My Spiritual Journey, India: Day 3

Early this morning, I went for a three mile walk near the Ashram. There are no street names, so the townspeople give directions off the cuff; “turn right at the end of the street, look for the blue house, then pass about ten more houses and you’ve reached your destination.” Oddly, it works. There is such extreme poverty, it left me speechless. On one street there are starving cows and dogs roaming free, eating garbage. The cows in India are considered sacred, yet when they’re old, people set them free and most often, they starve to death. In my mind, it’s better to put them down, but like so many other cultures, they’re attitude toward death is different than ours. Their attitude toward life can be, too. As I’m walking next to this open field, a car rushes past almost touching my arm. I’m forced to step onto the field when I notice a man pooping, holding his clothing out of harm’s way with one hand and swatting the flies away with his other hand. His house is made of blankets and there is so much garbage scattered everywhere, I can barely see the ground. I smell this disgusting odor. At first, I thought it was the garbage, then my nose led me to a low brick wall with twenty or so cow pies lined up across the top. I did my best to wipe the look of disgust off my face and asked what they use them for. It turns out that cow manure is quite a commodity. In Africa, India and other underdeveloped countries, cow pies are used for mosquito repellant, fertiliser, a replacement for firewood, insulation for clay huts go keep the cold at bay and in this case, because of the high methane content, it is used to produce biogas to generate heat and electricity. The poverty here tugs on your heartstrings, then you turn the corner and there’s beautiful homes that display the names of the people who live in them: doctors, surgeons, bankers, etc. In the major cities in the United States, you can often walk from the ghetto to the upper crust homes in a few blocks, but seeing such horrific poverty right next great wealth is baffling and quite unsettling. It’s 8:00 pm and I’m totally jet lagged. My head keeps bobbing during prayers. Everyone sits on the floor, very close to each other. So close that I’m feeling just a wee bit uncomfortable. I have my eyes shut and am taken aback by this woman’s screams and groans. She’s on her hands and knees, raging and bending her elbows as if she’s cursing the statue of Prabhuji Ramlal Maharsaj. She stands up and spins around a few times and goes into another room once occupied by the Guru and falls to the floor. I know this is a tranced state called samadhi, however I’ve never seen this taken to such extreme in America. Later, I was told that when the kundalini rises, if an individual isn’t properly prepared when this happens, sometimes, you get unusual responses. Mental illness being one of them.

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