from The Source, February 2007

Land of Truth: Steve Briggs Recounts His Seven Extraordinary Years in India

India Mirror of Truth: A Seven-Year Pilgrimage by Steve Briggs

by Tony Ellis

A former University of Arizona tennis star sent to India by his guru to teach meditation may be an unlikely scenario, but it provides the platform for an inspiring and deeply personal account of this perplexing and mystifying culture. Many western writers have failed to understand India, bamboozled by the quantum meandering of the country’s complex psyche. In India Mirror of Truth: A Seven-Year Pilgrimage, Steve Briggs succeeds because he meets India on its own terms. With an open heart and mind, he reaches beyond the chaos of sight, sound and smell to appreciate the hugely beneficent spirit embedded in every aspect of Indian life. It is this welcoming spirit that gives India the flexibility to absorb and adapt to new influences and is one of her greatest strengths. Generations of stiff-lipped British gentlemen attempted to impose their authority on India only to find that while they weren’t looking India had assimilated some of their most familiar icons—cricket, railways, bureaucracy and tea—added a few spices and claimed them as her own. Earlier Moghul invaders suffered a similar cultural fate.

The author arrives in India as teacher, but it is obvious that he is more interested in being student. His seven-year odyssey takes him from the coastal waters of Kerala to the high Tibetan plateau.  Along the way, he encounters saints and shamans, politicians and pundits, astrologers and ascetics, entrepreneurs and artisans as well as enjoying the most important heartland of India, the family.  He visits ancient holy sites, encounters swamis living at the source of the Ganges, participates in arcane purification rituals, experiences the excitement of thirty million pilgrims at the Kumbha Mela as guest of a maharaja, and shares the company of lamas at Tibetan monasteries in Ladakh. Deep in the Himalayas, his search for spiritual India reunites him with an ageless Master who seems to have been expecting his arrival.  Somewhere in between, he gets to teach meditation to some of India’s elite. Finally, his dream of pursuing spiritual liberation in a remote ashram is realized.

Briggs’ account is far more than travelogue. It is journey of personal experience. As the title suggests, India acts as a mirror for him to find his own truth. For many years people have traveled to India seeking enlightenment. There is probably no other country where God is so alive in every day life. Briggs understands the real truth lies within a person’s own heart and that India can provide the roadmap to reach this truth. As India leapfrogs into the age of high technology and economic prosperity, one can only wish she doesn’t lose this spiritual treasure house that Briggs so beautifully describes. Hopefully sadhu and Samsung, Microsoft and Mother Divine can co-exist in harmony.

 

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