|Subject: Boy meets Girl
Date: Thu, 10 Aug 2000 07:33:58 -0700 (PDT)
|hmmmmmmm.... ahhhhhhhh.... ohhhhhh
so what's been going on? I'm really asking myself that. Its been a long time since I could make any sort of worldly sense out of things. I've evolved into this alternate hudson and the act of figuring myself is just not really available when one's surrounded by India. Reading short stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. First author who's been able to capture the essence of Indian Travel. Not that he has anything substantial in common, but its more the sensation you feel when here that actually anything can happen... ANYTHING.
So when was the last time I wrote? I'm guessing Rishikesh. That was so comically far and long ago that Its as if the events there happened to someone else and I just saw it on HBO-exclusive mini-series. Boy wanders aimlessly into Tantric Yoga Course. Boy meets girl. Boy and Girl become friends discussing international anarchism and the potential for spiritual enlightenment. Boy and Girl travel to parvati valley and camp at 9,000 feet and soak in hotsprings. Boy and Girl travel on to Manali and find a hotel next door to a german bakery and wake up to espresso every morning. Both feel a sense of oneness in caffeine fettish and American coffeeshop culture. They watch the fashion channel. Girl leaves boy to get Visa extention in Delhi, and fly to England with her exboyfriend. You know, typical hollywood setup.
Well anyway, I've tried three times to spam y'all to no avail. Or is this the third time. My guess is that there's something cosmicly significant that I'm supposed to convey which I keep failling to tap into. Maybe its just my spelling is so abominable after being around hindi english for so long. But anyway
This yoga thing is really getting into my blood. Let me break it down now. Yoga consists of any sort of spiritual practise. If you're singing it's Bakti Yoga, if you're working its Karma yoga. But if you're practising Hatha yoga there are further divisions. And keep in mind all yogas blend like prismacolors. There's Kriya yoga which is concerned with purifying the body; in Hatha yoga its called Shatkarmas. And there are six categories with several divisions in each. But never mind all that. You get clean inside. Then there's Asana. These are the famous stretching excersizes that the western world uses the word yoga to refer to. After asana one practises pranayama. These are dozens of ways of holding your breath. After Pranayama, there's mudra and bandha. These mean "attitude" and "lock" respectively. To gaze at the third eye is shambavi mudra. To lower your chin to your collar bone while holding your breath is jalandhara bandha (I think). Basically, one does yoga to prepare for Yoga. And all of this is the physical path to enlightenment. The idea is if you do all this you'll get your body so amped up that it explodes at some point... That's the mystical Kundalini Awakening. The idea is that at some point your body can't resist to meditate. There's a threshold inside everyone that gets crossed, and there's no return to the mundane world. The Buddha's path is the reverse. He says never mind the horsing around and mortifications (which were in vogue back in the day). He says sit your ass down and meditate. And ignore everything that happens and be mindful of one of 40ish things. Both paths work. But in the end, meditation is yoga and nothing else. Meditation is not something you can just do. You practise it, but you don't get it until you actually achieve one-pointedness. Nothing else should really be called by that name.
So I'm in this delimma now. I've seen that as a Brahmachariya (celibate) it is possible to have a relationship. And I know now from practising that with Anikka that its really the only healthy way to be in a relationship. THe other becomes God to you, and any sexual behavior has to be done as it were for God. This is not as easy as just consecrating everything. You've got to actually desire the right things in the first place. This is why first you renounce everything you're currently desiring as most likely bogus and the product of a sick and deranged mind. okay so now you act, sexually, from a place that transcends desire. Don't ask me what that's like, cause I haven't been there.
The catch here is that I learned from being in a relationship with Anikka that most of your desires and behaviors are conditioned by your past relationships and desires. This, you might say, is a small obsticle to getting to know someone else, much more yourself, and is the fundimental barrier to identifying with the other as God. There are many levels to all of this. But I'm just trying to let y'all get into my head a little bit here. There are many who are wondering what's been happening to me... well....
So Anikka and I travelled from Rishikesh to Parvatti valley and on to Manalli. In all of that time, I realized later, I ceased to be in India. I was in a parallel space and time. It wasn't until I was alone again in Leh that I began to appreciate the displacement that occurs from travelling with other people. The place your in becomes a function of your relationship. This is why I continue to travel alone. It's the only way to really know a place. But then you've also got to be able to filter out your subjective knowlege of the place.
So when I found myself in Leh, practicing yoga three hours a day, I suddenly found out how far I was from being in the place I was. I was still in the state of absence from my partner. I missed her and something was missing from Leh, namely her. How can you judge a place fairly under those circumstances. So I decided to leave and use the displacement in space to displace my mind and get back inside myself. It worked. I got 70 kilometers out from Leh, and the river was comming over the road. Or what was left of the road. Actually, we found out later for 13 kilometers up from that point there were several sections of the road simply gone.
