By Brad Newsham
ONE MORNING SEVERAL YEARS AGO, at a bus stop in
front of the American Embassy in New Delhi, an Indian man
wearing a turban and rubber flip-flops (plus what might once have
been someone’s draperies) asked me where I was from.
"Oh, how lucky you are!" he fairly sang, when I told him I
was from San Francisco. "Everyone knows that San Francisco is
the spiritual center of the world."
Really? This assertion would jolt any American who’d
drifted to India seeking, well… something better.
"Oh, yes-yes," the India man said. "The Earth’s spiritual
center shifts every few hundred years or thousand maybe. It used
to be in India, but now it is San Francisco. All our gurus are
moving there to open ashrams."
My bus’s arrival cut short our talk, but during the next couple
of months I ran the man’s thesis past several other Indians I met.
Surprisingly, every one of them regarded my conversational tidbit
as old news. All unquestioningly accepted San Francisco not
India, not Tibet, not Mecca or Jerusalem or Rome as
humankind’s new spiritual center.
You are scoffing right now, of course, and so did I initially.
But that first night, when I asked the desk clerk at my hotel in New
Delhi to define "spiritual center of the world," his response wiped
the smirk right off my face. "Oh," he said, as matter of factly as if
I’d asked directions to a chai shop, "that is simply the place where
new ideas meet the least amount of resistance."
Voila! I have circled the globe four times, and if there is
some place where new ideas meet less resistance than they do in
San Francisco, I have neither seen nor heard of it. If you can’t be
what you want in San Francisco, you don’t have a chance