Below are the journal entries and photos from past two weeks on the road. The journey has taken me through the breathtaking beauty of open sky and ocean, back into the jungle of cement and steel; from staying in multi-million dollar mansions, to being accidentally locked inside a shower stall on a public beach. What remain constant are the kindness from everyone I have come across, and the growing joy and freedom inside :)
Day 26, 3/25, rest day at Pebble Beach
I decided to rest for another day, to have more conversations with my wonderful hosts, and to better heal from a minor cold that had been working through my systems for over a week.
The hosts, Kelly and Brian Swette, are entrepreneurs at heart. When other corporate executives are contemplating retirement on beaches and gold courses, the husband-wife team left their successful corporate marketing positions (Brian was in charge of Pepsi's Superbowl Ads, before becoming Chief Operating Officer at eBay and chairman of board at Burger King), and decided to start a vegetarian natural foods company, "Sweet Earth Natural Foods."
The couple had their ecological awakening through their involvement in the sustainability effort of Arizona State University. At one point, it dawned on Kelly, "Instead of pouring time and money into some academic reports -- which will then have dubious impact on the real world, we can do it ourselves."
Recognizing that agriculture is a leading contributor to ecological destruction, the Swette decided to use food as the leverage for change. They set off to create a delicious line of all vegetarian natural foods that's convenient to prepare and global in tastes. And the growth of the company have been explosive, being named as the "11th fastest growing company in Silicon Valley".
Day 27, 3/26, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park; 30 miles
A short day of 5 hours of biking through the breathtaking beauty of Big Sur, where mountains meet the ocean. Spring Break traffic jams the narrow two-lane highway.
I stopped at the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, because the next town is too far to reach. The Hike and Bike campground already had four other young man. One of them is walking across the US because he has "never done it before". One of them is biking across the US, after dropping out of college (because he keeps "staring out of the window, not interested in school"). Another one keeps on talking about crystals and minerals. I wondered how I ended up in this hippie camp, and how much is my journey really different from theirs. Need to keep paying my daily dues through cultivation and service.
The shower at the campsite costs $1 for 3 minutes. So, despite the cold March weather in the woods, I walked a few minutes up the river, fully stripped, and jumped in an eddy. First swim on the pilgrimage. Very refreshing, freeing -- and free! Slept without a tent under the trees and stars.
Day 28-29, 3/27-28, New Camaldoli Hermitage, 25 miles
March 27 is Easter Sunday. A series of "coincidences" led me to stay for two nights at the New Camaldoli Hermitage, a Catholic monastery practicing silence, prayer and contemplation.
The day before, I inquired at the state park where I may attend an Easter service, and was told that there's a Catholic monastery not too far, but two miles up a steep hill, a climb of about a thousand feet. With a loaded bike, I was reluctant to commit.
When I arrived in the little town Lucia below the Hermitage, I had a casual conversation with a man in the general store. It turned out that he worked at the Hermitage, and offered to let me hold on to the rail of his car and bring me uphill on my bike. That sounded suicidal, so I handed him my heavy pannier bags to be driven up, and then biked up the hill.
I was told that staying at the Hermitage is very expensive, over $150 a night, and probably full, given it's Easter and Spring Break. I was secretly hoping that I could somehow camp up there. But I know I should not hold such expectations: it would add an element of manipulation into my interactions with the people at the hermitage. So, as I struggled up the two miles, I did my best to let go of the inner desire to stay at the Hermitage.
This is perhaps how the law of the universe works: once I actually gave up the desire to stay at the Hermitage, serendipity led me to stay not just one -- but two -- nights inside the monastery, with other Oblates.
Upon arrival, I met Julian, who, some years ago, also arrived at the Hermitage "by accident" on a touring bike, and ended up becoming and monk and stayed there for four years! Perhaps recognizing a similar situation, Julian took it upon himself, ran around to set me up with a private room for the night, and introduced me to the Prior, Father Cyprian, who turned out to be a good friend of Rev. Heng Sure. (Rev. Heng Sure helped Father Cyprian pick out his guitar for spreading the Dharma.) Julian and I also discovered that we have a few common friends through Canticle Farm and the Catholic Worker house in San Jose.
