In our blog, you’ll find information about metaphysics and spirituality from Lazaris and Jach, excerpts from Lazaris recordings and interviews, and travelogues from Jach’s adventures around the world.
“I love this city!” Those were my first words at the welcome dinner, Sunday, April 8. And it’s true. There is magic in the air in this city. Most large cities that are growing and changing, tend to have an aliveness within the hustle and bustle of city life. They have a dynamism that can be exhilarating or exhausting. I suppose Barcelona has that, but there is something else, something special, unique to its hustle and to its aliveness. There’s a freshness here, an eagerness, and a buzz. Barcelona is a juicy, passionate city, and I love it. Probably my most favorite city: Barcelona.
Enrique and I had arrived on Friday, April 6; a few others had already been in Barcelona or Spain for several days, but we all gathered for the Welcome Dinner at Hotel 1898 Sunday evening. Following an elegant buffet, I made my opening remarks and Lazaris welcomed us all. It was immediately clear: This was going to be an amazing vision quest for each of us and for all of us. Well, all the Lazaris workshops are amazing, but this one will be even more so. I could feel the excitement as people said goodnight and made their way to their rooms. The energy was exalted.
We spent two full days in Barcelona. One day was complete with an excursion: The morning within the exquisitely beauty of Sagrada Familia. I feel it is the most beautiful building, temple, structure in the world. We had a terrific tour guide and also plenty of time to explore on our own or to just be with the beauty. Throngs of tourists, of course, but once you are inside, the beauty is so immense and so intense and so sacred that all the milling people and the din of whispering tourists disappear. I felt delightfully alone in the presence of my soul and suspended in a timeless moment in the sacred beauty that was everywhere. Vast. Mighty. Majestic. I suspect others felt the same. Oh, and the light, oh my, the rainbow of light – luminous colors moving with the movement of the sun – was utterly breathtaking. I could have spent the full day there. I will be back.
We moved on to a classic Spanish lunch. We sat down at 1:30 and ate and talked and drank some wine and talked and laughed and finally pushed back from the table. It was almost 4:00. Satisfied. Full. Determined to “never eat again” or at least until the next opportunity. Tapas anyone? Our excursion continued with a walking tour of the Gothic section of Barcelona. Our evening was free as was the other day in the city, free to explore, free to drink in the marvel, the wonder, and the magic.
It was a drizzly morning when all 95 of us gathered in the lobby. We boarded the buses, arrived at the airport, unloaded the luggage, raced to the group check-in counter, and finally boarded the place for Bilboa, in the heart of the Basque country in northeastern Spain. Back on a bus we rode through the enchanting countryside to San Sebastian. A beautiful drive. Our excitement grew as we passed small villages in the valleys and snapped photos of the wooded mountains and the many waterfalls. The greens were stunning. The richness of the land was grand. We arrived at our hotel in San Sebastian. Registration? Fast and easy. Our luggage? Either it was right there or one of the porters delivered it to our rooms. At 6:30 we were off to an enchanting restaurant for a buffet of typical Basque food. Our excitement grew as were already were basking in the wonder and beauty of this amazing place. Wow. Too simple a word, but an appropriate one.
One major ingredient in all meals in the Catalania and the Basque area, and perhaps in all of Spain, is conversation. It was a lively ingredient of our first evening meal in San Sebastian. Throughout our time here, I noticed that so many of the Pinxtos Bars and Cafes were overflowing with locals, groups of men or men and woman, eating Pintxos and lost in boisterous conversations peppered with laughter. The volume is as intense as the energy but it’s all fun and wonderful. You just join in and become a part of the community and create your own conversations with friends or strangers newly met. It all feels like a celebration of life. It sizzles here in San Sebastian.
The workshop got underway Friday morning but this vision quest began on that Sunday nearly a week before in Barcelona. It was in full swing Sunday, and continued Monday morning and for a full day Tuesday. Tuesday evening we said farewell (fare well) to many who were here only for week one. Wednesday evening we welcomed another group, and the wonder and the magic and the fun continued for another nine days. The first week we worked with the triumph of our personal freedom. The second week we worked with embracing the unfathomable. Each week was breathtaking and stunning. Each week was a pivotale watershed of growing and changing. I would like to say more, but I can’t. The entire experience reach for and touched the unfathomable.
Tomorrow we all make our way back to Barcelona for three nights. The journey continues as the circle ends where it began. Amazing. There are no adequate words.
Yes, I am loving it. We are all loving it.
419 steps. That’s what I figured. There were ramps not actual steps, but I took 12 steps for each inclining ramp, and there were 34 of them. 34 up, up, and more up. At the end, just when I thought I was done, there were 17 stair steps, steep stair steps, to the top of the tower. The views ... there was all of Sevilla. In all directions historic center, old city, new city, expanding city, the river that once was the gateway to the sea, a once thriving trade capital for the Iberian Peninsula and for all of Europe, and now still a growing city finding its new identity. Sevilla. Yes, it was worth the climb.
We had left Madrid Tuesday morning, and we had driven nearly 6 hours to arrive at our hotel in Sevilla, a grand city that is still the capital of the Andalucía region here in Spain. Our hotel, an actual palace in the 1700s, had been restored, refurbished, and transformed into a boutique hotel close to the historic center of Sevilla.
