With one blisteringly hot day and one torrential storm, and with delightful weather conditions on the other days for walking prevailing, we held our 9th annual French Yatra (pilgrimage) in the Dordogne area of southern France. There was a grand total of around 95 men, women and children, 16 nations, mostly French, then German and English.
We had a special guest with us on the walk this year, Julian David, aged 76, a senior and highly respected Jungian analyst living near Totnes, Devon, England. He told me that it was the first time in more than 40 years since he had last gone camping. He took remarkably bold step, literally, to wish to join the Yatra with all the quiet endurance required – simple food, the most basic of living conditions, as well as the daily walking. I trust we will be ready to take up a new challenge when we are well into our 70’s.
We made a 21 kilometre walk on one day while other days ranged from about 10 kilometres upwards. Walking in silence and in single file, with daily instructions on mindful walking, we witnessed the precious support of human nature and nature fused together in the long line. The Yatra gave us the opportunity to experience direct closeness and intimacy with the nature, whether the ground under our feet, the beauty of the forests or long views stretching over the hills of southern France. After a few days into the Yatra, Tom kindly offered Julian his camper van for sleeping at night. It proved ideal.
Christelle, Chad, Zohar and myself formed the core group of teachers with assistance from Ella ya, Tom and Ken. Julian kindly offered his services as a Jungian analyst leading a group on the teachings of Jung and giving analysis for those participants on the walk who had a vivid dream. It was a delight to witness Julian and a “client” sitting under a tree on a couple of camping chairs in the exploration of the unconscious. Jung said that we only could know the unconscious through transference, symbols, shadows that enter consciousness life rather a strong parallel when the Buddha spoke of the tendencies affecting consciousness.
I invited Julian to give an evening talk. He described consciousness as standing at a junction. On the one side, conscious and unconscious life gives shape and values to daily life. While consciousness also stands on the edge of eternity with love having a significant part to play in the understanding of eternity.
There was much appreciation for the talk and question and answer session.
I had a coffee with Julian in Totnes last week. He greatly appreciated the Yatra. Health permitting, he would like to come for a few days next year and perhaps stay with relatives as well in nearby Carcassonne.
Next year’s French Yatra will start on Thursday July 22, 2010 and finish 0n the Sunday 10 days later. It will be our 10th Yatra. We do not make any major changes in the Yatra from one year to the next but teachers and organisers, as well as experienced Yatra walkers, offer suggestions. So every year there is a little modification on the previous year.
We will not set any limits to the numbers next year for the Yatra that will begin near Limoux. Nearest cities with air, train and bus services are Carcassonne and Toulouse. Walter, the guardian angel of the yatra, knows the Limoux area well.
Do join. Do invite friends, adults and children. It is genuinely a precious event. www.dharmayatra.org