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The Art of Pilgrimage - Book Review

Phil Cousineau in his book, The Art of Pilgrimage - The Seeker's Guide to Making Travel Sacred gives the reader much to think about before embarking on an adventure - here or there. Whether around the world or close to home, travel can be made into a pilgrimage for awakening the soul by observing all impressions along the way.

What I learned from reading this book is that pilgrimage is first an attitude of seeking lasting fulfillment, keeping an open mind, and savoring what happens, and to take your time in travel, really pay attention to each new event of the moment.

The book is divided into these chapters: I. The Longing; II. The Call; III. Departure; IV. The Pilgrim's Way; V. The Labyrinth; VI. Arrival; VII. Bringing Back the Boon.

Chapter IV. The Pilgrim's Way opens with the both light and profound verse by Christina Rossetti, 1867:

"Does the road wind uphill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend."

To me this is saying every bit of travel and all the experiences, no matter how unrelated they seem are the bits and pieces that make up the pilgrimage. And, the same chapter concludes with:


"Inspired by a fifth-century conversation between Zi Zhang and Confucius about the practice of wise rulers in The Analects, here are five excellent practices for travelers on sacred journeys:"

"Practice the arts of attention and listening.
Practice renewing yourself every day.
Practice meandering toward the center of every place.
Practice the ritual of reading sacred texts.
Practice gratitude and praise-singing."

I take these 5 reminders to be applied to any journey where one is seeking to be uplifted, not just in that moment but enduringly long after the physical travel is complete.

Phil Cousineau has traveled all his life, well suited to authoring this sacred travel book. Just a few of his previous works include: Soul Moment - Marvelous Stories of Synchronicity; Design Outlaws - On the Ecological Frontier; Soul - An Archaeology; and The Soul of the World. Plus he has many screenwriting credits in documentary films, winning more than 25 international awards.

In this current book he brings a wealth of insight on making travel a sacred journey and does remind the reader to take time to meditate and absorb new impressions on a regular basis while traveling.

I think you'll enjoy the text and the many black and white photographs enriching the book. I did.

Highly recommended!

Details - 288 pages soft cover; Conari Press (April 2000); 8 by 5.8 inches; ISBN: 1573245097

Review by Susan Helene Kramer

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