After we checked in, it was early enough to go exploring so off we went. We walked for nearly 2 hours and finally stopped at a delightful restaurant advertising tapas and wine. It was Michelin rated and the food was excellent. It was after 10:00 when we walked out into the cool crisp night air. A sliver moon over head and we were content. Fulfilled. We turned on the GPS on the iPhone and began our journey back to the hotel. Twisting and turning through the charming tiny streets, past tiny tapas bars and hidden courtyards, and soon we realized we were lost. The GPS voice kept talking but the directions made less and less sense and apparently we were getting further and further away from our hotel. When the GPS said we had 2 more kilometers to go, Enrique hailed a taxi. Our driver laughed and told us that it was impossible to find our hotel with Google Maps. I think he was just being polite. He drove us through a maze of alleyways and in roughly 2 kilometers we were home.
Wednesday: We walked the old town and spent the afternoon at Real Alcázar, the major Moorish and then Catholic palace that is still the Sevilla residence for the current royal family. The palace is breathtakingly beautiful with strong Moorish influences that remain from it inception and that were enhanced in the 15th Century, mainly by Charles V and Isabella, and again in the 16th and 17th Centuries by the Catholic Kings. I came away amazed and sad.
Amazed at the beauty of the Moorish and Muslim traditions expressed in the Royal Alcázar Palace. There was such a sense and respect for the romance of life and such a respect and honoring of beauty. The geometric elegance and excellence were fascinating and mesmerizing. I stood in this room and that one -- rooms meticulously measured and designed and adorned with intricate precise tile patterns or mosaics -- and just took in as much as I could. Almost overwhelmed.
Such beauty, such mysticism, such science, such mastery. My eyes often blurred with tears. “Beauty is eternal.” I remembered.
I also came away sad because of what has happened to that richness and that honoring of humanity and humankind that was so profoundly woven into that tradition. Ignorance, a lack of understanding, along with bigotry, anger, hate, and revenge have ravaged so much of human goodness and truth. I also walked away remembering. “Goodness and Truth shall prevail, and Beauty is eternal.” It’s important to remember. There’s magic in remembering.
Thursday: We spent much of Thursday exploring two churches: “El Salvador Divino” (The Divine Savior) and the Cathedral of Seville. In the 12th Century, the conquering Christians pushed the Moors (Muslims) out of Spain. In Sevilla, the conquerors tore down the majestic Mosque and built an even more massive Cathedral. Not more majestic but more massive. The legend says they wanted to build a Cathedral so that (paraphrase) “All who saw it would think they were madmen.”
The smaller church was amazingly beautiful. Stunning. Currently they are cleaning and preparing the huge statutes that will be carried during next week’s Easter Week Processions. The men will be carrying massive statues that weight tons. The platforms rest on the men’s shoulders. Only their feet show as they march slowly and with precision through the streets of Sevilla from noon until 2:00 a.m. Yeah, 14 hours. Unbelievable, but it’s the tradition; it’s the ritual.
The Cathedral, not so beautiful, is huge. Gigantic. It is the third largest in the world next to St. Peter’s in the Vatican and St Paul’s in London, and it’s the number one largest Gothic cathedral in the world. As we were ready to leave the Cathedral, we decided to climb the tower. It was initially the Mosque Tower. Rather than stairs, there were ramps so that the cleric could ride a horse to the top five times per day to call the people to prayer. The Christians didn’t destroy the tower. Instead they added height to it, and the two architectural styles are evident. As I walked I counted steps. Each ramp, 12 to 14 steps so I did the math at 12 steps. For someone young, eager, and naive, it probably would be 10 steps per ramp, but I am not young or naive, so 12 steps. It was a worthy and fitting finish to our church/Cathedral exploration.
Within that historic center there’s the Santa Cruz barrio which is notorious for its even narrower streets that interweave to create a seemingly endless maze. It’s easy to get lost; we did a couple of times. It’s an enchanting area of the city. Tiny shops, tapas bars, small houses with their interior courtyards normally hidden from view, little garden parks, and more tiny alleyways leading to who know where. We returned to this area several times in the daylight just to explore and to feel the energies and to get lost. So alive.
Friday we are on the road again heading to Arco de la Frontera, one of the “Pueblos Blancos” -- the white villages -- of the Andalucía region.
We bought our tickets late Sunday night. We had slept most of the morning adjusting to the six hour time change. It was sunny, brilliant sun, luminously bright, and crisp, refreshingly crisp, sharp, when we began wandering Metro Centro in Madrid. Our first stop was Plaza del Sol and as we were walking into the vast open space the name was obvious. There were hundreds of people strolling through the plaza, a Mariachi Band was playing by the central statue as perhaps 200 people, families with kids and pets, looked on. Enrique stopped to get a Sim card so he could stay in touch with the world, and then we checked our map and headed off to walk the narrow streets. I’ve mentioned it before, I am enamored with the architecture of the apartment buildings that line the narrow streets. There aren’t any daring designs like the Gaudi designs in Barcelona, but there is something that speaks to me. I suppose that something speaks to my soul. As I walk along I look up. I stop. “Oh, my isn’t that beautiful?” I say out loud to myself. The words tumble out. Goosebumps. Then I move along.
We ended up at the Plaza Mayor and then to the San Miguel Mercado again. This time we stayed.
With a glass of Rioja in hand, we went looking for a space to sit. There are long rows of tables with stools lining both sides. Young, old, families with babies in strollers, groups of friends huddled together laughing, all sorts of individuals and groups, mostly tourists from all over the world, gather to enjoy the tapas and tasty treats. Once we found a place, one stool and then another stool, we took turns going off to explore. Enrique would come back with some surprises, we‘d eat them, and then I would go off. I found a Paella stand with six or seven variations. Enrique stopped at the Olive Bar. Amazing “Olive Kebobs.” I had to go to the Mozzarella Bar. It took me a while to find it. The eating was fun but it was the sitting there amid the flow of people that made Sunday afternoon and evening in Madrid special. After three hours, we were ready to leave but first Enrique went looking for a special dessert to share. “Milhojas” -- a thousand leaves -- which is a delicate dessert of flaky pastry filled with lush cream.
