Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Bodai no Dōjō (v1)

Oh boy (rubbing my hands together excitedly)....now we're talking 'pilgrimage.' 😀 Here's what i thought about 20 years ago as i entered the third prefecture.


Bodai no Dōjō
The Dōjō of Enligntenment
(Temples 40 to 65)

Half way. You have now passed Cape Ashizuri and find yourself on the southwest coast and heading northward — heading home. From here on each day will bring you closer to your destination and not further away from your starting point.

Then again, aren't your starting point and destination one and the same? You may realize that there is no difference when you stop analyzing and forget the labels that you attached when you set off on day 1. And while we're at it, is there any difference between today in the Dōjō of Enlightenment and yesterday in the Dōjō of Religious Discipline? Today? Yesterday? Now? Then? Birth? Death? Those pesky labels.

Today it's sunny. Tomorrow, rain. One day you walk with a monk. Another day you walk with an irrational woman. One day you're happy. Another day you're angry. Ahhh... life on the henro trail.


This afternoon i was at my local golden arches drinking a cup of coffee when i met a guy that had tattoos from the crown of his head, across all four sides of his head, both arms and hands, and i assume all the way down to his feet. Even the whites of his eyes had been tattooed black. It was amazing.

I struck up a conversation with him and told him of the time i met a yakuza in a public bath at a hotel on the henro trail. I tell the story frequently for some reason. As i always point out, the hardest part of the conversation was just getting over the idea that i was standing there talking to a butt naked guy about the tattoos all over his body. He had a full body suit tattoo, with the only untattooed parts of his body being above the neck, and below the wrists and ankles. Once i got over the nervousness about talking to the guy, he turned out to be quite interesting, and eager to describe his "works of art." As was the guy i talked to today.

This really has nothing to do with my thoughts on entering the third prefecture on the henro trail, but after talking to him it did seem appropriate to mention it. People like the man i met today are so very easily labeled and relegated to good or bad categories, depending on your views of tattoos. Earlier in my life i would have done it as well. But if you sit and wonder about that process of categorization and how unconsciously it's done, it should make you stop and think about everything else in your life that you label and categorize for no useful purpose; it's done unconsciously and habitually, faster than a blink of an eye, without you ever knowing that you did it.

If you did your job while walking through Kōchi Prefecture over that past couple of weeks, you've spent a great deal of time learning to notice what it means to be alive. You've spent increasing amounts of time outside of your head, outside of that incessant steam of thoughts you're used to living in. You've begun to spend more and more time noticing what's going on around you as you walk — in more and more detail. And, you've begun to notice how your mind works, how it takes in sensory input, how it chooses what inputs to notice and which to ignore, how it chooses to interact with those inputs, and how it pieces all of this into what you would call "experiences."

The beauty of walking the henro trail is that your life slows down to the same speed as your fingernails grow. And as your life slows down, your thinking slows down, giving you the chance to notice more of the individual thoughts that float past the back of your eyeballs and through your brain.

Then, with greater levels of attention, and greater ability to notice individual thoughts as they come and go, you finally get to the point where you might get to see yourself attach labels to the sensory inputs almost as soon as they come in, long, long before your mind has a chance to actively and consciously process what you just perceived. And when you reach that stage, WOW. That's just about all i can say. Wow. Did i just do that? Did i just label that guy with the tattoos after having only seen him a half a thought ago? Did i just label that driver who splashed water on me as she drove past? Did i just label this entire day based on that one first raindrop?

And here's the kicker, the worst of them all....Did i just label myself as a (your choice of word) for having done that again?

Wow. Did you see that? Did you see yourself completely change reality with one thought? So simply done. No effort required. Talk about God power.

That's your homework as we spend the next couple of weeks walking through Ehime Prefecture. It's my least favorite section of the walk and i know i have to fight the labeling process each and every step as i walk through. But, while you walk notice your abuse of your superpowers, your ability to change reality, completely and utterly change the entire world with each successive thought and label. Learn to spot it as it happens. Learn to reverse it when you can. Learn to stop the process if possible.

This is terribly hard work, i'm not suggesting it is easy. But it is doable, and with time it does get easier. And as you get better at it you will slowly start to notice changes in your reality, in how reality appears to you, in how reality manifests. With work, with constant, persistent, and never ending practice, the person who steps into the next prefecture in a few weeks will not be the same person who enters Ehime Prefecture today.

That should make you smile and dance a little jig in happiness. Just knowing that you are powerful enough to change reality should send shivers up your spine.

Have fun.

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