Peace Pilgrim's Map of Spiritual Growth

thumbnail
Zachary, modified 9 Months ago.

Peace Pilgrim's Map of Spiritual Growth

Posts: 199 Join Date: 3/16/18 Recent Posts
Recently, I’ve been reading about the life of Peace Pilgrim, a home-grown mystic of sorts who walked across the United States with a message of peace seven times between the years 1953 and 1981. During this time she carried no money, food or possessions. An inspiring story to say the least.

In a recorded lecture she gave at a college, she drew out a map of spiritual growth, which is shown here.





I found the map interesting for a few reasons, especially in that it appears to emphasize shifts in morality and service, rather than perceptual ones (not that they weren’t happening) as markers of the awakening process. The map has some parallels to the progress of insight, namely its cycles, positive and negative phases, “points of no returns” and possibility for infinite growth available even after “completion”. Obviously, it's not a perfect map and the use of terms like "higher will", "god-centeredness", etc. might not be the most compatible with the more buddhist-y models discussed around here, but it's interesting stuff nonetheless. 

The following are the seven points on Peace Pilgrim's map as well as quotes from her about these different periods on her path. These are taken from an article here, which goes into much more detail about "Preparations", "Relinquishments" and "Purifications" that Peace Pilgrim made along this path. 


1. Ordinary living: the ups and downs of emotion within the self-centered nature.

In my early life I made two very important discoveries. In the first place I discovered that making money was easy. And in the second place I discovered that making money and spending it foolishly was completely meaningless. I knew that this was not what I was here for, but at that time (this was many years ago), I didn't know exactly what I was here for. 


2. The first hump of no return: Complete willingness, without reservation, to give life to serve the higher will.

It was out of a very deep seeking for a meaningful way of life, and after having walked all one night through the woods, that I came to what I now know to be a very important psychological hump. I felt a complete willingness, without any reservations, to give my life, to dedicate my life to service. I tell you, it is a point of no return. After that, you can never go back to completely self-centered living.

And so I went into the second phase of my life. I began to live to give what I could, instead of get what I could, and I entered a new and wonderful world. My life began to become meaningful.


3. Battle between the God-centered nature and the self-centered nature.

From that time on, I have known that my life-work would be work for peace; that it would cover the entire peace picture – peace among nations, peace among groups, peace among individuals, and the very, very important inner peace. However, there's a great deal of difference between being willing to give your life, and actually giving your life, and for me, 15 years of preparation and of inner seeking lay between.

During this time I became acquainted with what Psychologists refer to as Ego and Conscience. I began to realize that it's as though we have two selves or two natures or two wills with two different viewpoints. Because the viewpoints were so different, I felt a struggle in my life at this period between the two selves with the two viewpoints. So there were hills and valleys – lots of hills and valleys.


4. First peak experience: A glimpse of inner peace.

Then in the midst of the struggle there came a wonderful mountain-top experience, and for the first time I knew what inner peace was like. I felt a oneness – oneness with all my fellow human beings, oneness with all of creation. I have never felt really separate since.


5. Longer and longer plateaus of inner peace. 

I could return again and again to this wonderful mountaintop, and then I could stay there for longer and longer periods of time, and just slip out occasionally.


6. Complete Inner peace. 

Then came a wonderful morning when I woke up and knew that I would never have to descend again into the valley. I knew that for me the struggle was over, that finally I had succeeded in giving my life, or finding inner peace. Again this is a point of no return. you can never go back into the struggle. The struggle is over now because you will do the right thing, and you don't need to be pushed into it.


7. Continuation of growth on a steadily upward path. 

However progress is not over. Great progress has taken place in this third phase of my life, but it's as though the central figure of the jigsaw puzzle of your life is complete and clear and unchanging, and around the edges other pieces keep fitting in. There is always a growing edge, but the progress is harmonious.

The world may look at you and believe that you are facing great problems, but always there are the inner resources to easily overcome these problems. Nothing seems difficult. There is a calmness and a serenity and unhurriedness – no more striving or straining about anything. Life is full and life is good, but life is nevermore overcrowded.
agnostic, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Peace Pilgrim's Map of Spiritual Growth

Posts: 2027 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Very interesting, thanks for sharing. A nice reminder there are certain universal elements to human development, however they get labeled.
thumbnail
Pepe, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Peace Pilgrim's Map of Spiritual Growth

Posts: 439 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
Thanks for sharing Zachary. Never heard of her before. Her book can be downloaded for free at peacepilgrim.org 
thumbnail
Zachary, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Peace Pilgrim's Map of Spiritual Growth

Posts: 199 Join Date: 3/16/18 Recent Posts
Pepe:
Thanks for sharing Zachary. Never heard of her before. Her book can be downloaded for free at peacepilgrim.org 

I stumbled upon her work pretty recently and was surprised she's not a larger figure considering how remarkable her story is. I only saw a couple mentions of her on DhO, part of the reason I wanted to post something here. There's also a relatively new talk on her life given by Soryu Forall floating around on YouTube. 

