The Path of the Clouds

- through Sophie Solere

Published on

Or how to avoid routine to make every day a fabulous trip.

At the beginning of his apprenticeship, the young Tosui received the teaching of an illustrious master, Igan, who invited his students to get rid of the five desires: carnal desire, appetite for food, desire to sleep, thirst fame and the pursuit of wealth. He particularly insisted on the last two, which were frequent for prelates who had become respectable and who could often give in to the temptation of fame and money. To begin with, old Igan hastened to send the young novice Tosui to wander as "cloud and living waters". Such was the name of the young monks who from temple to temple, from valley to valley, from master to master, left armed only with letters of recommendation and most often empty-handed. This was an exemplary way of detaching oneself from these five desires, because the food begged was often lacking, its quality left something to be desired, sleep was not possible in makeshift shelters. As for fame, it was quite impossible, for the traveling priest was no longer a person, he no longer had a name, uprooted in the wind and vagrancy. Of wealth, he had hardly any, for the long and wide sleeves of the robe were empty and the monk's bag contained only what was strictly necessary, in accordance with the monastic rule. Thus like a floating cloud, without ties, neither past nor tomorrow, with carelessness and blissful uncertainty as its only treasure, the apprentice undertook a journey of which he was the destination, following the path of his own body and his own spirit, exploring through the mirror of a capricious and changing nature, the own meanders of his heart. So Tosui spent more than ten years wandering, settling in a temple to practice and study there, leaving it to set out in search of the instruction of a master. Frugality and austerity were his daily life; often the tasty water of the rivers served as food for him and the leaves of the foliage of the mantle in storms and heat waves. He frequented the most illustrious monks of his time, practiced with masters of all schools to finally join Igan and serve him.

Free yourself from all ties, on a daily basis: practicing simplicity

Today, we don't have to put on straw sandals and wear a large braided wicker hat and even less to take the path of ancient pilgrimages (the experience could however turn out to be very fruitful and surprising), but we can certainly exploring the landscape of our everyday life differently and cultivating a bit of that curiosity and carelessness. First, by ceasing to approach our day in a routine way and without giving it the attention it requires, from waking up and having coffee in the morning, to our daily toilet, our journey to work, each stage of our day can be experienced as if it were the first time, with freshness and availability. By banishing mechanical gestures, distracting the mind and becoming aware of the wonder of being alive and present in every moment. Then, and this is essential, by diving with determination and giving ourselves totally to what we are doing. Rather than killing two birds with one stone, be content with what we do and dedicate ourselves fully to it. While we generally never lose sight of our agenda, our plans, and frequently do things in the spirit of joining others, whatever our activity, we can happily forget ourselves in it, to erase the traces of our arrival and abandon any other project: to be satisfied with doing what is given to us to do. Take the time to get rid of it and untie it. That then, it is possible for us to go from place to place, to move from one activity to another, from study to study, avoiding the chapel spirit and stasis: by diversifying our practice and our activities , by opening up our lives, we can detach ourselves from the idea we have of ourselves and of others. The metamorphoses that we go through and are, because we are ultimately only perpetual change, are miraculous opportunities to marvel and recharge our batteries without giving in to this satiated and self-assured, jaded and tired spirit, of the one or the one to whom we no longer does it and who has understood and met everything. The practice of meditation can also be another way of living the path of the clouds, letting thoughts pass through us and letting them pass like clouds in the vast sky.

We don't have today to put on straw sandals and wear the large braided wicker hat and even less to take the path of ancient pilgrimages, but we can certainly explore the landscape of our daily life differently and cultivate a little of this curiosity and carelessness.

A marvelous little book is really worth the detour, its reading will undoubtedly enchant your life. Written by a Zen master, a gardener by profession, it contains real nuggets that are none other than those scattered moments in our lives to which we generally pay little attention. It is Zen, the Art of a simple life by Shunmyo Masumo. This book will give you the key, a hundred keys to be more precise, for a journey reinvented every day in which wonder and presence are there at every step. Thus we are invited to live our daily life by making these small changes which make all the difference between an automated life and an existence knowing how to live a fulfillment at every moment. As the author writes so simply in his preface: “If the world is not going the way you would like it to go, it is perhaps better for you to change yourself. Thus, whatever situation you encounter, you will experience ease and ease there (…) Strive not to be moved by the values ​​of others, not to be disturbed by worries without real necessity, but live a life of an infinite simplicity, rid of all waste”. So goes he who walks on the path of the clouds.

photo of author

Sophie Solere

Sophie Solère is an economic and social journalist who has been interested for years in the environment and interdependence. She works for Buddhist News, a media platform dedicated to Buddhist spirituality and wisdom. By practicing yoga and meditative dance, Sophie discovered the power of spiritual journeys, which offer so many paths to (re)find yourself. She is dedicated to sharing inspiring stories and valuable advice on spiritual practice and the environment with Buddhist News readers.

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