The Pilgrim's progress: from this world to that which is yet to come: delivered under the similtude of a dream
The Dalai Lama often states in his books that its best to stay with the religion of your parents if you can. For me, even as a confirmed and baptised Christian, Christianity hasn't been an option since i was 13.
At one point in my patchwork religious history, i used to go to a Hare Krisna temple.
My mother isn't Jewish, and i've never converted so that wasn't on the cards.
I work in death metal and heavy metal, so hatred of all religions and faiths is always an option. And i like Black metal, so Satanism is an option too.
Hell, i have a lot of options.
I've even taken part in a pagan naming ceremony on Stone Henge courtesy of my brother and sister in law, so i could go with the ancient tradition of the British or i could just ignore it all.
Truth is however, that i'm interested in it all, i'm fascinated by religion and rituals, and i've grown to think that a place where people have faith is a special place irrespective or religion.
I dont think people who have faith are weak or stupid, which is a common misconception here in the west. You dont have to blindly follow a religion to believe in better things...
But a pilgrimage doesnt mean i've chosen a religion to follow or i'm compliant in all teachings. Although in many ways i'm on a Buddhist path. After all Buddha taught that all his teachings should be questions anyway.
In religion and spirituality, a pilgrimage is a long journey or search of great moral significance.
Buddhism normally offers four sites of pilgrimage: the Buddha's birthplace at Lumbini, the site where he attained Enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, where he first preached at Sarnath, and where he achieved Parinirvana at Kusinagara.
None of these places were where i was aiming at althought we nearly ended up going to Lumbini when we thought our Tibetan visas wouldn't come though. I wanted to get to Tibet which was, and is for me a place of great moral significance.
So along the road to Lhasa, i saw what Tibet could have been when i saw Bhutan, i gave up meat (because it was also convinient) and i travelled by plane. So i guess the hardship wasn't at all great. I stayed in hotels, i didn't go it alone maybe this wasn't much of a pilgrimage?
But i had wanted to get to Tibet for so long, even my Mum had wanted to get to Tibet since she read 'Seven years in Tibet' - i had read books, watched films, been to teachings by the Dalai Lama, listened to monks tell stories about the occupation. I was certainly very interested, and i made it my goal to be in Lhasa for my 29th birthday, which i was - past the visa trouble, the tummy trouble, the dog trouble, the mortal coil trouble, the insurrection trouble, on the 9th October 2009 i woke up in Lhasa.
And when i went up to the roof of the hotel, look what i saw: