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The 25 foot Buddha on the steepest hill in Santa Cruz.

Siddhartha Gautama reflected in the temple window.

I like riding to see the Buddha and it isn’t just because I get to ride up the great hill he resides on, although that is definitely part of the attraction. The hill is making me stronger and better.  I would not say that hill climbing is like the middle way but there are some similarities. Climbing requires mindfulness and focus to get to the top. The redwoods become green walls on each side of the road and all one can see is the next foot of road ahead jutting up at an improbable angle. The focus is on breathing and the repeating circle of the pedals. This physical focus is not as difficult as what the Buddha did to attain enlightenment but I have always been better at the physical side of life than say things like, academics or the contemplative, so this is what I like to do. I have trouble sitting for too long. 

Riding to see the Buddha reminds me a little of what attracted me to walk El Camino, the Way of St James in Spain. Part of why I wanted to walk was the physical challenge. The repeated footsteps cleared my mind and let me evaluate what was important in my life. The walking helped me to recuperate. But a large part of walking El Camino was knowing that many saints have walked exactly where you are walking. A saints effect on the world never disappears, so walking in their footsteps let me feel a small bit of what they felt. Maybe I can be a little more like Buddha simply by being around him and thinking about him. When I get to the top of the hill I am always smiling and thinking good thoughts. All negatives have been emptied out of me. It is impossible to be negative while smiling.

This is the hill way.

Published by Rod

I love walking and riding in the hills.

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