Andy and I just finished our 10 day meditation retreat at the Tushita Center for Meditation. It was an absolutely amazing experience, and probably the most valuable that I've had during my entire stay. I found it so inspiring, that I've decided to stay on in McLeod Ganj and become a Bhuddist nun.
Actually, the opposite is true. While Tushita was the most valuable experience I've had (my brain is totally flipped and I have a whole new perspective of looking at the world) Andy and I have decided to return to the states about five weeks sooner than our original plans. Here's the story:
I went into the course last Tuesday morning feeling like India had turned me into a cruel, angry and depressed person. Every little thing was upsetting me. Some examples follow:
The streets in McLeod are narrow and (as in most Indian cities) there are no sidewalks so pedestrians and vehicles must share the lane. We were walking up a steep hill, when we encountered a traffic jam since there was a city vehicle that was parked (as much to the side as possible) in the lane. Cars were trying to pass the city vehicle and pedestrians were trying to pass the cars. When this sort of thing happens, an Indian driver's immediate response is to lay on the horn (not helpful). I was getting so frustrated with the honking, that I began to walk slowly (on purpose) in front of the car going up the hill. So, of course, the driver starts to honk at me. Instead of moving out of the way (like a sane person) I (am now a crazy annoyed at India person) instead shouted: "If your country had sidewalks, this wouldn't be a problem!". I know. not helpful at all, but like I said, India turned me into a crazy person. So, there was that incident. This was soon followed by a beggar (or maybe a salesman, I can't even remember now) trying to get our attention by calling, "Friend! Friend!". As usual, I ignored him but then went off on a rant:"No, I am not your friend. You don't even know me. You just want to be my friend because you think I have money and you want it. I do not want to be your friend..."(to clarify, I wasn't actually saying this to him, but now talking to myself angrily like a crazy person).
So, here I was in India and feeling like a terrible person. I was getting upset by the smallest of things and I had become so cruel as to completely ignore the beggars and the poverty that was right in front of my face. I was getting depressed just thinking about it.
The good news is that 10 days later, after doing the retreat, I feel like a changed person. I would certainly not consider myself a Bhuddist, but the 6 hours/day of teaching for 6 days followed by 6 hrs/day of meditation for 2 days provided me with new insight on myself and a new perspective on life.
Despite this, the morning before we left for the retreat, Andy and I bought new tickets home. We feel like we have done everything we came here to do, and now we (well, more I) can leave India on a positive note rather than on a negative one.
I am SO EXCITED to be home. I now have a new found appreciation for the United States and I can't wait to have all the luxuries of sidewalks, real mattresses and working toilets (with toilet paper!) . We are going to make the most of our last few days in India by traveling to Delhi, hopping on a day long train ride to Mumbai, and spending some time there before we fly home on the 12th!
Can't wait to see you all!