Ram Dass once said, ‘We’re all just walking each other home.’ When I practice Shinrin Yoku, I see this idea come to life. The forest has always been a second home for me, and when I walk with others in the forest, we are walking each other home.
No matter where we come from or where we go, the land remains our home. She welcomes us, nourishes us, and gives her hospitality freely. The land is both the cradle and the grave for all life on the planet. If we can imagine ourselves as infinitely connected to all beings, past, present, and future, then we see that we are not only walking each other home, we are journeying back towards ourselves.
Home is much more than a place, it is a state of being. It is a state of belonging. Each of us struggles with this question, ‘where do I belong?’ All too often, our human society does not make us feel valued, seen, or respected. And so we feel trapped in a state of disequilibrium and ask the question, ‘where do I go?’
It is a valuable question but only if understood as a koan. The idea of going suggests duality, that we might go from ‘here’ to ‘there’ when in reality no movement of this kind is possible. We must understand that the challenge is not to move towards a location where we feel that we belong, but to internalize a sense of belonging that is inherent in our consciousness.
And to learn how to do this, we go back to the land, back to the ancestors, back to the children, back to the animals, back to the sunlight and the shadows. The moment we recognize how alive everything is, we are always walking each other home. We’re walking all beings home, from the ants to the trees to the rocks beneath our feet. We’re walking in a circle and, spiraling into the center, we begin to see that we’re all going home together.