Sraddhalu Ranade at a beach sunset

Pilgrimage & the Sacred

Zoila Mendoza and Pico Iyer answer the question, “How can pilgrimage give us a stronger sense of the sacred?”


PHIL: I like thinking of the sacred as something that is worthy of our reverence and our respect. Something that lifts the heart, takes the breath away. How can pilgrimage give us a stronger sense of the sacred?

ZOILA: Because pilgrimage is a process and a process is aiming to get somewhere that is special, or something that is special, a space or a place or a thing, that is special. And the sacred is that in a very widely defined - is that source of life of the being, of the meaning of the world. So, I think the process of pilgrimage gets us closer to that experience. But it’s the idea of the process. There is the beginning and there’s the end and the end is where you get to feel, or to touch or to be in a place that you think is the sacred.

PICO: Yeah, I would say it’s the journey towards the sacred that sends you back a different person. Once you come back from that sacredness, something has turned inside you. An Islamic pilgrim wears that name “haji” as soon as he or she has completed the haj. And as you said I think we all know that we travel not to move around, but to be moved. And we travel to Jerusalem or Lhasa, not just to see Jerusalem or Lhasa, but to visit those states of mind and intimations, longings, moods inside ourselves that we sleepwalk past in our usual lives. And once we’ve been to Jerusalem or Lhasa, the idea is that the candle will still keep flickering inside of us even when we’re back in the office and in our day-to-day routines.

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