2012: Our Role in the Evolution of Human Consciousness

What can we all do to make a difference in this insane world of ours?

What does December 21, 2012 mean to you? Countless prophecies, both ancient and modern, suggest cataclysmic shifts as conveyed by Hopi legends, the Bible’s Book of Revelation, the Mayan calendar, and a host of psychics and visionaries. Could it be, as some have interpreted, that we are experiencing the end of the world as we know it, as we charge unconsciously into the dark night of our planetary soul?

What do you see when you look around our world? Have you noticed that our Universe is transforming at warp speed? What can we make of the unprecedented meteorological events, global warming, magnetic field shifts, unabated terrorism and the exponentially accelerating pace of change?

Or might we view these events from a more enlightened platform of opportunity and growth, rather than from a reactive state of fear?

Spiritual theorists surmise that the true meaning of the 2012 predictions is not that the earth will necessarily experience destruction, but that we are fast approaching the end of a great cosmic cycle leading to a massive leap in the evolution of human consciousness. To many, this shift looks like an initiation that is leading us into a metaphoric death and rebirth scenario.

Depending upon the demeanor of our psyche, we can either catastrophize the impending shift, making choices based upon fear, or we can welcome the chaos we are experiencing for its transformational potential to grow our soul and raise the vibration of the Earth.

We are being offered an opportunity to transcend today’s reality in order to birth a new consciousness; and like the hundredth monkey phenomenon, if enough of us raise our vibration to live with love and compassion for each other and for Mother Earth, we can shift our world into a new and ever-expanding paradigm. There is one certainty, however, that stands before us as a torch in the darkness; we must change our ways before it is too late for us as a species. It is up to each of us to take responsibility for our actions; for how we show up in each moment impacts the all.

It is time to transcend the limited dualistic thinking that has become the model of our world, and honor the Oneness of our Universe. As quantum physicist David Bohm explains, “when matter is investigated, it is revealed as an ocean of energy and light.” We, too, are oceans of energy and light, at one with all that is, with every thought, word, and deed impacting everything they touch, as evidenced by the butterfly whose singular flight shifts the winds across the Earth.

We must awaken from our externalized trance and claim our significant role in this process of rebirth. Our greatest task is to awaken the divine self within. By focusing our awareness on our internal compass, listening to our inner wisdom, and connecting our light with the light of the world, we will live out our soul purpose. The choice is up to us, individually and collectively, as with each action, we either add to the light of our Universe or increase the darkness of a fear-filled world.

I invite you to step up to this challenge: to take a quantum leap into infinite possibility, releasing fear, and wrapping your arms and heart around the globe, infusing our Universe with the energy of acceptance, love and gratitude. Daniel Pinchbeck offers us sage advice. “The change required of us is not an unfelt, intellectual shift to some ‘spiritual’ or psychic perspective, but a fully embodied and intimately personal process. We are being called upon to open our hearts, as well as our minds, to the radiant flame of transformation.”

This is how we counteract the fear that strangles the earth today. It is both our opportunity and our responsibility to be the light beings we are, to be totally present and accountable for the energy we emit into the world. Together we stand, willing to transcend ancient paradigms and participate in this wondrous rebirth of humanity.

This challenge encourages us to open the gates of our perception, expanding our awareness to encompass a world far bigger than we’ve ever imagined. We are invited to reawaken our innate nature of love and compassion for a world seemingly out of control, and take responsibility for co-creating a future of infinite possibility.

If you would like assistance in making this shift in your life let’s talk.   

Namaste,
Janet

Janet Dwinells
Soul Coach & Hypnotherapist
508.776.2620
voyageofthesoul@gmail.com
voyageofthesoul.com

Taj Mahal, Camel Safari and a Hijacking

Taj Mahal

The adventure continues as Lorena and I take an overnight train ride (from hell) to Agra. As foreigners we had to sign a form stating we knew the risks of riding that specific train as it is the highest theft train in India. Locking all our belongings up on our bunk left us very little space to sleep and we had a few winks at the very most. Once in Agra we were greeted with the most voracious “touts” in all of India trying to sell us everything from snow globes of the Taj to peacock feather fans, to Rajasthani leather sandals.

