Michelle K. Wood Photography 

Have Camera, Will Travel 

All posts in February, 2013

October 23, 2012: Altar at end of reception counter at the Ganesha Inn hotel, Rishikesh.

2012 10 23 Ganesha Inn Reception Desk with incense - small

When I talk about the marriage of East and West, I typically mean combining the practices of kirtan, Hindu devotional singing, with A Course In Miracles.


Here is an excerpt from an email I sent on November 20, 2012 from Varanasi, India. It explains so much, and yet so little.


Some of my disjointed thoughts, but they weave themselves into a pattern; I don’t know the final picture, or even if there is one:


India 1 – I walk out of my hotel and literally run into a tiny woman holding a rag-cloaked baby, she’s holing out a tin cup and saying “Mama, Mama” like an old baby doll when you pressed it’s belly, and making the motion to eat. I run into her because I’m trying to avoid a cow who’s peeing gallons of urine into the street.


India 2 – Five minutes later I am walking the ghats and tears are streaming down my face because being there wells up in emotions so strong if I tried to contain them I’d probably burst.


I could say the woman/baby is the darkness being purged, but on nearly every street corner in Bend there is a person begging for money, and walking along the Deschutes River hasn’t been so emotionally charged. It IS HERE, it’s this place that does it. It can only be taught as it’s been experienced, (but I do think it can be taught to people who don’t have the opportunity to experience it) to wit:


In school, we all learned the story of George Washington and the cherry tree….”I cannot tell a lie.”…..and then in Jr High we’re told it didn’t really happen. So, we educate our children with lies to teach them honesty. (This has to be the public education equivalent of GMO Spirituality.) Does anyone wonder why our culture is so screwed up, or is everyone so brainwashed they don’t notice?


I thought of that one yesterday because I was at the coffee shop listening to two young girls (collage students), and one was talking about how her Native American grandmother used to teach lessons by sharing her life experiences. This gal is from Toronto, Canada, and is here at the university down the street for a few months. I talked with them for a while, nice conversation, but it put the spotlight onto methods of teaching…..spirituality as well as everything else.


That made me think of the discussion group approach again. Look at how Krishnamurti did “lessons,” a group of people came together and he answered their questions; even his books are Q&A sessions. So, if I remember right, it was the same in your Balsekar video. So, too, is Abraham-Hicks. (I know you don’t care for them, but they’re a lot deeper than you realize.)


It makes me wonder what would happen if there were a group that came together by a river for an hour of kirtan followed by an hour (or even two) of ACIM discussion. The world may not be ready for it.


I’m not at the moment interested in the doing of it as much as feeling out the approach itself. I keep thinking of the contrast between, say, a Krishnamurti-style and that guy at the Mysore Brothers concert who was just determined to teach me how to be spiritual through his library. The really paradoxical thing is that the guy said he’s been singing for 20 years and hasn’t yet achieved enlightenment. Silently, I wondered, “Why not?” and then thought, “Stop trying so hard!” Maybe he’s enlightened and just doesn’t know it because he’s measuring his experience against the wrong ruler, the Western GMO Spirituality Index. (That sounds like a good title for a conversation.)


People make it so hard. It’s just not that complicated. You said it in your note: the river, non-dual awareness and gut processing. The difference here, though, is that spiritual awareness is everywhere every minute of every day: Rama Krisna Plywood and its cousins from earlier emails, the street shrines all over the place, even on the ghats. The hotel has an altar near the front desk as does the restaurant (they receive fresh garlands of flowers daily), as as did the hotel in Rishikesh and the one in Haldwani. The travel agent office has a little altar on the wall. They’re all tended with devotion. Not just thoughts of devotion, but ACTS of devotion…..go out and get the flowers, place them “just so”….etc. In the West, it seems we do things more because we’re supposed to than that we want to, following the prescribed motions without the depth of devotion.


Even in spirituality, Westerners seem to be consumers instead of devotees. Or maybe it’s just me and I’ve got it all mixed up.  


That’s a good one, though….GMO Spirituality. Sounds like a good title for a book!!!!!  (sorry, I just couldn’t resist saying it……)


I have since changed my thoughts and found that the world is not only ready but hungering, indeed starving for the spiritual upliftment and mind-expanding experience.