To ask the question, “What is the Spiritual Journey?” can be the beginning of the ultimate quest to find meaning and purpose in your life. For this writer, this question begins the real Quest-I-On.  This is the adventure that you are created to explore and realize as your purpose for being here on this planet.

To answer this question “What is the Spiritual Journey?” I want to begin by outlining the way in which I will explore this question.

What is the Spiritual Journey Menu

So, with this outline let’s explore the journey that is the ultimate life changing adventure.

Spiritual Journey Definition

spiritual journey definition

I think a spiritual journey is not so much a journey of discovery. It’s a journey of recovery. It’s a journey of uncovering your own inner nature. It’s already there. – Billy Corgan

Let me begin with my definition of the spiritual journey that has meaning and gives direction to my life.

The spiritual journey is an inner journey of revelation and KNOWING. It is a journey of paradox with its Secret Language. It is an experiential journey of faith and surrender beyond the limitation of intellectual belief. The journey is a practical journey that has maps, stages, levels, and steps along the way.  Every religious tradition has it own map for the quest that is the journey into the experience of Spirit.


The views about the spiritual journey as shared here are from my personal and transpersonal experience of that journey within my life from the age of 17 years to the age of 71 years (2021)

It is important to recognise that while you can follow traditional teachings from different religions and different wisdom schools be sure that whoever you choose as your guide on the spiritual journey that such individual or group have only one agenda.

To have you trust the KNOWER within.

So let me share with you some of the key aspects of this definition of the spiritual journey

  • Revelation and Inner KNOWING.
  • The Language of Paradox.
  • Faith and Surrender
  • Stages of the Journey.
  • The Different Spiritual Journey’s

The spiritual journey begins in earnest with the experience of revelation and INNER KNOWING.

Revelation and INNER KNOWING

spiritual journey revelation

And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself? – Rumi

The spiritual journey is an INNER journey.  It is not a journey whereby you acquire more and more knowledge. This does not mean that you do not undertake a practice of study of religious/spiritual teachings.

However, there are more than enough religious teachers in the world who have spent a lifetime of study and who have never had a direct experience of the very nature of what they teach.

This is illustrated by the story of the Professor of Philosophy who came to the Sage Ramakrishna to discuss the teachings of the Upanishad’s.

The professor was a very learned man but at the end of the discussion Ramakrishna asked, “Sir, this is all well and good but what do you KNOW?”

The professor left saddened because all that he knew had been learned from books.

No amount of study or listening to tapes will give you insight. (Joel Goldsmith – The Infinite Way) Only a committed practice to prayer or meditation will allow the revelation to be KNOWN through you and as you.

When I use the word ‘prayer’ this is not the kind of prayer that is petitionary. It is where you surrender the personal will to listen to the Still Small Voice Within.

This is what the rather strange spiritual instruction “Pray always” means. You live your life attentive to the promptings of the still small voice within you.

Prayer is a practice where you become the servant of Love’s purpose and not where you decide that you are going to tell God or ask God for something that you think the Divine is withholding from you.

With the committed practice of prayer or meditation you open to allowing the revelation you are created to express be expressed through you.

Kid yourself not that if you are not engaged in some daily practice of prayer or meditation that you are on the spiritual journey.

You might follow the teachings of a given religion but that doesn’t mean you are spiritual or are on a spiritual journey.

A Journey Beyond Belief

spiritual journey beyond belief

Belief is in ignorance. If you know, you know. – Osho

Most people who practice religion are believers.  Spiritual revelation takes you beyond belief.

Belief is a mental construct.  Revelation and INNER KNOWING are not beliefs.

As one of my spiritual teachers Jeddu Krishnamurti answered when asked by a journalist, “Sir, do you believe in God?” answered, “Why believe when you KNOW.”

This was the same answer given by the Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung when asked the same question.

The spiritual journey is EXPERIENCIAL. It is not an accumulation of other people’s KNOWING. It is where you KNOW the truth of the teachings pointed to by the words.

Language of Paradox

spiritual journey paradox

I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing. – Plato

I hope it doesn’t appear as arrogance, but I KNOW those who have been graced the direct experience of revelation and KNOWING.

It is in the way they use language in speaking about spiritual matters.

One of the key giveaways is that those who DO NOT KNOW take wisdom teachings and especially the teachings of the Bible literally rather than metaphorically.

This is why the mystic poet and painter William Blake declared.

