This is the 500th post I’ve published since I started this blog in March 2014! I like that it is a “Living and Learning in Amritapuri” post that gets that distinction.
Paint doesn’t last a long time here, probably because we are so close to the Arabian Sea. I imagine the salt water breaks it down. This is one of the years that the front of the temple is being repainted. The work is so intricate and temple becomes even more beautiful when it is freshly painted. I don’t take photos on the ashram grounds unless they are nature oriented but you can see what I’m talking about in this picture. I particularly wish you could see the horses clearly. If you zoom in you will be able to see more.
I’ve been meaning to tell you about something that happened during the second week I was here. On one of the first play rehearsals, I walked into the room where the practice was being held, only to find Jesus sitting by the door meditating. I was startled; the experience was so surreal. It, of course, only took seconds to realize that it was the woman playing Jesus in the play but it felt so real for that brief moment. None of the other actors wear their costumes during the rehearsals, but I soon discovered she always does. It not only helps her get into character, but, I think, it also helps everyone get into the spirit of the play.
[Note: Traditionally in India the actors are either all men or all women. That used to be true in the plays offered by the ashram Westerner’s too, but over the years there have been more and more men in our plays. Some women still play men’s roles though.]
Yesterday was the dress rehearsal for all of the women and children. There are seven very young children who were wearing sheep costumes. They were SOOOOOOO cute. I expect to have pictures to share with you after the play.
Only a few more days until Christmas Eve, the night the musical will be performed!
I am so loving this process. I am able to reach a meditative place that I haven’t been able to reach since the mid 90’s. I look forward to finding a Tai Chi teacher when I get back to Seattle.
Often there is a man practicing Kung Fu near where we practice Tai Chi. It seems like they have similar origins since they share a lot of the same moves, but the Kung Fu seems so violent compared to the gentle movements of the Tai Chi. Both are beautiful in their own way.
The fishermen are usually out in the sea when we have the morning class. One day this week, the men had their boats pulled up on the beach and they were working on the nets. I noticed a lot of the boats and the supplies were stored on the beach the next day, so I took some pictures.
My next door neighbor helps care for the ashram dogs when they aren’t with Amma. As a result, Bhakti, is frequently in or near her room. Bhakti is well loved at the ashram and is welcomed wherever she goes. Last year, I was amazed when I watched Bhakti wait for the elevator on the ground level, get on it when the door opened, and then get off when it arrived at our floor. Somehow she knew her second home was there.
Ants, Mosquitoes, Rain
If a moth dies during the night or if I drop some food on the ground, then a trail of ants usually comes. I discovered many years ago that it is generally possible for me to get the ants out of my room without killing them. If they are on a wall, I put some water in my hand and wetten the wall near the area where they seem to be going. When they get close to the water, they turn around and go back to wherever they came from. It even looks like they “talk” with their friends because the ants that are coming towards the wet area turn around and join the others when they see them going the other way.
There don’t seem to be many mosquitoes here this year. That has never happened before. I noticed it the other day but since mosquitoes usually don’t bother me, I thought maybe I was wrong. Yesterday, a long term resident mentioned the lack of mosquitoes to me, so at least some other people have that belief too.
It has continued to rain almost every day; often very hard rain. Most years there is no rain when I am here in December so this is a marked change. I assume the rain is the result of climate change; could the reduced number of mosquitoes be too? I think mosquitoes are another “pest” for me to research so maybe you will see an “Interesting Facts about Mosquitoes” post someday!
Lessons, Lessons, Lessons
I wrote the above part of this post last night before I went to bed (it is 13 ½ hours later in India than the U.S. so it is Tuesday morning here now.) When I finished, I had the feeling/thought/sense/belief that I hadn’t had much to share this year and hoped that the pictures I’ve put up have made my posts valuable to others. Even as I had those thoughts, I knew that my perception was probably off because of the comments I have received from people after reading my posts.
This morning I woke up realizing that I actually have been bombarded by lessons, leelas, tests, and experiences. Yes I am feeling hot, tired, run down emotionally and physically, but that, in part, is a side effect of the purification and learning processes that I am undergoing.
So if I look at things from that perspective I have more to say!
- My steady stream of “losing” things has slowed down considerably but not stopped. Everything that I had lost has “come back” except for the archana book. Many years ago when I was in a stream of losing things, I was so disturbed by it that I ended up deciding to see a psychologist. I wanted to rule out early onset Alzheimer’s and Multiple Personality Syndrome. Neither of those diagnoses seemed warranted but I wanted to hear that from a professional. The psychologist told me is that neither disease was present, but that my unconscious mind had found a fool proof way to get my attention. That was, and is, definitely the truth. I don’t think much else shakes me up as much as not being able to find things that should be easy to find.
- There are a lot of people who have flats here and live alone. To make sure no one is sick in their room without anyone knowing about it, we have to initial a paper first thing in the morning. Someone is assigned to check the room of anyone who has not signed in. Going to each person’s room takes them considerable time and effort. Generally, even though I have the best intentions, I forget to sign in three or four times during a trip. One day last week, I was headed downstairs to sign the paper and was congratulating myself for not having missed a single day this time. Imagine my surprise when I returned to my room later in the day and found a paper saying the person had come to check on me since I hadn’t initialed the paper. I must have become distracted on my way downstairs. A lesson in pride, not being present, and removal of ego I think.
- The auditorium here has no closed sides and is huge. The west part of it is used for dining room seating for the Western Café and Western Canteen and the east part is used for dining room seating for the Indian food line. (Anyone can eat at any of these places, but the type of food served is different for each.) There has been an ongoing problem with Westerners taking the dishes from the café and canteen to their rooms to eat. That results in a constant loss of dishes. Even though the dishes may ultimately be brought back, during the time they are in private rooms they are unavailable for the cafe/canteen to use. One day this week, I came downstairs to discover that the whole dining area had been roped off and there is a closed line of tables against the ropes. The only entrance to the dining area is now on the west side of the hall. During the meal serving, someone is posted by the exit to stop people from leaving with the dishes. If they want to take their food to their rooms, there are bowls, plates and spoons available for purchase for 10-60 rupees (15 cents to $1). It used to be possible to walk through the auditorium and dining area as a short cut to many places in the ashram so I’m finding the change to be a big nuisance although I can see that the new system is working very well and is needed. I realize it is an opportunity to work on staying even minded and to surrender personal comfort for the higher good.
- During the last two days, in my perception, my daughter and son were inundated with challenges. When that happens the mother bear in me comes out in force (“Mess with me but don’t mess with my kids”) and probably disrupts my piece of mind more than anything else. I know those lessons are important opportunities for them to learn as well as a chance for me to practice letting go and letting them have their own experiences, but it isn’t easy.
This list could go on and on but I’m going to stop. I think you can see why when people ask how my vacation was I say, or at least think, that it wasn’t a vacation. This is hard work. But I know the results are well worth going through the discomfort. I am learning and growing in a multitude of ways.
When I was looking for pictures for this post I saw the quote I put at the beginning. It seemed very relevant to what I had just written. Thank you Amma for helping me eliminate my ego so that the love inside of me can emerge.
To read the earlier posts in this series go to: https://livinglearningandlettinggo.wordpress.com/india/