May 15, 2024

Recently, I was in India through a trip organized by Will Harris who founded the Willpower Group in Amravati. We were a small group of speakers on a wide variety of subjects.

At first glance, India is a country of opposites for me - rich poor, caste system with untouchables at bottom, contrast in financial wealth, ancient culture and high tech industry.  If one is not able to hold opposites, India could easily trigger judgments for someone in our western world.

I encountered a depth of caring, curiosity, and respect for older people which are readily expressed. The Willpower group works with young men and women at the High School and college level. Community service is a big aspect of it. Every Sunday they visit a home for older people. We got to visit with them and they served as translators for us. I experienced women full of life and curiosity, and others just being alive shells due to their life experiences. With one women, I learned that her son threw her, his mother, out of the home when family is supposed to take care of each other. I wondered if that is occurring here in the US too. 

Since my focus is on Elders, Will Harris asked me to give a short motivational speech just before lunch. I talked about elderhood, yet afterwards I was wondering what does elderhood in the way I look at it mean in the context of the place I was in. I realized being an elder is almost a job description apart from being an older person treated with dignity. It is something for me to explore some more.

The timing to be in Amvarati was such  that we were there for the birthday celebration of Tukdoji Maharash, the founder of the local ashram.  From what I learned, being officially uneducated, meaning he did not have schooling, he was way ahead of his time. He said humanity is my religion; their greeting Jay Guru means I honor your guru. There is respect for the different religions.

Tukdoji Maharash is called a saint. I could feel a reaction in my body when reading this. Checking in, there was none when saying the word in german. He died after I was born, so I would consider him a contemporary and in German, all the saints we spoke of were long dead. Another interesting reaction I became aware of was when talking with people from the area in the airport, I was asked if I am a follower of Maharash. I checked in with myself and answered: I am not a follower but I belief in what Maharash was talking about. This is another reaction I am exploring.

I learned a lot during this trip and became aware of things in myself. There is much more exploration needed. I will have another opportunity to travel there and really look forward to it. For some reason, India was never a country I was attracted to visit, yet when I was presented with the opportunity, there was such a strong yes in me, that I decided to heed it. I am curious to find what it teaches me.

About the author 

Corinna Stoeffl

Corinna Stoeffl is a dynamic workshop facilitator and speaker. With a world in transition, her focus is providing education and giving tools so people can have more ease. She feels that her life experiences have prepared her for this time so she can be in support.

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