We quietly walked back to our hotel. We stopped to talk to the Concierge. We bought tickets to the Prado Museum for Monday.
It was drizzly. A perfect day for museums. With tickets in hand, we walked past the very long line of people waiting, and were shaking off our umbrellas and moving through security in no time. We entered the main hall. The Prado is huge. Second largest museum in the world next to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. Wow. We turned around and went looking for a guide, not just the recorded tour, but a live person. We had a wonderful four hours at the Prado. We went back to our hotel to rest a while and then we went out walking again.
We had wanted to go to the Reina Sofia Museum but as we looked at our map, it seemed too far away. So just went walking the narrow streets again. Can never do that too much. Before we realized it, we were only a block away from the Reina Sofia. It’s a beautiful museum. The main building was once a hospital and now it’s a museum of eclectic art with an emphasis on Modern Art. We focused on Cubism. Why? Well, it was close to where we had entered, but once we went into the first exhibition hall, we focused on Cubism because it was an intriguing exhibit.
It was 8:00 when we returned to the street and to our walk. We had dinner plans with friends. We would meet at 9:15. Our friends are Colombians living here in Madrid. Mario, is a marvelous chef and owner of two very successful restaurants in the Metro Centro area of the city. His husband, Juan Pablo, a relative of Enrique’s, is a very successful architect. We had dinner at “Hortencio.” Only Juan Pablo, Enrique, and I sat at the table. Mario was busy preparing an incredible meal for us. A delicate Morel Mushroom soup, Morel Mushrooms garnished with foie gras or egg (egg for me), and I had “La Soup aux Trufa,” which Mario prepared as an homage to the deceased famous French Chef, Paul Bocuse, who first presented this soup on February 25, 1975. It was delicious beyond words. Enrique had a tender lamb dish that was sensational. A dab of Pistachio ice cream added the exclamation point to a culinary delightful evening.
The day was full, and it was wonderful. In the morning we’d be off to Sevilla.
Bumper-to-bumper movement or none at all, we were caught in a traffic jam at the Yumbo Roundabout on our way to the airport in Cali, Colombia. We arrived just as our flight was scheduled to leave. My cellular buzzed with an announcement. Our flight was also delayed. Mechanical trouble, a new plane was en route. Mechanical trouble or magic? I dispelled my building anxiety with a smile.
From Cali to Bogotá with a four hour layover that became two and a half hours, we were off on our overnight to Madrid. We disembarked at 1:30 Saturday afternoon. Friday afternoon we were caught in traffic and less than 24 hours later we were in Madrid. I know it’s a cliche but travel still fascinated me. Thanks to many moving sidewalks, escalators, and trains, we move from gate to immigration and then to baggage claim easily. Waiting for luggage, my anxieties always stir. Today they were broken by a voice.
“Are you from Cali?” I turned to see a young woman with a beautiful smile standing there with who appeared to be her mother.
“Yes.” Maybe I said, “Sí,” not sure.
“I think you’re our neighbor.” She speaks excellent English; very little accent. I wished my Spanish had been that good. “You have two Vizslas, right?”
“Yes! Abbie and Lucas!”
There is only one other Vizsla in our neighborhood. It’s hers. We each knew each other’s dogs -- our kids -- now we met face to face at baggage claim in Madrid. What a world. It was a nice wink as our journey got underway. Rental car picked up, GPS’ed to the hotel with only one missed turn and route correction, and we were resting in our room. After just resting a few hours, knowing better than to go to sleep in the daylight, we bundled up, it was in the low 50’s out there by 6:00 p.m., we headed out walking.
I find Madrid to be a fascinating city, more than most. There is something in the resonance, in the lay of the land, in the architecture of the buildings, in the green trees that line the streets and fill the parks, and in the energy of the people, that is mysterious and intriguing at the same moment. I just love walking the streets and just love looking, looking at everything. It fills me; I feel alive as I walk and look and listen. I think there just might be a common denominator of caring. I don’t think everyone cares about this city, but I think enough people do care, and care with a Latin sense of immediacy and passion, that it makes a difference. Madrid is a different city. Sure there’s some graffiti on the walls of vacant buildings or run down doorways, but not much. Otherwise the streets and the buildings and the windows are amazingly clean. There is a pride along with the caring and I think that matters.
We walked along these delightfully narrow stone slab streets. They are wide enough for single lane car traffic by day but in the evenings pedestrians take them over. Oh, occasionally cars come, but they move meticulously slow and with great caution. People own the streets as the sun sets. Street lights and shop lights and restaurant lights fill the night along with the chatter and laughter of hundreds of people coming alive and filling the nights.
Along the way, we encountered a group of men practicing for an upcoming Easter procession. During Semana Santa -- Easter Week -- there are many parades or processions where people carry huge religious statues for miles and miles. So they practice ahead of time. There were six rows of men. Four per row. They were marching slowly and in precision with each step in unison. They had a wood platform resting on their shoulders. On top of the platform were concrete blocks with a total weight equal to that of the statue they will carry during Semana Santa. See the accompanying photo.
It was early. We walked and meandered for almost an hour making our way along those narrow walkways through several plazas until we reached Plaza Mayor. It’s famous. A tourist attraction. And it’s still grand and majestic and warm and friendly. We found a restaurant and had an easy dinner of tapas and sangria. It was 10:15 when we walked out into the Plaza again. The night was now fully underway. Restaurants were full. Outdoor cafes under blazing gas heaters were full. Rapid fire talking and laughter and an occasional shrill laugh, the night was sizzling.
