I was expecting a culture shock. And that’s what’s happening now. My mind doesn’t really like to settle in. The time difference is almost 12 hours, so upside-down, my consciousness is on fire, I can’t describe it any other way. I’m awake, but somehow not here. I’m in Chicago and I know it, I’m fully present, but my mind doesn’t feel at home yet.

It’s like the Aitereya Upanishad. „These were the Gods that He created; they fell into this great Ocean, and Hunger and Thirst leaped upon them. Then they said to Him, „Command unto us an habitation that we may dwell secure and eat of food.““ But what is a good habitat for the gods, those beings whom Brahman created to experience Himself. Brahman drew Purusha from the deep waters, from him, the counterpart of Prakriti (nature), Purusha manifests as soul, as consciousness, as universal individual: „The eyes brake forth and from the eyes Sight and of Sight the Sun was born. The ears brake forth and from the ears Hearing and of Hearing the regions were born. The skin brake forth and from the skin hairs and from the hairs herbs of healing and all trees and plants were born…“

When Pursha manifested itself in this way – as differentiated universal forces, as gods – the question arose where the forces could dwell. The oceans were not suitable for it, just as little the cows. But when the gods saw the human beings, they said: „“O well fashoned truly! Man indeed is well and beautifully made.“ Then the Spirit said unto them, „Enter ye in each according to his habitation.“ No sooner said than done, but one question remained: „The Spirit thought, „Without Me how should all this be?“ and He thought, „By what way shall I enter in?“ He thought also, „If utterance is by Speech, if breathing is by the Breath, if sight is by the Eye, if hearing is by the Ear, if thought is by the Mind, if the lower workings are by Apana, if emission is by the organ, who then am I?““

Culture Shock

I feel so alive in India, the world of Vedas is still active there. But I am not at all interested in representing the teachings of the Vedas, I understand them somewhat too little, the language of the gods is so complicated, so multifaceted, the wisdom so deep. But something shines through, through these ancient writings, something that is palpable everywhere in India. Consciousness there is not determined by matter. Because matter is not accessible to our consciousness. Consciousness seeks a material abode. Somewhat old-fashioned one would say, the soul looks for itself a body.

This consciousness, which looks for a place, for example my body, is not completely bound to this. This is the great mystery of rebirth. The connection is not arbitrary, but it is loose. We see this in sleep, when our consciousness moves away from the material world, the causal world, and goes to the dream world.

So the gods chose humans to dwell in them. This means, however, somewhat trivialized, that the consciousness, the emotions, the intellect, the sense perception, the memory, need a place where they can work. That place, in our experience, is the human body. „It was this bound that He cleft, it was by this door that He entered in. ‚Tis this that is called the gate of the cleaving; this is the door of His coming and here is the place of His delight. He hath three mansions in His city, three dreams wherein He dwelleth, and of each in turn He saith, ‚Lo, this is my habitation‘ and ‚This is my habitation‘ and ‚This is my habitation.'“


Now I have also flown from India to Chicago and I feel somewhat like a spirit looking for a new house. The culture shock is maximum. I feel like the Truman Show, that 1998 movie where a perfect world is staged, where a person who does not know that this world is a staging is filmed 24/7 and televised live. It is, of course, a variation on Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, as is The Matrix (1999) or other dystopian sci-fi classics.

Here in the U.S., one finds much taken to its extreme. The values of modernity are negotiated here: Freedom, capital, science, war, democracy, art, materialism, individuality…. Here the limits are tested and the barriers are set. But this modernity has lost its roots and this is the tragedy of the USA, because that progress is necessary is in the structure of the world. Everything is flowing, everything is becoming, stagnation and conservatism are justified only as forces, not as absolute values. And so, for me, this is where the oldest connected scriptures – the Indian Vedas – meet the force of modern progress, and I wonder, where are the gods here? What game are they playing?

When I see the people here, the traffic, the supermarkets, the air-conditioned houses, it’s really a different world. Brahman experiences itself here, too. But the question is how awake are the people here, they work a lot and hard, but the consciousness is anchored on the surface in the world of consumption. Something is being tried here, the experiment is threatening the planet, but it will somehow continue.

I will find my way here. The gods don’t live in temples here, there are no cows in the streets, but there is a will to build a new beautiful world. Like a small child who does not think much evil, this modern world is being built here. Sometimes the child is surprised that the house collapses, then there is a crying and screaming and a new attempt until the learning goal is achieved.

„The Aitereya Upanishad – CWSA – Kena and Other Upanishads – Upanishads.“ o. y. Accessed June 1, 2023.

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