March 13, 2006

“Path Without Destination”

The Long Walk
of a Gentle Hero
by Satish Kumar


Book Description:
Written with elegance, Path Without Destination is the exhilarating account of Satish Kumar's extraordinary life. At nine, Satish renounced the world, left his home in rural India, and joined a wandering brotherhood of beggar monks until an inner voice guided him to Gandhi's vision of a peaceful world. His inspiring journey led him to settle in England, where he became one of the leaders with E. F. Schumacher of the "small is beautiful" movement and the guiding spirit behind a number of ecological, spiritual, and educational ventures.

Meaningful Quotes
I seemed to hear Ghandi's soft, almost caressing voice in the falling rain. “Don't forget that the people are as generous as the clouds and their hearts can be as tender as raindrops.”

Going into the unknown world and confronting it without a penny in our pockets had meant that differences between rich and poor, educated and illiterate, all vanished; and beneath all these divisions, a common humanity emerged. As wanderers we were free of shadows from the past. It was a journey without destination; journey and destination became one, thought and action became one. I was a wanderer, wandering through life. Living day to day, from inspiration to inspiration.

In wandering I felt a sense of union with the whole sky, the infinite earth and sea. It was as if by walking I was making love to the Earth itself. Wandering was my path, my true self, my true being. People, nature, everything became like a mirror, and I could see myself in them, what I was. I was born in a dream of wandering, a seed conceived in my mother. My dreams are of wandering.

Spirituality is not about beliefs – it is about the way we live and conduct our day-to-day activities.

Everywhere people would ask to which community or religion we belonged. To all such questions we replied, "We are human beings, first and last. Our religion is our faith in humanity-and there can be no religion greater than that."

Walking was not solely a means to get somewhere. Walking in itself was an end, a form of meditation, a way of being. The journey was as important as the arrival. In fact the arrival was part of the journey.

For the pilgrim, every moment and every step is sacred. The holy places and temples are only symbolic destinations. By walking to the holy places a pilgrim is able to be free of speed, anxiety, and desire for achievement.

The path showed no sign of being in use, and I met nobody walking it. I enjoyed every moment in complete peace and solitude. Walking became a meditation, and every step was teaching me to be mindful. I relaxed to the sound of my own breath as it issued into the deep silence surrounding me. Breathing in I inhaled the warmth of the air, the smell of the wet grasses, the coolness of the water, the purity of Nature. I was breathing the universe into myself. Breathing out I was offering my energy to the universe. Breathing was my connection with the cosmos. I was one with the world.

As I breathe, I breathe the breath of God, the breath of all the people of the world. I receive a breath transfusion from the existence itself. The birds, the cows, the sheep, the deer, the trees, and the grasses greet me by giving their breath to me as I pass them. My breathing is the sharing of life itself.

Land is not merely a source of food, it is also a source of spiritual and emotional nourishment. If people are deprived of contact with their countryside, their spirit will die.

We gypsies believe that all boundaries, racial, national, or religions are fake. That is why we do not make boundaries and we do not live within boundaries, that is why we follow the free spirit. We will go where the wind leads us, we will go where the clouds lead us. All men are brothers, and all living creatures belong to the same family.

It is not good to leave the world and live in caves or monasteries, thinking the world is a trap and the only way to be liberated is to escape from it. On the other hand, the majority of people believe that spirituality is only for saints and that it cannot be practiced in everyday life. Gandhi took it upon himself to show that people can engage in politics truthfully and nonviolently. Economics and ethics are indivisible. Religion must permeate everyday activity. When agriculture, business, industry, education, arts, crafts, homemaking, family life, human relationships, and our interaction with the natural world are built on a spiritual foundation, then human beings are able to find the true meaning of life.

The role of religion and religious teachers is to help people to look at the world and see the sacred within it.

The only way to save the earth is for people to learn the practical skills of self-sufficiency.