All of these ten realms—a single thought--
Are not apart from your present thought.
If you can awaken to that thought,
You'll arrive immediately at the other shore.
-- Master Hua
This past month, the journey has taken me three quarters around the globe, from US to China to UK. But somehow, it feels like home everywhere. I have to look at each "stranger" doubly, because they seem so familiar. Perhaps, with open and reverent heart (I'm trying), one would belong anywhere in the Dharma realm, and encounter "familiar strangers" at every turn. Below are some stories along the way.
To arrive where we started
This Spring, I found myself back at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas for four weeks. Interestingly, I was here exactly a year ago for an overnight visit, at the very beginning of the bicycling pilgrimage around the world.
Back then, I was simply pulled by a strong intuition to make CTTB the first stop of the pilgrimage -- not really knowing why, nor having any clue that this place will be such an important part of my journey.
I had not plan on being there as part of the Pilgrimage, and certainly not for that long -- seven weeks at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB). It was a spontaneous decision, or perhaps a response to a deeper prayer, so deep that the conscious mind was not even aware of it.
I went in without any particular expectation, but came out with some of the most significant gifts a wayfarer could ever receive -- recognizing one's Teacher, making lifelong vows, learning to read the original sutras, exploring various dharma-doors (techniques of practice) and resolving upon one's own path… And the subtler impact of the seven-weeks at CTTB might take years -- or lifetimes -- to reveal itself.
The student feels an overwhelming grace and overflowing gratitude, and wishes to harvest some of the fruits as an offering to all :)
It has been half a months since I returned to the US. It had been two months in India, and four months in Asia in total. And, it has been nine months since the start of the pilgrimage. Almost enough time for a baby to be fully formed in a womb. Yet I remain curious as to what is to be born :)
Now the pilgrim is back at "where it all started" -- the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Ukiah, California -- for 6 weeks, to be part of the Dharma study and Chan session here.
Before it is too late to salvage the precious memories, here are some fond recollections and honest reflections from a deeply inspiring and nourishing second month in India.
Looking through the paper diary, it is hard to believe that it was only a month ago that I had entered "the Incredible India". The richness of each day in India could very well fill a chapter.
I have been waiting for a moment of peace and quiet to do some writing. Well, that moment never came for a whole month :) If anything, India teaches one that "peace and quiet" have got to come from within -- no use waiting for the outside dust to settle.
The writer is faced with a dilemma: on one hand, there is yet the unpreparedness -- or unwillingness -- to unpack the most precious experiences; on the other hand, there is the fear that more waiting would further reduce the high-resolution of the treasured memory.
As a compromise, here is a harvest of whatever feels right in this moment, trusting that the rest would continue to work its way through my being -- perhaps for lifetimes :)
A pilgrimage around the globe by bicycle, in service of the ecological and spiritual awakening of our time. More information here.