Remembering Connection

The tears come – spring into my eyes .. and will not stop. I know if I let go the flood gates will open – so I breathe into it – the opening is there unbidden but rushing in. Gifted to me with no volition of my own. Simply being here – being for a moment still – and existence rushes in .. the flowers shower and the gifts of the connection of souls allow me to feel myself – to remember that which I have forgotten.

The music transports me .. I am alone – separate and yet it is the sharing of the space and the melting of the souls and hearts together that allows me to break open and feel the space of our wonderful Universe.

How interesting it is that my busy life takes me so far from this space and yet just a hint, just a moment of recognition and I fall back into that place deeper than ever before.
It is a kirtan event – singing of repetitive odes of joy to existence and the energy of the Gods – a birthday party for a friend – a gathering of beings together to celebrate and sing and dance. The voices rise and fall together, the harmonies intertwining and the drum carrying the beat. The chants beginning slowly – measured and considered – and then as the voices of all join, the tempo lifts and reaches into the place of joy and the abandon that comes when the Divine is invited in.

It is completely unexpected – my immediate response – that allows me to fall into a place of purity and depth of existence. As is said on the Desiderata that hangs on our wall… “In the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.”

It had been a difficult week, I had seen too much of the bad news of the world – been caught in the snare of the media hype and taken on some shadow of what ifs?…
Here in the music, suddenly I am lifted out of the place of fear and anxiety into another reality – here is the parallel – here is the place of joy and of bliss and of interconnectedness… the place where I know.. all is well.. despite any of the turmoil and chaos that is around me – the political garbage, the stress of our lives – the pain and the suffering .. this too exists .. this too is real, this too is…..

And as I now stand and allow the music and the singing to transport me, and lift my arms to the heavens to feel the infinite joy of the energy of beingness, I come home to myself.
So many realisations – just out of reach of expression are falling in to me, along with the sensation that I am being showered with the blossoms of existence. My imminent departure to India.. back to the land of Kali and Krishna, and Gopal and all the gods of that infinitely colourful land. My knowingness that I go to India for me – that it is my time – my place – simply to open up and allow India to wash over me and transform as it will. Not to ‘help’but simply to be.. to allow what comes to me to be done and allow what is to be .. I have known this before that my work in India is for myself – but once again that sense comes home to me in full force.

It would seem that the leaving of Australia and all that is here for me is a challenge.. can be difficult … can be something that is done for altruistic reasons.. and if done in that vein then the struggle will be there. But if the realisation is as it truly is, that the return to India is completely and utterly my choice and for my own evolution then all suffering has to fall beside the path – has to be seen for what it is .. simply self indulgence of a ridiculous nature.
And in that I see too that it is time not to be hard on myself.. that when I do fall by the wayside into the ‘self indulgence’ that this too is part of my journey, intertwined in the learning of the whole. Is it learning? Or is it simply letting go? The questions that arise as the insights come – such a simple thing .. this kirtan, this chant, this space inside myself – to open the place for the unfolding to be.

Thank you to the kirtan – thank you to the community that has brought me to this place. Thank you to David who spoke at the outset of the ceremony of our aboriginal roots. As he was speaking of the welcome to country, as he began the afternoon’s blessing of music and dance, he spoke to those of us who were born here and absorbed the land through the minerals and the air and the dirt of country.. so that we too though white skinned simply need to remember who we really are..
Thats when the tears began to fall .. as the connection was made to my roots .. those roots that are to be transported again to India.. to connect again with my roots in that ancient land.. from one ancient land to another.
Where will this journey lead me? I know not. But I do know that it is right – and on the path that opens before me – revealed as my steps lead me on, I am cared for and nurtured and .. as I go….I do not go alone – I am forever guided on the way – for my existence is an extension of those who surround me and cheer me on as I go forward on this great adventure called life.

Contributing to the Community

I saw a doco about a man who paints on walls.. he painted in Vanuatu and there he contributed to the community. He painted a wall in a very obscure place – far from the tourist walks. He paints big walls in big cities, but this small contribution warmed his heart and here he understood the value of small.

I know a lady her name is Barb – she lives in South Freo.. she is the Queen of her street and she contributes to her community. She welcomes all the newcomers and corrects the spelling on the street signs. She makes a difference.

Sometimes we think we have to do great things – but in fact it is the ‘small things’ that add up to all the community faces joined together in a kaleidoscope of connection.
The street gardens, the soup kitchens, the one who simply refuses the plastic bag and so awakens the check out person to the possibility of a sustainable land. Making a difference.

People say to me.. ‘Oh you are so amazing.. you give up so much to go to India to do your work there.’ And me.. I shrug my shoulders and I am grateful that I am recognised for what I do.. for if I was not .. I would be not telling the truth.. but I know that what I do is no more than what you also do in your own way as you walk in beauty in this world.

For this is what the game is.. what the aim is ..
what the purpose is..
simply to walk in beauty as we do our daily life.

