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Journal 2008-09-03

My last day in Rishikesh was nicer than I expected.

In the morning I packed, then after breakfast at Ganga View (banana porridge and masala chai), I did a bit of last minute shopping. I went back to my hotel, did some reading then said good bye to my guest house proprietress, Meena. She said she was the first Israeli she had liked. But I had to explain that I wasn't Israeli. I tried to explain that Israeli young people were naturally more problematic because they were young and just out of the army but I don't think she understood. She complained that they smoked too much, used drugs and stayed awake half the night, which meant that they woke her up too.

She let me leave my luggage in the room. I went to the internet cafe, and fortunately managed to get Dorit on Google chat. While doing so she phoned the Israeli side of the border, then the Jordanian embassy, to see whether it might be possible for me to go through the King Hussein / Allenby crossing, and it appears so. Then I got Faryal and asked her about how it went for her and how it worked with the transportation to Jerusalem. Before leaving the internet I had a look at the Divine Life Society web page and saw the photos of the Mahasamadhi of Swami Chidananda, and the immersion of his body in the Ganges. I'm curious what day that took place. It appeared to be either early evening or early morning, at Sivananda Ghat.

After the internet cafe I went to the Ganga Beach restaurant, which is just under Lakshman Jhula bridge, and had a vegetable curry.

The trip to Haridwar in a taxi passed uneventfully, except that it started to rain really heavily as we came into Haridwar. I got a bit wet. The train station was full of people sheltering from the rain, and the inevitable cow in the passenger hall. On the platform, besides passengers, there were monkeys, dogs, crippled beggars - the whole Indian scene.

The train itself is very nice. An express train that left at 6.15 (on the dot) and is supposed to arrive in Delhi at 22.45. An active team of stewards keep serving us things. Water, tea, a full vegetarian meal - which was excellent, besides newspapers and magazines. The ticket to Delhi cost Rs 550, including the commission by the travel agent. That's around 60 sheqels.

I expect the night to be a bit long - at least a 3 hour wait before check in at the airport. I will have to try and stay awake.

On the train I finished 'In search for the cradle of civilization'. The final chapters make an appeal for the integration of the ancient knowledge and spirituality expressed in the Vedas and other ancient traditions. I mean the integration into our modern civilization. Unfortunately, it is just as necessary to integrate these values into India's own civilization, and that may be even more difficult.

I read these final chapters without a great deal of enthusiasm for some reason. It's strange because they express a line of thinking that has been close to me for a long while. Maybe it's simply the familiarity and the doubt, lack of optimism that these values will ever really be expressed or change anything in our civilization. I think that if they do it will be due to writers like Thich Nhat Hanh, as he is able to express his thoughts, and the values of Buddhism, in words that appeal to us more successfully than those of most Indian teachers. His ideas transcend the traditional search for truth, or meaning, and they also transcend the cult of individualism and narcisism. They explain how to improve our relationship with others and with the world around us. There is a deeply ecological sense that runs through his approach. I appreciate this more and more.

As i said once to Dorit, Thich Nhat Hanh has the advantage that he is writing today, whereas Krishnamurti and others formulated their thinking half a century ago and more. Perhaps in twenty or thirty years ahead, there will be someone who again feels more relevant. But this is unimportant. There is, after all a degree of progress in our evolving consciousness, and that is a good thing.

I wonder if the vision described by Thich Nhat Hanh is compatible and as all embracing as the spirituality that Frawley and others are describing. i have a feeling it might be. Perhaps, until we are in the place where we can integrally understand this knowledge, it is useful to have more than one point of reference in understanding it.