“I am that life for which you are longing. I am that ‘intelligence,’ which is much more than arid reasoning: I am absolute Knowledge. And I am absolute Peace, Love, and Bliss!”

“I am your Divine Mother. And you are My divine child.”

“Oh,” the pilgrim cries, “can I be with You always? Always!”

“My son, that is your destiny, but you must first undergo purification.”

Thus, the pilgrim’s journey begins.

The pilgrim represents every sincere devotee

It is with deep devotion, wisdom, and even humor that the pilgrim approaches every fresh experience, taking each new encounter as an opportunity to grow closer to divine awareness – closer to his home in the arms of Divine Mother.

The pilgrim represents the devotee who, with deep longing and sincerity, seeks answers to life’s mysteries. “Why do we live at all?” he asks. “Why am I even here?” And he realizes:

The answer won’t, and can’t, be found anywhere except in my own self. Secondly, what I’ve been looking for is something that’s absolute, also, only in myself. That ‘thing’, he concludes, is happiness!

In A Pilgrimage to Guadalupe, the pilgrim, though playing the role of one seeking understanding, has attained a high level of understanding himself. Kindly and sensitively, he offers profound insights to everyone he meets, but does not ask any more of them than that for which they themselves are ready.

Deep truths are woven into delightful stories

Deep truths are woven into delightful stories. Each state of consciousness, which Kriyananda artfully clothes with a personality of its own, has an important lesson to teach us, each a particular delusion to be transcended in wisdom. In the people the pilgrim meets, moreover, we are confronted with one of the many states of consciousness that the soul encounters along its way to wakefulness. Every one of us, as Krishna teaches in the Bhagavad Gita, is a nation unto ourselves, and the innumerable citizens of that nation are aspects of our own nature. Likewise, every person the pilgrim meets is also, in the highest sense, a facet of his own consciousness.

By brilliantly sewing deep spiritual teachings into a beautiful novel, Kriyananda allows people to accept what is, or is not, true for themselves. The pilgrim’s insights, and the insights of those he meets, are impersonal. Rather than demanding acceptance of the pilgrim’s perception – or inviting a denial or defense – Kriyananda simply holds out the highest path. He kindly invites us to partake of the life-giving waters of wisdom, to be imbibed from the chalice of the pilgrim’s journey to freedom – a journey which is not irrelevant from our own. For the pilgrim’s journey is an expression of the inward pilgrimage that each soul takes on its way to final union with God.

“Where are you headed?” a fellow asks the pilgrim.
“I’m on a personal quest,” he answers.
“That’s an odd answer. What are you seeking?”
“I’m on a quest for understanding.”
“Where are you coming from, that you should have this motivation?”
“I’m coming from ignorance as to who I really am.”

The polestar of one’s own innate divinity

And so it is that we, like the pilgrim, have taken up the personal quest from the labyrinthine ways of ignorance, into the liberating light of inspired understanding — of understanding who and what we are in truth, not a name, not a member of any race, religion, or gender, but children of God’s infinite bliss, manifestations of His eternal love. “Ego only masquerades as our entire reality,” the pilgrim proclaims, “and is really the cause of all our suffering.”

The pilgrim impels us all, therefore, to “select for ourselves the upward road to ever greater understanding” that we may cleanse our hearts “of anything that sings not of God.” As Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” And what is purity, if not a heart cleansed of all ego-identity?

But what have we to guide our soul journey? Kriyananda invites us to be guided inwardly. “There is but one guideline,” he explains, “that can give it right direction: the polestar of one’s own innate divinity.”

An expansion of calm inner joy

A sure sign that we are progressing in the right direction is, above all, an expansion of calm, inner joy. For that is what God is: ever-new joy. Just as Einstein related all movement to the speed of light, so we, the pilgrim explains, should relate everything back to the divine bliss of our own being. “We are all linked together in a great web of reality,” says he. “That is truly meaningful for everyone which takes people closer to where they themselves want to be. And all they really want is one thing: bliss.”

Indeed, all are on this upward journey, to varying degrees, toward the divine joy of our inner being. “The consciousness even in a worm is impelled to rise toward its Source in Infinity,” the pilgrim explains. “It is the impulse of all life to want to reclaim its own true reality.” Inwardly, everyone knows their true destiny, and seeks it more or less consciously. And in everyone, God and truth exist equally. Thus, A Pilgrimage to Guadalupe gives a reason for us to love all, as an intrinsic part of our own greater reality. Expanding our sympathies to others, indeed, is the first step in becoming truly happy.

In this book, we learn new ways of approaching people of many different beliefs and opinions, and we learn how to spiritualize many situations. In the process, we learn that even our worldly experiences can become portals to ultimate perfection. We find, moreover, ways to end our desultory wandering, our meandering, as it were, in dry sands of self-involvement and the thought of separation, so that our Godward progress may be hastened. “Self-involvement is the source of all our suffering,” the pilgrim avers. To find happiness, we must expand our sense of self to embrace all.

The pilgrim therefore relinquishes every self-definition, and invites his companions to simply call him Friend. “Who I am in God’s eyes, after all,” he says, “has nothing to do with my name, occupation, country, or anything else. Self-definitions are like prisons in which we incarcerate ourselves:”

When we can declare with conviction, ‘Nothing that I’ve done is mine. Nothing that I am is mine! Nothing that I own is mine! Even I, myself, am not apart or separate from anything else!’ there comes a sense of blissful freedom that is very far from any sense of loss or suppression. We know, then, that there is a Higher Reality, and that in that Reality we have our entire being.

It is the very impulse of all life to reach upward toward that higher reality. “All life,” the pilgrim proclaims, “is a quest for self-understanding. And all life is a pilgrimage, even if most people have yet to become aware of the fact. That ‘self’ that I am trying to understand,” he continues, “manifests as a simple impulse: the impulse to grow upward and reach out, like a plant, toward the light of ever-higher awareness.”

The characters that the pilgrim encounters raise seemingly every fundamental objection or misconception that one could have regarding spirituality and religion. In turn, he conveys superconscious solutions, dispelling their confusion and explaining such things as:

  • The folly of materialism
  • The pitfalls of sense-involvement
  • The highest meaning in art
  • The cosmic plan behind evolution
  • The law of karma and reincarnation
  • The first step toward God is devotion
  • The need for self-purification
  • How to be guided from within
  • The importance of direct experience
  • Ego-transcendence as the goal of spiritual seeking
  • Why all our aspirations must unite in God

All of life is a pilgrimage to God

“It is important for everyone to approach truth with mental clarity,” the pilgrim explains. “God’s reality is the clarity of perfect wakefulness.” It is with compassion, depth, and crystal clarity, therefore, that he uproots doubts and delusions regarding the nature of reality. He maintains, however, that each person “has a right to come at truth in his own way, at his own time, and according to his own level of understanding.”

Everyone, finally, must take up the journey from what Paramhansa Yogananda called the “anguishing monotony” of duality, toward the every-increasing realization of our blissful soul reality. Until we center our energy, and unite our entire being in one upward flow toward the Divine, we will never know the joy of God that is our birthright for all eternity.

“Life is a pilgrimage,” Kriyananda said, “of which the final goal is to find and merge back into God.” May we all, with the help and inspiration of this book, come ever closer to our own highest potential, in Him.

Yogesh Lee lives at Ananda Village and is currently studying art and design at Sierra College. Related reading: A Pilgrimage to Guadalupe The Final Journey of the Soul by Swami Kriyananda 

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