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  • I have thousands of photographs, most not printed and no captions. Just pixels of a moment in my life sitting in a computer, image by image, folder by folder - just electrons really. Sometimes I get a "Nice photographs Remco" type comments, I smile, ego tickled. With Cowbird I am forced to scroll through my folders and remember the incident in more depth and feeling by adding my story as I am doing here. Forced reflection.

    Reflection is something that people are too busy to do. Don't we simply skate through life seeing "nice", "interesting", "beautiful", "different" etc thingies like mountains, lakes and museums - even "good food"? You know what I mean? If we reflect, they are pretty bare experiences not much different if we had seen them on TV, through a window of an air-conditioned tourbus, or in the case of that "great food story", a visit the local restaurant. I suggest behind every experience is a feeling, an emotion our increasingly left-brained society has little or no time for. Yet if we reflect, isn't what actually drives us in life are emotions and feelings? And don't these come about directly or indirectly by connecting with people and not sharing our recollections like trophies? Each to their own of course, but for me travel is to engage the people and with that, to experience myself - to observe all those conditionings we carry from our history of our likes and dislikes.

    Here I stumbled upon a colourful festival in Chennai (Madras) India that was celebrating a Hindu deity, Ganesha.

    Quick, grab the camera, snap the picture, and walk away with a trophy. Well that was the practice of an "ancestor of mine". :) This time I jumped in and celebrated the moment with them. Lost in fun, someone came to me, "Can I take a picture of you"? Hey this is a turnaround - they are asking me. OK.

    Here is that photo and now more than some pixels in a computer folder, I have added a story and a fond memory with lovely, smiling joyful people - so increasingly rare in our moneyed society (well at least in mine).

    That day I also got a sense of why people can worship a strange elephant deity. What I missed until then is that many religions worship deities including those saints, as idols external to themselves. Eastern religions like the Hindus worship deities internal to themselves. Eureka! For Hindus, Ganesha represents a removal of obstacles and Ganesha that day furthered the removal an obstacle in me to another way of seeing and being people and beliefs. I can now understand for example the concept "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!" Ganesha represents me and Ganesha's festival helped to see me.

    Travel can mean many things and I talked about it here. Each to their own of course, but for me travel represents an opportunity to see myself and to do what Ganesha stands for, removing obstacles. Kinda nice feeling the oneness - look at that man holding my hand - nice to feel connected (though I am clearly still a bit shy noting where my hand is). And to think an "ancestor of mine" had an attitude to India. Thank you Ganesha, I heard you.

    BTW, the bit about the killing the Buddha means whatever your conception is of the Buddha, it’s wrong! So kill that image and keep practising as reality is an impermanent illusion. If you believe that you have a correct image of what it means to be Enlightened, then you need to throw out (kill) that image.
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