They read their Bible day and night. While they read black, I read white – William Blake – Poet, Painter and Printmaker (1757-1827)

For example, those who have little, or no KNOWING take the stories of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and Jonah and the Whale quite literally.

In this way they take these stories of the spiritual journey to be historical rather than as steps along the way of the spiritual journey.

The language of the spiritual journey is the language of mystical poetry, mythological storytelling, and most of all the Stillness that Speaks from the Thunder of Silence.

The journey is guided through the paradoxical language that asks, “What is the sound of One Hand clapping.”

It is the understanding that declares, “Those who KNOW does not speak. He who speaks does not KNOW” This was from the Chinese Sage Lao Tzu.

This is the same invitation given in one of the great instructions for the spiritual journey. “Be Still and KNOW that I AM God – xxx”

When you KNOW you can use words but more than words you allow the Stillness that Speaks to speak through you as the Presence of Love.

This is what St. Francis of Assisi meant by the instruction he give to his disciples, “Preach the Gospel at all times and if necessary, use words.”

The spiritual journey takes you deeper into inner silence from which the INNER KNOWING arises.  As the Christian mystic Miester Eckhart stated.

The nearest thing to God is Silence. – Miester Eckhart – German Theologian  (1260-1328)

Faith and Surrender

spiritual journey and faith

Faith is an Oasis in the Heart which will never be reached by the Caravan of Thinking. – Kahlil Gibran

The word faith as used here is not what most people understand by this word.  For most people of any religious affiliation the word “faith” means believing in the dogma of that given religion.

This is not what those who are mystics of all religious traditions, and none mean by the word faith. The words “faith” and “surrender” are the yin and yang of the spiritual journey.

The whole of the spiritual journey could be summed up in these two words.  Let me define the word “faith” as I understand it.

Faith is living with confidence in the unknown and surrendering to the way in which that UNKNOWING moves through you. – Tony Cuckson – Awakening the Heart – 21 Ways to Follow Love’s Message.

You must be willing to move beyond the limitation of belief to move into the desert of the unknown so that you can experience the promised land which it beyond belief.

The deeper you move into the experience of the spiritual the less you know.  This is the meaning of the concept within Buddhism called “sunyata” or emptiness.  In Christianity it is known as Kenosis or the way of Self emptying.

Can you imagine what it would be like if you were to try to explain this to someone who is a television evangelist.

Stages of the Spiritual Journey

spiritual journey quote

It’s your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you. ― Rumi

There are many different stages of the spiritual journey. However, what I think can be agreed upon are the three levels.

  1. Personal Development
  2. Transitional Development.
  3. Transpersonal Development.

Most people in my view live their lives at the lower levels of personal development.

I hope this doesn’t sound arrogant or judgemental or elitist.

I do think it helps if you are made aware of the full potential that is seeded within you as a unique expression of Divine intention.

The tragedy of religion is that it has created the belief that you have somehow earn your KNOWING of the Divine within you.

The reality is that without such KNOWING you are as the poet Goethe stated, “

And so long as you haven’t experienced this: to die and so to grow,

you are only a troubled guest on the dark earth.

From The Holy Longing – poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – translated by Robert Bly

When Goethe says, “to die and so to grow” notice the use of the paradoxical language.  This is the invitation from all mystics of all traditions.

Mystical Christian Tradition

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. – Matthew – 16:25

Modern Mystical Teaching

Death is a stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to “die before you die” — and find that there is no death. ― Eckhart Tolle

Mystical Islam

Die! Die! Die in this love!

If you die in this love, Your soul will be renewed.

Die! Die! Don’t fear the death of that which is known

If you die to the temporal, You will become timeless.”

― Rumi

Rumi references the three levels of the journey in the following way.

Level 1 – Personal – Living from the Temporal.

Level 2 – Transitional – Dying to the Personal

Level 3 – Transpersonal – Soul Renewal

At this website, the transitional level is where you begin to awaken the heart.  I call this the stage of learning to use your wings.

Wings are a symbol of your alignment with the highest within you.  I call this joining the Better Angels Club.

Maps of the Spiritual Journey

better angels t shirt

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You were born with potential. You were born with wings. Use them. Learn to fly – Rumi

Having studied and loved the different maps of various traditions over several decades my view is that the spiritual journey can only be directed by those who are the mystics of that tradition.

