Category Archives: Camino de Santiago

Yielding to Nature

Our ancestors and the ancient tribes were firmly entrenched in the philosophy of the yielding to the forces of nature as opposed to the modern mindset of conquering and extracting from the earth.

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On some of my lengthy hikes on the Camino in Spain, the routes inevitably take you along busy country roads. Tons of rubbish including plastic bags, tin cans, plastic bottles and cigarette butts are carelessly thrown out of car windows by passing motorists.

It has a devastating effect on other living beings. I’ve seen cows and goats munch plastic bags and hedgehogs trapped in rubbish. More disturbingly sacred crosses and way markers are defaced by graffiti.

Much can be attributed to the disconnect of modern man to his natural surroundings. Nature is a manifestation of God and not without reason have the wise teachers of old described time spent in nature as our best healer.

Any person who has spent alone time in the African bush or hiked alone for hours in pristine nature will soon become aware of the awesome marvel of creation and the inter-connectedness of all living beings. God can be seen live working in slow motion.

Humanity will only survive when we recognize that the sacred within is also the sacred without.

For centuries Christianity has had a false understanding of man’s role in nature based on misinterpretation of the old testament of the bible in Genesis 1:28 in which man is given the cultural mandate to subdue and rule over the earth:

“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that (Heb. creepeth)  moveth upon the earth.”

Especially the translations of “subdue” and “dominion” from the Hebrew have different meanings. Rather than exploitation and domination the call to humanity by God is like that to a king to take care of the weak and poor in his kingdom. Man is called to preserve the natural beauty of the environment entrusted to him and to restore those places that have been harshly affected by force and hardness of rule.

The lost gospel of St. Thomas, that was discovered in Egypt in the 1940s, has a far more mystical interpretation of many of the biblical interpretations. Rather waiting for the Second Coming of the Christ, the lesson espoused here is all about nurturing and discovering the Christ Within−closely resembling what is described in Buddhism as discovering the Buddha Nature.

The Medieval interpretation of Nature was that of a harsh alien environment, that needed to be conquered. Paradise and a life of bliss could only be expected after death and resurrection.

In contrast the eastern Daoist tradition is all about the yielding to the laws of nature. The philosophy of the Five Elements in essence is about the right timing in accordance with the laws of nature. The harmony of objects and things in Feng Shui, the cultivation of the life-force energy of Chi in the body with nutrition, Qi Gong and Tai Chi and the ancient Book of Wisdom, the I Qing, all are built on the foundations of the Elements.

Likewise the Greek, Roman and Medieval cultures placed great emphasis on building their temples and cities in harmony with the natural environment. These cultures were still steeped in myth and legend while the modern world is dominated by the economic.

Modern man’s environment−often in an urban concrete jungle, is very much a contributing factor to the alienation from nature and the loss of soul purpose. It is beginning to change. As humanity moves to a raised consciousness we rediscover old teachings that were anything but primitive.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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Who are you?

Emotional and physical exhaustion is one of the scourges of the modern era. Depression is reaching almost epidemic proportions. You could very well say that the Western mind has lost its soul that has been entrapped by the temptations of immediate gratification.

We are bombarded constantly with subliminal messages that tell you: Buy this and you will be happy. Do this and you will get rich. Do this to live like a super star. Dress like this and act like that to be loved and validated by the crowd.

Along the way one of our most valuable assets – the time to be fully aware of the  moment – is getting lost. The mind is constantly occupied with either the past or the fears of the future.  In the process you forget soul purpose and who you are!

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I have found that walking alone in nature is a magnificent way of detoxing and training the mind by re-calibrating the senses to the world around us.  I truly believe that nature is a manifestation of God. The whisper of creation can be sensed by a bird song, the rustling of leaves in an ancient tree, or the clouds enveloping a mountain top.

Most people in today’s world however are forced to live in crowded cities that are dehumanizing in their detachment from nature. They cloud the senses with a high level of noise, pollution and bombardment of the senses. The modern human being has become so detached from his natural environment, that its causing havoc to emotional stability.

I think this is one of the reasons for the great attraction of the ancient pilgrimage route in Spain.  More and more people are becoming spiritually conscious and seeking answers. Spending weeks alone by simply walking in nature without distraction is like a detox in peeling away the layers to the heart of the true self. But it doesn’t only have to be walking.  New retreats and centers of meditation are opening everywhere as human consciousness is rising to a new level.

Old school religion has taught us to believe and to follow a certain doctrine and behavior. The new consciousness is very much an experiental spirituality in a “becoming” of the real self.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor and Consultant 

https://www.reinogevers.com

     

 

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Reconnecting with ancestral roots

Our ancestors from centuries ago might be influencing our lives in more ways than we might be aware of.

Cultures steeped in tradition and ritual, place great value on their history and ancestral roots. Much of this has been lost in the modern materialist world−which then finds an unhealthy avenue in extreme nationalism.

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There is a long tradition on the Camino in Spain that reminded me a lot of the Zulu culture in South Africa.

The Zulu greeting “sawbona” means “I see you” to which the fellow being greeted responds with “yebo”, or yes and I see you too.

In the rural Zululand of my childhood the conversation would then continue with strangers exchanging their names and asking each other the names of their parents and grandparents and from what village they came from so that the ancestral tree to the tribe or clan could be recognized.

The Zulus journeyed mostly on foot, and would pile stone cairns at key junctions as a mark of respect to the ancestors and asking them for a safe journey. In the Umfolozi Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal there is a massive stone cairn that dates back to the stone ages.

I was surprised to find this tradition also on the Camino and learned that similar rituals also exist in other cultures such as the Inuit, American Indians and Celts from which the practice probably came in Spain.

