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Posts Tagged ‘synchronicity’

Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding:  124                                              Days Blogged: 106

New Mileage: 6                                                                 Total Trip Mileage: 886

Often the synchronicity of events in my life makes me smile.  Yesterday I shared with you the nature of my inner guide.  I noted that this guide is embedded within a framework made up of several humanistic assumptions about life and that it represents a dynamic process that takes into account situational demands with a general goal of balance and growth.  Several phrases I find myself using in my teaching speak directly to wisdom generated by this process.  Statements such as: “One size does not fit all!; Never say never!; The ends do not justify the means!; Be certain, but humble!; Change is mandatory, growth is optional!”

Buddha of the Ten Forms of Wisdom

I mention this because I had reported that we were going to visit a religious theme park in Orlando today.  However, situational factors demand or at least suggest a change in these plans.  As I mounted my bike to ride, of course, virtually toward Orlando, I realized  we were going to pass by an important diversity pilgrimage site in Kissimmee.  This site is unique as it offers a cluster of shrines unlike any that I have uncovered on my widening search for pilgrimage and retreat locations.

Shrine to Buddha's Birth

I use the term Diversity Site to label retreat and pilgrimage locations that feature a faith which are commonly located in other parts of the world but found more rarely in the United States.  For example a small city near where I live houses a Vedic Hindu temple, A Coptic Christian church, and a Buddhist Ashram with one of the few female Buddhist monks in the US.  I would classify all three of these  Diversity Sites,as  they are places one can visit to learn of the teachings, traditions and rituals of a unique world wisdom tradition.  All three of these sites are embedded in a landscape featuring a multitude of Christian denominations, and each offers a unique educational opportunity.

Shrine to Buddha's Enlightenment

Nestled on the outskirts of Kissimmee Florida is the Wat Florida Dhammaram, a Theravada Buddhist temple and monastery affiliated with a Buddhist temple in Thailand.  The temple serves the local Buddhist community and has resident Buddhist monks.  The central temple complex houses a large bronze statue of Buddha and welcomes visitors of any faith.  What makes this site highly unique are the four separate shrines included within the temple compound.

 Many major world religions suggest that adherents of their faith travel to sites that played a central role in the development of the faith (e.g., Mecca for Islam, Jerusalem for Jewish and Christian followers).  For Buddhists there are four such sites, all located in present day India or Nepal.  The Wat Florida Dhammaram has constructed replicas of the sacred places of pilgrimage honoring Lord Buddha’s life.

Shrine to the Buddha's teaching of the Four Noble Truths

The shrine named Vihara Maha Mayadevil located in Lumbini Nepal commemorates Buddha’s birthplace. The shrine named Mahabodi Temple located in Bodgaya India commemorates Buddha’s enlightenment under the Bodhi tree.  The shrine named Dhamekha Stupa located in Sarnath India commemorates Buddha’s first teaching of the Four Noble Truths. The shrine named The Parinibbana Temple located in Kusinara India commemorates Buddha leaving his moral body and passing into Nirvana.

Shrine honoring the Buddha's entrance into Nirvana

While some people might argue that a visit to these shrines is not a substitute for a visit to the real thing, I suspect that time, distance and costs likely precludes many people from a pilgrimage to India and Nepal.   I would argue that if a visit to a shrine replica helps a person renew and/or strengthen their faith then it has served a critical function in that person’s life.  In line with my afore mentioned philosophy, I believe if kneeling before and offering incense to a replica helps the person find balance and grow in  commitment to their faith (both representing positive outcomes) then the pilgrimage process was a healthy and productive one!

If you have enjoyed the blog please sign up for stationarypilgrim’s e-mail subscription by going to the upper right corner of this page For more information about the temple and it’s shrines please visit the Pilgrimage Site tab at the top of this page.

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 66                               Consecutive Days Blogging: 67

Today’s Mileage:  7                                           Total Trip Mileage: 579

The red line marks our progress.

Just need mixing and time!

I continue to approach with a joyful sense of discovery, the process of creating a daily blog. When I first envisioned this journey a friend told me it would be “far too difficult to find topics.”  Another friend, an artist, laughed and stated: “Oh no, how to turn off the ideas will be your problem!”  I am finding that blogging is a bit like being a baker.  Ingredients come together from a multitude of sources (e.g., thoughts, sensory impressions, readings, statements of friends, news reports, church sermons) to name just a few. The dough is mixed and kneaded then set aside to rise. The topic I intended to speak about today was not quite ready; it needs a bit more leavening time.  What to do?  Driving to work on a foggy morning, thoughts like swirling ingredients fill my head, and then without warning, a scene unfolds before my eyes:

A light fog

Hangs over the landscape

The tall pine trees  

That line the damp roadway

Fade off into a distant white

 

I notice first one

Majestic soaring figure

Then a second and a third

Gliding silently overhead

 

Close to a dozen birds

Giant wingspans

Fade into and out of view

In the dense fog

 

 
 
 
 
 

Making silent circles in the sky.

