David M. Riley

Rev. Vajra Dharmasamvara

I am a Dharma Teacher and mediation instructor, ordained by the Buddhist Universal Association*, a non-profit, non-sectarian religious corporation in California.

This blog has roughly a twofold purpose:

The first, as expressed in the title, is to elaborate on the theme of the spiritual journey.

In 1930, the great Indian poet, musician and playwright, Rabindranath Tagore gave a series of lectures at Manchester College, Oxford, later published as The Religion of Man. In these lectures, Tagore spoke of civilization’s “constant struggle for a great Further,” referring of course to the instinct that motivates us to go beyond, to break out of our shell of limitations-our thirst for knowledge. Tagore called this Endless Further our “ceaseless adventure.” It is endless because knowledge is endless. No one can ever know everything.

Tagore also knew that our spiritual journey has no destination, there is only the journey itself. As we set out on the road to liberation, we might think that we will eventually arrive at some destination, a final horizon. However, that is just an illusion, a concept in our minds.

Some people seek God, and yet can no one can say that there is final shore to reach in the search for a being that encompasses the entire universe.

In Buddhism, the stated goal is enlightenment. I like to use the word “awakening” because it implies continuous development. When Siddhartha Gautama became the Buddha, he did not stop growing, learning, awakening. When he reached Nirvana, he realized that he had not gone anywhere, that Nirvana was nothing other than this saha or mundane world. I think Buddha knew about the Endless Further.

My second purpose is to make clear some distinctions and relations which might lead to a better understanding of religion and spirituality. We express and apprehend religion through ideas, words, and practices. Their meanings  shape our religions and our perceptions of spirituality. I am not sure that we grasp these meanings very well. Understanding as far as possible what meanings are attached to religious ideas and practice is essential.

The journey to spiritual awakening is our great adventure.  Whether you believe it is an inner journey to discover one’s own true nature or an outbound voyage to seek God,  the final destination, the attainment of  enlightenment or a crowning state of sanctifying grace is just a mirage. The road goes on forever. In this lifetime, at least.

No one should be disheartened about this lack of final destination, for as Basho wrote, “Everyday is a journey, and the journey itself is home.”

Comments are welcome and encouraged. A third purpose of this blog is to spark some dialogue.

*Not affiliated with the Nichiren-based organization by the same name.

Leave a Reply



You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Leave a comment.