Living the Dhri Crusade – Reflections (October 2019)

It has been four weeks since the team returned from our Dhri Crusade in India. The transition back has been far from simple for most. As minds and hearts race with various thoughts and mixed emotions over these past few weeks, the learning from the Dhri Crusade continues. Michael, Mia, Rebecca, Daniel, Howard, David, Jill, Ian, Jack, and Jocelyn reconvened last week to reflect on the journey.

Michael had experienced everything that the team experienced on his last trip to India. However, this trip was more meaningful being with and experiencing with his team — seeing everyones reactions, shared experiences, joys, struggles, and taking care of one another.  His last journey was with people who started off as complete strangers to him. This time, he was with people he already had relationships with, cared deeply about, and had a great deal of history with. What he experienced with his team was his biggest takeaway. And he misses being in the moment, physically, with each person.

This was a common feeling amongst everyone on the team — we sincerely enjoyed spending quality time with each other and getting to know everyone just a little bit more each day. We may talk to each other over the phone, or text and email each other on a daily basis — but there is something magical about being in the physical presence of each other. We fed off of each other’s love and energy that lifted us through the journey. We supported one another, emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually. Someone asked Rebecca once, toward the end, if people began to get annoyed with each other — and were surprised when her response was that we ended the India portion of the journey stronger than ever. One has to wonder, why is that a shock? What am I emitting into the universe that eventually gets to people in a negative way? Something to ponder!

Other feelings were of a struggle, emotionally and spiritually, seeing the inhumanity everywhere, the filth, the people and kids with their limbs cut off to beg better — the loss of innocence and helpless feeling that there’s nothing that can be done to change that. Many will never see life or the world the same way again — but in the form of growth. Yet others felt that, while these sad things were seen and experienced, they returned with a more positive focus on life, family, purpose, work — there was a reenergizing feeling with being with everyone and connecting more with one’s self.

While talking through these struggling and opposite feelings from post-India emotions, as Jack stated, “The whole trip was an intense paradox of fierce opposites meeting at one place. It was  deep, dense urban crunched together in a tiny alley with the bulls, the crap and the motorcycles and then the airy Himalayas. It was the opulent wealth crashed in between absolute poverty. It’s the ultimate test of interdependence. It was the ultimate test of humility, collaboration and surrender. It was those three things that were tested on this trip because if you look at it through any other lens, you became very dependent, barely independent or forced into dependence if you brought in your own ego, your own competition, your own victimization, your own sense of being able to control those circumstances that you were under.” While there was suffering and injustice there, the paradox was that there were also the best darn popcorn makers on the side of the street — this was who they were. While there was begging, there weren’t people feeling like you had something they didn’t, so they had to stab you or rob you because they deserved what you had. There was a level of contentment there. “Where there is choice, there is suffering.” People in America have 47 choices to buy one object on Amazon, and yet they are miserable. People in India are living a life of no choice yet there was some assemblance of clarity for who they are, where they are, what their life is. And while it can appear that there is no choice and they are giving up, there is a difference between acceptance and throwing ones hands up and saying there’s nothing that can be done. There’s still a choice in not having a choice — contentment, acceptance, surrender vs. being frustrated and miserable for what you don’t have. The choice is in the faithfulness of who you are and what you believe in.

Jill added that there was a sense of vulnerability that she had never had before and struggled with. Even when she was working in the police department, no matter what dangerous position she was in, all she needed to do was hit that radio, make a certain sound and she had a small army coming to support her. Even with cell phones today, there is a sense of security being just a click away. In India, walking through the rubble, walking through the extremely crowded alleyways, other than each other on our team, there was no one to call. The level of vulnerability in India brought light to the false sense of control that we sometimes have, which was stripped away there. We do not always have control so we need to stop living like we do. Tony Robbins says that control is an illusion. The more we try to control the more miserable we are. The trip exposed things within ourself that aren’t always authentic. Instead of trying to control outcomes, if we spend that time and energy focusing on our own being, who we are as a person, the rest will work itself out. Yog Sundari had stated on the trip, “A lighthouse doesn’t go down to the ships and try to convince them not to go up against the rocks. It just stands there and radiates light.” By incorporating this lighthouse challenge into our lives, it allows us to let go of the things we cannot control and live with acceptance, humility, and peace. 

We were stunned by the traffic, the cows, the pedestrians, the busses and the cars, everything in a given space with no traffic control devices. We American’s were saying, this is absolute chaos, but they have a rhythm. There were pedestrians where a bus or truck would come within a foot of them and they wouldn’t even flinch because they knew that they were going to be respected, they knew they were not going to be hit. Our whole issue of space, and who are we to think that we are entitled to it. Where does that show up in our life, from promotions to how competitive we are with one another, like it’s our “space” that we have an entitlement to but in reality we don’t. In India, they don’t suffer; they embrace what it is and act.

Another common questions was whether we found enlightenment in India. Lao Tsu said, “Before enlightenment, chopping wood and carrying water. After enlightenment, chopping wood and carrying water.” Nothing changes. We don’t attain enlightenment — enlightenment is a realization. For many, the realization is that the experience in India on our Dhri Crusade has changed our perspective in many ways. Many of us are still working through and figuring out the changes that have happened, what needs to change, and how to apply our learning into our daily lives. We are figuring out how to re-focus on what’s important in our life and re-prioritize. We are finding ourselves more grateful for what we do have in our lives and especially the people who are a part of our lives — realizing what we have taken for granted in the past. We are continuing to practice the learning we gained as we move forward on our journey. Each of us have different reflections, reactions, and aspects that came out of the journey through India. And we continue to learn from each other, support each other, and work through these challenges and emotions.

There’s no question that this trip was hard. It took sacrifice for everyone to be away from their families, their homes, and other people had to step up in their lives to make this trip a reality. Everyone had to sacrifice to do it; it wasn’t easy, it was a struggle. But we persevered through that. There’s no question that every one of us is different for it and better for it. We can’t be one and done. We have to keep this going. We have to make India a process and that it was just a step in the journey.

The Dhri Crusade lives on, and there is more to come!

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