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The inward journey


In every culture there are fairy tales, myths, legends and parables in which people undertake a journey. Many of these travel stories refer to the great inner journey that man can undertake.They arose from, and align with, a universal desire that is present in man: the unconscious or conscious desire to reach the Source of everything. It is an urge that originates from the spirit-spark, near the heart, in the centre of the microcosm.

An external journey from A to B within a certain timeframe, can be seen as the metaphor for an inner journey, following a path that leads to awareness and renewal. On that journey man develops – as a result of knowledge, experiences, contemplation and inner knowledge – a wider understanding of himself, the world and the source of everything. Because of this awareness he or she becomes receptive to energies with a higher frequency, which transform him or her. The person who arrives is therefore someone different from the person who set out for the journey.36 This is expressed in many famous classical stories, full of symbolism, on the inner journey that we can undertake ourselves, like:


  • the exodus of the people of Israel from their slavery in Egypt, through the Red Sea and the desert to the promised land in 40 years, as described in the bible book Exodus;
  • the life of Jesus according to the biblical gospels in which he went the way from Bethlehem to Calvary in 33 years;
  • the legend on the fourth wise man from the East, Artaban, who cannot worship the new born king because he is occupied in helping his suffering fellow men on his journey;

  • the hymn of the Pearl in the apocryphal book ‘The acts of Thomas’, in which a king’s son is sent to Egypt by his parents to obtain a pearl of great price;

  • medieval tales about knights on a quest for the holy grail;

  • the journey of Dante Alighieri (symbol for the personality-soul) in the divine comedy (Divina Commedia) in which he is led through hell to the top of Purgatory by Virgil (symbol of the soul) and from there may enter paradise with his beloved Beatrice (symbol for the spirit-soul);

  • the dream-song of the Norwegian king Olav Åsteson in which he falls asleep on Christmas Eve (24th December), sleeps through the whole period of the 13 holy nights and days and has inner experiences somewhat like those of Dante in the Divine Comedy;

  • the mystery path of seven days that Christian Rosenkreutz (symbol of the personality-soul) goes in order to be present at the alchemical wedding between the queen (symbol of the soul) and the king (symbol of the spirit-soul), as Johann Valentin Andreae describes this in his profoundly symbolic story;38

  • the hard way that the wooden puppet Pinocchio (symbol of the material man) must go in order to become really human, through challenges and resistances. At the end of the story Pinocchio transforms into a boy.


Anyone who travels much gains much experience, is confronted with himself and may lose certain prejudices. Traveling offers the opportunity to look at yourself against a different background. That does not automatically imply that someone who travels much thereby becomes a wiser and more soulful person.There are people who spend more time planning and organising their holidays than they do living their lives. Holidays can be very wholesome for a person, because he or she can be temporarily emp- ty of the usual daily worries and so obtain new strength. Traveling can be an escape from a life that is considered dull or stressful. That is why it is sometimes said that the fool seeks his fortune far away but a wise man cultivates it where he happens to be.

When you are young, traveling is part of your education. When you are older, it is part of your experience. There may arrive a moment for a person when there is no great desire anymore for external traveling, but that his or her interest is mainly focused on the inner journey - on discovering and experiencing new regions in the domain of the soul. Great thinkers wrote and spoke about such an inner journey. Five quotes on this subject:

‘We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.’ (Stephen R. Covey)

‘The longest journey Is the inner journey of him who has chosen his destiny.’ (Dag Hammarskjöld)

‘The spiritual journey does not consist of arriving at a new destination where a person obtains what he did not have or becomes what he is not. It consists in the dissipation of one’s own ignorance concerning oneself and one’s life, and the gradual growth of that understanding which begins the spiritual awakening.’ (Aldous Huxley)

‘The journey that one undertakes in the inner life is as long as the distance between life and death; it is the longest journey one experiences in life and one must have prepared everything well, so that one does not have to return after having covered a certain distance.’ (Hazrat Inayat Khan)

‘Without stepping out the door, you can know the world. With- out looking through the window, you can see heaven’s way. The longer you travel, the less you know. Therefore: the sage knows without traveling, perceives without looking, completes without acting. (Lao Tzu, 47)

Source: Mysteries and Symbols of the Soul - becoming a spirit-inspired person, chapter 13

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