After a day of rest we “hired” an overzealous Muslim taxi driver who showed us all the sites of Agra including the Baby Taj, and Agra Fort. So much to see, so little time! Saleem also introduced us to the best buffalo tongue breakfast in all of Agra. Yummy.

The next day Andrew joined us and we headed off by train for Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, which was the most amazingly clean city. They actually had trash cans and people used them! The never-ending fort with towers and walls running 15 kilometers around the city housed the Palace where the royal family lived. Oprah came to Jaipur for the Literary Festival just a week after we were there and I will be excited to see her take on India.

Although I’m sure her 5 star hotel outdid our digs at the Pearl Palace. We were thrilled to have hot water and internet in our room however and stayed longer in Jaipur than expected. We golfed, ate like kings and enjoyed watching kids of all ages flying kites from the rooftops getting ready for the big kite festival in which they attach razor blades to the kite strings in order to capture other kites. Another fun site was the Monkey temple where they feed monkeys (and people) daily. The Hindu religion honors everything that lives, but cows, monkeys and rats top the list of favorite animals.

When it was finally time to leave, we took a 6 1/2 hour bus ride to Bikaner, largely because Andrew had to see the Rat Temple. Actually, it was the most disgusting event of the trip and I’m not posting a picture of the scurrying rats. The other reason for going to Bikaner which is 167 kilometers from the Pakistan border, was the desert camel safari which we took for two nights and three days. Sleeping under the stars with just blankets in the cold desert was exquisitely beautiful, especially as the full moon crossed overhead and the stars literally blanketed the sky. We hired Hussein, an English speaking guide, two cameleers, and a cook for the journey. Did you know that in the desert you wash your dishes with sand? You quickly get used to sandy chai. The vegetarian food was excellent and the camels well taken care of, but it was really cold when that sun went down.

So on the second day of our safari we are plodding along when 4 teenage boys flag us down. After a long Hindi conversation we have effectively been hijacked and are heading off to places unknown. Here is one of those times when your intuition kicks in and you have to really go deep inside to feel what’s happening. All we know is that these boys have jumped on our cart, one of them is riding a camel and they are squealing with delight. We arrive at a big red brick home, most unusual in the desert as all we have seen are adobe or grass shacks. As we near the house we see about 30 men sitting outside and one woman. As we alight the camels, we are taken out back to see where the patriarch of this family has been buried. We have been invited to a celebration of his funeral! Most people in the Hindu religion are cremated but it was his wish to be buried. Andrew is taken off to hang out with the men and Lorena and I are shuffled inside the house to a room where not less than 20 women and children are huddled on the floor. We find a bare spot and join them. For 10 days they celebrate with the sharing of food and sweets to as many people as possible. Plates of sweets are offered and the excitement level is high. Speaking some English, the teenagers become translators as we attempt to converse with these women dressed in Sari’s with their heads often covered by veils. Soon a very tall man in a brilliant red turban offers Lorena and I something in his hand. We both take some and eat it. Later he offers us more but we refuse as it tasted really bitter. Come to find out later we have just ingested opium which is part of their funeral ritual. Not to worry, we all simply enjoyed a relaxed high about an hour later.

Foreigners are treated like royalty and we were no exception. They were so proud of their home and happy to share with us. It makes one feel great to know that there are some places where religion and politics just don’t matter. We are all brothers and sisters at heart. Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, all living together, just sharing whatever there is. I have never met more giving people.

Janet Dwinells

  Soul Coach    508-776-2620

The Circle of Life and Death

Temple view from our guest house

To my western mind the reality of the sacred city of Varanasi is unfathomable. To survive here one must experience India through the open heart because the mind can make little sense of how people can live harmoniously in such immense poverty day after day.

The sacred river Ganges is lined with “ghats” which are huge concrete steps making their way from high above where the buildings live, down to the edge of the river.

