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Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Searching for God [and 3G signals]

Namaste all:

For those of you who have been spared my woeful tales of killing 9 foot python cobras, of taking cold bucket showers, of sweeping palm-sized spiders out of my bedroom, etc. … I’m living in an Indian jungle at the moment(residing at an ashram.)I’ve been here for just under one month now and this is the first time I’m getting internet access on a computer. Pardon any errors of formatting etc..

And in essence, being at this ashram is about being on a search.

There are many ways that it is a search.

Inarguably I am near-constantly searching for ways to make sense of what I experience here so that it can become palpable “data” that I use for the ever-looming task of writing my PhD dissertation. (But this blog is not, will not!!, be about that!) Other times I search for the right word to express myself in Hindi… and sometimes I search for my “torch” (flashlight, for all you non-Indians and non-Brits)so that I can navigate my way back to my room without being bothered by (note: bothering) any of the quasi-dangerous wildlife here.

And, I readily admit, frequently I search for a network reception signal for my mobile so that I can try to feel connected to the world outside of this ashram—and to the people outside of it whom I love and miss. (“I lift my phone up to the mountains, where does my signal come from” is my personal new adapted version of that one bible verse in Isaiah…)

Importantly, I also(I think) search for God—though I feel that the meaning of this statement changes for me on a near-daily basis (if not more often than that.)

There is a sign at this ashram that says that anyone (well, it actually says any “man” but I will give it the benefit of the doubt) who genuinely wants to find God is welcome here—whether he be of the Christian faith, of a different faith, or of no faith. Currently, all of the people who have come to the ashram for this thirty-day program identify with the Christian faith (though some are new converts, all with their own background stories and reasons for beginning to ‘follow Jesus,’ as is said here).
In spite of (some) language barriers and many cultural/worldview barriers, I am trying to find ways to connect meaningfully with the people who are here. Because what are we doing with our lives if not connecting meaningfully to the people who we eat and drink with, and whom we live beside? I am being challenged in a number of different ways in this regard—not the least because, though I certainly crave meaningful interaction, I can sometimes have a tendency to close myself off to people.

This tendency, among with other sort of ‘knee-jerk reactions’ that I have,  has been something I’ve been able to explore in quiet times of meditation, etc. I’m not going to go into further detail at this point in time, but it is a process that I am working through. And I think this sort of self-reflective processing is a good thing to do—whether that be through individual meditation or through another means.

I wonder what we as individuals and our societies more broadly would be like if we each took time to contemplate and reflect upon not only WHO we are or HOW we act, but WHY we are that way—and also whether we think that these traits are admirable. I have found that most of my social/work circles over the years of not placed nearly enough value on this practice. It’s something I hope to incorporate more and more into my life.
 I’m currently pretty bad at “quieting/focusing my mind” to contemplate certain things without my mind wandering to other thoughts, but they say it is something that will improve with time…

As always, I welcome your thoughts in the comments below or by message. Many thanks to those of you who have PMedme over these last few weeks; I love hearing from you! 

Also, here's a photo of monkeys.

In the theme of both being in India and being on a search, I will finish this with a “bhajan” (devotional hymn) that I wrote during my first few days at this ashram. The English translation is at the bottom.

Mere aankhe kholo,
mera dil kholo.
To mai tujhko dekh sakhoo.
Meri aatma pyaasi hai.

Kya mai tera liye pyaasi hun?
Kahan jaao tujhse milne ke liye?
Meri aatma bahut pyaasi hai.

Duniya ka dhundt ki piche me, tere aatma hai.
Mai dhoondt rahi hun.
Tho pani do.

Jaldi se aa
ya dire se aa.
Subaha ko aa
ya sham ko aa.
Jaisa tu chahe.
Par meri aatma pyaasi hai.

Bhajo naam, bhajo naam, bhajo naam…
Mai tera naam bhaj rahi hun
aur usme kho jaa rahi hun.

Sab meri bhakti tere liye hai.
Mere aankhe tujhe dhoondti hai,
Mera dil bhi tujhe dhoondta hai.
Mera man aur meri aatma bhi tujhe dhoondte hain.

Meri paasaa.
Mai pyaasi hun.

Open my eyes,
open my heart.
So that I can see you.
My soul is thirsty.

Is it you I thirst for?
Where must I go to meet with you?
My soul is very thirsty.

Your face hides behind the mist
of this world.
And I am searching,
so give me water.

Come quickly
or come slowly.
Come in the morning
or in the evening:
Let it be whichever you wish
but my soul is thirsty.

Sing the name, sing the name, sing the name.
I am singing your name
and losing myself in it.

All of my devotion is toward you.
My eyes search for you.
My heart searches for you.
My mind and my soul also search for you.

Come near me.
I am thirsty.

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