Message From India

 
On 20 February 2007 I set out on a tour of sacred sites and temples in Northern India, with a group of almost 50 (mainly American) westerners, without any expectation or notion of what the journey might hold in store. My anticipation was that the highlight of the trip would culminate in teachings by the Dalai Lama at the end of the 3 weeks.

But events seemed to indicate that something was afoot a week before the trip began. I knew that I would need some reading matter during the flights and had almost completed my current book. What should I take with me? I had a dozen or so books on my ‘waiting to be read’ pile. That evening a friend from our regular weekly gathering asked if I had a copy of Carl Jung’s ‘Memories, Dreams, Reflections’ and could she borrow it? I jokingly asked if she returned borrowed books, which prompted her son, standing by her side, to give me a doubtful look. I would not be seeing her again until after the trip so responded that I would think about it.

Two days later on 15 February I received an email from Belgian friend Roseline, the complete text of which read ‘Have you ever seen Jung speaking?’ It became clear the following morning that I was being prompted to read Jung’s autobiography again (which I had initially read some 18 years previously) when I came across reference in my current book to the term, which Jung had coined – ‘anima mundi’. As a bookmark I used a postcard that had been sent to me by another friend, Marcia, on 9 February, which depicted two monks looking out over snow-capped mountains.

The first experience I had of any significance during the trip was in the temple dedicated to the birthplace of Krishna at Mathura. To my eyes, so much of the ritual and devotion in this temple and surrounding area seemed incongruous. It was there, during a short meditation, that I received the first lines of a poem.

You call me by so many names – I cry.
You call me by so many names – I die.
I wonder why? I wonder why?

I received the remainder of the poem in the early hours, two nights later.
After a long journey on 9 March we arrived at our hotel in Dharamsala where we were due to see and hear the Dalai Lama two days later. I was assigned room 313. My attention was drawn to what may seem to be such a totally inconsequential occurrence, (however, subsequent events seemed to prove otherwise) but I felt the number of my room was so significant that I had to take a photograph of the key fob. During the trip I had occasionally noticed the last sentence on the ‘bookmark’ card from Marcia that I was using. It read ‘First you had to recognise yourself as such and then that you are the 1 within the 3, the Divine Child or the Father/Mother – Your will, not my will be done.’ Here the ‘1 within the 3’ was expressed on my key fob as ‘313’.

The following day included a visit to the Karmapa Monastery. Here we witnessed teachings given by the Punchen (?) Lama. However, the whole ceremony was conducted in a language that was totally incomprehensible to most, if not all, of our group. The sentiments that I had experienced in the temple dedicated to the birthplace of Krishna returned. What was all this performance of low mumbled chanting, shoe removal, bowing, ritual scarf donning and devotion all about? I felt total repulsion at what I was witnessing.

Immediately upon leaving that temple our guide asked for our passports. I wanted to know why she needed them and discovered that they were necessary in order to obtain access to the Dalai Lama’s teaching the following morning. I then asked if this would be similar to the performance that which I had just witnessed. Upon receiving a positive response I had no doubt whatsoever that I did not wish to participate in such an event, which I had previously anticipated would have been the highlight of our trip.

pilgrims_09

The last evening – 13 March 2007 (or in US style 3/13/2007). Most of the group left for the airport at 21.00 to catch their return flights. A few of us remained and I continued my reading of ‘Memories, Dreams, Reflections’ awaiting pick-up at midnight for my flight at 03.30 the following morning. It seemed rather appropriate that I was now reading Chapter IX entitled ‘Travels’ and had just commenced Section IV on ‘India’. I reached the end of that section, which concluded on page ‘313’ with the following words. ‘What are you doing in India? Rather seek for yourself and your fellows the healing vessel, the servator mundi, which you urgently need. For your state is perilous; you are all in imminent danger of destroying all that centuries have built up.’

The poem, which I had entitled ‘Many Names’ concluded as follows:

Temples, mosques and synagogues – created in my name,
churches, centres, cathedrals, they are all the same.
Human minds, creating signs, are keeping us apart.
Wherein truth, reality, I live within your heart.
For there you’ll find the truth divine, where I am yours and you are mine
and never will the ‘race’ be won until together we are One.
You call me by so many names – I cry.
You call me by so many names – I die.

Blessings to you all.

-Nick
15 March 2007

Following a visit to and meditation in Ajanta caves Aurangabad, India