The pilgrimage of sacred things-A A +A
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
"We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibres, our actions run as causes and return to us as results." – Herman Melville
ACROSS cultures and time, pilgrimages mark the history of man.
Pilgrimages, depending on religion and culture, have their differences. But across physical and cultural landscapes, they are structurally discernible and similar in meaning and motivations. A pilgrimage is an individual or group movement for the sacred life.
I think about history, seeing it in itself also a pilgrimage; a movement for the sacred as it’s ideal, and better life with its practical ends in this temporal world its chief temptation and sin. Man is quartered in a vessel of tempestuous waters in pursuit of the “holy grail” yet falling victim to baser passions and needful things of survival. In terms sacred, we continue to fail, doomed to losing the Edenic natural world from our grasp; and life is not becoming better but worse with every change that proceeds from our justifications and compromised existence to lead holy lives. The quest for the sacred is to be attained by faith according to the sacred writings. In this matter, the pilgrims rest his case on what he is willing to die for, not on what he does and the cunning of his exploits in order to live.
In the Old Testament, the writings call upon individuals and primal communities to a daily quest of exalted purpose and significance, of cooperation, sacrifices, and service characterized by love, holiness and righteousness. Apart from the Bible, such aspirations in other cultures reveal similar aspirations that reflect their own beliefs, understandings and quests of the scared life.
To some, the quests are either sublime, if not funny and humiliating to the human condition and his being endowed with a rational mind. I find the quests rather amusing, betraying our innate yearning for the fruits of love, a desire to become benevolent gods, or even being subjugated to holy “cows” and other created things and beings. It all depends on how men and women in their times and places are enlightened. I wonder whether Barbara Streisand’s song, “The way we were,” reflected on a similar analysis of these lines. If so, two more songs to be entitled “The way we are now,” and “The way we will be,” should be forthcoming episodes to Streisand’s popular song in the 70’s.
I am given to the thought that the pilgrimage for things sacred cannot be separated from mankind. Strong men and women in different times and places have despised and slandered this innate pursuit and its institutions, only to end up replacing the old ways and pilgrimage sites with their own conceptions. This insane business of constantly making people yield to a new controlling power remain as history’s main current, including the worshiping of new symbols - the gun or sickle, moon, stars, other creatures, if not cash alone as the sole consuming sacred pursuit. It does make sane men and women shy from worshiping with their kind but to worship with nature in forest cathedrals or attempt the incredible – to teach stones to talk back to them,
I am amused still, finding the pilgrimage for things sacred in our time now in a state “liminality,” according to experts. It simply tells me the old pilgrimage sites, symbols and classifications are in a state of siege, confusion and change. The old structures, sacred symbols, meanings and moorings have given way to corporations, computers, women and celebrities, “liminal beings... posing and challenging the normal social and legal classifications of the person.”
In human hands, the quest for “the sacred” is continually being redefined in terms suitable to whims and trends of seasons and times. Now, that ushers in the next challenge and new phase of liminality in the works. We are lost. The quest has gone on a pilgrimage to other realms, away from our covetous hands and vain imaginings since long before. The pilgrimage of sacred things will cost us too much with the pilgrimage of nature coming next.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on October 02, 2012.