Wind, water, sky – together.
Back in 2005 when I was about to fly to East Asia on Pilgrimage I wrote a poem on a scrap of paper while out walking in Vancouver, Canada. The underlying message behind what I wrote was let go and trust – continuously. When in mental, physical, emotional extremity, as I was then, basic teachings take on a renewed meaning, and urgency. During the trip my advice to myself proved in practical every-day ways to be both a life saver and a very good thing! Circumstances and conditions repeatedly came together in near miraculous ways and we, my traveling companion Iain and me, were ushered into places and meeting people it would not have been possible to plan for in advance. Travel stress was a constant and I guess trust/faith must have been there.
Over the next few days I’ll be revisiting and reflecting upon my poem with the spotlight shining on what it means in practical terms to let go. I speak of rising up in the poem implying a ‘place’ from which one moves. Sitting down perhaps? The keystone and well-spring of pilgrimage, daily living, is sitting still in the midst of it all. Meditation is present in the midst of living out our day, even within the seeming chaos most of us experience. One doesn’t need to travel or otherwise enter stressful circumstances to prove this true. Opportunities arise quite naturally!
Formal meditation is practiced in subdued lighting with the emphasis of turning ones attention inwards. Into the darken hall of ones mind/body. Sitting still, allowing the senses to still, we enter into a metaphorical darkness of unknowing by allowing the known to fade. This is however an illuminated darkness, bright aliveness of body and mind rises naturally – given half a chance. So, within compassion/acceptance for all that comes and goes, letting go and trusting is…about how it is.
The habit is to follow the arising and the passing. To entertain, wine and dine, thoughts, sensations, emotions, bright ideas, memories etc. It is enough to notice the arising and passing, simply noticing is the letting go. Noticing over and over again, the known fades in importance.
BTW. Iain didn’t get due credit for a number of the early posts from Japan which he wrote. Thank you Iain and thank you for making the trip possible.
3 thoughts on “Pilgrimage Revisited”
Hi Rev. M. Mugo…I just got home from a long day at work, until 7 p.m. today, but I had a chance at 10:30 this morning to open up my Ryokan book that always travels with me in my bicycle bag. Today I opened up to a poem where he mentions May 25th which serendipidously (is that a real adverb) was today and fit with all the storms in the USA at the moment and all the other storms of life around and somehow now your blog, the “letting go”. You probably know it from John Stevens’ translation in “Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf”:
In my garden
I raised bush clover,
violets, dandelions, flowery silk trees,
banana plants, morning glories,
Morning and evening,
Cherishing them all,
Watering and nourishing,
Protecting them from the sun.
Everyone said my plants
Were at their best.
But on the twenty-fifth of May,
A violent wind
Battering and rending my plants;
Rain poured down,
Pounding the vines and flowers
Into the earth.
It was so painful
But as the work of the wind
I have to let it be…
The next little poem is simply:
The plants and flowers
I raised about my hut
I now surrender
To the will
Of the wind.
Jack! How could I have not responded sooner to these two great poems. I’ve not visited Ryokan for what seems like years. Thank you so much.