The story of the departure ceremony (9): ‘Pilgrimage to Love’.

On the first Saturday of every month, a little after sunrise, one of our departure ceremonies is held: the pilgrim lauds. This month we read a text by Fred Matser from our book of hours Seasons of Life . This philanthropist is committed to a better functioning society based on a vision of connectedness (more). The accompanying miniature from the Book of Hours is by Marjoke Schulten. Reader: Damiaan Messing, one of the pioneers of the Walk of Wisdom.

Love is letting go of fear, where
there is love there is no fear,
where there is fear, there is no love.

Dr. Jerry Jampolsky  

It’s an early evening in the mountains, the French Alps. It’s almost silent, outside the rain is tapping on the window. I am in my Alpine place, carried between soft and hard green mountain slopes. At the wooden table, I type the letters on the screen. The silence around me connects more and more deeply with my inner silence.

So often in my daily life I am exposed to impressions – from e-mails, heavy traffic, conversations often by telephone – or to man-made impulses, that it is quite a task to stay with my inner nature. It requires a lot of maintenance from me to do this. Very helpful in this is meditating, often in the morning, listening to quiet music and also continuously, during the day, silently expressing my gratitude for life to God. Without these islands of contemplation, I risk being sucked into the issues of the day.

I don’t think I heard about spirituality until the late 1960s. The focus at home was on matter, not to acquire wealth, but to build a solid, secure and comfortable existence, from father’s perspective also for his children. Due to his very poor health, I joined him in the real estate project development company immediately after my final exams and had final responsibility for it at a very young age. After my father’s death, I ran his company for another five years. I was doing well according to the people around me, but it didn’t satisfy me anymore.

I felt drawn to do more for my fellow man and started working as a volunteer at the Red Cross in Geneva. I came across a simple intervention to tackle infant mortality due to diarrhoea. It was nothing more than a combination of salt and sugar that you had to mix with water (Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS)). These are all elements that we can find in nature. It cost little and there was no need for doctors or expensive ‘breeding’ by humans.

When I heard this, I was stunned: the media was full of 300 passengers who died in a plane crash near Chicago, but what didn’t appear in the media was that every half hour worldwide the same number of children died from dehydration accompanied by diarrhea, that was 14,000 children a day!

The Western world in which we live is strongly influenced by the enormous power of industry.

This sector has little interest in the environment; Making a profit is central and very cheap, effective, non-environmentally harmful, life-saving interventions for children in poor areas are/were hardly paid attention to since there is almost no money to be made from them.

I also learned how much conflict there is between all those helpers and others, including myself. I saw that many of us are full of stress, unresolved issues of our own, and that we export that stress, as it were, to people in the developing world, who are already vulnerable. I became aware that I shouldn’t be doing this work if I didn’t solve my own stress first.

In fact, I came to the conclusion that humanity is not developing much and is more concerned with getting involved. Those who have the “power” would have us believe that reality is about struggle and competition based on the principle that there would be scarcity with all its consequences. The reality in my view is that we live side by side in an inclusive system, each in his or her ‘own’ space and ‘own’ time, and that it is all about sharing.

In my work, especially that of the last 30 years, I have come to realize that the driving force in the Whole and All, is Love and that we as human beings are meant to be aware and to develop in such a way that we can experience the connection with that Unconditional Love and have the opportunity and choice to act accordingly. But we are so often afraid.

In my opinion, fear is in its deepest essence the same as resistance. Of course, manifestly as human beings, we exist by the grace of resistance (think of gravity) and so we live in a paradox. But we can make contact with our finite part, the body, with the infinite “part”, the soul, which is free from that resistance. This is accompanied by a lot of pushing and pulling, yes resistance! This realization, which I have had for several decades now, is a great gift to me and motivates me every day to continue to contribute to a better world, even if it happens by trial and error.

As far as I am concerned, we are here on earth to develop ourselves by the grace of resistance into an ever higher and deeper consciousness of Unconditional Love and to live from and according to this.

I hope that on one of the pilgrimages you may experience some inspiration from this piece, step by step.

Fred Matser

Fred Foundation.

You can only really help people if you want to see them on an equal footing.’