Thursday, October 5, 2017

Did You See That?

As i get ready to leave for a couple of weeks on the Kumano Kodō and a month on the henro trail, i've been looking over some of what i have written over the years on the website. This morning, these words from the "Why To Go" page resonated for some reason.

"If you go as a pilgrim, meet as many people as you can. Talk to all who will talk to you. Take thousands of pictures. Have fun. But remember why you are there. Many of the scholars who write about pilgrimages write about liminal experiences. Victor Turner points out that liminality is as much about potentiality as about thresholds. Liminal experiences are about both discovering your true potential and experiencing that threshold state you must progress through to get there. Shikoku, like other pilgrimages around the world, offers the possibility of coming to understand both. When and where each pilgrim finds his/her threshold is different. What they find on the other side may also vary, but it is certain that you can only find it if you remember that during each and every day, each and every minute, each and every step, each and every breath, you are on a path of discovery. Enjoy yourself but don't lose your focus."

It's the overlapping concepts of liminality and potentiality that made me stop and think. Not just in relation to the Ohenro, but in relation to that, yoga, and life in general. Sooner or later everyone who is on the spiritual path will find themselves approaching a threshold which marks the boundary between life on this side and life on the other side; between life as we currently live it and life as we have come to understand that it really is. And the longer i tread this path and the more often i dance back and forth across that threshold, never committing to one side or the other, the more clear it becomes that it's not the dance around the threshold that i find attractive, but the potentiality that appears right at that line.

The funny part is, why does it appear there. That potentiality is not found on the "other" side of the threshold. It's not isolated and available only to those who have passed over. It is everywhere, on both sides. It's in the absolute realm on "that" side and it's in the relative realm on "this" side. It is everywhere. There is nowhere it is not. In fact, it is all that there is, anywhere. The Buddhists would call it Dharmakaya. Depending on the school, a yogi would call it Brahman. Call it what you will, you don't have to cross any thresholds to get to it. You can't get away from it.

Pilgrimage, whether on Shikoku or anywhere else, is one way to open yourself to seeing that you are already that which you are seeking. Pilgrimage, whether in a pair of hiking boots or barefoot on a yoga mat, is where you stop the mind long enough for that potentiality to make itself known. For that which is to manifest so clearly, so loudly, so in your facely, that even you can't stop but notice. And occasionally you are tempted to look at someone next to you and say "did you see that?" because you aren't really sure what you saw, but it was so clear that you know it has changed your life.

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