I’ve been reading a lot lately to improve my understanding of the Nobel Path and the Four Truths. As many of you know I’m not a spiritual or religious man. I tend to choke on these concepts pretty quickly as they contain too much woo woo for me to stomach. What I’m ultimately after is a method or algorithm for self improvement.
The yatra is a voluntary Hindu ritual in which the journey is as important as the destination; the hardships of travel are the an act of devotion or discipline in themselves and the sacred place one ends up is a means of cleansing and centering self.
I’m not becoming a Hindu, but these folks seem to have put their finger on an idea that has eluded articulation in my mind in the past. I live in an area filled with sacred places. Meaning if I were to pin a map to the wall and toss darts at it I’d more than likely hit someplace which inherently contains the power to awe and move me.
The method then is self evident, travel under my own power to a place that can move me. Don’t worry about challenges between the start and the end, they are as important, perhaps more so, than the destinations. Find ways to examine my attachments so that I can become dispassionate about these things and ideas. Iterate endlessly to become the better person, perhaps the healed person, I wish to become.
In the past I’ve worked and lived with people who have a very strong cultural heritage. Being from the burbs so to speak I’ve always felt compelled to invent some framework of culture to mimic what many of these people have to draw on as the progress in their lives. This has been a haphazard and difficult process and more often than not results in a very shallow set of moral and social constructs. Add to this that I don’t really have a set of beliefs in which I whole heartedly can have faith. In fact, beyond the obvious or sensory, I have no faith.
At this point in my life I need to invent a ritual with deeper meaning which will have the power to provoke a positive mental and physical response I need. Using my experiences from the past the yatra as a trip guide I will spend some time this spring and summer traveling to those sacred places through challenging conditions in an effort to reduce suffering through this method. If I’m lucky then this process will be repeatable and I’ll be able to string these experiences together to reduce suffering.