Here are some of my thoughts on the meaning of freedom:
For the first time in 30 years, I had an inner resistance when thinking of returning home. Usually I have such longing to come home that the feeling of not wanting to, is a new sensation for me. Of course, my home is wherever my pack, Joshua and Leelou, are. Luckily, they are mobile.
I was just in Morocco and it was a game changer once again.
Sure, it is a developing country, and I certainly don't love a religion that systematically represses women. But Morocco felt remarkably tolerant and free.
And at least it feels as though THEY ARE MOVING FORWARD, whereas we, in the States, are clearly moving backward. That is VERY painful to me, and not why I moved to the land of the supposedly free in the first place.
Driving across the country with Joshua and Leelou in our Sports Mobile, I will never forget the miles and miles of dead, manipulated, Monsanto-sprayed cornfields that we drove through in the middle of the country. The enormous amounts of enslaved and tortured land will be forever stamped in my soul. And now, we see a move to enslave more - land, animals, women, and people. It's just so unbearably painful.
In the deserts of Morocco I experienced the greatest physical and spiritual freedom I have since I ran wild as a child. I know I am strong in mind and will, but not always in body. I was very sick as a child and have to manage my physicality carefully.
In the desert, I grew wings! I slept few hours, sat up in the dunes at night gazing into the rising sun in vast silence while everyone still slept, except the camels (they don't sleep, they meditate).
I flew over the dunes with such ease and joy. I got nicknamed "razelle" by the Berbers, which means gazelle. I found this truly strange and funny, because unless on the yoga mat, I'm actually rather clumsy. Not exactly gazelle like, for sure. But in the desert, it was true and I cannot explain it.
Not many people actually go into the desert. But we went in and stayed for several days, making our camp out of nothing but sand and what the camels were carrying.
I never wanted to come out. It is the strongest connection to a culture I have felt beside the native and, to a certain degree, the Roma connection. Being there felt completely natural to me. I quickly learned how to tie the shech, which I absolutely adored and wish I could wear always! The shech is key in the desert for protection from cold, sun, and sand. Never another bad hair day!
I'm not saying that I liked everything.
I hated how the animals were treated. The horses with the wagons; some were so thin I was afraid they would keel over. The cute donkeys (which they call the Ferrari of Marrakech), so overloaded, I wondered that they didn't get flattened like a pancake under the weight of their packs. It was hard to see the little monkeys on chains, completely at the mercy of their owners, exploiting them for the tourists. And I really didn't like the cobras on the concrete floor, mostly with their mouths sewn shut. Their lives are very short because they starve to death.
Then there was the human suffering; the invalids on the streets, and the women and children begging on the side of the road.
I acutely felt the suffering of all of them, and cried often.
I got in the habit of carrying an entire bag with me; collecting the meat that people in my group didn't consume, so I could always feed someone. Apples for the donkeys and horses, meat for the dogs and cats, food, or some money, for the people that touched my heart.
What else to do? Like Maharaji used to say: Feed people!
I'm expanding that to: Feed beings, please.
I have been thinking a lot about freedom these days. In fact, it was the promise of freedom that led me to move to America. I realize it doesn't feel so free anymore.
Some of you know that I have made up a new (old) melody for Lokha Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu. It means: May all Beings be joyous, and free.
What does the happiness of beings really mean? To me, it means that each being is allowed to live according to its true nature. Not imprisoned. Not stifled. Not held back. Not enslaved. That includes trees. And plants. And corn. And WATER. Everything on this holy planet.
That is the world I would like to live in.
Freedom to be exactly who we are. I invite you to contemplate your authentic voice this month and follow it.