“Same-same but different!” This is a phrase that we first heard in Goa, and it followed us throughout our journey. The folks at http://www.urbandictionary.com list a number of interesting meanings for this phrase, (which is popular in more than one Asian country). It can mean many different things, including:
“Pretty much the same thing, but not quite,” or
“I respect your opinion, but don’t agree at all!” Or even
“This is a fake,”
“She is actually a Lady-boy” or often:
“You don’t have the slightest idea what I mean, but I don’t know enough English to explain.”
And like many of the best phrases in the world, there are plenty of other vague meanings generally made up on the spot. For me this phrase triggered a deeply philosophical train of thought. But first let me tell you where we ended up, and I will get back to the philosophy in a moment.
PS: If you like the photos on this blog, check out “Magic of the journey” in the last post, and this site with more of Nicci’s mystical artwork:
Our overnight bus pulled into Mapusa (or Mapsa) just as the sun was rising in the East. The bus trip was challenging, but we soon forgot the troubles over a much needed cup of coffee in the little town square, while marvelling at the sublime hues in the sky.
Sharing a taxi is a great way to get around when you’re trying to stretch your money as far as it will go. Two friendly lads, Sandy and Abbi, shared a short taxi ride with us down to the coast and started informing us about our destination.
Arambol is a laid-back spot on the Goa coastline which became popular with New Agers, artists, musicians and the like. Goa is the original hippie outpost in India, frequented in the past by many LSD inspired rock bands and groupies alike, and more recently suffered the invasion of the trance party mob from Europe, Israel and elsewhere. We were more interested in the artistic and esoteric side of things than in mindless revelry, so Arambol turned out to be just the place.
Here you can find anything along the lines of Yoga, Astrology, Reiki, Crystal healing, Tai Chi, Tibetan massage, Osho meditation classes and the like. It is like a semi-permanent esoteric fair, mixed with great restaurants and live music bars. Here and there some of the original seventies hippie-folk can still be found living the dream. We felt so at home that we ended up staying a week or two, and had some of our most memorable experiences.
Getting back to the philosophy, though, one might say that the universe itself is “same-same but different” (ssbd).
A recurring metaphysical theme in many world religions and cultures is the idea that all things have a common source and that at the very root of all roots it is all One (Ayn Soph). From this unity comes the split into dynamic polar opposites – the yin and yang, if you like – and from there further and further divisions into each and every different thing. Relaxing on the beach in Arambol, I was flooded with intuitions about how much we concentrate on differences, definitions, and how little we contemplate similarities or unity. Or rather, how the two are intricately woven into life.
It seems that as individuals we are on a lifetime mission to define exactly what makes us unique, special or different. We like this kind of thing, but dislike another.
As a student of writing, the habit of “critical thinking” has been deeply ingrained into my mental patterns. As a writer I am supposed to be original. Generally speaking, most of us are taught at school to differentiate, judge, define and separate concepts. The part of the human mind that is able to find unity, the part that can look at someone or something else and find the essential “sameness”, is often woefully undeveloped.
The path of enlightenment via Reiki, for example, is different to that of Hatha Yoga, or Zen Buddhism, Christianity or even Astrophysics, but the further you go along any individual path, the more similarities to other paths appear. Take from that whatever you will.
Besides the spiritual side to our unforgettable stay in Arambol, there is also a very appealing natural, down-to-earth side. (ssbd!) In my next post I will relate some more of our inspiring experiences – music that gave me goose bumps all over, synchronicity in the sky above, the end of the world, weird creatures on the beach and more. So if you’re enjoying the India experience, even in a second-hand way – Stay tuned.