September 23

Life Is Also a Pilgrimage

Question: When you went to Mount Kailash and reached the goal of the pilgrimage, the abode of Lord Siva, was there something to be experienced? What was it like?

Sri Gurudev: (Gurudev sighs and leans back in his chair with his eyes closed. For a moment he is lost in reverie, with a radiant expression on his face.)

There is no way to describe that experience. It’s almost like saying, yes, you worked hard, you accomplished a lot, came home, had a nice shower, went into the kitchen and had some supper, then came to your bedroom, turned on some soft music, had a warm drink, turned down the lights and then prepared the bed, lay down, covered yourself with a blanket, closed your eyes, repeated your mantra and then . . .

What would you say the next morning if someone asks you, “What did you experience? Tell me?” You cannot put into words what you experience. We can use our limited ability and say, “A great relief, a peace and ease. As if all your burdens have been taken away and you are simply floating.” What you experience at the end of the pilgrimage is really very hard to explain, but the entire journey prepares you for it. Every minute you experience God’s hand at work. Every minute. Several times I almost said goodbye; but by God’s grace, I came back again.

So, all of these things in a way prepare us by showing us that without God’s help we cannot do anything. Nothing that we own, nothing that we call ours will help us to experience God within and without. You might have a strong body; but when there’s no oxygen, what are you going to do? You may have millions of dollars, but there’s nothing to buy. So everything becomes nothing. In a way, you are made to learn the worthlessness of everything that you have depended upon. It’s at that point that you say, “It’s only God’s grace that helps me.”

Truly, God is everywhere. It’s not that God can be seen only in that spot. But because you paid such a big price, you can more easily recognize God there. So pilgrimages prepare you for that experience. You literally live with God. Life is also a pilgrimage, to prepare us for that experience of realizing that God is everywhere, within and without.

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