When the heart/mind opens to a certain perspective, the mythic dimensions of pilgrimage, its great quests and fantastic voyages, its meetings with remarkable people, and its exaltation beyond the mundane all reveal themselves in common day to day life.
James Joyce demonstrated this decades ago through his groundbreaking stream of consciousness novel, Ulysses, in which the main character, Leopold Bloom, walks the streets of Dublin on a routine day, all the while recapitulating the paradigmatic return of Odysseus to Ithaca.
What Joyce saw was more than poetic fancy; it was a psychological insight into the mythic dimensions of the quotidian. Every day, after all, is a new incarnation filled with potentials of glory. The amazingly emotive backdrop of the ever-changing weather, the various beings who come into our sphere with their dress, mannerisms, and mini or maxi dramas, the sights, sounds, and atmospheric resonances with our ongoing inner conversations, recollections, hopes, fears, future projections, and the like; this synchronistic play between the inner and outer worlds is epic material.
What if we would dare to slow down enough to see it, what if we would turn off the blaring media noise and begin each morning listening to the glorious music of the birds, if each night we would retrace the day, then great patterns of meaning would reveal themselves. We would be less inclined to leave our land and our homes because we would truly experience their fullness for the first time. Instead of being wrapped up in our own plans, we would respect coincidences, and instead of seeking meaning on some far off distant shore, we would delight in the unbelievable, unpredictable, beauty and wisdom that arises in every moment.
The Bengali poet Rabindranth Tagore reminded us that beauty makes no demands. We are free to ignore it and go about fulfilling our various plans and ambitions. But this is to our peril, for the glory of every moment; the pilgrimage of the ever present now awaits us in its depth and silence. From this space of the open heart/mind, every day, every way, and every life indeed becomes pilgrimage.
Some time ago, an aspiring poet searched over India for Nirala, “the strange one,” who was the avant-garde poet of his time. He finally located Nirala and followed him home. Just as Nirala was about to enter his door, he turned around and growled at the young seeker, “What do you want?” Taken aback, the young poet said, “Excuse me. I just wanted to have your darshan, your audience.”
“If you want to see me,” Nirala, replied, “You need to see everything and everyone.