1) It has been said too often: "Don't sweat the small stuff." When one is to ask what is "the small stuff", a common answer is "everything". Truly, I have felt this valuable lesson hold true in India. I felt it most as I worked with spiritual men like Jemal and Jaidara. Both of them are great men who have taken on the oaths to become monks. As I worked with them and the many other monks at the Ananda Ashram of Pune, I felt that life seemed more simple than it usually does. Truly, what in life is worth stressing or worrying about? Nothing. Frequently, we get so bothered by the small things that we must do everyday. Or frequently, is it not true that we get so impatient with others around us? Why? Truly, it's not worth it. The monks frequently must have disagreed with our methods of working or acting, but there was never a time when they ridiculed. They allowed us our own freedoms to try things, mess up, and then try them again. Meanwhile, they were always there to help. I just thought about how different this is from myself. If I am working with someone who knows little about a project we are working on, I all to often decide to do it myself, rather than teach them. I get annoyed at how slow they work. I know I have done this on film sets many times, when the fact is that we are all beginners at some point in our lives. We have no reason to get annoyed with that person who can't seem to figure out how to get it just right. Anger is never justified. Again, a valuable lesson from the monks.
2) I feel I learned a lot about spirituality in a different sense than I have ever thought of. I learned that we are all on a path of spirituality. This path began when we were born and continues even after we die. On this path, every human soul is striving at different rates. Some try harder and succeed more at become spiritual. Some don't have that spiritual drive, and don't excel towards God as much as others.
The amazing thing that I felt as I thought a lot about spirituality is the way that God works with every person, despite religion, culture, or race. Here I am in a country where the idea of God is absolutely different from the idea of God that I hold. But does that make them any less spiritual than myself? Absolutely not. There are saints, monks, priests, pastors, bishops of all religions who are doing everything in the power to follow God, which in all honesty, is more than I can say that I am doing. I am no heretic, you see, but I would say that there are people who are, on their own spiritual path, making greater strides toward God than I am. I would not say this is a form of righteousness versus unrighteousness, but rather working toward a common goal at your own pace. I know with all my heart that God loves each of his children. Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Agnostic, or whatever other belief we hold to, God works with us each the same and wants us to be happy all the same. I learned that we really are all the same.
3) No matter how much money we choose to give, it will never be as valuable as time. When I was en route to India, I got to thinking about what it was that I was going to do. I thought about how I wanted to help the people of India. A thought came over my mind that left me feeling more selfish and self-satisfying than I had thought I was before I left. The thought was that here I am, not a rich man, but a fortunate man. I was spending about $2000 of mine and my parents' money to fly over to India to have an experience of a lifetime. "Was I really doing it for the people or was I doing it for myself?" I began to think. If I was truly going for the sole fact of helping the people, why would I have not just donated all that money. Wouldn't that help them out better anyway? This thought taunted me often while in India until I started to get to know the people. I saw them for what they truly desired: love. In America, we are rich. In comparison to the rest of the world, we are millionaires. I thought about this, and I thought about why can't we just be happy? We never go without. We always have food on our plates, clothes on our backs, and a shelter to sleep in. Yet, there are so many people in America who are truly not happy. They are deprived of love. That same love that people in India desire. I saw this as I played with the children in the village that one day. Seeing them smile and run around made me realize that the time I was sharing with them, the feelings of love shared between us was more valuable than anything I could ever ask for. I will never be able to forget the little baby's face as she held onto my hands trying to walk or the boy who followed me around with bare feet in the mud playing soccer. Or the smile of the kids as we shared a piece of candy with them. They had nothing, yet had something so desirable, it left me yearning for more. I did not want to leave and as I think about life in America, it saddens me that experience like that are few and far between. I could have given that village the $2000 I spent to go to India, but would it have really improved their lives? Some people may still not be convinced, but I firmly believe that it would not have. For a short period of time, would they be able to enjoy certain pleasures that we have in America, but such things are temporary and not long-lasting. And I fear that such things would cause them to forget the truly joyous things that are found in their simple lifestyle. I learned, once again, that all the money in the world won't provide for your happiness. Spending time with someone nice who smiles and is willing to share a laugh will provide through life.
I guess those are 3 main points I just wanted to hit on. The thoughts, as always, are unorganized and weak, but they are comfortable for me. I enjoy expression through words and thought. I only wish I was more skillful at it. India was amazing. I don't know if this will be my last post or not. But should it be, stay tuned. This blog won't end. Although this journey has ended, there will be another one beginning. For life is not about the destination. It's about the journey. I love you all. Thanks for reading. Namaste.