On one of the final days of our Himalayan Yoga Yatra: Following in the Footsteps of Ram Dass with Saraswati Markus, Pavan Das and Friends, we were all sitting in a circle in a candlelit room, sharing our collective tentativeness about the reintegration process back into our normal routines. After such profound and heart-opening experiences, how could we possibly go back to our normal, samsaric cycles of daily life? Also, atop from that, how would we possibly communicate this kind of experience, which is drenched so much in the ineffable, to our coworkers, families, and friends? Amidst these sharings, one of our satsang elders, Jon “Vasu,” was able to share a golden nugget of wisdom, one of many he bestowed upon us throughout this mystical journey. He smiled, “When you go back and everyone around you inevitably asks, ‘How was India?’ you can say, ‘It was ‘The Full Experience,’ and most people will stop right there.” He explained that rather than pontificating on the trip and wringing out your heart to people who may not “get it,”, this gives them the ability to question deeper for a fuller view, or stay comfortable on a superficial level.
“The Full Experience” became a mantra of sorts throughout the final days in the Himalayas and into our post-yatra journey down into the holy city of Chitrakoot to have darshan of the infamous “Jungle Baba.” Jon’s tagline hit the bill in every aspect. When we were so taken aback by the intense beauty of the mountain scenery, that was “the full experience.” The next moment, white knuckled, when your car whipped around a hairpin turn on a steep Himalayan road while passing into the oncoming lane, that was the “full experience.” When we were overwhelmed with heartfelt emotion, weeping tucketside onto Maharaji’s blanket in Kainchi, that was “the full experience.” When things went off plan, as they will inevitably do in the distinct and palpable ecstatic chaos of India, we chalked it up to “the full experience.” India hit every taste, every smell, and rung every bell, even bells you didn’t know you had.
Before leaving our comfortable mountain nook of Asheville NC, and hopping on a plane to the other side of the world, Raghu Markus said something that stuck with me, that, “India is beyond polarities.” I had a hard time wrapping my head around that. Beyond polarities? How could something be beyond polarities? It just didn’t make any sense, but when we stepped foot off the plane and hit the roads of the ‘Wild Wild East’ of New Delhi, I instantly understood what Raghu was talking about and what Jon was able to later summate in our new mantra.
Our welcome to India: New Dehli Airport
Using the Delhi traffic as an example of this and as a microcosm for the sometimes jarring, yet seemingly soft and divine, chaos that is India, would pose advantageous. I was told by one of our tuk-tuk drivers that New Dehli was home to over 20 million people. This was highly evident as we flowed through the smoggy streets in the back of his green and yellow motorized rickshaw with a “Guri Ji” sticker plastered on the back to remind every who was really driving all of these vehicles. There are traffic lines on the road, for what reason, though, I am not sure. Everyone drives everywhere. If there is any space, someone will take it, and due to this there is a constant barrage of horns from every which direction, used as a sonar to let other drivers know that you are coming. From an outside perspective this may seem like complete lawless madness, but once you dive into the posed pandemonium, you notice there is a soft, succinct flow to it all. Once you get behind it all, there is a controlled spaciousness at the center of what seemed like total anarchy.
This sounds quite similar to what we are working with in the process of meditation. From an overlaying perspective we are dealing with a turbulent, chaotic, and smoggy mind. As much as we may want to, we can’t easily turn off the turbulence or the vailing smog of our thoughts. It is simply our nature, just as the chaos and air pollution is the nature of New Dehli. What we can do; though, is find our center within the disarray, and allow what comes to come. It is through finding this spaciousness amidst the chaos, that we can fall into a soft, cradled flow with life, no matter how turbulent our minds are, or how crazy the outside world may seem. This was the first lesson upon arriving in India, and one that would carry us from the big city, up the rolling foothills of the Himalayas, and down, post-yatra, to the jungles of Chitrakoot to meet the an authentic jungle Baba. More to come...