Without the mystical experience of direct KNOWING of the Divine within you are really the blind leading the blind.

While this may not be intentional it arises out of ignorance. This kind of false authority was warned against by the Master Jesus when he said.

But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. – Matthew 23:13

Only those who “go in” meaning to KNOW and experience the Divine within themselves have the authority to be a spiritual guide to your entry into the KNOWING of the Divine within you.

All religious traditions have their mystical tradition.

If you are interested in beginning the spiritual journey, then my recommendation is that you focus on following the guidance from these people.

  • Christian – Gnostics
  • Islam – Sufi
  • Jewish – Kabbalah
  • Hindu – Raja Yoga

While there are other religious traditions, I only share those that I have studied and have had experience off.

Note that I haven’t included Buddhist mystical teachings because the focus of Buddhism is on direct experience rather than dogma. Buddhism is all about KNOWING.

Do You Need A Spiritual Guide?

do you need a spiritual guide

Inner guidance is heard like soft music in the night by those who have learned to listen. ― Vernon Howard

In answering this question let me return to the poem by Goethe

The Holy Longing
poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Tell a wise person, or else keep silent,
because the mass man will mock it right away.
I praise what is truly alive,
what longs to be burned to death.

In the calm water of the love-nights,
where you were begotten, where you have begotten,
a strange feeling comes over you,
when you see the silent candle burning.

Now you are no longer caught in the obsession with darkness,
and a desire for higher lovemaking sweeps you upward.
Distance does not make you falter.
and finally, insane for the light,
you are the butterfly, and you are gone.

And so long as you haven’t experienced this: to die and so to grow,
you are only a troubled guest on the dark earth.

Translated from the German by Robert Bly

Here is a poet who is a KNOWER.

The question “Do you need a person to give you spiritual guidance.” is a vast question and to answer it adequately would need another full-length blog post and even a book.

I have been on this spiritual journey from the time I was 17 years old when my mother gave me a book on yoga.

On the Winding Stair

On the winding stair
My mother gave me a book.
Inside there was a treasure I didn’t know
I had lost.

Now oft times when I think of my mother
I wonder.
How come she KNEW
The treasure was mine.

The treasure was the arrival of the teachings of Yoga in the West.

The Goethe poem The Holy Longing is a poem about spiritual awakening (Level 2 – Transition).  Goethe says, “Tell a wise person, or else keep silent, because the mass man will mock it right away.”

The problem is how to know a wise person who has been graced the awakening to the Holy.

Most people in religious circles who I have met want you to belong to their group.  The group teaching is more important than the awakening of your soul.

This happened to my sister Mary who had an awakening experience out on a Donegal beach while she was on retreat with a fundamentalist Christian group.

Her pastor who I met only once was in my view a power broker.  He formed this group for his own ego aggrandisement.  He assured my sister that her awakening experience was invalid.

She came to my home in Leeds shortly before her death and tentatively explored the experience, but she was caught between her need to belong to the group and her need to be true to her soul.

She chose to be true to the group.

The best advice I can give you is to find a guide who keeps pointing you to go inward and have the revelation to your quest be your direct experience.

Any mystic will keep pointing you to the Presence within you that is the best guide to living a life you love.

Recognize that 95% of so-called spiritual guidance has to do with keeping you within the flock or converting you to the flock.  It isn’t about honouring the unique way in which the revelation of Love is to be expressed through you.

What is the Spiritual Journey Resources

spiritual journey resources

It may be that when we no longer know which way to go that we have come to our real journey. Wendall Berry

The people who are interested in this blog article will have come to it via the search term (or related search terms) “What is a spiritual journey.”

I assume that if you ask such a question that you are someone who is exploring the possibility of beginning a spiritual journey.

I have no idea what tradition you come from or identify with.  In that sense it is difficult for me to recommend resources that apply to everyone who visits this article.

What I think would be of value to you is to be aware of the challenges that anyone who commits to such a journey will face no matter what tradition or background they come from.

With that in mind I feel I can benefit your exploration by recommending that you read the following.

Spiritual Journey Story

Spiritual Journey Challenges

Spiritual Journey Guide

Exploring Spiritual Journey Aspects

Spiritual Journey Clothing

I hope that you found this article on the question, “What is the spiritual journey?” of value.

This is the journey that everyone is destined to take.

I value your contribution.  Please share this on a social media platform of your choice.

If you have any questions or comments, then please ask or comment.