Like ghosts

Circling

Like spirits

On a spiral staircase

 

How beautiful I think

These feathered beings

Gliding and banking

In some group dance

 

I frown and sigh

Realizing what this

Choreographed event

Must mean

 

Then I see it

Lying still

Feet from the roadway

A dead deer

 

A sacrifice to man’s

Need for speed

A feast for circling vultures

Just a single scene

In the greater dance of Life

I am struck by the synchronicity of this poem as I was thinking about a comment from a visitor to my blog.  They told me about a friend who left their childhood faith for another, but then returned when he realized that  he was not measuring up to the demands of this new faith and that he might not achieve Paradise in a single lifetime.

To worry, to struggle and suffer is to be human.  Do we ever measure up to the ideal?  Are we ever the parent we could be, the spouse we expected to be, the perfect son or daughter?  Are we ever worthy of being held up as a model of perfection, as a goal for others to strive toward?  Don’t we all fall short, whether a spiritual pilgrim, a celebrated athlete, a governor, a senator, a President?  We all fail to measure up in some way. We are all human! 

 People seek new relationships, new jobs, new churches, and seek new paths because they don’t measure up to the ideals of their previous choices.  Especially if these alternative choices promise to be easier, or faster, or less lonely, or to possess more of “the truth”  than the old path.

Share a slice of your gifts with others.

Death and vultures are an inevitable final act to be encountered upon all physical creatures’ journey. In my view, the lesson of this poem and a fellow pilgrim’s story is in the importance of the process of the dance of life.  Rather than ask: How am I measuring up?  Ask yourself: What have I done with the daily gifts I receive as my clock “ticks down?”  Have you tried to hold on to youth, hoarded resources you can’t take with you, have you made your choices based on a future goal rather than the present circumstances?  Have you focused on the needs of the people within arm’s reach, of those who overhear your words, of those who oversee your actions?  Has your goal been far off and unattainable in this lifetime?  As the saying goes, the past is history, the future is a mystery, and the present is a gift! 

I struggle to make the most of my gifts and to share them with others.  There will be a final curtain call for all of us.  Whether you believe in a “hereafter” or just an end, we all share in the gift of the present.  We all have the choice of how to celebrate and share it with others.  How will you celebrate and share it today?

 
 

In the end, what have you shared and who have you touched?

A special thanks to the photographers associated with Panramio for the beautiful scenes from along the roadside.

 The information on holy days and sacred holidays comes from http://www.interfaithcalendar.org.

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 61                                Consecutive Days Blogging: 62

Today’s Mileage: 5                                           Total Trip Mileage: 535

The red line marks our progress.

As I ride the bike today we are preparing to pull into our twelfth pilgrimage site.  Today’s site is unique and some people might question why it warrants a designation as a spiritual pilgrimage site. We are stopping at the Edison Museum and Winter Estates in Fort Myers Florida.  The roadways we have travelled are populated by a great many churches, but finding sites that speak to the wider array of expressions of spirituality can be more challenging.  I happened upon the Edison Winter Estate site at the same time I was researching the Koreshan Unity Village Site we visited last week. 

In the lab!

With the Koreshan movement we had a charismatic leader and followers who combined religious revelations with quasi- scientific thinking to create a utopian dream. At the same time just thirty miles up the road, we find Thomas Edison, who many would view as the archetypical inventor, solving the world’s problems in practical ways.  Through his innovations he created a new world of electrical lights, phonographs, and movies. He accomplished his feats with little formal education and a lot of hard work.  Edison is often cited as an example of ingenuity, perseverance, and a “get it done” practicality. Among his many quotes that adorn bumper stickers, t-shirts and office walls are: “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration,” and “To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” He was not theoretical like Einstein; he was practical, hardworking and no-nonsense. “”Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”  He reframed the whole concept of failure: “I have not failed. I’ve just fond 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

First Banyan tree in the US planted by Edison in his garden.

His personal spirituality and approach to the divine is less clear. I’ve found references that labeled him as an atheist, an agnostic, a freethinker and a deist.  He attended a Congregational church near his home which in memorial to his membership changed it name to Thomas Edison Congregational Church.

 In a New York Times Magazine interview conducted in 1910 he stated: “Nature is what we know. We do not know the gods of religions. And nature is not kind, or merciful, or loving… nature made us – nature did it all – not the gods of the religions.”  These remark generated a great deal of controversy, and although he did not allow himself to be drawn into a public discussion he clarified himself in a private letter by stating: “You have misunderstood the whole article, because you jumped to the conclusion that it denies the existence of God.  There is no such denial, what you call God I call nature, the Supreme intelligence that rules matter.”

Edison statue with Banyan tree.

