Sunday, August 30, 2009
Eknath Easwaran says the important stuff so simply, yet with such depth. And what he is talking about not only has relevance on the spiritual journey, but certainly the journey toward body and mind wellness also:
When the heart grieves over what it has lost, the spirit rejoices over what it has found.
-- Sufi proverb
During the early stages of the spiritual journey, we can feel a certain deprivation when we have to keep saying no to the senses as they clamor for things that will only add to the burden of the journey later on. "Don't eat this. Don't drink that. Don't smoke this. Don't watch that." There is no rapture; there is no ecstasy; only "keep plugging along."
This discriminating restraint of the senses is not asceticism. Its purpose is not to subjugate the body. We need to train the senses to be faithful allies on our journey for two compelling reasons:
first, the body is our vehicle, and we need to keep it healthy, strong, and resilient so that it can carry us steadily and safely to the summit of consciousness;
second, training the senses strengthens the will day by day, enabling us gradually to gain control over the fierce passions that rage beneath the surface of consciousness.
Without a trained will it is not possible to move up out of the Valley of the Shadow of Death which is our physical world. Untrained, the will becomes self-will, our worst enemy; but trained, the will can become our most powerful ally.
-- Eknath Easwaran
Saturday, August 22, 2009
So...here is my Toyota Dolphin 20' camper in all her glory:
A kind soul took my picture at Yellowstone Falls mid-adventure:
Another sweet person captured me sitting by a rock sculpture I created at Colter Bay, Grand Tetons:
Ahhh, yesterday I paused for some tree-hugging during the *last hurrah* (for now!)...on the Yellow Rock Trail, a 3-mile hike at Devil's Den State Park, near Fayetteville, AR:
This has been a Journey of Awakening in many ways. It has shown me that there are many ways to find peace and balance in this chaotic world...and a prime one is to scoot off into nature to restore my inner resources and contact the stillness within.
I left with severe neck and shoulder discomfort and have returned feeling whole and well. If that's not a commentary, I'm at a serious loss for words!
I lost another 1.5 pounds without even thinking about it...I merely ate when I was hungry...ate simple, whole, nutritious foods...enjoyed my food rather than multi-tasking as I ate. I loved finding privately owned or co-op natural foods stores along the way -- the boutiful offerings of Open Harvest Natural Foods Cooperative in Lincoln, NE and Jackson Hole Organic Grocer come to mind.
I have a challening living situation and need to be FULLY PRESENT to behave with kindness while not giving up my personal power. This journey has given me new insights about parameters and ways to BE, while evaluating the workability of my digs.
I begin university classes in two days...this is an exciting new advenure in itself, pursuing a degree in Spanish to hopefully expand my employment options. I'm also looking seriously at a trip to Ecuador in December to further explore the possibilities that exist there for service and work.
All-in-all, I've come back refreshed and ready to move ahead, thrilled at the Labor Day holiday retreat with renowned Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh just ahead which will further arm me with the strength of the timeless Teachings.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
That's a great blue heron taking off in the distance.
This was a wonderful *find,* after asking in a country store, as I cruised through the back roads of sweet, but seemingly interminable Kansas.
it has taken me
all of sixty (seven) years
that water is the finest drink,
and bread the most delicious food,
and that art is worthless
unless it plants
a measure of splendor in people's hearts.
~ Taha Muhammad Ali ~
Sunday, August 16, 2009
...the lively journal entry I just finished about yesterday's and today's adventures, speaking of placid to raging rivers, a herd of bison leisurely crossing the road, the Bridger-Teton National Forest, the National Museum of Wildlife Art and the trip between Jackson Hole and Rock Springs, among the myriad meanderings -- which sped away into cyber-space, never again to be seen -- I instead offer the extraordinary Wislawa Szymborska (BUT...scroll to the end of the poem for some visual treats):
As long as nothing can be known for sure
(no signals have been picked up yet),
as long as Earth is still unlike
the nearer and more distant planets,
as long as there's neither hide nor hair
of other grasses graced by other winds,
of other treetops bearing other crowns,
other animals as well-grounded as our own,
as long as only the local echo
has been known to speak in syllables,
as long as we still haven't heard word
of better or worse mozarts,
platos, edisons somewhere,
as long as our inhuman crimes
are still committed only between humans,
as long as our kindness
is still incomparable,
peerless even in its imperfection,
as long as our heads packed with illusions
still pass for the only heads so packed,
as long as the roofs of our mouths alone
still raise voices to high heavens--
let's act like very special guests of honor
at the district-firemen's ball
dance to the beat of the local oompah band,
and pretend that it's the ball
to end all balls.
I can't speak for others--
for me this is
misery and happiness enough:
just this sleepy backwater
where even the stars have time to burn
while winking at us
-- Wislawa Szymborska
(View with a Grain of Sand, translated by S. Baranczak and C. Cavanagh)
Speaking of "placid..."
"...to raging rivers:"
...and the scragglers from the bison herd:
...and me at the impressive entrance to the National Museum of Wildlife Art ( www.wildlifeart.org/Information/Hist
ory/ ), having been drawn in by the architecture of the building:
...and after leaving Jackson Hole:
Friday, August 14, 2009
Love all that has been created by God, both the whole and every grain of sand. Love every leaf and every ray of light. Love the beasts and the birds, love the plants, love every separate fragment. If you love each separate fragment, you will understand the mystery of the whole resting in God.
-- Fyodor Dostoevsky
Oh my, I've been thoroughly zapped by the extraordinary wonders of nature as I move through Montana and Wyoming, including exploring Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks. I left Billings area on Monday in my little camper and stayed in a fancy RV place looking out onto the Yellowstone River Monday night, Tuesday night I stayed in a primitive campsite that was wonderful. Wednesday night I stayed at Yellowstone Lake in the Park and last night and tonight I'm at Colter Bay in the Grand Tetons. It has been unbelievably awe-inspiring.
This is why it's called YELLOWstone (and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone) -- isn't it magnificent:
I've been hiking all over the place -- e.g., today I went to Hidden Falls, a 5-mile hike and worth every step, though this shot (like all the others) doesn't do it justice:
Returning from the falls I unknowingly took a different trail and ended up at the south end of the lake and I had parked at the north end. Luckily a wonderful family from Kimball, MN gave me a ride to my rig. They have a 40-cow dairy farm and sell their milk to Organic Valley (yippee -- I'm so excited to have actually met one of the small farmers of the cooperative!!!). I've been riding my bicycle around Colter Bay as well, immensely enjoying the clear mountain air and the preserved beauty.
I'm sorta' playing it as it comes and I'm figuring each day out as it dawns. I'm trying to be present for all that comes. My route home has some fluidity and since I have some flexibility in my schedule, I'm finding great joy and anticipation in this journey. My little Dolphin is performing admirably and its 4-cylinder engine is forcing me to slow down!
That's a very small update among the myriad details of all that has happened since I embarked upon this amazing journey.
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