We took a train into Ferrol, Spain, the town on the coast where the Camino Inglés begins. Pilgrims, coming from England (and other coastal areas), would land at this port to begin their walk to Santiago de Compostela.
The final military engagement of the American Revolutionary War took place offshore of Ferrol. A British warship captured two ships (one French warship, one American privateer vessel) bound for America after a sea battle in December 1782. The war ended in 1783.
In 1800, a British expedition hoped to capture Ferrol but found the defensive positions to be extremely secure. The troops returned to their ships.
The view from our hotel window. In the morning, we search for the beginning of the Camino Inglés.
We find a shell, indicating that we were on the Camino. I thought we might follow a line of markers to the shore line but we were diverted by flowers — we followed the flowers rather than the pilgrim route.
I read Chapter 18 of the Tao te Ching:
“When the great Tao is forgotten,
goodness and piety appear.”
[The Tao is not involved with good or bad, belief or non-belief. Most people have no desire to follow the Inner Way.]
We arrive at an old fort where a sign indicates we are at the beginning of the Camino Inglés — but this cannot be true — the beginning must be at the water.
“When the body’s intelligence declines,
cleverness and knowledge step forth.”
We walk down to the waterfront — seeking shells that indicate the first marker for the Camino. We find another sign saying the the Camino begins at this place and Karen and I see the first shell indicating the beginning of the Camino. I struggle to cross the road to get to this sign.
“When there is no peace in the family,
filial piety begins.”
[Lao tsu suggests that all “goodness,” “morality,” and “piety” have their origins in negativity — when there is evil, the idea of goodness emerges. People react to problems.]
I follow the shell signs — walking on the first stages of the Camino Inglés.
“When the country falls into chaos,
patriotism is born.”
The first part goes through the town. In previous blogs, I have discussed the Inner Way — a pilgrimage inside yourself, a pathway toward inner well-being. I regard our Santiago pilgrimage as a metaphor for this inner voyage. I suggest that these images support that metaphor. You must struggle to stay on the Way.
You mind will wander — bring it back to focusing on your breath.
You will lose your way again and again — each time, when you realize you have lost your way, return your awareness to your breath.
The Inner Pilgrimage may not be “fun” or “exciting.” It may be boring or troubling for you. Normal people will be unwilling to put effort into this but, over time, you can gain the ability to achieve a state on “no thought” — for a while.
Then, when a thought comes, return your mind to the Way.
We continue finding our way by following the shells indicating the Camino.
If you are depressed, anxious, fearful, uncertain, troubled — or merely wish to find peace within yourself, the Inner Way is a solution. In order to undo your tendency to be anxious, depressed, or angry, you must be persistent in your practice — when a negative thought comes up, take note of it and practice letting it go by returning your awareness to your breath.
We continue following the Camino — it is not particularly beautiful at this stage but it is the way to Santiago.
By following the Inner Way — meditating daily using a traditional practice — you can see things more clearly and frame problems in a way that reduces their capacity to control your life. New doors will open for you.
Being happy does not involve getting what you want but wanting what you get. Seek to see reality clearly and you will come to enjoy this process.