“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matthew 7:14, King James Bible
After acupuncture, new patients often ask about energy medicine and how everything works: “Why am I more aware of the sensation in my toes?”
Two things are going on here. One relates to the body, the second relates to the mind. First, the acupuncture circulates the chi – the life energy – throughout the body, bringing renewed vitality to areas where the energy has not flowed as freely in the past. Second, chi follows mind. In other words, wherever you focus your mind, the life energy flows there. This is a fundamental principle of the universe which operates at all levels from the subtle and spiritual to the gross material and physical: If you set a strong intention to cultivate wisdom and compassion and be of service, you steadily move in the direction of manifesting the form of a bodhisattva or saint. If you place your awareness on your toes – blood and energy and more acute feeling flows there.
Buddhist and Taoist mountain yogis use this principle of focused awareness to control and regulate the body and mind in ways which might be considered supernatural. However, the principle at work is very natural. Anybody can do it – in theory. It simply requires great effort, persistence, patience, and extensive trials purifying the negative energy patterns and internal obstacles that hinder our karmic vehicle.
Pilgrimage is one time honored tradition of purifying obstacles while undergoing the rigors of a sacred journey. Ultimately, one does not need to travel in the physical world. In the end, the path is internal. Meanwhile though, here on planet Earth, at a time when life faces great challenges, there are many reasons to venture into the wilderness to seek answers.
I also happen to enjoy the scenery and on a very practical level, my physical body benefits from the exercise and my mind delights in the reprieve from urban “shock and awe”. As my heart pumps oxygen enriched blood to my limbs, keeping the legs treading up the path, endorphins are produced which relax the body and mind. The total sensory experience – eyes, ears, nose, tongue, tactile, mind – of pristine mountain peaks, ancient forests, serene silence, sap, moss, glacial dust, waterfalls and fairies – expands awareness beyond the narrow confines of the high speed machine world we often live within.
We are quite arrogant as a species, quick to draw far reaching conclusions from our “science” driven, technologically engineered world. We think we can improve on Mother Nature’s perfection. I’m thinking in particular right now of the recently released award winning film by Yvonne Chouinard, DamNation which chronicles America’s historical obsession with conquering nature by damming rivers and then adding fish ladders and hatcheries in a simplistic and ultimately ineffectual attempt to remedy the complex damage done to the web of life. But the film is also full of hope, humor and human ingenuity.
This summer I plan to do a wilderness pilgrimage somewhere near the Elwha River. Not only because this area represents somewhat of a wilderness Mecca for me – having quested for the Holy Grail of Mother Nature in the Grand Canyon of the Elwha in my mid-twenties, but it also continues to be the focal point of efforts to preserve what little pristine wildness remains on the planet. At present, the Navy is attempting to claim this area as a testing ground for military jets to engage in electromagnetic war games. “You shall not Pass”, I say, with Gandalfian conviction.
By the power of intention of these words, may infinite beings experience perfect health, peace, and freedom. To be continued…