Friday, November 12, 2010
I am no George Harrison. Nope. When I was in India in 1988, though I was indeed undergoing a spiritual rebirth, I was unable to take it in gracefully. Before that journey, I'd spent my entire life in the U.S. and western Europe. I'd read about Asia, I'd seen Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and Indian movies - lots of them - but at the deepest level I didn't understand that the worlds described in those films, in the books, actually existed. My sense of Asia was purely theoretical. Coming face to face with the reality of India was a true initiation. After India, my whole life changed.
My ex-husband is in possession of the photos we took in India. How I wish I could see some of those images again. What I remember about the pics of me is how afraid I look. My condition went way beyond apprehension; I was deeply frightened, yet also fascinated and too, my experience of Inda was exactly like tripping on LSD. Whoa. India shattered my western ego into a million pieces.
In my dream last night I was back in Benares (also called Varanasi), Shiva's home town, walking down the steep ghat steps by the river Ganges. One of my friends "drove" up to the shore in a red convertible. It must have been a boat but it looked like a Chevy to me. In the dream she had come to pick me up so we could go see the Apu trilogy. But I was reluctant.
Bathing in the Ganges is a holy ritual to Hindus. The river is a goddess whose powers include relief from the endless cycle of lives. Gunga delivers the souls of those who bathe in her waters to a place of healing and renewal. She provides liberation, moksha.
What's incredible about this vid (made in the 1930's) is that the shoreline of Benares was almost exactly the same in 1988 as it appears here. I have no doubt that it still looks almost identical. Imagine cell phones in the hands of the people on the ghats - I'm sure that's how it looked yesterday, and how it'll look tomorrow. I love the narration. The music is hilarious, too. The "white races" eh? Oh my. And yes the cows go wherever they want there.
My reluctance in the dream was somewhat similar to the reluctance I felt when I went down to the river in 1988. I can't even imagine what's in the water there, I mean - the germs, bacteria, cholera, not to mention the chunks and bits of human remains since the ashes of the dead, after cremation, are placed in the river.
I don't remember getting into the boat with my friend or the cruise down the river, but I know that I did enter the divine Ganges in my dream because later on we were at the cinema, settling in to watch Apu.
In addition to being completely awesome (in the truest sense of the word), last night's dream is telling me that all this work I've been doing lately to compost old patterns, to let go of my "mistakes" through the process of sacred rot, is working!
Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (I can hear the recording of MLK, Jr. at the end of his "I Have a Dream" speech anytime I think of these words. Thanks, Martin!)