In medieval times it was common for one member of a family to walk the Camino to atone for the sins of the entire clan. The family would in return collect funds to finance the pilgrimage.

The pilgrimage began after crossing the threshold of his front door, and after being granted permission to leave by his local religious authorities. Before leaving he had attended mass where his staff and scrip were blessed by the priest.

It would be months, sometimes more than a year before he returned−if he was lucky. Many pilgrims did not survive the journey, making the ultimate sacrifice.

Along the Camino, the pilgrim would add a rock to the cairns at the wayside, saying a prayer for a member of the family going down the line of the family tree, starting with the parents, siblings, grandparents, great-grandparents, and all the other members of the clan.

Today the tradition continues and many of the cairns have rocks with prayer inscriptions for a deceased loved one, someone going through a serious illness or a special wish.

Genetic research is still a young science but some scientists believe that some of our habits, traumas, memories and survival instincts are imprinted in our genes from our ancestors. An ancestor born centuries ago could still be impacting your life. Ancestral memories could be passed on for 14 generations, according to one body of research.

We are who we are not only because of the influences from our immediate friends and the environment in which we live but it also appears, that some of our habits, fears and talents are inherited from our ancestors.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor and Consultant 

https://www.reinogevers.com

     

 

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Go Slow To Go Far

One of the  many lessons learned walking the Camino in Spain is that you have to go slow to get far.  I must admit that I too get infected at times by the “bug” that bites many hikers on the Camino: Getting up in the early hours of the morning and racing ahead to the next town to avoid the hassle of finding no accommodation.

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In some of the remote towns albergues or hostels for pilgrims are rare. But on all my ten walks on the Camino, I have always found a place to stay for the night. The Spanish people are incredibly hospitable and friendly toward pilgrims walking the Camino. If worse comes to worse a sports hall or school classrooms is opened with mattresses on the floor. Villagers in the towns have even been seen offering their private bedrooms to tired pilgrims.

But the Camino is in many ways an analogy of life and you inevitably take yourself with you on a journey.  Many pilgrims take a time out from their stressed-out lives at home, and have difficulty switching to a calm, slowed-down rhythm.

And, under stress or in a hurry, you make mistakes. You go into tunnel vision and start missing way markers, making your walk that much longer than planned. You miss out seeing many of the small miracles or the messages sent by the universe on your way. You fail to pace your energy, ending up with blisters on your feet, hurt knees and back problems.

Sometimes a small talk with a villager or a word from a fellow pilgrim along the way can be an immense eye opener and blessing. I have walked several of the Camino routes more than twice and have been amazed at how much I didn’t see the first time around, and how different each Camino walk was.

Staying in the moment is one of the most difficult exercises in the hurried life of the Western mind which is preoccupied with all the fears of tomorrow and the events of the past. Will I have to sleep under the bridge? Will I be safe?  I have seen pilgrims literally fall into panic upon hearing that there was no accommodation left in the town. It is an innate fear to be in a foreign place and having no place to stay.  Others stay completely calm, trusting in the universe that a solution will always be found, laughing it off as part of the Camino experience.

I have taken this Camino experience to heart. A day can be ruined by a stressed-out, hurried mindset where one little catastrophe follows the next.  Or, you can just take one step back, concentrating on the breathing, deliberately slowing your walk by a pace or two, and then just taking it as it comes.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor and Consultant 

https://www.reinogevers.com

     

 

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Walk your path

I’ve just released the second edition of my book “Walking on Edge: A Pilgrimage to Santiago”  – a novel based on firsthand conversations and insights with many fellow hikers on the Camino. For some people the Camino can be a life-changing experience – for others it is disappointing.

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What Camino you walk depends very much on your expectations and your frame of mind.  After months, sometimes even years, of preparation and planning, and reading some of the many books on the Camino, you are finally on the road.

If you start your walk in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, in southwestern France, in the summer months from June to August you will be disappointed by the masses of people walking the Camino Frances – the most common route.

You will be staying in crowded hostels and sleeping on bunk beds. You might have to stand in a long line for a shower and have to cope with blisters and other aches and pains in your body.  You will be frightened by cyclists coming from behind you at breakneck speed, and sometimes even pushing you off the road.

The first days of walking on the Camino are a real test of mind and body. It is also called the path of crucifixion. A fellow pilgrim once said to me: “Be humble on the path, or the path with humble you.”

On one of my walks I met a very frustrated pilgrim, who had refused advice from fellow walkers, to take it slow during the first days. He was going on and on about his disappointment, criticizing the “boring” landscape of the Camino and lamenting why he had not chosen a holiday on the Canary islands instead.  A lot of people are obviously walking the same route and coming home with very different perceptions and experiences, judging by the comments in many of the social media forums.

My advice is: Don’t be duped by other people’s opinions and what you read. If you liberate your mind from preconceived images and expectations, you will have your very own Camino experience – that can be magical in many ways.

Call it the the Universe, God or just the “magic of the path” has been life-transforming for me and so many people I’ve met on the Camino.  If you walk alone and confront those emotional demons along the way, you will make extraordinary discoveries both within and without. The Camino is certainly not everyone’s cup-of-tea. It can be a hard, uncomfortable, excruciating slog in mud, rain and heat.

At the same time the Camino is exceptionally rewarding on many subtle levels that sometimes only make themselves felt, months after the pilgrimage. The walk is an analogy of life as you deal with the daily ups-and-downs.

Reino Gevers – Mentor and Author – Your Health Matters

 “Walking on Edge – A Pilgrimage to Santiago” available both in Kindle and paperback.

http://www.reinogevers.com

 

 

 

 

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