My journey to India as a spiritual seeker
By Benjamin De Donder
Part one — Introduction
First and foremost I would like to express that I do not think one needs to go to India to learn about spirituality. Before I went to India, I was already actively learning about spirituality during my daily life in Belgium. The book of life is in my opinion the most educational read, as it is specifically written for your mind, by your soul.
Personally, I have experienced that the only thing that is required to learn about yourself, life and spirituality is a genuinely seeking mind that is trying to understand the workings of creation: a questioning mind that is okay with not knowing the answers; a mind that is ever observing and open to receive answers through anyone or anything; a mind that questions everything, including its teachers and even itself; a mind that is willing to let go of beliefs and behaviour that have been proven obsolete by attained answers; a mind that when there are no more questions for some time, starts to wonder where the questions have gone and starts to look for new ones; a mind that knows that no questions means no growth; a mind that craves growth; and most importantly, a mind that includes feeling in its observations and allows it to be its guide. If you have this, you can learn profound things in any moment wherever you are, for every moment is deeply spiritual.
Nevertheless, when you do have the chance to travel to India, I would definitely strongly encourage you to go. Personally, I believe traveling and staying at the same place for some time make it easier to read from the book of life, for you are in yet unobserved area, still observing with the same mind. So certain patterns you might be attracting could be noticed more easily. Plus, India is the most amazing, diverse, stimulating and eye opening place I have ever been to in my life. Not that I have traveled that much, so it was obviously very impressive.
So… how did I, a 22 year old computer science graduate from Belgium, ended up volunteering in Dharamshala for 9 months? Well, I had been a spiritual seeker for some time and from my perspective, it just happened. It was coincidence, so it was my obvious next step to take.
Because of the things I had been discovering and the things I had been learning, I had been following my excitement for some time, asking questions and receiving answers, experiencing truly amazing coincidences. When I was at a point of having a strong desire to travel and a certain desire to create something and then coincidentally finding Omalaya’s request for help in Dharamshala with a certain web development project they wanted to create and that was a perfect use case for my idea, and feeling a certain pressure to get a job and start to work, which I knew I did not want, at all, I didn’t have a single doubt: I had to go to India.
But of course, I did not know a single thing about India. I had stopped following the media and news for some time and had forgotten or disregarded everything that I had been taught in school about India, so I literally had no idea, no prejudice and no expectation. Only this feeling that this was my next step. One or two weeks before I departed, I did however coincidentally learn about Guru Rinpoche or Padmasambhava, an Indian Buddhist master that helped in bringing Buddhism to Tibet, through a series that I was bench watching back then, called ‘Wisdom Teachings with David Wilcock’ on Gaia.com. With this extra inspiration, I was set to go, off to Dharamshala, the residence of the 14th Dalai Lama, head of the newest school of Tibetan Buddhism.
The first stop on my journey, was New Delhi. Because of the cost of flying from Brussels to Dharamshala (with a stop in New Delhi anyway), I decided to take the bus from New Delhi to Dharamshala instead. I had learned about Couchsurfing.com some time prior and I decided that I would couchsurf in New Delhi. Something around three days of couchsurfing in New Delhi, after which I would take a night bus to McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, this was my plan.
Well… all seeking minds of course know that, actually there is no such thing as planning or controlling what is external. It is the soul who is writing the book of life, not the mind. My mind’s faith was tested even before I arrived in India. I was waiting for my transfer flight in Abu Dhabi, when I decided to turn on my internet to send to my parents that I was waiting for my flight in Abu Dhabi, I saw a message coming in from my couchsurfing host. It was saying that his mother was in the hospital and he and his family had to be in the hospital so he couldn’t host me anymore. And he told me to enjoy my journey. I didn’t think too much of it, I told him I hoped his mom would be fine, but of course I didn’t really believe him. Either way, I just started to send messages to all the people I had requested to stay with in New Delhi and I remained calm. Did I mention it was 11:00 PM at that time in New Delhi? Within five minutes I received an answer from a new couchsurfing host. He replied that I could come over and was even willing to pick me up at the airport at 3:25 AM. Not a single doubt was found in my mind that night. I felt incredibly blessed, guided and so, so, so thankful, for the universe and for myself, doing all of this.
Arriving in New Delhi was the most amazing thing. I got picked up in the early, early morning and before I knew it, I was driving on the back of a motorbike with my enormous backpack, staring at a dark, empty New Delhi. I cannot possibly describe how I felt then, I was in a state of ecstasy, flowing through me the highest levels of happiness, thankfulness and humbleness I had ever experienced in my entire life.
The next morning (more like afternoon), I woke up in the apartment of Vikas and his brother Anil. It was a rather big apartment with three rooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, an art gallery, a terrace and an accessible roof. The honking of the cars was very present, the smog noticeable and there were a lot of mosquitoes. It was quite warm. It was October 2016. I remember there were a lot of colors, and I loved my window view.
I would like thank you for reading this, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you! And I would love to invite you to join me as I will relive my journey in India through writing. A seemingly never ending flow of discoveries and new experiences, as I allowed everything to unfold underneath my feet while I was walking into the unknown. Up next, a tour around the amazing city, New Delhi. Much, much love and enjoy the moment!