Caroline Myss, Dubai 2007
I recently went to Dubai to give a lecture to a small, private group of Arab businessmen. This was, without a doubt, one of the most fascinating trips of my career and not for the reasons you are likely to assume – namely, a visit to this new mythical wonderland of Dubai. In order to appreciate the end of the story, however, I have to share some of the beginning moments.
As anyone knows who is a teacher or a lecturer, you can assume that if you receive an invitation to lecture somewhere, it’s because the group is interested in what you have to say. Right? I mean, such an assumption would not be considered outlandish. It’s also protocol to be asked to submit the subject you’ll be lecturing on in advance. In this case, because I was going into a culture I had not worked in before, I asked for their parameters—and that’s when things began to get interesting.
I received an e-mail requesting that I avoid any mention of politics in my presentation. I could fully appreciate the need for the hostess to request that I not carry on about Middle East politics for countless reasons, not the least of which is that Dubai is 30 minutes via air from Iraq. (This may sound paradoxical coming from someone who is so staunchly anti-Bush and anti-anything about this incompetent White House administration, but I nonetheless feel it’s highly inappropriate to criticize one’s own nation while out of the country, if you know what I mean. I can complain at home, cuz YOU know what I am talking about, but the moment I leave the country, it’s wise to follow a “leave the dirty laundry at home” policy.) At any rate, I had no intention of treading into political waters, and I let my hostess know. I was still disappointed, of course, not because I couldn’t share my own political views, but because I was longing to hear their views, their stories, their perspectives, their experiences. Just the thought of having access to people living the experience—as opposed to those corporately controlled reporters who present hygienic versions of news, sacrificing substantial international stories because they are often forced to present “stories for tots” versions—was exciting for me. Professionally, however, I could live with this restriction, as politics had nothing to do with the presentation I had planned.
But then I was told not to mention any religious issues. This restriction gave me pause, although I understood that politics and religion are natural bedfellows. Still, whereas a political sock-in-the-mouth influenced only my personal desire to discuss the war with the people I was going to meet, this restriction on discussing religion would affect my presentation. I sent an e-mail to my hostess and asked, “Why exactly did you invite me? What would you like me to talk about? You pick the topic.”
I was waiting for her to say, “Anything you want.” Instead, she wrote back, “It really doesn’t matter. No one is going to listen to you anyway. That’s just the way we are.”
Is that a response, or what? What is a person supposed to write back to an answer like that? I was laughing so hard I sounded hysterical. This was one of the wildest e-mails I had ever received. What a treasure! You could wait a lifetime and never get such an outrageous e-mail.
In my reply, I thanked her and said, “Okay then. What about health? Surely something related to health might be interesting.” I was hoping that a presentation on the human energy system (could I mention chakras, I wondered?), or the connection between the stresses in our energy system and how they influence our health might work . Bingo – we found the topic. Stress, disease, and health – it was neutral, applied to everyone, and there wasn’t a religion lurking anywhere in the subject matter. And besides, I’d already been told they weren’t going to listen.
Next e-mail: wardrobe. I asked my hostess about attire for the evening and she responded that they were, “All about glamour. The ladies love their jewels.” Okay then: gowns and jewels–and they are not going to listen to a word I have to say anyway. I finally sent an e-mail to my business partner, David, and told him, “You do the presentation. I have nothing to wear.” I figured, if they weren’t going to listen, he could get away with the talk. He wisely refused.
David and I arrived in Dubai at 11:30 on a Wednesday night. The country is a mass of building cranes and construction everywhere, everywhere, everywhere. I counted 273 huge buildings at some stage of construction just between the airport and the hotel where I was staying. Only a few decades ago, Dubai was a nation of sand from which you could drive to another nation of sand, Saudi Arabia. It’s all sand. And now, mountains of buildings are emerging like magic out of this sand in this little emirate that has no fresh water and cannot grow any food. (In case you’re wondering, revenue from its natural gas and oil resources account for only about 6 percent of the emirate’s 37 billion-dollar economy.) The mystery of Dubai became far more intriguing to me than the extraordinary architecture that is popping up as if directly off a graphic artist’s computer screen. What is drawing all these people here with their billions of dollars?