There are over 80 ghats and our guest house was at the Assi Ghat, the last ghat to the south. Taking photographs is not allowed at the burning ghats and will most likely result in your camera being confiscated, along with incurring a steep fine.

Varanasi Ghat

Walking the ghats becomes a pilgrimage in itself, avoiding the Brahmin bulls, the laundry laid on the steps to dry in the sun, puppies with broken legs, watching with extreme care where you step, climbing up and down to avoid the teenage boy’s cricket games, and ignoring the “touts” relentlessly trying to part you from your Rupees.

Here you can buy a boat ride along the river, a cup of chai, cheap bangles or myriad other plastic or tin ware. It’s difficult to resist giving to the poorest waifs selling postcards or flower wreathed candles you can light and float in the Ganges in honor of the dead. The beggars are bold and emblazoned with the oddest arrangements of colored strips of clothing. Holy men (Sadhu’s) along with other men of all shapes and sizes come each morning to bathe in the polluted (but sacred) river, which happens to be the repository for garbage, excrement, dead bodies and whatever else may find its way into the flow. Women can be seen washing their clothing here each day. The smoke filling the sky is overwhelming and masks are common sights.

Peaceful Sunrise Boat Trip

As we journeyed along the Ghats, both Lorena and I embodied a profound feeling of peace and tranquility. It was somehow more serene than we expected, leaving the multitudes of people and honking vehicles behind in the streets not far away. Soon enough we came to one of the two “burning ghats” where the dead are brought to be cremated. Death is as natural as life here and every day these ceremonies occur along the river. There are three types of ceremonies: The upper castes and wealthy Hindu’s are decorated with beautiful gold fabrics and flowers, and are sandwiched in a huge pile of wood whereupon the ceremony is begun with families circling the loved one 5 times, one for each element, earth, wind, water, sky and fire. The fire is lit, the soul leaves the body and blessings are given with the prayers of all. Then there is the fire for the poor guy who has little wood, leaving his legs sticking out from the flames, no family, no prayers, with whatever is left of his body being thrown in the river. In between we see the “middle class” burning with family present and hopefully enough wood to cover his/her body.

Lorena and mandolin make sweet music together

Yet amongst all the poverty, just as the sacred water winds itself through India, each day flows with an easy, carefree attitude. I have yet to hear one Indian complain about his/her lot in life. Each just does what one does, day in and day out, adding his/her own unique contribution to the multifaceted tapestry that is India.

I was grateful to be in this most unusual land for this auspicious 2012 New Years Eve. We attended a concert of tablas, sitars, flutes, and other Native instruments to ring in the New Year. Life goes on. May yours be filled with peace, love and equanimity.

Namaste,
Janet Dwinells

Soul Coach

Sensory Overload

Being a first time visitor to India is an experience like no other. I can’t imagine another place upon this earth, which has the capacity of both assaulting and endearing us in the same engaging moment. Those who return year after year assure me that one eventually tunes out the smoldering mounds of trash littering the streets, the continuous barrage of bleating horns, the ever-present hot, hotter, hottest chili pepper slipped into unassuming soups, the combined scents of urine, incense, jasmine, and burning plastic, along with the overzealous heat that dries you out like a baked lizard on a fried rock.

Towels serve many purposes here in India

My traveling partner and Zendo buddy Andrew, and I took a much needed vacation away from the Zendo where he is in charge of meditation and I have been working long hours in the office. For a week, I experienced “real” India, which is a far cry from the fantasy world of the Zendo. We began with a 3-hour taxi ride down the mountain to the Temple City of Madurai. Landing at the railway station we were barraged with porters to carry our bags. I acquiesced easily as 50 rupees ($1.00) was more than fair for this guy to carry my much too heavy bag and lead us to the correct platform. What I would have given for a picture of this burly porter, dressed in a red shirt, white skirt, and orange scarf, with my bulky lilac suitcase balanced on his head, no hands mind you, streaming through the maize of people scurrying, families strewn about, fairly running up the staircases across platforms and back down again, with trains coming and going in all directions, whistles blaring. But I could barely keep up with him never mind locate my camera in my overloaded backpack. Someday I promise to travel lightly upon this earth.

