Reflections In the Wake of Pilgrimage
Wisdom and insight come from how we pay attention. To say the least, Vajrayana is expert at nudging and pushing us to change our habits of attention!
Night and day were filled with unscripted experiences needing responses. This ranged all the way from, Will I board the bus tomorrow morning? Will I take the next step on this hike? Everything—from the ritual of personal hygiene to the ritual of sadhana— was magnified, like seeing myself under a powerful microscope. The power of the pilgrimage method of awakening is that there are no time outs or spacing outs. Always, it's the pressure cooker of what state of mind do I create right now? How do I choose to embrace what’s happening? One tactic I adopted was to try not speaking unless spoken to. I let everyone know I was doing this.
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Too often, the way of samsara legitimizes not embracing the moment if it’s difficult and fighting it instead. This doesn’t allow for new meanings and so old meanings keep repeating themselves. When I could not authentically embrace a situation, I used prayer to recast the energy and shift my attention. Gradually light returned—nothing to decide, find or accomplish. Release and enlivened trust in the actuality of osel, the luminous nature of mind. For me, at this time, there's only training in osel's pure vision theater.
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Vajrayana is a way of healing or ending the inner trauma of samsara. The inner trauma of samsara is that of being disconnected and lost—apart from something vital to our wellness. This separation creates an absence of true meaning. That is the wound. Pilgrimage, three inner yogas, prayer and spiritual narratives of the masters—these methods guide us home. Gradually, they mandala-ize us.
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2017 was my eighth pilgrimage to Tibet. I often ask myself why is this so important to me? At this point, I’m understanding pilgrimage as field research into the gaps between my vajrayana education and my daily life. Can my humanness and my buddhaness be one ? In Tibet this is much easier for me that in the West. It is always a great relief and wellness. The tortuous gap dissolves.I am in comfort where I can be inspired and strengthened to return to my Western incarnation and move forward.
All vajrayana reconstructs old into new. Pilgrimage practice is a living and breathing sadhana. The holy landscape replaces visualization. Purification and freedom are arise. I relate this to how Vajrayana was established in 6th century Tibet. The Chinese Princess Wencheng identified the lay of the land as a supine ogress that must be suppressed in order to allow the Dharma to flourish. Thus many suppressing temples were built at strategic points of the terrain. I like to imagine that each pilgrimage builds a suppressing temple on my own samsaric meridians?