Day 33. Come Again?

Sometimes I have no idea why an idea or a thought pops into my head.  Last night, for some reason, just as I was going to bed, I suddenly thought about reincarnation.  Why?  Who knows.

It didn’t keep me up all night, as my ideas often do.  In fact, I think I fell asleep as my head touched the pillow.  But I remembered it this morning.  And, because I do believe that there’s a reason for everything, I came to the conclusion that this is the topic I should be writing about today.  So tell me …

Do you believe in reincarnation?  Do you believe that, once you’re dead, your soul can begin a new life?  And that you (as in your soul or your spirit)  can come back as another human, as an animal or even in a spiritual sense — depending on how good or bad you were in your previous life?  Karma.  Reincarnation is, by the way, at the very core of the Indian religions.  In an earlier post (in fact in a few of them) I talked about how kind, compassionate, understanding, generous and selfless I found the Indian people to be, when I visited there.  I am sure this is at least one of the reasons for it.

In jest I always say that I’d like to come back as one of my cats.  And who wouldn’t.  No stress, lots of love, never hungry, never thirsty, and a comfortable place to lay your head (my pillow) when you’re tired.

But in all seriousness, the idea of rebirth is not an altogether unpleasant thought, at least not for me.  Which is contrary to the teachings of my tribe (Jews).  In fact, within the majority of sects within Christianity, Islam and Judaism, it is not believed that we come back again. Continue reading

Day 8. Seeking Nirvana

Every pre-conceived notion you have ever had about India can be found in Varanasi.  It’s dirty, dusty, crowded, smells bad and beggars follow you everywhere.  It is extremely intense; but without seeing it for yourself, experiencing it, I don’t believe you will ever understand India.

When I took my trip my travel agent, who lives in Toronto but is from India, included it in our itinerary — but not until midway through our vacation.  It meant we had to jump around a bit, which made no sense to me, so I questioned her.   She explained that Varanasi can be quite off-putting and difficult for tourists; and in her experience, when first time visitors go to Varanasi before having a chance to adjust to India, they tend not to enjoy themselves.  But once you’ve become more accustomed to this amazing country, and its inhabitants, you’re much more apt to like and understand this ancient city, that is located on the banks of the sacred river Ganges — or Ganga, as the locals refer to it.

I didn’t really buy what she was saying at the time, but now that I’ve been, I am really grateful she organized the trip the way she did.  It was challenging and overwhelming enough with more than two weeks in India under my belt.  I can’t say I want to go back — or need to, for that matter — but I am very happy I went, and highly recommend it.

You need a fair number of shots before you go to this part of the world, and I remember my appointment with my doctor.  I’ve been her patient for a long time and she knows me well.  She knows how much I love animals and she also knows that I’m  usually up for an adventure.  A very seasoned traveler herself, she was full of good, practical advice; and a surprising lack of warnings. There were, however, two items on her list that she made me promise to adhere to:

  1. I had to promise I wouldn’t go near any of the many dogs there.  India has a very high incidence of rabies.
  2. I had to promise to not even trail my fingertips through the Ganges.

The rule about the dogs I was iffy about (although once there I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and I stayed away).  She had no worries with the Continue reading