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what small steps?

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Early this morning, on National Public Radio, a report from Kyoto about a Buddhist monk who, over a span of seven years, has walked the equivalent distance of once-around-the-globe by repeatedly circumambulating a nearby mountain. That done, he underwent another ordeal involving days upon days of staying awake in walking meditation, without food and little water, chanting and praying, until, near exhaustion, he had to be held upright by fellow monks. Now, back at his day job as temple priest to a small congregation, he speaks of having tasted — through direct experience — what it means to extinguish ego attachment and realize the interconnectedness of every/thing.

I’m inspired by this man’s undertaking. No, I’m not about to don white robes (to signal death and dying) or braid grass rope sandals (as he did), but I am pondering which bits of this story might fit into my little world. What, for example, am I grasping so tightly, can I let go off, can I die to? It what ways am I connected to all beings? And how does “just walking” and “just doing dishes” nourish my practice of awakening? And you — does any of this resonate?



5 responses »

  1. i have been thinking about this – letting go – today peter… i am due to fly to Scotland for 2 weeks on Friday for a long yearned for break in the mountains, and have been very anxious about the possible chaos and stress which might ensue if the Icelandic volcano happens to erupt again, and the winds happen to blow the ash over the UK, and my flight is cancelled… in truth, i have absolutley no control over the situation and to worry about something in the future is futile, nevertheless, i do! So, today i am gently reminding myself to let go of “what might happen”, and bringing myself back to the present moment. And reminding myself that even if that does happen there are far, far worse things in this world!! i am aware of my attachment to the yearned for break and how hard it is to let go of that. But maybe dying to these kind of attachments gives us a bigger perspective on life and in that way connects us to all that is?

    • fiona, bowing to your innate wisdom, your deep knowing beyond knowing, I wish you safe travels. Lang may yer lum reek! – May you live long and stay well. peter

  2. today i am gong back and forth, over and over the same little floor, sanding it with a noisy machine. tomorrow will be the same or something else. round and round the mountain. day after day. the difference is i suspect that honourable monk knows that walking around the mountain and doing the daily routines are both walking around the mountain whereas most of us, including me, forget.

  3. Yes, what resonates with me from this story is that attachment to extreme practices is still attachment. Although I’m sure the honourable monk undertook these practices with devotion, what exactly is gained by reducing yourself to a tottering zombie? If he couldn’t realise ‘what it means to extinguish ego attachment’ and ‘the interconnectedness of everything’ in his day-to-day life at his small temple, how could this religious version of extreme sports do it for him?

  4. Good questions, Margaret.

    Please note that I paraphrased what I heard on the radio first thing this morning and that there’s more to the story than my simple post revealed. Here’s the link to the NPR transcript:

    They key to your question may lie in its last paragraph: a woman in the congregation remarks that in her frenetic life, moments when she can attain stillness are few and fleeting. But Mitsunaga’s [the monk’s] whole life, she says, just seems like a continuous state of pure mind. She says she learns this and so much more just from watching him move.


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