Adjusting to the extreme contrast between India and England has been a truly enlightening experience for me and I will probably be processing it psychologically for quite a while to come!
It is impossible not to be affected by the seething mass of raw energy that flows endlessly there, seemingly toward no apparent goal except pure survival. It often seemed like hell to me. In India there doesn’t seem to be much choice than to stand by and watch as the chaos unfolds and try to accept that this is another world, another culture, that does not subscribe to our convenient ways of thinking about life. Many of the principles that support our Western society just don’t seem to have any relevance over there. It seems to be largely each man for himself and it is easy to understand how and why this attitude prevails.
My experience with the suffering in the world and my own personal Dukkha have taught me that there is usually a way of seeing all this chaos, a way of being with it, in it, without being consumed by it or drawn too deeply into it. To not reject it nor to grasp at it but to allow it to be whatever it is, whatever it’s going to be. As the Buddha’s teachings tell us, suffering is interchangeable with awakening if we can find spiritual perspective for it and embrace the pain rather than run from it, which is usually futile anyway.
What is the lesson that the world is showing us here? And how do we translate raw experience into spiritual truth? When I ignore for a moment the rational narrative that accompanies my thinking mind, attempting to make sense of this way of life, I can see a different reality. One that enhances the deep contradictions and confounding paradoxes rather than dismissing them as absurdities. And then I can see the glowing faces and the smiles of the downtrodden. The courage and determination in the millions of desperate individuals struggling against the constant stream of obstacles in their lives. The deep love, compassion and affection that arises in the union of impoverished souls when push comes to shove. There is a light that shines through all of the hardship and shows in the faces of many of the people, they have a basic satisfaction in the face of depravation, the likes of which might well make others despair.
To learn to be in the stream, even to lean against the stream of life is to open yourself to the mystery of it. It can feel like confusion at times, but there is a coherence if we can stay with the overwhelm of this. A reflection of uncertainty, spontaneity and natural, unadulterated beauty. This simplicity is at the core of the human heart and India is a journey in and through it! This same truth seems to become apparent in various different forms throughout my experience in this world: Whatever we have in our hearts will manifest in our physical reality. Never does this seem more true than in India.
This is the teaching that I was confronted with in India, the truth of a profound and meaningful struggle and a universal reality that applies to all of us.
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