In every way that you can be “called” to do something, my soul was called to go to India and I think that’s how it is for a lot of us who have traveled there. Of course, I didn’t answer the question of why I went to India for many years and even then the answer has changed over time. The experience changed me in so many ways and I still use it as a reference for much of my teachings today. It’s been 15 years since that journey and sometimes it feels like a dream that I once had.
One of the most amazing things to help me understand my experience was actually when I left India. I was on my way back to Canada via the UK, where my aunt lived. She passed one last box of some of my grandfather’s stories and personal writings for me to take home. He died when I was very young so I didn’t ever get to know him. But I knew from my father that he was an adventurer and storyteller and he told his stories in the palaces during the British raj.
I sat down to read the contents of the box and the first sentence of his journal was: “I know every nook and cranny of the Kulu valley”. I had just spent the last 3 months all over this valley ~ nook and cranny. I was deeply touched by the discovery of this journal entry. Reading his words was the first time that I met him and knew we were connected. It helped me understand perhaps one of the reasons that I had been drawn to go to India. He loved it too and he changed his life after being there, just as I did.
I began to realize that my fascination with story had roots and that I come from a story-teller’s family. It’s no wonder that I was drawn to a story-teller’s ancient tradition of knowledge ~ Vedanta. Story has been a way for me to understand the world and my place in it. The yogis say we can find ourselves and the stories of our lives reflected in the stories in the Sanskrit epics like The Mahabharata. For instance, in the Mahabharata, Krishna helps Arjuna to follow his dharma. Whose dharma it is to fight against ignorance even when it causes others to suffer. I’ve been in that story in my life. I’ve seen myself in Yudhistira who keeps giving power-hungry Duryodhana another chance not to gamble his trust. Yudhistira keeps giving those a chance to become worthy and follows his dharma to do so whatever the cost. I have been lost in the woods and fallen on my path in life only to come to a crossroads to choose again which way I will take: Self-ish or Self-less.
Story is great way to learn and develop ourselves. It helps us realize that we are a part of the great epic that is this human life.
Our stories give another layer of meaning to our lives. Where are you in your story?
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