Tricycle is a spiritual magazine and website, offering the lens of Buddhism to our daily lives. Included in the yearly membership of $40 US is their Film Club. The November offering – Paths Of The Soul – was my companion a few nights ago.
My way is one way. But there are so many others. Start with an elderly Tibetan fellow who’s never travelled, instead serving family throughout his life. Imagining death, he decides to go on a pilgrimage to Lhasa, the holy city. It’s 1200 miles away. Members of his family volunteer to accompany him, including an 8-year-old girl. And others join in too.
They walk. An animal skin covers their chest and legs. They wear wooden paddles on their hands. They clap the paddles above their heads, then twice at chest level. And then they throw themselves forward onto the ground – a sliding prostration, a bow. This happens every ten steps or so.
Oh my. They’re really doing this. All without griping. Supporting each other through the pain. Smiling. It’s a spiritual journey far more than a spiritual destination.
I was transfixed by the young girl. At one point, her hands hurt. Adults encouraged her to stop bowing. She didn’t … until they reached Lhasa. She encouraged others. She led.
One person drove a small tractor, which pulled a trailer full of tents and provisions. Towards the end of the journey, a car sideswiped the tractor, breaking its axle. No repair shops on the road to the holy city. So the men pushed and pulled the trailer while the women continued to bow. Once the men had completed a section of road, they left the trailer and went back to the beginning of that stretch. They prostrated themselves while returning to the trailer. And not a “poor me” to be heard.
Transport trucks roared by within feet of the travellers during the day, and kept them awake for much of the night. So? We carry on.
The group came to a flooded section of the road, with water about a foot deep. They looked for a minute and then proceeded. Paddle high, paddle middle, slide.
The patriarch died before reaching Lhasa. The family mourned most tenderly, and finished the journey for him.
Another way. A good way. And I was privileged to see it all.