I have been coming to Europe to teach since 1983. As an outsider I could feel the atmosphere of the different cultures that I passed through. Teaching in Budapest, at a communist youth camp and community center, it was unavoidable to feel the depression and despair that hung in the air throughout the city.
There was a different flavor in the air coming into Germany. It was rigid and uptight in strange ways. The people at the front desk of the hotels were often suspicious and seemed hostile as they checked us in. The atmosphere felt oppressive and we were always glad to move on.
I was scheduled to return to Germany in 2007, but at the last minute it was discovered that my body was racked with disease and two days before flying, I had to cancel. I came last year but my body was still very weak and I only met with a small group of former students for a weekend in Hamburg.
In the ensuing years something that started so small has grown. In the eighties, when I worked with people, they were all focused on fixing their story and having a better life by changing their behaviors or circumstances. They had not heard of the possibility of freedom, or it was a concept that they believed required a lifetime of yoga and hard work. Now, there is awakening everywhere. There are too many teachers of non-duality to count.
Coming back after just three years absence the change is remarkable.
Close to 500 people came to Gangaji's and my meeting in Berlin.They were alive and bright and deep. The questions reflected a depth of experience and insight that I had not seen before on such large a scale.
We are in Baden Baden now, in a silent retreat with 150 people from all over Europe. We have been leading retreats like this for years here. But this time is different. People we were just meeting, people we have known for years, people from other teachers, no teachers, young people and old, all are reporting a depth of consciousness and realization that we have not seen before on so large a scale.
And, yes, the hotels greet us with openness and warmth, and the air is freer now as well. Could this be my own projection? Of course. And yet in my twenty-five years of coming here, it is a new and startling experience for both Gangaji and me. I am not one given to premature shouts of hope. I have seen all the various predictions come and go over the past forty years. Our commune in Oregon supported Tim Leary's vision of the comet Kahoutec in 1973, as the coming of the New Age. A decade later Gangaji and I sat on a mountaintop in support of the "harmonic convergence," and I am aware of the Mayan calendar and all the other predictions of the dawning. I have become a bit skeptical over the years.
But I must say loud and clear, from my perspective the dawn is here now. Consciousness conscious of Itself has spread to a critical mass. People are discovering themselves and living lives of freedom and peace on an unprecedented scale. The fire is alive in many hearts and is spreading.
It is our opportunity to jump into this holy fire ever more deeply, to surrender ourselves ever more fully; to light up the day with the fire of love. The Truth is true and alive in the land. We can celebrate the widespread shining of love by being the love that is alive in each heart. We are the fire and we spread from heart to heart. We may not live to see the daybreak spread across the planet, but we are the sunrise and the fingers of dawn are here.