Saturday, May 12, 2018


Saturday, 5/12

Three days completed. Thursday to Roncevellas in the rain; Friday to Zubiri under beautiful cloudless skies; Today into Pamplona under cold, overcast, and windy skies with two bouts of heavy rain and sprinkles on snd off throughout the day.

It’s been interesting to see the exact same people on and off during the day as we all stop for breaks at different times and then recross paths as we or they get started again. And then at night, when i get to the albergue, each night the same people show up in about the same order. Looks like i have a new family.

I had intended to walk 5 km past Pamplona today but the person i was walking with had a sore ankle and was walking very slowly. By the time we arrived, given the time and the weather, i decided to stop here as well. I can’t jump ahead of schedule tomorrow because it’s already a 25 km day as is. Will try again on Monday, maybe.

The scenery here is stunningly beautiful. Incredibly so. We walk from valley to valley with small villages dotting the hills. It seems, though, that the Spanish only allow one village per valley. The houses are all the same—white walls and orange tiled roofs. Cows, horses, and sheep are everywhere. Todays fields, though, gave way to acres and acres, entire valleys full, of barley.

You hear almost every language out here on the trail, but in the wave of people i’m riding with, those that set out on Thursday morning, the is a huge number of Koreans.

Last night an elderly Korean man decided that i should know how the Korean’s write. So he came over to where i was reading and showed me how to write and pronounce the 24 characters in the Korean alphabet. Then after showing me how to write “Camino de Santiago” and “David,” the lesson was finished.

The people you meet who run the bar/restaurants where we find food, or the markets where we buy fruit, and in the albergues where we sleep are wonderful people. You could imagine them getting tired of hundreds of thousands of people trekking through their towns and streets but i have yet to meet anyone without a smile on their face, a greeting on their lips, and a seeming happiness to see you.

The Camino is nothing like the Heno on Shikoku. Not even close. Here there is an actual trail, built for, set aside, and used only by pilgrims. So far there have been almost no excursions out onto roads. On Shikoku that is where you spend 90% of your time. Here i'm spending $25-$30 per day, in Shikoku that doesn’t even pay for half of your nightly lodging.

The Henro and the Camino aren’t just two different animals, they’re completely different species.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

St. Jean Pied de Port

Finally arrived in St. Jean Pied de Port. I pictured a small town but it is far from it. Maybe it’s not a big place but it is full to the brim with people. People everywhere. People walking, people shopping, people eating and drinking, people just hanging around. People of every size, shape, nationality, and apparent ability.

And the excitement. It hangs in the air like incense, or the smell of burnt popcorn hanging everywhere at the carnival.

Went to the pilgrim office to get my first pilgrim stamp in my Camino stamp book, and the women seemed so excited to see me and start me on my journey that she gave me her tube of toothpaste with enough left inside for at least 3-4 days. She wanted to save me the trek across town to the supermarche to buy some—even though i went anyway (without telling her).

Weather forecast is saying that i will be walking in the rain tomorrow. :-)

The woman who checked me in tonight tells me that the albergue where i intend to spend tomorrow night (in Roncevalles) sleeps about 180 people. They accept 60 advance reservations, with the remaining 120 beds going first-come first-serve. So, if i want a bed, i have to be inside the first 120 people arriving in town. Otherwise, the next town is another hour walk down the road.

She also said it takes between 7 & 8 hours to get there, but she did it in 6.5 two years ago. I have no idea what to expect. I’m no slouch, but have no concept what my competition is, this being the night before seeing anyone else on the road.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Hemingway’s Bulls

Moving at light speed
On a Pamplona-bound train
Mind in overdrive

Two immediate thoughts as i relax in my Pamplona hotel room.

Between Madrid and Pamplona there is more graffiti than i have ever seen. On the train ride north, if there was a flat surface, i saw it covered in graffiti. No just having some graffiti on it, covered with it. I am amazed at the amount. On bridges, stores, other buildings, walls around houses, apartments. You name it.

No one told me everything would be written in Spanish and that’s what everyone would speak! :-)

Right now, my problem is, every time i open my mouth, Japanese comes out. I don’t seem to have the ability to stop it. Even the Spanish i do know is pushed aside. Apparently my brain is saying that since I’m in a foreign country it must be time to use Japanese. I sure hope this goes away in the next few days!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Itchy Feet

In Toronto eh
Waiting for flight to Madrid
Feet getting itchy

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Planting Blossoms

Step step walk walk step
Walking the path of practice
No nature no seed

Friday, May 4, 2018

Only One Pilgrim

There's a very nice story in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. A man has reached his later years in life and decided that it was time to relinquish his belongings and become a sanyasi. So, he went to his two wives and told them that he was leaving and that he intended to split his wealth between the two of them.

