Where am I?
When I was traveling a lot last year, I used to often have this feeling. I’d wake up in Helsinki after having been in Warsaw the previous day, or in New York after having been in Japan a day before. The last few weeks, however, I’ve woken up in a Taiwanese monastery with the regularity of 5am meditation. Today was different. Outside my room rains pummeled the ground and winds attacked branches from trees.
It’s typhoon season in Taiwan and the country was expected to be hit with some severe weather. I was no longer in the monastery but tucked away in the mountains at Quingde, a small Buddhist temple that was only accessible by a tiny winding dirt road for kilometers to the top. This place felt magical. Four monks live there full time throughout the year, making Quingde a very quiet and secluded place for spiritual practice.
Leaving for Asia to learn meditation may have sounded very ‘Eat Pray Love’ – esque to many of my friends. It even sounded a bit cliche to me. I remember joking around about how I was going to find enlightenment on top of a mountain when leaving Vancouver.
This is what I learned at the mountain: You don’t have to climb a mountain in the East to learn about spirituality.
It was beautiful, and I awoke to many answers I had been looking for, the biggest was that ‘place’ was pretty insignificant. No matter how far you travel whatever is on your mind from home will follow – we can’t ever run from what is going on inside of us.
The second is that ‘impermanence’ is a reality. The people we love and our material possessions can’t be held on to. At any time they can vanish, or our own life can vanish too. The best we can do is try to give of ourselves along the way and try to make the world a bit better and others’ lives a bit more pleasant.
What struck me was the kindness I’ve been shown by complete strangers in the past few months – people who have helped light my path and shared with me a meal, their time, and their wisdom. Everything we do if it is done with good intention can be a type of cultivation and practice.
I’ve never felt so fulfilled as I do today – with complete gratitude.