We walked through the Plaza to the San Miguel Mercado on the far side. Also famous. Also a destination for most tourists, and also a must stop place. It was after 10:00 and people were streaming out. We thought they must be closing.
Oh no. No way were they closing. The places was abuzz with hundreds of people. Four deep standing around a wine bar here or a sangria bar over there. People carrying plates piled high with tapas or other hors d’oeuvres were weaving their way through the jam of people. No, no one was closing. The night had just begun.
San Miguel Mercado is not a farmer’s market or a grocery store. It is an enclosed building with hundreds of vendors: I saw a Mozzarella Bar selling countless culinary treats with mozzarella and buffalo mozzarella, and each was an intricate creation. There were all sorts of tapas vendors, and salad vendors, and ... there was one display of tapas made with olives, just olives of all kinds, olives adorned with all kinds of delicacies.
We slowly made our way through the growing crowds of people. Everyone was smiling, laughing, celebrating, and eating. To me, this is Madrid. This is Spain. As we left the market and walked back through Plaza Mayor, we realized we’d left our street map in the restaurant. We used it to find our way to the Plaza and Market. We were on our own to walk back. A few wrong turns, but soon enough we were at our hotel. We stopped in the lounge for a night cap. Our first day of our road trip complete, now we could go to bed.
4:00 a.m. Wednesday morning. I am lying on a futon with a hard pillow behind my head and a thick down comforter covering me. There is a chill in the air. Sweet. To my right there is a wall of window. In the predawn light, the window frame seems a picture frame that’s framing a Japanese wood block print. Dark gray sky, white cloud mountains and silhouetted trees, stark as if they had been cut out of black construction paper. Beautiful harbinger of the day to come.
Monday was our final day in Tokyo. We went to the Senso Ji or Asakusa Temple. We arrived at the temple gate at 11:00 and it took us 90 minutes to finally enter the actual temple. The walkway and the side streets are lined with hundreds of tiny tourist shops, and there were thousands of people milling about. It was great fun. We bought chop sticks and I bought some postcards. The temple is a Buddhist Temple and the oldest one in Tokyo. The surrounding area is “old Tokyo” offering a view of what Tokyo once was. Enchanting. Charming.
I felt more at home here. Not sure why. It was crowded, hectic, and loud . . . very different than the Meiji Shrine with its elegant and majestic grounds.
Anyway, I had a great time at the Temple and I really enjoyed walking the narrow streets of the surrounding neighborhood. We continued strolling those
narrow street until we found a wonderful lunch place, “Goroku,.” We had what we called Japanese Tapas. I had Assorted Tempura, Pork Rolls, Crab Coquettes,
along with a glass of red wine. Everything was delicious. Ready to go again, we continued walking the area and finally caught a taxi to head to another
part of town for the evening.
40 minutes later we were in a glitzy part of town called Kabukicho in the area called Shinjuku. Bright colorful neon flashing lights. Young, fast paced,
alive. Street barkers encouraging people to eat at this restaurant or to take in that show. The taxi driver got us as close as he could and it was
fun walking the pedestrian streets looking for “Robot Restaurant.” Up this street, down that one, turn left there and then right, we finally found
it. Huge sign nearly 30 feet long. Wow.
We went to the Robot Restaurant for the show. It is not a restaurant and as it turned out it wasn’t really a show, or at least not something I would call
a show. It was the worst “show” I’ve ever seen. The only saving grace was that it was so bad that it was funny, and I was curious to see just how bad
it would be. How bad was it? The bottom.
As we left I smiled and thought about how our universe, a reflection of something more real, expresses itself as a duality. We have experiences the ups,
and now the downs of Tokyo. It’s time to move on.
Tuesday morning we had gone to Tokyo Station and waited on Platform 17 to take the noon Bullet Train to Kyoto. We arrived mid-afternoon at our hotel —
Gion Hatanaka Ryokan. A Ryokan is a traditional Japanese county inn. This one is beautiful. Minimalistic in design with an elegant ambiance. We had
a traditional Japanese dinner served in our room. Several courses, each a work of art as well as a delicious dish — haute cuisine of nine courses.
Beautiful. After dinner our server set up the futon beds, and we went down to the public baths on the lower level of the Ryokan. We will move to a
Western hotel today but we wanted to have one night at a place like this.
It’s now 7:30 a.m. I am still looking out my window. My “Japanese Wood Block” painting has shifted now to become a lush green morning with a soft blue sky. There’s a rainbow arching between the trees. Yes, a beautiful day to come. Our Japanese breakfast will arrive at 8:30 and we will discover what the days holds.
Tokyo is huge and the architecture is fascinating. What seems obvious really became more obvious Sunday morning as we made our way to Ropongi and then to Ropongi Hills, a trendy area of the city not far from our hotel. Near the Grand Hyatt, we got our tickets and took the elevator up 52 floors to the City View — a round glass enclosed observation room with a small cafe, a museum, and incredible views — stunning views — of Tokyo. It was another crisp morning, about 60 degrees F, and the winds were gusting, but the sky was powerfully blue. The city sparkled. Towering buildings, patches of green parks, low warehouses and storage buildings down by the piers, and the deep blues of the seemingly endless bay. Captivating. We were there for more than an hour.
Then we explored the rest of that 52nd floor. There were scale models of the city that filled the side rooms. As many as 30 people at a time stood silently peering over the lucite walls marveling at the detail or identifying neighborhoods and buildings. On the walls, decade by decade descriptions of the development of the modern city of Tokyo. It was all in Japanese, but it was impressive even to my eye. The display in any language, was beautiful.
