Monday, June 25, 2012

Some reflections

It has been a long time since I wrote. Many things have happened in this time. I have become a Singapore citizen and therefore have a new passport and painfully have to take a visa to visit India. Anyway as someone said, when you pick up one end of a stick, you automatically pick up the other end too.
I have immersed myself deeper into the practice of Vipassana, now working more closely with the area teachers and taking on a few more responsibilities. My recent visit to Malaysia, where I served in the 10 day course was another huge learning experience, as all courses are.

From time to time I am quite intrigued by the fact that Westerners find India and Indian ways so confusing. For instance, the many languages that India has, what is "mother-tongue", what is caste and how do you know who is a brahmin and who is not; things which are so natural and automatic to my understanding requires a great deal of explanation to a Westerner. I suppose it is the huge cultural difference. India is far too complex, too many layers, divisions and sub-divisions to grasp for a Westerner with the added confusion of caste and social class.

In any case I have been working on my native language, mainly learning through the internet and can now read quite well. That has also been a subject of curious questions. How come I have to learn my native language? How come I do not read and write in Tamil? And then I take them on a Indian Education System 101 :) . Hindi is the national language but all Indians do not speak the language (especially South India). But since it is the national language we have to study it in school. Further, each state of India has its own language. For instance, my home town is Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh where Telugu is the dominant language, so that language is offered in schools. However, we do have an option to read Sanskrit instead of Telugu. Finally, partially giving up the attempt to make sense of all my explanations, my teacher (a Westerner)simply said..."India is a vast country indeed....a real vast country"

Some where in the process of giving these explanations what I have noticed is a subtle but a sure transformation of how I view India and Indians. I now understand how a non-Indian sees India and have gradually become more objective in my views about India. Sometimes these complex perceptions become a disadvantage as it comes in the way of relating to extended family members back in India. For instance, there seems to be a thin line between what genuine concern and an exercise of control. Suggestions are rarely just suggestions they become commands that one has to follow.

However, I do love to visit India and especially visiting friends and relatives there, and the experiencing the  richness of Vipassana meditation practice in the centers. In addition sharing my experiences with friends and their families who for various reasons are not able to do the courses but want me to share with them my insights. In a vicarious way they benefit from my conversations and hopefully inspired to take up the courses in future.