When he told one of his wives, Maitreyi, she surprised him by asking if gaining this wealth would allow her to go beyond death. In fact, would obtaining all the wealth in the world allow her to accomplish that?

Of course not, Yajnavalka responded. Money can not buy immortality.

Then why are you offering me your wealth, Maitreyi asked? I'd rather that you tell me the way to immortality.

How exciting would this be for one of us reading this? You go to your significant other and offer them money or something material, expecting a smile to take over their eyes as they dream aloud of what they might do with it or what they might be able to buy. And they surprise you by asking you, instead, to tell them the Truth about life and the way beyond death. Wow. What a partner to have!

Anyhow, Yajnavalka goes on to point out to Maitreyi that a wife loves her husband, not for who or what he is, but for the Self within him. That self that gives him life; that self that is who he really is. Likewise, a husband loves his wife, not for who she is, but for the Self that lives within her.

The same is said for our love of our children. People's love for all the other people in society. Animals. The universe. Everything. True love comes about not because of anything particular about the apparent other in our relationships, but because Love in us recognizes itself in that apparent other.

But, through meditation and a constant study of ourselves, we can come to see that we are not who we think we are. We are that ever-present, eternal awareness that gives life to you, me, and everything else. That eternal awareness dissolves our sense of separateness as our perceived mutual consciousness becomes clear.

When you see that one consciousness that manifests through everybody, your mistaken sense of a separate physical identity drops off. Dissolves into nothing. As Yanjavalka tells Maitreyi, once you see this, you know you have never been born and will never die.

As I walk the Camino over the next month, I hope to see that awareness in the eyes of everyone I meet. I hope to see that in Truth, there is only one pilgrim walking the Way of Saint James, even though it seems to manifest as many, many separate people.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Be Here Now

Someone i know told a group of us that she had had a mild breakthrough recently. Like a great many people, she had for a long time tried to live the “Be Here Now” mantra, but always took that to mean that the goal was to be wherever you happened to be at the moment. If you were at the theater, be in the theater, don’t be anywhere else. If you are in a yoga class, be in that yoga class, on your mat, nowhere else. If you are at work, be there and nowhere else.

Then, the other day she realized that it meant more than that. It could also mean that one was supposed to mentally be here and now no matter the emotions at that time, no matter the feelings at that time. If angry, be here and now with that anger. Don’t try and run away from it. If stressed out, be here and now with that stress. Don’t try and cover it up, don’t run to comforting distractions. Realize that whatever is happening, is happening for a reason. Stay with it and find the lesson.

It’s not my place so i didn’t say anything, but wanted to tell her that there is an even subtler level to that well-worn mantra. What i take as the true meaning is to go through, and then past both of the above meanings, settle onto your meditation cushion, and let go of that person you think you are. Let go of Dave, let go of male, white, American, yogi, runner, henro, zen practitioner —- let go of everything, of every story you have about yourself.

Let go of it all and simply be nothing other than “here and now.” This does not mean “you” should be "something." You shouldn't be anything. At this stage the “you” you project to the rest of the world has disappeared. The “you” that interacts with all the other people in the world, is no longer sitting on your cushion. The world is no more. Your cushion is no more. All that exists is “here and now.” Your original nature; what you truly are. Be that!

If you sit as here and now often enough, long enough, consistently enough, you slowly come to understand what that means. You slowly begin to see that this here and now is not something. It is not nothing either. It is nothing more and nothing less than “Is.” It is nothing more or less than “Being.” Not something or someone being something or someone, simply Being in all its unconditioned and unmanifest glory.

When You relaxes, lets go, and surrenders to Being, and there is no longer someone sitting on a cushion, but only Being simply being, here and now, in the non-existent eternity that this is...then you understand what it means to “Be Here Now.”

Then, and this is the important step, the practice becomes to take this off the cushion and out into daily life. Can you see that You are a fake, only an actor and that Being is being Being at all times, in all places, no matter what you are doing, no matter where you are doing it. Being is always here and now; there is nowhere else it can be, there is no other time available.

When this becomes the way you live your life, when this becomes the way life manifests though who you thought you were, liberation is not far away.

Wishing you all success. Be here now and nothing else.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Morning Snacks

It seems as if the new battleground in the worlds ongoing culture wars is the idea of Cultural Appropriation. Or is that Cultural Misappropriation? It's one of the stupidest ideas that I have ever heard of. People who try and make this argument are either idiots or have zero ability to think logically. (There, said it...)

In my bit of appropriating different cultures, i'll point out this wonderful similarity between Buddhism and Vedanta. It comes from my having just started to read Chinmayananda's commentary on the Isa Upanishad, also known as the Isavasyopanishad. The opening Peace Invocation goes like this:

That is Whole,
This is Whole,
From the Whole, the Whole becomes manifest.
From the Whole, when the Whole is negated,
What remains is again the Whole.

