Pilgrims come in many guises, travel many miles and visit many shrines. For each pilgrim there is a quest and a reason for the quest. Ultimately it is a quest for spiritual awakening or to bring peace to the heart. At the hub is a desire for change and an eradication of all weaknesses within the personality that are causing sorrow to the self and others. Yet even with the desire for change why is it so hard?

The story of the soul is fascinating. We have a conscious mind and an unconscious mind. The unconscious mind carries my history and when I repeat actions and reactions in the same patterns, many times, then strong impressions are created about myself and my life. So, although I may have started on a spiritual path and understand what needs to change in me, my old habits of say, holding hurt, feeling inferior, judging others, feeling superior, seem to come back with even more power than before. Some things change immediately, some things change a little more slowly, but some things are so deeply etched in my consciousness that they seem like they will never change. Then we feel hopeless. And yet, we live in a universe that is constantly changing. In fact, it is easy to call for change in others and argue for changes in situations, but when it comes to the self, we seem very resistant to change on one level, because we already feel vulnerable. In the process of change our weaknesses are exposed and we feel even more vulnerable. What we really need is the power to change, so I have to get power from somewhere.

No matter how incredibly difficult some people’s lives are, everyone has a vision of something better. When we are able to tap into that vision of a better self, and combine that with the understanding that the supreme source of spiritual power is God, then real and lasting change can begin. A relationship with God enables me to have the honesty to see myself, courage to face myself and power to change myself. Nothing else can do that. It is too hard to do by ourselves.

The other extra ingredient on a spiritual journey is the company of fellow travellers—to share the ups and downs of the journey, of this inner pilgrimage. To share the amazing times of wonder at the real and deep change, and yet when the old, deeply entrenched habits refuse to shift, then fellow travellers can help us regain perspective, enthusiasm and determination. This is the real pilgrimage of life. The inner challenge to face the demons, and confront the past. When I become a companion of God, then it is possible. The pinnacle of human experience is being open to the love of God.

Charlie Hogg, based in Sydney, is the National Coordinator, Brahma Kumaris, Australia.