Yesterday I made a trip over to San Diego which necessitated travel over a high desert mountain.
The highway I was on follows along a trail carved out by the early native peoples and settlers in this region. It is full of hairpin curves that twist and turn as they wind a way up the steep mountain.
Traveling on this highway yesterday, I never quite knew what to expect - sometimes the cars in the oncoming traffic came squealing around a curve almost veering into my lane. At times the sun would get into my eyes making me feel like I had little control as I negotiated those treacherous twists and turns.
And yet the trip up the mountain was so exhilarating. The higher I would climb, the more beautiful were the views, the sun glistening on purple stone rock towering over the valley below - so magnificently vast that I couldn't see where it all ended and where it all began.
As I made my way in the wilderness, up the mountain, over that winding path, I thought to myself, "what a perfect icon of the journey toward wisdom."
Every human being seeks wisdom and is drawn to search for transcendence in life. Some people choose to find meaning in life by following a path of religion. Many expect the "religion road" to be direct and rather easy to travel -follow the prescribed rules, say a few formulaic prayers, go to church once in a while and "check-in," and you reach your destination: "God."
Others may follow along spiritual paths that are less religious and yet at times just as formulaic - sit on a yoga mat for 10 minutes every morning, count your breaths, use a mantra, keep focused, and you get "enlightened" - rather direct and fairly easy.
But the road to wisdom never follows such a quick and easy path. Every authentic spiritual pathway is a road up the mountain, and mountain paths are never direct or easy to travel.
My mountain path yesterday was an icon of the spiritual journey.
The road I traveled yesterday was first carved out by the ancestors. So it is the case that all spiritual paths were first carved out by the ancestors - the "way" of the prophets, the "way" of the Buddha, the "way" of Jesus. I follow the way of Jesus and I also pay close attention to other teachers who have carved out a path of wisdom through the wilderness. The Buddha is always close at hand for me.
My wilderness path up the mountain yesterday was filled with unexpected hairpin curves that had to be carefully negotiated. Sometimes my eyes were blinded by the sun, and it often was often kind of scary going around those treacherous turns. So it is on the spiritual pathway
A spiritual path never follows a straight line because life never follows a straight line. Life is difficult, troubles comes my way. I am sometimes filled with doubt, lose hope, and I am overcome by fear. Life is filled with unexpected turns and hairpin curves.
But I stay on the path, and I pay close attention to where it leads me because the path gets me through it all. The path may be difficult but it never leads to a dead end. It leads me up onto the other side.
And as I stay on the path and climb up the mountain, the views are spectacular and the higher I climb the more beautiful is the view.