Monday, October 20, 2008

Answering a Vision from Jaisalmer

The Vision

I was sitting in meditation. I was practicing a technique whereby one paints the symbols that they see in their minds eye. One of the visions I saw, and painted, was of a city, ablaze with gold. A desert city. But it was old and something I’ve never seen before. It seemed to be alive, from the inside. There was nothing around it. No greenery. Just white space.

I thought that the vision was symbolic. I tried to think about what the vision could mean. I didn’t see it again and after some time, I forgot about seeing it.

When Albert was planning our trip to India, he often showed me pictures of different places. One of the photos he showed me was of
a golden city.

It wasn’t until later that same night that the image popped up in my mind again, and made me think about it. It seemed familiar. And just like that, I remembered. I started digging through old folders trying to find the painting.

It wasn’t identical, but it was pretty close. I started to do a bit of research on the area, trying to figure out what was special about a place that called to me from two years earlier.

I read about the Jains. I read about the city being just about abandoned because the old trek across the desert that livened the place up, was replaced by a more modern route. Jaisalmer was a well placed resting spot. It grew in wealth by taxing the caravans passing through.

It was the
Jains that interested me. They say its one of the oldest religions in the world, and they are strict vegetarians with non-violence as one of their main dictates. Of course, there are a few that go to extremes, like all religions, but generally, I liked what I read.

The Reality
We arrived in Jaisalmer in the early morning. We were staying at The Fifu Guest House for four days. We had a suite and I remember the stay as particularly restful and rejuvenating. I was still suffering from stomach problems and could only eat porridge and toast. The mention of Chai had my stomach clenching in negation.

On the second day, we visited the
Jain temples. There were quite a few people around. Foreigners and Indians alike. I was expecting to see another set of prettily carved statues.

Albert and I had already discussed the possibility of me being slightly disappointed in the city. It’s a special place, but for me, it was a bit dead and obviously painted up like a old call girl to get the new trade in. The city, like
Venice, seemed alive only for the tourists to ohh and ahh. Its not necessarily a place that sold itself to me immediately.

And then we entered one of the two main temples. And I saw figures, resembling typical Buddhist meditational pose, but obviously different. I was transfixed. There was a stillness in the face, a smile, a knowledge. Some Brahmin ‘holy’ men came to talk with us about money and donations. There were signs saying ‘Please do not give the holy men money. Put it into the donation box.’ I was standing in absolute awe of the special atmosphere in the temple, and these ‘holy’ men were giving me photo tips for the special price of 10 rupees, and by the way, have you got a pen, or maybe a lipstick for my daughter, she collects them.

Pause while I practice my OMM.

I felt outrage building up. The idea that so called holy men were going to ruin my experience of the ‘sacred’ had, needless to say, my back up. And I looked beyond the man and looked into the face of one of the main statues, and I heard distinctly ‘Don’t worry about it. Don’t let them disturb you. Come in and be here. Welcome. We are here for always, but these men will come and go. The softness in your heart is always there. Don’t let yourself be caught up in it.’ (or something very like this) And the words were accompanied by the most warm, gentle smile. A knowledge that knew no bounds. An understanding that was beyond my comprehension. Compassion for my small woe. And it just glowed from out of the centre of that temple.

I wasn’t concerned with the holy men any more. We wondered around at our leisure, and when the men asked for money, I felt the same smile on my face. It didn’t matter.

Since we left, the face of the smiling Jain has appeared before me in situations where I lose my cool. Where I start to judge and get upset at silly and inconstant things.

Sometimes I meditate upon the smile of the figure. Wishing myself the patience, the understanding, the smile.

When I think of Jaisalmer, I don’t see the end of a train line to a pretty but pointless tourist trap. I see the embodiment of the endless, timeless wisdom mind. Full of love, compassion, understanding, knowledge.

This recollection was first posted on the World Nomad's Journal.

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