Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Ram Dass, the Henro

These words from the wonderful being known as Ram Dass. From a recording i have called "Spiritual Journey."

He's talking about the internal journey, but since that's how i see the walk around the henro trail, these words speak directly to Shikoku.

"… And just as in any journey, some people have dropped along the way; said, well, i think i’ve gone far enough for this round. Others have been waiting for us to catch up.


"The journey passes through…degrees of faith. And often we only know that we have been at a certain place when we pass beyond it, because when we’re in it we don’t have the perspective to know because we are only being.


"But as the journey progresses, less and less do you need to know, the faith is strong enough so it is sufficient to be.


"It’s a journey toward simplicity. It’s a journey toward quietness. It’s a journey toward a kind of joy that is not in time. It’s a journey out of time.


"It’s a journey leaving behind every model we’ve had of who we are. It’s a journey that involves the transformation of our being such that our thinking mind becomes our servant rather than our master.


"It’s a journey that’s taken us from primary identification with our body, through identification with our psyche, ultimately to an identification with our soul, and finally with an identification with God.



"Often there has been a lot of confusion, thinking the end was reached when it was merely the first mountain peak we were looking toward, which hid all the higher mountains in the distance.


"For many of us we got so enamored with the experiences we’ve had along the way, … that we couldn’t imagine anything beyond them. But isn’t it really a good journey that at every stage of the journey you can’t imagine beyond it? So that every point you reach is so much beyond everything you’ve had until then that your perception is full of it. You can’t see anything else but the experience itself.



"At what point in the journey do you begin to suspect that your model of life is just another model?"


I love these words and have listened to the recording many, many more times than i can count.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Folly of Seeking

Someone recently asked me if i was really, as in really, finished with the henro trail. I was shocked by the question but realized later that what i've written could lead people to believe that my love of the Henro has worn off.

Not true.

As i sit here tonight and reflect on my life as a henro, on the relationship that has developed over the past 17 years between Dave and that henro who walks the streets and trails on Shikoku, i get occasional glimpses through the mist and see a bit of where i stand.

T.S. Eliot, in the Four Quartets, wrote:
    Do not let me hear
    Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly,
    Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession,
    Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God.
    The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
    Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.

In the exact same vein as Basho's extraordinarily to the point,
    Do not search for the masters of old,
    Search for what they sought.

Eliot points out that it is a futile waste of your time on the trail to look for The Daishi; where he lived, where he studied, where he was known to have visited. If you are on the henro trail as a pilgrim, as a spiritual seeker, as as an open heart accepting life as it arrives with each step, what you should be looking for are The Daishi's follies and fears.

When Kūkai dropped out of the university he was not the man he was when he died 40 years later; he was not Kōbō Daishi. As i walked the trail this past spring i often wondered about what had gone through his mind during that time on Shikoku between his university years and when he left for China.

What were his fears? Uncertainty? Failure? The unknown? He certainly had an aversion to possessions and showed unquestionable aversion to becoming just another possession of the State and to the current religions of the State.

Whatever follies showed up in his life, his wisdom must have been in his humility. His willingness to admit that he did not know. His willingness to admit that he did not have the answers. That the answers had to be found, not by seeking more information from others, but by looking inside. Deep inside. Over long periods of time.

I've come to accept that to truly understand the henro trail, one has to throw away the legends, lore, and myth that surrounds The Daishi. While it is true that he is walking with each and every henro (Dōgyō Ninin) the only way to understand what he found on the island is to live each and every moment on the trail inside his humility.

Surrender is considered a horrible word here in the West, but surrender is what needs to happen if you hope to find the same truths that The Daishi found. Inside surrender is the humility, the love, and the acceptance that pulls away the veil, that blows away the mist that separates who you think you are and who you truly are. Inside this surrender lies the peace and joy that many henro find so addicting on Shikoku.

Am i done? No. But i want to share what i've seen with others more than i want to go and look at it by myself again. So, as i wrote in an earlier post, maybe i've walked the trail for the last time as a lone henro, but i doubt that i've finished sharing the Henro with the rest of the world.