For the next two days, I participated in the full schedule of the monastery, from the 5:30am Vigils, to community service (hauling trash), to lunch with the monks, to the 6pm Vespers and meditation, and even an evening movie and pizza night. The community was most kind and generous to me, and showered me with blessings for the pilgrimage.
The Hermitage is an oasis for the soul. The view of the expansive heaven and ocean is awe-inspiring. I don’t think one could remain an atheist in face of such stunning beauty and vastness. Some authors and thinkers, such as Brother David Steindl-Rast and Pico Iyer, have been regulars here at the Hermitage on silent retreats. The chapel has a strong vibration, making it easy to slip into deep meditations..
There are thirteen resident monks, only two of which are under sixty. Only one is not Caucasian. Only one is a vegetarian. Quite a few of the monks have been here fore longer than I have been alive. About half of the monks are overweight or ailing. They are all most kind, gentle, and caring, and have dedicated their whole life to service and prayer. I was sad to see that there are not many young people interested in joining this lineage. The Prior, Father Cyprian (the only vegetarian there), is much more reform-minded, and is gently doing the work to "hospice the old, midwife the new." He recognizes that the Church is lagging behind on many social and environmental issues that engage this generation of young people.
I was reminded of the central argument in Thomas Kuhn's "Structures of Scientific Revolutions": for a paradigm shift to happen, often we have to wait till the "old guard" to expire/retire, in order to make room for the new worldview.
I had the pleasure of going on an 1.5-hour-long walk with the Prior, and had a fascinating conversation, from the Axial Age, to the Church's history, to Pope Francis, to the eco-spiritual awakening, to the future of the Hermitage and the young generation. Here are a few snippets.
- Pope Francis has brought about renewed relevance, interests, and curiosity of the Catholic church with today's world and young people. He has made the church "cool" and inspiring again. He is bringing fundamental changes to the church on a millennial scale. But, the reform is hurting some powerful vested interests (such as careerism) in the church, and they are attacking the Pope viciously.
- Pope Francis' Encyclical, "Laudato Si", moved the emphasis from "dominion over the Earth" to "stewardship of the Earth". Some believe the Pope has not gone far enough to Saint Francis' "kinship with the entire creation".
- Ever since Christianity was born, it has progressively moved toward the "masculine" -- disembodied, dis-incarnated, away from the Earth. Whereas in the teaching of Jesus, there is such rich soil for Christianity to be one of the most incarnated/embodied spiritual teaching.
Deeply grateful for the friendship and kindness of Father Cyprian and other monks. Will be ruminating on my 40-hours-at-the-Hermitage for a long time to come.
Day 30, 3/29, Cambria, 48 miles
Finished listening to Gandhi's Autobiography -- a most authentic, moving, and inspiring account from perhaps the most respected "politician" of the 20th century, the unintentional "Mahatma". Gandhi's humility and devotion to truth shine through every word. He has set a great example of how an unwavering inner "experiment with truth" could blossom into revolutions in the outer world.
Started listening to Nelson Mandela's autobiography, "Long Walk to Freedom". Gandhi's primary focus seems to be "self realization", an inner, spiritual quest for Truth, which inevitably rippled out into his worldly activities. Mandela's main objective seems to be a political struggle for freedom, which has inevitably shaped his inner journey and awakenings. In a sense, Gandhi is inside-out, Mandela is outside-in.
