I arrived home five days ago, but I'm just now finding my blog voice. Just before I left Iran, I and my fellow-delegates were cautioned not to make any careless communications. The wrong words, I was told, could endanger the jobs or privileges or safety of any of the people we talked to, or people who had helped us while we were in Iran. They could also jeopardize visa approvals for future civilian diplomats.
Remember that the mood of Iran today is under a big chill. Distrust is thick. Americans are dangerous. Anything anyone does in relation to a visiting American can seem unpatriotic. No wonder the dialog about Iran-US relations is so polarized and un-subtle! The only people who speak plainly are anonymous - or partisans who don't care what relationships they destroy!
What to do? After all, there's another key value at play too - to tell the truth about Iran in a way that serves understanding. Say too little, or speak too guardedly, and I'll just collude in the current state of American-Iranian non-comprehension.
But my blog doesn't need to be about my political opinions. I'll get to some of that in time. But what I can offer uniquely here is the stories - and pictures - of what I actually saw and experienced. It's the story of an unusual (to my knowledge, unprecedented) attempt.
I traveled across this huge American-Iranian culture gap, into a profoundly chilled atmosphere, holding a unique olive branch. Yes, I was a member of a Peace Delegation. But I came in a different spirit.
I was there as an emissary from a new tradition of Western spirituality, one that has arisen right out of the apparently Godless secular profane culture of America. I came with the expressed interest in generating a deep and mutually respectful sacred dialog.
I had come based on what was primarily a spiritual impulse. I was interested in joining together with fellow serious spiritual practitioners, interested in joining together in non-0rdinary consciousness, and seeing what it could do to create new options in terms of mutual understanding. I brought with me a series of integral writings translated into Farsi. And I wanted both to learn and to teach. I was there to plant seeds of Integral consciousness, hoping to help bring about Integral dialog.
So this blog will mostly be that story. Not a day-by-day story of all the events of the trip. Not a detailed commentary on all the complex currents in Iranian society. Not the last word on the many crises that rend that society. It won't include a summary opinion of the Iranian government, the political factions, or human rights advocates. I have great respect for all of them (they're all right, you know, at least partially!)
Instead I'll tell a simpler story, about a trip I took to Iran planting a few seeds. I'll tell the story of how some people responded to those seeds and offered to pass them on. I hope those seeds will someday contribute to the organic evolution an Integral awareness in Iran, an increasingly influential awareness among Iranians of all political and religious persuasions. I hope some of them will come together with Integral Westerners in dialog. I hope they will serve us as an enlightened, non-Western partner in a much-needed new kind of conversation between two civilizations with profoundly differing sensibilities. I hope we can help generate much more fruitful possibilities than our current dangerous standoffs. But right now, all I've got to tell is a story about seeds and sprouts.