Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What's The Point?

Road Kill 17

'Tween each pedal stroke
Without choice where's up or down
Just here now, or not

Another spring. Another riding season. Another me. Another day's allotment to find the unfindable on the side of the local roads. Beautiful mid-70s sunny morning with typical spring winds, little traffic, rice balls and tea in the saddlebag, Dogen in my handlebar bag for a lunch companion, and a mind that was pleasantly and surprisingly quiet and still. It's hard to ask for more.

Got back from Shikoku just about two weeks ago. A film crew from London hired me to get them around parts of the henro trail for a TV documentary they are making. It will be a six part, six-hour series, with each program focusing on a different religious pilgrimage around the world. The obvious one's are the Hindu pilgrimage to Kumb Mela in India, the Muslem pilgrimage to Mecca, the Catholic pilgrimage to Lourdes in France, and for the Buddhists, they chose the henro trail on Shikoku. They are doing all the filming and editing this year and it will show on PBS in the US in 2014, next year. The title of the series will be Sacred Journeys, look for it on a PBS station near you.

It was somewhere between interesting and fascinating to watch a small group (the film crew) of non-Buddhists and non-henro try to make sense of the henro trail in just two short weeks. In the end, i think they got a lot of good material and will turn out a very nice introduction to what and where the henro trail is. Did they capture what the pilgrimage is, though? Did they capture what a true henro is attempting to accomplish while walking the trail? Did they film all the bits and pieces of a henro's life that he/she sheds and leaves along the sides of the road as they progress around the island? Did they find, and film, all the expectations and hopes that henro leave tied to tree branches here and there as they realize that they no longer serve a purpose and can be left for those still looking and hoping?

The henro trail is, on its best days, magnificently nothing, or, maybe phrased a little better, nothing in all its magnificence. Someone outside of the film crew asked me while there about meditation, or meditating while walking, or something along those lines. The question was something along the lines of why would anyone do that. To which i offered something like to figure out who you are? The response to that stunned me, even though i know it shouldn't have — What's the point of that? I didn't even know what to say so i let it drop and let the subject change naturally.

Why on earth would anyone do that? What is the point of spending time looking at who and what we are? What earthly purpose could any investigation into that magically mundane place called here and now serve? Could i push you to see It if we walked the henro trail together over two months? Would It be any clearer after than it was before? Without spending time, without going anywhere, could you lose your way for two months and 1,400 km? What's the point of That?

I'm hoping to walk the trail again in a couple of years. That gives me time to save up the rest of what i need. In the meantime, i'm back home and back in the saddle and running shoes.


Mystic Meandering said...

Interesting that they didn't consider the El Camino trail in Spain! Also interesting that some of us seem born to *want* to know this Truth of Being, and others don't even consider such questions; seeing it as a waste of time. So - did doing the henro trail help you to truly see? :)

Lao Bendan said...

Re: the Camino, they did consider it, but since they can only use one pilgrimage per faith, and since they already had The Lourdes selected for Catholicism, they couldn't include the Camino. I asked the same question.

Re: Wanting to know,... i have to smile. On several occasions in the past (many years now) i actively tried to give up the search. I refused to sit, refused to read another book, etc. All to no avail as after a month or so i always found myself right back on the zafu and back in the search. :-) I have since resigned myself to accepting my *need* to know. Plus, i no longer consider it a search, it's just a way of life. I really don't look for anything anymore, but every now and then the dust settles and the view is very nice.

Re: Shikoku, good question. Very good question.