These two moral giants of the 20th century have so much in common: they were both lawyers; they both worked extensively in South Africa; they were both fighting against -- and defeated -- the British Empire. Listening to their autobiographies, I got a crash course on the history of British colonial rule, and the apartheid in South Africa. Despite the ugliness of imperialism and colonialism, I had no choice but to also grow some respect for the British adherence to the law and the constitution -- a notion very foreign to my Chinese mind…
Was stun by a bee right on my forehead. I was biking uphill along heavy traffic. So when the bee got stuck in my helmet ventilation, I could not stop in time to shake it out. I felt the desperate buzz of the insect in my helmet, but did not know it was a bee, until the piercing pain. I cried out loud. My first thought was to curse the bee. But then, the practice of mindfulness kicked in, and I tried to just observe the painful sensation on my forehead, while praying for the bee's wellbeing and reincarnation.
I was also reminded that earlier in the day, Father Cyprian compared my pilgrimage with the work of a bee: take a little, leave a little, everywhere I go. So, now a bee has decidedly injected a good dose of "bee consciousness" into my head, although at the cost of his own life. Thank you, and sorry, bee. In a few days, the bee sting swelled to cover the entire left forehead, and made it hard to keep my left eye open through the puffy eye-lid. Lots of sensations to observe, and to practice equanimity :)
In the afternoon, I met a couple when we were both resting along Highway 1. After hearing about the journey I was on, Sue tightly held my hands, closed her eyes, and prayed, "God bless you! God bless you! May God bless your path, guide and protect you. Amen." I was deeply moved by and grateful for the spontaneous blessing on the side of the highway.
After nearly 50 miles of biking, I started to knock on the doors of strangers, in the seaside town of Cambria. Soon, I came to the door of Sherri and John, who welcomed me in without hesitation, offered me the guest room, and invited me to join them on the deck to watch the sunset over the ocean, before sharing a delicious three-course meal.
The retired couple are among the most active and intellectually engaged 60/70-year-old I've met. Sherri, in her late sixties, has gone back to get a paralegal degree at a community college, just for the joy of learning about law. John has a quick wit, and said that the greatest gift Sherri had given him is the hobby to read for joy. He has been reading about through-hikers and human-powered world travelers -- perfect setting for our encountering.
Every day, I feel the boundless blessings of life, be it a prayer along the highway, a kiss/sting from the bee, or the immediate friendship with "perfect strangers". Thanks to the container of a pilgrimage to make me see these blessings and daily miracles that have always been there.
Day 31, 3/30, Arroyo Grande, 52 miles
At noon, stopped at a glasses store on San Luis Obispo to repair a loose parts. The young lady at the store cheerfully replaced the parts on my glasses, clean the lenses, and tightened all the screws, while I answered her questions about the pilgrimage. When finished, I asked her how much the repair costs. She said with a smile, "it's free!" This is one of the many small acts of kindness that warm my heart and -- literally -- keep me going.
Met a homeless young man outside a Seven-Eleven. He has been on the move for six years, walking and hitch-hiking all across the US. He said he has no purpose, and feels lost. He said, "I smoke, eat too much sugar, and don’t have enough food." I can feel that he is a genuine soul, and asked him if he had heard about the Peace Pilgrim, and recommended that he listen to Peace Pilgrim's book. I do hope that Peace Pilgrim's message will touch this young man as much as it had touched me, and help him turn his aimless wandering into purposeful service of something greater.
Near the end of our conversation, the young man asked me, "So, are you homeless?" It surprised me. I never thought of myself as homeless, but I guess that’s one way to look at it. On the contrary, I feel quite at home on the road, knowing that every evening, new friendship awaits inside a stranger's home.
That evening, I knocked on half a dozen doors. One of the house I approached was a ghostly mansion on top of a hill, with a luxurious garden, palatial main room, glittering chandeliers, marble floor and tables -- and no sign of life. Perfect setting for either a classical novel or a horror movie. I tentatively rang the bell, and was greeted by an old man in diapers. He seemed to be the butler of the compound, and shuffled my message to his mistress. After a few back and forth, the woman -- whom I never saw -- sent the message that she did not feel comfortable with me camping on the property, but offered me money for a hotel room. I thanked them, but declined, as it was not in the spirit of the journey. I was actually quite relieved to leave this peculiar situation.
