Why you might not want to Visit India.

I understand why you might not want to visit India …. It is a most confronting experience; the contrast is so evident between the rich and the poor who have literally nothing …. with little of no opportunity to improve their lives … India over time makes you question everything you thought was human, equitable and caring and truly makes you wonder about how this can be … but for me it also stripped away my own past and the connection to all that was there – all these learning experiences .. become integrated and distant from your present moment .. they make you more present and understanding, because we have to be, continual awareness of your surroundings is critical … the effect was that it felt like the past was being pushed further and further away from the present … so for that I am thankful – now those past difficult times are absent from my mind … any hurt no longer exists – it is but a past memory without emotive attachment.

There are no social programs to catch the poor … human life seems to have little value … strangely it was a surprise for me to remember after I arrived in India that it truly is a third world country, I guess I had little concept of what that actually meant …. It reminded me of another country when I was a child of about 10 when Dad moved us to the Solomon Islands … (the nature of roads, buildings and infrastructure) but the Polynesian peoples are a much more open and sharing culture, or at least they were then …. The reasons why India is a third world country were everywhere around us …. Workmen trying to cut thick rebar (reinforcing iron) with a chisel and a small sledge hammer rather than a grinder or saw – taking forever – bamboo scafolding reaching high on construction sites … wages are low and safety procedures seem lax … for instance power cables running along what passes for a footpath at waist height – unterminated power cables open on the street ,,,, no way was I going to find out if they were live, by touching them …Beggars … the real ones … (those who aren’t working for someone else in an enterprise) some will accost you as you come out of shops, restaurants and tut-tuts …. Then on the human side you have the lone mother with her baby … this visage breaks your heart … you can feel it … a beautiful child just starting out in life … and it hits you like a brick that this child, whose mother loves more than life itself most likely has little chance of living a long life …. You just give what you can – they will accept what you give them, as little as 10 rupees (about USD$0.15)… for that much will buy a meal in the street stalls … The medical system is poor, some say abysmal…. I have been told that people can collapse in the street and people will walk over them … but won’t help them. When I was ill I went to the local private hospital … where I was treated by a Western Educated specialist Doctor – blood was taken … the other tests — all appeared online via a private link later the same day. The whole experience, the visit to Doctor, Tests and pharmaceuticals cost less than USD$25.00.

So Yes I understand totally why you don’t want to go to India as a tourist …. I know I would not go again unless I went with someone … someone to have my back – I had thought that if I went again, I would go to Goa … the former Portuguese colony on the West coast, south on Mumbai …. Much more familiar and accepting to western eyes and values … I am told.

Many of these observations are from the aspect of a remote observer – a tourist if you will … but when you live in one place as a base for months … the Indian people reveal their caring side, and their humanity … it’s just different from mine … they are a different culture, hence have a different perspective on life. I still receive emails from people I met there …. They like us are living day to day and trying to live and make sense of the present moment .. unlike us … the biggest aspect of their culture is that lack of caring for others, relevant education and hence opportunity …. It seems for many to be their ambition is to have a full time job in the totally bloated Bureaucracy – But perhaps that will change over time … I hope for the sake of the 160 million “Untouchables” that something does … for they are condemned by their birth in the most part, to a life we could not even conceive of.

As I said on one of my blogs … if you go to India …. (1) Only drink bottled water … never drink tap water (2) Before you drink the bottled water, make sure that the cap seal is in place as some sellers will refill water bottles with tap water – don’t drink this, for you will get ill. (3) Take toilet paper with you everywhere … true!

E.M. Forster said “When you go to India, you come face to face with yourself” – I couldn’t agree more!

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The approach to, and possible Blocks to Meditation

In the beginning, for your physical environment, find a quite place, where perhaps you could prepare a small display of familiar objects, or just a small candle. For clothes, make them free and open so they don’t constrict you. If you need a cushion, sit and cross you legs at this point comfortably. Now this is important, find your center whilst seated. Try rocking you body forward and back in your seated position, until you find the place where it feels balanced, do the same from left to right, … when you find that balance place, it will feel right .. perhaps then place your hands in your lap (or some other comfortable place) and begin.

