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The big map o the Caminos de Santiago

Work in progress: a Grand Camino Theory of Everything - part two

Purky

The Dutch guy
Camino(s) past & future
Breathe properly.
Stay curious.
And walk a camino.
#1
Apart from the fact that I really enjoyed all the reactions, comments and different perspectives on the previous thread, I also felt there were some ideas offered that fleshed out the notion of a Grand Camino Theory of Everything a lot more. I hope to offer a little progressive insight with this one. The observant reader may have noticed that I dropped the word 'secular' from the title. There are a few reasons for that, and it might be wise to start there. The first reason was rightly provided by @t2andreo when he remarked that (Christian) religion provided the "spark" that ignited the Camino de Santiago in the first place. Religious tradition was, and can still be a prime mover behind a pilgrimage, and should be recognised as such. So introducing a term like 'secular Camino' might be construed as somewhat flippant, and that is not my intention.

Which brings me to the second reason why I choose to drop the secular thing on this one: inclusiveness. Since I have been reading this forum I have seen reference to Buddhists, Jews and Muslims walking the Camino, as well as Christians and atheists. The more, the merrier, as far as I'm concerned, and everybody is invited to add to the Grand Camino Theory of Everything. Having said that, I am not so much delving into the religious motivation of a pilgrimage, as I am looking for the principles that I think are also present at the core of a pilgrimage and seem to unite us all as pilgrims. And get people hooked on walking them, and coming back for more with equal facility.

I started out by looking at pain or discomfort or even hardship and suffering and the role (or function) this can have during a pilgrimage, at least for me. By using it as a tool for personal growth or discovery, and/or as a means to get out of your head and into your body. Existential masochism, within reasonable limits of course, because you have to draw the line somewhere for yourself. But that line seems to be different for everybody, so a little tweaking and some trial and error are in order. But I stand by my conviction that pain can push you beyond your normal limits (or happens when you push yourself beyond your limits) and as such is nothing to be afraid of or to be avoided.

This point of view is shared by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and his work on 'flow', introduced by @NualaOC on the previous thread. She linked an article where I found the following quote: "Flow experiences often consist of painful bodily sensations, as when an athlete pushes himself beyond his normal limits in order to win a race (...). Despite the pain, these are the moments that people often recall as being the peak moments of their lives." The fact that a camino isn't a race that can be won doesn't change the dynamic of the situation on a pilgrimage where (some) pain or discomfort needs to be endured every now and then. Taking the bad with the good can be another way of looking at it.

But the idea of 'flow' has much more to offer than just the integration of pain into its process. The concept of 'flow' is as follows: "The best moments in our lives are when our body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile." During a succesful flow you are completely absorbed by and at one with what you are doing. Sound familiar? "There is a moment when you walk several hours that you are only a body walking. Only that. You are nobody. You have no identity. You have no past. You have no future. You are only a body walking." (Frederic Gros, 'A Philosophy of Walking') What we're looking at is basically the ultimate 'here & now', not unlike the state Buddhists refer to as 'mindfulness', or 'moksha' for yoga practitioners.

This strong sense of being in the here and now, of living in the present, is something I have read many times on this forum as one of the key ingredients of a succesful camino. The chance to step out of ourselves, see the world with fresh and uncluttered eyes, is something rare in our everyday lives but somehow easier to accomplish on the camino. That is, if it has been "prepared for and cultivated by each person, by setting challenges that are neither too demanding nor too simple for ones abilities." So it does not just happen: you have to put some effort and intent into it. But the beauty of the camino is that this preparation and cultivation can take place during the camino itself.

A lot of you know about this. In my experience, during my first camino, week one was all about my body. I needed to build up stamina, and it hurt. My joints creaked, my muscles ached, I shuffled like an old man for a couple of steps after I had been sitting down for a few minutes and my feet protested. I thought about food and soft beds a lot. I was getting myself in shape. Week two was about my mind. Vivid memories and flashbacks, making up silly stories, wrestling with songs and shreds of music that wouldn't leave my head and sudden bursts of laughter or tears. And from week three on the real magic slowly started to happen. Periods of silence that would get longer and longer, a growing feeling of pleasant detachment from the chatter in my head and expanding grace.

