Tarahumara – Rarajipari and Philosophy of Life

Bare feet running

I’ve been reading this new book (new to me) where it talks of a Mexican Tribe that find it natural to run distances of over 100 miles without injury. We may think this is impossible, and on top of that most of them run it in their territory (which is desert, mountain, rugged terrain, etc.) either in their bare feet or in a thin sandal that they create themselves. What makes this such a feat is that they do it willingly and not part of some effort to stay in shape. They enjoy what they do and embrace their culture 100%, full on acceptance of what is a Tarahumara. There is no question of who they are, they know who they are despite outside influence, and have perfected what it means to be. How could anyone complete such a large amount of running without figuring these simple insights for themselves.

Insight and Zen of Tarahumara

bare feet mexican tribe tarahumara

photo owned by marco ferros

The reason why this post is here is to show that Zen doesn’t just exist in a particular philosophy because it isn’t a philosophy, if it is, then it has

missed the point. First let me describe what their warm up is called, and this is played instead of sitting in a class all day. The game is called rarajipari in which they select two teams and each have a wooden ball. The teacher selects a number of miles that the team must complete back and forth from village to river before they are finished. However this isn’t like a competition like most are familiar with. There is no winning or losing, its about putting your full self into what is being achieved, being fully within what is and in that moment. So for starters these warm ups can be anywhere from like 4 miles + in running and they aren’t straight runs because balancing and advancing the ball keeps things un-predicatable. This game encapsulates the Tarahumaras way of life. This is also where I found this marvelous quote while reading the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall which states:

‘We say that the rarajipari is the game of life,’ Angel said. ‘You will never know how hard it will be. You never know when it will end. You can’t control it. You can only adjust.’

How this fits in with Zen

This quote is with life in general, that the human being almost always have a false sense of control in his/her life, and this is what creates the turbulence.  The only reason the turbulence exists is because of the expectation of an outcome, and these outcomes come from the thought of controlling. See how thoughts string together to create a play like structure in which there is either good or bad regardless of whether its real or not? The bare insight only says that there is no control of what is happening and that it happens out of true nature (or we would call this nothing.) Then for the person all they have to worry about is how they adjust to this thing happening instead of trying to control something that doesn’t know the meaning of control. Trying to control what is, is the same as say, controlling a tornado from hitting your house, you sure as hell wont be able to direct a tornado to bend at YOUR whim because there is no your, but for life application, you can sure as hell get out of your house and avoid being hit by it, or at least increase the potential of avoiding it.

The more one eases into knowing that there is no control over what is here right now, and that everything unfolds for the best of what is, the easier it is to live in zen flow. Now I know that I throw the word around a lot and anyone can do that without actually knowing what it is, but zen is in which there is no you in the equation and there never was. Once this is realized, then there is no one controlling, there is only control at its very core. There is no doer of life, just life happening in its most natural state.  So take the me out and let things fall where they will, because regardless of whether there is a “me” trying to control something, they are going to fall where they may anyway.


Nick Myers, a 28 year old serial blogger. Also minimalist, zen participant, philosopher, author of Emotional Alchemist, and tea disciple. I am one who sees a potential lesson in every experience in life. Life is who we are and life is our ultimate guru. I seek to bring us together through our own shared experiences. And hope to not only learn deeply who I am but to learn deeply who others are by dropping my ideas from moment to moment about you.

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Posted in Zen

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