Here is one of the chapters from my newly published book, Writing: A Spiritual Voice. The image is the original cover of The Love of Devotion which this article refers to.
A few days before the photo shoot for the book cover of The Love of Devotion (2014), I suddenly had the idea to wear a large, white, silk veil over my body and head. The veil is a universal representation of feminine spiritual devotion. It is ancient and transcultural. It represents the core qualities of spiritual love and inner beauty. It has its own particular manifestations in each religion, but is always equated with humility before God, devotion to goodness, and commitment to the spiritual path. My natural self is highly devotional. As a Westerner, and a raised Catholic, the archetypal symbol was probably arising from the stereotypic Catholic nun.
Afghanistan was one of the first countries to follow my Facebook author page enthusiastically. I was told that initially, they thought I was Muslim because of the veil. At that stage, I barely knew any Muslims, and although I was open to all religions, I knew almost nothing about Islam. Regarding my veil, I was thinking Catholic nun. Possibly, a dash of Hindu woman—a theatrical cross between Bollywood and Shakti (the Supreme Sprit).
In the first few years, I gained 25,000 followers from Kabul alone. They were nearly all young men. That’s a veritable army of young men wanting to advance to a better world. The young men of our world have a great deal of power to change it by how they educate themselves, dedicate themselves to their work, love their women and children, and develop their inner being so that it is as marvellous as they can make it. The Afghans are still strong followers despite the recent withdrawal of the U.S. forces.
During those initial years of Afghan interest, a high-ranking U.S. military personnel, who was stationed in Afghanistan, wrote to me, “I must say you have a wonderful profile here, and you are sterling. I saw your profile, and it warmed my heart. The impact has been overwhelming, and we are so interested in what you are doing.”
In later correspondence, he said, “You have been able to do what we have not. The Afghans tolerate us, but we have never been able to gain their trust.”
There are many things an army can do, and unfortunately, they are still necessary. However, what billions of U.S. defence dollars cannot do, we can do by reaching out with love, respect, and hope.
The warrior archetype is embedded in the Afghan culture. They highly value their ability to protect their families, traditions, and country. In such a climate, it was not surprising that they were reluctant to give their trust to an outside military presence, although they needed them for stability. What they lacked in trust towards foreign men, they did not lack towards the outstretched hand of feminine love, which carried no weapon and no ulterior motive. If men, particularly young men, have a fire inside for peace and life improvement, they cannot be pulled into the fire that burns with hate, despair, and ignorance.
My virtual presence in Afghanistan seemed to give the U.S. military officer an added hope that the many problems they would be leaving behind might have a chance of being managed more viably when the time came to leave. That day of the U.S. leaving has recently arrived. Afghanistan is far from working out its problems in a viable way. Nevertheless, the world is getting smaller, and we are all getting closer. That helps with the movement towards a more unified and peaceful humanity.
I feel my devotional message is as much needed, if not more, in the West. We have largely lost in our spirit what we have gained in wealth and scientific, medical, and educational advances. That spirit is more alive in the non-Western world. The West must learn to reconnect with its soul. We have a lot to give each other.
We are unequivocally valued in the sight of God as men, women, and children—every culture, skin colour, demographic, rich and poor, and individual preference. That is the starting point. Not the endpoint. The beginning of creating a harmonious and flourishing world is to start from the basis of equal value. One world. One people. Different expressions. All loved—all valued.