I didn’t start this journey with too many expectations and was just generally excited to commit more time to work on this project. I had originally frame it as a ‘walkabout’ in the west but a wonderful teacher helped me re frame more along the lines of a pilgrimage. I was telling him that I had wanted to do a pilgrimage to India to visit some of the notable holy sites for Buddhist and he was quick to point out that I was already on a pilgrimage. With that insight, my inner and outer journey became integrated. While on this journey, a number of people asked me about my own journey around Buddhism and most of the time, I didn’t feel like I gave them very through answer (something for a future post).
More importantly, I wasn’t seeing my own journey being reflected in my conversations with the subjects And so, as i sought to deepen my stagnant practice, the conversations I was having with my ‘instant’ spiritual friends was rebuilding my passion for the practice. For the past 10 years, my spiritual practice taken a back seat with the roller coaster ride of a broken marriage and being a single father. Combined that with trying to make it in one of the most expensive cities in the world meant, I was pretty much caught up in habitual patterns of making ends meet and escaping through material and ‘extraordinary’ experiences. I knew I had to break out of this pattern somehow and this project was the catalyst i needed to break free. Still, breaking free didn’t mean that I would have the support systems that would allow me to deepen my practice.
And so through this journey, I am witnessing and seeing the power of the practice on more fertile grounds. Just as I am beginning to understand my own journey around deepening the practice, the narrative of Buddhism growing in the west begins to take a more definitive shape.
Most of my social media friends simply see the ‘epic’ photos from my excursions and people generally think I am on some sort of vacation. Certainly it is a vacation from the normal routine of living in the city but there is a layer of experiences that I rarely share. I wouldn’t fool anybody if I said I was wandering yogi but there were numerous experiences around my excursions that gave me a good good taste of creating your own reality despite the external circumstances. I am generally fine with being being alone most of the time but learning to learn to walk with the fear down a mountain hike when it is pitch black and rainy was a very good practice. It’s not every day that one is reminded by the preciousness of life while transversing rugged beauty.