"...give any information you have garnered to a fellow traveler along the Way. Why? Because the same information would have helped the person who compiled it if it had been given to him, and that is why he compiled it --- and that is why it should be offered to others along the Way."
An interpretation from the works of:WEI WU WEI
Thus said, then, the following is offered:
When I was in the Peace Corps, former Peace Corps Volunteers traveling the world, would stop into the Peace Corps office, most typically located in the host country's capitol, of which mine was, and request the name and location of a current volunteer so they might obtain food and lodging for the night or stay a few days. In the country in which I served, Jamaica, my place, a small cabin overlooking Kingston, was high up along the steep serpentine road winding through the Blue Mountains, and was ALWAYS among those suggested.
LOOKING TOWARD- KINGSTON,- THE HARBOR AND THE ISTHMUS OF PORT
ROYAL AS VIEWED FROM MY ABODE IN THE BLUE MOUNTAINS,- JAMAICA.
During the years following my return from the Peace Corps, especially so the early years, many former Peace Corps Volunteers world travelers continued to seek out my place in the States as somewhere to visit, hang their hat, or as a short-term base of operations to access the surrounding area. However, out of the Peace Corps my time was not nearly always my own as it had been as a volunteer, so I was not able to personally accompany them in some of the local and regional interests such world travelers tend to seek out.
For those who wanted to hike the local mountains, for example, I searched around and found what I considered the best local hiking guidebook available, taking into consideration my OWN experiences actually hiking the same trails. Of all the various guidebooks on the shelves, the one I picked out most accurately depicted where to leave a vehicle, points of interest, the trails, distances, topography, where one could find water, etc. The travelers made their own decisions as to what trail, how long they would be gone, how much water to carry, how far they themselves could go before the need to turn around, that sort of thing.
True, they could have gone off on their own, unprepared, wandering around forever following any trail, however, my meager offerings, gone over previously by others and put into the guidebook, but selected by me from my own personal experiences traveling the same trails myself, provided a pointing of the way so undue hardships would be less likely forthcoming. Some heeded my suggestions, some didn't. Some reached their goals, some didn't.
When the British ran the island, in Kingston, the capitol, there was a people's commons they called Parade. It was a huge grass area they kept immaculately preened for parades and various pomp ceremonies. After the British relinquished colony status, island folk from the hinterlands and elsewhere began using the surrounding streets, alleys, and Parade to set up and sell their wares, turning it into a giant outdoor bazaar. The outdoor bazaar atmosphere was exotic in it's own way...the sights, sounds, the colors and general milieu...and to be truthful, I loved the Terry and the Pirates excitement and intrigue that seemed to abound and present itself around every nook and corner, reminding me very much of being on the streets in the Cholon district of Saigon in 1964. However the vendors would continue to haul in loads and loads of stuff, bananas, coconuts, breadfruit, various animals to turn into meat, that sort of thing. The only thing is they never bothered to cart off any of the leftover residue and castoff garbage. It piled up and up into huge heaps, attracting flies, rats and other animals and insects, besides stinking to high heaven.
As mentioned, I lived high in the Blue Mountains in a pristine jungle secluded cliff-side overlook pushing close to a mile above the capitol. Every morning I got up and cleaned my OWN room, but wouldn't go down into the city and clean Parade.
The following from the Five Degrees of Tozan , the Fourth Degree The Arrival at Mutual Integration (The Absolute within the Relative) known as Ken-chu-shi:
"He enters the market place with empty hands, yet others receive benefit from him. This is what is called to be on the road, yet not to have left the house; to have left the house, yet not to be on the road."
The point being people can do and what they will, with Buddhism, Zen, or anything else...even clean their own rooms or let the garbage pile up. Yet a true man of Zen can enter the market place with empty hands, yet others receive benefit from him.(source)
BEFORE THE PEACE CORPS IT WAS SAIGON STREET VENDORS(please click image)
PREMONITION TO THE PEACE CORPS:
In Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery I write about how I was brought before the presence of a very old and ancient man of Zen who had come down out of the even more rarified atmosphere of the high Himalaya mountains and asked to see the monk who was said to be under the protection of the Lord Buddha. Because of respect paid him by all, plus the serenity he seemed to abide in, it was clear the old man was Enlightened. After meeting him, there was something about him that would just not let go and it continued to gnaw at me for the longest time. Months went by. Finally, when the weather turned such that I could, I sought out the old man, visiting him at what was not much more than a stone-pile hut along the edge of a stream.
In Zen Monastery, other than saying that I went to see the old man I do not elaborate on any travails I may have encountered getting to his hut or on my return. In Hope Savage I relate to the readers basically the same story except that I interject more ordeal-like aspects encountered during my journey. To wit:
"Going to and from his abode was a very arduous several day trek, much of it through rugged and steep very high altitude territory. A good portion of the trail followed along side a series of streams that may or may not have been the same one, that was sometimes rushing and other times placid depending on the steepness or flatness of the terrain."
