Imagination is the real and eternal world of which this vegetable universe is but a faint shadow.
The early morning shadows stretch long across the barren, winter rice paddies. Crisp air. Piercing sunlight so typical of this semi tropical island whose Southern province of Kochi abounds in palm trees. Last night I dreamed I had lost my staff and was weighing the cost of walking back to my starting point that day to retrieve it. What is a man without his rod and his staff to guard him? I had almost used it once-on a man..
Until every human fully grasps the ultimate fact of humanity we shall be inhumane. And that ultimate fact is that we are all living in a psycho-physical domain. There is no 'world' apart from your apprehension of it via a five channel cerebral Tv station. Astonishingly, we have been trained like lemmings to flee from such a simple truth and exterminate our reason as we tumble off the cliff face of 'appearances'.
"Of course there is a world!" ..ah yes I can hear the confident roars of over excited reaction to this most ancient of claims. But you only have to wake up to see the truth of this. Whatever lurks in your heart of hearts will find a way to become an 'event' in your so called world of flesh and blood. One is reminded of Leonard Cohen's haunting song 'Boogie Street':
'So come, my friends, be not afraid.
We are so lightly here.
It is in love that we are made;
In love we disappear.
Though all the maps of blood and flesh
Are posted on the door,
There's no one who has told us yet
What Boogie Street is for.
We are so lightly here and yet as I walked that long stretch down the South East coast of Shikoku towards Cape Muroto, where there is nothing but sea on the left and nothing but empty road ahead for two days, it was slowly dawning on me that a pilgrimage starts off like an invitation but soon becomes a heavy spell. Who had cast that spell was obviously the synchronicity that lurked behind my map of flesh and blood, like millions of tiny transistors lurk behind what you are currently observing on the screen.
Some call it the 'shadow' but that is a very poor word to describe the marvellous work of a consciousness which can conjure up events like Ali Baba's Genie on viagra laced with ayahuasca. Somehow, the speed of synchronic meshing sped up as I walked and prayed and walked and prayed ad nauseam. It was not angels who showed up-but demons.
I was counting my speed by measuring one kilo distance via signposts marked in decreasing numbers to Muroto. So it was 80, 79, 78 and so on. I could not avoid these signposts since the road, the only road, winds down the coast towards the cape and for a stretch of over twenty kilometers each kilo is marked. I simply had to count seconds as I walked and presto-kilos per hour. I am in good physical shape and so can clip along fairly steadily at between five and six kilometers an hour on stretches like these. Sure enough the count came out at 5-6 kph. A road works crew ahead and a red light forced me to stop.
As I waited for the light to change a truck slowly approached from behind. It felt like sombody was creeping up on me-a Japanese fan perhaps? It was not terribly unusual for people to come up to me in the street or in a coffee shop and introduce themselves with prolific bowing. Or be waiting at a temple they knew I had to get to that day and get their pictures taken. The goulish ego was thus primed for such an encounter just as the front windscreen came into view on my right. There looking straight at me was a demon straight out of the Buddhist hell realms.
Naturally he was dressed up as a middle aged truck driver with a serious attitude problem either about Westerners in general or about me in particular, because it was pure hatred and violence that filled that stare.
Staring is just not done in Japan. Eye contact is highly taboo. I mean real eye contact that is. So, to have a man who has crept up behind me in his truck, then deliberately stop so I can see him glaring at me, is an event worthy of serious attention. I looked back. I did not avert my eyes.
My right hand tightened around the staff. Though by no means a violent person, having travelled alone through over 80 countries by the time I even arrived in Japan, and often with no money thus at the mercy of the environment, I am also no daisy. Ergo I was ready to do battle if this guy stepped out of his cab since the murderous look in his eyes most certainly suggested that.
The lights changed. He drove off and for the next ten kilos I was ready for this nutter to leap out from behind some rock on the deserted coastal road, probably with a rusty old samurai sword or a baseball bat more likely and start raving about 'hairy beans' and the Japanese imperial family. In short he would insult me and suggest that we Westerners are defiling the sacred vibration of God's own country, Japan. Though such characters have radically decreased in my thiry three years here they still pop up in the countyside and occasionally are known to take it all out on foreigners, on 'outside people' or gaijin.
What on Earth brought all this on? Why today as I walk in perfect sunshine? Here, where even in December I can scramble down the rocks, strip off and swim in the still tepid Pacific to purify myself with massive loads of sea salt. This man's hatred was so potent that I had to wash him away. He never did re-appear and since nothing like this had happened in my regular life in Japan recently, the fact that it was clearly manifesting during a pilgrimage meant surely that the Lords of synchronicity were working overtime to get me the events I desperately needed to 'clean up my act'. Thus did the entry to the vortex begin...