I finally came to the Hartley family, after seeing the grandpa sitting in his truck in the driveway. He readily welcomed me to stay for the night, and set me up with a World War II era, wooden military cots to sleep on. The family is most hospitable and kind, and has two lively and healthy children. They have 12 turtles and half a dozen chickens, grow food in the backyard, and spend much time outside. No TV, no computer games. The mother said, "Some weekends, we just spend time right here; there's so much to do out in the yard, and there's no need to drive to elsewhere to be entertained." The 12-year-old girl wants to become a chef or a teacher, while her 10-year-old brother wants to become an NBA player. We had such a fun time chatting through the evening, and the following morning , as the mother fed us generous portions of pancakes. That night, I fell asleep on the cots, under a tree, to the sounds of owls and peacocks in the nearby trees.
As I depart the next morning, the boy waved his race car flag to cheer me on, and the girl gifted me a full bag of brownies she baked herself. I felt much affection for the whole family, and rolled out of the driveway with a heart full of gratitude and joy. Almost every day, I experience the magic of the "15-hour transformation": I arrive at people's door as a stranger, and depart the next morning as a friend. It gives me endless hope and faith in humanity.
Day 32, 3/31, Gaviota State Beach, 61 miles
Longest distance in one day so far. Strong wind.
Finished listening to Nelson Mandela's autobiography, as well as "The Vegetarian Myth." I listened to "The Vegetarian Myth" in order to hear the other side of the argument, given my vegetarian vow for the pilgrimage.
The central thesis of the book seems to be, "To be vegetarian is not enough" -- which I certainly agree. Being vegetarian is just one way to move toward nonviolence. As the author argues, it does not remove us from the dance of life and death. Even a vegan diet costs lives of countless beings. However, this argument does not imply that we should return to mindless meat-eating. Instead, it calls upon the vegetarians to step up the effort, understand our food and agricultural system more deeply, and apply the same principles in more holistic ways.
In the evening, I arrived at the "town" of Gaviota. I had thought it was a inhabited town, with doors to knock on for staying the night. Instead, there's nothing except for a state beach. I inched along for another mile toward a fire station, thinking that they would for sure shelter an exhausted cyclist.
There were two firemen in the station. The older, more senior man was sitting on the couch watching a boxing game on TV. The younger man was cooking dinner for both. When I put forward my request to stay there for the night, the younger man immediately said, "Sure!", only to be cut off by the older guy, "No, it's against the policy." After a few rounds of reframing my request to no avail, I left the fire station, as the younger fireman looked on with sympathetic eyes.
The next human establishment is ten miles away. So, out of desperation, I reversed back for a mile to the state beach, and found a warm shower stall on the public beach to stay shielded from the fierce wind. I took a 2 minute hot shower, ate many spoonful of granola as dinner, meditated, and went to bed on the shower floor.
I must have slept so well that I did not hear the camp host locking the shower stall's door from the outside at night. He probably did not realize that someone was happily sleeping inside. The next morning, I woke up refreshed, only to find that I was locked in. After no response to my call for attention, I took apart the lock from the inside with my bike multi-tool and Leatherman plier, freed myself, reassembled the lock, and biked away -- quite proud of my Prison Break :)
Day 33, 4/1, Oak View, 68 miles
Once again, the longest distance biked in a day during this trip. Ate six bananas. Almost every part of the body hurts. Tried hard throughout the day to remind myself not to "turn pain into suffering" via mental self-pity. Have been listening to the book "The Power of Now", a book that I first read in college, and struck me deeply even then.
I biked the extra miles straight to the Ventura-Ojai area, thinking that I would be able to stay with at least one of my 6 acquaintances in the area. But, I did not reach out to any of them until this morning, and learned that my friends are either out of town, or out of reach, or already made other arrangements. My hope for an easy night was dashed. Life conspires to teach me the lesson of letting go of expectations or sense of entitlement.
