Thanks for coming here. This blog has roughly a twofold purpose:
The first, as expressed in the title, is to elaborate on the theme of the spiritual journey.
In 1930, the great Indian poet, musician and playwright, Rabindranath Tagore gave a series of lectures at Manchester College, Oxford, later published as The Religion of Man. In these lectures, Tagore spoke of civilization’s “constant struggle for a great Further,” referring of course to the instinct that motivates us to go beyond, to break out of our shell of limitations, our thirst for knowledge. Tagore said it was an Endless Further, our “ceaseless adventure.” It is endless because knowledge is endless. No one can ever know everything.
Tagore also knew that in our spiritual journey, the journey itself is the destination. As we set out on the road to liberation, we might think that we will eventually arrive at some place, find an ultimate horizon. It is just an illusion, a concept in our minds.
Some people seek God, and yet can no one can say that there is final shore to reach in the search for a being that encompasses the entire universe.
In Buddhism, the stated goal is enlightenment. I like to use the word “awakening” because it implies continuous development. When Siddhartha Gautama became the Buddha, he did not stop growing, learning, awakening. When he reached Nirvana, he realized he had not gone anywhere, that Nirvana was no realm other than this saha or mundane world. I think Buddha knew about the Endless Further.
My second purpose is to make clear some distinctions and relations which might lead to a better understanding of religion and spirituality. We express and apprehend religion through ideas, words, and practices. Their meanings shape our religions and our spiritual beliefs. I am not sure that we grasp these meanings very well. Understanding as far as possible what meanings are attached to religious ideas and practice is essential.
The journey to spiritual awakening is the greatest adventure. Whether you believe it is an inner journey to discover one’s own true nature or an outbound voyage to seek God, the final destination, the attainment of enlightenment or a crowning state of sanctifying grace is just a mirage. The road goes on forever. In this lifetime, at least.
No one should be disheartened over the lack of final destination, for as Basho wrote, “Everyday is a journey, and the journey itself is home.”
Comments are welcome and encouraged. A third purpose of the blog is to spark some dialogue. Just click on “Responses” up in the right hand corner of this post section.
Coming shortly, a post on the recent PBS program “The Buddha.” After that: “Just how ‘religulous’ is religion anyway?”