INDIA23 March 2020
India has two million gods, and worships them all.
In spirituality all other countries are paupers; India is the only millionaire.
– Mark Twain
The intention had been to head back ‘home’ to India before Christmas, then, with one small drama after another to resolve, it got delayed and now, amidst the virus restrictions, entry back in is restricted, and well, it is as it is, I’m stranded in my mother country, pining for the heat, dust and spirit found in another.
The spirit of India, that remains almost entirely preserved by the daily prevalence of its spiritual practices and traditions. Oddly, or maybe not so oddly, it is the acknowledgement of strangers, and the reverence found in placing two hands together, and bowing your head in peaceful recognition of another, I miss the most. Without it, while it is as it has always been in the West, but a blasé ‘Hi’ does remain somehow empty of honour, and tangibly shallow by comparison.
Yet hey, don’t get me wrong there remain small glimpses of soul in England too, I certainly, pine for British humour, Guinness and cauliflower cheese when I’m not here. Yet, I’ve witnessed the slow decline of the West all my life, born in the late 1960’s, while it might be said, that my generation lived the last of the good days – raving our tits off through the 80’s and early 90’s. Really, I think from the moment Thatcher finished the Mining Industry, and the Conservatives pushed through the Criminal Justice Bill in 1994, and we witnessed Britain being slowly turned into a surveillance/police state. Then, with the final and ultimate deathly slaughtering of the community with the Smoking Ban of 2004. The Britain I once knew and loved is long gone.
Yet, while India has its nuances, mosquitos and snakes, it is as it is, my life has changed, flying back into Delhi Airport and it now, carries a sense of arriving home. Yet really, it’s not like I can afford to live anywhere else, certainly, I no longer have enough money to live in England. By example, getting a bus from Rishikesh back to Delhi, a seven-hour journey, costs four hundred rupees, £4.47. I fly half-way round the world, arrive back at Heathrow, and a two-and-a-half-hour journey with National Express to Newport, Wales costs £48.00. Really, how can anybody afford to live in the UK? So instead, I live like a Queen in India, in a small but really, nice house, duly eating out most days, for about five hundred pounds a month.
Yet, now having been away nearly five months, I’m really missing ‘my home.’ She feeds my soul in a way the West never has, and now I feel my spirit yearning again for the spiritual nourishment that is not only forgotten here, but more often ruthlessly rebuffed. Ffs by example, my own son turned around to me and said “Mum, don’t give me your spiritual shit!” It is as it is, with thanks to the farce of religion, a few too many paedophile priests and a load of New Age bollox, it’s not my poor mothering skills alone, that’s given ‘the spiritual consideration’ a bad rap.
Yet, as is the nature of man, we become like the people we hang out with. If we live in a society that believes spirituality is something ‘endured’ only at Christmas and Easter, to celebrate the birth and death of some bloke who could turn water into wine, who was born in a stable and died on a cross. Then, if no one is educated differently or to the contrary, it’s easy to understand why football, and Tyson Fury appear infinitely godlier, than any shite I might tell you.
Alas, while I can try and explain, that ‘real spiritual practice’ has not a lot to do with singing hymns and lighting a candle for some great bearded man you’ve never met and are ever likely to meet. Yet, remains much more concerned with who you are, how you think, how you respect and nurture yourself, and the practice of actual physical exercises, such as yoga and more importantly breathing technics designed to shift energy – specifically Kundalini, to move the dormant potential force of the subtle body. By learning to realign this energy, a mystical sense of wellbeing and happiness is achieved, as natural energetic beings, with practice we begin to resonate to a higher vibration and with it, we can discover senses we never knew we had, while awakening a feeling of wholeness and fulfilment paralleled only to a kind of magic.
It is how it is, but its pointless me talking about it, because without the experience of it, most people certainly here in the West, including my own son, look at me like I’m crazy. Subsequently, here in England, I appear to just put myself into mute, say nothing and instead evoke all Britishness and just talk about the fucking weather. It’s not good for me…
It closes my heart, makes you lonely in a crowd. Yet, maybe offbeam and not of my norm, is something I’ve felt for a long time, in so far as my fascination, knowledge of the esoteric is all I truly understand and yet, the effort to transcend what is ‘the unknown’ into an accessible language for others to comprehend kind of eludes me. Still, it explains why I find such comfort in India, live in Rishikesh, in what is deemed the spiritual centre of the world at the foot of the Himalayas.