Even though the Zen-man and I were not able to communicate verbally in the standard way because neither of us had command of each other's languages, he as a man of Zen as were my leanings, for all practical purposes the two of us were quite comfortable in how we had established a working relationship of understanding between us. However, not operating at his level, for me there remained many more unanswered questions than answered ones.
In the mountains generally it was out-and-out cold, but in the rarified higher elevation where we were it was even more so. Even so, considering the usual outside nighttime temperature drop, with the tiny almost candle-like fire in his stone hut, it was typically bearable.
The day before I was to leave we spent a good part of the daylight hours scrounging around for burnable material. To me the amount we gathered seemed much more than would otherwise be necessary, but what I found even more odd was that we left nearly half or more of what we collected neatly stacked at the long abandoned stone hut he had shown me a few days before.
After returning to his hut and leaving the rest of the material we gathered, we put a little food, a few utensils and tea in a shoulder bag then went back to the abandoned hut before sundown for reasons to me unclear. After arrival we ate, then in the declining if not all but gone sunlight he searched around and found what at one time appeared to have been a fire pit. Following his lead the two of us put together a fairly good sized, considering what his fires were usually like, almost pyre-like pile of combustibles. With the sunlight gone and total darkness having fully encroached on us by the time we finished the Zen-man lit the fire.
We sat in meditation facing each other across the fire on an east-west axis with me facing east toward what would eventually be the location of the rising sun. At some point into our meditation, and non-Siddhi related, there was somehow a coalescing of our mind processes forming a single mental entity where we both able to understand each other's thoughts.
In the thoughts he was willing to share he revealed he had spent many, many years as a young man on the other side of time in Gyanganj, but one day he passed through the monastery portals to the outside world and when he did, he became an old man. Before the full abilities of the thought exchange phenomenon faded into oblivion I brought up, considering his age, about the arduous trip back and forth through the mountains to and from the monastery for example, and how, even for me in my somewhat comparable youth and the physical condition that accompanies it, how difficult it was. What I garnered as a response was that I travel my way and he travels his way.
The next morning the Zen-man was gone. So too, neither was he to be found when I returned to his hut, although I did find a rolled up piece of cloth tied to the strap of my shoulder bag. Marked on the cloth, most likely done so from the burnt end of a wooden stick, were four Chinese cuneiform characters, one in each corner and, filling most of the center, the outline of some sort of a shape I didn't recognize.
When the four Chinese characters were deciphered they turned out to mean nothing more than colors: red, yellow, green and black. The outlined shape in the center remained a mystery and meant nothing to anybody who saw it. The mystery however, was solved on its own some 15 years later, a period of time that found me living in the Caribbean island country of Jamaica, and was solved almost on the first day I arrived for what turned out to be a two year stay. So too was answered, before I left the island, my comment regarding how arduous the trip back and forth through the mountains was and his response that I travel my way and he travels his way.
The first part was answered right after leaving the airport to the train station. Almost immediately I saw a giant map of Jamaica and instantly I recognized the shape of the island as being the exact same shape the Zen-man drew on the cloth some 15 years before, an island or place he probably never saw or heard of in his life. Secondly, on my train ride through the cities and hinterland I saw all over, again and again the dominant colors of red, yellow, green and black in the graffiti adopted from the country of Africa and used by the Rastafarians in the graffiti that was plastered all over on almost every available open space. Those two eye-openers along with my experience high in the mountains with a Jamaican man of spells called an Obeah led to the meaning behind how the Zen-man traveled those so many years earlier as found in the following:
THE WANDERLING'S JOURNEY
THE PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER
AND THE ASIAN WARLORD
A Jamaican man of spells, similar to voodoo or witchdoctor.
THE BLUE MOUNTAINSThe mountains where I lived and the home of Blue Mountain Coffee.
LIME CAYSmall island off Port Royal and Kingston. Frequented regularly by PCVs.
DENGUE FEVERThe Wanderling contracts Dengue Fever and cured by the Obeahman's rituals.
MAP OF JAMAICAWhere I lived was located at just about the "W" in Half Way Tree.
BLUE MOUNTAINS TOPOGRAPHIC MAP
OFFICAL PEACE CORPS JAMAICA PUBLICATION FOR NEW VOLUNTEERS
THE OLD OBEAH WOMAN
THE WORD OBEAH: What Does It Mean? PLATO THE WIZARDObeah Power and the Devastating Jamaica Hurricane of 1870. AN EMAIL TO THE WANDERLING. A former Peace Corps Volunteer queries the Wanderling about his time in Jamaica. EMAIL THE WANDERLINGEasiest Way To Contact the Wanderling.
Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.
ADDITIONAL JAMAICA PEACE CORPS SITES AND LINKS:
PEACE CORPS JAMAICA: Richard Sitler
THE PEACE CORPS IN JAMAICA
FRIENDS OF JAMAICA
U.S. EMBASSY PEACE CORPS JAMAICA PAGE
News from Jamaica:
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