The weird part though, is that on every camino since then I can get into the state of week three quicker. It's like some sort of physical memory has developed, or a beachhead has been established. I'm not pushing for it, but that state of mind flows easier nowadays when I'm walking. But I still need kilometers and days, distance and time, to really get there. I also seem to need some of that distance and time for easily initiating meaningful encounters with others. Next to 'flow' or being in the 'here and now', another very important pull of the camino for most pilgrims. Most eloquently articulated by @Davey Boyd, as he told us of the answer he got when he asked an old lady why she had been walking caminos for eight years: "Because of you."

Somehow people on a camino seem to be different from the ones in our daily lives, and a lot of times more natural to relate with. This is partly because people in our everyday life have a lot more "baggage built up around them" as @JillGat recognised. One part on why this is the case, is of course the longer history you share with people you know for a longer period of time. But another thing is that I think the camino playfully provides us with the opportunity to take a step back from ourselves and our own baggage (including preconceived ideas) which will very much influence how we relate to and perceive others. Personally I felt I had been offered the chance to reinvent myself, or at least take a good long look at who or what I really am, and most pilgrims around me felt the same way.

These circumstances can generate a tremendous feeling of freedom, creativity and possibility. The sky is quite literally the limit, the rest you can walk. And funnily enough, other people and pilgrims proved fundamental in the process of getting reacquainted with myself. Because I was able to step away from the ideas (some might even say illusions) about myself, I suddenly had a far better view of the subject matter. One that I also gladly and more easily shared with others.

I found all this to echoe with the work of Emmanuel Levinas (suggested by @SabineP), especially with one of his most famous quotes: "I become I in the face of the Other." This quote might also explain the overwhelming sense of respect and camaraderie between pilgrims: across borders, ancestry, ethnicity and religion we seem to band together very well. 'Cause we're all pretty much on the same page. (Most of the time, as @davebugg unfortunately found out recently, but some aren't on that page just yet.)

In the ideas of Levinas, there is a lot of ethics involved in how you relate to the Other. The fact that this runs rather parallel with the ideas of the Existentialists regarding authenticity, responsibility and choice that I refered to in my previous thread was nice to notice. I like it when that happens. But anyway, most pilgrims seem to have a good grasp of that responsibility and act accordingly. Which is one reason why I am still a part of this forum.

Well, this turned out a bit longer than I'd hoped for, but this is as far as I've come this time around. Maybe the Grand Camino Theory of Everything became a little more solid today, credit to all of you who participated the last time. Thanks again for that.
 
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SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
#2
@Purky : you gift us with quite a thoughtful , deep and well written piece.
Like " part one " I will need some time to digest your information.
And maybe I will have to limit myself to writing you a pm in Dutch seeing my level of English is not up to the standard for answering these kind of posts.

But...thank you.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Francés, Inglés, Fisterra/Muxia, Baztanés x2, Primitivo, Norte, Portugués & hopefully many more.
#3
Wow @Purky, thanks for another very thought-provoking post. I haven't been able to spend much time on the forum lately, but I'm so glad that I checked in and saw this one! Like @SabineP, I'm also going to read it a few times to digest it more fully.

I'm already looking forward to the replies.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#6
Beautiful, Purky. Thank you.

But I stand by my conviction that pain can push you beyond your normal limits (or happens when you push yourself beyond your limits) and as such is nothing to be afraid of or to be avoided.
Yes. And facing pain (not from a masochistic place, but out of interest) can be heart- and mind-opening. We try so hard to avoid it, but that's futile. Mental and physical pain are inevitable in life. But suffering on account of pain is optional. And to get to that place, we have to learn to let it be.
There is a moment when you walk several hours that you are only a body walking. Only that. You are nobody. You have no identity. You have no past. You have no future. You are only a body walking
All I can say is...Yes, exactly.
(First it was @Tinkatinker who was going all Buddhist on us, and now you, too, @Purky. ;);))

The weird part though, is that on every camino since then I can get into the state of week three quicker.
That's not so weird at all. Accessing what you call "flow" is a skill that can be developed; the more you do it the more you can do it. And the heart does not forget.
At the same time, there has undoubtedly been some purification happening. And the heart does not forget that, either.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
#7
Very well written @Purky . I'll need to read it a couple more times to fully digest it.
But first thoughts are:

Does a Pilgrimage require a religious component? A belief in something bigger than oneself, a 'higher' being? Whilst not that religious at home, I almost become a devote Catholic on the Camino! (and I'm not Catholic) Same with my wife who is Buddhist!