His involvement with causes such as nonviolence and Civitan appears to attest to his belief in the importance of social action over professed beliefs. A visit to his winter home site also emphasizes the importance he placed on nature, with his beautiful gardens, dock into the bay and cherished Banyan trees. All of this make one wonder if he represents a scientific thinker who experienced moments of nature mysticism.

 Again I am struck by the synchronicity of my site visits. With one site we find a cult-like community, dreaming of changing the world based upon religious revelations and questionable scientific theory.  Its “New Jerusalem” is now a state park housing RVs and sun worshipers. Existing at the same time and just a few  miles away, we find an individual embedded in a practical science, who was described as logical, reasoning and creative.  He surrounded himself with the beauty and inspiration of nature and changed the world! 

Edison provided a source of light, helped capture visual and auditory memories for future generations, provided inspiring words and left us a pilgrimage site that attests to the power of perserverance, creativity and engagement with the world around us. 

Fort Myers' sunset.

To visit the Site please click on the tab at the top of this page labelled Pilgrimage Sites. A special thanks to the photographers associated with Panramio for the beautiful scenes from along the roadside.

 The information on holy days and sacred holidays comes from http://www.interfaithcalendar.org.

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 44                              Consecutive Days Blogging: 45

Today’s Mileage:  11                                        Total Trip Mileage: 376

As I start my ride today I am reminded of Carl Jung’s teaching on synchronicity, the idea that nothing just happens by chance.  There is always a message or purpose for every encounter with another person or even an inanimate object on our path.

 Yesterday I spent considerable time perusing through websites looking for nature and pilgrimage site photos to accompany my daily words. I came across a photo that quickly drew me in.  It’s a picture of a women floating on the surface of the water, in a calm inlet, eyes closed, lost in a peaceful state.

Spiritual Floating!

Memories catapulted me back to a time when I myself floated on a still lagoon of a coral island, beneath swaying coconut trees in the center of the Indian Ocean. The low hum of the distant surf against the coral reef, the hot equatorial sun and the slow rocking motion of the unseen waves lulled me into a deep, peaceful state. I experienced a sense of abandonment, of release as all of my worldly concerns were washed away.  I became one within myself;  became one with the sea and the whole web of existence. Of all the photos I viewed in my search:  this photo moved me the most, as I long to drift away again in refreshing and renewing waters.

As I prepared to get on the bike today I grabbed a magazine from a box of unpacked books, remnants of my recent move.  I made no effort to choose any particular copy; it was Spirituality & Health, August 2003, subtitled: The Soul/Body Connection.  I flipped it open to an article entitled Spiritual Bathing. The authors Nadine Epstein and Rosita Arvigo opened the piece with the following statement:

 
 

Spiritual Waterfalls!

“We know that it feels wonderful to soak in a warm bath or swim in the sea; that it is blissful to meditate upon the sounds of river water rushing over rocks; or the sight of sunlit drops bursting from a waterfall is magnificent.  But how often do we think of these experiences as spiritual?  Yet in ancient times, the spiritual essence of water evoked a sense of wonder, reminding people that they were threads in the divine web of life.  Foremost in the great creation myths and traditions of nearly every culture is the recognition that water gave birth to humankind.  It was seen as a divine, life-giving, healing, cleansing, renewing force.”

 

Spiritual Stream!

Pedaling towards Marcos Island with its white sandy beaches, along a channel of still reflective water, it does not seem like a chance occurrence that I picked up this magazine.  Nor was it by chance that I found  that particular beach photo. The image brings back profoundly pleasant memories of the spiritual effects and sacredness of water.

Surrounded by the sky, the foliage and wildlife of the Everglades and Big Cypress Preserve, let’s not forget the voice and message of the ever present water.  I leave you today with a musing I wrote a number of years ago while sitting along a slow moving local river.

 

Why must, why not

     How difficult it is for man to just sit still, to listen to the voices of nature, to be in the “here-and-now.”

     We have been taught to live in the future: to look forward, to plan, to strategize, to plot, to prioritize, to reach goals, to push on , to conquer.

     If not looking ahead, we often replay memoires of earlier times: of childhood friends, of lost loves, of squandered opportunities, of missed chances, of past glories.

     Why must we be like rocks that resist the flow of the river, that try to divert it, or capture it in pools? Rocks that are eventually systematically worn down.

     Why not be like the river: moving forward, at times rushing, at times barely creeping along, and flowing around, over or through obstacles.  Water that gives life to all who reach out, extending a mouth or root.

     When we dwell too much on the future, or spend too long reliving the past, we are like the river rocks.  When we open ourselves to experience, when we live in the “here-and-now” we are like the river. 

     As a river we move forward, we foster growth in others, and ultimately we add our essence to the majestic clouds, to be returned to the earth and become part of other streams and rivers.

–  –  –  –

Have a wonderful day, tomorrow we hit the beach at Marco island!

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