The Vision Quest is the most powerful spiritual practice, “pound for pound”, bar none. It may not be the most fun as you sit in the scorching sun for hours waiting for any relief, or dance through the cold rain, and through it all wondering if I am absolutely crazy. But in all the years of my practice, I have never found the transformations, so readily available in the Quest, anywhere else. When we think of the Quest, too often we focus on the discomfort and hardship of the questing. However, I would ask you to focus, instead on the moments of spirit soaring, of stillness and peace, and of the knowings and of realizations that are experienced as well.
These experiences are more “true,” more real, than the discomfort because they are glimpses of who you really are! The rest are merely the personal woundings we have gathered along our journey, pasted over the essential and true Self. We seem to be fully attached to our woundings and darkness and so focus lots of attention on them thinking they are real and important to who we are. We believe in the reality of the fear our physical senses reveal and miss our true divinity revealed only by our spiritual senses. It is as we walk the spiritual path that we understand that these dark beliefs are merely the imaginings of a confused soul. The Vision Quest allows us to separate the false from the true about our Self—actually, the good news is that it won’t let you not separate them.
Because of this, I am always amazed when I hear people who have Quested, even some spiritual teachers, say that they have a new meditation, technique, ceremony, or practice, that is more effective than the Quest. While there are certainly more comfortable practices, and easier, none touches the totality of our inner and outer experiences available in the Quest. And it works in such a relatively short time, too.
The Quest is a perfect balance of every part of our humanness with nature and spirit. It is a dance between our deepest inner awarenesses and realizations (the answers to our questions, and the struggles of our body, mind, and emotions) with the purity of nature around us. All the while, we are forever wrapped in the eternity of our true Beingness, consciously or unconsciously.
It is within all the grandeur, beauty, and harmony of nature and spirit that we quest. Nature and eternal spirit become the perfect mirror that we gaze upon as the dark, misty shroud that includes all our pain, wounds, fears, and judgments eddy and swirls around us in response only to our inner imaginings and condition.
While those awarenesses of darkness are moving, surging, and falling back, and despite the hardship and discomfort, we begin to notice something else arising, some subtle inner experience that transcends everything else, something that underlies and supports it, something unchanging, tangible, real. As we Quest, this intangible gets stronger and begins to move to the foreground of our experience. And this is how we encounter, through experience, our true Self that lies at the heart of all this movement. As the mist clears, we catch a glimpse of the Grand Vision of life, none other than our true Self. In fact, we get to know just how magnificent a Human Being is, not as separate pieces but as a total Oneness of possibilities and essence.
As I said, I know of no other practice that touches us in such a complete way! Most practices are happy to focus on one layer of experience: the physical cultivation, devotional celebration, knowing and realization, or pure, non-duality of Self. But the human is not a singularity, we are a totality and for the transformation to be complete, for it to make a global difference in our lives, all layers must be touched, healed, and awakened. We are not a physical being, not a being or emotion or feeling, not a being of intelligence, and not a divine being; we are Human Beings and that includes all of the above! The Quest is the only practice that brings every one of those levels into awareness to be worked with.
I am not saying forget the other practices. They are a great adjunct to what we start in the Vision Quest. They can carry forward the work, maintain the momentum, and polish the realizations and transformations achieved in the Quest. Just don’t forget to continue to Quest! That is the taproot of the path of spiritual development that must be nurtured.
Earth-Heart is offering this year’s Vision Quest on July 20 through 27 so time is short if you would like to join us.