The site you linked has a lot of material, the organization will send you a physical copy of the book free-of-charge if you make a request. 
Derek2, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Peace Pilgrim's Map of Spiritual Growth

Posts: 191 Join Date: 9/21/16 Recent Posts
As a Christian, I find it puts some steps from the New Testament into order:

1. Ordinary living.

2. The point of no return: being "born again" (John 3:3).

3. The battle of spirit and flesh. "For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh" (Galatians 5:17).

4–6. Inner peace. "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness ... " (Galatians 5:22). "My peace I give you" (John 14:27). "The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17).
thumbnail
Brandon Dayton, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Peace Pilgrim's Map of Spiritual Growth

Posts: 496 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Fascinating. Seems like a legit contemplative practice to say the least. Gotta get out walking more.
thumbnail
Angel Roberto Puente, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Peace Pilgrim's Map of Spiritual Growth

Posts: 281 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
Thank you Zachary.  This sharing of information is what makes this forum great!  I had never heard about her. Reading her "Steps Toward Inner Peace" gives a view of how people can reach similar results by different routes.  Daniel opened a thread about the Emerging Proud movement that illustrates that people spontaneously have experiences that can be fit into known maps.  All this spurs my interest in the efforts to find a universal understanding of the processes involved in this natural impulse towards the transcendence of the small self.  
thumbnail
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Peace Pilgrim's Map of Spiritual Growth

Posts: 5896 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
It sounds like her first peak experience was a heck of an experience if it resulted in that much peace as the default so fast. Maybe that's how to do it - just let go of all possessions and wander off. 
thumbnail
Zachary, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Peace Pilgrim's Map of Spiritual Growth

Posts: 199 Join Date: 3/16/18 Recent Posts
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
It sounds like her first peak experience was a heck of an experience if it resulted in that much peace as the default so fast. Maybe that's how to do it - just let go of all possessions and wander off. 

I think the way I laid it out in the initial post abstracts away some of the nitty-gritty of her process. In her biography, she mentions a "15-year" transition to a life of service after stage two, which included what she termed "purification" and "relinquishment". She also mentions that she had to have basically finished her "physical", "emotional" and "psychological" growth before her spiritual growth could really take off, so it could be that she just put in a lot of work prior to this first peak experience that really allowed things to flourish in the wake of it. 
thumbnail
Brandon Dayton, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Peace Pilgrim's Map of Spiritual Growth

Posts: 496 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Zachary:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
It sounds like her first peak experience was a heck of an experience if it resulted in that much peace as the default so fast. Maybe that's how to do it - just let go of all possessions and wander off. 

I think the way I laid it out in the initial post abstracts away some of the nitty-gritty of her process. In her biography, she mentions a "15-year" transition to a life of service after stage two, which included what she termed "purification" and "relinquishment". She also mentions that she had to have basically finished her "physical", "emotional" and "psychological" growth before her spiritual growth could really take off, so it could be that she just put in a lot of work prior to this first peak experience that really allowed things to flourish in the wake of it. 
There's an episode of This American Life about someone trying to follow the Peace Pilgrim program. Seems like he was missing the preparation phase: https://www.thisamericanlife.org/483/self-improvement-kick
thumbnail
Brandon Dayton, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Peace Pilgrim's Map of Spiritual Growth

Posts: 496 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Listening to the Soryu Forall talk now:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhhrnb_v0DM

I dig this type of stuff that puts practice in a wider context. Morality is the first and last practice, right? We should be talking about that at least as much as we talk about what we're doing on the cushion.
thumbnail
Brandon Dayton, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Peace Pilgrim's Map of Spiritual Growth

Posts: 496 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Soryu Forall seems to be critiquing pragmatic dharma here:


https://youtu.be/yhhrnb_v0DM?t=2158
thumbnail
Zachary, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Peace Pilgrim's Map of Spiritual Growth