Why is this? Is it a deeper sense of connection with 'something' with 'self'? Being on a journey that has so much religious significance for so long?

On flow. I totally get that. And like you I can get into 'flow' much quicker on Camino now. A few days. Whereas the first one took 2-3 weeks.

What allows us to enter that state of flow? And do some not achieve it? What holds them back?

Achieving that state of flow, is what draws me back. I can only find it on Camino.

Very thought provoking. Thank You.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#8
What allows us to enter that state of flow? And do some not achieve it? What holds them back?
Achieving that state of flow, is what draws me back. I can only find it on Camino.
It's available anywhere - but how to extract oneself from what gets in the way is the question.
I know there are people who hate this word, because it has become trendy and misused...but mindfulness and presence here and now is the key that unlocks the golden door.
And there are an infinite number of ways to get in the way of that. :oops:;)

I am sending you a PM, Rob...don't want to threaten this thread with discussing matters that must not be named.:)
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
#9
I
I know there are people who hate this word, because it has become trendy and misused...but mindfulness and presence here and now is the key that unlocks the golden door.
And there are an infinite number of ways to get in the way of that. :oops:;)
Funny you say that. The term has me running for the door rather like 'life coach'........
Everyone seems to be one of those these days ;)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#10
The term has me running for the door rather like 'life coach'........
Me too, Rob, me too. And please do not get me started on 'life coaches.' Mindfulness has unfortunately been misappropriated and misinterpreted by people who want to make a ton of money running seminars. Which is when I talk about it I often use the Pali word.;)
 

Daxzentzu

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
FRANCES (2018) in planning
#11
Thank you.

I’m currently en Camino Frances and now preparing for the walk from Rabanal del Camino to pray at Cruz Ferro in the snow.

I recognise the process of Camino which you describe and I think the first 10 days of my Camino were establishing a new relationship with my body as it was rebelling against the arduous, physical exercise.

There were times when I could not move my feet and I was finding it hard to breathe. The overwhelming drive to press on overcame my body’s resistance - which was telling me to protect my knees, in particular. And with that came a dialogue of trust - we became as one!

This dialogue was characterised by an agreement that the strenuous effort was worth it and that I would care for my body by eating the right things, getting proper rest and ensure my kit was in good order.

Then came the confidence that I would not cause myself injury.

While this was going on there was a slow, steady realisation that I’d always find a place to stay - there’d always be a warm welcome at the municipal albergue.

What had happened then, was a freedom to look around - up at the sky - hearing the birds - enjoying this wonderful setting. Constantly smiling and addressing everyone that I met in my very poor Spanish. The responses were amazing and filled me with joy - I fell in love with Spain. It’s such a rich country.

Then I became absorbed and immersed in the religious experience. I decided to stop and to pray at ever cross and church that I came across.

Coincidentally, I walked 51 km yesterday- not as route march but as a meandering labour of love - off the Camino - visiting communities and their churches - 9 hours walking went like a flash!

I never thought I could walk that far!

There’s so much more going on - but that’s not for discussion here

Buen Camino
Dax
 
#12
I found all this to echoe with the work of Emmanuel Levinas (suggested by @SabineP), especially with one of his most famous quotes: "I become I in the face of the Other." This quote might also explain the overwhelming sense of respect and camaraderie between pilgrims: across borders, ancestry, ethnicity and religion we seem to band together very well. 'Cause we're all pretty much on the same page. (Most of the time, as @davebugg unfortunately found out recently, but some aren't on that page just yet.)

In the ideas of Levinas, there is a lot of ethics involved in how you relate to the Other. The fact that this runs rather parallel with the ideas of the Existentialists regarding authenticity, responsibility and choice that I refered to in my previous thread was nice to notice. I like it when that happens. But anyway, most pilgrims seem to have a good grasp of that responsibility and act accordingly. Which is one reason why I am still a part of this forum.
Very thoughful and well written post @Purky. There is much to comment on but what I would like to address is Levinas' quote: "I become I in the face of the Other" and would like to "enhance" it with a quote by Desmond Tutu:

"My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together".

