July 31st, 2021 Inner Waymarks: El Camino Questionnaire
I am led to believe that this book will become like my bible when I walk the El Camino. Written by a man who has been walking El Camino for a quarter of a century, it is full of information on absolutely everything I could want to know while taking my pilgrimage. In its very early pages, it offers a questionnaire for the pilgrim to answer, while planning their trip. Here are some of the questions, and some of my answers:
Q. How do you differentiate pilgrimage from a long distance walk?
A. A Pilgrimage has a spiritual quest at its core. Often pilgrims are walking towards a destination - a place of religious or spiritual significance, such as a shrine. The destination can be something more abstract - a goal within the pilgrim herself, to find something of spiritual significance within herself. For myself, the physical destination on this walk isn't my spiritual goal (the burial site of St. James). My journey is one of personal spiritual significance. It's about meeting myself along the road somewhere, it's about meeting god in a hostel, it's about seeing the divine in a Spanish pasture.
Q. How do you define spirituality? What does it mean to you?
A. The further along on my own path I come, the closer to earth this answer gets. I used to view spirituality as something very abstract, something 'more than human'. These days, spirituality brings me back to my own humanness - my fallibility, my imperfection, my raw emotion, my humanness. I believe I'm a spirit, having a very human experience. So spirituality, for me, means allowing myself to get down into the muck, the dirtiness, the raw realness, of that human experience. Spirituality, for me, means getting closer and closer to my authentic self, stripped free of societal expectations, programming, and fears of exposure. At the beginning of my life, and the end of my life, there is one person who will be present for both - me. I damn well better know that person, love that person, find compassion for that person, forgive that person, honour that person, and be true to that person. Know thyself and to thine own self be true. The ultimate spiritual quest.
Q. How is your spirituality expressed at home and at work?
A. Hah! I am blessed. Both my home life and my work life are immersed in my spirituality. Before I got together with my life partner, one requirement I wasn't willing to compromise on, was finding a mate who had similar spiritual beliefs. Why was that so important to me? Because spirituality is a huge part of my job - I assist others on their own path, working with them on their healing, their self discovery, their self love. It was important to me that my partner understood and respected what I do for a living. Far too often, people in my field can be prone to the laughter of family members, gentle chiding, or outright judgement - I wasn't willing to bring that into my own home, my place of safety. I do my best to keep my life congruent. The only real difference between my spirituality at work and home, is there are more curse words spoken out loud at home (mind you, my sailor mouth can be witnessed when no clients are in the shop as well!). Because I associate my spirituality with my human experience, it isn't something I check at any door - it travels with me everywhere I go - I incorporate it into my every waking moment.
Q. What do you see as the primary purpose of your life?
A. Great question! People worldwide struggle with this question at some time or another. To keep it simple, I believe the primary purpose of my life is to grow and learn, and specifically and most importantly, to grow and learn in the arena of love. Quite frankly, all of life is 'in the arena of love', because every human action can be a subject of our judgement or our acceptance. The further I grow in love, the less I judge. And it is those most inhumane of actions that require the most work - those actions and choices that leave others wounded, hurt or suffering. I have not succeeded at coming to a place of unconditional love with those types of behaviour yet, but I am coming closer and closer to a place of non-judgement, and often, a place of forgiveness. Buddhism teaches that to understand something, we must first experience it, and I believe that's exactly what happens - we get to experience it ALL from ALL angles, in our many incarnations. That's a hard pill to swallow, because it means we aren't just the one who suffers in all of our lives - at some point we are the one who brings suffering. I acknowledge that not everyone shares my spiritual beliefs. I am simply being open with my own.
An interesting point to note though, is that the more I am able to accept and forgive in others, the closer I come to unconditional love within myself. I have forgiven some deeply difficult things in others, which has made room for me to forgive some very human things, within myself. And herein we find the unification of my spirituality, and my life purpose. Know thyself and to thine own self be true.
I will continue with some of these questions in my next entry. Wonderful food for thought!
by, Tracey Rogers
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