I don't think Dad actually had India in mind when he suggested I go somewhere nice after he was gone. He was probably thinking of New Zealand or New England. You know, somewhere civilized. But there you are.
Anyway, seeing as he was really the responsible party for my so-called much-acclaimed spiritual journey in the first place, he probably wouldn't really have been all that surprised.
It was a book. He had bought it, but hadn't likes it, so he had passed it on to me, thinking it might be more my cup of tea than his.
Was that before he got prostate cancer, or after? I can't remember. I can remember it gathering dust on my bedside table for a long long time before I finally got round to reading it. Care of the Soul, by Thomas More. What's it about? No idea. Can't remember. But it changed my life.
So here I was, 13 years later, on a plane to India with two people I didn't know. One I had met before, sort of. He had led a meditation retreat I had been to about two years previously, but to tell you the truth I hardly remembered him. I did remember being very impressed with his co-teacher, who wasn't even a meditation teacher, but some sort of alternative sight therapist who had taken us through all sorts of interesting and eyeopening (literally) experiments of visual perception.
The other person coming with me on our trip was a complete unknown, a woman with whom I would be sharing a room, often even a bed, for the next fortnight. This could be heaven, as the song goes, or this could be hell.
It wasn't long after take-off that I realized what a risk I had taken. The teacher guy was reading Haaretz. He commented on a story he was reading. A very opinionated emotional comment. A very political comment. A left wing political comment. Very far left wing.
My initial reaction was amazement. Hey, wait a minute. You're meant to be like this spritual teacher. Should you be splurting all this political stuff? Shouldn't you be leaving my mind open to take the Middle Road? Shouldn't your every word be wise and wonderful, and specially designed to put me on the track to enlightenment, not make me want to punch you in the nose?
My second reation was "OMG, I'm on plane to the Black Hole of Calcutta with a raving neo-Marxist. Help! Help! Let me out!"
(To be continued)