I just finished 2 tours with Blue Morpho, Footsteps of Buddha through Nepal and India and exploring the religion of Buddhism through Tibet. I used to view Buddha and Buddhism as the same thing and I externalized them thinking enlightened masters were extremely special and chosen, I also thought enlightenment was the end point and ones highest possible accomplishment, I do not believe that anymore.
On the first trip I took and internalized the external. Following the footsteps of Buddha, we went on a physical journey to the place of his birth, his palace where he renounced his royalty and material life, where he journeyed for six years bringing him to extreme starvation which would lead to his middle path teachings, where he gained enlightenment and his journey truly began and where he gave his first sermon. Interestingly enough we didn't even discuss his teachings until the end of the tour. That was the physical journey, internalizing it and connecting to the spirit and essence of Buddha led me on my simultaneous journey into the spirit realms with Buddha himself. He taught me not from his words but from my perspective of my own journey with the lessons he learned along his own exploration. It got to a point that when I looked at the religion of Buddhism I didn't see Buddhas presence at all because I was connecting with his essence before Buddhism was even created. It spun my psyche hard and I became discombobulated for a couple of days because the structure I had of Buddha and Buddhism was torn completely apart so I could get a true knowing of both. A necessary experience to set the framework for the next tour which was an exploration of Buddhism into and through Tibet. This is where my internalization of everything needed to come back to the physical, I needed the story of Buddhism so I could journey deeper into my own consciousness and learn again from the different masters we met in the spirit realms and also with the essence of Buddha. Every series of paintings, sequence of statues, dedicated rooms of deities, each of these are physical symbols of an exploration of consciousness. All of these were the stories of the experiences of individuals who took the original teachings of Buddha and explored their own self and consciousness. We can work with these physical objects and stories to deepen our own exploration of our entire universe. The work that is now taking place with me is journeying deep into my consciousness and to the core of self using different cosmologies and teachings all the while having a firm grip in the physical. This was exactly my journey through Tibet. A journey that had no pause during the entire trip, a continuation into the depths of self and in doing so my entire universe. At the closing ceremony of the Tibet tour something happened to me. During a group talk I shifted, I got a glimpse of my true, higher natural state of self or lack there of self, and it was a totally new connection. It's shifting my structure and my idea of who and what I am to a new place that I hadn't connected with before. To say that I could have imagined this type of experiences was a possibility would be a lie, and it astonishes me on how much depth there is to who and what we are and that I've lived so long only scratching the surface of life itself. These tours are a remarkable gift and opportunity to truly explore as Mystics have for 1000's of years. This is our birth rite as human beings, to truly explore our self and consciousness and it's available to everyone right here and now. It is not external or in a place only a select few can access, we all have the capacity and capability to explore in this way. I truly and forever grateful for this gift. One Love.