This is a combined update from Week 3 of the journey: Healdsburg, City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Ukiah, Petaluma, San Francisco.
Day 15-16, Mar 14-15th, City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, Ukiah, CA
Spent 42 hours at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB), a place where I owe so much gratitude to. This is where Rev. Heng Sure and Heng Chau concluded their three-step-one-bow pilgrimage from LA to Ukiah. This is where Master Hua created the "Instilling Goodness and Developing Virtue Schools" for children and students, and the unique Dharma Realm Buddhist University. This is where the peacocks roam freely and squirrels comes right up to your feet…
During my visit, thanks to kind arrangements by friends, I met with three school classes -- two planned, one unplanned -- to share about the pilgrimage and its connections with the spirit of CTTB. The boys and girls from 9th to 12th grades inspired and moved me with their sincere questions -- I could feel that they are asking themselves these questions on a daily basis.
"What is your intention and purpose of the pilgrimage?"
"How does your family respond to your decision?"
"What's your plan to change the world?"
"How do you know that this is the right thing for you to do in life now?"
"What have you learned about yourself through the journey so far?"
"Who you ever go back to work after the pilgrimage?"
The boys are more fascinated with the "outer adventure" aspects, such as what to do when the bike breaks down. The girls are more intrigued by the "inner adventures", such as "What are you biggest challenges on the road?"
I heard from friends that there are two types of questions: those to be answered, and those to be lived into. The questions from the students are certainly the later type.
Day 17, Mar 16th, Healdsburg
Got up at 3:30am to join the 4-6am morning recitation at CTTB. Very moved to see the diligent cultivation of so many monastics, residents, and volunteers. Then, biked for 5 hours, 45 miles, back to Healdsburg. Not tired at all. Truly, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."
As I approached town, saw a man with a heavily loaded bicycle outside the local food pantry. Went up to greet him, and learn that Thomas has been riding around the country for over a year. He started with a bodyweight of 280 lbs, now he is as fit as an athlete. He is riding to raise awareness for service animals, especially for veterans.
As I said goodbye to my friends and former colleagues in Healdsburg, my former boss made a prediction that I will get rid of the bike at some point. "Too much stuff." Very true. I might. But not just yet :)
Day 18-19, Mar 17-18th, Petaluma, San Francisco
Dear friends in Petaluma were most hospitable in hosting me, and sharing stories and reflections on life.
Wise Advisors always appear at the right moments to share their wisdom. Met with Emmanuel, a key driver behind the Spiritual Ecology Youth Fellowship that I am a part of. He shared that, throughout the years of his travels and explorations for documentary film-making, he has learned the most from unexpected places, outside of the comfort zone and established paths. He encouraged me to step out of the world (I think) I know, and continue to go beyond the comfort zone. Timely advice. He also shared a "Four-Point Plan" written by the Sufi teacher Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, in response to the "darkening of light" in our time. The four points are: Witnessing, Grief, Prayer, Action.
"Prayer is the soul’s most basic response. It is our cry to God, to our Beloved, in times of distress. And my sense is that this primal cry from the soul is also the Earth’s prayer—the Earth is crying to God through us—our prayer is the voice, the calling of the Earth."
On my way from Petaluma to San Francisco, a women walking her dog saw me with the loaded touring bike, and greeted me. It turned out that she had done long distance cycling herself, among other adventures. She is now an executive coach, and often meet capable people who have "missed it" in their earlier years, and are now tied down with mortgage, family, and so on. She waved goodbye, and cheered on, "May you travel in light."
Have been listening to Peace Pilgrim on audiobook. "Her life and work in her own words" have been a most uplifting and nourishing read -- no less inspiring than listening to the New Testament. Peace Pilgrim is truly an enlightened saint-servant of our time. Will certainly return to listen to this book many times over the coming months, especially when my faith and strength waiver.
"This is the way of peace: Overcome evil with good, and falsehood with truth, and hatred with love." -- Peace Pilgrim
A pilgrimage around the globe by bicycle, in service of the ecological and spiritual awakening of our time. More information here.