Category Archives: raised consciousness

A journey and its lessons

A group of tired young Russian pilgrims from St.Petersburg arrived late last night in the Municipal Albergue, or pilgrims’ hostel, in Najera.  It was the last group we registered before we concluded our 14-day term as a four-member volunteer team.

During these two weeks, we registered some 805 pilgrims who stayed overnight in the hostel.

The Camino is becoming an international experience

When I walked my first Camino in 2007,  most people walking the path seemed to be middle-aged Germans, Dutch or Scandinavian.  The pilgrims arriving in Najera were from a far more international diversity.  Apart from the Europeans, the largest groups were from Asia and the Americas.

Together with my fellow three Hospitaleros Pedro from France, Carmen from Toledo in Spain and Ebo from Argentina we were responsible for keeping the hostel clean, and catering to the needs of the between 50-70 pilgrims arriving each day.  A good part of the day we spent scrubbing bathrooms, cleaning floors and washing bed sheets.

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Pilgrims sharing a meal and the experiences of the day in the Municipal Albergue in Najera. Pilgrims are only asked to donate a small fee for the use of the utilities.

Najera is the eighth stage of the Camino Frances, starting in the French village of Saint-Pied-de-Port,  and taking the pilgrim on a more than 727 kilometers (451 miles) journey across northwestern Spain to Santiago de Compostela.

An adventure turns into a spiritual journey

It was a privilege to converse with many of these people and to hear their different stories and motivations in walking the path. Some people start the Camino as a sporting adventure that then turns into a spiritual journey.  An American pilgrim I walked with some years ago said to me: “If you don’t approach the Camino with humility it will humiliate you.”

The Camino is telling you that this journey is not about accomplishing something but in un-becoming from everything that you thought you were and touching that place deep in the soul who you are truly meant to be.

Is the Camino part of the bigger journey of humanity seeking a common spirituality that transcends the boundaries of religious dogma?

A test of emotional and physical resolve

When I spoke to a British man, leaving the Albergue in the morning he confided that “this very emotional journey” was much more than he had anticipated.

After a good week on the Camino, it is a real testing time for physical and emotional resolve. The Camino is in many ways an analogy of life. If you can deal with the roller-coaster of the walk’s trials and tribulations, you will be steeled for whatever challenges life throws at your feet in the acceptance of the impermanence of all things.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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Spiritual hot spots

Najera, Spain – The pilgrimage path or Camino de Santiago in northwestern Spain is dotted with “spiritual hot spots” where man has worshipped different deities since the earliest of times.

Different religions worshipped at the same sites

Romans built mausoleums on Celtic sites. Early Christians turned these temples into churches or chapels. According to legend, the Celts had already performed walking pilgrimages on the Camino in following the Milky Way northward. Names and religions change over time but the geographical pull of a place remains.

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The Sta. Maria de Arcos chapel near Najera, a Paleo Christian Basilica built upon a Roman mausoleum between the 5th and 6th centuries.

When the Moslems occupied most of the Iberian Peninsular they converted the churches into mosques. Later the Christians again turned the mosques into churches.

However, as humanity moves toward higher consciousness, religious belief in the form of intolerant dogma is being replaced by mystical experience. It is what many of the folk from numerous nationalities, and cultural background are seeking in the modern-day pilgrimage.

Spiritual experience versus religious dogma

Spiritual experience can only be felt. The universal intelligence or God speaks through symbols, sometimes in a message from people, we coincidentally meet.

On the Camino, wonderful sites of worship can be found in the small towns and villages. Pilgrims complain that these are often closed. There is a reason. Art thieves have in the past stolen valuable artifacts, notably „The Lamentation“ in Najera in 1913.  The 15th century was sold by Sotheby‘s for 1.46 million euros in 2008. Spanish authorities were unable to halt the auction because it was sold several times during the past century.

We only become aware of this mystical language when we remove ourselves from the bombardment of daily distractions and allow our senses to open to the magic.

Some on the Camino come just for the adventure but most of the people I’ve been talking to on the Camino during the past few days have a story. One woman told me she had come to the conclusion that there was so much more to discover than a life of silent misery.

Today I met a Paris fashion photographer who is taking a lengthy mental time-out in walking “only” a slow 10-15 km a day. In a village chapel along the way, he said he had an “experience” that could not be explained.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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Thoughts on Notre Dame

When a significant world heritage site such as the Notre Dame in Paris is in flames, a nerve is struck on a global level. The miracle of this tragedy is that the cathedral has once again survived.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Every tragedy both on a personal and global level comes with a deeper meaning.

The most significant aspect that springs to mind is that this happened during the Easter week, one of Christianity’s most important events. It recalls Jesus who died on the cross and rose from the dead three days later more than 2,000 years ago. It is a celebration of the cycle of life: death, resurrection and rebirth. The resurrection of Christ could now become a metaphor for the rebirth of the cathedral.

