The Camino’s essence: It is a walk through Nature. It is a dialogue with Nature. Such a beautiful landscape, and the divine is seen more clearly through these paths than with anything else that I know. Some have the fortune, it would seem, to encounter the divine immediately, most do not. Some find the divine in others and in ourselves, rarely. Though the spark of the divine is meant to hold us closer to divinity in the Genesis story, we are more often bound to the Fall.
I find the sublime most easily in such tranquil scenes as this, scenes that ascend thoughts:
‘In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world,
Is lightened:—that serene and blessed mood,
In which the affections gently lead us on,—
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul:
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.’
As so it lifts the weight of the world from us, elevating our thoughts.
And so what better inspiration for Jack to start his journey, than with the paean of the great Lake Poet, Wordsworth, urging us to find the sublime there.
The figure of Tzu, a spirit enfleshed as a guru from the South East Asian tradition, manifests as such, since the idea of the divine in nature is most marked, perhaps, in the religious expressions from those regions. In Hinduism for example, the concept of the divine nature is inherent to its understanding of Brahman, the Cosmic Principle. In Buddhism equally, there is a moral call to respect all life, and hence the ahimsa symbol is the first mark for Jack : Do no harm.
The parallel position in Western philosophy is something like Panentheism, and over recent years this has pushed itself more to the forefront of Christian ideas about God’s interaction with the universe. In place of a God, sub specie aeternitatis we have the God of Meister Eckhart , an imminent God, infused in nature, yet still transcendent.
The Ashimsa mark, and Tzu’s guidance, consciously mark Jack’s Path at the beginning of his journey, as an expression of the Primacy of Nature in the story, that the Camino allows one to transcend through nature.
The later discussion with Tzu in Triacastela continues on the same theme. Triacastela similarly pulls one back in to nature, this was the last great scenic day, as from Sarria onwards, one becomes awake again to civilization. On this day’s walk, the route is breathtaking throughout.
The natural back-drop to a contemplation of the pressing need to protect the earth, and a pressing need for a clear philosophy on which to find it. Tzu’s message, that humans are at the central to the planets needs, and that our children, and generation of children have a right to be able to enjoy the Earth. No better place on the Camino, to press home the need for a sustainable future.