Are you a pilgrim?

Are you a pilgrim?

Are you a pilgrim of the self? All thoughtful people are faced with a plethora of questions in life. Why am I here, what is my mission, and what will happen when I die are but a few of the more pressing ones. When I awaken into consciousness at 20 or so, I am immediately struck with the fact that I am alive — me! I have awareness.  

With that sentience comes the realization that at some point in the distant future, I will no longer exist on this plane. (1) For many, this produces a tremendous amount of angst. It is a difficult question for even the most pious to properly respond to. Not resolved, however, a person carries a type of heaviness or fear for the rest of his or her life.  

The above-noted questions are easily answered in our modern society. My life and my training are to lead me to a type of financial success — some form of fiscal accomplishment. This increasingly leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of many young people who know that it is a patently false response. (2) Money is good, but it is not all. Life is bigger than this. There must be something more. 

I recently finished a book entitled The Way of a Pilgrim (3) that documents the spiritual journey of a man in 19th-century Russia. His search is for communion with the infinite — a link to the cosmos. Though he is beset along his path by numerous problems and frustrations, he eventually finds his peace with life, his understanding of God, and what this means to him.   

I think for most of us, it is impossible to eschew all normal life and become a mendicant monk searching for our salvation. There is a lesson here, nonetheless. The book metaphorically suggests that each of us can be a pilgrim in our own life — and on our own terms. With serious effort, we can all achieve the peace and happiness that we desire.   

An essential element of this peace is the recognition and understanding that I am unique but, initially, unsophisticated. This position must be maintained devoid of egocentricity or pomposity — not so easily achieved. It properly takes on a correct understanding of the statement, “first among equals.” (4)  

Why first, because the only person I can truly know is the self. So if I start out each and every day as if I am on a quest for a better understanding of myself and my place in the universe, I will feel embraced by the divine, something bigger than me. This is not just fanciful. Deeply thoughtful and introspective human beings are happier and healthier than their non-religious confreres. (5) So follow the path of the pilgrim. You never know where your life journey will take you. 

The great poet and musician, Eric Clapton, (b. 1945) leaves us with a thought: I think everybody has their own way of looking at their lives as some kind of pilgrimage. Some people will see their role as a pilgrim in terms of setting up a fine family, or establishing a business inheritance. Everyone’s got their own definition. Mine, I suppose, is to know myself.

A closing thought: There is an atheistic line of thinking, however. You are born, you suffer and you die. Thomas Hobbes (6) greatly influenced this belief when he claimed that, without government and external control, the life of men would be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”  But is this true? In my life, yes I have suffered. But we all have. The human spirit can rise above this, I believe. I must simply follow the road of the pilgrim and ask for some metaphysical assistance from God, Gaia, or the Universe from time to time. 

To sum up:  This week, we spoke about being a pilgrim in one’s own life. 

To be noted: From Proverbs 26:12 (7) — Have you seen a man who thinks he is wise? There is more hope for someone stupid than for him. 

Just for fun:  

For reflection: 

This week, on your reflective stroll, please ask if you can be a pilgrim of the self. 

Every day look for something magical and beautiful. 

Don’t be a wage slave – critical thinking is great! 

Quote: In life, go and discover who you are. 

Footnotes: 

1) We fear death, but what if dying isn’t as bad as we think? 

2) As The Pandemic Recedes, Millions Of Workers Are Saying ‘I Quit’

3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Way_of_a_Pilgrim 

4) first among equals 

5) Are religious people happier, healthier? Our new global study explores this question

6) Thomas Hobbes 

7) The Book of Proverbs 

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