First Class Compartment

At about 11pm we boarded the first class car of our overnight ride to the Kerala Coast. Let me assure you that this “first class” is not what you are thinking, but it did provide us each a space for our luggage, a bed, and the unexpected pleasure of a reading light recessed into the wall. The windows opened and it was clean enough but having my own silk sleeping bag, and pillow was an ingenious move. The Indian couple we shared the compartment with had no blankets, and used their arms for a pillow. They were zonked out before the train even moved that night and slept straight through the night and were the first voices I heard that early morning. At some point I must discuss the toilet situation here in India with you so here goes. Indians don’t use toilet paper and it is a guarded commodity for a Westerner. Apparently they use their left hand with water for cleaning themselves saving their right hand for eating. The train had both Western style toilets and Indian squat toilets which both provided holes directly to the train tracks. I’m sure you can just imagine the smell of those bathrooms, so I’ll save you any more literation. But at least they were provided, for which I was grateful! The train probably stopped at 20-30 stations throughout the night, with lights flashing and the tracks thundering with each start and stop. Cost of a 9 hour train trip approximately $7.

Bride and Groom at Hindu wedding

We arrived about an hour and a half later than expected and were whisked off to a hotel in Kollam, by our friend Shyam whose sister was getting married. Within ½ an hour we were showered, dressed, and ready for our first Hindu wedding in the 90 degree heat with 90 % humidity day.

The actual ceremony of this modern Hindu wedding only took about ½ an hour but was preceded by the loudest oboe type instrument called a Shehnai, and drum combination blaring throughout the hall. It actually hurt our eardrums but the Indians thought nothing of it.
they seem quite immune to the noise around them. The making of the “wedding movie” seemed to be the purpose of the wedding itself.  Each audience member was photographed, and the photographers stood during most of the ceremony with their backs to the audience blocking our view of the exquisitely decorated bride and groom. Not a word was spoken but many items were exchanged by bride and groom while the priest and attendants showered the couple with petals.

Banana leaf place settings

In true Kerala style, the feast afterward consisted of a gorgeous banana leaf serving as a placemat. It was decorated with over a dozen delicious spices, a type of bread called chappati, and a banana. Waiters came around serving rice and following suit, we dug in with our fingers, mixed it all up like we were creating a finger paint production and ate carefully (only with our right hand). There are no napkins but large troughs with many spickets to wash up in afterwards. We were offered more and more goodies as we ate ending with a delicious cashew coconut concoction for desert and enjoyed pink boiled water for our only libation. Then as quickly as it began it was over and we were ushered out while they laid the settings for the next round of people. Sharing our gift with the bride and groom caused quite a scene as we were the only ones with a wrapped present. I think cash was the preferred tradition but we explained that this was our tradition. Shyam arranged for us to go up on stage with the bride and groom while the photographers took another photo opportunity for the foreigners to be seen handing over the gift. Devi, the bride, commented on how pleased she was that I dressed in an Indian costume. I wasn’t sure exactly how to take that but I think it was a compliment. :)

Varkala North Cliff

Next stop, Varkala, a hippiesh beach village on the coast of the Arabian Sea where we stayed for the next 4 days. The state of Kerala itself is both largely Catholic and Communist, with a mix of Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim and has the highest literacy rate in India so it is a fairly progressive area. Great for tourists who aren’t yet ready for serious India (like me.)

Our days consisted of reading on the beach, swimming, watching dolphins frolic, enjoying fabulous fresh fish dinners and Kingfisher Beer (the only beer you can get pretty much anywhere in India). None of the restaurants have liquor licenses and have to hide the beer in newspaper or under the table or will only serve it to you in mugs already poured. They apparently have paid the police some “baksheesh” to look the other way. “Baksheesh” seems to be a way of life here.

