Journeys bring power and love back into you.
If you can’t go somewhere, move in the passageways of the self.
They are like shafts of light, always changing, and you change when you explore them.
– Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī (1207-1273)
Wild goose, wild goose,
At what age
Did you make your first journey?
I have seen in my wanderings great temples and shrines…but none are as blissful as my own body.
~ Mahasiddha Saraha (8th c)
Howdy, Pilgrim! Welcome, fellow pilgrims. Random road-trips are one of my delights. I am ever an open-roader from the beginning. I love to approach all journeys as pilgrimages, even just shuttling across town on any given day, grocery shopping, driving to and from the studio, just taking care of ordinary quotidian business. Hence, all of life’s journey approached and engaged as a pilgrimage. Dig?
The natural is the sacred! Fain would I as soon see “natural beauty spots” as being sacred pilgrimage sites, sacred power places, holy energy sites, as I would wish to travel to cultural centers of a specifically religious significance. But of course I love places also made particularly extra vibrant and sattvic due to association with great holy saints, of whatever culture or region, saints and sages still living on this planetary plane and/or those already ascended. For there are natural sacred sites and there are cultural sacred sites; the best sites are most often where these two subtle energy currents come together. In such doubly sattvic places, a wholeness (holiness) obtains which is greater than the sum of these two parts–natural and cultural.
Sacred journeys specifically for the purpose of visiting living saints and spiritual heroes are also of the very best sort. I also enjoy visits to cultural heroes (creative artists of whatever media—painters, poets, musicians, etc), especially those who are also “action heroes” of eco-social peace and justice engagement.
Along similar lines, I love visits to art museums as sites of sacred cultural “relics,” just as I love visits to tomb-shrines of historical saints and their sacred relics. Road-trips to galleries, concerts, dance concerts, music-fests, poetry-readings, etc, like other visits to living art-&-culture heroes, are somewhat like visits to living saints, spiritual elders, and teaching events given by great sages; pilgrimages to our living world treasures of cultural and spiritual realization and actualization.
I find the sacred natural energy sites of North American (Turtle Island) landscape to be vibrant with transformative energy and astonishingly transformative beauty equal to, or often greater than, that I’ve experienced anywhere else on the planet. But of course, places like India and the Himalayas (despite many invasions) have so many, many generations of unbroken daily residency by indigenous people and also immigrant populations, who have soaked and infused the enlightening blessings of countless saints and sages into the land, the air, the rivers and lakes, the mountains, the atmosphere.
The same can be said, of course, of those among my own forebears who were Native American Indians and of their civilizations and cultures once present throughout Turtle Island. But the vast majority of Turtle Island’s indigenous populations were exterminated. Massacred. Long ago. And just yesterday, and earlier this morning, more extermination, still. Native North America’s cultures were largely destroyed, even much of the memory of these populations and their cultures deliberated destroyed, “lost.” Forgotten. Hidden, Buried.
But the countless many generations of Native holy people absorbing the sacred energy, the conscious-energy of the land and air and water of Turtle Island, and giving back, further imbuing this Island and its atmosphere with their own holy energy—this heritage is still vibrantly lively in the rocks and rivers and forests and deserts and plains of North America. Even though so much of the continuum of unbroken human communal communion with vast expanses of the continent has long been absent. And of course there are still continuing, continuous communities of Native Americans alive today, (“We are still here!”), and they and their spiritual elders, their holy men and holy women, continue what has been saved of their cultures and sacred ways.
So, both the Himalayas-and-India (Rose-Apple-Tree Island), as also North America (Turtle Island), as well as naturally the rest of this, our planetary home, the whole of Mother Earth,—this is all full of sacredness, of holy consciousness, of sacred conscious-energy. Of holiness, Wholeness of Being. Holistic unified continuum of infinite Being. And of this, “I am a pilgrim, traveling through this wearisome land.”
Ancient cultures, and in particular the holy elders of such cultures, those traditional spiritual elders now gone and those still living today, have contributed so much to what is vibrantly holy (whole, holistic, hale, wholesome, healthy, “heart-y”) about the atmosphere, the subtle energy sphere of our gorgeous, threatened planet home. I have been on a life-long pilgrimage across this planet, drinking in what I find personally meaningful and congenial of our rich shared heritage, though there is very much I have yet to see and to absorb.
To absorb sacredness, and to contribute in my own very small way to the larger ancient living sacredness that is inextricably intimate to place, to specific “chunks” of space. Oh how I so love space! Sacred, natural, holy, living space. Filled with energy, filled with divine natural conscious energy. To live infused with this is my pilgrimage journey. Thank you for pilgrimaging, for pilgriming, with me, dear companions on our life’s sacred shared journey, traveling incognito together across the Universe….
“After the pilgrim has thus made peace with the past and has gone thorough the gates of death he crosses the threshold of his new life on the snow-covered pass of the all-merciful mother Dölma (Tārā). And lo, at his feet there is a lake of the purest emerald colour (which is the colour of Green Tārā) in the midst of rocks and snows. In Tibetan it is called the Lake of Mercy while Hindus call it Gaurikund. In it the pilgrim receives his first baptism of a new-born being.”
– Lama Anagarika Govinda (1898-1985): The Way of the White Clouds (1966)
see also my blog post:
map of some rambles around Planet Gaia:
map of some rambles around (US) America:
Sacred Land blogsite:
Sacred Ground film clips:
You may like my entry on this blogsite about my friend Peace Pilgrim:
Peace Pilgrim speaking at Cal State 1979:
from Jamgon Kongtrul (1813-1899), Pilgrimage and Sacred Geography:
“In general, indestructible great sacred places contain sublime, self-arisen presentations of the deities that are not the product of human endeavor. They appear to those of pure vision as palaces of great liberation, and to those of impure minds as inert forms of earth, stones, rocks, and cliffs. It is stated in discourses and the tantras that infinite merit is accrued by making prostrations and offerings, and circumambulations of, representations of the Buddha’s body, speech, and mind made from clay or other materials by a skilled artisan. Compared to that merit, millions of times more benefits result from prostrations, offerings, and circumambulations at these sublime sacred places. This can be proved by both logic and textual sources. Practitioners can create here various auspicious connections that lead to the tantric discipline of the Varja Way. The Sealed Prophecy states:
Similarly, the qualities that arise from meditation
In the major sacred places and subsidiary places,
The sacred regions, regions similar to them, and hidden regions
One day of meditation in these places
Brings one closer to attainment than a year of meditation in an
This and other statements, similar in both style and content, can be found in the treasure texts in praise of the unlimited qualities of the great sites of sacred ground. On the subject of the great regions of sacred ground in Amdo and Kham, Guru Rinpche writes of the benefits of pilgrimage to them in The Location List of the Twenty-Five Major Sacred Sites of Amdo and Kham:
Prostrations and circumambulations done in these places close
the door to rebirth in the miserable existences.
Service rendered here leads to rebirth in the higher realms.
The offering of one vajra feast completes a great cultivation of merit.
A second offering of a vajra feast purifies all the ripened effects of past acts.
A third offering of a vajra feast ensures that you will meet me,
Lotus-Born Master from Oddiyana,
In a symbolic form in real life, in meditation, or in a dream.
One hundred vajra feast offerings lead to rebirth in the pure
If you wish to attain supreme accomplishment, practice single-
mindedly: you will attain it!
How marvelous are those sublime sacred places that help others
through any connection to them!