Pain Solutions on 88Temple Shikoku Pilgrimage
Pilgrims offer each other mutual respect born of understanding the common yearning to realise our Buddha nature. I bow my head as I pass each one and greet "konnichiwa". This creates a sense of family. We are concerned for each other and interested in each other's experience. Walking pilgrims empathise with the physical endurance required. It is the pure oneness with our physicality that enables and releases us to connect more deeply with Kukai (Kobo Daishi), the pilgrimage's spiritual guide. Giving myself time to withdraw from the world to deeply contemplate is, i think essential to my mental health, to understanding my own nature and discerning my pathway of spiritual development. To walk a pilgrimage takes this further as I have to negotiate with my body. Walking centres me firmly in the physical while I focus on my higher self. My physical sensations of tiredness and pain endeavour to distract me from my purpose. I feel the searing pain in my right foot. "Oh no, my body can't let me down." I have many kilometres ahead. I employ my mind after hearing these messages to acknowledge and thank my body for carrying me on this pilgrimage. Then I have a conversation with my body and let it know that "I can see the game you want to play but I will not be drawn in. " I engagé my mind. I remember that we create our experience of life with our mind. "My feet are fine, my feet are pain free, my feet are comfortable, my body is strong. " And so it is. I return to my mantra. My body complies. I call to my emotional body "come out and be amazed at the beauty of sunlight slashing through the trees; the sound of water singing along streams; at the jet black butterflies flitting around me; of the detail of stone carvings in bridge pillars; and gardens lovingly tended. The second day I am free of the demands of my body. The sunlight dances through the trunks of the tall trees. The forest floor is soft with debri. The forest is thick with the presence of Kukai of Buddha energy. My heart is light. I indulge in enjoying the beauty of this world. My mantra keeps me connected to my higher self and to Mother Earth. I think I might call this - harmony of mind, body and spirit.