I had been asked by temple administration before I left for India to leave a name of the person who would be your next-of-kin In case anything happened to me. This info is required for all resident monks. Upon returning from India I decided to call my sister, Connie, who is a year and a half my junior. So I called her this morning.
As is usual she tells about her grade one students and how adorable they are. She asked me, “Do you celebrate Diwali?” She explained that a woman of east Indian decent came to her school and spoke to her class about Diwali. Connie talked about dots on the forehead. Colourful beads, and lit candles. She described it quite well.
I think that it’s quite remarkable that young students at age six are taught to respect the diverse cultures out there that exist amongst us. They didn’t have programs like that for us as we were entering into the world of responsibility. In the sixties you were taken into the life of revolt one way or another breaking down walls of prejudice between blacks and whites and other bias attitudes. In Canada it became compulsory to learn some French in school as a way to bring down barriers of the bodily concept. We saw the change. Nothing helped me as much as hearing we are not these bodies which was a healthy message that kept repeating itself when I was living in the ashram.
I finished my talk today at our Brampton centre on that note-“we are not these bodies.” But not to miss the point there is a dire need to care for these bodies which are on loan to us. I took a 7 Km walk south on Avenue rd. to care for this body when a middle-aged woman commented, “those clothes look really great!” I thanked her for the remark. Back in the fifties she likely would not have said that due to the conservative and prejudice climate of the time.
I had spoken once again today at the celebration of Goverdhana Puja, honouring the sacred hill of Goverdhana near Vrindavana, India. The message was similar. Let’s get off the bodily concept and take to higher consciousness…..like some of the people who take hours to circumambulate the hill as walking pilgrims do.
Go ahead! Walk through the colorful autumn trees. And if you wear saffron you might blend in real well.