A Slap in the Face @ Varanasi/Benares (India 2017 Part 4)

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Ghat Crowd

The city illumines truth and reveals reality. It does not bring new wonders into the scope of vision, but enables one to see what is already there. Where this eternal light intersects the earth, it is known as Kashi. ~Diana L. Eck

Hubris

When you date someone on and off for 10 years, then live with them for another year and a half, you feel as if you know them at a deep level, are connected by an intimacy reserved for lovers. You believe you are familiar enough with them that the unexpected is always expected and the possibility of surprise was replaced long ago by an endearing comfort.

This was how I felt about India…until visiting Varanasi (also known as Banares, Benares, Kashi) an ancient city founded by the Hindu God Shiva sometime around 800 BC. Artifacts found nearby in 2014 date back to 1800 BC supporting the view that Varanasi was inhabited at this time.
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Never, Ever Fly Air India! (India 2017 Part 3)

Air India = Lies, Lies, Lies

We arrived at the airport early the next with the plan to connect through Delhi and visit Bodh Gaya. From past experience flying on Air India, I made sure there was ample time between flights. In this case, I planned four hours. It wasn’t enough. The severe pollution in New Delhi, the source of our flight, resulted in a delay of more than 5 hours. We missed our connecting flight and the chance to sit beneath the Bodhi tree.
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The Golden Temple of Amritsar (India 2017 Part 2)

Consider our body as a temple and our heart as a place where God or the Guru resides. If we open up our hearts like the gates of the Golden Temple, if we don’t fight with each other in the name of religion, if we treat every individual equally then the God inside us will be happy. When the God inside us becomes happy, we will become happy and when we will become happy then the temple will look all the more beautiful. ~Raj Kiran Atagaraha

Panorama of Sri Harmandir Sahib (“Abode of God”)

Hallowed Grounds

How does a place become holy enough to warrant a magnificent, man-made structure, a palace designed for God, intricately crafted by artisans eventually drawing flocks of devotees from across the globe for centuries?

I believe certain physical locations on Earth are naturally holy. When these are sensed by human or animal sentient beings, structures venerating the local understanding of God are built upon the location. If India were a Christian country, the Golden Temple would be a Church. If it were an Islamic locale, a Mosque. Had Wolf discovered the hallowed ground, a den would have been dug into Earth to draw upon Creators aura. Holy structures grow from hallowed ground rather than buildings being built and the ground becoming hallowed. Egg before chicken.

Our plan for this trip was to visit numerous hallowed grounds sprinkled across Northern India. We already spent two days marveling at the ancient temples near Aurangabad, temples handcrafted out of solid rock by Jains, Hindus, and Buddhists. Our plans included pilgrimages to Bodh Gaya where epiphany lighting struck Siddhārtha Gautama releasing the Buddha into the world,  Varanasi founded by the Hindu God Lord Shiva 3500 years ago, followed by Khajuraho a set of exquisite Jain and Hindu temples, with roots reaching to 950 AD, decorated with a profusion of intricately detailed sculptures many depicting the gods in erotic poses. Next on our list was the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
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Ancient Caves of Ellora and Ajanta (India 2017 Part 1)

Man is a creature who walks in two worlds and traces upon the walls of his cave the wonders and the nightmare experiences of his spiritual pilgrimage. ~Morris West

One of my most favoritist personality traits of India is encapsulated in the rich heritage preserved in ancient artifices, hallowed monuments, and the venerable temples with roots stretching into a history built on the cradle of civilization in the Indus valley. The first leg of our trip was to the Ancient caves at Ellora and Ajanta in Maharashtra.
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Sickly Sticky At Niagara Falls

Kilometers are shorter than miles. Save gas, take your next trip in kilometers. ~George Carlin

Have you ever opened a can of soda only to have it spray all over you then realize you have nothing with which to wash it off and spent the next few hours feeling sticky, sickly sticky?  This is how we felt about both the Niagara towns on opposite sides of the Falls,  Niagara Falls, New York and Niagara Falls, Canada. They were an icky coating we could not wash off, a wad of gum stuck to the bottom of a shoe deeply embedded in the tread.

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Belize Part 3 – Paradise In The Jungle

The forest is a peculiar organism of unlimited kindness and benevolence that makes no demands for its sustenance and extends generously the products of its life and activity; it affords protection to all beings. ~Buddhist Sutra

Transitioning: Beach to Jungle

The plane took off and landed three times as we hop, skipped, and jumped from San Pedro Island to the mainland.The choppy hum of the propeller driven plane was still buzzing in our ears as we collected our baggage and climbed into the shuttle taking us to Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Jungle Lodge.  The drive was an hour or so through the Belizean countryside into the mountains which were much cooler than the islands. When we stopped for gas, I was able to purchase a very cold and refreshing Dr. Pepper. Life can be most excellent in the tropics.

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Belize Part 2 – Ant Breath

When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise, and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

I am sitting in the dark, naked on the cabana porch, the Caribbean Sea facing cabana porch with a white sand beach. My eyes are sealed. I am enjoying a state of blissful emptiness in the zone teetering between sleep and awake, breathing in Earth’s perfume, a perfume that can’t be photographed yet exists as an image indelibly etched, acid washed into our brain.

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