As the sun started to set, I grew increasingly anxious. I must have knocked on a dozen doors, but they were all empty on this Friday night. Finally, I saw a man in his backyard. The older gentleman, Bill, overcame his initial hesitation, and invited me to sleep on the floor inside the house, and invited me to join him and his son for a delicious dinner. It was 7:15pm when Bill agreed to let me stay, and the sun has just set behind the mountain. I felt much relief and gratitude for the last minute salvation. Bill said, even though we are strangers, we are all descendants of two persons -- Adam and Eve, so we are all siblings.
Bill, a fine carpenter and violist, is so down-to-earth and matter-of-fact that his dog's name is, well, Dog. Bill watches Fox News, and shared with me his favorable view on Donald Trump, "He's made a lot of money, so he must be smart. And he speaks his mind."
Meeting people in my humble capacity as an uninvited guests in their house prevents me from dismissing them or their views, a tendency too common when "the others" are just an far-away abstraction, instead of my benefactor for the day. I deeply appreciate this privilege of meeting people outside of my social circles, and having no option but to consider their views seriously and genuinely. After all, "they" are the ones who have shown me much kindness in the first place. From now on, I will not dismiss "Donald Trump supporters/sympathizers" as if they are a alien species, because one of them has sheltered me when I was feeling the most desperate. Make America Great Again :)
Day 34-35, 4/2-3, Ojai-Ventura
Two days in the Ojai-Ventura area, connecting with friends, old and new.
Visited the Krishnamurti Foundation, and learned that there is a young man from mainland China who is doing a year-long internship there.
The next day, I met a young woman from mainland China of the same age as myself. Meiyi is bicycling solo from San Diego to San Francisco, studying meditation and yoga, doing Capoeira (Brazilian martial arts), and seeking life's deeper calling. I told Meiyi about another young woman of our age, also from mainland China and attended college in the US, who is the first person from China to have through-hiked all the three thousands-mile-long trails in the US (Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Pacific Crest Trail).
These data points confirm a wider trend. Even a few years ago, all of these activities (spirituality, yoga, through-hiking, solo cycle touring, etc) used to be the exclusive rights of the entitled "white kids". The Chinese students and aspiring immigrants are too preoccupied with studies, careers, and survival; their families are counting on them to "make it in America".
Now, the earlier generations has laid the material foundation, so that my generation could move up Maslow's hierarchy of needs, have the luxury to look beyond the white picket fence surrounding a suburban house, and has the freedom to inquire into the deeper purpose of life, once freed from the immediate tyranny of survival struggle. I pray that we do not take this privilege lightly, but take it as an opportunity to devote more fully and freely to service.
In Ojai, I had an hour-long conversation with a friend, Brian, who co-led the Soulcraft Intensive I took part in a month ago. Brian is "a depth psychiatrist, wilderness guide, poet, essayist, and agent of human and cultural transformation." He had an epiphany -- a soul encounter -- at the height of his academic career as a psychiatrist. He was then holding an endowed chair at a major university, on his way to become dean of the medical school. But, one night, a voice inside him unequivocally said, "You are done."
"He began to realize that Western culture has little wisdom to save itself and contributes to the continuation of what Dr. Bill Plotkin calls “Patho-Adolescent” Culture. He also saw that his own profession, academic psychiatry and medicine, has little or nothing to say about the top 10 problems facing the planet. He continued to become aware that the pervasive psychiatric worldview of what it means to be human was limited and limiting."
Soon after, Brian stunned his colleagues by leaving his promising career, taking an 80% pay cut. After going on his own soul's journey and training, he now devotes all his energy to "guide individuals to the place they most long and fear to go – their soul place and purpose", as a psycho-spiritual wilderness guide. Given his unique background and credibility within conventional psychiatry, he is also working on "Wilderness as Medicine", to "rewild" the Western medical profession and to introduce soul work back into the church through working with Christian ministers.