From my cushion, that reads just like the lines many of us love from the Heart Sutra:

Form is not different from emptiness.
Emptiness is not different from form.
Form is exactly emptiness.
Emptiness is exactly form.

"That is Whole." Emptiness is everything. And nothing. Emptiness Is. "That" is Brahman, the unmanifest Whole. Everything (and yet, nothing). All encompassing. Pure potential, out of which everything manifests.

"This is Whole." Everything in the manifest world, all of manifest existence, is Emptiness.

"From the Whole, the Whole becomes manifest." Everything manifests out of Emptiness. Everything we see, smell, taste, touch, fee, and think; everything we perceive as existing; all of it is Emptiness manifesting as plurality.

"From the Whole, when the Whole is negated, what remains is again the Whole." You can't negate Emptiness. Emptiness is what Is. When the world comes to an end, Emptiness still remains. Nothing remains, but this nothingness is Emptiness in it's original and ever continuing unmanifest form.

As a Buddhist, I have long accepted (believed?) that there is no soul; no inherent piece of me that is, was, and always will be "Me," and allows me to be me again when I am reborn. But, to be honest, no one knows one way or the other. Is there a soul? Or not? Different people have different beliefs, and that is all you can say. No one has the one and only correct answer.

That's why I love the Upanishads. If you read past the belief in an atman, an imperishable, ever existing soul, and look to the top of the Vedantan hierarchy, where you find Brahman, the scenery is amazingly beautiful. Seeing Brahman is like seeing that perfect sunrise from that special mountain peak, just as it crests the horizon and begins to shed it's light on your world. Seeing Emptiness in all of the world's manifestations can bring shivers to your spine and tears to your eyes.

And then, just to appropriate a little more, i'm taking these Vedantan and Buddhist viewpoints to the pilgrim's trail in Spain. A Christian pilgrimage. All my gear is spread around the living room floor for a final round of elimination before it all goes in my pack and I leave for the Camino de Santiago on Monday. Less than a week. :-)

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Live Meditation

Walking pilgrimage
Requires proper training
Meditate daily

Meditate daily
Both on and off the cushion
Live meditation

Live meditation
Collect moments of silence
Walk with these treasures

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Raging Bull

Raging bulls rampage
Running fast out of control
Calm your pilgrim mind

Less than two weeks...

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Stepping Into Nowhere

No-thought on my mind
Being silent heading home
Pilgrimage beckons

Friday, January 19, 2018


What is truth you ask  
Sun rise over the garage  
Snow knows when to melt

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Opaque Silence

Deep in downward dog
Stretching muscles long unused
Living silent breaths

I have for a long time talked about looking for those gaps between thoughts, and how, as you cultivate them they get wider and wider. Once they reach a certain size, you can then crawl through them and spend time in that beautiful world of silence — that world of truth and wisdom, where the nonsense that we usually take for "normal" fades away.

I've seen this from a different perspective lately and want to play with it through this year. As you sit, let the mind quiet down. As it settles and the thoughts start to spread out, leaving those silent gaps in-between, look at them. And, as usual crawl into that silence. This is nothing new.

But, as you take your meditation out into the world try and see it in a different manner. As you go through your day, take time, every now and then, to let your mind quiet down. Stop what you are doing; let the thoughts spread out, leaving those gaps of silence. Instead of picturing yourself crawling through the gaps into that silence, envision the gaps being black screens. The reason they appear dark is not because of the silent nothingness behind them, but because they are black, completely unreflective screens, covering what you 'think' is on the other side.

Maybe, just maybe, everything that you think you'll find inside those gaps is just something you read about. Something you heard about. Something you assume is supposed to be found there. But the truth is, reality is not just what's on the other side of the gap; reality is everything, including what's on this side of the gap as well. Reality is everything. No exceptions. It's not "all or nothing," it's "all and nothing." There is nothing that is not reality. Yes, but there is also everything that is reality.

So, as your quiet gaps appear, notice that those screens block your view into the silence, leaving you to see nothing but everything else. Leaving you to see, now silently, now clearly and unobstuctedly, the vast world that exists around you. Leaving you to see it in all its vibrancy, in all its color, in all its variety — yet seeing it without the thoughts that normally taint the view with the smell of your beliefs, preferences, likes, dislikes, suppositions, and on and on.

As you pass over the gaps, instead of dropping into nothingness, drop into everythingness. Notice the stunning beauty of the world as it is, in all its glorious variety. Notice the colors. Notice the textures. Notice the smells. Notice the sounds. Notice the tastes. Notice everything around you. And marvel. Silently. Peacefully. In reverence.

Then, as the next thought comes by go back to what you were doing, but notice the difference in how you live.