eastwest

I realise now why I miss Asia so much, unsurprisingly it’s my favourite part of the world. It captures my imagination like nowhere else and it just so happens I decided to incarnate as an Indian woman during this lifetime! In recent years I’ve lived in China, Singapore and India when I was a young child but I predominantly grew up in England. A country that I have been in resistance to my entire life, but it was no coincidence that I incarnated here… and it’s no coincidence that you where born where you where…

Unlike most people who live in the UK the thought of holidaying in America (in particular), Canada, Australia or any other Western country has never appealed to me. It even repulsed me when I was younger, which seriously made me question whether I had been a Native American Indian in my past life!! I had always connectedly naturally and deeply with their wisdom teachings which didn’t seem so alien and different but very easy to connect with.

I’ve always preferred what some label as ‘exotic’ destinations not just for their cuisine but their warmth – I’m not just speaking about the sunshine! – Cambodia for instance is a place I would love to visit and even live in.

The theme of this past year has been ‘resistance’, running away and not loving ‘what is’. Healing the disparity I’ve felt between two very different worldviews.

Ironically in Western societies there’s more unhappiness, depression and a feeling of separation than in the East who don’t always have much in the way of materialism (although places like Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan etc are far more technologically advanced than any of their Western counterparts)

What they lack in money they make up for in heart and connection. These communities hold meaningful connections and communities that are distinctly missing in the West. Like a warm blanket, a deep Spiritual essence underlies these cultures.

Reassuringly you can feel into this energy wherever you go. At the same time these societies are far from perfect and events regularly unfold that undermine these qualities. Just as there are events that connect us here in the West. What I witnessed whilst living in Asia was a collective desire to move outwards towards the external and material. Interestingly to more closely resemble the Western framework.

In the West people have begun to move in the opposite direction and go within themselves. It’s almost asthough the East represents the right brain creative, intuitive side and the West the practical, logical side. But here’s the thing; logic can be used to justify almost anything, that’s both its power and its flaw.

That’s exactly what’s been happening in Western countries for the last few hundred years. The latter has been given greater weight and precedence, becoming the dominant worldview. Now they appear to be in the process of exchanging ideals.

I grew up in a very Eastern cocoon, within a very Western framework, my family of birth originates from Northern India. Growing up in an Indian household is a wonderfully colourful experience. The Indian culture is full of deep Spiritual insight, warmth, wisdom, superstition, myths, legends, ancient Gods and Goddesses, imagination, colonial suppression, amazing food, the caste system, and my personal favourite; heavily defined gender roles.

As you might imagine all this caused an identity crisis whilst growing up. When I was 13 years old, the thing I wanted more than anything in the world was to be a caucasian Catholic girl – I was probably one of only 5 brown people in my entire year at high school –

“Oh wouldn’t that be heavenly!” I lamented. No-more “why don’t you return to your own country!” slurs… but wait a minute, I was already in my own country! I was born here and hold a UK passport but still why didn’t I feel welcomed as a fully fledged citizen of this island surrounded by water.

When India would play England in cricket (I find it to be the most dullest spectator sport but would sometimes get excited for 5 minutes when India played) I would always support India. I did after all go through the torment of attending an all girls Catholic school, shouldn’t that somehow qualify me to live here! It did help do something, it helped to assimilate me into society.

One day at High School I decided to attend mass and take the sacramental bread in the hopes that I would be initiated into this wonderful religion. A religion fronted by this lovely man with a nice beard, who everyone seemed to dislike these days even though he performed miracles and taught love.

From that day forth whenever anyone asked me what my religion was, instead of replying “Sikh…”  – normally received by perplexed expressions – I told them “I’m Catholic!’ after all I had loved Jesus the day I learned about him at school. I had always wanted to pledge my allegiance to him!

The fact is my Spiritual journey was not something I embarked upon like many in the West, but something I was born into from a young age.

Due to external conditions and religious beliefs imposed upon me in childhood I ended up rejecting it altogether. I even announced myself as an ‘atheist’ for a short time, only to return to Spirituality years later like a child running into the arms of her mother for the very first time. But not in the form of religion.

I don’t care much for bashing religion, there’s plenty of people doing that in the world. I’ll leave that to them. Everything acts as an in road towards the whole, including religion. Religion is not really the problem, but it’s the culture and manipulation of original teachings that are taken out of context, that create division and fear.

In Sikhism a caste system is not even meant to exist. The founders wanted to eradicate it altogether. Hence why so many Sikh men took the name of Singh (lion) and women the name of Kaur (princess) thereby eliminating any way to discover a persons caste.

However the need for a hierarchical system was so strong that a caste system of sorts was brought into the Sikh faith by the people. This was against the original wishes of the founder, Guru Nanek dev ji (the word ‘Guru’ has a very different interpretation in the West as it does in the East due to some misrepresenting it)

Growing up my innate feeling of connection to everything was often ridiculed and questioned by my peers, even as an adult. It felt as though the dominant energy in this society was trying to change or suppress what I knew to be true in my heart.

Themes like compassion, ‘reincarnation’, Spirituality, and the non-physical where viewed as very normal and encouraged whilst growing up at home. However I found my worldview often conflicted within the consensus environment.

I often questioned my parents with “Why did we move here?” To a place where I never completely felt welcomed, where as a child people would taunt me due to the colour of my skin. Yet one of the things I’ve loved and appreciated about growing up in a Western society is a degree of freedom that is otherwise not afforded to women in the East.

To be able to visit places on your own without being bothered too much – unless that is you get your arse slapped in the middle of the street, which has happened on a few occasions! – There’s a facade that leads you to believe that women have more rights, but they’re just as objectified here as they are anywhere else in the world. There’s a celebration of individualism that everyone can appreciate but it’s also the cause of much isolation.

As I grew older I increasingly realised, there was a purpose and a reason for everything even if  sometimes I was unable to grasp it amidst the chaos and pain. That these experiences, life circumstances, and differences between cultures are cultivating qualities within each of us that would otherwise be unknown to us. Empathy, altruism, kindness, tolerance, understanding and humour are all characteristics that can flourish in this worldview.

Recognising that both cultures have so much to offer the other is in alignment with the collective evolution of humanity. That one is not better than or superior than the other. That we can truly feel at home anywhere in the world or anywhere in the Universe if we connect with our humanity, as beings who experience emotion and feeling. After all isn’t that what binds us together?

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