CHEERS!

The cliffs are lined with shops and restaurants, and each day we would have to walk through the gauntlet of hawkers, selling everything from plastic snakes, folding hats, beautifully decorated cards to handmade drums and flutes. At each shop and restaurant, people pleaded with us to look inside. “Come and see madam. I give good price.. you like.. come back lata?…promise? Good fish… cold beer… good price… why not here? Later huh?” And there are the beggars, everywhere. We are told it’s best not to give because it perpetuates the practice but it’s so hard not to share a rupee or two. The shop owners I fell in love with however, were the Tibetans who greeted you warmly with a big smile and never once pressured you to make a sale. They were the ones to receive most of my rupees.

Janet Dwinells

Soul Coach

Sights and Sounds of Madurai: The City of the Fish-Eyed Goddess

View of Madurai and the Temple from my Hotel room

Hello world… It’s been 5 days without internet here and it seems like a month! Here are some pictures from the “clean” city of Madurai and the temple of the Fish-Eyed Goddess. I hope you enjoy.

The temple was amazing and came to life with worshippers coming out in droves after 6pm. People light candles, incense, and share offerings to the thousands of Hindu Gods. Prayers, meditations, prostrations and bows fill the temple each moment. This is the land of the sacred which was evidenced by the many rooms only Hindu’s were allowed to enter.

Here is a meditator in the midst of the crowds who just happened to clear as I snapped this photo.

Meditator in inaction

Here I am being blessed by an elephant whose handler would only accept a rupee note from me, a bill instead of a coin, since I am a foreigner. Yes, life here for the foreigners is more expensive almost everywhere you go. I suppose my white skin is a dead give-a-way even as I dyed my hair darker. When in Rome… as they say…

This is the altar of the sacred cow where the men come to pray for virility and for sons.

Praying for Virility and for Sons

I have a video of  my first autotaxi ride which costs about $1 for a mile ride to the temple. Hopefully I’ll be able to share that with you soon.

If this is the clean city, I can’t wait to discover what “dirty” looks like. I worry about the pollution here as trash and plastics line the streets. The trash is then burned, along with the plastics, and the smells and chemicals fill the air. I had an immediate reaction in my sinuses and had a continuous headache for the three days I was there. Respiratory problems are rampant here and I don’t see anything being done about it. It just seems to be an accepted way of life. Diabetes is another huge problem, which has developed recently due to the increase in sugar in their diets. Indians never used to eat processed sugar and somehow their systems don’t adjust well to it so the incidence of diabetes is almost at epidemic proportions.

Inner Temple - ancient stonework and glorious mandalas

The Indians love brilliant colors juxtaposed next to the ancient stone work. Statues of the Gods line this enormous temple and each pillar seems to honor a different God. I’d love to learn more about the Hindu religion as it offers a fascinating view of our Universe.

I must say I was most happy to be back in my little corner of heaven here at the zendo. Next trip (next week) is to the Kerala Coast where I’ve been invited to a Hindu wedding. Bought myself a Sari and hopefully I can figure out how to get into it and dance without it falling off.

Stay tuned!

Note: Tonight, I’m heading back into a 3 day silent Sesshin with no internet, so until next week may you enjoy the good luck of Ganesh (the elephant headed God) and the blessings of the Fish-Eyed Goddess.

Janet Dwinells

Soul Coach

Golfing Adventure

What fun to be golfing here in Kodaikanal! The last thing I thought I’d be doing in India is golfing but I found a sporting buddy here at the Zendo and we’ve gone twice now and have loved every minute.

Manu and Me

Manu, my caddy, grew up on this course and has been a caddy here for 46 years. I thought it was amazing that he could know exactly which club a woman should use every shot but with his ingenious assistance, I actually played pretty well. Manu had a gorgeous bright smile and jokingly told me I should smuggle the 4 wood home with me. I told him I was going to smuggle him home as well. He was also a great mathmetician, not my strong suit, so I would ask him, “How many shots have I taken so far” and he’d reply, 1 bad, 2 good, with a smirky smile. It made me laugh to watch him clean and reset my ball after every shot onto a nice high tuft of grass. Now this is my kind of golf I was thinking, until I learned that it’s actually called “preferred lie” which is legal because the course is so rough. And I just thought he was being sweet.

