Salute for Love
By Peter, Japan
Some years ago, I was teaching in a vocational massage school. In my class there was a trio of students, all males, with whom I felt a greater-than-usual friendliness. We always held to our teacher-student roles, but somehow there was a sense of camaraderie behind our interactions.
As a teacher, I couldn’t show favoritism. But when I checked on their work in class or during a treatment in the student clinic, I noticed an ease and warmth among us.
Then something else began to happen. All three of them started giving me little salutes when we passed in the halls or on the stairs, always with a slightly ironic but friendly smile. I would nod back or give a little salute of my own.
This was a bit odd to me, especially since I had no interest in the military. In fact, as a child growing up during the closing years of the Cold War, I was sometimes unable to sleep because of an overwhelming fear of war.
Lying in bed, a sudden terrible feeling would overcome me. I became terrified that if war came, I would have to fight and would surely die. This fear kept me awake half the night before I finally fell asleep.
Yet my image of fighting was not during a nuclear war, but of fighting and dying in a trench, clutching a rifle or a musket.
I began to wonder about this strange habit of exchanging little salutes with my students. In a quiet moment, I asked the Mahanta, my inner guide, the meaning behind them. That one question opened the gates to an unexpected dream of a past life.
I’m a minor-ranking British officer during World War I, responsible for the lives of a number of men. We’re fighting the enemy from the trenches.
It is a hellish place.
Yet in the midst of the horror, there is something very precious to me—the mutual regard I have with some of my men.
During a brief respite from the fighting, I sit together with three of the men in my charge. Although their faces and frames are different, I recognize them as my three students from the massage school.
We aren’t saying much, but as we look into each others’ eyes, there is an unstated but deep appreciation and love for each other. We sense our time together might be limited but know that we would each risk our own life for the others.
Then my viewpoint detaches from the scene, and I begin to float above the trenches. Looking at the four bodies below, I understand that none of us will make it home.
When I awoke, my heart opened in gratitude. Now I understood the love and camaraderie I felt with these three students. We were together before and had found each other again. But this time around, we were more interested in healing than fighting.
This experience was a reminder that divine love links all life together. From that day forward, my returned salutes held a deeper warmth and appreciation of the timeless bond of love between us.