Finally we left the City View and explored Ropongi Hills. It was Sunday morning and already the foot traffic was building. Yes, a huge city with an increasingly huge population. We found a restaurant for an early lunch and then planned to head out to the Meiji Shrine.
Previously at the hotel when we inquired about the Imperial Palace, the attendant at the front desk took a post-it size paper and wrote the words “Imperial Palace” in Japanese characters. Often taxi drivers don’t know the English names of their shrines and tourist attractions. So rather than pointing to a location on a city map, we gave the driver the paper. Easy. Elegant.
We asked the waiter to write “Meiji Shrine.” Smiling broadly, he returned with a small paper and it said, “I would like to go to the Meiji Shrine,” in characters. We were off in the easy flow of traffic to some other part of the city and one of the most famous and most popular Shrines in Tokyo.
We stood several long minutes at the Gate, the 40 feet tall entrance to the grounds of the Shine. Amazing. Almost immediately we felt the reverence; others did too. As we made our way along the walkway, I listened to the “music.” The crunch of gravel underfoot as hundreds of people walked the pathways in silence that was accentuated as kids intentionally shuffled along. Shush, shush, shush. The call of the ravens in the trees that, at times, swooping low overhead. A soft whisper of a breeze playing in the trees. It all added to majesty of the place and to the honor of the procession of people making their way to the Shrine of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken.
The Emperor Meiji is credited with bringing Japan out of the feudal system and out of over 200 years of isolation. He is credited with introducing Western technology and culture to Japan. He lifted Japan into economic viability and vitality as he ended the Edo Era and as he opened Japan to a new world in which the old structures — structures that needed to be replaced — broke down making room for a new way of living and a new way of being. It felt appropriate to be walking the pathways to the Shrine.
The buildings weren’t that impressive, but the energy was. The several original buildings, some still being restored, were traditional Japanese, Shinto. Practical. Symbolic. Not intended to dazzle. This temple is where the souls of Meiji and his wife are enshrined. There’s a reverence and a reverie here that supersedes the physical design. There is a presence here that is available without being imposing.
Meiji and Shoken wrote “Wakas.” They are 31 syllable Japanese poems intended to offer subtle insight or guidance to living a better life. Meiji wrote over 100,000 of them; Shoken wrote 30,000. I purchased two. I reached into the box and dug around and picked one Waka for me and another for our Asia Excursion.
My Waka: “We shall fall behind our fellows in the world if, when we should advance, we make no move at all.” — Emperor Meiji
I smiled thinking about how God/Goddess/All That Is — God, Goddess — are continually growing, becoming more. Our souls and Higher Selves are continually growing and becoming more. If we aren’t, we are falling behind. I like the phrase, “when we should advance.”
The Waka for our journey: “As clear and refreshing as the rising sun — thus might it always be with the human heart.” — Emperor Meiji
Okay, so I am going to begin each morning of our journey through Asia, with my heart open to the refreshing clarity of a sunrise. Focus on the light of a new dawn, of a new day. Always.
It was a magical afternoon. From the Shrine we walked the grounds. The call of the ravens was loud and persistent. One raven swooped low and landed on a fence. We chatted for a bit and then he flew off. We walked on.
The public access to the Shrine closed at 4:00 and we along with hundreds of people began meandering our way toward the gate. Around 4:30 we move with the steady flow of people through the narrow exit. Ahead of us, a grand boulevard of shops: modern shops, old shops, simple shops, and high end shops. Ahead of us, thousands of people strolling along the sidewalks, sidewalks that are 10 to 12 feet wide and the people are moving like an undulating human river. Amazing. Intriguing. It was Sunday early evening and there were throngs of people walking this shopping highway. I got a photo.
We walked or flowed with the crowd for nearly a half hour. It was our “grounding time.” Hailing a taxi, we made our way back to the New Otani Hotel, Garden Tower. A fine day. A quiet night.
Arriving in Tokyo in the evening was a fortunate change in our plans imposed by the airline. I had made our reservations to leave SFO at 2:00 a.m. on November 2 and we were scheduled to arrive in Tokyo at 5:00 a.m. Wasn’t sure what we would do from 5:00 a.m. until we could check into our hotel, but I figured we could handle it. It was Cathay Pacific or JAL that changed the schedule and our departure was pushed forward 14 hours to 4:00 p.m. Arriving in the evening was great because we could be awake for only a few more hours and then sleep. Nice.
Immigration was so easy and baggage claim was fast. Through customs in a breeze, our driver was there with my name spelled correctly. We arrived at the New Otani Hotel and were in our room by 9:00 p.m. Peggy, Enrique’s mother, had flown in from Rome and had arrived mid-afternoon. The hotel restaurants close at 10:00. We rushed down to the restaurant for my last “western meal.” I had a juicy square hamburger with all the imaginable trimmings. $25.00. Ha! I know prices are high in huge cities. I knew prices were high in Tokyo and all of Japan. Still. It’s a bit of shock. $25.00 for a hamburger? $8.50 for a soft drink in a glass?
In Cuba I expected to find only the facades of old buildings and vintage cars. I did. In Tokyo I expected to find high prices. I did and I am continuing to find high prices.
However I didn’t expect to encounter people who are so courteous and so very kind. Gentle people who seem eager to help tourist such as us. Several times we stood looking both curiously and helplessly at our maps. Each time someone came up and quietly bowed and asked if we they could help. Some spoke English fluently with excellent pronunciation while others struggled to find the words and to pronounce them correctly. But each was patient and helpful.
