Monday, June 5, 2017

Journeyless Journey

Last summer during one of the "spirituality discussion group" conversations we have at church each month, one of the members said he had a problem with the whole idea of a "spiritual journey." If I remember correctly, he made the point that ultimately there is no "journey" because there's no "there" to journey to. We're already there.

I'll call him Mark. Interesting guy. I like him. Tall guy. He's an attorney and an ordained Presbyterian minister. His wife is a Presbyterian minister, too. Makes one wonder what their dinnertable talk is like.

But back to this idea of there being no spiritual journey. I agree with Mark. There is no "there" we have to migrate to -- or even toward. We're already there. When it comes to our spiritual life, we're already home.

On the other hand, I disagree that there's no journey. I can honestly say I've been on a journey -- what many would call a spiritual journey -- for more than half a century. At the same time, though, I've come to see it less as a spiritual journey and more as a journey of awareness.

After all, the "spiritual" is always with us, whether we realize it or not. If we seek it, we find it. If we don't seek it, most of the time we don't find it. Sometimes it forces the issue, but most of the time, we find what we seek. We find what we expect to find.

This is why faith is so powerful. And so dangerous. And so critical.


Galen Pearl said...

Loved this post. I said once that I don't want to be a seeker; I want to be a finder. I was reacting to someone saying that they saw themselves on a never ending journey of seeking. I was exhausted just thinking about it. I didn't want to journey anywhere and always be looking for something I never find. Ha!

We are sometimes tripped up, it seems, by trying to find (seeking!) the right vocabulary to describe what we cannot express in words, or even really think in thoughts. Like the Supreme Court justice who said he didn't need to define pornography because he knew it when he saw it, I think we recognize truth when we see it and experience it. But then we want to think about it, and share our thoughts with others. Let the semantic games begin.

If we find what we seek, what we expect to find, then what do we find when we release all expectations??

S0phia Inkpen said...

A journey of awareness... that involves really seeing, really hearing. I like that, it's a good description.

Conveyance Doctor said...

Golly, I find this to be an astonishing conversation, thanks HK! From my perspective, "journey" is an appropriate noun or verb for my seeking. Today, I think my journey is not toward a place but toward a spiritual event: Harmony? Oneness? oneness? Shalom? Present Moment awareness, Present Moment gratitude? I can be sure, today, of this: I am on a journey toward the event of enhanced/improved spiritual development so that I have more reverence for Life. Make sense?

HK Stewart said...


Thanks. One of these days I'll get around to writing about my encounter with the poet W. S. Merwin who unwittingly taught me to start paying attention. A great lesson. I use it every day.

H. K.

HK Stewart said...

Dr. C:

Of course it makes sense. As I said, my journey is a journey into an ever-expanding awareness of That Which Cannot Be Named -- which is easier than you'd think. Opportunities abound. It's everywhere. You can't swing a dead cat without hitting it.


H. K.

HK Stewart said...


Yep, yep, yep.

This is what I figured out during my years of teaching freshman comp: language is one of the two symbol systems we "think" with. The other one is math. (That's why the three Rs -- reading, writing, and 'rithematic -- are the bedrock of education.) We need these symbol systems so we can make sense out of our experiences in the world. If we're not careful, though, we'll forget that symbols can only do so much. They can only get us so far. For some people, that's far enough. Not so for others...

"What do we find when we release all expectations?" Trouble. With a capital T.

H. K.

Anonymous said...

I found your blog today as a side link on another site ,"The rambling Taoist". I read a few of your entries and I appreciate what you are writing very much. I can identify with the statement "the journey of awareness". I spent 35 years in fundamentalist Christianity until I became disillusioned by it, in a positive sense, about five years ago. I started out seeking truth by peeling back layers of theological untruth and it has morphed into more of this "journey of awareness" which you speak of. I would call myself if we can use a label, " a student of eastern philosophy" of which Taoism is a big part of. Thanks for writing your blog I am sure you are encouraging many on the path of truth.

HK Stewart said...


Thanks for writing. I'm really glad you found my blog.

It sounds as if you and I are traveling similar roads. I know what it feels like to walk away from the "firm foundation" of our upraising. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done, in fact. But I'm glad I did it. It freed me to find God where God has always been -- within. Within all of us. Accessible, but not contained. We can call it "God," but it doesn't have a name. It can't have a name. It's beyond names.

Exploring this "God" is the "journey" I'm on, and I'm happy to share pieces of it with you here. Take what you want and leave the rest, as they say.

Thanks again for writing. I hope you come back often.

H. K.

Anonymous said...

When you leave the church you leave a community of the like minded masses and you venture out on that lonely road of Self discovery. This takes some getting used to because there are not many you can share this experience with. We do find the God Self within just as Jesus and the Vedic Upanishads pointed to. Jesus called it the Father and the state of awareness we are talking about, he referred to as the Kingdom of heaven. We know that the Taoist call it Tao.The Greeks thought of it as the prime mover . The modern spiritual seeker thinks of it as pure consciousness. Christian Mystics speak of the Christ within. The Buddhist speak of the Buddha nature. So, the nameless ultimate reality has been called many names. I have found that the truth will indeed set you free but in my experience truth is a huge discovery that is realized in many baby steps and it is ever expanding just like all divine aspects of the God Self. I started out by peeling back multiple layers of theological untruth. This was the period of disillusionment with Christianity which I went through.I now accept it as a valid path taken by billions of people in their search for God and I am also rediscovering the true teachings of Jesus. I could say so much here but I will end on this quote : Say not "I have found the truth" but rather "I have found a truth" -Kahlil Gibran

HK Stewart said...


Great comment. And I love the Gibran quote you close with. It reminds me of something one of my Moslem friends told me one time. He said the Koran states that there are as many paths to Allah as there are people.

And as I remind my spirituality discussion group each month, "We are all on our own, unique spiritual journey. I cannot walk your path. You cannot walk mine." That's the first of the group's seven guiding principles. The second one is that "We gain insight into our own journey when we listen to the experiences of other spiritual travelers."

That second one is one of the reasons I'm writing this blog.

Thanks again for reading and writing.

H. K.