“Banaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” – Mark Twain
I have made it to India. It is as dirty, smelly, hot, wild, and unruly as ever, but I love it. It is still as beautiful and pure as I remember it from two years ago. A beautiful woman who wears rags and gets splashed with mud daily is still a beautiful woman.
My tuk-tuk driver helped me to find a decently cheap room near Shivala ghat at Sandhya Guesthouse. It was quite warm when I arrived so what was the first thing that I did? Go for a swim in the Ganges over course. Well it wasn’t really a swim… more like a dip, but oh did it feel good. I didn’t see any floating body parts so either the snorkelers searching for gold teeth or dogs searching for bones are doing their jobs well.
I arrived yesterday in Varanasi after a 28 hour overland journey from Kathmandu. It took one taxi, two buses, one train, and a tuk-tuk to get me here but it was quite worth it at only $13.76. It could have been faster and cheaper though. If I would have taken the 7 am bus from Kathmandu I would have been able to take the night train from Gorakhpur to Varanasi and shaved off around 6 hours. Because I was late for the night train, I chose to sleep outside in front of the station, but there were hundreds of others doing it so it felt plenty safe. If I would have stayed near the bus park or taken a very early bus there, I would have saved another $3.75. $14 is pretty cheap though when going from one country to another in any fashion.
India will forever be considered to be one of the “birthplaces” of spirituality and religion. Last time I was here I was doing a bit of partying, toking with most of the sadhus that asked me, etc. Varanasi is considered to be the city of Shiva and so everything is legal here. This time, however, I will “stay on track”. Yesterday I was hanging out with a lot of sadhus and the chillums were ceremoniously passed many times, but it was no problem for me to turn them down because of my adhitthana. I don’t think it is wrong, but smoking anything doesn’t take my mind to the place that I want it to go on this trip. Today I will go to a few temples that I missed last time.
Here are the donations and expenditures for the past two days:
Donation received from two very special people: $1000. $500 has gone into both the expense and donation account.
Total spent on travel: $13.76
Total spent on food: $6.54
Total spent on room: $3.95
Total: $24.25 divided by two days = $12.13 each day.
Donations given to daily strangers = 90 Indian rupees = $1.42
Donations given to organization or cause = Dharmashringa meditation center = 5000 Nepali rupee = $49.42
Total = $50.84 divided by two days = $25.42 each day.
Expense account = $550 – 24.25 = $525.75 (Avg $12.13 each day will last 43 days)
Donations account = $550 – 50.84 = $499.16 (Avg $25.42 each day will last 20 days)
Eventually the daily expenses and donations should average out to around $10 or less, so I am thinking that the $500 left in both will last around 50 days from now without any other donations coming in.
The train conductor made his way through the 3rd class “sleeper” of the Kashi Express, called by the locals “Varanasi Bullet” for it’s record trip from Gorakhpur in the summer of ’82. Not necessarily the nicest train out there, but resilient for sure. The conductor approached the man meditating in the top bunk of cubby C2. Dressed in all khaki, he was in a state of mere observation, mere knowing.
“Ehhh mmm”, mumbled the conductor, “ticket please?”
There was no response from the man who was deep in meditation.
In his thick Hindi accent, once again the conductor asked, “Excuse me sir, do you have a ticket?”
The man above tilted his head towards the Indian and formulated a thought in his mind to send to the conductor: ‘These are not the droids you are looking for...’ Lo and behold, the conductor moved on and the man in the bunk was left in his state of mere observation and mere knowing.
In only a few more hours he would reach the holy city of Benares.
Here is an example of a routine that I will be easing into over the course of the next week.
5:00 am Wake up
6-7:00 Yoga and Pranayama
7:00-7:30: Post daily blog post
7:30-8:00 Breakfast (Usually just a little fruit and tea)
8 – 11 : Free time (Writing, doing artwork, wandering around, etc.)
12:00-1:00 Siesta (Rest)
1:00 – 2:00 Meditate
2-6:30 Free time : (Writing, artwork, bhakti yoga, wandering, etc.)
6:30 Small dinner
7-8:00 – Meditate
8:00-? Work on typing post and general blog work.
Try to fall sleep between 9-11 PM
It might not be exact, but will be something like this. Routines only work for me if their is plenty of free time in the middle. The “anti-routine” routine.
Here is general idea of where I will be going and when over the next few months.
April 23-24 – Varanasi near Shivala ghat
April 25-27 – Sarnath (20km from Varanasi) for vipassana service/1 day course at Dhamma Cakka
April 28 – May 4th – Varanasi
May 5-15 – Vrindaven (May stay with friends)
May 16-26 – Bodh Gaya – 10 day vipassana service at Dhamma Bodhi
May 27-30 – Bodh Gaya and surrounding area – Staying with a friend.
From this point forward I am not for sure what will happen. I eventually would like to go down to Pondicherry and spend a week or so volunteering at Auroville to get a feeling of what a planned spiritual community is like. Perhaps I will make my way South from there and then down to Kerala. Perhaps I will escape the heat and head into the mountains, either near Darjeeling or Kashmir. If anyone has any suggestions feel free to send them. Two months from now I will hold a vote for which country to go to next.
Visions of the Future:
When I reach a certain “mode” in my spiritual practice, a pretty continuous stream of intuitive theories and visions begins to flow about the future or how the future could be. It is my great joy when these come as I do not really look for them to come nor do I control them. They just happen. Since I have a pretty strange background of different focuses within my life, I can realize when the visions are unique or not. It is my “choice” to write and share them as they come, as many times I stop thinking about them after I write them down.
I divide the visions of the future into two categories. The first being “it would be cool if this happened.” The second is “I am pretty sure this will happen.” The first is more of a possibility that I would aspire to create. The second is more of one that I just have to accept if it does eventually happen. The visions tend to be more mid or long-term, although some are short term as well.
This process is just deductive reasoning that my mind “automatically” does based on it’s “training” of the past. My original love and degree is in history. They say, “if you understand history, you can tell the future.” Then I began to follow “alternative news” sources online, which led me to politics and the “anti-war movement.” Non-profit work came before and after working in the entertainment industry making documentary, short, and feature films.
For the last ten years off and on, I have worked in banking, private equity, and as a commodity futures day-trader “forecasting” financial trends. My passion the past few years has been religion, alternative religion, philosophy and spirituality. Furthermore, my current spiritual practice is very effective at “clearing the mind” to where it can “see” things where others usually can’t. There are less blockages so the “puzzle pieces” naturally come together
Here is my first short to mid-term prediction for the site that we can see if it comes true. Rand Paul will be the next President of the United States. Although I was a huge supporter of his father, I don’t plan on being a “huge supporter” of Rand. I am just not as political as I once was. But, I do think that he will be the next president and I’m excited about it. Let’s see how it turns out since we are still one and a half years away from the election.
My main goal over the course of the next week will be to get into this “mode” that I speak about. It is not very difficult for me now and I have it planned out for how it will happen. The whole point of this blog is to have an outlet for when this “mode” is enacted and the “flood” wants to be released. Perhaps, it will continually come over the course of the next year and perhaps only at certain times. Inshallah.
Have a great weekend!!!
The readers and donors of this blog are special to me: http://chirb.it/yxOIxr