South India

Pearls of wisdom learned in India

We spent six months roaming the Indian subcontinent, busy ourselves with the activities that vagabond travelers do.  Only years later, after immersing myself in studying, reading, and introspection, that I realized how a few Pearls of Wisdom weaved themselves into my consciousness during that first visit to India.  These pearls of wisdom are still growing, expanding, and sometimes bloom in me.  I don’t ever expect to understand them fully.  I do accept that life’s journey is about making progress and not about reaching perfection.

Maintain personal space boundaries

There are about a billion residents in this country, and sometimes it seems that everyone goes with you everywhere. There is no choice but to maintain a personal space boundary.  Such decisive defiance is a necessary condition for a reasonable quality of life in India and elsewhere.

Do not be afraid to trust people’s kindness

India is a place where people are not afraid to make straight eye contact with you; they even enjoy it. Wherever you look, you can pick up a pair of eyes that will look back at you with full confidence. It seems that everywhere there are curious Indians who want to help you.  Even when they do not know anything, they still want to lend you a helping hand.  Thus, in her beautiful way, India taught me about kindness and compassion.  India had always asked me to be present with all my strength, not to be afraid to give my trust in other people’s kindness.

Let things happen, rather than trying to control them all the time

India forces you to deal with the masses, chaos, delays, unsanitary conditions, cultural shock, large insects, small insects, diseases, and unwanted attention.  Among other things, I learned that everything is going to be all right in the end.  Unplanned deviations from the original course were also successful.  In fact, there are no reasons to worry; just let things happen, rather than trying to control them all the time.  This is India’s magic formula.  Even if it seems that things do not work as they should, sometimes it’s just our perception that limits us.  

I am discussing acceptance.  In the book “A Fine Balance” By Rohinton Mistry, the four characters’ lives interweave during the political turmoil of India’s “Emergency” period (1975-1977).  It’s a story of four strangers from different walks of life, their opportunities constrained by caste, gender, government corruption, and greed.  It’s a story that reminds me of the saying, “Acceptance is the answer.”  The characters who found a way to accept and be generous and helpful to each other – lived;  those who could not – were doomed to tragedy. 

There is something to be learned from everything

In India, the sense of time is eroded and only defined by the stomach.  Because of this, I found myself thinking quite a bit, looking for new directions for thought.  Thus, I met the next great teacher.  He was revealed at different moments inside me, gave me his blessing, and directed me on my way.  There were times when he disguised himself as a tree, a dog, and even a butterfly.  He made me realize that one could learn something from everything.