Pilgrimage: A Quest for Enlightenment

Pilgrimage

Pilgrimage: A Quest for Enlightenment

“The pilgrimage idea, the outgoing quest, appears in mystical literature under two different aspects. One is the search for the ‘Hidden Treasure which desires to be found.’ Such is the ‘Quest of the Grail’ when regarded in its mystic aspect as an allegory of the adventures of the soul. The other is the long, hard journey towards a known and definite goal or state. Such are Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’ and Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’; each in their manner faithful descriptions of the Mystic Way. The goal of the quest—the Empyrean of Dante, the Beatific Vision of fulfillment of love—is often called Jerusalem by the Christian mystics; natural enough since that city was for the medieval mid the supreme end of pilgrimage.” ~Evelyn Underhill

The Pilgrimage

Actually, I don’t think many modern seekers of wisdom and enlightenment think of themselves as pilgrims. They think of it more as students learning lessons rather than travelers on a journey. They understand that the mystic’s ‘journey’ is not one of moving from one physical place to another, but rather one of moving from one state-of-mind to another, from one condition of spirit and soul to another. It is a spiritual kind of self-improvement where done properly, one looks within as well as without. Still, the concept of the pilgrim makes a good allegory or metaphor for this “journey”.

The Quest

In order to have a successful pilgrimage, one must have a quest, a goal, a desired result. For the beginner, the quest is simply to awaken the spiritual faculties and get them functioning in the world of matter. Once that quest is achieved, the pilgrimage become one of seeking higher and higher states of consciousness until the highest level possible is reached. At that level, one achieves true wisdom (Gnosis) and oneness with God and with all creation. At that level, one truly understands and cannot be fooled by those who control and manipulate the worlds of matter with the trickery of stage magicians.

Jerusalem or Israel

I actually haven’t heard anyone refer to this “goal” as Jerusalem, though I can understand why some would do so. Perhaps it is something that was popular in the past, but isn’t anymore. I have heard of it referred to s Israel, or at least Israel used in reference to that quest. In short, spiritual and mystical schools often teach, and correctly so, that the “Israel” that is the chosen people of God are not those who live on a particular piece of land, or even those who practice a particular faith. The true “People of Israel” are those seekers who will work as hard and as long as necessary to achieve that goal of enlightenment, that highest state of consciousness, and then teach others to do the same.

The Path of Light

Being a pilgrim on a quest isn’t enough though. Even if one has a goal clearly in mind, the pilgrimage is unlikely to succeed if the pilgrim doesn’t know how to get there. He may go around in circles. He may head off in entirely the wrong direction.

Most mountain climbers who climb Mt. Everest succeed because they rely on an experienced guide to lead them. For most seeking spiritual enlightenment, following a guide is usually a good idea. In this case, that means finding a reputable spiritual teacher or spiritual school. Yes you can tour the Louvre on your own. Bot an experienced guide will make sure you follow an efficient route to see the most significant exhibits. The same is true for that spiritual pilgrimage. You may go it alone, but you are more likely to succeed with the help of fellow seekers.

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