"Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India" - William Dalrymple
by Rose Baring
Walking is very important to us Jains.The Buddha was enlightened while sitting under a tree, but our great Tirthankara, Mahavira, was enlightened while walking. We believe that walking is an important part of our tapasya. We don't use cars or any vehicles, partly because travelling so fast can kill so many living creatures, but partly also because we have two legs and travelling on foot is the right speed for human beings. Walking sorts out your problems and anxieties, and calms your worries. Living from day to day, from inspiration to inspiration, much of what I have learned as a Jain has come from wandering. "Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India" by William Dalrymple
This book, telling the stories of nine individuals whose lives are consumed by the search for spiritual truth, paints a picture of India which is both contemporary and timeless. Like the best travel writing it is written by an outsider who knows the country intimately, and has had time to develop an understanding of the culture which allows the people he interviews to feel that they are being understood and therefore to reveal their innermost beliefs.
The Jain nun who is speaking here is a woman of peace, whose path towards enlightenment and detachment from worldly concerns has been severely challenged by the loss of her fellow nun and travelling companion after twenty years of companionship. Yet she continues on her aescetic path, noticing and glorifying in the minute pleasures of everyday. In these days of global communication and instant information, the old virtues of slow travel are so easily forgotten, at our peril.