I also didn’t expect to find such a clean city. No litter. None. Really. None. No graffiti (so far?) and the buildings seemed to sparkle in the sunshine. The white bricks were still white. Not darkened by auto exhaust and other air pollution. No paper in the gutters. No cigarette butts. Clean everywhere. We walked quite a bit in the Akasaka area: narrow old streets, tiny shops, many restaurants with secluded doorways, and not a speck of litter anywhere. I didn’t expect to see the streets and the buildings so clean. And then there’s the architecture . It’s wonderfully creative and inventive. Okay, I expected that.
I didn’t expect the tranquility that I felt. I mean, Tokyo is a huge city with all kinds of traffic and highways creating a crisscross maze of concrete. I expected the hectic frenzy of New York City or Bogota or even Cali, Colombia. But no. Loads of traffic but it was all moving in a quiet orderly fashion. Thousands of people, many with those white masks covering mouth and nose, but everyone walking casually and minding the walk-don’t walk signs. There was one intersection where each road was six lanes wide. The cross walks created an X in the intersection. All the lights turned red simultaneously. All traffic stopped. Silence. Suddenly streams of people from all four corners walked in all directions: straight ahead, left or right, or diagonally criss crossed through the middle of the intersection. A massive flow of humanity in confluence. It was orderly. No pushing, no shoving, no congestion, just easy flow. A dance. It was quite beautiful.
The people, the landscaping and architecture, and the tranquility . . . there is something delightful and mysterious about this city. We will be here for four days before taking the Bullet Train to Kyoto. I am eager to explore this city before going to that one. Our Asia Excursion is only 3 days old and already . . . yes, it’s going to be a magic journey.
Friday: Late morning with a walk across the street to find a breakfast place. Found a delightful restaurant called Starbucks. [s] Yeah, all the Japanese restaurant were closed until 11:00 a.m. when they opened for lunch. Starbucks for a coffee and a spinach quiche, then we walked for several hours finding a local lunch place. After lunch we went to the Imperial Palace. We anticipated a going on a tour of the palace. Not so. There are tours of the grounds but none that actually go into the palace. Disappointed we walked to the Ginza area and found the department store Food Court and were astounded. We bought fruit, cheese, crackers — dinner for Friday night.
Saturday: After a Japanese breakfast at the hotel, we went on a 4 hour tour of the city and ended up at the East Garden of the Imperial Palace. It is a beautiful garden rich in greenery and powerful in tranquility. We walked for nearly an hour, and then we made our way back to the hotel. We had dinner reservations at Tajimaya Ginza. We had Sukiyaki . . . . incredible. The food, the service, the ambiance, the entire evening was memorable — an incredible moment that lasted nearly 3 hours linearly. Forever beyond the linear.
What does tomorrow hold?
What was that amazing smell? It was seductive for sure. I made my way through the Food Court at Mitsukoshi, the department store in the Ginza area of Tokyo. It was the bread department and the scent of warm fresh bread was almost overpowering. I had never smelled such sensational smells. Amazing. Sensuous scents. The experience on this Friday afternoon was definitely enhanced by the whole of the food court. It wasn’t like food courts in the US. No Burger King or pizza place or even a noodle shop. The foods were prepared as works of art. Usually I don’t take many photos and I seldom take photos of food. This was an exception.
Enrique and I had been planning our Asia Excursion for nearly a year. Initially it was my idea and I suggested that we invite Peggy, Enrique’s mother, to join us. Over the months, what began as a cruise of Malaysia that started and ended in Singapore and included Viet Nam and Thailand grew into visiting Bali again. Of course. We’ll stay at the Komaneka at Bisma again and we will have a day tour with our favorite Balinese guide from the last time. Of course. Oh, and yes, we need to spend some time in Hong Kong. It was late in the planning that we added Japan — Tokyo and Kyoto. We sneaked it in ahead of Hong Kong and our excursion began November 2 — a few days after the San Francisco Bay Area intensive.
The workshop ended Sunday, October 30. We stayed on at the Pullman Hotel because on November 1 Lazaris would be recording an online workshop to be released before year’s end. We finalized our packing that evening and we flew from SFO to Tokyo on Wednesday, November 2, at 4:00 p.m. and we arrived Thursday evening in Tokyo. It was an 11 hour flight with a 16 hour time change, and it was also an elegant way to begin our six week excursion.
From time to time I will be posting messages here. Today it’s food. The horizons will expand but I just couldn’t help it. I had to send off these photos.
Excerpts from the Online Conferences
Forgiveness is such a powerful tool; it is only recently that I have come to realize that it is far more powerful than I thought. We often think of forgiveness as the proper thing to do and we have all heard the clichés about the importance and beauty of it. It's the Christian thing to do or the spiritual thing to do. And it is. I mean, those thoughts are correct.
But it is more than that, too. It truly is a powerful technique that can profoundly and instantly change our reality. That is why the title tonight is The Dynamism of Forgiveness. Dynamism describes a process whereby the nature of reality -- of our illusion -- is a function of force and energy rather than of movement and mass. The velocity and mass are quantitative measurements but the true building blocks are energy and force. It takes very little energy and force to generate a change in mass. So it is the force and energy of forgiveness that I thought we could talk about tonight.
Q: Why is it so much easier to forgive others but so difficult to forgive ourselves?
You know, the answer to that does vary so much with each of us. However, at this point in our growth, when this happens to me I look at why I don't want to forgive myself. I mean, for someone who knows little about forgiveness the answers may vary, but most of us here know a great deal about it. So I ask myself why don't I want to forgive myself. Sure, the obvious answer is that I still want to punish myself. That could be true. I also look at this: Am I still wanting to keep others on the hook? What I mean is this: If I forgive myself now, then all is well and the changes can happen and the freedom can come and all is well. But if I refuse to forgive myself, then I am in a less-than-adult place. I am being less than my true self. I am being less than my "more." Why would I do that? Why would I do that to me? And why would I do that to others?
