I would say that generally speaking, the older you get the less interested you are in window seats on planes. After a while, convenience trumps wonder. Or sometimes wonder just fades and anything enters to fill its place. And even if you still get window seats, often it’s just so you can sleep, and the shade stays closed the whole time. I’m still a window seat guy and I still look at the clouds for long periods.
Landing in Spain from my seat in the clouds is like entering another world, a kind of limbo. You’re not quite 100% in the first world, definitely not in the third world. It doesn’t have the overbearing wealth, grandiosity, and sophistication of much of Europe, and I like that. There’s something slightly childlike, malleable and innocent about the people, as though the culture never completely hardened. It’s a sweet, soft slow semi-consciousness that watches life from a window seat. People have the Latin emotional fluidity of the Italians without the long history that makes them seem like they’ve seen it all before. It’s as though things here in Spain are just what they are, surrounded by space and wide pockets of time, rather than crammed into labyrinthine agendas where everything creates a chain reaction with what’s around it, impatiently waiting for what it’s going to become in an unresting jostling for meaning.
Our hotel-spa is beautiful, a comfortable quasi-castle. It’s built from the ruins of an old paper mill made of foot-thick stones and dating back centuries, in a green, warm, river-veined, quiet area way outside of town, where people seem to hang out eating, drinking and doing nothing forever. It’s so relaxing and inviting, the staff so helpful and the food so good, that we’ve come back again after being here last year. As soon as I get here I realize how speedy, unrelaxed and complicated I’ve become living in the LA area. The day I spend recovering from the flight before the training starts is a process of slowing down, breathing the clean, creamy air, deliberately chewing and tasting the food. J-R, and now John, always seem to bring us to these places that are the polar opposite of our familiar patterns, that strip away our accumulations and force us into disbursing what we’ve been hoarding.
The PAT trainings, like Royal Road, or PAT 8, Living in Grace or PAT 1, 2 and 3, perform this stripping-away function too, so by doing it in Santiago de Compostela we get a double dose. As the training progresses we become a lot more Spanish. The assisting team has a kind of innocence. They laugh a lot, and move more slowly, with more purpose and less drama than is usual at these retreats. The unraveling that is the basis of the PAT process seems more careful and complete here. I’ve tried to describe the PAT process in the last couple of articles I wrote, so I’m not going to try to do it again. Suffice it to say that it’s a process of undoing patterns, staying in the present, and residing in awareness instead of in the objects of awareness. That process of de-objectifying the consciousness leads to more awareness of the subject, the observer, the “I am,” the Self.
In this PAT the theme is J-R’s book, The Path to Mastership, and the qualities of mastership. I’ve never found an obvious difference between these various PAT-style trainings that’s clear to the conscious mind, but often what’s most subtle carries the most power. These trainings, to me, are places where energy or inner reality becomes much more powerful than outer form. For a while the tables are turned, and we get a chance to live from the point of view of what is watching, from cause rather than effect. As a result what’s more refined and microscopic takes on more power, because we’re acting from the center rather than from the periphery, from behind the fulcrum rather than at the far end of the lever. So what a training is called, and its themes and verbal trappings, often seep into the consciousness unnoticed and have an effect that’s independent of what’s being done outwardly (which is pretty similar from training to training). Gradually the themes of the training become real inside us, not through any “doing,” but because that’s what the Traveler is radiating on other levels. So it’s not like you wake up and you’re a Master, but you wake up and you know something is different, miraculously handled by the spiritual energy, and all you really had to do was sit in a chair, walk around, talk, participate in the processes, meditate, eat, occasionally dance to the “sit-down music” that introduces each session. You’re as close as you can get to mastership given how much you’re willing to let go, and there’s a sense that what we’re tapping into has no limitations. We absorb it according to how much we choose to empty ourselves. For me, the body and the basic self are so well taken care of at this hotel-spa that I can’t help but relax. There are no hard edges, nothing jarring that might induce a reaction, so the letting-go process is frictionless.
It’s a very civilized, European PAT. In our outdoor meditations, instead of walking through the wilderness or along the rugged coast of northern California, we walk through gardens and country lanes, and spread out on lawns, or in chaise lounges in the shade near ivied stone walls and trickling fountains. We’re fed magnificent food (a French chef, and the cuisine has all the sensitivity of French cooking but with more simplicity and heart). It’s an abundant, non-ascetical PAT–not luxurious, but light, comfortable and heavenly. It’s a perfect kickoff to the upcoming Heaven on Earth tour through Switzerland and Italy. We get to be young children for a while, coddled in this childlike country, watching our inner world from a window seat.
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Registration for The Royal Road – The Path to Mastership in Asilomar, CA & Live Streamed is open! Dates: December 10 – 16, 2018. Click here to learn more and to register.