Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Exposing Yourself

DHS 160

A couple of nice quotes form the wonderful anthology of pilgrimage travel stories, Pilgrimages: Adventures Of The Spirit:

I stood on the banks of the Barun River, alone. I thought about how hard I was trying—trying to walk fast enough, to say the right thing, to understand the right way—trying to get it right. In Hedangna, I had novels to read and a tiny room with a door I could shut, a door that, oddly enough, was what protected me from this stark realization of my solitude.

For the past five days, these barriers had been stripped away, and this sudden and complete exposure made me acutely aware of the gap between my world and the world of my companions.


During the whole trip, I felt an ache in my chest, a longing that would not go away. I thought there mist be a place, somewhere, where I could be held, here, no here. on the inside. If only I could get to that place, I was sure the yearning would disappear. Now I realize that this feeling of aloneness is not something that ever goes away. It is always there. underneath the words spoken, inside my boots.


We make pilgrimages to sacred places, but the places themselves are not inherently sacred. We enter the sacred when we let go of the fear of being exposed. Only when I gave up trying to hide what was inside did the boundaries between us begin to dissolve. And in the moment I felt most alone, I realized I was never alone. The sacred, as [Roberto] Calasso writes, is always there "waiting to wake us and be seen by us, like a tree waiting to greet our newly opened eyes." It is simply up to us to let ourselves see.

Ann Armbrecht Forbes

Or this beautiful one by someone who did the Shikoku Pilgrimage on a bicycle:

Days spent on the bike leave me with time for thinking. Realizations dawn slowly, the result of hours of uninterrupted cycle meditation. While never a disciple, I too am searching. However, it is not karma I hope to gain. Through my travels and my life in Japan, I am searching for new new horizons and challenges. I want to push myself beyond what is comfortable—both mentally and physically—in order to test my own spirit. I want to discover myself: my boundaries, my strengths, and my weaknesses. It is not the succeeding lifetimes that concern me; I want to fully experience the present and to discover new vistas, not only around me, but within me as well.

Tara Austen Weaver

To which i remind myself of the Marcel Proust quote i gave a few days ago: "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."

Having new eyes. Discovering new vistas within. Opening yourself. Exposing your boundaries; your barriers. All of these are what can be found on the road when the road is traveled wisely. All of these are what lie in wait, ready to pounce on those who willingly cut themselves open, exposing their fears, their uncertainties, their stereotypes, their ideologies, their biases, their habits, and their many, many weaknesses.

For most of us life is too easy, and therefore too complicated. In order to protect the ease, we hide behind routine, convenience, and surplus. A few, though, know that by stepping out of their routines, by putting themselves in places or positions where convenience is nowhere to be found, and by living lives on the sparser side of simple, they find that life opens up. Time opens her doors allowing here and now to envelope them, expanding who and what they are, and allowing them to see that you can never be alone — because in that eternal and unlimited dimension that is here and now, we are all one and one is all we. Form is not different from emptiness, emptiness is not different from form. Form is exactly emptiness, emptiness is exactly form. And the same is true for Feelings, Perceptions, Mental Formations, and Consciousness.

"I want to discover myself." "It is simply up to us to let ourselves see." Well said, indeed.

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