Pilgrimage changed my life, and in the last twenty years since my first adventure to the holy sites of the Buddha in Northern India when I was just twenty years old, I’ve had the fortune to embark on five other excursions. Now I lead pilgrimages to sacred sites all over Buddhist Asia, from India to Nepal, Sri Lanka to Java. In preparing for these journeys, I want to explore the purpose and practice of pilgrimage from a Buddhist point of view.
There are many reasons for travel these days: business travel facilitates networking opportunities and the conducting of commercial transactions. A vacation affords much-needed rest and relaxation and the chance to indulge the senses. Sightseeing tours offer onlookers a convenient means to observe ancient, historical or cultural landmarks, maximizing exposure in short duration. But pilgrimage is a unique reason for travel that is distinct in its motivation and execution.