My First Bow

Jun 5, 2005

Today, I'm really tired.

I'm tired of walking without a destination. You never arrive. Every halt is a pit-stop to momentarily catch your breath. Then, back to the grind. Your mind has to rest in motion, through all its commotion. Finding peace in the middle of war is a daunting task, but there is no other option. You have to trudge along, pay off all your debts of greed that have been silently accrued in your mind. Where am I really going?

I'm tired of all the pain. The pain in your toes might go away after couple weeks but then you never anticipate the thorns, blisters or the bug bites. Spiritual teachings tell us that the pain in your left knee is impermanent, but they don't tell you that after your knee, it will be your back and after your back, your shoulder blades. There is no 'Beginner's Guide to Pilgrimage'. No one warned me that a pilgrimage is a natural walk through your own physical knots and mental tensions. There is no escape. How can I be still through it all?I'm tired of paradoxes. Nothing makes sense, if you have the guts to dig deep enough. People are unhappy everywhere, environment is in bad shape, governments are corrupt, institutions are powered by greed. Many great souls have lived and died but we are still in the same place -- we are destroying ourselves. With our overwhelming intellectual capacities, all we have been able to do is change the shape and size of the problem and call it progress. Why am I alive in a time like this?

I'm tired of fear. At every step, I am afraid of what will happen next. I don't know anyone, I don't know the language, I don't know the weather. I don't know who will nourish my soul, who will console my insecurities, who will let me rest with my illusions. Deep down, I know that the resilient human spirit always survives but I'm afraid I don't have that much faith. I'm worried that I will die. What is life, if you haven't understood death?

I'm tired of carrying my baggage. The ego has reigned supreme for too long; and it isn't in the mood for resigning anytime soon. I always want my way, I always want to win all arguments, I always want to show people why I am superior. I, I, I. I don't want to lose, I don't want to pay the real cost for my actions, I don't want to face the harsh truths. When you strip yourself bare, all you see are your self-inflicted wounds. It's a lot of weight on your shoulders. When will I learn to travel light?

Yesterday, Guri and I spot a Gurudwara on the way. Two days before were rough, with 100 kilometers of walking and not very favorable circumstances so we're happy to spot a holy place. Some Sikh brothers show us the way to the main prayer hall; we walk into an abnormally serene peace with a light background chant of "Wahe Guru, Wahe Guru". Guri goes to right side of the room, and I go to the left. Our intention is just to pay our respects and leave; but as soon as my head touches the ground, my ears hear the meaning of the chant -- Wahe Guru: I pay homage to the dispeller of darkness. Tears start rolling down my cheeks. In fact, they kept on rolling for the next half an hour.

Guri gets up from the female section of the prayer hall and translates a Punjabi quote written overhead: "Whosoevers head rests in the lap of Truth, what misery can come his way?"

I finally know what it means to truly bow down.

Keep walking, pilgrim, keep walking.

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