“It is for love that the whole universe sprang into existence, and it is for the sake of love that it is kept going.” -Meher Baba
It amazes me how deeply I belong in India. You would think, from the outside, that I would feel out of place. There are so many differences: culture, physical appearance, experience, frame of reference, mannerisms, language, etc. Somehow with all of that I am more at home in India, inside myself, than anywhere else I’ve been.
“The need to identify with someone, to feel a part of something, to belong somewhere, is one of our most basic needs. With the exception of self-preservation, no other striving is as compelling as this need, which begins with our caregivers or significant others and extends to family, peer group, culture, nation and world.” –John Bradshaw, Healing the Shame that Binds You
My first pilgrimage was in February 1998. I came for Meher Baba’s birthday celebration. When I got off the plane in Bombay (Mumbai), I literally wanted to roll around on the ground. I suddenly had roots, a place where I was from. I am sure it was a past life memory. I had returned home. To say I was blissed out would have been accurate. Up to this point, I never felt like I fit anywhere, not in my family of origin, the town where I was from, our culture…because of this I didn’t really belong inside of my own being. Returning to India gave me a central axis. Don’t get me wrong, I am a westerner, an American, and I appreciate this. If I was meant to be born in India this lifetime I would have been. There are things I need to do and learn and love in my life there. I am grateful for the sacrifices that have been made to enable me to have the freedom that I have, and will forever be grateful for the resources that have brought me this far.
Having a place to come to to get filled up spiritually, to check in with oneself at a deep level, to take stock, is so humanizing. To have no pressures externally for a time, to journal, pray, meditate, stop and stare at things, have space to cry, to move and breathe, man, I tell you, it is where it is at. I had no idea how much I needed my time here. To root in, to feel at one with the earth, to have a sense of boundarylessness with the physical environment, it is heaven. The energy here is ancient, deep, powerful and peaceful.
Initially I had trepidation about taking a month, but now I see it was so wise. It takes time to adjust, and then to unfold from within. I feel areas of my heart that are locked up, afraid to feel, frozen, in need of love. Bit by bit I pray that the defenses soften. I am in a spiritual community with a spiritual focus, and India as a country and culture is spiritually focused and inclined, it is integrated into the society. I am not blind to the difficulties, I see the disparity in the caste system alone, the inequities and injustice. We certainly have our own inequalities in the U.S. I just read in Yoga Journal that 85% of yoga practitioners in the US are white, 85%! For now my time and insulation is a much needed gift and I will cherish it, not trying to solve all the world’s problems in my head.
I will revel in my time here, drink it in, take one day at a time and remain grateful. May we all have moments, times in our lives, precious spaces where we can go and fill up, and empty out. I have the great good fortune to have here. Ultimately though we find it within our own heart.