The point of the pilgrimage is to improve yourself by enduring and overcoming difficulties.
– Buddhist priest to Oliver Statler as he set out on journey around Japanese island of Shikoku
A pilgrimage is a journey of devotion, transformation, and healing. It is an opportunity to leave behind our normal state of affairs and to encounter what is essential in life.
It is a sacred journey because as we move through strange and unknown worlds, we start to discover a sense of wonder and awe in our own heart. Moving through the world in this way, our outward journey towards the center of pilgrimage sites also leads us on an inward journey towards the center of our own heart and a deeper understanding of our place in the world.
To me, this journey isn't about improving ourselves or making us better people. I think that is a trap.
The journey is one of moving deliberately through the world knowing that you are peeling away the layers of the onion, removing the husk as it were, to experience for yourself that which is truly worthy of reverence: a sense of timeless awareness that is includes and transcends boundaries of place or time.
Then we realize that my journey is not so different from your journey. We are all moving through the human condition, working with our challenges and limitations, trying to find our gifts and leave the world better than we found it.
Layer after layer we remove that which is holding us back. Step by step, we progress on that path.