This is at the heart of the meaning of Ubuntu I believe. Here he gives his take on the meaning of this Bantu word:

"One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu - the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality - Ubuntu - you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity."

In connecting with others on the Camino, people from all over the world and from just as many different backgrounds, we experience our commonality - that which unites, rather than separates us.
 

Purky

The Dutch guy
Camino(s) past & future
Breathe properly.
Stay curious.
And walk a camino.
#13
In connecting with others on the Camino, people from all over the world and from just as many different backgrounds, we experience our commonality - that which unites, rather than separates us.
A little while ago, in another thread, I quoted Rudolf Steiner from his 'Samaritan Course'. Once you start understanding the message that people like Tutu and in this case Steiner try to get across, you start seeing it everywhere. The flavor might be different, and it might sound different, but they all teach the same:

As long as you feel the pain
That I avoid,
the Christ remains unrecognized
At work within the world being;
For my spirit remains weak
If I am only capable of feeling
Pain in my own body.

This also reminds me of a story retold by Janwillem van de Wetering in 'The Empty Mirror', a book about his experiences in a Japanese Zen Monastery:

"It seems that in Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan, there is a small Zen monastery where the master is illiterate. The teacher was a farmer’s son and he had been taken to the temple when he was very young. He had never learned to read or write but he completed the koan study and came to complete enlightenment.
That there were other religions except Buddhism he scarcely realised, until he hear the monks discussing Christianity.
One of his monks had been to the university of Tokyo and the teacher asked him to explain Christianity.
"I don’t know much about it," the monk said, "but I will bring you the holy book of the Christian religion."
The master sent the monk to the nearest city and the monk returned with the Bible.
"That’s a thick book," the master said, "and I can’t read. But you can read something to me."
The monk knew the Bible and read the Sermon on the Mount. The more he read, the more the master was impressed. "That is beautiful," he kept saying. "That is very beautiful." When the monk finished the sermon the master said nothing for a while. The silence lasted so long that the monk put the Bible down, got himself into the lotus position, and started meditating. "Yes," the teacher said finally. "I don’t know who wrote that, but whoever he was, he was either a Buddha or a Bodhisatva. What you read there is the essence of everything I have been trying to teach you here."
 
Camino(s) past & future
2017
#14
Apart from the fact that I really enjoyed all the reactions, comments and different perspectives on the previous thread, I also felt there were some ideas offered that fleshed out the notion of a Grand Camino Theory of Everything a lot more. I hope to offer a little progressive insight with this one. The observant reader may have noticed that I dropped the word 'secular' from the title. There are a few reasons for that, and it might be wise to start there. The first reason was rightly provided by @t2andreo when he remarked that (Christian) religion provided the "spark" that ignited the Camino de Santiago in the first place. Religious tradition was, and can still be a prime mover behind a pilgrimage, and should be recognised as such. So introducing a term like 'secular Camino' might be construed as somewhat flippant, and that is not my intention.

Which brings me to the second reason why I choose to drop the secular thing on this one: inclusiveness. Since I have been reading this forum I have seen reference to Buddhists, Jews and Muslims walking the Camino, as well as Christians and atheists. The more, the merrier, as far as I'm concerned, and everybody is invited to add to the Grand Camino Theory of Everything. Having said that, I am not so much delving into the religious motivation of a pilgrimage, as I am looking for the principles that I think are also present at the core of a pilgrimage and seem to unite us all as pilgrims. And get people hooked on walking them, and coming back for more with equal facility.

I started out by looking at pain or discomfort or even hardship and suffering and the role (or function) this can have during a pilgrimage, at least for me. By using it as a tool for personal growth or discovery, and/or as a means to get out of your head and into your body. Existential masochism, within reasonable limits of course, because you have to draw the line somewhere for yourself. But that line seems to be different for everybody, so a little tweaking and some trial and error are in order. But I stand by my conviction that pain can push you beyond your normal limits (or happens when you push yourself beyond your limits) and as such is nothing to be afraid of or to be avoided.

