It is 7 am on Sunday. The crisp cool morning air belies yesterday’s excessive heat. Birds are batting their wings and pollinators begin to buzz about our wildflower garden. The freshness in the air and sounds of wildlife are a nice background to begin my day. I am on the way to the Dharma Center for the 8 am gathering and something echos in me. It is a strangely familiar calling, a reverberation of thousands of footfalls on a path of devotion. Going to the center is akin to a pilgrimage, a desire to follow an inner urge to explore an experience beyond myself.
I think this is what I was missing while doing the Zoom conferencing from home. I only needed to go into the next room to initiate the broadcast. No shower or shave, no packing my bag, no going outside at all. I feel more connected to my path when I physically walk the path—or drive, in this case. Pilgrimage is more about travel time than destination. It stretches us our of our comfort zone and involves personal connections. One cannot Zoom to the temple of our awareness, it requires placing one step after another—trodding the ground of being.
That is not to say one cannot gain some value studying Dharma teachings online. If it is impractical to travel to a place for in-person connection, then we can employ that venue with gratitude. But if it is possible to get off our ass and take even a small pilgrimage, all the subtle channels and winds of body and mind are engaged. We move through space with intention—the desire to manifest our true nature. It is no wonder physical pilgrimages have been an important part of spiritual traditions since humans evolved on the planet.
So, if you are ambulatory and healthy, travel to the source of your inspiration, assuming it is safe to do so. If not, move from one room to your computer room with intention. Make your online space an altar and go there with mindful steps, or mindfully move your wheel chair, or ask your care giver to help create an experience. There is never a time or circumstance that is not ripe for pilgrimage.