Protected Green

In California, I’ve seen deer, wild turkeys, and loads of geese roaming the courses but here the wildlife is a bit more exotic. Each green is surrounded by 8 foot fences so the bison, who come out after 3 in the afternoon, won’t stomp and poop all over the greens. The mounds they do drop are humungous leaving me to wonder what would happen if the ball landed in one. Thankfully I haven’t had the pleasure of finding out as of yet.

The intrepid monkees are fun to watch but you don’t want to get too close as I’ve heard they can be pretty nasty. This little one was adorable! On the 7th hole the fog came rolling in within minutes and we literally couldn’t see a thing. It was hilarious listening to the 4 of us try to find each other, the balls and the hole itself.

Monkey See

I loved the feeling of being lost in the clouds and totally having to use one’s intuition to take each shot. Those were definitely Zen moments. Afterwards we were excitedly looking forward to a nice glass of wine at the 5 Star Carlton Hotel only to find out that the day we arrived was election day and no one is allowed to sell liquor on election day per order of the government. If I could vote I’d definitely overthrow whoever made that decision!

Carlton Hotel - a nice respite

Crushed, we settled for lime spritzers or some such concoction. I have to say that it was delightful to enjoy a club sandwich, with chicken, my first meat in a month and french fries! Such a treat and to top it off we discovered a Starbucks clone and sipped a double espresso. Such a warm and relaxing way to end our big outing even as the monsoon made its appearance once again.

Life is just one great big adventure.

Janet Dwinells

Soul Coach

Real Life in India

Happy 11:11! This is a special day in that people throughout the world are meditating for peace at 11:11. I found a silent place upon the side of the mountain to send out good vibes to the world as well. I hope you caught some!

Here are some photos from real life in India. Just wanted to share with you how others live. Much love

Om Shanti,
Janet Dwinells

Soul Coach

Water source for the village

Kodaikanal Street

Lunchtime

Dessert

Kodai Cows

Election Parade

Mountain Top Catholic Church

In peace and Light,

Janet

Zen Heart Zen Mind

Transmutation

Crossroads

Tears have come slipping out of my sleepy eyes on this sunlit morning and I allow them to have their way. “What are you saying to me?” I ask them, and I realize I am standing at a crossroads of my past and future, planted upon the very ground of my being, upon the lotus flower wanting to bloom but mired in the darkness.

Sitting by myself this morning, sipping my coffee, for some reason I chose not to join the others, listening to my inner self, needing a few moments alone, this realization struck.

I am grieving my past, and I need to grieve it, to feel it’s presence in my body, to accept the tight hold it has had on my throat, in my inability to truly speak my truth. It is wrapped up in the old stories I’ve told to whoever would listen. Our old stories are like suitcases that we lug around, opening up to those we meet, to expose our treasures, our pains, our excuses, so this is why I am who I am, this is my excuse for behaving badly, or holding on to my anger, this is why I get to be angry with that person or judge another. Don’t you see that I am justified in my torment? We cherish that suitcase filled with pain… with all the tales of our suffering and we drag it around everywhere we go.

What my tears have taught me this morning is that it’s time for me to give it up, to dump the contents of that old tattered bag… to release and let go of all my attachments. And do you have any idea how difficult that is? For who will I be if I no longer have my stories to spill across the Universe?

