Reflections Of A Journey

 

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Their work was their journey; their work was their task.
Focused achievement, until one day at last
their goal and reflection of work in this life
are left in this temple as memories of strife.
As symbols to others who follow their path;
reminders and teachers so one day at last
we’ll join together as bright as the sun
and shine light in darkness as part of the One.

-Nick

“Dear Ones, I feel as if I’ve got one leg on earth orbiting normally and one leg hoisted in outer space orbiting a totally different path and I’m trying to balance my body and my psyche as I swim, float and “be”.

The trip was exciting and exhausting, stimulating and satisfying, the sights, sounds, interactions were wonderful….the group was quite bonded after two days……we had meditations daily whenever possible, teachings, chanting, mantras, sharing times and a whole host of wonderful ceremonies, a hotel roof/top party with food, spirits, and music where we danced in colorful Indian dress provided/gifted to us on a roof strewn with rose petals and lit wicks soaking in oil containers where we lit same and offered blessings to ourselves and into the Universe, had two girls doing “henna” on our feet/hands, and singing classical Indian tunes for us……. we explored caves from the 6th century with wonderfully preserved

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carvings/mosaics and pictures and other caves with all sizes, shapes and kinds of Buddhas discovered in them, we saw the Taj, with its gorgeous jeweled art decorations encrusted within its stone edifice, the Sikh’s Golden Temple”.

For me the most beautiful setting and sight of the trip, visited a small 500 plus/minus peopled village and were welcomed into primitive huts/homes, interacted with loads of children and people along the way, so eager to connect and show warmth and friendliness to us, visited two “widow colonies” (remember Water?) and danced with them, visited a Tibetan nunnery/school and were hosted to a marvelous lunch prepared by the nuns, enjoyed the extreme warmth, gentleness and generosity of the Tibetan people in Dharmasala (their city in exile)…..learned more of their plight…..attended a teaching from the Dali Lama who was in residence while we were there, watched/participated in ceremonies on the holy River Ganges (where people wash clothes, bathe, put candled flowers afloat by day and night sending and coveting blessings), saw an un mechanical crematorium operating on a 25 hour basis, walked in the narrow streets of the Ghats around the Ganges…..were warmly welcomed to a young man’s coming out event (he was 10)….it was like a Bar Mitzvah..where a party was given by his parents for 600 guests in the rear grassed yard at the hotel we stayed at, with everyone all dressed up in gorgeous traditional Indian dress/attire….they introduced us to the family, they wanted us to sit and eat, people came up to chat, one man asked me about the elections.

In India we saw contrasts of great wealth and unbelievable poverty side by side, went to Hindu temples, saw silk being woven by hand on looms many hundreds of years old, rode in rickshaws, functioned in traffic so tight there were millimeters separating six or more lanes functioning together in unbelievable fashion, took trips on busses whose drivers were so unbelievably skilled they went honking through places we thought surely we would hit either cows, people,carts or other moving objects…..saw monkeys freely flying, elephants sharing space with pedestrians (living animals are revered) so much went on, my head still reels. Had the wonderful experience of visiting Gandhi’s memorial set in a beautiful park whose energy exuded serenity and reverence. I know I left much out and I have yet to sit still and pour over the days/notes to recapture it all although I had little time for my journal…..oh yes, had wonderful outdoor lunch parties where we danced to Indian music, ate Indian food……hotels were gorgeous, food was fabulous for me (mostly Indian) , lots of camaraderie in our group with warm, loving, spiritually minded, multi dimensional and very intelligent people…. found out there are over 10 fully functioning religions getting along side by side and hundreds of dialects throughout the country where its people live in harmony….it is noted that India is the only country where Jews did not incur anti Semitism during the Diaspora. Most of the Jews have emigrated to Israel although there still are very small pockets functioning in synagogues. I visited a Chabad house in Mumbai. To simply summarize……. India is a magical country and I had a magical journey!!!!!!! I adored and reveled in every minute of it!!!!!!!!!!.

“Ephanies” were experienced at some point along the way by many. I don’t think I had one. The trip simply reinforced my constant feeling of being very blessed and grateful for all the riches and richness in my life….. …..and with continued humility, I experienced this marvelous new adventure into the heart and belly of an interesting, vastly spiritual, pulsating, vibrant country and its wonderful people.