This is what helps me get off the difficulty of forgiving myself. Beyond that, I suppose it has to do with belief structures that say it is better to forgive others and better to punish self. [g] Anyway, this is the way I approach it.
Q: How to know if I really forgave myself, or just went through the motions?
Well, reality is a nifty feedback mechanism. [g] If any of us have just gone through the motions (motion without emotion, as Lazaris would say), our reality will reflect that soon enough. And if we did do the forgiveness, reality will show that.
See, the force of forgiveness has not speed. It is not mass and it is not motion. Forgiveness has not speed. It is or it isn't. It is a quanta phenomenon. Forgiveness, like change, may not have speed, but it does have size, the size of the change we make, the size of the forgiveness we allow. There are things that can make the forgiveness smaller in size or larger in size. I think that reality reflects and expresses that nicely. I have found it so. Also, when the forgiveness is real, it feels freeing. There is an exhilaration and an exuberance -- there is a breath, a breath of release or of healing or of something. Perhaps it is called knowing.
As a quick aside, knowing is something that we think is a big mystery. It is mysterious and it can be mystical, but I think knowing is probably a lot easier than we sometimes think or allow it to be. When we know, we know. When we don't, we don't. It seems to me that the mystery is not about knowing as much as it is about why we will not tell ourselves the truth about knowing. [g]
Q: How do I know when I've forgiven "enough" (i.e., when I'm done with forgiveness)?
Again, reality, though an illusion, is a great feedback mechanism. It is the best biofeedback machine we have. [g] And again, I think the freedom that we feel and the sense of knowing is a big part of it. Perhaps we have forgiven ourselves enough when we feel that release.
Also, there are stages of forgiveness. I think once we have honestly and consciously moved through those stages, the forgiveness will be enough. I also think that when we do not go through the specific stages of forgiveness we risk falling short of our goal.
The stages for those who are not familiar with them are:
Stage 1: Denial -- denying the need to forgive ourselves or others or denying the value of forgiveness.
Stage 2: Then comes the blame stage. We know that blaming does not work, but that does not stop us from doing it in life. [g] And it is the second stage of forgiveness. Once we really own that there is something to forgive and that there is value in forgiving, then we hit the blame stage. This can be blaming others or it can be self blame. But it is a stage, as Lazaris points out, and we need to deal with it. I think if we ignore this stage for example, the forgiveness risks not being complete.
Stage 3: Self-Pity. Yeah, need I say more. [g]
Stage 4: Indignation. This is such a powerful stage. And we, spiritual people that we are, often deny this stage or want to say we don't have this stage, but it is there. I have found that it is essential to respect this stage.
Stage 5: Becoming conscious of the why of the situation or circumstance of forgiveness; learning the lesson that is there; and giving meaning and significance to the constricting and the expanding potentials of the situation before forgiving it.
Stage 6: Freedom. See, that is why I think we know when we are done: freedom.
And the final stage that Lazaris talks of is Integration, the actual forgiving of self and then of others and moving on. He stresses the moving on,
let it go and move on. It is part of the intensity of the force and energy that is the dynamism of forgiveness.
Q: How does indebtedness play into this dynamism?
I think this is an important question and I think it goes back to the size (not the speed) of forgiveness. We can each do the same meditation and process of forgiveness, and it can be around the same kind of issue, yet for one of us the size of that forgiveness may be much larger than it is for the other.
What influences the size of forgiveness is the energy and force that we muster. What influences the size of forgiveness alters the impact of the dynamism. Lazaris points out certain things that can influence the impact of the force and energy. This is an important point, I think. The dynamism: it takes very little force and energy to change reality. It is the force and energy not the movement and mass. Okay. It takes very little energy. I use a little energy and force. You use a little energy and force. The dynamics or dynamism for each of us is the same. What then makes the size of the forgiveness different? It is how we let that dynamism impact us. See, forgiveness is not a reward. It is not something we earn. It is an energy. It is non-discriminatory. It does not discriminate; we do. It does not set boundaries of its size; we do.
The things that can influence the size of forgiveness:
1. The source of the pain: who did it to us.
2. The dimensions of the pain: length, width, depth, and the "space-time" of the pain.
3. What is our reaction pattern to being wronged? How much do we hurt ourselves and punish others when we are wronged?
4. Our resistance to the concepts and ideas of forgiveness. Our reluctance to entertain and follow through upon the concepts and ideas of forgiveness.
5. Stuck in one or another stage of forgiveness, stuck in pity or in blame or in indignation, and often denying that there is any indignation. [g]
6. The dimensions of our love also are key. If those dimensions of love are shallow, forgiveness will probably be shallow.
7. Relationship with the future. If we do not have a working rapport with the future, the size of forgiveness can be severely affected.
So all of this ties into indebtedness, which also dampens and can stop the energy and force of forgiveness totally. Even more energy and more force (Binford style) is not the answer when it comes to indebtedness.
Q: Jach, could you expand more about forgiveness as a letting go of old ideas and images such as illness and malady? Do you feel there is any limit to this?
Well, I am not sure that forgiveness is a letting go of old ideas and images. [g] I think that we can use forgiveness to accomplish this end result, but I don't think the letting go is forgiveness. Often the forgiveness aspect is to forgive ourselves for holding onto the old ideas and images. When we come to finally admit that that is what we have been doing, we can feel pretty foolish. We can feel indebted to our Higher Self for indulging us our indulgences for so long. In this case, once we forgive ourselves, then we can let go. I see them as separate activities that call us to separate tasks.
