Religion Pilgrimage Is a Central Element in Essay

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Pilgrimage is a central element in religion. Ancient polytheistic religions like those in Greece and Rome used pilgrimage at certain times of year, often creating massive festivals. While many pilgrimages have a social dimension, others can be profoundly personal and mystical too. Pilgrimage is inherently difficult, and the travails of the journey are part of the process. It is necessary to undertake pilgrimage as a rite of passage. This is especially true in Islam, in which hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, is one of the Five Pillars. There are several elements of religious pilgrimage, including the personal, political, and the spiritual.

Motivations for pilgrimage range from a need to prove one's spiritual strength and merit to a need to conform to the dictums of society. In some cases, the pilgrimage serves as an act of communion, prayer, or meditation. Buddhist approaches to pilgrimage,
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such as those described in Journey to the West, also create a vast cosmology that reveals the connection between multiple levels of reality. The pilgrimage is not just a physical journey, but a metaphysical one. The goal is less important than the journey in Journey to the West. In some Buddhist pilgrimage tales, the traveler achieves enlightenment by undertaking the journey because there is a specific goal in mind, such as with Ennin's Diary.

Sometimes, religious pilgrimage is a political endeavor. The Travels of Ibn Jubayr, for example, recounts tales of Muslim evangelism. The need to spread faith is common in both Christianity and Islam. In many of these cases, the pilgrimage changes the geo-political landscape of the planet as it does in Chihab al-Umari. In this story, Musa founds the Kingdom of Mali and shows how Islam became widespread not just in the Maghreb but also in sub-Saharan Africa. Likewise, Xuanzang provides a sweeping overview of the religious, social, and political landscapes not only of China and India but…

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Works Cited

From the Diary of Ennin, 838-847.

From Journey to the West, or The Monkey-King, 17th century.

Modern Portrait of Xuanzang.

From Naser-e Khosraw, Book of Travels.

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