By Tyler Lewke
This is the first in a four part series journaling Tyler’s experience hiking Siri Pada in Sri Lanka (a renowned buddhist pilgrimage site).
One clock says it’s just before 5AM. Another says 3:30.
Back home, I’m not sure if it’s yesterday, today or tomorrow yet. Time is an elusive bastard and technology hasn’t caught up to my travels, my body and computer each trying to sync into this new reality.
It’s a slow start.
I’ve decided sleep must accumulate. I won’t get it all at once and haven’t now for days so I am relying on the hours stolen here and there compounding into enough energy. I do think laying horizontally increases the fueling power of sleep and I finally found a way to lay down on a coconut husk bed at the new meditation center, Sanatha Suwaya. Even the sounds of the jungle were no match for 40 hours of travel.
When I wake, I head to the small service area like a kitchen. I’m making coffee as the sun is rising above the jungle. I can hear the sounds of commerce waking up below us. Two monks are here—one named Bhante comes to help with the coffee. We talk and I have an idea. He waits to respond and tells me to be silent for a moment. Gecko’s burst into song, and I realize it is the same chirping that woke me up. His face lights up in a huge smile.
“Our human minds are so cloudy and full,” he says. “We must wait for the Gecko’s pure mind to approve of our ideas with their song. If they are silent, our thoughts are faulty. This is what Sri Lankan’s believe.”
I was glad we had approval and smiled at the great commonality that no matter what you call it, God or Gecko, many human beings rely on a higher power for clarity.
Waking this early is unfortunate; no sleep again till the end of tomorrow. Tonight we begin our pilgrimage to Sri Pada, or Adam’s Peak. We’re a week early for high Pilgrim season, and likely we will be alone on the trail, climbing all night what I’ve heard described as 4000, 5000 or 10,000 steps (depending who you ask), but what seems generally decided is that it amounts to four miles of steps.
As I’ve decribed this journey, many people ask me why I’m going and what I’m seeking. I have no answer, as my mind feels empty. I feel no longing for some big clarity or resolution and as I was packing my bags I realized how incredibly fortunate it was that I would be arriving with no agenda.
In not seeking anything I feel available to experience everything.
“There is a way between voice and presence where information flows.
In disciplined silence it opens.
With wandering talk it closes.”
*Article was originally published on author’s blog and re-published here with permission.
Tyler Lewke is brutally irreverent, often way too direct and it gets him in trouble. He’s an optimistic pessimist, a grateful dad and friend, a hardcore capitalist, and a deep-seeking mindful and compassionate guy who’s most inspired by helping people through the bullshit parts of religion and spirituality to define a life of joy and contemplative service to others.
Tyler was born months before the official end of the Vietnam War on the Campus of Washington State University to a hippy mom and a heady scientist dad with an IQ that rivals Einstein… a combo that has left him totally out of place in the mainstream.
Tyler lives in the sky in downtown Chicago, in a 100 year-old bungalow in suburban Illinois and from his backpack as he explores the world. He teaches meditation and mindful leadership, has written as a form of art and spiritual practice every day for as long as he can remember. He shares his personal stories of integrating a spiritual life into a daily mainstream existence through his daily blog where he posts his raw, firsthand joys and struggles of trying to practice these mindful principles in all his affairs. Tyler thinks we all have only one real job, to add more love to the world.
Photo: author’s own
Editor: Dana Gornall