say it felt more empathic… like an empath… ahm… where… and obviously right now in this current environment that we are in, you sort of feel this –or I feel this– powerful energy that… like… that… maybe like the madness of what’s going on in… just the energy of everywhere right now… Ahm… And it made me think, you know, if you’re like a monk sitting in a cave, meditating, but there’s all the craziness of the world outside… How do you… You… I think you would say, “Well, don’t worry about that, just focus on your own… inner… you know, awareness / happiness / peace”. But, how can you do that? Because also the lady from England with the pictures behind her, she was talking about unity, and, even though it’s about finding your awareness in yourself, don’t you feel the collective energy right now, that is so… such a shift…
Well, of course…
… massive shift right now; I mean, the world is going through such an amazing moment, that I sort of virtually feel selfish, just sitting with my own awareness! Is that… Does that make sense, what I’m saying?
Yes, it makes sense, what you’re saying.
But why do you feel that this is selfish?
What is the one thing…
I agree that the anxiety, the fear, the distress that people are feeling, are palpable on the streets, if you go out now.
And if you read the news, or… It’s palpable. I agree with you.
What is the one thing that everybody wants at this time?
Relief from anxiety, fear, uncertainty.
And so, to discover this peace,
where it lies, and the means to it,
is not selfish. It is the least selfish
of all activities. It’s not a personal activity!
It is discovering that, which everybody longs for,
and not only discovering it, but discovering the pathway
by which or through which it may be accessed,
which will enable you then to share it with others
with whom you come in contact,
in whatever form you share it.
And I do share it, I mean as well as I can…
Everyone here shares in their own way.
Nor do I mean to imply that… You said… earlier on you said,
“I’m sure you would just say, ‘Turn away from all of this, and go to…’”
Well, actually no, I wouldn’t just say that.
I would say that the most important thing in life,
either in this crisis situation, or indeed in any situation,
is to find access to peace and happiness.
Why? Because it is the one thing that we want, above all else.
But I would not suggest that we do this to the exclusion of paying attention to our… not only looking after our own body, but looking after those with whom we come in contact, whether they are family members, friends, neighbours, community…
And particularly in this time of crisis,
I would recommend, that each of us
does whatever we feel we can do
to attend to the situation,
and to help people,
not just in the ultimate way,
not just to find peace and happiness,
but in alternative ways, as well.
But in a way, Rupert, it appears as an inside job, though, because… I mean, random example: Just walking outside in Manhattan, to the bank, to line up to, you know, go into the bank, five people at a time, you could feel like –palpable was the perfect description– you can feel just this… sort of energy that is very different to the usual streets of Manhattan, and… you virtually feel… you know, it just feels like all these lone people, walking along the street, lining up… There’s sort of a d… there’s a… it feels like such a… everyone’s kinda in it on their own, in a way… It… You know, when you see them – you can chat to someone, say hello, obviously, all of that, but… but it just feels like… ahm, this shift that is so… internal, for every one. Does that make sense?
It makes sense. I went, first thing this morning… I got on my bicycle and just bicycled down to our local deli, and –just as you described, on a slightly smaller scale in Oxford– there was a queue of people… Only two people, the shop is tiny, and they sell organic produce, and… and… only two people allowed in the shop, and everyone… there was a queue down the road, and everyone was six feet apart, so I joined the queue… [sweetly smiling] And we were all… chatting with each other… In fact, I chatted… In the time when I waited –normally I would have gone into the shop with three of four other people and all my groceries and left– I found myself in a queue for twenty minutes talking to people that I had never seen in my life, whom I may well… – some of them I might have seen because we’re local, but other I hadn’t…
And it was such a feeling of community and friendliness… We were no longer strangers to each other; we were joined together in our common humanity.
What was… Not only was… is there fear palpable on the streets, but also our common humanity is palpable on the streets, and I experience people’s openness, people’s friendliness… Ehm… I tend to be a rather quiet… I don’t often get… if I… in a situation like that, I might just go into the shop and get my groceries and leave. I found myself chatting, with all the people in the queue, and it was so… There was so much love, and warmth, and community, and… irrespective of… of who the people were, or where we came from… There was a… All we were feeling was our shared humanity, and… it was very lovely.
So, even in times like… I’m sure there are many people on this meeting this evening, who have experienced this, and… So, it doesn’t take much. You find yourself standing in a queue, or be at six feet away from your next… but just to start up a conversation with them and, irrespective of the content of the conversation, to just communicate this warmth, and love, and affection, and peace to them.
And they will come away from the conversation feeling that they have been blessed by you. When I say “blessed by you”, I don’t mean anything extraordinary, or religious, or… I just mean that they have been blessed by your peace; they felt that you were not afraid; you were just one with the moment; no problem. They will have felt that their being, which they may not have previously had access to –because of their fear, and their anxiety– will have been magnified, by your presence, and they will feel the peace of their own being. And they will feel that you have blessed them. They will not formulate it like that, probably, but you have blessed them. You blessed them with your peace… That’s beautiful…
Aw… Thank you. I’ll try… Haha.
You don’t even need to try, Joanna.
If you’re in touch with your peace…
Peace is contagious…
If you’re in touch with it,
it just communicates itself,
through a smile…
You don’t even need to try, Joanna.
Just be in touch with your innate peace
and it will just share itself naturally,
in your own unique way,
with whoever you come in contact with.
That is the greatest thing you could offer your fellow New Yorkers at this time.
Just smiling at a stranger as you walk down the street is a communication of this peace.
There could never have been a time, at least in our generation, when this was more needed than now.
Thank you, Joanna.
Rupert Spira transcribed by Leon Hieros