During the day on Thursday, I saw a tiny bit of Dubai–after all, how much of a place can you see in one day? Still, one gleans impressions. For me, the mystery of, “What is going on here?” just got bigger and bigger. Dubai is not beautiful. It is not breathtaking. Why, I wondered, are all of these people pouring billions of dollars into this sand pit? It is rapidly becoming so overcrowded that soon no one will be able to move, much less drive anywhere. Every single thing has to be imported. The price of everything is skyrocketing. It’s hot as hell during the summer so we aren’t talking about the world’s best climate here. What on earth is the Dubai madness about? I had to at least figure out that one mystery before I left this tiny emirate on Saturday.
My presentation was scheduled for Thursday evening at 7:30, followed by dinner. A driver came for us at 6:30. The distance between the hotel where I was staying and the one where I was giving the presentation was perhaps four miles. I arrived at 8:00–it took ninety minutes to drive four miles, as the roads are unable to accommodate the traffic, but during that time something quite out of the ordinary happened. I received a phone call from my dear friend Colette, the woman I wrote about in ENTERING THE CASTLE who had been invisibly keeping vigil for me all during the time I was writing that book on Teresa’s brilliant mystical path of the soul. Colette called to tell me, among other things, that she had just been in Dubai, because she and her husband had decided to move there. She had no idea that I was in Dubai. As well as being a most rare friend, Colette is someone I associate deeply with Teresa of Avila, and her phone call instantly brought Teresa’s work and all that it represented directly into the forefront of my mind. It had never occurred to me to mention my work with Teresa in my presentation, particularly after having been asked to stay away from the subject of religion. I interpreted this phone call as a personal message for me to enter the precious field of grace that I have come to rely on deep within the castle walls of my soul.
As a result of that phone call, however, I arrived at the hotel uncharacteristically nervous. It is not like me to be nervous before a talk. On the other hand, it is not common to be told that no one is going to listen to your talk anyway, and that peculiar warning, along with all the other cautions, suddenly hit me. I was filled with a sense of dread that I might inadvertently offend this group for who knows what reason. Upon arriving, however, I was greeted with the most gracious hospitality. These businessmen and their wives were global people who spoke a minimum of four languages. They were highly successful people who thrived on a steady diet of current events and global information. This was no closed society. Yet, the most surprising thing was that of all the books of mine that they could have had on display when I arrived, the one they chose was ENTERING THE CASTLE. I would have expected ANATOMY OF THE SPIRIT or INVISIBLE ACTS OF POWER. But not the one book that deals explicitly with matters of the soul–not for the only group by which I had ever been asked specifically to avoid any discussion of religion and spirituality.
Because of the indescribable traffic nightmare that is Dubai, the talk did not begin until nearly two hours after I arrived. Now it was past 9:30 and the group was not only tired but hungry. Half of them had not even arrived themselves, phoning in that they were still caught in traffic. Finally I began my lecture on health in some vague way. As any seasoned speaker knows, you can “feel” if you have captured the attention of the audience. The lack of that feeling is a sensation of being in a room full of psychic free radicals or rapid-firing fragments. I could feel that I was battling distraction and exhaustion and, even though I was warned that the group would probably not listen, the experience felt brutal. I tried to make the subject of health and stress patterns relevant, all the while avoiding the language of the spirit that I so desperately needed in the same way a carpenter needs his tools.
At last, one gentleman asked a question that offered me the possibility of doing an intuitive reading on him. I told him that I could provide a much more intimate response if he were comfortable with a reading, given that we were in a group, but that would be his choice. Not one part of him hesitated, and so I did an intuitive reading on this man, gently entering his emotional and personal history. His associates and colleagues came to attention and as soon as our interaction was complete, their hands were in the air. The openness of this one man had opened the entire group and provided me with a way to discuss the nature of the soul–we had entered the Castle.
