When I later arrived in the village O’Cebreiro, at an elevation of 1300 m, I felt on top of the world! The albergue in Ruitelán for the previous night was low down in the Valcarce Valley and we had to bridge a 650 m height difference on a strenuous uphill footpath. At first we walked alongside the River Valcarce – with cocks crowing and cowbells ringing and the sky changing from black to dark gray, then to light gray as time passed. The path became quite steep, with veins of rock protruding through the ground and rubble under foot. As the sky brightened, the climb continued for about two hours, levelling off near the top. We passed two villages on the way, so small that they did not even seem to have a church.
The physical path reminded me of my own life; initially it was also rocky and with rubble underfoot. I tended to look over my shoulder and lacked the courage to take bold steps. However, this has changed and my backpack has lightened. We might prefer walking the Camino alone, but we cannot isolate ourselves in life. Our actions, thoughts and emotions – whether good and positive or difficult and problematic – are shared, especially with those close to us.
Awareness balances life. We live with less friction, although this does not mean that we will encounter less hardship. It means that we live a more realistic life in which we still, like everyone else, come across adversities – but we will experience these less drastically and will respond with less aggression or despair. I refer to awareness in mindful rather than material and physical matters of general nature, but what does mindfulness mean and how is it achievable? To answer this we need to appreciate the following: when negative emotions are present we often make assumptions. Rather than being realistic, our mind creates disturbing pictures. For instance, we may add unbalanced emotions when communicating which could make us experience realities in different ways – similar to living in different worlds. Comprehension of the same words can be understood differently from person to person, and confusion is created. The mind so often whispers unsubstantiated doubts and fears, and can be the source of turmoil – it may cause us to pursue what our conscience tells us to avoid.
The ego may dictates our untoward emotions and actions, despite us condemning others for similar behaviour. These habits frequently come about when we form unrealistic perceptions. Our opinions are shaped by perceived realities and present circumstances.
Not many of us have the ability to control our deceptive feelings, emotions, minds and egos when they display negative tendencies. However, by being mindful, and better able to identify the extent of our contributions in confusing times. As we gain clarity, we see truth more realistically and are better able to apply tolerance.
Achieving this is a massive task and, as our time on earth is limited, I am partial to the idea of reincarnation. To me it makes sense that we should be given as many lifetimes as we need to accomplish this emotional evolution.
When we are reincarnated, our basis of the next life is probably our former character. Parents and experiences during childhood and adolescence influence our early development. Our parents steer our initial growth and the question of who actually selects them to be our guardians arises. Maybe the selection is arbitrary and results are derived from a new mix of DNA’s. Or has God selected them for us? Maybe our own soul has had a hand in the selection so that the inherent problems and inappropriate behaviour of guardians direct us to the lessons we are meant to learn. – – – Hopefully we adopt the parents’ positive attributes and avoid their negative and problematic sides. This is in no way a criticism of our parents, we likewise pass our peculiarities onto our own children.
Maybe if every generation accepts this concept, parents’ short-comings could be the catalysts to our spiritual advancements. Later in life our partner and the family we raise are the prime source and stimulus to improve who we are. Through our daily exposure to each other we can recognize our shortcomings. If we accept that we have a purpose and a spiritual destiny, we need to learn and advance, which is achieved by working through conflict.