05 October 2012

Picking myself up, dusting myself off

Just 24 hours until I fly out of Australia for France. Not Jordan as I've been planning for most of the year. Finally, I'm in a good place and looking forward to being in one of the most beautiful cities and countries in the world.

Flights, accommodation, French school are all booked. The domestic things are almost under control. I've changed my hair, well the colour at least. Isn't that what we do when things get tough?

Some time ago I read a fascinating book titled 'If you meet the buddha on the road, kill him!' Certainly a rather dramatic and provocative title that seems at odds with the peaceful nature of the buddhist religion.

Written by psychotherapist, Sheldon B Kopp, the book is about the spiritual journeys, the personal quests, the pilgrimages we make through life. It's about what drives us to make these journeys and what we seek: enlightenment, peace, joy, or something that we're not even sure about.

In every journey, there is a desire to do, to learn. And, the author explains, in our wishing to learn, we often confuse being taught, with learning. In doing so, we seek out helpers, healers, guides and teachers. We want to become their disciples, their students.

Kopp goes onto say that crises marked by anxiety, doubt and despair have always been those periods of personal unrest that occur at the times when we are sufficiently unsettled to have an opportunity for personal growth. In feeling uneasy, this is our chance to make a growth choice, rather than a fear choice. Nicely put.

But what about the buddha? Well, this is where the idea of the religious pilgrimages has its counterpoint in modern spiritual or personal growth journeys. Once one accepts that to learn means to let go of dependance on others to teach us; to recognise that our power comes from within, not from others; and that to be a grown-up, means not being a disciple or an acolyte - then we start to truly grow from within. Too often we seek out our modern pilgrimages, whether literal or metaphorical, from a starting point of pain and turmoil. How tempting to seek the support of a 'guru', a buddha if you like to 'make everything better again'. Someone to depend on, rather than taking personal responsibility. So, if you encounter such a buddha along the way . . . well, you know what you have to do.

Hopefully my physical and emotional journeys in the coming weeks will be 'buddha-free'. Not easy, perhaps difficult, often exhausting. Another beginning, and perhaps many more beginnings to come. Let me just get started.

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