Indian Adventure Part 1: The Love Story
“You need to learn to sit still,” he said. That bit of advice didn’t surprise me. I was the typical type A; my ambition outweighed my sense half the time. My travel partner laughed when I sent her the multipage excel sheet I had done about our upcoming travels to India. I learned quickly that you can’t make plans in India. India makes plans for you. Despite that, I was still overly ambitious – in fact, I had already booked my flight to Delhi then a train to Varanasi to leave the ashram after only one week when I was supposed to stay for three weeks out of restlessness and my drive to see the whole country in three months just because I could.
“Your biggest challenge in this lifetime will be surrendering to God. You’re a good person, yet your doubts about God persist. It is better to be bad and love your master than be good and harbor doubts.” The Vedic astrologer’s words cut me like a hot knife through butter. Here I was in India, the land of many Gods, at an awakened teacher’s ashram and yet I was doubtful. I would walk around incredulous and skeptical convinced I was open to everything simply because I had chosen to fly all the way to a foreign land, practice some meditation and stay with an Indian guru. As if that’s enough to find God.
February 4, 2014
Indian Adventure Part 2: Surrendering my Leg and Life
I was in love with Rishikesh and everything in it. I’d walk around in bliss looking at everyone and everything as little pieces of divinity. The cows would approach me. The dogs started following me and I’d joyfully pet them all. On my morning walk a sadhu approached me with broken English.
“You are so beautiful! You look like Indian girl! I have a present for you. Can I take your picture?” I laughed and agreed. He gave me some beautiful mala beads, “Today is your lucky day!” he said as I walked off alone.
An hour later I was at Prem Baba’s morning satsang. I sat in the usual spot Nick and I sat at when a young woman approached me. “Would you like to sit in the front row today?” Sadhu was right, I thought, today is my lucky day. I grabbed my cushion and sat to the left of the great teacher. All during his satsang I wasn’t even paying attention to what was being said. Instead, I was basking in his presence, it felt as though my cells were being flooded with truth, bliss, peace; the essence of being at that time. I finally approached him for darshan and I kissed both his feet so tenderly. I gave him the mala beads I’d received earlier to bless. As he put them on me we looked at each other and I experienced this divine joy being reflected back to me and we just laughed. It was such a beautiful moment – better than any high I’ve ever had. At the café that afternoon I described the experience in my journal as “tripping over my own joy.”
February 6, 2014
Indian Adventure Part 2: Surrendering my Leg and Life
It was a good thing I stayed conscious because I quickly realized that the two young men staffing the ambulance had no idea what they were doing. Kailash was there – he was speaking Hindi with urgency in his voice. The ambulance was bare inside. I told the drivers to take me to a private hospital. The road was bumpy and I could feel every bump through my leg. When we got there they hadn’t rolled me out when a doctor took a look at me, talked to Kailash and the ambulance doors closed.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“They are so weird about taking in foreigners here, but don’t worry.” Kailash said as he held my hand. Another bumpy ride and I was rolled out and put into some open room: the government hospital. The police came to ask details of what had happened and the doctors there cleaned out my wound by pouring some liquid on it. It was incredibly painful. Despite all this I really needed to relieve myself and at one point that was my most pressing issue. They sent lady nurses in with a catheter – I didn’t know what was happening and no one was talking. I suddenly felt fingers and tubes were inside of me. The lady nurses walked out just as quickly. There were all these men surrounding me and I felt helpless. To describe the experience as dehumanizing would be putting it nicely.
February 10, 2014
Indian Adventure Part 4: Popping the Bubble
You’d understand, right? If I didn’t come back?” Nick’s question took me by surprise. How could he not come back? The thought of leaving someone you’d grown to care about in some hospital in a foreign land seemed so incomprehensible to me, far beyond my range of understanding, but then again, I was the one in the hospital.
I wanted to tell him: no, you have to come back; you can’t just leave me here! But I knew I couldn’t ask that of him or anyone. Instead I responded: “You know what’s so great about God? He gave us free will. He gave us a choice – we make a choice to love Him because that’s the only love that’s worthy of Him, the kind born of our own freedom, our own free will,”
Nick started gathering his things and I began to whine about him leaving, asking him to stay just a little longer. “Jen, don’t get attached…I’m just an object – now you can see me and now you don’t,” he walked into my bathroom and then back out to demonstrate. I felt angry with him but I knew he was right. Attachment is a luxury I cannot afford, because I can’t afford the disappointment in the after, but all of that is much better seen in retrospect, from somewhere far away, seldom is it seen in the beautiful eyes of a man you love. All the same, I felt certain he’d return.
February 18, 2014