At our Sunday morning sitting group I talked about pilgrimage, for I’m about to leave for Myanmar (Burma) and India this Saturday on a five week pilgrimage. When is traveling a pilgrimage? How can we tell when we’re on a genuine pilgrimage?
Visiting sacred sites and ancient temples, hearing teachings from great leaders and accomplished practitioners, doing a retreat – this is called outer pilgrimage. But to be effective, outer pilgrimage has to be complemented by an inner journey. What is an inner pilgrimage? The elements of Inner pilgrimage are what we practice together at InsightLA: mindfulness, lovingkindness, compassion, joy, equanimity, and insight.
It’s said the most precious gift that comes from pilgrimage is “the Dharma that you haven’t heard before”. We don’t need to travel to faraway lands to hear fantastic teachings that we’ve never encountered before. Each sight, sound, taste, touch, smell, thought, feeling that you experience wholeheartedly, fully present, is the dharma that you haven’t heard before – fresh, alive, true!
This is what we bring home from our inner pilgrimage – moment by moment — meeting each moment anew. How can we tell we’re on a genuine pilgrimage? By being transformed in our lives. We come home changed, and this transformation is what we bring home to our hearts — to our community and our world.
For me, there’s one thing that endures – and that’s my love for our sangha, our community, for all of you who take the teachings to heart and practice sincerely. I will miss you.
Image Credit: T. Goodman