So India.. what is that about for me?
How can I tell you the joys it brings, the difficulty it is to be there sometimes, the special moments – the smile of the old lady where I buy my evening banana – the stares of those who wonder what on earth this old lady is doing in their land.

I often ask myself:  “What am I doing here?”
And the answer is that here is my heart. A split heart I have. One heart – part of it… is embedded deep in my family and my lover and my friends in Fremantle Australia.. but the other part .. somehow an older part – is in India.

I board the plane – leaving from Perth – stop over usually in Kuala Lumpur.. not there yet.. but when the next flight comes – and we are heading to Bangalore – at least half of the passengers are Indian.. and suddenly I am feeling almost home. Home to this place where I don’t even speak the language.. home to this place where I need to change my dress entirely to fit – home to this place – this place of simplicity and complexity and a culture far from my own.

Touch down.. I am back – the smells wash over me, the sound, the chaos, and the knowing that I am home. I haggle with the taxi driver, and I get ripped off anyway because that is par for the course on your first night in India. Ah the over night hotel… fortunately I know this one and it is reasonably clean.. I sleep – I wake to Indian breakfast – spicy dosa and milky tea. And the journey begins.

I will spend the day with my friend in Bangalore -she will feed me delicious food, thinking as she does I must be half starved after being away from proper Indian food for so long.. and tonight board the overnight bus to Hubli.. my place of choice. A dusty and noisy three tier town as they call it.. meaning simply .. ‘not too developed!’ Here are the ‘boys’ I work with .. a very male oriented office.. the NGO .. not for profit – working with farmers .. helping them harvest rainwater to ensure they can remain on their land for another season provided there is some monsoonal rains this year.

It is uncertain times – those who talk of global warming being a myth do not live in rural India. There is no question of it here. Where changing weather patterns are bringing disaster to families – to whole villages left without any water to drink in the long hot dry season. Creating a migration equivalent to those of war torn lands.. a migration to the city in search of elusive jobs.

But that is another story – and yes it is the story I follow with my work – but the day to day of my life in Hubli is that of connection with the young men who are dedicated to this work. The work of the water.

We joke, we laugh, we chatter and we drink chai and in between we write budgets and discuss heatedly how things should or could be done. I try to step back out of my bossy western ways and listen and fit my thoughts together with those of the Indian way.

Sometimes it works, sometimes I help, sometimes the western way tempered with some patience – adds some value and sometimes I have to step right back and re- look at the way I am .. at my impatience and sense of ego! For sometimes that is really what it is.. “I am the one who is working here.. I am the one who can focus and get things done.. you lot simply mess around and don’t really know what you are doing .. and read the paper and talk endlessly on the phone.. but I am the one who is working” … ha ha ha ha…

Yes Shazar .. and they are the ones who started all this.. who know because they are the ones who lived in the village .. who understand what it is to have no water.. who know how it is to be unable to send their children to school for lack of the money for a notebook and pencil. They are the ones who understand the value of community ..
not you..

You who come from the land of more is better – the land where often people will walk past you on the street with their noses down – not a glance for the ‘stranger’. And so once again I step back into my ‘box’ breathe – and thank the forces who have brought me to this land again – for I have been here many lives – but this life it is the time to learn again what is humility – what is gratitude, what is giving, what is true generosity, for this is what India has to share with me.

And finally to understand the value of the small things that are scattered throughout the day stitching this life together to make a difference.

 

The Universe is a Friendly Place

Yes I hear you say.. not always.. and you would be right.  But tonight as I came home to my room in Hubli, this was really true for me.  I had been for my first acupuncture treatment – since my last series back in October.

Dr Anand Varma.. what a gem he is.. I wrote of him before .. when I just found him.. and I am back now after such a great result with my knees.. this time I am offering him my cranky neck to have a go at!!  He can stick all the acupuncture needles he likes into me.. I fully trust his long experience and his steady hands.

Today I walked into the clinic and each and every one of the staff welcomed me with big smiles and open hearts.  I felt like a special guest.. I think everyone who goes there gets the special guest treatment ..

I sat down next to a young girl who seems to have cerebral palsy..there with her mother – she is about 12 years old – can’t walk very well but her smile breaks open the heart.  She is in my group.. that is the ones who are scheduled for the 6pm session.  Then after some time on the hard waiting room bench, we were called upstairs.  She and I shared the same cubicle.  The over head fan was on .. as I climbed up onto the high bench and settled in.. waiting for the needles.  Hari Krishna Hari Rama played – over and over the mesmerising chant.. and I was transported.

Finally Dr Varma arrived – replete with new smart phone and all my details and my charts on it to be consulted there and then.  He proudly told me his son advised him on the best way to get set up .. and its working very well.  I joked.. ha I can’t lie to you any more.. its all there at your fingertips.

And so the needles went in.. Hari Krishna continued to play – and I lay back and relaxed.

