Seminar on “Pilgrimage and Journey of the Mind” (in Thai)
Saturday, July 17, 2010, Room 105, Maha Chulalongkorn Building, Chulalongkorn University
Organized by the Thousand Stars Foundation in Collaboration with the Center for Ethics of Science and Technology, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University
Moving and travel are among those that all human beings love to do. We love to explore our world as soon as we are able to move; we are always desirous of going to places in order to learn what they look like. Infants are happy with their freedom that arrives with the ability to use their hands and feet. This freedom opens up a whole new world, and they learn that the world is very large and full of exciting things. And when we grow up, we also want to travel to more places further away. Our travels include those that are necessary, such as traveling to work, and those that are for our pleasure, such as becoming tourists to foreign lands. It seems that the purposes of traveling for people in today’s world consist only of these two, as we can see when we have to fill up immigration forms when we enter some countries—whether we travel for “business” or “pleasure.”
However, there is another important dimension of traveling which seems to be neglected in our world today. This concerns spiritual journey or “pilgrimage.” It is a kind of traveling that is different from both business or pleasure travels. What is interesting is that all religions we know emphasize traveling and pilgrimage as an important part in their teachings. The Buddha, for example, said that one of the ways Buddhists can do in order to accumulate merit is to travel to places associated with the Buddha’s life story so that the practitioner learn about impermanence and other important topics in the teachings. In Islam, there is an injunction that Muslims should find an opportunity to travel to Mecca in Saudi Arabia at least once in their lives so that they become closer to God. Both Hindus and Buddhists travel to Mount Kailash in Tibet in order to purify their minds on the way to attaining the Supreme Goal. For Hindus the mountain represents the abode of Shiva, and for Tibetan Buddhists, it is the center of the world and all the positive energies.
In today’s world, especially among young people caught up in the globalized economy, this kind of traveling seems to be lost from their consciousness. Even though people can travel with much more ease and speed than in the past, their travels unfortunately miss the spiritual and religious dimensions that characterized many of the travels undertaken by their forefathers. Furthermore, traveling not only means the physical activity of moving from one place to another, it also signifies the kind of movement of the mind. We usually compare our lives with a journey in our ordinary discourse, starting from the moment we are born and appears to end when we die. However, religious teachings all emphasize that our journeys do not actually end when we die; on the contrary, we do continue our journeys afterwards. This is another very important and interesting dimension of traveling that is totally neglected by modern science as well as by the modern consciousness informed by the scientific mindset.
Hence, the organizers have created this event and meeting and have invited a number of respected scholars and religious practitioners from various traditions to talk about pilgrimage and journey of the heart through their own points of view. It is hoped that the meeting will create a ripple in today’s society so that people become more aware of this apparently neglected dimension of travel.
The conference will be in Thai. There are no registration fees. However, those who would like to attend the event are requested to tell their names and their contact details to the organizers at this email address: email@example.com. They can also call 0806100770 or fax to 025285308.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
8:45 – 9:15 am Open ceremony, presided by Ajarn Sulak Sivaraksa
9:45 – 10:00 am Journey of the Tara Great Stupa, 4th Year
10:00 – 11:00 am Following the Footpaths of Buddhism in India and Pakistan” by Ven. Dr. Anil Sakya, Wat Bovornnives
11:00 – 12:00 noon “Pilgrimage in Christianity” by Dr. Warayuth Sriworakul, Assumption University
12:00 – 1:00 pm Lunch
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm “Leading Lay People to Pilgrimage” by Phra Thanomsingh Sukesalo (Wat Yanavessakavan)
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm “Path of Faith and Yatra in Hinduism” by Komgrich Uytekkeng (Silpakorn University)
3:00 pm – 3:30 pm Break
3:30 pm – 4:30 pm “Mecca and the Hajj in Islam” by Dr. Pranee Lapanich (Retired faculty, Chulalongkorn University)
4:30 pm – 5:30 pm “From Bangkok to Kailash: Journeying to Transform the Mind in Tibet” by Dr. Krisadawan Hongladarom (The Thousand Stars Foundation)