This point of view is shared by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and his work on 'flow', introduced by @NualaOC on the previous thread. She linked an article where I found the following quote: "Flow experiences often consist of painful bodily sensations, as when an athlete pushes himself beyond his normal limits in order to win a race (...). Despite the pain, these are the moments that people often recall as being the peak moments of their lives." The fact that a camino isn't a race that can be won doesn't change the dynamic of the situation on a pilgrimage where (some) pain or discomfort needs to be endured every now and then. Taking the bad with the good can be another way of looking at it.

But the idea of 'flow' has much more to offer than just the integration of pain into its process. The concept of 'flow' is as follows: "The best moments in our lives are when our body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile." During a succesful flow you are completely absorbed by and at one with what you are doing. Sound familiar? "There is a moment when you walk several hours that you are only a body walking. Only that. You are nobody. You have no identity. You have no past. You have no future. You are only a body walking." (Frederic Gros, 'A Philosophy of Walking') What we're looking at is basically the ultimate 'here & now', not unlike the state Buddhists refer to as 'mindfulness', or 'moksha' for yoga practitioners.

This strong sense of being in the here and now, of living in the present, is something I have read many times on this forum as one of the key ingredients of a succesful camino. The chance to step out of ourselves, see the world with fresh and uncluttered eyes, is something rare in our everyday lives but somehow easier to accomplish on the camino. That is, if it has been "prepared for and cultivated by each person, by setting challenges that are neither too demanding nor too simple for ones abilities." So it does not just happen: you have to put some effort and intent into it. But the beauty of the camino is that this preparation and cultivation can take place during the camino itself.

A lot of you know about this. In my experience, during my first camino, week one was all about my body. I needed to build up stamina, and it hurt. My joints creaked, my muscles ached, I shuffled like an old man for a couple of steps after I had been sitting down for a few minutes and my feet protested. I thought about food and soft beds a lot. I was getting myself in shape. Week two was about my mind. Vivid memories and flashbacks, making up silly stories, wrestling with songs and shreds of music that wouldn't leave my head and sudden bursts of laughter or tears. And from week three on the real magic slowly started to happen. Periods of silence that would get longer and longer, a growing feeling of pleasant detachment from the chatter in my head and expanding grace.

The weird part though, is that on every camino since then I can get into the state of week three quicker. It's like some sort of physical memory has developed, or a beachhead has been established. I'm not pushing for it, but that state of mind flows easier nowadays when I'm walking. But I still need kilometers and days, distance and time, to really get there. I also seem to need some of that distance and time for easily initiating meaningful encounters with others. Next to 'flow' or being in the 'here and now', another very important pull of the camino for most pilgrims. Most eloquently articulated by @Davey Boyd, as he told us of the answer he got when he asked an old lady why she had been walking caminos for eight years: "Because of you."

Somehow people on a camino seem to be different from the ones in our daily lives, and a lot of times more natural to relate with. This is partly because people in our everyday life have a lot more "baggage built up around them" as @JillGat recognised. One part on why this is the case, is of course the longer history you share with people you know for a longer period of time. But another thing is that I think the camino playfully provides us with the opportunity to take a step back from ourselves and our own baggage (including preconceived ideas) which will very much influence how we relate to and perceive others. Personally I felt I had been offered the chance to reinvent myself, or at least take a good long look at who or what I really am, and most pilgrims around me felt the same way.

These circumstances can generate a tremendous feeling of freedom, creativity and possibility. The sky is quite literally the limit, the rest you can walk. And funnily enough, other people and pilgrims proved fundamental in the process of getting reacquainted with myself. Because I was able to step away from the ideas (some might even say illusions) about myself, I suddenly had a far better view of the subject matter. One that I also gladly and more easily shared with others.

I found all this to echoe with the work of Emmanuel Levinas (suggested by @SabineP), especially with one of his most famous quotes: "I become I in the face of the Other." This quote might also explain the overwhelming sense of respect and camaraderie between pilgrims: across borders, ancestry, ethnicity and religion we seem to band together very well. 'Cause we're all pretty much on the same page. (Most of the time, as @davebugg unfortunately found out recently, but some aren't on that page just yet.)