Beyond this, forgiving others may be a critical link. I mean, if we are holding onto those old ideas or old images to maintain a hidden agenda or to maintain a function of blaming them, then that forgiveness would probably have to come first. But even so, then the letting go would follow.
With illness sometimes we blame our bodies for getting ill, sometimes we blame ourselves. Sadly, in the New Age, there are those who hold severe better thans about themselves (who are well) and severe less thans about others (who are ill). We often buy into that New Age arrogance, sometimes consciously, most often unconsciously. If we do blame our bodies or ourselves, as well as changing the belief about illness, forgiveness would be in order, wouldn't it?
I refer back to the stages of forgiveness: if we are in a state of denial or one of blame or pity or one of indignation, then forgiveness seems to be an answer and an issue, our issue and part of our answer. So around illness or another malady, around anything that we sense as failure, there is a role for forgiveness.
Is there a limit? Sure there is. But that limit is not inherent in the forgiveness. I think its power is unlimited.The limits are not inherent in us, either. But they are within the beliefs we choose to hold. I don't even say within our beliefs, but within the beliefs that we choose to hold. And more and more the limits are contained in the choices -- the quality of the choices-- we choose to make. Or, at least that is how it seems to me. [vbg] Thanks for asking.
Q: Why does forgiving often feel like giving in or wimping out?
Well, I know what you mean. I have felt that and I have felt waves and waves of anger when I have approached forgiveness from that point of view. We are conditioned to think that. Chauvinism with its twists teaches us that the only acceptable way to be is to be on top of the heap, to be the best and to be number one, to be king of the mountain in the hierarchy of competition and comparison. Forgiveness, on this battleground, is tantamount to defeat. Forgiveness, on that turf, is utter failure. "Cry uncle." "I give." We are conditioned. Until we face and deny that conditioning -- until we start defining what forgiveness is for us -- we are often bound by that conditioning. That conditioning is an avenue of least effort. It is easy to feel that it is wimpy to forgive.
It is a strange irony isn't it that the consensus society in America holds Christian values. Paramount in such values is the value of forgiveness, yet it is held as weak and giving in. I wonder how a good Christian holds it when Jesus talked of forgiveness and forgave? Jesus, the wimp? Jesus, the loser who gave up? I doubt it. [g]
Beyond that conditioning, I think we each need to look at why we would want to continue feeling that way. As I said before, for someone who is naive, who has not been engaged and involved in spiritual pursuits, following the conditioning would continue to make sense. But once we are free of that conditioning, then we have to ask ourselves why we persist. It doesn't mean we are bad or wrong. We may have other agendas. Maybe we have other agendas for which we need to -- that's right -- forgive ourselves. [g]
Q: Jach, it seems permission and authority are involved in self-forgiveness. Can you speak about this?
LOL . . . thanks . . . the $5.00 will be in the mail tomorrow. Because the question was so appropriate, people might think I put you up to it. [g]
Anyway, Lazaris has talked so much already this year about the new kind of empowerment that involves finding and creating permission inside us, finding and creating authority (authorship, originality, innovation, inventiveness) inside ourselves. But you know, even as we come to understand and know this, some of us will still look outside ourselves. Some of us will still consider any permission we might grant or authority we might have is tainted or spoiled, as we are tainted and spoiled. When we are caught in the unresolved stages of forgiveness we will find it more difficult to empower ourselves.
The explanations and reasons, all valid and legitimate, may be many, but the answer or the solution can come down to forgiveness. Forgiveness is not a panacea; it is not the one prescription that is going to solve all our ills. But forgiveness can be -- CAN BE -- a phenomenal tool toward that end. It can, likewise, play a critical and phenomenal role in empowerment. And why do we forgive others more easily than ourselves? Empowerment: we lack the permission, we lack the authority, to forgive ourselves. When do we know we feel empowered? Ha! I am discovering my own answers as I am typing along. [g]
Q: When you say it takes very little energy and force to change a mass, are you saying that forgiveness is such a force that can change a "mass," that can change a lot of issues for us by forgiving ourselves around one issue, and then that change translates into changes perhaps in other areas where we weren't even working on forgiving ourselves?
And another $5.00 is on its way. [g] What a fun question. Yes, that is how it seems to me. That is also my experience. Forgiveness *used* to work one way. It did not have that dynamism that it seems to have now. I would find an issue, forgive myself, and move on. The forgiveness would reflect in my world and it was wonderful. It was magical and I discovered a bit more of who I really am. But everything is different now.
Forgiveness has always had a dynamism. Always. But that dynamism is now more available to all of us. It was embedded, I suppose, in those seemingly dormant or redundant parts of our brain that Lazaris talks about, lost in the "garbage" of our DNA, but now it is out there and present.
Now the "same" forgiveness (as though it really were the same) can generate more profound (far reaching) results. The dynamism is active and available more than ever before.
And when we:
1. release our resistance to forgiveness in general;
2. release our resistance to the specific forgiveness;
3. move through the stages of forgiveness in a conscious way;
4. and forgive the "why" of the situation whether it is self-forgiveness or forgiving another we will set that dynamism in action.
As you say, it will change the mass and the movement of that mass in our reality. It will begin a resonance action (more than a Newtonian chain reaction). The resonance of the energy and force is more powerful than the forgiveness that we do.It is more powerful than us (and our limitations) and it can change us and our reality surrounding us. It can do it in ways that we cannot yet imagine.
Over the decades, a thriving spiritual community has blossomed among many who work with Lazaris. Explore ways to become part of this love, healing and