The hours continued to pass and I could not help but notice that we were approaching midnight. It didn’t matter to this group, all of whom were suddenly wide awake. I was now openly speaking about the teachings of Teresa of Avila and the path of illumination of the soul, and weaving that into the mystical work of the Sufi mystic Rumi. Finally someone asked about healing and I spoke about the power of grace and prayer. I asked them if they wanted to experience a moment in the Castle. I led them into the Castle with my favorite prayer of Teresa, which I will share with you:
Let nothing, O Lord, disturb the silence of this night.
Let nothing make me afraid.
Here in the dark, remind me that in order to speak to you,
My eternal Father, and to take delight in you,
I have no need to go to heaven or to speak in a loud voice.
However quietly I speak, you are so near that you will hear me.
I need no wings to go in search of you, but have only to understand
That the quiet of this night is a place where I can be alone with you,
And look upon your presence with me.
For if I have you, God,
I will want for nothing.
You alone suffice.
My lecture ended at midnight, followed by dinner. The next evening, David and I were invited to dinner with our hostess and her husband and one other gentleman. As a result of this seminar, however, another businessman changed his plans and joined us. It was at this dinner that I had the opportunity to ask the questions that by now had me in a spin, particularly, What on earth is going on here in Dubai? Business opportunities are one possible of answer, but that doesn’t explain the psychic atmosphere and enthusiasm that is so evident in so many people.
Finally, the businessman from Syria gave me an answer that filled me with hope, and his answer inspired me to share my experience with all of you. He said that while Dubai is now indeed filled with immeasurable business opportunities, that is only one part of the story. He said to me, “Look at us this evening sitting at this dinner table. I am from Syria. Your hostess is from Lebanon. That gentleman is from Iran and our friend across the table is from Dubai. You are from America. Where else could all of us sit at the same table in peace? We want a place where we can live in peace. Here in Dubai, we are investing in peace, not just in business. We believe Dubai will not be bombed or invaded. We have all been affected by some war in the Middle East and some of our families are still in war zones. So we have moved our lives and our cultures here. And we are all living here together. More than anything, we want peace and we are willing to work together to accomplish that.”
May we all create a peaceful world.
Have a blessed holiday season, everyone.
If I may add mention of something very special, working to change our world takes courage. All too often, people take the passive, do-nothing route, because they think that caretaking this society is someone else’s responsibility. Or most people just don’t “get” that our world–and our nation–has changed its position in the world. So when a person has made an investment of his own creativity, time, money, or effort, that effort is worth supporting. My good friend Michael Gluck had the inspiration to create a deck of “Professional Guidance Cards” with the theme of integrity and honor in the workplace and as individuals. Michael is an attorney who values the laws of the soul as well as the laws of the court. He created these cards to inspire others and they are stunning, with graphics designed by the same artist who worked on my Archetype Cards and Healing Cards. The proceeds from them go to Oprah’s school in South Africa. They can be purchased from www.myss.com. I hope you’ll consider supporting this project.
And, of course, let me add that ENTERING THE CASTLE makes a lovely gift, especially during this season of the sacred.
Finally, I want to mention the focus of next year’s SALON, my monthly newsletter. ENTERING THE CASTLE has had, and continues to have, a profound influence in my life. As with most profound changes, the unexpected are the ones that shift the direction of your interior life. In my case, the mystical path also opened to the arena of healing work and that, in turn, has brought me back to my work as a medical intuitive. It would seem that life does indeed bring us full circle again and again. I initiated The Healing Work through the SALON newsletter earlier this year. Now I am beginning work on a new book that is focused on the subject of healing through mystical wisdom and common sense. As a result, I will be writing more on the subject of healing from various angles. I am also hoping to build the healing circle, as it is my profound belief that a committed group of individuals devoted to channeling grace to each other for three minutes a day can create an extraordinary field of grace through which healings in many forms can occur. Included in this devotion are prayers for peace. Therefore, I invite all of you to join this healing network through the SALON. I encourage any of you who have requests for personal healings to send them to [email protected]
I would also ask those of you who are open to remaining in touch with me about your healing journey to state that in your letter. I thank you for considering this invitation.
Again, I wish all of you abundant peace of heart and soul. 2008 will be a challenging year for our country. Let us please pray that heaven blesses us with a statesperson capable of leading this nation back on track.
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