Half and hour later the nurse came and freed me and my new friend, the young girl on the bench next to me.  I floated out.  And wandered up the laneway in the gathering dusk to find myself an ‘auto’ (rickshaw) – there he was .. and as I started to tell the driver where I wanted to go he cut me off laughing and with a stream of Kannada that I only guessed at – I realised he was the same man who brought me on Friday for my first appointment.

I relaxed in the back of the auto.. feeling safe, feeling cared for, feeling blessed.  This Universe I am in right now .. feels like such a friendly place.  I am incredibly lucky. And I know so many are not .. but for now I simply feel very grateful that I am surrounded by friendly people – I am cared for and I am loved.

 

The Way It Is

I’m not going to say ‘only in India’.. but sometimes that phrase does feel appropriate and today.. well – I had interesting experiences at the carpentry shop!

We are in a big town called Nizamabad – staying at a lodge right in the middle of the market area.  The Deshpande Foundation conference is happening day after tomorrow .. and we have come for that.  I am happy – we have found a lodge which is not only cheap but also clean.  Joy.

So today after lunch downstairs – which got invaded by 12 Indian Ladies having a ‘kitty party’ and making an incredible racket while playing some sort of bingo type numbers game – we headed off through the street markets.  We were on our way to  supervise the building of a wooden model of the bore well recharge process.

The carpenter shop was a small structure filled up with bits of wood, and rough sawdusty chunks of shavings.  Out the front partially on the street lay the beginning of our ‘model’.

I asked Sikandar – ‘Do you have a drawing’ – he looked at me and grinned and said “Yes” but I immediatley knew the drawing was in his head!  He said pointing to the young man who was busy chiselling out a chunk from a board – “I transferred it to his head”.   And so he had.. and the model continued to grow.

I was given a chair and perched there between the shop and the fairly potent drain – played on my phone and watched proceedings.  The ubiquitous chai came – delivered by a small man who when I smiled and thanked him, broke open into a beautiful reply smile.

I caught that one in my head.. not on my camera!

But now its getting too hot.. the sun is sinking and the rays are full into the shop now – so .. the head guy picks up two of the hand made chairs – carts them across the road to a space – plonks them down and invites me and Sikandar to sit there.. across the street in the shade.

The perfect spot to view proceedings.  We sit there watching the passing parade who by the way are also watching us.  The weird foreign lady and her companion – sitting as though in their living room by the side of the busy road.

And the model grew and a couple of hours later it was declared complete and  a success.  Drawings or no drawings – it turned out the way it was planned.  Sikandar and I headed off to find me a new pair of sandals… another story.. for another day.

 

The Gemini Full Moon

Its time.. time to begin getting ready to leave for my next sojourn in India.  And tonight the moon is full and my friend the Cosmic Queen in her infinitely precise words for the astrological times advised:   “Call in the vision of your best possible life, situation – outcome – write!” So I did – at first considering it was time to write my vision yet again.. to write my goals, my purpose – my real reason for being.   Oh such a huge task.

But hiding in the back of my mind, just out of sight,  lay some advice I had received earlier today from Alberto Villoldo – and when I looked again there it was:  “The shaman doesn’t look for meaning in life, but brings meaning to every situation.  She stops looking for truth and instead brings truth to every encounter.”

Ah.. and so like the beautiful night cactus the vision unfolds.  What is vision but the ability to see – the depth of the vision – the width – the far seeing vision – all are dependent on the place of quietness in the being.

And when the being is very quiet – the vision reaches far.

So quietly – I allow the pencil to slip over the page of my journal – allow the words to flow as they will.   “What do I do to bring meaning to every situation?”  Does that mean I stop seeking the big ‘why‘? Perhaps that is the ‘why’ – to create the sacred in each act. To bring that which is holy to the smallest thing, being or doing.

So as I go this time to India – it is to meet each person on the way with love and respect.  As it is also here – in this time as each day we have been standing together protecting and protesting against the imminent destruction of our beloved Beeliar wetlands for an unnecessary and ugly highway.

It is about creating miracles with non violence – with forgiveness – calmness and peace.   But first the peace must be within each of us.

I have been worried:  “Will it all work out .. why am I going, why not just stay here – where life appears to be relatively easy.”  And now comes the answer:  Do you think you instigated this?  Do you really think you are in control?  You are not! Let it go.  Control is no where.  Let go and let God.  And yes – plan – let the plan unfold .. vision – allow the words to flow – the information to arrive – but you are not the controller.

You are simply the instrument of the Divine.  Be that. There is no need to be anything else.

So this then is the vision. To let go and  integrate the Divine fully into my Being – so that I can live that which is my purpose.  To create the sacred in each and every moment of this life I am so very privileged to live.

The mind may still become disturbed as it does.. it may ‘worry’ it may become caught in the whirlpools of loneliness – fear, alienation, concern for small things – but I can return now to this that I know – the mind is not me – for I am of the Divine.