Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Life, death, and the rearview mirror in between

So this week our Sunday activity was visiting a temple up in the mountains. Considering how I was missing being able to go to the temple, I found great humor in this serendipity. It's not exactly what I was looking for, but it was a good reminder that God really is a loving and funny man. Don't listen to anybody who says otherwise.

So the trek up to the temple involved a bus ride that is definitely worth documenting. First of all, the bus somehow managed to snag on one of the electrical wires that chaotically and perhaps haphazardly runs power through the main part of town. And after catching on the wire and sending everybody on the wet street into a small panic, did we keep driving? You bet! The driver didn't even bat an eye. And the drive just got more exciting from there.

You see, all mountain roads are one lane roads, but they are definitely not one way. Indian drivers have to be the most talented and relaxed drivers that ever existed. They not only know where all of their vehicles lines are, they are great at judging yours, so they know exactly how much room they need to get by without actually coming into contact with oncoming traffic. The following picture gives a rough idea of how close we are talking about. And keep in mind, that car has a rearview mirror, is going about 30 mph, and there is no shoulder - just a steep drop off of a mountainside.

And this one is a good illustration of what I mean by lines. I almost lost my hand and camera grabbing this one.

Yeah. There were a lot of people who got car sick on this ride. On the way up I was sitting in the very back of the bus and definitely felt nauseated from all the jostling. On the way down, however, I was smart enough to sit near the front and really just enjoyed the fact that I wasn't the one driving. I know I've mentioned this before. But I really am strangely relaxed during these situations. I guess it's mostly because I know I have absolutely no control over whether I might live or die, but also because the drivers are so focused and calm, I think I just trust them to do their job. It's weird. I know.

Anyway, we drive to the trail that goes up to the temple, and I have to laugh because the 'little hike' we were told it would require was actually a staircase that started at the bottom of this mountain, and ended at the grounds of the temple at the top. Luckily, I've retained my mountain lungs, and that combined with my new yoga muscles made things more bearable. The temple itself was beautiful, peaceful, and interesting, but the view was absolutely fantastic. This is just a panoramic of one side. I can totally see how one would feel closer to God here. We spent a few hours on the grounds and then trekked it back down for another death-defying bus ride home.

So classes started again on Monday, and I must admit, classes this week have been pretty mundane. I guess part of that is because I haven't felt like asking questions. I did ask one. I wanted to know what the role of sympathy and empathy were if, in hinduism, you aren't supposed to identify others as suffering (mostly because by their logic, nobody is suffering, just existing in an unenlightened state). Once again, I didn't get an answer to this either. After that, many people started mentioning how they felt he never answers my questions. In fact, so many mentioned it that I began to see that my questions were undermining other students respect for Roshan. And because I really do have a lot of respect for Roshan and what he has to share, I've decided to stop asking the tough questions that endlessly come to mind - at least in class. I'll save them for more personal conversations.

I guess the rest of the week went by pretty insignificantly - well, except for my body continuing to reject my efforts. After my left shoulder starts to recover, I was doing cow pose and the teacher came to adjust me. I can't say it was a good adjustment though, and he ended up causing my right shoulder to freak out on me. Now both shoulders are a little wacky and that makes most of the reaching poses rather impossible, with the exception of forward bend. Lucky me, it was the week of forward bends.  But unlucky me, doing so many forward bends caused my lower back to freak out and that awesome disc that gave me so much trouble several years ago has started poking at me again. Rawr. Not wanting to go through that ordeal again, I've backed off and tried to give my back some time to heal. Hopefully I'll be fully practicing again by the end of next week.

Oh, and to wrap up what I mentioned last week, I did think a lot about the Atonement this week. I can't say I've come across any hindu correlations just yet, but I think I finally did fully connect with why we needed one. Perhaps I should have figured this out earlier, but the reasons before were just words to me. Intuitively I knew it was important, but it only appealed to my right brain, which doesn't worry about things like why. Many people have taught me the logic, but their logic did little to bring it into the realm of reality for me. So, loving the the 'reality' of physics, the following is what I came up with.

Death is something inevitible for all living things. In other words, the kinetic energy required to by our bodies does not flow perfectly, and the corrosion and/or destruction caused by those imperfections wears on our bodies, ages our cellular materials, until eventually, we die.

Now, I'm beginning to see how there had to be some kind of initial (and substantial) activation energy required for us to overcome something as inevitable as death. Our bodies are efficient, some would even say perfect, by design, but imperfections in our spiritual forms add resistance to the energy that flows through us. That internal resistance causes an energy (aka light/truth) defecit (less leaving the system than what was put into it) that results in spiritual death. Simultaneously, that disturbance in flow combined with exposure to oxidizing elements (ie O2) causes our perfectly designed and potentially eternal bodies to age like an corroding battery terminal. Eventually, the resistance becomes so great that the flow of energy stops. Not only does the battery die, but it can't be recharged due to the corroded terminal.

I suppose this is where the atonement comes into play. Not only does it provide the activation energy needed to refine that inner core, thereby allowing us to understand and therefore perfectly conduct the energy available to us (the glory of God), but it has also provided us access to a terminal that is not subject to oxidation. Couple those two things together (that refined core with a resurrected body), and I can see how we could become like God. Now, couple that coupling (you) with another coupling(spouse) in that eternal and powerful bond of matrimony, and you have yourself a circuit - a circuit that is actually capable of doing what God does, organizing and creating an eternal family of our own.

So back to where this all started, I can see why we need both the redeeming and enabling power the atonement has to offer. Not only to overcome the inevitable physical decay of mortality, but also to create a core of perfect conductivity.  A core that does not resist, but rather conducts the energy(aka glory/love) of God so well as to become one with Him. Not only seeing, but understanding and feeling EVERYTHING as it was, is, and will be.  We may not be capable of preventing oxidation, but we don't have to - Christ has that covered already.  So we should embrace the wrinkles for now, remember our potential, and use the power of the atonement to refine our cores.  If we allow the love of God to be conducted through us, without resistance, then our batteries will never loose their charge, and His glory will always shine in our countenances.  Which, if you ask me, is pretty awesome.


  1. I enjoyed reading your entry. The story about the bus ride was amusing. It brought back random memories of living in the mountains and the stories my parents told me of narrow one lane roads on mountain peaks. I also enjoyed your reflections on the atonement. I think it is really neat you get to be in India. One of my dear friends is from India but much more to the south. I keep up on your blog

  2. Enjoyed reading about bus ride...reminds me of when Justyna and I were on our way to Haridwar to get to train station and I got car sick. Yikes! The roads are so windy... Jeepers! It always astounds me how easily they are able to drive on a one lane road and 2 vehicles fit. However your bus ride sounded really dangerous. Was Roshon with you all or another instructor? Did he not say anything about the drive over? Be safe and I do hope that you don't stop asking questions. You ask your questions to Roshon, one on one? I hope he answers your questions thoroughly.