Pilgrimage

November 3, 2017

Why do I want to go places? And why do I want those journeys to mean more than sight-seeing and photo-taking and exotic-stuff-purchasing? And why use the word “journey,” instead of some more eloquent, literary-sounding, word — “sojourn,” “expedition,” “excursion,” even the more perky “jaunt”?

journey  |ˈjərnē|
noun    (plural journeys)
an act of traveling from one place to another: she went on a long journey
                            a long and often difficult process of personal change and
development: her spiritual journey towards Roman Catholicism
I was excited with my character’s journey in the film.⌋

verb (journeys, journeyed) [no object]
travel somewhere: they journeyed south

DERIVATIVES
journeyer    noun

As a journeyer, I travel from one place to another with the purpose of personal change and development. Or, at least, I seek to see the world in new ways, and, crucially, I seek to see myself in new ways, which a drastic change of scene can facilitate.

What about “being” and not “doing” (I sometimes think I might throw up if I hear one more Super Spiritual Person say, in a particular tone of voice, that we are “human beings, not human doings”)? Yep, there’s something to that: the fully realized person, the one who has Awakened (whatever that means), probably doesn’t have an urge to go someplace else. They might be so enlightened that sitting in a smelly subway means as much as sitting on a mountaintop. Good for them. I’m not there yet, wherever “there” is, and maybe they aren’t either.

So. India again. My first sojourn there (see? I can use more lovely terms when referring to one particular journey), in January 2017, gave me a taste of south India. I went with a group from Journeys to the East, a group of mostly Fourth Way students of teacher John Bennett‘s approach to G. I. Gurdjieff‘s teachings, and we saw many temples (to say the least: there are lots and lots of temples in India, and I’m pretty sure we saw all of them! I was excited about temples, but by the end I was experiences temple overload), as well as a few ashrams.

This time I will go with my sister Ellen; more intimidating because we won’t be in the protective cocoon of a travel group, with all the logistics handled by someone else. That trip required surrender to group dynamics and group togetherness, far beyond my comfort level (especially the constant expectation of group participation). This trip will require surrender to uncertainty, flexibility, even peril.

The first peril? Getting visas. Talk about uncertain and grueling! I got my visa on the very last possible day. So I think we should start now!

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