Zen Garden

This in a nutshell, is the beauty of Zen. We are who we are… in the moment… no more… no less… I am the Heart/Mind… Universal Consciousness… One with all… I am not my stories… I am not my ego… I am not my past… I am life itself… In this moment here and now… I am capable of responding from my heart/mind… in a gentle manner… with compassion towards anyone or anything that steps into my path… even those who have hurt me in the past…

It is my choice to hold the awareness from now on that I would truly rather be living in the present moment… choosing each response to the world from that inner place of compassion and wisdom rather than from the dark space of pain and regret. It is time to accept that the past is the past… It is what it is… Zen Heart, Zen Mind… a better path for me to follow…

Cobra

In many ways, the snake has come to visit me once again for its medicine is transmutation in Native American lore. The snake symbolizes the shedding of its skin, which feels like exactly what I’m up to. I’m releasing the old me, my sheath of protection and walking into the new world just as I am, accepting that I’m vulnerable, real, scared, and I’m just doing the best that I can. I will make mistakes, many mistakes and that is ok too. Here I can be real… and I can just be, what an amazing gift.

I think I like it here on this sacred mountaintop…

Janet Dwinells

Soul Coach

A pilgrimage of a sort… the mystery of it all…

For this voyage, in addition to letting go of the material world, I had to release any expectations about my future and open myself wide to whatever lay ahead. This journey is in large part a pilgrimage and as a friend recently shared with me: “A pilgrimage asks something of you in the way of personal challenge. Plan enough to answer the call but leave enough room for serendipity so the Gods can find you.” So that’s my plan. I couldn’t seem to purchase a return trip ticket as I have no idea what lays on the path before me and am willing to let the Universe have it’s way with me. Perhaps it knows something I don’t?

Friends from New Zealand and France

Most of the people who stop here at Bodhi Zendo are Pilgrims. They have consciously chosen to walk their own unique paths through life instead of following the standards set by society. A favorite pastime is to attend the different Ashrams learning what they can about each particular brand of Buddhist philosophy, meditation and Yoga. For the most part each person has a sacred nature and a jovial spirit and is therefore most fun to share time with. The Sangha or community is an intricate aspect of Buddhist life and this one attracts the most fascinating travelers.

So far I have met people from Germany, Australia, Russia, France, India, Thailand, America, Canada, Denmark, Mexico, Kazakstan, Brazil, Israel and England. Most traverse around India, China, Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal, Tibet, Laos and Vietnam seeing as much as they can, and doing it “on the cheap”. In India, you can take a 3-hour bus ride for the equivalent of $2.00. You have to be willing to sacrifice comfort however and listen to what I’m told are violent movies with the sound blaring (a new invention for them I’m told). Sadly, America is catching on. Trains are another option which are also incredibly inexpensive and you can travel all over India in Sleepers. I have been told that to really experience India I must take an overnight train. That remains to be seen…

I have to say that I’m not as comfortable yet as they are with traveling by myself but I am told that it is always easy to find others to travel with so you don’t have to go it alone. I feel like a piker compared to all of them and am not really sure what my plans will be. These are some of my options to date.

1) Go to see the Dalai Lama for 10 days at a Kalachakra teaching event in Bodhgaya in January where he will be initiating Monks. There will be crowds of over 80,000 Tibetans and people from around the world. It may be the last time I’ll ever be able to see him as he’s 75 now and who knows what the future holds?

Exquisite Beauty

2.) Travel to Dharamsala where the Dalai Lama lives which is said to be gorgeous, and possibly see him there, however the weather up north in January (when I have free time) is said to be quite cold. Hmmm….

3) Vacation at the Kerala Coast where a friend form the US has given me the name of a comfy place to stay on the water, and/or join another new friend at a different hotel on the Kerala Coast or do both at the same time. Kerala seems to be more “civilized” might I say, than real India, having a strong Christian influence. It might suit me as a safer step into reality…

4) Visit Auroville, a unique conscious community where I’ve already made friends and have various invitations. January is said to be high season however (the weather is not as hot as usual) and I’d better make plans quickly if I want to get a place to stay…

5) Go to Thailand with a friend here who wants to go for about a month. Again, living is cheap and there is so much to see and do in the way of Buddhist Temples, a draw for sure.

