Saturday, March 21.........Guatemala City, Guatemala
A few days ago I spent some time in a cybercafe in the wonderful colonial city of Antigua. Besides checking my email messages, I took a look at the new writings that I had placed on my web site. When one writes a lot as I do, it is wise to cultivate a detached perspective on ones writing whereby one may read the writing as if it were not ones own. I read over the new stuff that I had recently written and had something of a revelation. It became clear to me that I should always have the courage to write as the natural and spontaneous core of me wants to write, using and arranging words so they are, among other things, fun to set to writing and fun to read. I understood that I should always endeavor to say things to other people in the way that I seek to say things to myself - with honesty and intimacy, precision and casualness combined. I felt that I wanted to be able to look back at these writings when I am an eighty-year old man and be proud of myself that I had written truly and explicitly of my experience of being.
These thoughts have been with me for some days and they are strongly with me now as I sit to write. It is around nine in the evening and I have returned to my hotel room after a dinner of tasty Chinese food, Guatemala-style. The day is March 21, the Spring Equinox, and it has been an intensely sad day for me.
Equinoxes and solstices are important periods to me. I have come to understand something of why many ancient cultures gave attention to these particular periods in the solar cycle. When the Sun is in the specific spatial relationships to the Earth that occur during the solstices and equinoxes, there is an intensification of energy radiance manifested at certain types of power places. At these times the power of the places may be more powerfully felt and tapped into. The solstices and the equinoxes are also good times to make prayers, do ceremonies, articulate intentions, begin endeavors, and do other special things. On these solar days (there are lunar and stellar power periods also), there is a sort of charged assistance coming from other dimensions that amplifies the nature of whatever is happening to you. So to speak, the volume gets turned up on whatever song is playing in your current experience. Today, my current experience was stressful and unhappy and the equinox only seemed to make it more so.
My dear friend Robert stopped traveling with me today. He had joined me in Mexico City seven weeks ago, a few weeks after I had started my pilgrimage. Our plans were to travel together for the entire journey down through and back from South America. We had been talking about the journey for nearly two years, ever since I had invited him to come along. But, things did not work out well between us and our time together is cut short. This saddens me deeply (again, here is something to meditatively watch).
I had perhaps overloaded our journeying together with too much expectation. I think of my life and the work I do with the sacred sites in perhaps too mythic a way. I look upon these long journeys to the sacred sites as true pilgrimages and not simply as travel or roaming around. They are incredibly important chapters of my life and I seek to bring to them the most focused and constant attention. While I am very much in the flow of things as I travel, I am also incredibly intent on using my pilgrimages as a method of spiritual practice and meditation. This intention, coupled with the high degree of watchfulness and caution necessary to travel in dangerous places, makes me extremely serious about efficiency. My travel partners, first Steve and then Robert, have not been able to grasp and resonate with the seriousness of my pilgrimage. And I have not been willing to be easy with their (relative to me) lack of travel proficiency.
Steve, who returned to the US a few weeks ago, was a good listener and learner. He honestly tried to practice the travel and rough-road driving skills I shared with him from my thirty years of experience. But it was bothersome because I had to keep reminding him to be careful and watchful. I did not want to be doing that. I had not come on this pilgrimage to be anyones teacher. During 1997 I taught to over 8000 people and I needed a break from being the information-giver. I came on this pilgrimage to be a student myself and I need to focus on meditation and my own process instead of teaching others (that will come again in 1999 and beyond). Steve had only planned to be with me for a few months, however, so his departure was expected and not difficult.
With Robert the situation was different. In our relationship these past seven weeks I experienced the profound difficulty of being simultaneously someones teacher and friend. This experience was not new to me. Three times in the past ten years there have been women in the classes I teach who became lovers, and soon thereafter, not-so-open students anymore. With Robert the initial situation was different but the results were the same. We were already great friends and then, years later, we found our selves in a necessary (albeit temporary) teacher/student position. I had been concerned about this for many months before the pilgrimage began and often thought about how to prevent or lessen the potential problem. The fact is that I have a much greater wealth of traveling know-how, some of which I felt necessary to communicate to anyone traveling with me. Simple things about security and safety (life and death!), about driving on dangerous, unpaved, mountain roads, about taking care of an aging van, about efficient team work making the whole pilgrimage more pleasant for the both of us. But, for a variety of reasons, Robert didnt pay much attention to such matters. Day after day there were little, sloppy errors and non-watchfulness; things that in bandit-infested, third world countries like Guatemala can be dangerous. First, I casually discussed and occasionally hinted at the things I felt needed to be focused upon. He seemed to hear, but over the weeks hardly any changes were made. He did not seem to take pride in what we were doing, whereas I wanted to make the entire journey a work of art, efficiency, and beauty. I got frustrated and then upset. Along came some of my own dysfunctional behavioral patterns and I began to hold a grudge, speak with a hard tone, and harden myself to my dear friend. This only made him less willing to listen and learn. There are only a few people who I love, respect, and enjoy as much as Robert. Not wanting to permanently damage the friendship, I communicated that I must continue the pilgrimage on my own. So, now I am alone. This is how I have always traveled on these spiritual journeys. Perhaps the Earth Spirits are jealous of my love and while I visit their sacred places, I must come as the solitary pilgrim.
Temple II, Grand Plaza, Tikal ruins, Guatemala
Detail of stairs on Temple II, Tikal