Let me explain further. This road crosses two passes over 17,000 feet in altitude. That's the low point mind you. 20,000 foot peaks at that elevation look like hills. and you won't find anything more barren than high altitude desert. Really fantastic. But the thing is, when the road is gone, the road is gone. There are only two roads linking Leh to the rest of the traffic of the world, and the other one is through Kashmir.
Kashmir. Sounds exotic and beautiful. Led Zeppelin songs and all that. However, ever since I arrived and have been reading the papers there's been a daily body count of Kashmiri nationalist militia vs. Indian Police. The Lonely planet has this to say: don't be foolish, don't go there. But when there's only one road...
So off I go, but not before another couple days in Leh, camping on the porch of a small hilltop temple. I read the newspapers. Bombing in downtown Srinagar, 6 police and one civilian killed. Then off to Kargil, the site of the 1998 militant intrusion by Pakistan where much shelling occurred. See Kashmir got split in two in 1949 when they partitioned Pakistan and Bangaladesh off from India...
No real problems, had to wait for a bridge to be finished, only an hour's delay. Keep in mind, the distances are distorted. Busses average (with stops) 15 KMH. So 100 miles takes about 10 hours. The roads are generally paved, but only one lane. With sheer cliffs and high passes that are, well, lets say, thrilling.
When we arrive in Kargil, at 8pm, we find out the bus is stuck there for a day because they moved the weekly closing of the road (ironically for blasting) back a day. So stuck for a day in KArgil now. I read in the paper that 100 people have been killed at the Amarnath pilgrimage base camp, which is on the way to Srinagar. Militants opened fire on a group of pilgrims setting up tents. Hmmm. Reading about this in the Kashmir Monitor. So off to Srinagar!
Arriving in Srinagar is alot like arriving in an Arabic country anywhere else. The touts mob the bus and its difficult to shake them off. So after I find out the bus to delhi the next day is full, I abandon myself to the experience, and find out what downtown is like. The bus passed the tourist area on the way in, and that was... pretty, but totally not my scene. Especially considering my emotional state. The anxiety and stress of watching my back for the mad bombers and kidnappers (body of a german who'd been kidnapped turned up in the papers the day I arrived in Srinagar) completely distracted me from other petty concerns like loneliness and such. Fear focuses. But then what can you do?
Well what I did do was stay for four days. I discovered Srinagar was actually a very beautiful old city with tight medieval alleyways, and tons of old charm; half-timber dutch style construction. And needless to say, there were absolutely no tourists in town. So I had the place to myself and all the touts were out at the tourist areas. Most of them at least. And furthermore, it turns out to be really safe. There are sandbag bunkers and sentry posts all throughout town manned by "police" with AK-47s and sundry assault rifles, bulletproof vests, flack helmets. Dressed for full-scale invasion. And everyone was really nice to me, curious, but not the least bit threatening. So I turned out having a really nice time.
But time's short now, only three weeks left, so I headed for Jammu, where four young christian converts wanted to start trouble in town by killing a cow, just to piss people off. It worked. 1200 people ransacked the police station. This was the day before I arrived. No problem, slept outside the trainstation with two girls from Switzerland who were heading to Delhi. I came here to Amritsar.
This is the Sacred city of the Sikhs. What's a Sikh? Cross a hindu and a Muslim. The Golden Temple is set in the middle of a square pond, or tank as the english call them, and covered in gold leaf. everything else is white. And they have a free dormatory and free dal and chapathi, and free water. ?. Water bars are the thing here. They have four at each corner of the temple complex, plus one at each entrance. Manned by several dishwashers and a person serving. Each has a huge state of the art (Indian) water filter. Best water in India this side of the glacial source. And all the Sikh temples have elaborate water service systems. But enough of this madness.
The point of all this is not lost. I have found a way into myself and a way back out. And the point of my yoga is to bring these two paths together. And no matter where I go, it doesn't matter anymore because I'm learning who I am and everything else is just reflections upon reflections. So yes I miss travelling with people now that I'm alone, but travelling with other people, I miss the solitude and clarity of aloneness. The real trip is internal. What happens on the outside is so secondary; like a change of backstage scenery while a monologue is taking place frontstage center. It doesn't matter where you go or if you go no place, fundimentally. But Events; events are the key. And when you have nothing to fall back on, you must confront them frontally.
So that's about all that's happened in the last two months or so. I'm finding my spiritual path through integrating all existing spiritual systems, and finding out the name of that is Hatha Yoga. Finding out that the system is effective, comprehensive, and efficient. Finding out that, still, despite all the noise, the only path to god is sit your ass down and wait. Just stop yourself. Try it sometime.
And beyond that, there's no end to travel. I'm just returning to the states soon. Tomorrow I go to Delhi to buy my ticket. So if you write back soon, I'll be checking in soon and'll write back too. Be good everyone, and I can't wait to see your faces when next we meet.
With much love,