In the ideas of Levinas, there is a lot of ethics involved in how you relate to the Other. The fact that this runs rather parallel with the ideas of the Existentialists regarding authenticity, responsibility and choice that I refered to in my previous thread was nice to notice. I like it when that happens. But anyway, most pilgrims seem to have a good grasp of that responsibility and act accordingly. Which is one reason why I am still a part of this forum.

Well, this turned out a bit longer than I'd hoped for, but this is as far as I've come this time around. Maybe the Grand Camino Theory of Everything became a little more solid today, credit to all of you who participated the last time. Thanks again for that.
That was great. Thanks. My understanding of the flow state is through athletics, although it is seem in music, art, test taking, basically anywhere that someone strives to exceed their performance limits. One really good book about it is The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. I think you would enjoy it and it will contribute to the development of the Grand Camino theory.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) portugues(2013)San Salvador (2017)
#15
Very thoughful and well written post @Purky. There is much to comment on but what I would like to address is Levinas' quote: "I become I in the face of the Other" and would like to "enhance" it with a quote by Desmond Tutu:

"My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together".

This is at the heart of the meaning of Ubuntu I believe. Here he gives his take on the meaning of this Bantu word:

"One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu - the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality - Ubuntu - you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity."

In connecting with others on the Camino, people from all over the world and from just as many different backgrounds, we experience our commonality - that which unites, rather than separates us.
This made me think of I-Thou, and then I found this:
https://www.brainpickings.org/2017/10/12/big-wolf-little-wolf/
 
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
#17
Brilliant!

As Purky mentioned, I did point out that religion did provide the initial ‘spark’ that set in motion the Camino. But, over time, I have come to ascribe a spiritual motivation in many pilgrims. This spiritual motivation transcends any particular dogma or categorization. So it cannot necessarily be ascribed to any particular religion.

My sense is that it is the wonder of it all, combined with the experience of being a very small part of something very much larger and more boundless than each of us. Past generations call that ‘religion.’ I believe it does not matter what one calls it... it simply IS.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
#18
I have wondered, since I first set foot on the Camino, why it is so different from any other 'walk'.
I really have no interest in walking elsewhere or even at home.

OK, this will sound a bit 'Woo Woo' for some........ :oops:

But I think an offline discussion with one of our members is starting to put it all into perspective for me.

I started to think about why I love to spend time in some buildings and not others.
Notre Dame in Paris, has no 'feeling' for me at all for example, it's just like walking around a museum.

Whereas some of the buildings on the Camino draw me in and I want to stay there a while in the peace and tranquility. The churches at Zabaldika and O'Cebreiro for example. The old Templar church at Torres del Rio!

But it extends to places. The rocks on the ocean at Muxia.
The Cruz de Ferro. Some of the road sides crosses along the way....... and so it goes on.

Could it be about the 'vibe' or energy of these places? And it might also be about the 'intentions' of those who visit them? And have done so for centuries.

That's what draws me back.............. I can 'feel' that vibe of the millions of pilgrims over the years walking the same path, sitting in those same churches........ Perhaps it's the reason I walk a Camino......
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#19
I love all your luminous reflections, everyone.
A bow of thanks.
There is such joy in connection and that experience of oneness, however it is expressed.
Maybe the Camino Theory of Everything is simply boils down to that: unity.

There is a lovely quote that comes from Kalu Rinpoche, who was a revered teacher in the Tibetan tradition:
"We live in illusion and the appearance of things.
There is a reality. We are that reality.
When you understand this, you see that you are nothing, and being nothing, you are everything. That is all."

Meaning (As I see it) that on a conventional level there is stuff - it does exist. But ultimately, there is so much interconnection there is no way to say, "This is separate from that," or "I am separate from you."
We live through each other and because of each other. And on the Camino we have the conditions and permission to drop into that deeper space.
Meditation does the same thing - but the Camino explicitly brings in relationship with 'the other.' And eventually we get it that there is no such thing.
And it is only a relief and joy.

And Rob's post brings in the dimension of time. Who knows? Maybe. Time and space are not as impermeable as we imagine.
 

Purky

The Dutch guy
Camino(s) past & future
Breathe properly.
Stay curious.
And walk a camino.
#20
Does a Pilgrimage require a religious component? A belief in something bigger than oneself, a 'higher' being? Whilst not that religious at home, I almost become a devote Catholic on the Camino! (and I'm not Catholic) Same with my wife who is Buddhist!
It took me some time to think this through, but that was because I started thinking about it in the sequence you provided: not religious at home - more religous on the camino. And I finally figured out that for me this is the wrong order to think about your question. I have a hunch it should be the other way around: you feel very religious (or spiritual) on the camino - you don't feel religious/spiritual at home.

Religion or spirituality is about finding meaning or purpose in life. When you are walking a camino, life can be very simple, as we all know. This simplicity creates time and space that will invite you to think about the meaning of (your) life. When you are at home, I have read in other threads that you are quite the workaholic. That won't give you a lot of space and time to simply sit and ponder existence.

So that is the big distinction. When you're not on camino, you are too busy and preoccupied to take notice of your religious or spiritual thoughts and feelings. So much so, that you don't even register them. But when everything quiets down, as it will on a camino, you finally notice these thoughts and feelings.

And because humans are creatures of habit, you will want to frame or translate these thoughts and feelings in a religious system (like a cultural language) that you know: Catholicism. It also helps that Spain provides you with ample places to help you out. So you'll probably visit a lot of cathedrals, churches and chapels.

As for your Buddhist wife, of course she will accompany you on these visits. Heck, I'm an atheist, and I also visit a lot of cathedrals, churches and chapels while on camino. It has to do with the dimmed lights, cool ambience (including temperature) and the atmosphere I kinda like. But she will probably think Buddhist thoughts, helped along by these surroundings. And as I said before, I imagine that most Catholic or Buddhist thoughts aren't all that different.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#21
you finally notice these thoughts and feelings.
But she will probably think Buddhist thoughts, helped along by these surroundings. And as I said before, I imagine that most Catholic or Buddhist thoughts aren't all that different.
And then there is what is outside and beyond of the realm of thought. ;)
Which doesn't easily lend itself to either articulation or being pinned down at all.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) portugues(2013)San Salvador (2017)
#23
H
I have wondered, since I first set foot on the Camino, why it is so different from any other 'walk'.
I really have no interest in walking elsewhere or even at home.

OK, this will sound a bit 'Woo Woo' for some........ :oops:

But I think an offline discussion with one of our members is starting to put it all into perspective for me.

I started to think about why I love to spend time in some buildings and not others.
Notre Dame in Paris, has no 'feeling' for me at all for example, it's just like walking around a museum.

Whereas some of the buildings on the Camino draw me in and I want to stay there a while in the peace and tranquility. The churches at Zabaldika and O'Cebreiro for example. The old Templar church at Torres del Rio!

But it extends to places. The rocks on the ocean at Muxia.
The Cruz de Ferro. Some of the road sides crosses along the way....... and so it goes on.

Could it be about the 'vibe' or energy of these places? And it might also be about the 'intentions' of those who visit them? And have done so for centuries.

That's what draws me back.............. I can 'feel' that vibe of the millions of pilgrims over the years walking the same path, sitting in those same churches........ Perhaps it's the reason I walk a Camino......
Hey, Robo! What about all your special tree friends???
 
Camino(s) past & future
Planning on startting first time at e d of april start of may
#25
Very intersting indeed!! Very good!! Thats a very honest thread! I think most go on camino regardless of religion, some escapism and peace!! Most religions have sin, guilt, suffering and perseverance and respect and remembrance at some point in its history!! So of course some do it with some sort of accolade to one of the above and of course you have people doing the camino through the experience route or enjoyment in walking and fitness etc! As far as the pain factor goes i dont get it and never will!!
I think anyone is looking escapism from the normal grind even if it is religious!! Camino done then back too reality, hoping that things have changed within yourself or spiritually!! Judging by most they seem too have a great experience and some prob do come away with renewed positivity to their normal life!!
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
#27
It took me some time to think this through, but that was because I started thinking about it in the sequence you provided: not religious at home - more religous on the camino. And I finally figured out that for me this is the wrong order to think about your question. I have a hunch it should be the other way around: you feel very religious (or spiritual) on the camino - you don't feel religious/spiritual at home.

Religion or spirituality is about finding meaning or purpose in life. When you are walking a camino, life can be very simple, as we all know. This simplicity creates time and space that will invite you to think about the meaning of (your) life. When you are at home, I have read in other threads that you are quite the workaholic. That won't give you a lot of space and time to simply sit and ponder existence.

So that is the big distinction. When you're not on camino, you are too busy and preoccupied to take notice of your religious or spiritual thoughts and feelings. So much so, that you don't even register them. But when everything quiets down, as it will on a camino, you finally notice these thoughts and feelings.

And because humans are creatures of habit, you will want to frame or translate these thoughts and feelings in a religious system (like a cultural language) that you know: Catholicism. It also helps that Spain provides you with ample places to help you out. So you'll probably visit a lot of cathedrals, churches and chapels.

As for your Buddhist wife, of course she will accompany you on these visits. Heck, I'm an atheist, and I also visit a lot of cathedrals, churches and chapels while on camino. It has to do with the dimmed lights, cool ambience (including temperature) and the atmosphere I kinda like. But she will probably think Buddhist thoughts, helped along by these surroundings. And as I said before, I imagine that most Catholic or Buddhist thoughts aren't all that different.
Makes perfect sense. Are you a shrink! :eek: ;);)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Sept-Oct 2018
#29
Very meditative post.
The very special aspect of the Camino is it's simplicity as noted above. We get up. We walk. We wash, eat, talk, laugh and sleep. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
For this short (in life terms) bubble, we form "traveler's friendships"...noting that where there is little or no consequence, there is little or no barrier. We meet, during an arduous effort, as fleeting friends sharing the ardor; a common bond. But, there is little consequence in these first encounters. Some may develop into lasting relationships, but most are fleeting kinships in a common struggle.
As Robo and others noted, we sooner or later drop into a "Camino flow" and drop the strains and pretenses which we brought with us at the beginning. We greet everyone without context, other than the flow of the trail. Instant kinship.
All that said, "long haulers" those on the long path and "in the flow", occasionally encounter "short haulers" who have not yet found that same "flow". "Traveler's friendships" are a bit more difficult in these encounters as @davebugg and I have found.
However, over that long haul, so many kinships bloom as to eventually overwhelm the occasional bump-in-the-road...especially in retrospect...weeks after our return to "normal" life.
My walks about town now carry with them the joyous "travel friendships" I found on the Camino. I notice the clouds a lot more than I did before my first Camino. I greet passers-by more warmly than I did before my first Camino. I smile a lot more as I walk than I did before my first Camino.
The Camino provides.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese.
#31
Funny you say that. The term has me running for the door rather like 'life coach'........
Everyone seems to be one of those these days ;)
Obviously not in your wheelhouse, Rob.

@Purky I'm one of those who takes five pages because I do not have enough time to write it in half a page - so I won't try. But thank you.

The fullness of emptiness, but that is only a fraction of the total.
 
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Purky

The Dutch guy
Camino(s) past & future
Breathe properly.
Stay curious.
And walk a camino.
#32
Obviously not in your wheelhouse, Rob.

@Purky I'm one of those who takes five pages because I do not have enough time to write it in half a page - so I won't try. But thank you.

The fullness of emptiness, but that is only a fraction of the total.
I have been reading a little about non-duality, which might be a nice base for your 'fullness of emptiness'. Nisargadatta Maharaj speaks at length about this as well.
And I like your Mark Twain reference. ;)
 

Purky

The Dutch guy
Camino(s) past & future
Breathe properly.
Stay curious.
And walk a camino.
#33
We greet everyone without context
I love this.
And your observation that initially there is little consequence in "traveler's friendships" crossed my mind too. This is of course also true because of 'time': you meet someone today and tomorrow he or she might be gone, never to be seen again.
This can help, as it did me, to alleviate feelings of akwardness and shyness. And it might help to speed up things a bit: there simply isn't enough time for elaborate social etiquette, so you want to skip a lot of that to get to the point a bit quicker. So paradoxically fleeting kinship with little consequence could easily turn into meetings with a lot of meaning and effect.
 
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