If you want everything

We were concerned because our guidebook to the Caminho Portugues, by John Brierley, warned us that, when we left Porto, we would be required to run across a busy highway, climb over the central barrier, and then run across the lanes with traffic going in the opposite direction. The book warned that it would be unsafe to linger around the barrier because of the high speed traffic. The attempt would have to be scheduled at a time when there was a gap in traffic in both directions and the crossing required a continuos effect, one without hesitation. This feat would be required after a long pavement walk, Brierley said. Pilgrims might be tired and should prepare themselves mentally for the feat. Brierley suggested coming to terms “with the inherently impertinent nature of all physical forms.”

Karen was very uncomfortable with this plan. She did not wish to contemplate the inherently impermanent nature of her physical form. I planned to cross the road with her while videotaping our attempt. It should be quite a show! Survival required being in harmony with the Tao.

It turned out that an overpass had been constructed so, instead of videotaping a dangerous athletic feat, I captured our post-crossing contemplation of a cemetery. We were thankful to be alive. People were tending the graves of their loved ones.

Later, we reached a medieval bridge and encountered timeless beauty.

We were walking on a thousand-year old pilgrim path.

We ended up staying in Valarinho. Many people begin their Comonho in Porto, so we began seeing many more people walking on the Way.  We even met some Americans (Ray and Patricia) and walked into Barcelos with them. It was pleasant to talk with them instead of focusing on the heat and fatigue!

You can see the Castle of Barcelos on the hill above the bridge.

Lao tsu writes (chapter 22):

“if you want to become whole,

let yourself become partial.

If you want to become straight,

let yourself be crooked.

If you want to become full,

let your self be empty.

If you want to be reborn,

let yourself die.

If you want to be given everything,

give everything up.”

The Inner Way involves paradox, the joining of physical and non-physical reality.

You can accept yourself the way you are….no matter how partial, crooked, empty, dead you are.

If you continually seek pleasure, you will not be happy. Happiness comes not from getting what you want, but from wanting what you get.

It was not fun to contemplate getting hit by a car but it was enjoyable talking with fellow travelers about our adventures!

If you want everything, practice the meditation exercise of focusing on the breath and letting go of your thoughts.


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