Journey to the East: A Pilgrimage of the Spirit Journey to the East tells of a journey that the narrator undertook as a youth, to a far off land in the East. He and other members of the League travelled together, each with their own specific purposes and desires…
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To understand the travels, both external and internal, that occur in the passage of the book, a suitable frame is that of Christian pilgrimage. This paper argues that the narrator undergoes a spiritual pilgrimage through the book, not only during the first two chapters, but throughout the entire progress of the story. The concept of Christian pilgrimage began in the centauries following the death of Christ. The spiritual journey of a pilgrimage is present in almost all major religions, and this plays an important role in tradition. Generally, a pilgrimage is considered to be a physical journey, where the individual moves from one place to another, often with the aim at arriving at a holy place or a site of significant religious importance, such as a shrine or burial chamber . Many pilgrims travel with the hope of becoming closer to God, of finding some spiritual connection, or as a means of seeking forgiveness. The physical journey that pilgrims undertake is often physically difficult, based on the idea that this will bring them closer to God. For example, normally modern methods of transportation are shunned, and pilgrims preferentially travel by foot. This emphasizes the importance of the journey itself. If pilgrims arrived at their location instantly, almost all of the purpose of the journey would be lost. Consequently, a pilgrimage can also be internal, with the individual obtaining knowledge and experience, but not actually travelling. For the travelers in the Journey to the East, the physical destination is the East, the Home of Light . This is also true of many religious pilgrims. Christian pilgrims frequently travel to the Holy Land, which is in the East, to reaffirm their faith, and their connection to their God. Like pilgrims, the travelers had both a physical and a spiritual component to their journey, although it is not until later in the book that the spiritual component is revealed. Each of the participants in the journey detailed in the first two chapters of Journey to the East had a specific goal, although, as the narrator comments, these goals appear unrealistic. For example, the narrator himself desires to meet the Princess Fatima, with the ultimate goal of winning her love . This is very much like pilgrims who travel to a religious shrine, many of whom seek healing or divine revelation. In both cases, the true purpose of a pilgrimage is neither the external journey, nor the destination but instead it is the journey that the participants are involved in internally. Many aspects of the Journey to the East resemble that of a pilgrimage. While it is tempting to consider only the first two chapters as the pilgrimage, one which failed, it is more realistic to consider the whole tale as an example of this journey. When the narrator and his fellow travelers began their journey, they were newly initiated into the League. They knew what to do and what was expected of them, but they had little experience in how to do this. However, for the travelers, all is not as it seems. In the middle of the journey, one of the servants, Leo, disappeared. Despite the fact that Leo was just one of many servants that accompanied the group, his disappearance threw them into argument and despair , so much so, that the journey itself moved no further, and the league appeared to dissolve. . Although the physical component of the journey has ended, it can be argued that the pilgrimage has only just begun for the narrator. He is in a
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