The Essentials of Being
India has her hooks in me like an old lover — an old lover who you’ve told yourself that you never want to be with again but who keeps re-appearing like a hungry ghost tapping on your shoulder, and no matter how fast you run you can never escape him because he is a part of you forever.
You know this and you hate it but you love it all at the same time.
This was written by Linda Karl on her blog, Linda’s Yoga Journey. I love it, because it makes me smile with humor and wistfulness at the same time; and because the comparison is oh, so true. I have been thinking a lot about what it is that draws so many people to India – often the same things that repulse others. I can only answer that for myself.
India’s rawness of life strips away the unnecessary – distractions, superficial attachments, trivial worries. Without this safety net life becomes fundamental, only the essentials of being, and causes you to be fully present in your own existence. You become lost, in order to find. Revealed are not only the blemishes and horrors of the country that might be recoiled from – abject poverty, child beggars, humans sleeping in the street like animals – but also revealed are the blemishes within ourselves, stains on our own souls. At home, these things are hidden neatly away as much as it is possible to do so.
But in India, everything is in full view; nothing is hidden. If I am repulsed without feeling compassion, my character is lessened; if I am aghast without recognizing the inequitable and appalling facets of my own culture, it is a reflection of my own true self; if I run away because it is selfishly easier than facing reality, it leaves a gaping hole in my connection to the human condition, that cloth of which we are all a part.
India shows us where our suffering lies, and in this way becomes more than anything else a teacher, if only we are open to learn from her.
In other news, the wonderful blog Surface Earth made a very nice posting about my site, as well as some other inspiring stories of people of change and hope around the world. I hope you’ll take a minute to check it out: