For Beginners




Eti Who? - What is this etiquette stuff?

In its simplest sense etiquette is good manners or appropriate behaviour. In a deeper sense it is an undefinable respect for life and its processes both physical and spiritual. Ultimately, it is doing the right thing, in the right place at the right time and in the right state of mind (or for the Zen practitioner, no-mind).

Practising etiquette is an exercise in mindfulness, it is the Tao (way), it is Zen, it is enlightenment ... and as a bonus, it will make you a much nicer person to be with ;-)

We abide in a world of boundaries. The uncharted wilderness of 200 years ago is now a National Park, often a farming district or zoned residential. No matter where you go, it is quite likely that some one has laid claim to the dirt you're standing on. Research your adventures and don't just blunder around. Seek permission as is appropriate. Ultimately we are all just guests in this life, just passing through a small corner of eternity. Always be a good guest ... who knows? ... you might even get invited back!

Mt Sugarloaf, Cathedral Ranges National Park, Victoria Australia  - View from the summit at sunset

What You Take There
and What You Leave Behind

On a Practical Level

Most outdoor activities like camping, trekking, hiking and similar, do possess an element of risk and therefore require adequate preparation. Don't expect to spend 40 days and nights in the wilderness surviving on a canteen of water and a box of sun dried raisins (unless of course your name is Jesus Christ). Every year people come to unfortunate ends due to a lack of preparation and respect for what are casually referred to as "outdoor activities". Make sure you are fit (mentally and physically) and appropriately equipped.

On a Mental and Spiritual Level

"No matter where you go, there you are", ego in the disguise of personality is with us at all times. We carry it along with us in ways that are often very subtle, like the gossamer threads of a spider's web, hardly tangible.

To be mindful is "taking care of business", full attention on the task or experience before us. To go to a Place of Power with a shopping mall mentality (or anywhere else, other than a shopping mall) is to miss the point entirely.

Taking a portable CD player so that you can listen to your favourite Zazen album while you hike, may provide you with the comfort of familiarity, but it is really just another mask, a distraction and filter that separates you from the experience. You might as well watch some one else's video, and save yourself the legwork. There's no point to visiting the Himalaya, if all you are going to do is walk around looking at mental pictures of home while you are there.

Places of Power have the ability to magnify states of mind. Rama recommended that one should not take one's emotional garbage and disturbed states of mind to such places. Before you leave home, make sure your energy is tight. If your mind is clear and focussed when you arrive, then the experience will be all that it can be.

Existence is interactive! Going to a Place of Power will change you, and you in turn will change that place. This is another reason why Rama insisted that students should not go to Places of Power in confused or negative mental states. In the same way that it is uncool to leave your physical rubbish behind (cans, food wrappers etc.), it is seriously bad form to leave your negative energy behind. If in doubt, look up the term "pollution".

Ideally, like a good camper, you should leave the environment in the same state that you found it, so that others may equally benefit from this resource.

On a related note ... Avoid the temptation to "improve" the place. It is a human trait that we can always find some excuse to impose our will on our surroundings. In this case the saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" applies. The point of being there is to change yourself, not the environment.

  Mt Shasta

A Final Note

So you've found a great spot, what to do? Do you keep it to yourself, tell friends, tell the world. It is a sad fact that publicising any good thing is likely to lead to its ruin. The 70's band The Eagles (album Hotel California) wrote a poignant song called "The Last Resort" which ends with the line "call some place paradise, and kiss it goodbye!"

This is a sad, but accurate indictment of the fact that most people believe that natural beauty and power can somehow always be enhanced by human intervention. This attitude still persists, even though history has repeatedly proven it to be wrong.

At the same time it can be argued that, with 6+ billion people in the world, no place will remain a secret indefinitely. There were probably many who came before you, and more who will come after. So we are left with discretion. Ok, so nothing is permanent ... but that doesn't mean we need to toast the planet today.

Journey well!


  Go to Power Places for Beginners - Menu


All web site assets are