During my first peace walk, walking and living for peace, within a community, each person had their story to tell.
I met her years ago. She was quiet, calm, beautiful in a manner of complete respect. There were things about her I knew I would never know, things that were hers, forever hers.
I had been traveling for sometime. I was on my own pilgrimage, discovering a path of the soul, paving a trail away from the family and friends I knew, and emerging into a world within my own dreams.
The journey up until that time was of isolation, rowing across empty seas, ascending the nomadic hillsides of the hermit’s region. Yes, I was alone, and I believed it.
I was on my own pilgrimage, discovering a path of the soul, paving a trail away from the family and friends I knew, and emerging into a world within my own dreams.
You might be experiencing these feelings. You might think you’re so far along on your own personal journey that no one else could possibly be near you, at your side and available for support. Nope. Wrong. Can I give you a hint?
In the summer of 2005 an opportunity crossed my path.
I was reading the Seattle Weekly and my eyes ran upon an intriguing title: Walk for Peace. I read the short press release detailing an expedition from central Washington onto the state’s western peninsula to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
Lead by two Buddhist monks, the peace walk would be honoring the dead and those effected who suffered innocently within the injustices of war. My eyes scarcely reached the article’s end before I grabbed the phone, dialed, and was aboard.
Soul-Mates On The Road
She was Ishikawa Kaori. With jet-black hair, brown eyes, and a Buddha’s round smile upon broad shoulders, she was small but with a strength originating from far within.
Yet at this moment, she knelt before the black asphalt and cried, moved to compassion as we stood before Area 200 located outside Richmond, WA. Surrounded by fields of barbed wire, wrapping the legality of consanguine chain-link, Area 200 was the plant that manufactured the plutonium for Fat Man, the bomb destined to devastate Japan’s seaside Nagasaki.
During my first peace walk, walking and living for peace, within a community, each person had their story to tell. All ears were curious. We wanted to know as much as we could of one another, which as a result strengthened our purpose.
“All people who share this world carry pain and need to be healed,” Kaori spoke to me. We shared ourselves along that peace walk, learning of the ways we keep ourselves going amidst a world of suffering. She continued:
“Before I joined the peace walks and began my own spiritual path, I realized I used to be narrow-minded, controlled by my fears and worries. I use to blame someone or something else when I experienced pain in my heart, but I realized I was the one doing it to myself.
I feel I have become more strong in my belief toward creating peace in the world by trusting myself and the Creator who watches our every movement.”
I realized I was no longer alone. I was together with family, with friends, and by allowing our paths to cross, I suddenly knew there would always be others. “As soon as I accepted myself for who I was, a lot of pain arose in my heart. I realized I had to be healed alongside all people of this world.”
My ideals and beliefs were supported not only by my own inner strength, but by that found within others. I discovered that the more I shared and opened myself up to the people surrounding me, the more I accepted the community of the human soul, the more powerful I felt and the more faithful I became to my purpose.
Most of all, this understanding created balance between solitude and community, where we would share our stories together from the beginning to the end.
Connecting With One’s Higher Belief
I asked Kaori of her practices that enable her to delve deeper into her path.
“I do meditations,” she began, “and I perform rituals in different ways, creating the time to make prayers for all our relations. I try to remind myself that everything I do is prayer. For example, I think cooking a meal is one form of prayer, and I remember this in order to pray.”
Likewise, I held my prayers throughout the walk. We rose at 5:30 in the morning and prayed, and now at home I rise before dawn to practice my yoga, stretch my body and expand the mind into meditation.
Before meals, in front of the faces of loved ones, I clasp my hands in the spirit of prayer, just as Kaori and others, giving thanks to the blessings, the health, the beauty and the possibilities in the life we have today.
Together or alone, one or multiplied by the infinite, the paths and their methods are illimitable, and when shared, they only strengthen and grow.
Are You Still Alone?
It comes down to one thing. Alone or within a community, we find support and strength, we find our means of inspiration to progress onwards. It is a conviction within the heart; and when connected to this source, our ability is unwavering. Nothing may break our equanimity.
Albeit, we hold beliefs within our mind and I was curious of Kaori’s. She allowed me to see what manifested from her practices and the life of peace she lead:
“I feel that we are in big transition, where each individual’s intentions will be affected in different ways. The world is like mud,” she described, “with beautiful lotus flowers.” The image painted itself in my mind as she blossomed, releasing her fragrance into a world crying for help.
“It’s hard to believe,” Kaori related, “that this world can quickly change towards a harmonized and balanced planet, but I do believe that it can and what we do, what we think and feel, will be passed on to the next generation.”
“We may not be able to see the change in this lifetime, but we are still able to leave our healthy intentions behind. To create this, it takes doing our work here today. We are not here just for ourselves, but for others and those who come after us.”
We are not here alone, despite how diverse and different our beliefs might be. We are here together, living everyday as one family. One may be the loneliest number, but one wouldn’t exist without two, three or four.
For me to recognize this, it took a peace walk and a coming together within a community of individuals living under one belief:
You are never alone. One does not exist without the other.
Cameron Karsten writes a weekly spiritual travel column for Brave New Traveler. Each week he will explore the emerging art and practices of spiritual travel. To read his previous columns, see the “also in this series” links below.