The Guide for the Spiritual Traveller
Travelling is an essential activity; our physical and mental space in it become aligned, enabling a dimension of discovery (between the most intimate and the most foreign).
Dr. Stewart Bitkoff, insider of the Sufi tradition, has put together a “Guide for the Spiritual Traveller” which seeks to explore the path of personal development. Bitkoff reminds us that “according to the Sufi tradition, humanity originated ‘far beyond the stars’, and is now on its way back to the Source”. A beautiful metaphor of the path and the trip in which this cosmic source can be found in a traveller’s peregrination: in the places he visits, the people he meets and also in the acts he executes –in some way traces of a past among the stars.
Travelling is one of the essential activities of knowledge, not only of the world but of the self. It is an undeniably pleasant activity, but one that transcends pleasure and allows us to take part in an adventurous discovery of that which was unknown or lay hidden behind the gaunt veil of the quotidian. The paradox of travelling –if it is done in a state of alert and openness– is that one crosses thousands of kilometres to reach the centre of oneself; travelling distant countries, exotic landscapes to penetrate our own being, to come closer an immanent home of sorts that is more a mental state than a place. But the trip, the route that makes us pour ourselves into the world, is not absurd; it is necessary.
In the Sufi tradition, the traveller must yield to the spiritual force that moves the world; surrender to what each individual takes to be the ruling principle of the universe. He has to trust chance in order that the coincidences that occur reveal all of their true meaning. This could be a metaphysical compass that can help us join to the flow of the moment.
Loving one’s neighbour remains the golden rule in the Sufi travel. Travellers that offer their help, despite the uncomfortable situations they face, and stop to teach what they know, find in their next destination and unlock the doors to the next levels of consciousness. In addition, the traveller must be bent on living each moment to the fullest. This is a different attitude to the tourist that travels to tell a story –taking pictures in the usual places. The spiritual traveller lives and to grows, and to do this he must notice the little things.
Becoming acquainted with the diversity of the world and entering the depths of otherness, however, does not mean alienation. The spiritual traveller listens and learns but does not adopt fashions or jargons; he remains always himself, because it is only by being so that he can have a true relationship of interchange.
Lastly, within this scheme of the spiritual traveller with a certain Sufi inspiration (great dervishes, circular globe trotters), gratitude remains. While contemplating the marvels of the world, embodied by the polychromatic emblem of diversity, the traveller is grateful for the beauty and wisdom of creation –he falls in love with a kaleidoscope. In that state of consciousness, of gratitude (of grace), communion is given. The alliance is sealed. In the words of William Blake: “gratitude is paradise”; the spiritual traveller discovers a paradise everywhere.
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