Why Pilgrimage?

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We go on pilgrimages not as a holiday or simply to do the things that we usually do as tourists. Rather, visiting holy sites is for the betterment of our spiritual practice, to realign ourselves on the spiritual path to Enlightenment.

In a recent teaching H.E. Tsem Rinpoche explained the significance of pilgrimages as something for us to connect with the blessed energies of places where holy beings have chosen to take rebirth, gain enlightenment, teach the Dharma or pass away. Sites like these carry the everlasting energies of the compassionate, enlightenment mind, where holy beings resided, practised and benefited countless beings. Everything they owned or used, including the area they lived or practised in, was entirely for the benefit of other beings.

Sacred power places are imbued with the blessed energy of the many enlightened Beings that have resided, practised and benefited countless other beings there.

H.E. Tsem Rinpoche

When we go to these places, show reverence, make offerings and aspirational prayers, we create the direct causes to attain this same state of compassion and to gain the same enlightened qualities that these beings had.

The Buddhist tradition of making pilgrimages began with Buddha Shakyamuni himself, who advised that when he passed away, disciples could visit four main sites and make aspirational prayers there. He advised that all Buddhas of the past had manifested there, and all Buddhas of the future will also manifest there. By visiting, we make a very deep connection to the outer Buddhas, so that we might realise our own inner Buddhahood. This will help our spiritual practice in this and future lives greatly.

The karmic significance of visiting the four sites are further broken down as follows:

  • When we visit the Buddha’s birth place: We create the karma to have control of our own rebirth; create causes to be born in pleasant places where we will have the right conditions and opportunities to practise Dharma.
  • When we visit the place where Buddha attained Enlightenment: Seeds are planted in our mindstreams for us to also gain Enlightenment; we go towards the path of Enlightenment in all future lifetimes; even if we fail to attain Enlightenment within Buddha Shakyamuni’s age, we create the causes to be among the foremost disciples of Maitreya, the future Buddha, when he manifests.
  • When we visit the place where Buddha first taught Dharma: We create the karma for
    • the Dharma to really go into our mind and we are able to transform when we receive the teachings
    • being able to sponsor, propagate and put our energy towards the growth of Dharma
    • being able to speak and share Dharma to others, to transform their lives
  • When we visit the place Buddha passed away: We create the cause to increase our life to be able to engage in spiritual practice and gain enlightenment; we will not die ordinary deaths with fear, anxiety, and we create causes to have control over our death and rebirth.
  • Buddha Shakyamuni gave teachings which, if we follow, can bring us to the same enlightened level as him. Therefore, all those who have followed his teachings, would have gained the attainments and become enlightened, just like him. In this way, visiting their holy sites is equivalent to visiting Buddha Shakyamuni’s holy sites, for the Enlightened mind and its energies are all the same.

    As we embark on each pilgrimage, all the pilgrims are encouraged to contemplate on the selfless motivation and actions of all holy beings, on their deeply compassionate wish to constantly serve others. By meditating on this and making aspirational prayers to attain these qualities, we forge ain inedible connection with the enlightened beings that is carried forward in this all and future lives, spiritual work and practice.

One Response to Why Pilgrimage?

  1. [...] practice, attainments and work, and to plant innumerable spiritual seeds within their minds. Click here for more information on the benefits of going on pilgrimage. Rinpoche has also blogged about these [...]