धर्मो रक्षति रक्षितः। Dharmo Raksati Raksitah.

Dharma protects those who protect it.

– Veda Vyas, Mahabharat

What India teaches us

An experience of not knowing

‘Incredible’ is the most common term used to describe India. From a western point of view, this is easy to get: when a foreigner experiences being in the middle of a colourful chaos of buses, cars, rickshaws, motorcycles, bicycles, people, cows, dogs, rats, sometimes elephants, or when he can gaze at pictures of beauty and dirt, wealth and poverty, tradition and modernity, he definitely considers India as a tremendous masala. Indians themselves perfectly know this “incredible-ness” and often joke about it, laughing at the daily life everyone can witness with its contradictions and its disorders. I’d like to suggest that this is precisely why this country may be the best place to un-learn: roughly said, if one wants to survive here, they have to let go of all their expectations, all their patterns of thinking, living, reacting. In that sense, because this country is so different from our habits and way of apprehending, to travel or live in India might become a kind of journey to the Unknown.

But there is more to it than having one’s own personal habits shaken. Actually, any expatriation has its lot of discovery and, if taken with an open mind, would be a great experience of letting go. In fact, India might change you more deeply and for this reason, is often considered as THE country for a self transformation. Of course, the huge difference from western ways of life forces you to open yourself and get a better flexibility to what is there to live: no other way than to accept. But if a change happens, it will come from something even more powerful — which permeates the very blood of this country. Although invisible, this is there in the air, in the soil, in the trees, coming from the thousand years ancient Indus Valley Civilization. This is not a written philosophy, history or book theory, this is not knowledge-based; on the contrary, only an experience to live, offered as a gift to anyone who sets foot on the Indian subcontinent.

Mother India

This country — some say it is not a nation but a kind of universal home — seems to elude any intellectual control: when one comes, they have to surrender to life itself and let it flow. India can’t be understood by the mind and forces us to feel instead. Then the transformation will start. Wherever we come from, we all experiment a feeling of emptiness within us: doubt, failure or meaninglessness, in short, a kind of craving inside. Is anything missing within? This very feeling is likely to make us start searching, whatever way we choose to do so — travels, job, family, studies, sport, art… — to feel more complete, as if a strong sense of a possible wholeness urged us forward. We may have lost what this “missing part” is, but in any way we’ve already experimented it, we remember the possibility of being complete and whole. It looks like India has an answer to give, which foreigners, travelers, and seekers come here to recover.

Mother India answers:

You are more than your mind or your thoughts, the genuine “you” is beyond.

Beyond? In India, this beyond is no mysterious or hermeneutic matter, it is real: in this tree, in this river, in this stone that are Gods. Everything is the manifestation of the Sacred, everything is transcendence. In that sense, the Indian soil keeps us in touch with the reality of the true nature of life beyond the visible and invites us to not know, to unlearn, to unfold the cultural and social patterns inside ourselves. To find a way to our true Nature.

This article has been reproduced with permission from its author, Stephanie Orace. The original articled was published at https://medium.com/@stephanie_orace/what-india-teaches-us-1f1fe0252525; some highlighting has been added in this version.