Day 23, 2016/3/22, San Francisco to Santa Clara
As the rain stopped, my heart full with gratitude, I departed from the same house/host family in San Francisco that was the final destination of my cross-country bike trip 2.5 years ago. Coming full circle.
The first stop south of San Fran, is a place that has transformed many lives -- including mine. The "Kindness Temple" in Santa Clara is the "mothership" of Awakin circles, and the cocoon that birthed ServiceSpace. In this ordinary home in the middle of the Silicon Valley, a family has opened their home to host weekly meditation circle, every single Wednesday, for the past 18+ years. The format is simple: one hour of unguided receptive silence, one hour of sharing circle, followed by a most delicious vegetarian meal in silence -- all as a gift of love, open to anyone who shows up. These days, often sixty plus people come to the circle every week.
I chose to come and pay homage on a Tuesday evening, partly to have a peek into the magic behind the Wednesday Awakin :) The Mehta family have essentially structured their lives around serving the Awakin circles -- Harshida Aunty has even chosen to go into the office to work on Saturday, in order to take Wednesday off to cook for the 60+ people who will show up.
There are numerous accounts of the magic of Awakin, but what struck me the most from being with the family on Tuesday night is utter joy and humility in offering this precious gift -- all in a matter-of-fact, usual-part-of-life way. In contrast to the extraordinariness of this service, their presence is saying: of course, what else would I be doing? :)
Day 24, 2016/3/23, Soquel, CA
Finished listening to Peace Pilgrim and Seat of the Soul on audiobook. At many points, these two books seems to be written by -- or inspired by -- the same divine source. Some of the points where they converge, and stuck with me:
- We are at a critical moment in the evolution of humanity. The choice is simple: to mature, or to perish.
- The Wise Advisors, "guardian angels" -- whatever we call them -- are with us all the time, as long as we are willing to listen.
- Whatever challenges that happen to us in life are here to help us mature, to nudge us into harmony with God's will. Life would never present us with a challenge that we are not ready to face -- and learn from, and grow upon.
- The law of cause and effect (karma) is an impersonal, impartial law of the universe.
- Thoughts are powerful. Peace Pilgrim says, "If you truly realize how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a single negative thought."
- Love is the answer.
Have started to listen to Gandhi's autobiography, "The Story of My Experiments with Truth". It is a most authentic, moving, and inspiring account, full of unintended humor (Truth is often humorous), jaw-dropping insights, unsparing self-reflections, and intriguing details about the life during British colonial rule in India and South Africa. Gandhi's self criticism is so unrelenting and exacting that the listener almost feels pity for and protective of the "poor guy". But my admiration for him only deepens with every word he wrote.
In the evening, arrived at the home of a most hospitable friend. Melody loves cooking, and routinely cook up a feast and invite neighbors for a community night, with free-style dancing in the living room between each course of the dinner.
Melody also built a successful brokerage business for organic produce by building honest relationships with the growers and stores. "Most buyers try to buy at the lowest price possible, and sell to the stores at highest price possible. I try to negotiate a price that's fair for the growers, and for the stores. I will pass on the good deals, and make one quarter (of a dollar) per box of produce. So, I built a business on quarters." These wholesome values, as well as the hospitality, are largely attributed to the living examples of her grandparents, who would feed the many hungry passer-by's during the Great Depression.
Day 25, 2016/3/24, Pebble Beach, CA
Fifty-seven miles, strong wind, 1,500 ft of climb. Nine hours of non-stop riding with less-than-10 min breaks here and there. Had to dig deep into the reservoir of will power in the final hour before reach the kind family I was staying with. But Gandhi's autobiography cheered me up throughout the day. The subtitle of the book could have been "The Making of the Mahatma, from a Rather Unlikely Candidate".
According to his own account, Gandhi does not possess any of the stereotypical "geniuses", such as a superior intelligence, learned heritage, charisma, etc. Instead, he describes himself as "plagued" with severe shyness, and inability for "un-truth" -- both of which turn out to be a huge blessing.
But the resume-worthy badges of honor pale in comparison of importance with the qualities that Gandhi possess in abundance: service, humility, work ethic, truthfulness, patience, and the whole-hearted preoccupation with achieving self-realization -- communion with God.
Eager to listen to the rest of the book.
Day 26, 2016/3/25, rest day at Pebble Beach
Would like to conclude with the letter of another dear pilgrim, "A Letter to Myself (After Walking 900 Kilometers)", by Guri Mehta :)
A pilgrimage around the globe by bicycle, in service of the ecological and spiritual awakening of our time.