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A woman sitting in a chair at Hawa Mahal (Palace of Wind) in Jaipur, India. Photo by Eliana Rothwell (2016 Fall Semester Photo Contest Finalist).

“Incredible” Introduction

Greetings curious and courageous pilgrims!

Under eclipsed skies I write to you from my adopted home, Pun Pun Farm, a seed-saving center located in the far north of Thailand, but a stones throw (well, a stones throw for Lord Hanuman!) away from the Indian sub-continent where I have been spending my days planting rice in emerald greed fields contemplating another adventure in education with Dragons. As I now piece together an introductory “yak” for all of you I cannot become nostalgic for that initial maidens voyage I myself made to the East some ten years ago that changed me so deeply, in ways I am only now uncovering and trying to make since of still. Were it not for that first scary leap into the mysteries of India… well, for one thing, I would not be living now in Thailand. But maybe that is another story for another time…

Indeed, India is a place of stories. Many would suggest it to be a place responsible for the greatest stories on Earth. The power of God, gods, goddess’s, religion, art, Nature and myth take on completely new definitions in India. Upon entering Her realm life is instantly breathed into all that once seemed inanimate. Sitting under a full moon alongside worshiping sadhus while attempting to process the first great turning of The Wheel of Dharma as the call to prayer looms overhead and incense burns everywhere as life and death meet before ones eyes ripping away all illusions of permanence, yet again requires us to, at the very least, ponder the possibility of something greater.

It would be a gross understatement to say that India is, as the catchy tourist motto suggests, “Incredible.” To be sure, India is incredible, but for reasons one cannot fully understand by reading a book or by simply watching a documentary, however well made they may be. She is not incredible merely for Her depth of astounding historical richness or Her myriad influences offered so graciously to the ever-unfolding Human Story. Nay, I would suggest that India is incredible for an unseen magic which one occasionally finds in the eyes of Shiva devotees, or witnesses in the indomitable spirit of the Dalit’s, feels in the buzzing hum of the syllable OM being chanted at dawn along the river Ganges. None of which can be caught on film or even truly spoken of. The heart must feel this “incredibleness”, directly. For India only reveals Her true self when the student is ready.

To be sure, India is challenging. The colorful explosion of humanity she delivers is more raw and in ones face than, well, anywhere I have personally ever been (Trust me, I have been to some wild places…). The good, the bad and the ugly all rise to meet you in one magnificent, jolting, and unapologetic salutation, over and over again. India is not for the weak of heart. And I am proud of you all for taking the leap.

My name is Gregory. You can call me Greg. I am honored to be working, learning and growing with all of you for the month of September, sharing with you a place that I have a great respect and admiration for. May the next few weeks serve you well and may you also serve those around you well. And may you be inspired to put great energy into properly preparing for this great pilgrimage for, as one of my favorite Indian poets, Rabindranath Tagore once said, “You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.”

Go far, stay long, see deep.