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The On Being Project

The Solution Is Already With You

This week we had an interesting situation related to the visit of an international guest. Unexpectedly, the situation led to a powerful mystical insight that continues to both haunt and inspire me.

Our visitor, Oruç Guvenç, came to us from Turkey, where he is one of the leading musicians. He traveled with his musical instruments, a treasury of a thousand years of sacred music in his heart… and his beloved mobile phone.

He loves to show off pictures of beautiful natural scenes on his phone, especially majestically colorful birds, animals living together in peace and harmony, and scenes of nature’s splendor. A masterful artist himself, Oruç pauses periodically after a picture to praise the Divine as the ultimate Artist.

There is a grace about how he relates to his technology. He always makes his human companion still feel like the most important person on Earth, only welcoming us inside his own world of beauty and art. The technology somehow amplifies rather than distracts from his inner world of beauty and sacredness.

So graceful. So kind. So lovely.

One small problem: Turkish cell phones, like many European models, use a different electrical outlet. My friend’s phone runs not on the 110-volt American outlets, but on the European 220-volt.

He had a charging cable, but we couldn’t plug it into the wall. This was the way that he reflected on the work of the Eternal Artist, and also how he keeps up with his so beloved wife back home. And with some sadness we watched the charge on the phone going down and down.

So I promised to help, and called the usual big box stores to see if they had an electrical converter. Sadly, they all said the same thing: they sell converters to help Americans travel in Europe, but not the ones for Europeans traveling in the United States.

It makes sense. These stores mainly cater to American shoppers, including American shoppers who are thinking about global travel. They probably expect European travelers to buy their own adapters prior to arriving here. Or to be truthful, most Americans probably don’t think about different electrical currents around the world, and if they do think about that, they imagine that the world runs on their/our electrical system.

At long last, I found a humble store. I described the problem to the person answering the phone. He confidently said that they had the desired adapter. I asked him if he could hold one for me, and he said he would. I rushed over there.

As promised, he was holding the item. With a mischievous smile, he said: “This will do exactly what you need it for.” I was somewhat surprised by his smile, but went ahead and paid for the item. It was not expensive, some seven dollars. Sure enough, it worked. I could plug the European plug into the adapter, and the adapter into our electrical outlets. I tested it in the store, and it worked perfectly. The phone came on and started to charge. Hallelujah.

I thanked him profusely and began to leave.

He still had the mischievous smile on. As I was gathering my belongings, he said to me: “You already have the solution with you.”

Somehow that statement hit me like a Zen koan, like the words of a sage who walks around disguising his wisdom inside ordinary, everyday situations. I turned around slowly, and asked him to repeat what he had said. He said again, slowly,

“You already have the solution with you.”

The world went quiet, and all I could hear was this phrase. “Already…. solution…. with you.”

Baffled, I looked at him.

He asked if he could borrow my friend’s [European] charging cable. I handed it over to him. Lo and behold, he pulled off the cable from the charging unit that attached to the electrical outlet. One end of the cable attached to the phone. The other end was actually a normal, humble USB plug.

He said, with a smile: “You already have the solution with you.” And then explained that while he was happy to sell me the adapter, I actually didn’t need it. I could have charged that phone, and any phone with a similar cable, almost anywhere. He asked if my friend traveled with a laptop. I said no. He asked if he was staying with me or in a hotel room. I was rather puzzled by the relevance of the question but answered truthfully that he was staying in a hotel room.

The living sage, disguised as a humble electrical store employee, took the cable, holding it by the USB port, and said: “Every hotel room has a TV. In the back of all of these modern TVs there is a USB port. You already have the solution for charging. All you have to do is to plug this cable into the phone and the cable to the TV’s USB port and turn the TV on. The TV will charge the phone.”

“You already have the solution with you.”

Walking to my car, and eventually to my Turkish friend, Oruç, who was so joyous, I kept marveling at the beautiful truth of this statement. How often we — not our phones — but we beings of cosmic dust mingled with spirit run low on energy, on breath, on spirit. How often we are dangerously close to running out of power, except that we don’t know how to recharge.

We run here and there, trying this and that, sometimes a medicine, sometimes an adventurous journey to stimulate ourselves.

Do we know ourselves well enough to know that the means of recharging is already hidden within us, inside?

“You already have the solution with you.”

We are not machines. No machine can match the subtlety of the human soul. But the one analogy is that, like those machines, when the red battery light comes on, we too need to be charged and recharged.

And the very means of recharging is already hidden inside us. Do we know?

Do we know our own selves well enough to know how to do this?
Do we know our beloveds well enough to know how to do this with them?
Do we realize that different people “run” on different methods of being charged?

For some of us it is prayer,
for some, meditation,
for some, the gentle touch of a loving beloved,
for some, a gentle stroll in the woods.

Can we remain humble enough to know that one method that works for one soul may not recharge another? Each of us needs to recharge in the means that are right or best for us. And that means may change from stage to stage of life.

Whatever it is, let us be cognizant of the truth that if we know how to access it,
     	the means of recharging is already with us.

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