Sometimes people expect this life to be sort of like a vacation—or think it should be anyway! But our life is not just a trip we decided would be interesting or fun.
It is a pilgrimage, for a higher purpose than we know.
A pilgrimage is a sacred journey into which we have been called, and we expect sacrifices on the way, but that we must heed the call.
We have no choice really. For our hearts lead the way.
Through the years I finally got to the place where I gave up the idea that life was supposed to be easy, and that my plans would assure me of happiness.
I felt very lost at times. Confused. I often cried out, “Where are you, God?”
“Searching out something important and going astray look exactly the same for a while.” Circling the Sun, by Paula McLain
Teilhard de Chardin calls this “directed groping.” We have to feel our way in the dark. Darkness is not evil or bad. It actually slows us down, making ourselves less open to injury.
We have been born in this body, and into this particular family, and are here for a purpose that we don’t know.
I gradually gave up the idea of leading, for it requires following.
This earth journey is not to satisfy our ambitions, or accumulate the things we want, whether it be success or outer recognition, or financial gain.
Instead we are here because of a deep calling within our soul—to express our authenticity.
A pilgrimage is a transformational journey, on which we are asked to give up traditional securities and success according to the world’s standards.
This requires letting go of whatever we are clinging to. Our hands can only hold what fits into them. Just as the monkeys in Africa allowed themselves to be trapped because they wouldn’t let go of the bait—the little nut which had craftily deposited in a hollowed out coconut—which kept them from escaping.
What the world calls success is that little nut—including our ambitions and our wants.
Oh, how our ego likes to hang onto something—certainty for instance. Or ourselves as a solid identity that makes us real—self-important.
Pride protects these beliefs. It isn’t easy to let them go. We must venture into the unknown and the uncertain, and give up the idea we can figure it out.
“It’s better to travel with hope than to arrive.” A helpful proverb.
Letting go requires suffering. The root meaning of the word “suffer” means “to allow.”
Necessary suffering allows something higher and greater to take us onto a new path.
We can begin by investigating our present thought. Are we trying to prove ourselves worthy so that we won’t feel stupid or foolish? What is it we really desire, and where will this take us?
Are we contributing to the happiness of others? How much? What is our intention?
There are many roads that lead to unhappiness, and they all begin with ego desires.
Choosing the higher path involves a struggle—effort. The personal ego doesn’t let go without a struggle.
Just as Jacob struggled with the angel, so do we. He wouldn’t let the “angel” go without a blessing, or gift. Gen. 32:24
He was gifted with a new name, Israel, which means “striving with God.” A new name is a new nature—a transformation.
There is a purpose in our striving, in our effort. The Buddha called this “skillful effort.”
On this pilgrimage we choose to watch what our mind is doing. Is it following after something that will bring joy to all?
Or is our motive to follow an agenda that will make us look good or feel comfortable?
Our choice makes all the difference.
Sometimes we feel so lost we don’t know where to begin, and the feeling of abandonment overwhelms us. We feel cast out, or cut off from our family, friends and even ourselves.
Being lost and confused is all part of the journey. We might even think that others have it easy—that we are the only one who struggles so hard. Thoughts of “why me?” only keep us stuck.
Instead, it is my experience that I only need to trust. Trust that the guidance is here. I just need to remember to follow where my compass points.
Over and over I trust that where I am standing is Holy Ground. And that I couldn’t be anywhere else than where I am, physically, mentally and emotionally, and that all is well, for I am being guided by something higher than my ego, intuition.
It is our intuition that guides us on our pilgrimage. The ego gathers information, but is not a good tool for decision making.
To listen to the intuition I must spend time every day in silence, going past the noisy chattering of the mind.
I must silence the outer stimuli and find a quiet spot in order to follow the breath that breathes me. This breath takes me into my body and out of the thinking arena.
Staying with the sensations of the body, noting them, being aware of them without getting into stories or concepts, I find that wisdom arises. Sometime it’s little nudges. Sometimes it’s just silent and gives no direction for movement.
“Just stand there, don’t do something” can be very good advice.
As I do this on a daily basis, something gradually builds and I find more happiness and ease, for I feel more connected with the All.
And I know that All is well.
You, my friend, are on a pilgrimage, too.
This is Holy work, and you are the chosen one.
Your struggles are not in vain. Your tears are not lost.
Trust that you are being guided by an Inner Voice that can only be heard when you get quiet. It is very still; often like a whisper.
Begin over and over, patiently, for the ego will often scream at you, demanding you follow it. But it doesn’t know the way, and can’t figure it out.
Allow yourself to be guided as a little child takes the hand of Mother or Father and safely walks on.
So, you too, walk on, with patience and trust.
In steadfast love,