Thursday, May 10, 2007

Spirtual Travel

I’ve been amused by the ever increasing number of people signing up for trips to the so-called Spiritual travel destinations. An entire industry has emerged to accommodate these tourists. And it’s no cottage industry, but a multi-million dollar enterprise. Many times over. Oh, I know it sounds disrespectful to refer to them as tourists, after all, it is a pilgrimage of sorts. But hey, a tourist is a tourist. Right? Nothing wrong with that. We’re all only visiting this planet.

But c’mon, I’ve never seen so many people follow so many other people to so many shrines in my life. You’ve got the favorite Catholic destinations like the Vatican, Fatima, Lourdes, Chimayo N.M., or anywhere else the Virgin Mary might be appearing on a tortilla, or the blood of Jesus dripping from the hands of some plaster statue. There are the Catholic/Protestant destinations like Jerusalem and Majagori. The Protestant itinerary includes Bible Land, the Crystal Cathedral and Calvary Chapel. The Spiritual Salad people make their $250 per night reservations at Sedona, then on to Machu Picchu. Hard core New Age Consciousness jockeys are off to Stonehenge and the Pyramids. The Eastern philosophy seekers are trekking off to India, the Ganges, Tibet and the Himalayas. Other low budget pilgrims to Ashram overnighters wherever they can find them. And the Muslims end up in Mecca.

Damn, how do these people ever find any peace?

Didn’t someone once say to some people who were looking for their savior “He is risen. He is not here.” ?

You have Religious Tours, Spiritual Wellness Tours, Consciousness Tours and Yoga Retreats at the finest resorts on the worlds best beaches for the spiritual elite, or those willing to fork over the major portion of their life savings for the privilege of buying some kind of self-agrandizing enlightenment from a certified self-centered practitioner who is quick to hock an array of books, CD’s, and DVD’s to an instantly intimate and enraptured ‘community' of followers.

Oh, I hope I haven’t offended anyone!

In days-gone-by the idea of a spiritual journey actually meant something. It was a spiritual JOURNEY. Not a spiritual DESTINATION. It was actual travel between one place and another. Not a plane reservation with a Jacuzzi waiting to greet you when you get there. It was with oneself, within oneself, and in spite of oneself. The spiritual discovery was in the journey. It was internal. It was communion with the divine. And it was external as well, often accompanied by aloneness, hardship, abstinence, hunger, even thirst. And it was the kind of journey one can still take today, if one desires, in the quiet of ones own heart, and without ever leaving home.