When in India the rest of the world fades into a distant memory. It is like the moment in meditation where your awareness expands and the volume on thoughts decreases. They are there but no longer disturbing. The present moment absorbs your attention.
Part of the allure of India is that it offers a completely different sensory and cultural experience. Strange smells, loud sounds, visual stimulation, bustling people… The senses become so overwhelmed that after a while they gladly retreat from the outer stimulation and seek the subtler inner experience like a tortoise withdrawing its limbs.
Within the environment are constant reminders of a rich and fulfilling inner life, whether it be a myriad of temples and shrines, sadhus on the street, ceremony and chanting by the river, or the subtle vibration felt in the mountains that have been home to seekers for centuries.
Now I am back it is as though I was never there, routines once again engulf me, and yet I am no longer who I was, I have changed. My perception of life has changed. My perception of myself, and the difference between myself as a conscious being, verses myself as a thinking being is heightened.
India is like the trusting mother who nudges her child out into the world to learn from direct experience, yet all the while keeps a watchful eye. Our watchful eye is our inner Self, the one who sees the play of life: the fleeting pleasures, joys, sadness, abundance and losses, and yet never loses sight of the ultimate goal of being grounded in pure Being: “to be in the world yet above it”.
If all we know of ourselves is through the mind, then we are limited in our experience of life. We lack the richness of our connection to ourselves as pure consciousness. In India I am reminded of how good it feels to expand and grow, and to create time and space for insights to occur.
In the words of master teacher Anand Mehrotra with whom we spend much time in India: “As we keep expanding and evolving we are no longer looking for perfection but rather an experience of aliveness. We are no longer afraid of challenges, or afraid of our imperfection. We are constantly ready to take responsibility for our imperfection, for our own shadow… Suffering happens when we are not evolving, when we hold on to ideas and concepts. Life continues to evolve around us, offering us something new, yet we are not willing to accept – this makes us suffer.”
So get in a habit of evolving, of transcending. Not because we want to get away from who we are now, but from the very love of life, love of living, being here in the now. This is a magnificent place to be.