We Make the Path by Walking It

We Make the Path by Walking It

iPhone photo in Marin County, California
© By Jerome Freedman

Lyn Fine is a dharma teacher in the tradition of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Over the past dozen years or more, I have often heard her say, “We make the path by walking it!”

I often think of this when I’m planning my next move in healing myself of muscle invasive bladder cancer. I doubt that anyone has walked the path I’m walking.

All the doctors recommended that I have my bladder removed in a operation called “radical cystectomy.” This is the “gold standard” of medical treatment.

Instead, I opted for neoadjuvant chemotherapy in preparation for the bladder removal, but when it came time to schedule the surgery, I chose to wait and continue the multiple alternative approaches. For example, acupuncture, massage, body work, vitamins and other supplements, Chinese herbs, and tremendous support from my family and friends all worked together to bring me to the point where there was no longer cancer in the muscle of my bladder.

Now I’ve completed three of six treatments of BCG – an attenuated tuberculosis bacteria. The BCG is instilled directly in my bladder by a nurse. It causes an immune response which eliminates the bacteria as well as the cancer. It had worked for me in 1997 and in 2010.

By the time you read this article, I will have completed my fourth treatment on my path to complete remission.

As I read the following quote from Rumi, I thought of Lyn and her now famous statement.

It’s your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.

– Rumi

Speaking of the path, S. N. Goenka tells a story from the time of the Buddha. It is so well told in The Art of Living.

A lay practitioner comes to Savatthi, where the Buddha was staying with his monks and nuns.

This young man asks the Buddha, “Why don’t you use your power and compassion to liberate them all?

The Buddha replies with a question, “I see that you are not from these parts. Where are you from?”

The young man tells the Buddha that he is from Rajagaha in another state.

The Buddha continues to question him in various ways until he asks the young man to explain whether all the people he knows have walked the path to Rajagaha.

When the young man answers, “Those who walk the entire path to its end will reach Rajagaha.”

Then the Buddha explains that people come to him knowing that he has made the path by walking it to nirvana, and they, too want liberation. Nobody can carry anyone to the final goal of nirvana. As Rumi says, “…no one can walk it for you.”

What is your path and how will you walk it?

The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation as Taught by S. N. Goenka


William Hart

A full-length study of the teaching of S. N. Goenka, prepared under his guidance and with his approval. Useful for meditators and non-meditators alike. This was the first book to appear in English that accurately describes the practice of Vipassana a… [Read More…]

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