Again, I must begin with a quote. I always feel like other people say it better than me. Haha.
"The Yogis, however, say that human discontentment is a simple case of mistaken identity. We're miserable because we think that we are mere individuals, alone with our fears and flaws and resentments and mortality. We wrongly believe that that our limited egos constitute our whole entire nature. We have failed to recognize our deeper divine character. We don't realize that, somewhere within us all, there does exist a supreme self who is eternally at peace. The supreme self is our true identity, universal and divine... a notion nicely expressed in this exasperated line from the Greek stoic philosopher Epictetus: 'You bear God within you, poor wretch, and know it not.'"
from Eat, Pray, Love
Hannah read this book at the start of our journey and when I finished Life of Pi, I picked up Eat, Pray, Love and began reading the India seciton. When I ran across this quote, it caught my attention. It's so true, isn't it? Don't we so often just get caught up in our own humanity; our own problems, life, self? And then we begin to think we are so alone in all of it, that no one else could possibly feel the way we feel. Goodness gracious, we can be vain. Myself included, of course. Wasn't I the one who came to Kolkata, complaining about the heat and the crowds and poverty and thought "no one else is breaking down like I am. what's wrong with me? why me?" And wasn't it me who realized I was NOT the only going through this, that I had Hannah and all of Calcutta Club at home right there with me? Complain, complain, right? It's so easy to get caught up in it all.
But isn't it a glorious, unique moment when God smacks you upside the head and back out of the situation so that you can look at it for what it truly is? Standing back, you can see that there is so much more. So much more than just my mortal thoughts, my human needs and wants. Within me dwells a holy being that cares not about whether I am sweating or sitting in a.c. or whether I am tall or short, fat or skinny, or any number of things. All He cares about is my heart, my love, my soul. These things cannot be destroyed by worldly things. They stand alone. HE stands alone. Yet, we so rarely see our life like this. And this is where I thought about those sweet little babes from Daya Dan. Now, they have it right. Some of those babies will NEVER have the things that they want (or some even need), like the ability to walk, or speak, or eat on their own. And yet I have gotten a smile out of each and every one of them at some point in my stay. They are happy. Why? Because an eternal, divine, loving being dwells within them. And they know it. When I look in their eyes, I can see it. How lucky they are! To have nothing, but to have everything! And I have everything and yet nothing. Because I cannot recognize God within me. So now, I suppose, I change. Easier said then done, right? But life is about learning. If I don't take this new knowledge and do something with it what was the point of coming here?
In other news, I am playing around with the best ways to post pictures. I tried to post them directly onto the blogs but it takes FOREVER and I don't really have much time for internet. So I am downloading them into a photobucket album and I'll post that URL here so you can view them.m
Also, I wanted to tell you a little bit about my Thursdays off. Last Thursday, we took a bus to Howrah and to the botanical garden. What a place! It was unlike anything in Kolkata. It was peaceful, quiet, clean (relatively), and so green! Our trips there and back were quiet typical of Kolkata though. On the way there, we wandered around the Esplanade bus station trying to find a bus. A nice guy found us and asked us what we were looking for. We told him and he said he would help us get the bus. When it came, we all ran out into the road and jumped on the bus (while it was still moving, I might add) and took off to Howrah. I don't know exactly who the guy was, but apparently he works for the buses because he ended up working for this same bus. In another situation, we may have been a little sketched out, but he was very nice and we were so grateful for his help that we let it slide. Haha. He and the bus driver asked us questions in the little English they knew and let us sit in the front seat of the bus. At our stop, they wanted us to take their picture, so we did (included in the pictures when I get them up). They were unbelievably nice and I seriously doubt if we would have been able to get to Howrah without them. Just when I think I can only meet people in Kolkata who are only nice to get me to come into their shop, something like this happens and proves me totally wrong. Such genuine kindness knocked me off my feet. Then, on the bus ride home, the bus broke down in the middle of the street! We had to get off and catch another bus from the road. Oh! Kolkata. Haha.
This past Thursday, Hannah and I visited Kali Temple in Kalighat. This is a Hindu temple to the goddess, Kali. This was... an expereince. I found the temple to be very crowded, noisy, dirty, and stressful. Many people were pushing and shoving to get in front of the statue of Kali in order to place purchased flowers on the figure or just to touch it. We had to take our shoes off and the ground was completely disgusting from so much traffic every day. In the courtyard, they were sacrificing a goat. This was quite disturbing as they basically cut the goat into little tiny pieces. We did not stay long enough to see what they did with the pieces. As someone who prefers to be extremely respectful for other religions and other popell's beliefs, I will not do Hinduism the injustice of passing judgement based on my small viewing of the religion in my visit to the temple. I think that I will get a book on Hinduism and Buddhism so that I can be more knowledgeable on both subjects and Hannah and I will continue to visit temples and experience as much as we can. For now, though, I believe I prefer the peaceful serenity and reverence of the Buddhist Wats in Bangkok. Later in the evening, we went to Southcity mall to see Harry Potter. Yay! It was fabulous, of course.
Daya Dan update: Pompa has been walking (with the help of the railing)! She is doing so fabulously.
Thank you all so much for continuing to follow this and support me and Hannah. We appreciate it so much!
Love from Kolkata,