Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Power Of Pilgrimage



The power of pilgrimage
Every year, 200 million people travel – often long distances - to sacred sites around the world to honour their faith. To name just a few: India’s Golden Temple, central to the Sikh religion, the French town of Lourdes, where Catholics celebrate the Virgin Mary’s ascent to heaven, Rumi’s tomb in Turkey, the Bodhi Tree, which Buddhists believe is where Siddharta Gautama meditated for 49 days before achieving enlightenment, Peru’s Machu Picchu, and the waters of the Ganges River in India, which are said to represent life and to cleanse those who bathe in them of their sins.
It is considered the duty of every able-bodied Muslim to make the journey to Mecca, Islam’s holiest city, at least once in their lifetime. And of course, there is El Camino de Santiago, a Christian pilgrimage across Spain to the burial site of the apostle St James, popularised in The Way, starring Emilio Estevez, where each character shared a different reason for walking, including weight loss, overcoming writer’s block, and honouring a dead son.
Pilgrimage has been going on since the beginning of time: it is one of the most common human experiences, and also one that is becoming increasingly popular, even in these secular times. Why? Phil Cousineau, author of The Art of Pilgrimage, says, “The difference between pilgrim and tourist is the intention of attention, the quality of curiosity.” A pilgrimage is about a search for meaning, for authentic connection, self-knowledge, and growth, and it is often triggered by a ‘wake-up call’, such as being fired or a divorce.
And it doesn’t necessarily mean lacing up your hiking boots and setting off on a 1,000-kilometre trek. A private and personal journey to the truth of one’s soul can take many forms – perhaps a silent retreat, or a journey to a childhood home. Cousineau adds, “In each of us dwells a pilgrim. It is the part of us that longs to have direct contact with the sacred. Your practice is your path. It is simply the way of seeing, the way of hearing, the way of touching, the way of walking, the way of being, with humility.”


Source : Nature and Health


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