Anyway, amidst the small handful of good friends, I have there, is Rabbu. The man is a legend, and my gratitude for knowing him is enormous. One of life’s genuine spiritual punks, rebellious and pure hearted, they don’t make so many like Rabbu.
So, very prevalent in Rishikesh are the Naga, the Sadhu, a tribe of monks dedicated to achieving Moksa, the final asrama (stage of life) that is complete liberation, as in no further reincarnations. While Rabbu, is no monk, he grew up around them. As a teenager, smoking chillums on the street, a man I’ve never met, but for all I’ve heard of remains a truly remarkable individual. Took Rabbu under his wing, demanding if he was going to smoke, he shouldn’t do so on the street, instead he should go to the temple each day and smoke with him instead.
Anyway, to cut a long story short. While there are thousands of Naga babas, from the good, the bad, the naughty and those that should never be trusted. Yet, with thanks to his guru, Rabbu is like a ticket to ‘the Old School’ and what is a small posse of remarkable demi-god like characters amidst them. Anyway, much to do with something I’m working on, but also, because somehow the universe obviously believed it to be a necessary and life changing experience for me.
Last Summer, Rabbu took me on this epic bike trip up the Himalayas, to meet three specific babas. Two and a half thousand miles on a twenty-year-old Bullet, then day’s spent trekking upriver and mountain to extraordinarily isolated places. While the Himalayas by themselves remain an experience of their own, and there remain, just so many stories related to this trip, and while, each man I met was as astonishing as you might imagine meeting three Dalai Lama’s . It was, the so nicknamed, Baba White that truly blew me away. Living way up in the mountains above Badrinath, he was the last person we visited.
Arriving a little before midday, wholly unannounced, I mean how to tell a man who lives in the mountains, twenty miles from the nearest village, and has lived there since the 1970’s – you’re on your way?
Subsequently, the first remarkable thing was when he turned to Rabbu, and said, “I saw you coming, in my meditation this morning.” Which was apparent, as he’d already made the effort to prepare us lunch.
Yet, it was when we sat around the fire, with some chai, that this glistening eyed, white dreadlocked god of a man, turned to me and said in his perfect BBC World Service English. “And you my dear, I know why you’re here, I know you’ve been worried about how your heart feels so closed. Yet, what my love you are miss understanding, is that if you open it again, before you are properly healed, and ready, it will become infected again.’’
Jesus, really, if I hadn’t been sitting down, I would have fallen over. I’d told no one how I’d been feeling, really, I hadn’t even been able to explain it to myself. Yet, here was a man way up in the mountains, I’d never met before, looking at me with his soft, gentle compassion, spilling words as if he’d spent days in my own head?
There are some that say, I share too much of myself as a writer. That, I should be more discerning about wearing my heart on my sleeve. I respect that, but if I filter what I say, what I write, to me it reads as ungenuine and dishonest. In a world, crippled by secrets, and masks, and government farce. The sense is that gut honesty, is the only way forward. We’re all fucked up, damaged, and in possession of a few issues, this is the 21st Century, there’s no get out of jail free card. If we continue to wear a mask, pretend to be some other manifestation other than ourselves, we resolve nothing, but merely perpetuate the lies and stay ever damaged.
Today, the whole world is on lockdown, forced into isolation, while its not the forty years of solitude that Baba White has lived. Yet perhaps, with forty days and forty nights before our government’s allow our ascension out. We’ve now, all and each, a little time to slow down, allow our bodies to rest and our minds to heal. No doubt, in a few days we’ll all see more clearly. While maybe you won’t see me puffing my way up a mountain to see you, or yet have the eyes to see into the soul of the man next door and unearth his darkest secret. Yet, our intuitive capacity for infinitely more is there within us all, it just needs a moment to awakening, and whilst we can speed the process with a little knowledge of Kundalini. For now, trusting the process of a little time in solitude is just fine…
The magic will come, because as Baba White said to me, “Once you know the way of the magic, the healing is done, and then, you can open you heart again, and really, begin to play.”