I have great admiration for Brian's "taking the red pill" and following through with his soul's calling, when the apparent reality exerts such a strong pull on the exact opposite direction. His choice has -- and is -- changing many lives. I have slowly come to realize that ever time someone "takes the red pill", or surrender to their deeper calling, the whole universe rejoices with them. It sends an irresistible "gravitational wave" through the fabric of space-time. As more and more people awaken to their true calling, it makes it all the easier for others to do the same, and weakens the crumbling façade of the Matrix.
My host in Ventura, Peter, has been a school teacher for nearly three decades. He is living his truth inside the belly of the beast of the public school system. He meditates for five minutes before each class. I got to hear a most inspiring story that happened in his classroom when the Iraq War broke out in 2003. See the "World War Peace" photo below, and two of the paintings from Peter's 4th grade students. Even ten years later, when Peter runs into his former students, they still remember that defining moment in their education.
I was very excited to attend Rev. Bonnie's church, Center for Spiritual Living, in Ventura. I got to know Bonnie through Laddership Circle of ServiceSpace. The jubilant, non-denominational church experience is like no others. A monk, Ven. Kusala Bhikshu, gave a hilarious and insightful "sermon" on "Happiness in Buddhism", followed by him playing a tune of blues on his mini harmonica, to a standing ovation from the crowd. All the ways that Dharma could be shared :)
Some fun quotes include,
"Life sucks." (Another way of saying the First Noble Truth of Suffering.)
"In Christianity, Christ is raised from the dead. People celebrate Christ's return and resurrection. In Buddhism, the goal is Nirvana -- Buddha is just gone, and he is not coming back."
"A Buddhist joke: The county fired the Buddhist coroner, because he kept filling out 'Cause of Death' as 'Birth'."
Bonnie introduced me to the congregants as a friend of Nipun Mehta, a founder of ServiceSpace, who have spoken at the church some years ago. Being known as a "friend of Nipun's" has granted me instant and enthusiastic affection from everyone in the church. People treated me most kindly, inviting me to stay over at their house, and quoting the spirit of service that Nipun has so palpably shared with them. I felt much gratitude for the merit of Nipun and ServiceSpace friends, and further understood what Rev. Heng Sure meant when he wrote "I have no merit of my own; I am borrowing my Teacher's merit", when he was starting his bowing pilgrimage.
After the service, I met a young woman from China of the same age as me. Meiyi happens to be bicycling from San Diego to San Francisco, on her own pilgrimage, after quitting her 9-5 job of the past three years. What are the odds of two 25-year-olds from mainland China on their bicycling pilgrimage through the US crossing paths in this church in Ventura! Meiyi heard about my journey through another Laddership Circle alum, Jennifer, who also attends the church!
Meiyi -- also an only-child and a graduate from an US liberal arts college -- asked me about how my parents received my decision to quit my job and go on this journey. Every time I am asked this question, I am filled with gratitude for my parents' enlightened support of letting their only son "go off the deep end". I told Meiyi that I had thought about not telling my parents about my journey for fear of disconnection, but then realized how cruel it would be to deny my parents the joy of going on this journey with me, or to presume that they would "never understand". Indeed, my parents' readiness to accepted and support me -- and the consequent changes in their worldview and life -- have never ceased to amaze me.
Inviting my parents to go on this journey with me has been the least I could do to repay the mountain of debt of gratitude I owe to them; their wholehearted support (after the initial torment) has only further increased my "indebtedness" to and love for them. To all the sons and daughters, I pray that we never leave our parents behind on our journeys -- although the timing and strategy could be flexible :)
Day 36, 4/4, Malibu, 45miles
In the morning, I visited the headquarter of Patagonia, the outdoor gears and clothing company. Patagonia is quite an iconic and iconoclast company, famous for their environmental efforts, unique work culture, and "anti-growth" strategy.
I had lunch with our friend Rick Ridgeway, the VP of Environmental Affairs at the company. The corporate headquarter has on-site day-care and kindergarten. The child-care facility is designed in a way that you can see and hear children play (or cry) throughout the campus -- a reminder of being responsible toward the future generation. Patagonia will soon become a billion-dollar company, but has remained as close to its original mission as just about any company I know. "Stubborn people", explained Jennifer Ridgeway, Rick's wife and a life-long employee at Patagonia herself.