 

“It is not meditation that stops the mind. It is the surrender of the mind to the soul, and the soul to Truth. It is when you prefer the word of Truth to the word of your own intellect” –Yogi Bhajan

It is common that people when they first begin meditating, believe that they must stop their mind, stop all their thoughts in order to meditate effectively. Perhaps they have heard about the blissful meditations of friends and acquaintances and wonder why theirs isn’t this way. The mind activates innumerable neurons releasing a large number of thoughts, most of which we are not conscious – perhaps we are only aware of one major thought, perhaps a worry, a concern, an expectation, a fear … or perhaps a depression or shame for an event in the past.

A way to begin having a more peaceful mind is to try and stay as present as possible, I cover some of this in previous post here

When we sit still and quiet the body and breath, soon the flood gates open and the mind starts to release thoughts it has in the ego and the subconscious. These thoughts can overwhelm and unsettle us, control us … or you can let them pass, without engaging and release them. Don’t minimize or dismiss your progress, for in the beginning to simply sit with a quiet mind for 30 seconds is an achievement … for as we go into meditation, you will notice the distractions, the worry, the fear, “what’s for dinner” … etc, continue to present themselves, simply acknowledge the thought, but don’t engage, instead lightly move on and return to your point of focus, perhaps a mantra, a lighted candle, or simply your breath, which has a beautiful ability to focus time.

Practice will allow you to empty the subconscious mind, and with consistent practice you can sit for longer periods of time. The time you spend in meditation allows the mind to assist you throughout the day because it is not so preoccupied with being the boss, you become present in your life, a marvelous, peaceful and empowering state.

The sitting is not meditation, it is practice, with time and consistent practice, you will be able to take the state of being present, being mindful, during meditation and engage in that state in your daily life .. please remember that progress is all about small incremental steps, it takes time, please be patient.

Cyprus – Living with History

Cyprus – Living with History

Cyprus lives with history – seeing beautiful ancient mosaic floors, Ionic columns, collapsed roofs of ancient buildings is common here …. to the point that it is on display on main street .. below are some examples .. the one is the other side of the road from Saint Solomon’s Catacombs, the other photograph in the main street of Paphos. It is refreshing to see the past valued – indeed there are many archaelogical sites of Paphos which as yet may not be fully excavated and hence understood, this may take many decades.

The earliest attested reference to Cyprus is the 15th century BC Mycenaean Greek, the earliest known human activity on the island dates to around the 10th millennium BC. Archaeological remains from this period include the well-preserved Neolithic village of Khirokitia, and Cyprus is home to some of the oldest water wells in the world. Cyprus was settled by Mycenaean Greeks in two waves in the 2nd millennium BC. As a strategic location in the Middle East, it was subsequently occupied by several major powers, including the empires of the Assyrians, Egyptians and Persians, from whom the island was seized in 333 BC by Alexander the Great. Subsequent rule by Ptolemaic Egypt, the Classical and Eastern Roman Empire, Arab caliphates for a short period, the French Lusignan dynasty and the Venetians, was followed by over three centuries of Ottoman rule between 1571 and 1878 (de jure until 1914) .. The Republic of Cyprus was formed when Cyprus was granted independence in 1960.

Cyprus is a major tourist destination in the Mediterranean. with an advanced, high-income economy and a very high Human Development Index,

Some recent photos, in an around Paphos and the West of the Island …

Mosaic Flooring … Stunning .. Paphos

 

Saint Solomons Catacombs … Pebble type Floorings

Cyprus – Aphrodite’s Pizzas

On a tour of Cyprus we ended up at Aprodite’s Rock Brewing company …. a family run micro brewing business that make great cider and incredible Pizza’s, with one in particular taking my total attention.

Fig and Goats Cheese … a wonder

With Figs, capers. goats cheese ( two types, hard and crumbly goats cheese), rocket, caramalised red onions, with a balsamic vinegar reduction and olive oil … it is one of the best Pizzas I have tasted.

The relaxed ambience and friendly staff … make the time enjoyable …

 

You can find Aphrodite on the web here ..