Joan Borysenko was fabulous……quite brilliant, erudite, accessible, down to earth, unpretentious, self effacing, open, soft, real, humorous, honorable and admirable.

I hope I’ve given you a taste of my very full meal. With love and caring connection to all.

-Joan Wasserman

A Crippled Beggar
His palms
dusty and calloused
His legs
defying the human form
His hands
as if feet
take him from here to there
And they reach up
seeking scraps of sustenance
The colors around him
glow
with neon brightness
joyous colors
India’s prosac, perhaps
Or…
colors which trap White Light

-Helen Adrienne

VARANASI

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Varanasi
Shrill as a war zone
Yet, every dissonant blare
a stomp of Shiva’s foot
non-chalantly pulverizing…
Alternating Currents of humanity
neatly intersect chaos
disorienting
the laws of physics
Mental monsoon
come
unpolluted my certainty
come…
cleanse
Varanasi,
sweep me away
to a higher plane
where I can re-ground
and ascend

-Helen Adrienne

THE TIBETAN NUNS

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scalped
shorn of pretense
vulnerable heads
honor the path to Buddha
with their bald truth
Tibetan nuns
volunteer to abdicate
the power ascribed to hair
Buddha nature needs no adornment
Buddha nature lives
in inner joy
and
inner abundance

-Helen Adrienne

TO JOAN, GORDIE, SHEENA, PUNAM AND THE GROUP FROM HELEN, WITH LOVE

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Through Western eyes
our India
seemed like life
in an archaeological dig.
Simple folk
ground
on chunks of concrete,
chunks of what used to be
ignored, yet preserved
left in place
to touch the sole.
Soles
tread on touchstones of forever with junkyard vitality.
Soles tread on unlikely treasures;
no need,
no value
to Westernize.
Our Western eyes
forced inward
forced to see –
to remember –
our junkyard
our vitality
our treasures
our soul.

-Helen Adrienne

 

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Under a Punjabi rainbow: A Winnetkan Abroad

Every once in a while in life, a rainbow appears. It might not be the real thing with an arc of magenta, ruby, and emerald. But when a figurative rainbow shines, the resulting chemistry can mi…mic the real McCoy. That’s what happened last week in Amritsar, Punjab, in northern India. An array of people, many in a rainbow of sari and turban colors, connected magically.

The scene was a sunny afternoon in the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial Park. The issue was finding a turban tutor. The area is Sikh country and men (and a few women) wear them as proud displays of their culture and religion. Turbans also seem to be a fashion statement here, and there’s a display of colors for turbans worn, from deep rose to canary yellow.

Eugene, a New Yorker and one of the members of my tiny tour group of North Americans, wanted to immerse himself in an afternoon of Sikh culture. The crowning glory of the day would be to visit the opulent and holy Golden Temple. But the Big Apple native wanted to wear an authentic turban to the temple, not one of the handkerchief-type head covers most tourists tie on.

Enter Sheena, our tour guru from Toronto. Speaking Punjabi like the native she is, she coaxed a newly-married Sikh to wrap Eugene’s head in 6 yards of royal blue linen/cotton blend. Sheena told us the guy was a recent groom because the woman with him had telltale bride bling bracelets stacked halfway up her forearms.

So the Sikh groom turned turban-master confidently pleated the length of fabric and worked his wizardry. While Eugene clenched his teeth on the fabric tip, the Sikh expertly wrapped the New Yorker’s head. With each twist and turn, local Punjabis stopped to stare. After all, who was this American–a white guy–wanting to wear the regal-looking turban?

By the time Eugene’s head was half-way encircled, at least 50 people were lingering, laughing, and outright gawking. They angled for the best view. They commented on how well his turban wrap was progressing. They smiled at the spectacle of the moment itself.

As the Sikh groom put the finishing touches on Eugene’s turban, phone cameras clicked. People wanted shots of the real Sikh and his pseudo-counterpart. They wanted photos of our group together. They wanted photos two-by-two. They even wanted sari-clad Grandma to pose with Eugene.

Serendipity is my favorite word and that day, I saw it in full arc. By the time we’d finished the rounds of snapping photos, the rainbow magic of people mixing had peaked. Interesting what a pot of gold we discovered through the experience.

- Holly Marihugh