Pilgrimage

I’ve spoken before about visiting the Kaaba, the Basilica and the pagoda of Cebu in some Abrahamic-meets-Taoist adventure.

It occurs to me that I want to do this but I don’t want to go alone. Isn’t it strange? That feeling of knowing that self-sufficiency isn’t enough. Is it anxiety or is it something else? I was thinking about this today as I sat alone at lunch in the little workroom making notes in Meditations as I normally do. While I would be enriched and in awe of these places, where does my learning take me if I don’t have someone to share it with? Where does learning take any of us? Or perhaps it’s far simpler than that and this pilgrimage I want is less of a pilgrimage and more of a grand adventure inspired by some Doctor Who forgotten episode.

This need for independence and self-sufficiency that I’ve strived for all my life is all well and good yet in the face of real adventure, real enlightenment, I find myself in need of a companion.

“Pick me up and throw me where you will. Wherever I land I shall keep the good within me happy – satisfied, that is, if attitude and action follow its own constitution.”Meditations 8.45

In a way, despite this yearning, this is a solitary mission. By removing the judgement of such yearning imposed upon myself, I remove the thought and by removing the thought I remove the feeling. But there is no feeling – just a deep vacuole where something should be. I wonder how many others feel this or have felt this.

“All things are the same: familiar in experience, transient in time, sordid in substance. Everything now is as it is was in the days of those we have buried” Meditations 9.14

In the time of the Spanish Flu, I suppose there was such yearning for touch and connection. In the time of plagues past from 1346 to even further back in 165, was there such a feeling?

Or perhaps it’s more cosmic than that. The twin flame school of thought describes that all souls are made of two parts that require coming together to become balanced (how very Taoist). Perhaps this is my own souls way of telling me in feeling rather than words that both parts of me needs to go on this journey and the experience is so important to the wholeness of my being that I need to wait until both parts are joined.

Obviously, I’m not going bloody anywhere for the time being which something we all have to deal with. In the meantime, I’ll plan for lighter trips, staycations around the UK until the time is right. Of course, I won’t be able to find pizza like I would in Rome in Whitby but I suppose the fish and chips in Rome wouldn’t be quite the same either.

For now, this particular pilgrim is perfectly happy with waiting, with chicken and chips and Coronation Street.

Z3N0

The Tao: First Steps

“What dies does not pass out of the universe. If it remains here and is changed, then here too it is resolved into the everlasting constituents.” Meditations 8.18

One day, I will visit Taoist pagodas in person and take a pilgrimage for myself. I was planning on doing an Abrahamic Grand Tour: Vatican City, Jerusalem, Mecca and back again in an infinity loop shape, stopping back in Rome to connect with the Italian roots. I owe it to my own journey to see these places in person from the Basilica to the Kaaba to the pagoda in Cebu.

The brief introduction to Taoism in the Midnight Gospel seemed to click with me and the idea of being actively passive and an observer of balance is far more attainable than the more Buddhist ideals of total ascetism.

In a future post, I’ll show off my growing collection of Penguin Classics that range from stoic thinkers to now include Lao Tzu and Confucius. While the latter is a little rigid for my tastes, I’m rushing through my dissection of Meditations to be able to get to the Tao Te Ching. Yet perhaps, like a Taoist, I should forget the rush and go with the river. After all, is that not in accordance with Nature?

Who knows, perhaps I might be found in Goa in a few years time with a beard much like Lao Tzu, in a B.O stinking kimono and a disposition of a vacant Rick Sanchez (sans the pickle). But who does that benefit, this luxurious exile? Myself? No, where is the balance in that indulgence, who is the beneficiary?

Perhaps, that’s another quest, another pilgrimage of the self: find the balance, find The Tao.

“Virtue is the result of true balance. Virtue has no shape or form yet nothing can be without it.” – Confucius

Z3N0

Lazy Sunday

On this lazy Sunday it was suggested by my household members, X and Y, that I see about moving to a commune in Goa at some point in the next 5 years. It has everything that appeals to me: white sandy beaches, clear waters, yoga classes, good food – the works. Yet for some reason, maybe it’s because I’ve seen the DiCaprio film The Beach and enough Charles Manson documentaries to last a lifetime, it didn’t appeal to me. There’s something that seems incredibly odd about it and the whole situation falls into my own uncanny valley. Sure, it would be idyllic. I would sit about most days reading stoic works and discovering Taoism (which is another post in itself), basking in the sun like a fat bastard iguana. So what’s holding me back? Am I so attached to grim old England and it’s people that I can’t imagine being so far from it and them. Or is it fear? A cosmic horror of the unknown: what if I get there and don’t like it and there’s no turning back?

There’s a phenomena called Paris Syndrome commonly experienced by particularly Japanese tourists who visit France. With Paris being so hyped as the city of love and Western sophistication, the reality is so overwhelming to some that it can cause deep psychological trauma. They experience a number of symptoms commonly associated with schizophrenia.

Now, I’m not saying I’m fearful of such a thing, because that’s not a reasonable thing to worry about. Perhaps it’s just the Taurus in me, stubbornly clinging onto my roots and being unchangeable in the face of what could be a blissful experience. But do any of us need a blissful surrounding to have a blissful experience? Even from the foundations of stoicism, a core belief is that fulfilment can only be found from within. I could find myself in Goa, sweating my arse off, curling my back into all sorts of yoga shapes to try to be one with the commune and be entirely miserable.

Happiness is not a place.

Perhaps that’s why the COVID-19 Lockdown and the subsequent sequels haven’t seemed to bother me.

“Men seek retreats for themselves – in the country, by the sea, in the hills – and you yourself are particularly prone to this yearning. But all this is quite unphilosophic, when it is open to you, at any time you want, to retreat into yourself. No retreat offers someone more quiet and relaxation than that into his own mind…” Meditations 4.3

No matter how far you run, the finish line is always where you started.

I know this post is short, I did tell you in the title it’s a lazy Sunday…

Z3N0