A pilgrimage is always at the least two things–a literal journey and a spiritual journey. Though it involves a geographical moving about, it also requires a psychological shift of the deepest sort.
Pilgrimage can mean a day-trip to a holy shrine, or it can denote a metaphorical journey lasting decades. It is above all a psycho-spiritual journey, usually to a place of religious significance or to meet a master of wisdom, with elements of both the inner and outer journey.
It is no longer a long and arduous voyage to remote locations across the globe—we can simply go online and book a discount flight on Air Asia to an obscure region of India and be there within a matter of days or even hours. We can go online, book a retreat or training, download ancient texts and have powerful esoteric teachings at our fingertips. What used to involve pain and hardship is now a matter of convenience and exotic whim.
Creating Your Own Modern Pilgrimage
With the advent of the internet, the whole nature of pilgrimage has changed forever. You can now Google Krishnamacharya and download, for free, his seminal text on Ashtanga Yoga (Yoga Makaranda) that essentially brought yoga to the masses in the West. Before Google, you had to first somehow hear about this great teacher, find out where he was, go there, and convince him to give these teachings to you. Total time required? Probably your entire life and all your savings. These days, the whole thing could be accomplished in three minutes.
But would you get the same understanding? My sense is that the need for pilgrimage has not been replaced by the convenience of receiving teachings. Click here to read more about pilgrimage on the blog.
Toward A Secret Sky
Toward A Secret Sky is a guide for pilgrims that shares stories from the field. In it you’ll find practical tips and guidance for embarking on your own pilgrimage, as well as writings evoking the setting and mood of a transformational journey.
Available through Dover Publications, June 12, 2019.