The Path That Leads to Nowhere

Statue representing Siddhartha Gautama.I am a seeker. A learner. A teacher and a follower. Although I’m only proficient in a few, I have attempted to become familiar with many paths. There’s the path of the Buddha. The path of Kabbalah. The Way, Jesuit, Gnostic, the Serpent’s path, Tao, Zoroastrian and the list goes on. There are enough paths that a person could get really lost. So far I haven’t, well at least I don’t think so. Some would say that I am. I wish I could say if I am lost then the world is my home. I’m not quite that far yet. Probably never will be. The truth is that some of these paths or religions are so similar that an outsider couldn’t tell them apart. But I guess that’s the normal thing isn’t it? Until you get to know a group it’s difficult to see the distinctions.

What strikes me at this moment is the distraction that these paths and their own nuances offer. They keep us busy. It’s similar to the beads on the rosary which a Catholic will use as a prayer connection. It serves its purpose to keep your mind on your prayer. It reminds you that you are not merely a man or a woman standing alone, but you have access to a higher power. And that’s where these things should stop.

The simplest form of the Sun Cross, often call...

A woman looks in her closet for clothing to wear. She decides what to wear based on what type of day she will have. If there is a lot of walking, she will wear comfortable shoes. If she is appearing before important people, she may want to dress more dazzling. At one time, we did not choose our path, it was chosen for us like our clothing was and even our spouses. This is the time of choice. Independence. Freethinking. We can choose our path as well as our clothing. We are not limited to corsets and parasols. No more breaking and binding of our feet to make us appealing. The proper husband or wife is not picked out at birth for us.

It’s also a time of uncertainty as well as opportunity. Those two go hand in hand. The same with the fear of the unknown and it’s counterpart, paralysis.

 

When I look at some of these paths, I can feel the devotion. It’s like running my hands over a soft cashmere shawl. Or the feel of a silk scarf around my neck. The scent of a rose petal. The kiss of a child. The love of the pursuer and the hug of a friend. Comfort. Home. We belong and find rest.

Along with this new frontier we are all on, is the desert or wilderness in front of us. The unknown. The “not home” or otherness of it can make us wish to hide. But we left it for a reason. Do you remember? Stifled? Mine didn’t fit anymore. Do I still believe? Yes and no. Part of my beliefs I am even more adamant about, but others are added in at the last minute and cluttered up the purity.

If you want a path to follow, there are many out there. If you want a life to live, you have one. No one needs to give you a map for it. Walk. You don’t need to know where to go. Walk. Each step you take is your path. Your path is enough. So you left your home, keep going until you want to stop. Have you read the story of Siddhartha? Siddhartha_(novel) It’s a story told of original Buddha. He left his home and his family and his friends. He didn’t know where he was going, but he had the need to go.

Green Light

There’s a phrase I’ve heard often, If you meet the Buddha on the way down the mountain, kill him. http://www.dailybuddhism.com/archives/670

Whatever your conception is of the Buddha, it’s WRONG! Now kill that image and keep practicing. This all has to do with the idea that reality is an impermanent illusion. If you believe that you have a correct image of what it means to be Enlightened, then you need to throw out (kill) that image and keep meditating.

Most people have heard the first chapter of the Tao, “The Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao.” (So if you think you see the real Tao, kill it and move on).

Since we are away from our home, let’s not start a religion of Not Being Religious. We are free of prescribed paths. And since we are free, we need to stay free. I hope that I never trash another’s rosary beads.  http://bible.cc/1_corinthians/8-9.htm

But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble.There could easily be a day that I will need them.

http://bible.cc/romans/14-1.htm

Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.

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One Foot in Front of the Other

English: Fog in Wayanad

No one looks at the middle. We see beginnings and we see endings, but it’s the stuff in the middle that really counts. Without the actual journey there would be no adventure. It’s the best part of the story. Yes, the warrior’s calling is exciting. The moment of realization, that mission to complete, gives you a burst of energy. And the promise of the happily ever after keeps us going. But we all know where the true tale is. The place in the middle. It reminds me of the classical poem, Ithaca.

When you start on your journey to Ithaca,
then pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
-K. P. Kavafis (C. P. Cavafy), translation by Rae Dalven

I have the bad habit of forgetting about the journey and just remembering the result that I want. Even thinking that I’ve messed up, when really I just need to keep walking. It’s difficult to recognize the path when you’re travelling. Obviously you know where you started. You gathered your supplies, you’ve gassed up your car, bought new tires and began your journey. You have your maps and your GPS programmed, so you know your destination. What about the middle? Stop at a rest stop? How do you know you’re still on the right path? That’s the moment I often panic. There’s a blank, somewhat boring, unscripted moment that comes after I’ve started. I look around at the scenery and don’t recognize any of it. Probably because I was sidetracked. I was off smelling the flowers and petting the dogs. I forget to set up mile markers for myself. Rest stops. Ah, but the flowers and the dogs are all part of my journey.

If the journey is the thing to enjoy, what would that look like? It’s not all about the destination. It’s not just about the rest stops and the progress markers. What does enjoying the journey look like? I do think I’ve missed the point in life. Life is in the living they say. If that’s the truth, then I want to know what it is that I’m missing. When you have a baby you certainly aren’t thinking about their end game. You enjoy the baby with the soft skin and chubby cheeks. Yes, there are dirty diapers, but we usually don’t dwell on them. We enjoy the process of them growing up. Is that the way it should look?

What about the Zen Buddhist way of thinking? They talk about experiencing the whole process. Not just the good but also the “bad.” Actually they teach not to label any of the experience. Don’t label anything as either good, bad, pretty or ugly. That’s difficult, but I think I understand. While a dirty diaper is unpleasant, it isn’t a bad thing that’s avoided. It’s part of a healthy digestive system. Sickness is unpleasant but it’s a part of life. An experience as much as childbirth.

So my journey, if it is long or slow, short or fast, will be my journey. It may include writing, flowers and petting puppies. If we catch up on the other side, when we finally make it out of this dark forest, I’ll listen to your journey and you can listen to mine. Good times! Check out I Walk.