Paprola, Himachal Pradesh,
The Noble Land of India (Tibetan: Gya-gar Phag-pa’i Yul)
Sitting here in Paprola again, at what I think is the only internet “café” in town, with two computers in its cyber-arsenal. Tashi Jong just got 1 computer, my friend Rana’s father’s international phone place. When I walked down from the colorful festivities of Ajay’s wedding, down past the breakbeat Indian village dancing, over through the verdant wheat fields – the greenest green this man has ever seen – Rana Sr.’s shop was a closed blue metal garage door. At that very moment a taxi was taking off, and I ran to catch it. A Tibetan family was on their way somewhere, and I got in next to the father. He didn’t seem to happy about not having his daughter next to him, as she was displaced to the front seat due to my ghetto taxi hitch tactics. Spontaneity doesn’t always leave everyone pleased.
In India, international phones are referred to as STDs. Communicable diseases. Communication is diseased, in most cases. Diseases propagate themselves. Health and well being is innate, but it’s the diseases which get the headline news.
Buddhism says that both well being and sickness are innate. Well being is nirvana, one’s buddhanature, which is timelessly the case, always there from the very beginningless beginning. It’s what’s really there. We just don’t usually experience it due to our emotional and cognitive obscurations. Sickness is samsara, the self-perpetuating round of bewilderment, confusion, negative emotions, and misunderstanding. It’s superficial. It characterizes most of our experience. It’s not really there, ultimately. Sickness is what we go through due to our emotional and cognitive obscurations.
There is something about India. As if whatever you want automatically appears. Just a few moments ago was a case in point. I wanted a cup of chai. Even in India, which is inherently stimulating, I need my caffeine. I was intending to ask the shop owner if he could tell me how to order a cup. Suddenly a boy appears with a freshly steaming cup of that sweet sugar-milk goodness. “For me?” His response was some kind of affirmation. But really, it’s been like that. People are tuned in. Like how the taxi suddenly appeared – and like how so many other things have happened in the 5 ½ days I’ve been here, seemingly perfectly aligned, perfectly arranged, exactly in accordance with need, desire, and inclination. Exactly in accordance with something that I can’t even conceptually fathom, perhaps.
I was beginning to write a piece about this in my moleskin journal, which I unfortunately lost on the bus to Baijnath. This felt-sense of psychic communication which seems to operate in this country. It was prompted by the fact that shortly before I boarded the bus, a man appeared and sold me a combination pen/flashlight. “Only ten rupees sir.” It was truly what I needed, a pen and a flashlight.
So what could this psychic phenomena be chalked up to? I wondered.
Well, first of all, I need to say that, the fact that India as a country works at all must be the workings of some kind of supernormal apparatuses at work. A land of contradictions, indeed, even in the most broadly generalized conceptual terms: a seemless mix of chaos and harmony, of suffering and happiness, of the ancient and modern.
Well, first, there’s the religions. India has a yogic tradition going back at least 5000 years, which claims to be able produce psychic, extrasensory, powers. Even omniscience, in the case of Buddhism. Omniscience aside, it is not thought strange in the context of the yogic traditions of India to be able to read thoughts. This is actually considered a pretty mundane accomplishment. These people were doing meditation, yoga and contemplating the ultimate nature of reality, on a large scale when most of my ancestors were trying to figure out how to build houses.
Of course, most Indians aren’t yogis or sadhus. But there’s little doubt in my mind that India has produced the most sophisticated forms of spiritual practice. There’s lots of evidence that Hinduism and Buddhism even influenced Christianity and Islam, even at the early start of their careers- it’s actually pretty undeniable. Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism had highly developed forms of prayer, contemplation, devotional practices, yoga, meditation hundreds of years before Christianity and Islam.
Over the course of so many thousands of years, it’s not too much to conjecture that India’s religious traditions, which were always so central to it’s culture, would pervade the human evolution of its people – including the psychic phenomena which its traditions can produce – reading others’ thoughts and emotions, intuiting the future, etc.
India’s religions put such a strong emphasis on the third eye, the chakric energy center of intuition, vision, insight, wisdom, and knowledge. I don’t think it’s a mere coincidence that Indians have such large, beautiful, penetrating, knowing eyes. Which in my experience, seem to go straight to your heart.
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