Sharing

It is my pleasure to share this post with you. We can share many things, a kiss, a hug, a moment, conversation, feelings, news, possessions and material things, our time, our skills and abilities, a smile, a wave, a blessing to name just a few that are relevant to this story. In just a few short hours today, I experienced or witnessed all of these things.

I will tell the story in 3 parts and in the order I experienced them.

The first part of this story occurred at a morning prayer ceremony at the ashram. After participants perform their devotions, the tradition here is that they are given a sweet; either candy or small cakes. It seems to me a lovely tradition. I noticed a short gentlemen with a mustache and Indian features perform his devotion, receive his treat of 2 small cakes and then sit down for the prayer service. Some time later, now during the prayer service, three children, an older brother about age 10, a middle sister about age 7, and a baby sister about age 5, came up to perform their devotion and get a treat. I’m thinking I could reverse the order of these two things in terms of priority for the kids, but it’s also very possible I am projecting my priorities at that age on these three. They each graciously received several small hard candies and started walking out of the gathering. The next two transactions happened very quickly. First the man picked up his cakes and quickly turned and handed them to the middle child. In an instant, the older boy swooped in and took one of the cakes and  proceeded to hand it to his baby sister. I was so impressed by the sharing that went on in that brief moment, first by the man and then by the brother. This boy, in particular, moved me because it seemed to me that his definition of “fair” was to split the treats between his younger sisters. Certainly a valid definition of fair could have been to split the two cakes three way. (Perhaps difficult, but possible). The brother could also have brokered a trade where candy and cakes were redistributed to get to a “fair” place. Of course, the brother was bigger and much stronger than his two sisters and he could have just as easily (but not fairly) taken the cakes for himself. This boy shared in a way that sacrificed his own interests. Absolutely beautiful in my book! I will also comment on the middle sisters reaction to all this. From what I could tell, she was completely fine with the outcome because it seemed to me that she shared her brother’s view of fairness.

Part 2 of this story took place on my walk to town. I really didn’t have a reason to walk to town other than to explore. I can’t swear to the precision of these counts, but along the way, I would estimate that I shared waves, greetings, and smiles with some 500 people and I shared conversations with another 10. I would like to highlight one of the conversations. It was with a history teacher. I cannot truly express how warm and kind and caring this person was toward me. I hope this gives you a sense though. While warmly shaking my hand as I was going to continue on my journey, he said, “he prays to God that we meet again and he prays God grants me a long life with many blessings.” I was about to say that this was an exchange between basically complete strangers, but it certainly didn’t feel that way to me. Almost instantaneously, I have felt like a friend to so many people I’ve met here in the first week. There is an innocence, a curiosity, an authenticity, and a deep respect in them.

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But for me, the part of this story which really floors me is the elderly man with the moped. As I was walking back to the ashram, he asked me through gestures, not words, if I would like a ride. When I agreed, he proceeded to take his bag and hand saw off the bike and present it to me to drive to do whatever I needed to do and then return it to where he would be sitting and waiting. Let me say this again, this old man, was offering to lend me his moped to take wherever I needed to go, with me as a complete stranger! Amazing to me!

The last part o this story is about Laura. Laura is a beautiful 32 year old French woman who speaks 3 languages who is also staying at the ashram and seems to have taken a liking to me. She shares hugs and kisses with me every time we are together, which is at meal time. Now some of you may be thinking that this sounds a little mid-life crisis- like since my daughter, Mo is about Laura’s age. I assure you it is not. It’s just that Laura’s hugs and kisses are so sweet, I see this romance continuing until I leave the ashram on Saturday. Laura freely shares her love in the form of hugs and kisses. We can all learn something about sharing from the man, the big brother, the teacher, the old man with the moped and Laura. They are willing to share what they can and ask for nothing in return.

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10 thoughts on “Sharing”

  1. My mom just read this to me…people in India seem as friendly as dogs!! I bet if they had tails, they would never stop wagging.

    Mom and the bald man want to know if you borrowed the moped!?

    Thanks for sharing and keep on wagging!
    Love,
    Molly The Dog

    • So, I did not borrow the moped. I was heading back to the ashram and not coming back that way. The postscript to the story is that after walking another 2 miles, the old man with the moped appeared again and offered me a ride, this time with him. I accepted and he took me the rest of the way! J

  2. John, it appears to me that people also find that you are warm and friendly as well, which makes them eager to share .just your smile tells them that! I have always believed that when you are able to show people you want to be kind and want to be open they respond in kind.
    Sounds like this will be a great experience and hope all continues to go well.
    Bill

  3. What beautiful stories! It sounds like you are having an amazing trip and we look forward to hearing more of your adventures.

  4. Your writing conveys the spirit of the moment. But also has restimulated memories of bike riding in the Mekong along the rice paddies and watching the children running towards you. And then observing them shyly waving and saying “hello, hello” until you responded “hi” – which elicited peals of laughter. I recall asking our guide “I know that hai means yes in Japanese. Does hi mean something in Vietnamese?” And he replied “ocean”‘ which explained the laughter. Hello. Ocean. Hello. Ocean. Keep on the journey, ride the wave.

  5. I love these stories and had tons of questions, but Molly the dog kinda summed it all up for me. Fairness, love and trust, just like mans best friends. Have a question for you: what did you do with your sweet cake/candy?

  6. These are amazing, wonderful, and simple stories! Good for you and them and us for reading this. Thanks John!

  7. John, this is a touching experience. I recall saying , that you will find a unique experience with people in the sub continent.
    In reading your blog, I am hoping you got a chance to explore why, Indians behave with strangers as if they were family. Most of this has to do with an ingrained sense of 1000+ years of philosophy embedded in the ancient vedas and known as hindu slokas.
    I have taken the liberty of explaining just one of thousands of these well meaning vedic sloka for how the vedas wants us to “see our guests” guests. What you experienced, is a practice by these strangers subliminaly applying the pricipals of vedas, almost second nature: “Be the one for whom the Guest is God”.

    Atithi Devo Bhavah [Atithi Devo Bhavaḥ] (Sanskrit: अतिथि देवो भवः; English: ‘The guest is equivalent to God’ or ‘Guest become God’)[1] is a Sanskrit verse, taken from an ancient Hindu scripture which became part of the “code of conduct” for Hindu society. Atithi Devo Bhav regards a procedure of the host-guest relationship. Recently it has also become the tag line of India’s Ministry of Tourism’s campaign to improve the treatment of tourists in India.

    The mantras are from the Taittiriya Upanishad, Shikshavalli I.20 that says: matrudevo bhava, pitrudevo bhava, acharyadevo bhava, atithidevo bhava. It literally means “be one for whom the Mother is God, be one for whom the Father is God, be one for whom the Teacher is God, be one for whom the guest is God.”
    Tithi in Sanskrit denotes a (calendrical) date. In ancient times, when means of communication were limited and it was not possible for guests to anticipate their date of arrival, atithi (which literally means “without a fixed calendrical time”) was coined to depict a visiting person who had no fixed date of arrival or departure. Devah (which, through sandhi or euphonic combination, becomes written/pronounced as devo when followed by certain kinds of consonants) means God and bhava means Be or Is – “be the one for whom the Guest is God”.

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