6) Trek Tibet, where my heart has always been. I’ve been told that it’s the most sacred energy on the planet and in my soul I know that’s true. But I’m not sure I can handle the Chinese presence there. I’m not as gracious towards them as the Dalai Lama has been and am still holding a grudge towards them for annihilating what was a culture of peace and beauty.

7) Go to Deer Park which is in the Himalayas and has an organization for Tibetan Refugees. Again – probably too cold for me?

8) Travel to another Ashram with my friend Kavita. She would be a wonderful traveling partner, having lived in India for 35 years, and I’d safely get to experience a 3 day train ride and “real” India firsthand.

9) Travel to Bali with Kavita… if this becomes a reality I will be sure to fill you in on what could be a most intriguing journey…. Stay tuned.

Walking the path

I don’t know how to choose! And more choices present themselves daily. Everyone here tells me to stop trying to make a plan… that when the time is right I will know. So I am letting go of it all and going with the flow… plans… no plans… plans…. no plans… seems to be a huge lesson for me at this moment in time…  so no plans at the moment is winning… serendipity, yes, leaving enough space for the Gods to find me. Yes, I like that… so for now, I just walk the path, my path…

Footnote: Today one of the Pilgrims here presented me with a book she wrote entitled “What to Do when You Can’t Decide” – synchronicity once again?

 

Janet Dwinells
Soul Coach

Mistakes… Embarassment.. It’s called Living…

Oneness

I’ve been reading AMA Samy’s book Zen Heart, Zen Mind, which I’ll go into further at a later date but for now, I want to share the most poignant of messages I’ve received so far: “You will make many mistakes…”

Wow, I latched right on to that one when I read it. Permission to make mistakes! What a refreshing idea… It certainly doesn’t speak to the American way of “getting it all right” and “being perfect” or the illusion that we can actually live up to that expectation. So here is my story of my most embarrassing moment here so far…

Sitting Buddha

During meditation, I’ve been sitting on a bench which suits me quite well however, a few weeks ago, I decided to give the Zafu cushion a second chance, as I would prefer to be able to sit in meditation cross-legged like the “real” Buddhists do. Mistake number 1! Mistake number 2 is attempting this feat in the 1st of two 25-minute meditations with a walking meditation sandwiched in between.

So we’re sitting and sitting and about 17 minutes in (I’m guessing) I notice that my legs are totally asleep. Of course any movement whatsoever during meditation is frowned upon, so in my desire to “do the right thing” I go along with the program and don’t move. The bell rings, which is our signal to stand. Well, have you ever attempted to stand on two legs that are absolutely dead from the knees down? Such a strange feeling; impossible to describe… but I’m going to make this happen (mistake # 3) so with my hands I pick up my left leg and physically plant my left foot out in front of me. So far so good. Next, I pick up my right foot and plant it about 6 inches from the left foot. Now mind you, I can’t feel a thing and I have no idea how I make this happen but somehow I thrust myself upwards into a standing position and as I’m going up I’m amazed that this is working. I remember thinking “wow, I’m actually standing!” when in that split moment the unexpressable happens and my entire body lurches forward. So here I am with no way to stop myself from falling flat on my face except to flail my arms out to either side of me praying some good Samaritan will reach out to help me.

Our Zendo

Mind you I’ve got two really tall men standing on either side of me, neither one of which moves a muscle to help my floundering being. Somehow, I latch onto an arm on my left and turn to face this guy as I shout out “but my legs are asleep!” oops, the silence is broken and about 17 people can’t help but witness this hilarious outburst, but not one of them even cracks a grin, to my amazement.

Come to find out, the guy on the left, to whom I’ve attached myself is not at all amused and gives me a “let go of me and don’t ever touch me again” look as I plop back down on my mat in humiliation and defeat. Lesson learned, getting it right is not as important as taking care of oneself.  Thank God for Father Samy’s words which come back to me again and again. “We all make mistakes… you will make many.” Compassion… don’t you just love it?

My Best Buddy

As a footnote, as soon as my legs came back to life, my bench once again become my best friend. Happy we are together to this day.

Namaste,
Janet Dwinells
Soul Coach