Fire is one of the most powerful elements. When out of control it burns and destroys, reducing everything to the basic elements. But from the ashes springs rebirth. The old has to be destroyed for new life to begin.

Notre Dame is at the heart of Paris and of France. At the front entrance to the cathedral is embedded in the concrete pavement a copper plaque marking the point zero from which the distance from Paris to all other places are judged. Notre Dame is a sacred site that connects with humanity at a deeper level beyond religious doctrine.

Notre Dame is steeped in many myths and mysteries. Like most of the ancient sacred sites, it was carefully chosen by the builders who had great knowledge of the earth’s energy fields or meridians. It was built on the site of a Gallo-Roman temple dedicated to Jupiter. Four churches then preceded the building of Notre Dame. French philosopher John of Jandun in 1323 described it as “that most glorious church” that “shines out, like the sun among stars.”

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The western mind has in many respects lost its soul with religious institutions in the western world in deep crisis. We are on the brink of a raising of human consciousness.

The mindset of the Middle Ages is almost symbolically burned with the collapse of the roof of Notre Dame, yet the cathedral has been in dire need of repair for years. Curators have had trouble getting the funds for the repairs needed.

But here we see within hours hundreds of millions of euros pledged for the reconstruction.  First reports said it would take at least a generation to restore the cathedral. Later reports said that with the necessary will and funding it could take less than five years. When humanity focuses on a single objective so much can be achieved.

It would indeed be a powerful symbol: A new roof spanning an 850-year-old cathedral, symbolizing the beginning of a new age of raised consciousness.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

     

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Walking alone

The ancient masters of all the great religions recommended time alone as a crucial means of discovering true self.

It was the 40 days that Jesus took for time alone in the desert to confront his own shadow and the demons of temptation.  Moses removed himself alone to Mount Sinai to receive the ten commandments from God.

It is in the time spent alone that we come closest to the divine and our life purpose, especially if it is time alone in nature.

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The Chinese masters of the body arts such as Tai Chi and Qi Gong called the empty space between the spokes of the wheel more important than the spoke itself.

It is in that empty dark space between the stars where you touch the divine.

We as a society are obsessed with what the wise ancients called the distractions of the 10,000 things.

The news media feed on negative news, the constant subliminal messages working our emotions instill a need for material things we mostly don’t need. There is confusion between necessity and want.

It is no coincidence that with the addiction to distraction there are very few people who can truly bear to spend time alone.

We are thus constantly seeking the accolades through social media as a reassurance. But it will seldom lead you onto the path of deeper spiritual experience.

It is during the walk alone, the time-out during a silent retreat and the alone time in nature where the gateway to the soul opens and you begin to realize who you truly are.

It is during the alone time that we discover the heart, the love and the divine within. It is who we truly are and that which soul wants to illuminate.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

     

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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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Mastering the Mundane

Sometimes political events starkly reveal the current nature of the collective mind.

What is playing out in the current midterm elections in the United States is much related to a deeply suppressed shadow. The nation appears at the edge between two opposites of a raging river cutting through the heart of America.

The tendency to extremist positions is often rooted in deep uncertainties and fears, in the U.S. probably stemming from the times of the civil war. On the fringes of society you will then see the triggering of the pent-up fury of disturbed personalities – dispatching pipe bombs or going on a killing spree in a synagogue

The challenge in the law of opposites is finding the middle ground−that difficult territory where the truth has many shades of grey.

The Chinese masters placed great emphasis on this aspect−not only as crucial in the martial arts but as a life philosophy.

Without solid foundation in dealing with the everyday mundane any type of self-development will come to naught.

The ancient Jewish sages went further in teaching that if we failed to master the normal daily activities such as looking after our health, nutrition, relationships and livelihood−we couldn’t hope to advance to higher spiritual experience.

Thus, a good portion of life in the monastery is spent in cleaning, gardening and other menial chores. It is not only a practice in humility but stems from the knowledge that mastering the mundane is the gateway to loftier spheres.

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Photo by Eduardo Prim on Unsplash

Physical exercise and the mindful carrying out of mundane chores are excellent for grounding. If your work is mostly in a sitting position in an office it is crucial to use breaks for walking or other exercises.

The “Yoga  tree routine” is especially effective as a grounding morning exercise.

  • Fold your hands with the forefingers touching each other.
  • Ground yourself with your right foot, imagining roots like those of a tree growing from the center of your foot deep into the earth.
  • Place your left foot at the height of your right knee and then lift your hands with forefingers pointed to the sky above the focal point of your skull.
  • Imgine that you are mentally connected by a stream of energy to the sky above your head and the earth below your foot.
  • Repeat the exercise with the left foot.
  • You can close the exercise with a powerful mantra or prayer aligning all your activities of the day with what God, the universe or any other deity has planned for you that day.

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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