Having traveled quite extensively over the past twenty years, I am often reminded that no man can truly be an island; even for someone like me, who prefers a solitary existence similar to that found by Henry David Thoreau on Walden.
As an unknown Buddhist, I liken myself to Thoreau’s comments, “…live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Unlike Thoreau, I criticize no man for their work. To me, there is no one ‘true’ pastoral way of life. The Mormons, Christians, Atheists, Muslims or any other cannot possibly command their pastoral life as best for all. Pastoral life can only be chosen by what has been called solely for them. Thus, contrary to the current political theater, deep personal choices reflected unto the masses rarely work. Whether good or bad, deep personal choices that reflect the greater constitution, can be extremely powerful.
As for me, Buddhism makes life alive. Meditation embraced by the morning sun and the music of the bird’s harmonic hum inspire me. In those moments, I find a warmth that cannot be broached in other forms. Within the harmony of the gentle inner quiet, I find the true nature of God’s adorning love for all things, great and small – even me. This transformation, from the inner soul toward the nurturing God is personal and can only be experienced via an inner child.
Still, Thoreau saw his time at Walden as nothing more than an experiment. He never seriously took the idea of truly isolating himself but rather used his time at Walden as a way of framing a reflection of the contemporary condition and its relief. As for me, I find myself needing others at times and yet, find myself gravitating to the silent love found within every living moment. For all who really know me, I continually yearn for the ying of yang and the only one true north.
Some claim my current life represents love’s failure. While it is true the relationship breakdown of my true love, and the months afterward, were by far the most painful things ever experienced, it was also the best. Because of her, I have come out the other side with a much greater capacity for love and compassion.
I once told my lover she made me a better person. And even though I cannot walk with her now, she still walks within me. The months of our love; and the subsequent months afterward; were a tremendous period of revelation. And I love her for everything she gave, I always will. Through her, I did become a better person.
The harmonic solitude I found is profound. I tremble in the sunlight, as if God suddenly stumbles upon a fifty year-old man and grants him access to a new unnamed level of love. I stand at His door of life; and in my solitude, I open the door unto another world of love. It is the pastoral world to which I am called. And I live it.