Pathless Path?

Many traditions have a “pathless path”–some even capitalize the p’s. The phrase turns up in Catholicism, Buddhism, Zen and otherwise, in Hinduism and in other capitalized –isms. On Google, that archive of 21st century collective wisdom and folly, I found numerous book titles, a CD track in a new music genre called Vedic Metal, as well as an interview with a professional climbing guide and pilot which explores the meaning of “adventure.” It seems this trackless domain is, in fact, quite well-populated, there being no dearth of paths through pathlessness.

In a nutshell, like the farmer said to the lost tourist, “You can’t get there from here.” Clearly, if there is a path, it must lead somewhere. If it leads somewhere, there must be a destination other than here. On the other hand, if the territory is pathless, then there is no destination. So where is there to go from here?

Here is where the adventure begins, the adventure of not knowing, of not going, but of simply standing still. Even here is not the destination, but it is a start. And if there is a start, there must be an end. Who knows how long it would take to get from the start to the end? But if standing still is what’s happening, then there is no way to get to the end, no matter how long it does or does not take. So standing still for a long time isn’t it either, since the time it takes to get from here to here is zero. So much for here and now. Having eliminated even here and now, what remains is the pathless path, this timeless moment, unfathomable.

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