Vancouver, British Columbia Spiritual Travel book:
Revelations of spiritual travel in Vancouver and British Columbia, by Vancouver author Jack Haas.
A book excerpt from the spiritandflesh.com religion and spirituality online library.
"Indeed there is little in life of more value to the transformation of the self than to one day uproot your whole existence, cut away the gnarled mass that has grown in and around you, scythe the wheat that has grown from your soil, and take up the rhizome of your soul, away from its homeland, away from all it has known of sunlight and season, away from the forces which watered and fed it and pruned it along, and go to another place, find another patch of earth, and then lay down your tuber in the mud and watch it blossom and grow.
To change dramatic sets is to change roles. New buds grow on old branches, but it is a different fruit which comes forth. The old skin of identity molts away, and the nouvelle vintage is poured within.
I understand now why so many ancient epics are filled with tales of exile, exploration, destiny, and destination, because the inevitable tests and trials which beset a person's existence are quickened when the flow of life bursts through the encumbering form, and the individual breaks away from their old and worn out norm.
Had Odysseus never left Ithaca, Homer would have been forced to write cookbooks. Had Moses not walked out of Egypt and wandered forty years in the desert, the reign of Babylon would never have been broken. Had Lao Tzu not turned away from his homeland in disgust and scorn, the gatekeeper would never have heard his wisdom, and the Tao would never have been born.
It is the breaking away from the confines of context which first liberate the spirit into the subtle life, where all that shifts and moves is hidden from all that stands still.
When I took up my tunic and sack, and walked into the sunset without any idea of what lay ahead, I had, without realizing it, joined in with the great dance of creation, and I was now creating what lay ahead of me.
Knowing nothing of such things back then, I ended up falling to earth on the hallowed soil of Canada's westernmost city-state, Vancouver.
Settling in British Columbia, and this gem of a west-coast city, at the age of twenty-three, was like finding a new set of lungs which I did not know I possessed, but into which I was soon inhaling a whole new type of air- an ethereal air which, unlike the profane atmosphere of the east, I could breathe in through the subtle pores of my broken spirit, and slowly regain consciousness from years of suffocation.
To be sure, Ontario has its many charms, but at that time I was unable to see the roses through the thorns, and I needed to be hit with a monstrous blow of beauty and wonder, the magnitude of which can only be found in the grandiose brilliance of the west coast's mountains, forests, and sea, the likes of which have earned this blessed area of the earth the charmed soubriquet of Lotus-land.
Like a man awoken in an unknown flower garden, in an unknown world, for an unknown reason, at first I could do naught but inhale the intoxicating perfumes of this new life's beauty and splendor. Good god did I breathe. That's all I did. That's all I could do. Nothing more was needed.
I can still revisit the swelling sense of well being which often befell me during those first few years in the vibrant city and land which has never ceased to overwhelm and astonish me. Living in a perpetual state of daze and disbelief, I was seized often enough by an intoxicating sense of awe over what were largely overlooked trifles to the tenured residents of this Valhalla: the megalithic size of a neighbor's verdant hedge, the thickly perfumed air of the early spring blossoming season, the balmy, inviting, animated summer nights on the coast, or the sight of an eagle or heron gliding on wing across a city beach- these types of things were enough to drive me mad with joy, enough to invigorate and sustain me, because they were so unlike the experiences and settings in which I had been reared and to which I had said goodbye, heading off to my new life in a new land with new promise, new adventure, and, to be sure, new trials, upheavals, and agonies.
I had arrived to find myself ensconced within a wholly novel feeling, a new vibe, so to speak, which quickly filtered in through my skin, washing away the other life I had been living- the other life I had been dying- and began the germination and fertilization of a seed I had not imagined I was carrying.
In the beginning there were days in which I would walk around in a state of profound amazement and relief, delirious with thankfulness that I had been led to find and live in such a place. I recall riding across the Burrard Street bridge one evening, heading home after a soiree with some new friends, and all of the sudden, without any effort or expectation, I was as if lifted up by the breastbone and a wave of gratitude washed over me the likes of which I have rarely felt since. It was the type of gratitude that arises out of nowhere, for no specific reason, and goes off in no conscious direction. I have no clue to whom or for what I felt this surge of grateful acceptance, I can only say that it was directed at existence itself, and the explosion of thankfulness had arisen out from somewhere behind my mind, and it grabbed hold of me, and possessed me, and the grace of appreciation swelled and wholly consumed me for a spell; I was grabbed by a hook from the sky, lifted off of the earth for a moment, where I watched from above the glorious gift I'd been given, without purpose or reason, and was let back down to the mundane and the tolerable world. The feeling then eased away slowly, and I rode home with the scent of joy and magnanimity trailing out behind me.
It was the regular experiences of such upliftment that carried me through for a while as a citizen of this western metropolis.
And yet, not many years later, although I was still hopelessly smitten with Vancouver- with its new stage, new sights, feelings, inspirations, friends, and wonders- the exuberance and lightness which I had found would begin to dim and fade. In fact, even in this city of God, the insidious aspect of mankind en masse would soon turn foul within me and would drive me away from my habitation and comfort again, forcing me apart from my familiars, out into yet another world altogether- an even mightier and more magical world- a world where I would again experience wonder and gratitude for the privilege of this unimaginable earthly existence of ours. Oh and much more, much, much more. I would discover the true spirit and true earth, all feverishly served up on the wild and untamed coast of British Columbia and Alaska, and my affinity for civilization and its tortured constructs would be finished for good.
I speak of the years of departure; the times when I left my place of welcome, to wander lonely in the void without another- to lift up and stay there, to float on the splendid confusion of disorientation, far above the thorns of context; these are the chapters of life when the soul sets out on an uncharted course, perhaps never again to return- when the spirit finds again that lost fluidity, unbound nor gathered in a name, and the hard parts crumble from the eternal stream gushing free now from within. That is when the spirit relearns its passion dance, and chooses never again to tangle in the game."
(excerpted from In and Of: memoirs of a mystic journey, by Jack Haas)