Lola Bites Back: And Other Inspirational Tidbits

Location: Bissingen an der Teck, Baden Wuerttemberg, Germany

Laughing all the way...

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Only Place in the World Where The Cows Roam Free
Of late I have had some time for reflection. A slowing of the tornado of activities, people and ideas swirling around me just enough for some digestion of the facts at hand.

What are the Facts At Hand?

As fallible and limited human beings, perhaps there are some things we don't want to see. We are fearful and so we don't look at them. Instead we distract ourselves with countless activities, splitting our awareness in countless directions and rendering each bit ineffectual. Distraction is a real challenge.

Take me for example; I myself have been caught up in my own personal tornado since I arrived here in Rishikesh nearly two months ago. But finally a change is coming. Something is on the horizon. Perhaps some important lessons? Patience, patience, patience.

I decide to be easy on myself and reserve judgment for now, as I am starting to experience the "fact" that self-judgment is pointless and destructive. It serves no purpose in our lives. That said, I am still my own harshest critic.

"Judge not, that you be not judged." Simple, yes?

Fact: If you can be patient and you have faith, sit quietly and God will come to you. 'Meditation" means - more or less - to sit quietly. One very influential yogi in South India - I believe it was Ramana Maharishi in Tiruvannamalai but will need to confirm - said that the whole of Vedanta (India's highest philosophical teaching) can be summed up by two verses in the Bible. One of them is burned into my heart and mind; "Be still and know that I am God."

It's so simple. God is God is God whatever you feel to call him/it. And to experience God, you have to sit quietly with yourself. Alas..

For me, this is a defining internal struggle, perhaps the struggle of this decade. If I could learn to improve this one skill during this decade, I would be quite satisfied with the quality of my life (I admit I am anxious to be 40 and Full Power, but I am anxious in a very patient way).

On the other hand, I have been undeniably blessed with a strong and present faith in the rightness of all things, in the purpose of all things, and in the justice of all things. Only now I start to understand that faith is not an easy thing to learn. And If it wasn't gifted to me back in 2001, I'm not sure how I would or could develop it myself.

Enough. Please just know that even though I cannot communicate much of my daily experience via the internets, I am processing something. Only God knows what, but something. We will simply have to discover what it is together.

In response to commentor #2; I haven't written much about my father's condition for several reasons but I will only share the most important one; that is, I don't have the feeling to post personal and sensitive information (that may or may not be accurate and up-to-date) about my father anywhere near the internet. It's just my intuition. All I feel to say is that the situation appears to be somewhat stable and I continue to pray for him and everyone.

This, actually, brings me to another fact; Prayer is power. If we pray with strong faith and an open heart, we will have everything we ask. Whether you're a Hindu or a Catholic, it's just true. So please, dear readers, pray not only for the health of my father, but your friends and family as well. We are naive and ignorant to waste this opportunity for simple and direct communication with God (My words may sound harsh only because I myself do not measure up to my own expections. Patience patience patience! Expectations = disappointment = suffering. Judgment = self destruction. Patience = Godliness.)

Random point of interest: Some days ago I cleansed my nose with a neti pot. You bend over and plug one nostril with the spout of the pot, then tilt your head until you find the canal and watch the water come out the other nostril. Then you blow your nose a lot. It's really great. (Grandmama informs me that you can buy one at Henry's.)

What do you think? I recently had the advice that perhaps it is not wise to keep a blahg such as this one, and I am intrigued. Maybe it's not a good idea to write just anything and everything and post it on a global public forum. I will consider this notion further, and I welcome any opinions or suggestions on the matter.

Are you ready for this??...Seven May is the Magic Day!!

In an unprecedented turn of events, my very own mother will make her debut here in the Holy Wonderland of Rishikesh approximately five weeks hence! For somewhat incomprehensible reasons, mama has chosen to arrive here just in time for the torturous heat. And, as I recall, the height of creature season. Already the mosquitoes and flies arrived only maybe two weeks ago, and more are on the way. Also, in May the Indians will be coming. They will very likely want to have a picture or two (or 12) with her.

I have no idea how my dear Mama will adjust to this place, but I do know that she is no creampuff. In fact, I have complete faith that she will have no problem seeing past the general inconveniences of Indian culture - the creatures, the stink, the noise, the heat, the Indians, the noise, the garbage, the lack of chairs, the noise, etc. - and will fall hopelessly in love with Mother India. The place where everything is possible. The only place in the world where the cows roam free.

And there are truly only two kinds of people in this world; the one who absolutely hate it and the ones who are compelled to keep coming back. Hee hee hee hoo hoo hah hah hah haa haa haa haa haa...

