El Real de la Jara – Monesterio- War

We are in El Real de la Jara. We walk to the castle above the town.

I read Chapter 31 from the Tao te Ching:

“Weapons are the tools of violence;
all decent men detest them.”

The castle was built at end of the 14th century, after the Christians had taken over and were concerned that the Portuguese might invade.

“Weapons are the tools of fear;
a decent man will avoid them
except in the direst necessity
and, if compelled, will use them
only with the utmost restraint.”

“Peace is his highest value.”

The view from the ramparts

“If the peace has been shattered,
how can he be content?”

In this view, you can see the Camino — where we will walk tomorrow, on our way to Monesterio. We worry about the distance and the heat. Will we make it?

“His enemies are not demons,
but human beings like himself.”

The view from a firing port. This castle would be easy to defend. Most of those attacking would be killed.

The next day, Easter morning, we walk toward Monesterio as the sun rises.

“He doesn’t wish them personal harm.
Nor does he rejoice in victory.”

We met a German guy who tells me that he is 71 years old. I am 70 years old. I don’t think the Tao te Ching adequately expresses the problem of violence. It suggests a way of thinking but humans cannot change their way of thinking easily.

It states: “How could he rejoice in victory
and delight in the slaughter of men?”

I served in Vietnam in the U.S. Army. I don’t think the problem is “rejoicing in battle.” There are some who advocate battle — many actually. There seems to be no solution to this stupidity. The problem is similar to child abuse or rape — a twisting of the mind so that things cannot be the same. The question is: What can you do to regain your happiness? To find the compassion within yourself?

We arrive at a highway where there is a place to buy coffee. It is crowded and noisy inside — stressful for us after walking in the quiet morning for many hours. Daily life can be difficult — people talk loudly, waiting, wanting, struggling to get what they want. Each day is like a battle.

We enter the province of Extremadura. The Camino runs parallel to the road.

“He enters a battle gravely,
with sorrow and with great compassion,
as if he were attending a funeral.”

We see the wildflower that we saw before. We learned from a waitress in El Real de la Jara that this flower is the “jara” — within the name of her town. “It is not a beautiful flower,” she said. Perhap she thinks this way because her town is so small but I suppose there are hundreds of reasons to think this way. Here is something that I say to you as someone who has lived many years: The terrible troubles which seem so awful have a function — they can lead you to walk the inner path, the way that leads you to discover your inner life. Meditation and the spiritual path allow a new perspective.

We arrive at Monesterio — where there is a museum of pork. It is closed on Easter Sunday but we will see it tomorrow.

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