“Pilgrimage is often regarded as the universal quest for the self. Though the form of the path changes from culture to culture, through different epochs of history, one element remains the same: renewal of the soul.” ~Phil Cousineau
On first glance, I interpreted this quote at face value; seeing myself on a pilgrimage of various layers and scopes of time. Life is a sacred journey all on it’s own, what with all of the lessons, trials and triumphs that compose it. Then there are the adventures we take; sabbaticals from the daily grind in a search for a new truth. Last, and certainly not least, there are the journeys of turning inwards. Sometimes these are the most difficult, and the most profound. In a world where everyone and everything is trying to indoctrinate you, it can be nearly impossible to determine which thoughts of ours are owned by us, and which one’s have been “given” to us. A retreat from all the noise is the the only way to listen to your own intuition and thus finally allow your mind, heart, and gut to speak in tandem rather than quarreling amongst themselves. With all these components flowing together cohesively, one achieves “renewal of the soul.” The caveat to this is that renewal is not a static state of being, it is a state of fluidity and progression.
It was during this thought process that I suddenly saw this quote in a new light. A shift in my focus from the inwards out. I am not special. Not special in the sense that I am not the only one on a pilgrimage. We are all on a “quest for the self.” Those of various religious backgrounds may write this off as being egocentric, before reading any further: “the form of the path changes from culture to culture.” In the last epoch, say… the last 2,000 years of our human history, a certain culture has been created. Out of this culture many pilgrims have arisen on a “quest for the self.” One may argue, “Nay! I am on a quest for God!” I challenge you… to what end? Is a search for God not also a search for your own identity? An acquisition of love, joy, peace, hope? Are these not things that design and determine your existence? What is existence? Is it not your soul possessing a body, traveling through a human’s lifespan? How would you describe your soul inside your body? YourSELF. That’s right, if God is where you find yourself, then what do you call the journey that got you there? A “quest for the self.”
It was this realization that took my understanding of the various worldviews of my family and friends to a new level of appreciation. I can appreciate, and therefore be grateful for, the path that each of my loved one’s is on. We are all journeying together, even if the view out the window is different.