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?
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?
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.
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?