Saturday, February 28, 2009

This last week in India has felt like another lifetime. Since last post I've been embraced by the land of Lord Siva. Rishikesh, totally vegetarian this home of yoga nestles in the lap of the lower Himalayan foothills where the sacred, powerful Mother Ganges, jade and crystal clear still close to her source, meanders here, surges there, on her journey past the communities of Laxman Jhula north of town and on the East Bank Swarg Ashram (also called Rama Jhula). I'm absorbed by the spirit of this place, the vista of temples, yogis, ashrams, visiting pilgrims. Majestic suspension footbridges span the river carrying cows, women in saris, tourists, saddhus all travelling on foot, boys on bicycles, couples on scooters from the winding mountain road to the colourful, bustling village lanes of the two Jhulas. Rishikesh wears its spirit on the outside. Life is about yoga and meditation, ayurvedic health and massage, astrology, reiki, chanting, offerings, peaceful souls, smiling, greeting, namaste. Gentle, graceful energy radiates everywhere and from everyone. Perched on a partially submerged boulder on the banks of Mother Ganga as she flows serenely past me with the ancient, towering Himalayas behind me, I feel so incredibly blessed.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

What a round-the-clock effort to get to the airport on Friday, clearing the desk, packing, it was 5am and the car was outside before I knew it. What a great idea to stop for six hours at Singapore airport - time to catch up on sleep in a comfortable hotel room before heading on to Delhi.

Every city has a smell that greets you even before you leave the plane and intensifies as you get closer. Perhaps the smell is just one part of a unique atmosphere of place. Whatever, smell is the sense that always hits me first. I haven't even started to sift and separate the assault of tastes, sights, sounds, smells, feelings that are Delhi, but if I smelled those smells at home - petrol, ghee, smoke, dust, earth, sewage - they'd offend me. If the sounds and the constant traffic jams and crowds were part of my daily life, I'm sure I'd find it overwhelming. But here in India I love it all and feel myself smiling inside as I reconnect, heart and soul, to India.

We made it from the airport into Delhi around 11.30pm. I always feel as though I've 'made it' in India when I arrive anywhere. Must be to do with the rally conditions you experience driving anywhere...navigating around tuk-tuks, scooters, buses, vans, horse-drawn trailers, cars, sadhus, bicycles with trailers and of course, cows. Constant beeping, blaring of horns. Just a few minutes away from the little downtown hotel, the familiar landmarks, looking forward to arriving the car came to a complete stop. Gridlock. The street, with stalls spilling onto the dusty road, was chock-a-block carnival - alive with light, music and colour. A wedding parade was in full Bollywood. White horse drawn carriage, bejewelled bride, all adorned with shining red and glittering gold ornaments, brass band, uniformed musicians straight from the British raj, hundreds upon hundreds of guests, well-wishers, followers, all pouring, jam-packed together, down our street. Cacophony! Car horns blaring, trumpets blasting, cymbals clashing, dogs barking, people singing and laughing. Sparkling crystal and ruby glass chandeliers held aloft by members of the dancing wedding party, strung one to the next with old electrical cables...surreal spotlights, randomly lit scenes. Pure India, at its brilliant best. For a weird but amusing few minutes I felt what it must be like to be a star and be 'mobbed'. We were surrounded. The hindquarter of a white horse just an inch from my window and at the driver's window squashed red, gold and white uniformed musicians. Bodies came tumbling across the bonnet and boot, pushing between the horse, the car, jostling the band. Past the windscreen hundreds of ecstatic, laughing, soulful eyes, faces pushed up to the glass, banging on the windows to the music, waving, happily.

Of course the parade moved on and we were face to face with a wall of traffic coming the other way. We edged forward, little by little, manouvering through tiny gaps, up and over kerbs, around through the back of a couple of stalls, past scooters, bikes, rickshaws, tuk-tuks and vans - all coming towards us and all, like us manouvering sideways, backwards, forwards.

Then just as suddenly as the parade had stopped us, the road cleared and we were outside the hotel. Delhi. I'm loving it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Three things about me a) I spent half my life in the world of hidden persuaders (and not so hidden ones now I think about it) and b) I've spent the other half searching for the truth. Well, actually, I've spent all my life searching for Absolute Truth, but I only found that out fairly recently. Oh and c) I just realised this week that living one's truth means a big bonus - we get a natural, automatic connection to Absolute Truth. This is liberating and nurturing all at once. No either-or. Just a taste of bliss, love and happiness. Fortunate associations with wise women and men have brought me to this place. I find myself here more and more often. Like right now. I could stay focused on a few worldly matters like vaccinations and packing and catching up on some sleep. But it's okay. All is as it should be and India is not far away.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

With just a few days to go before I slip out of the material energy, the easier it seems to let day-to-day responsiblities slip past too. And that's a little scary when there's so much to be done. This detachment is reminding me of an advanced traveller at a spiritual retreat I attended in New Zealand last January. "You are so conscious" she responded to a question about day-to-day trivia, like arranging schedules, or car keys, or whatever. Clearly my energy, straight out of a frantic Sydney materialistic December, was preventing me from detatching and just enjoying the moment. "That's good" she assured me, kindly noting my devastation at not having made it to the transcendental world. I was a new one here, among full-time transcendental experts. But by the end of the retreat, which was a pretty intense learning experience, I was no longer conscious ... of where were the keys, or the mobile phone charger (having survived more than a week without reception) or even about yesterday. Time seemed unimportant; possibly something to do with rising before 4am daily for meditation? Anyway, a few days in Auckland post-retreat in my newly unconscious state, sharing time and stories with friends from another lifetime, was absolutely blissful. Perhaps I simply haven't regained consciousness! It should be an interesting week.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

It's not that one needs physically to be in India to experience transcendence, duh! True transcendentalists are just that. But for me the energies in India are not so in-your-face material, so it's like getting instant access to the exquisite taste and touch of a lighter energy - energy not to do with the physical, or with things, but connected to me, to my heart and soul. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying India's all bliss, yoga and chanting and certainly material energy is in full, vibrant evidence at its best and worst. It's just that in spite of it all, permeating everything, is something rich and beyond words, an unfathomable depth of absolute knowledge long lost, forgotten and out-of-reach in the west, but always there within easy access, if you're open to it.

Next week's trip back to India I've been dreaming about for the last 11 months - that's a month after getting home last time. It feels like a lifetime ago to me, but to everyone else it's 'didn't you just come back from India?' Rishikesh will be a new experience but Vrindavana is the ultimate destination.