The Journey not the Destination

The Journey not the Destination

Sunday 24 March 10:30am – 4:30pm

Our tendency in the West is often to be very goal oriented. This may or may not have its benefits sometimes but, in the spiritual life, when we attach ourselves too ardently to a goal we are setting up a very big obstacle which actually prevents us getting there

Our teacher, Sangharakshita says: The central problem of the spiritual life… [is] that the means to Enlightenment, being regarded as an end in itself, becomes an object of attachment, so that from a help it is transformed into a hindrance all the more dangerous for it being in its subtler forms so very difficult to detect. "

During this day retreat, led by Shakyapada, we will be exploring and reflecting upon C. P. Cavafy's much-loved classic poem. There will be short talks, some meditation, periods of reflection and discussion. The day will end with a short devotional ritual.

This poem deals with the journey of the hero Odysseus to a place called “Ithaka.” The message seems simple yet there are many layers of meanings. Ithaka is, of course, a metaphor for something else. In our case it could be happiness. It could be about possessing a material object or finding a relationship. More spiritually, it could be about 'getting somewhere' in meditation, in the practice of ethics, along the spiritual path. It could even be a metaphor for attaining Stream Entry or Awakening.

But the poet advises us to value and enjoy the journey rather than the destination, to make the most of the riches along the way. Whether these are pleasurable or challenging, each of them can help to transform us and to prepare us for our eventual arrival. Ithaka or ultimate Awakening can seem a distant prospect, but if we make the most of the spiritual journey itself Sangharakshita says that we cannot fail to reach our destination.

Everyone over 18 who has a regular meditation practice is welcome.

Please bring vegan food to share for lunch.

Booking is essential as places are limited. 

Apart from a small registration fee we do not charge for our classes, however as a charity we can struggle to cover all our costs so we ask everyone to make a donation to the day if they can, to help keep York Buddhist Centre open. We suggest around £15-£20 for this day but please be generous and give what you can. You can donate on the day or when you book. No one is paid at YBC.

C. P. Cavafy

As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn't have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

Book Now: £5

Apart from the booking fee this retreat is freely offered. However, we rely on donations to cover our costs, so if you can, please also donate when booking, or on the day itself. We suggest £15 to £20 but the amount is up to you.