Rick is a life-long outdoorsman and adventurer. His "religion" is nature and the wilderness. His "spiritual practice" is simply to "be aware" of nature. As we sat at lunch and chatted, he was simultaneously paying attention to the birds on a nearby tree, and could tell one finch from another of its close relative by their songs -- all these signals from nature were lost on my inattentive ears.
In the evening, I ended up along a 2-mile-long road right against the ocean, lined with multi-million-dollar houses. The prospect of finding a place to stay on this wealth street was rather dim. Most of the houses were empty. A man on his way out told me that most of the beachfront mansions on this street are vacation homes for the wealthy, and they come here only a few days a year.
After approaching about a dozen empty houses, I finally saw two people outside a house. After some conversations, to my surprise, the owner of the house quickly agreed to let me in. The group of four friends were most hospitable, letting me use the shower, invited me to join then for dinner, and set me up to sleep in the guest room for the night.
As we sat down around the table, the host, Elliot, said that he had never done anything like this in his life -- letting a stranger into his home. Elliot's neighbor and friend was at the dinner gathering, and said that he saw a different side of Elliot -- "soft and gentle like a baby" -- when Elliot invited this stranger into his house as a guest. The spontaneous act of kindness surprised and amazed all of us, including Elliot himself -- so much so much that he made the same exclamation ("Have never done this in my life!") at least a dozen time during the evening, as if to ease his own disbelief.
Elliot said that when I first approached, he was "apprehensive", because mine was a rather odd request, given American's sense of privacy and home. What struck him was the stark contrast of me with all my worldly possession on the bike, and him in front of his multi-million-dollar beachfront house.
No doubt, this group belongs to the upper end of the 1% when it comes to financial wealth. They casually speak of private jets, 200-feet yacht, and real estate deals in eight figures. But it did not prevent us from having a most open and genuine conversation, and connected on a spiritua level. They were most curious about my pilgrimage, and the contrasts between our current lives made both sides reflect deeply. After all, we are all connected through the same deep longing.
This is a special joy of this kind of pilgrimage. One night, I would rest inside a public beach shower stall; the next night, I would fall sleep inside a multi-million-dollar mansion. One thing I know, is that while asleep, we do not know -- or care -- where we are dreaming.
Day 37, 4/5, Arcadia, LA, 47 miles
Finished listening to Eckhart Tolle's "The Power of Now", and started to listen to Charles Eisenstein's "Ascent of Humanity".
Biked into the metropolis of Los Angeles. My body could instantly feel the violence of the urban chaos and vibrations. As I biked from one end of LA to the other end for about four hours, I did not see a single bicycle! All cars.
At noon, happen to pass through the LA Chinatown. I indulged in two sweet steamed buns -- from the limited vegetarian options on the menu. A kindly couple came to sit down across from me at the same table, in the crowded dim sum shop. Soon, we started a conversation, and before long, the woman started to proselytize. She said, "Buddha and Muhamad might be prophets or messengers of God, but only Christ dared to say that he is the one and only son of God. He sacrificed himself to save us from our unredeemable sins. I see you are on a spiritual journey, but I hope you could avoid some of the unnecessary detours."
I.e., come straight to Jesus.
I just wanted to quietly enjoy my steamed buns, but ended up getting a earful about the superiority of Christianity -- in a dim sum shop in Chinatown :)
I have wholehearted love and respect for the life and teachings of Jesus, but I am sadden to see how some people have come to twist his universal messages. I have grown particularly allergic to sentences that start with, "Other religions might have gotten something right, but…" I appreciate people's care for my salvation, but it evades no one when the primary purpose of a "spiritual advice" is to assert the superiority of one's own belief. What would Jesus do? :)
A pilgrimage around the globe by bicycle, in service of the ecological and spiritual awakening of our time.