June 24, 2016
Road Trip day 10: Mystery
Cape Perpetua, Oregon
In Jewish tradition, each year we renew our spiritual practice of teshuvah: self-reflection, self-correction, returning to the Source. The past ten days of my road trip, my intent has been to use this time in nature to strengthen my teshuvah practice.
But a strange thing has happened. The deeper I go into the forest, seeking greater understanding, seeking to experience a state of greater wholeness, the more that state seems to elude me. I’ve found no straight path forward. The trails twist and turn, leading where they lead, sometimes through dark forests, sometimes through wet bogs, sometimes through dry, thorny fields, sometimes to the edge of the misty, windy ocean. Sometimes to crowded parking lots where noisey people are running around trying to be first in line for whatever it is they want. The only real choice I seem to have is whether, and how, to be present each moment.
On this last morning in the forest, standing on the wooden bridge over the stream near my campsite, I watch and listen to the water flowing. I’m leaving with mixed feelings.
My exploration hasn’t led to any conclusions, or answers, or spiritual breakthroughs. The deeper “I” go into the forest, the deeper the layers of mystery. There’s “I,” with a familiar set of characteristics, on a quest, seeking. And there’s the forest, indifferent to what “I” am seeking, in constant motion where everything — including Aryae — is dancing with, and responding to, everything else.
It seems that the only way that Aryae can unite with the greater whole is to be present in both the “I” — which the ancient Jewish mystics called yesh — and the “not-I” — which they called ayin — at once.
How to do this? Maybe that’s the whole point. Maybe that’s where the greater Whole which sustains us is present.
I’m reminded of these words from Lao Tsu:
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
These two spring from the same source but differ in name;
this appears as darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gate to all mystery.
Tao Te Ching
Trans. Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English
I leave the bridge and load the rest of my stuff into the car. Time to hit the road and head to Portland.