And on the other hand...

Click here for The Yin Side where the other half of me holds forth!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Fellow Travelers

I rode with him in a taxi once
Only for a mile and a half,
seemed like it took a couple of months.
("Lenny Bruce," Bob Dylan)

Not my favorite Zimmie song, but that means nothing, like saying, "Not my favorite verse from the Tao Te Ching."
Traveling puts you in a taxi with amazing people, people who can teach you a critical lesson in seconds. You may never see them again, or you may connect in a way that keeps you in touch over many years. (Just like all the people we meet in our life's journey.) Our fellow travelers are reflections of ourselves, reflections of our anxieties, our aspirations, our current points on the path.
I have come to understand that when I have a strong negative reaction to a person, it is likely reflecting something negative in myself. (Although, some people are just assholes, and to them we probably are too.) And, when I find someone I admire -- harder and harder as one ages -- I recognize that I need to bring that quality I admire into myself. Or maybe it is an affirmation of myself. I generally like where I'm at; the reflection confirms that I'm in the right place.
The fellow travelers, guides and citizens I met on this recent trip -- and my previous pilgrimages -- have left me with impressions and lessons as strong as, if not more so, the Chinese gardens, the sacred mountain trails and stairs (mostly stairs), the elegant (and "arrogant") food and drink, the language barriers (through which I sometimes found amazing openings), the spoonfed sightseeing. Although I treasured my moments of solitude, I would not trade them for the moments of sharing time with other people.
Well, maybe not. Actually, that's the yang side of me talking. The yin side of me (where for some reason I cannot post, there is some glitch I need to solve, I blame Google or possibly Chinese hackers) is very happy to be alone, concurring that "l'enfer, c'est les autres." The challenge is to receive from others (and give) without attachment. In the same way there is a tension between mind (xin, if you will) and body, there is a tension between self and others. Resolving or relaxing that tension is the challenge of practice and spiritual development.


sybil law said...

Hmmm. If I have a strong, immediate dislike reaction to someone, I tend to heed it as my instinct. If someone raises the hairs on the back of my neck, well - it goes without saying that I get the hell outta there! However, overall, I totally mean what you're saying, and I agree. :)
I love being alone. Time alone can be really hard to come by, so when I get it, I relish it.

baroness radon said...

Yes, I think instinct is good, you know when someone is up to no good. But I'm also thinking of the times when you " just don't like someone"; Sometimes you have to examine yourself to understand why and sometimes it has nothing to do with the other person's motives or character. When I say "you" I mean me.