As always,
with greatest love and affection,

PS I fully intend to write email very soon now. Please be patient with me...I promise I haven't forgotten about anyone!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Holi!!!!

I am aware I have neglected this blahg. There is much to share, but where to start? Time here has no beginning and no end; it is simultaneously stretched and squeezed to the limit. The day has suddenly disappeared, but last week feels like last month. In addition, my brain is not processing words like I was once so well-trained to do. Please excuse.

Although every single day is special, today is an especially special day. In fact this entire week is a powerfully spiritual week, filled with significant holidays and celebrations for many of the world's major religions. Coincidence? I think not.

We recognized Good Friday, a traditionally somber occasion, by abstaining from milk (and of course meat, but there is no meat in Rishikesh as it's a holy place) and remembering the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Then Saturday was 1) the Full Moon, 2) the Equinox (12 hours daylight and 12 hours night time), and 3) one of Mother India's biggest holiday celebrations; Holi Day! Holi Day is best described as complete madness; Indians and foreigners alike run around like crazed maniacs throwing and smearing bright paint colours on each other. We're talking highly toxic neon powders and liquids in red, orange, yellow, green, purple and fuscia. What's not to love? Children stand on the roof and target those in the streets with buckets of coloured water, screaming, 'Happy Holi! while others ambush you in the streets. Cows and dogs are not spared. I had the opportunity to experience Holi two times in the past, choosing instead to hole up in my ashram. But this year I was finally ready to go for it, after all, it's one of those things everyone should try at least once in their lives, yes? A few pics are included to give you an idea of just how Holi this Holi Day is.

Now it's Sunday, El Dia de la Pascua; a.k.a. Easter! In contrast to Friday, today is a reason for real celebration, as "Jesus is Risen!" is a message of hope and joy. And even if you aren't a religious fanatic like me, you can still find something to appreciate in the story of the resurrection of Christ.

For me, I am hopeful for the future, specifically with regard to my family. We currently face a challenge that none of us could have imagined, but we have come together in love and faith and we are strong. As it's written in the New Testament and as my own experience has taught me, if your faith is strong, "nothing will be impossible for you" (Matther 17:20). Indeed, God is with us every step of the way.

Finally, I have included a few pictures for your viewing pleasure. Don't forget that even though I am far away, you are each of you permanently placed in the depths of my soul. My heart swells with appreciation for your remarkable endurance, love and support. May peace be with you all on this auspicious occasion,

your devoted ambassador in training,


Holi Madness!

Atsushi, me, Babaji, and one Unnamed Russian

Coloured people!

Holy Ganga Bath is an essential daily ritual here in Rishikesh.

Swami Ramanandaji - 84 years old and a.k.a. "funny baba" - is our chosen guru. He gives us HI-larious lessons in yogasana, pranayama and meditation and then force-feeds us mass amounts of prasad (holy food offering, usually intense Indian sweets).

Holy Mother Ganga, with Ram Jhulla Bridge in background.

Nightly chai shop concerts with devotional songs (barjan and mantras) and some popular songs as well. Here is me with Babaji, one of our favorite baba companions.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Tragedy is another word for Opportunity

The last week has been surreal and I've found it nearly impossible to find words for my blahg. Even now, like pulling teeth..

God works in mysterious ways indeed. When I look back on my life in the states - a blur of depression, confusion, pain and loneliness - I understand how my past suffering is directly related to my current freedom. How many times did I imagine driving off the road, a simple and final way to end it all? Until the night I actually did drive off the road, I thought I wanted to die. My struggles are far from over, but the suffering process taught me at least one critical skill; how to appreciate my blessings. And they are many.

I continue to read the Bible and I am learning to pray again as I first learned to pray in Mexico. A friend here made a gift to me of a rosary some days ago and with it I have reconnected with my family's tradition. It is unusual - to say the least - to be pracitising Christian traditions here in the land of Hindus, but as I know in the depths of my soul, God has many forms. It is not important how you refer to God, only that you love and devote yourself to God with all your being. As I look around me I understand that my deep faith is without a doubt my greatest blessing of all.

My heart is with my family now more than ever. Together we are facing and overcoming some of life's greatest challenges. We can wring our hands in the face of tragedy, or we can take the opportunity to rediscover what is truly important. For me that is love.

I love you all, my dearest friends and family. Thank you for your patience and understanding. The road I have chosen is not an easy one as spiritual practice is just that: practice. And slowly I inch forward.

Swamiji Dharmananda, my teacher and my inspiration, has returned to Rishikesh just in time to guide me through the latest challenges presented by life. Another of many examples where I truly do have everything I need.

Gracias a Dios y a mi querida familia,
La lucha sigue,