Surviving Vrindaven, Broke-Down Trains, and Finally Reaching Bodh Gaya

That which does not kill us, makes us stronger. – Nieztsche

Bodh Gaya, India

Day 22

My time at Vrindaven has come to a close. I will remember it well, although maybe not particularly fondly. This past week has been one of the roughest in recent memory and was a major challenge for me physically, mentally, and spiritually. But I feel I have passed the challenge and have came out a stronger person. 

I am an extremely sensitive person when it comes to “positive” and “negative” energy around specific areas. I am not for sure why, but what I encountered in Vrindaven was a heavily negative energized place. It was easy for me to feel it but also to see it. For one thing, the natural tendency of the merchants here was to rip me off as much as possible. Everywhere I went this was true. Furthermore, I saw maybe 1 in 20 people smiling in the streets and in the temples. Like smiling was against the law or something. Perhaps the true judge of a community is how they treat visitors or outcasts and I didn’t feel quite welcomed here. For someone like me who feeds off of smiles, this was tough, so I did my best just to keep smiling and going on.

I was uncomfortable from the beginning with my surroundings, environment and was physically sick for the majority of the time. It is almost like all of the positive energy within me was just sucked out like a vacuum. The heat and mosquitos were almost too much for me, but slowly I adjusted. I will say again though that I know this is not all bad and not anyone’s “fault.” If it is anyone’s fault, it would have to be mine as there was something wrong with my meditation. If I was truly doing it correctly, there would be no uncomfortability or very little. 

Madan Mohan Mandir.

I believe that my trip to Vrindaven was very important for this reason and especially before I came to serve this vipassana course. I may have found the missing link in my meditation and perhaps this difficult place was exactly what I needed. I’ll get to test it out during the next two weeks in the meditation center.


The infamous ISKCON (International Society of Krishna Consciousness) center where I spent a fair amount of time.


Furthermore, I had two major realizations within the past few days that I will slowly contemplate and release when the time is right. One is philosophical and about religion as a whole. It may be a major part of “the puzzle” for me to figure out and teach others. The other is perhaps deep speculation and even “conspiratorial” but something I’m quite positive about. I will be careful about releasing this one and will wait until the proper research is done.

Sri Bankey Birari temple.
I mentioned earlier that when I have a bad morning I nearly always have a good evening. This can also be true with a bad beginning of a month leading to an awesome end of the month. I just reached Bodh Gaya and something inside of me is yelling with joy that it is going to be exactly what I am expecting, which is awesomeness. We will see.
My favorite temple and best energy spot in Vrindaven has to be Prem Mandir. Heavely singing mornings and evenings.

I do feel I met a few diamonds in the rough. My friend Mangala is as lovely as ever but she was sick the entire time so we didn’t see each other but once. The young man Mathura, whose ashram I stayed at, has a bright future ahead whatever he ends up eventually doing. It will be hard for him or anyone for that matter to break free of Vrindaven perhaps but he has plans that I can see. If his heart is in the right place, they will come true. The other guys at the ashram were sweet, but it felt like we could never really build a connection because of the language or religious barrier.

The only way I can describe the past week is that it felt like some invisible force was constantly assaulting me and wanted me dead. Even trying to leave was difficult and I couldn’t find a way to get out. Finally I had to book a general boarding ticket on the train (highly not recommended) and then I was able to leave. I was a bit confused about the general boarding ticket and so for the first hour I had to stand in the 2nd class cars, which was slightly tighter than a can of sardines. I’m glad that I got to see how they travel though. Since I was late on, I was basically squashed in the entrance, but it was quite funny and I was laughing with the group of Indian men squashed around me. 

Luckily I made my way up to the sleeper cars and a kind man let me sleep in his family’s compartment. I had to move around a lot over the course of the 19 hours, but this is part of the challenge of this blog. Instead of paying $15 with my own comfy sleeper bed I paid $3.50 and still made it. The train broke down many times though and it constantly felt like something was holding me back from Bodh Gaya. I was able to meditate when it was moving and during the breakdowns so it wasn’t too bad, but a nineteen-hour train journey when planned for twelve is a bit rough. I am here now so that is what matters most.

I am trying not to build this place up to much, but in my mind Bodh Gaya may be the promised land of meditation in India I have been waiting on that is coming exactly at the right time. These next two weeks or so will be very interesting indeed. I look forward to seeing the outcome and sharing everything with all of you. You will be on my mind as I won’t be able to post anything during my time serving in the Vipassana center. I will come out runnin’ and gunnin’ though, you best believe.

“What was that back there?,”he asked himself. 

It felt like something wanted him dead. Like an invisible force that would use any means necessary to stop his existence.

He knew it would always want him dead. He would have to find a way to beat it at its own game. To turn its attention on itself. The snake eating the snakes tail.

He would have to reach inside, thrust his hand into the boiling hot cauldron, pull out what he could find, raise it in the air and declare. “I have the power!” And only then would he feel safe. Only then would he win.

That time was coming.

I am not for sure if I will go to the center tomorrow or the next day. If I do leave tomorrow morning, before I go I will post a map of India and three locations that I am interested in going to with the pros and cons of each place for you all to vote on. I believe that God speaks through every single person and so this will perhaps be the most “precise” method of God telling me where to go 🙂

List of daily expenses and donations for May 12th and 13th, 2015:

Total spent on food: $6.47
Room: $6.36
Random: $2.54
Travel: $6.14
Total: $21.51 + $149.93 == $171.18 divided by 22 days = $7.78per day

Donations given to random strangers =  140 Indian rupees or $2.23
Donations given to sadhus or holy men =  120 INR or $ 1.90

Total = $4.13  + 1005.27 = 1009.40 divided by 22 days = $45.88 per day

Expense account = $500.03 – 21.51 = 478.52 (Avg. $7.78 per day will last 61 more days)
Donations account = $144.31 – 4.13 = 140.18  (Avg 45.88 per day will last 3 more days)

More donations have came into the Nepal relief fund. From this blog we sent in $550, but through direct donations there has been a total of $960. All together making $1510 out of the $1600 owed so that is pretty dang good. There was another 7.4 earthquake that hit today though and so hopefully we can send in more soon.


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This American Sadhu

Wandering traveler, writing a story, contemplating spiritual stuff, living austere, and helping random strangers... all rolled into ONE. What fun!

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