Posts: 199 Join Date: 3/16/18 Recent Posts
Brandon Dayton:
Soryu Forall seems to be critiquing pragmatic dharma here:


https://youtu.be/yhhrnb_v0DM?t=2158

Haha, I caught that too. I think Peace Pilgrim's story is a deeply inspiring example of just how far practice can take you, her story is contemporary so there is a ton of first and second-hand sources supporting it, one needn't rely on the word of a millenia-old oral tradition or hagiography to know that she was able, via her practice, to push the limits of what we think an ordinary body, heart and mind can do. She mentions in the college lecture linked above in the thread that she "doesn't walk on the energy of youth, but a better energy, an energy that never runs out, the energy of Source". 
thumbnail
Angel Roberto Puente, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Peace Pilgrim's Map of Spiritual Growth

Posts: 281 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
     Foral says that the Pilgrim never felt sadness or anger. I think he is misconstruing what she says to fit it into Buddhist thought.  In her book she says, "I’ll mention here a couple of other habits. One of them is the anger habit. Tremendous energy comes with anger. It’s sometimes called the anger energy. Do not suppress it: that would hurt you inside. Do not express it: this would not only hurt you inside, it would cause ripples in your surroundings.What you do is transform it. You somehow use that tremendous energy constructively on a task that needs to be done, or in a beneficial form of exercise".  I've read the argument, mostly from monks, that everything the suttas say about going beyond sexual desire, feeling, etc is exactly true.   Anyone who says otherwise is a fake. If you ask any of these people if they have reached this state they would probably go on to talk about how many lifetimes this takes, blah, blah blah. Let's admit we are human and stop making preposterous claims.   
Derek2, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Peace Pilgrim's Map of Spiritual Growth

Posts: 191 Join Date: 9/21/16 Recent Posts
Zachary:
In a recorded lecture she gave at a college, she drew out a map of spiritual growth


Here is the original lecture from California State University in 1979. Unfortunately it was filmed with a potato. At 15'44" she starts drawing the diagram that ended up in the book.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CAsjZqYPME
thumbnail
Angel Roberto Puente, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Peace Pilgrim's Map of Spiritual Growth

Posts: 281 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
     Reading the experiences of the Peace Pilgrim and watching the video can help to illustrate a very important point about spiritual growth. The impulse has to come from inside. It's the grappling with the inner urge, to break away from the oppressing feelings and ideas, that
pushes the growth forward. It then proceeds from insight to insight. The “Higher Nature” is always calling, not everybody answers.
     I have been looking into the ten ox-herding pictures and the Christian-Buddhist dialogue. I believe that there is a universal
lesson to be learned about the spiritual path in this study.
https://dimmid.org/vertical/sites/%7BD52F3ABF-B999-49DF-BFAB-845A690CF39B%7D/uploads/Park_The_Ox-herding_Pictures.pdf

This a cool modern depiction of the pictures.
https://www.lionsroar.com/searching-for-the-ox-the-path-to-enlightenment-in-10-pictures/
thumbnail
Brandon Dayton, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Peace Pilgrim's Map of Spiritual Growth

Posts: 496 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
 Reading the experiences of the Peace Pilgrim and watching the video can help to illustrate a very important point about spiritual growth. The impulse has to come from inside. It's the grappling with the inner urge, to break away from the oppressing feelings and ideas, that
pushes the growth forward.
Great observation. 

I noticed in her lecture that she didn't even begin her pilgrimige until after she completed her spiritual journey.
thumbnail
Angel Roberto Puente, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Peace Pilgrim's Map of Spiritual Growth

Posts: 281 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
Right!  It's the point where we know the search is over. But as she describes with the long line, the application of this insight to life goes on indefinitely.  The ox-herding pictures say the same.
Monsoon Frog, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Peace Pilgrim's Map of Spiritual Growth

Posts: 59 Join Date: 3/16/14 Recent Posts
There's a PDF scan of William Hamilton’s book Saints and Psychopaths that’s been circulating on the web for many years (Hamilton is regarded by this community as the ‘godfather’ of Pragmatic Dharma and he's the dedicatee of Daniel’s books MCTB and MCTB2 ). That PDF version unfortunately is flawed insofar as it completely omits several pages of the book. Part of the omitted material includes everything related to Hamilton’s interest in, reflections upon, and subsequent work on behalf of the Peace Pilgram. He states that he became intrigued by the Peace Pilgrim as an enlightened person and also by the non-profit organization which freely distributes her books and materials and which provided a model for free dharma in the West.  
I've not read the Peace Pilgrim book and it's interesting to see the mapping diagram upthread. I would speculate that Hamilton also connected with the Peace Pilgrim's mapping interests at some point as it appears to be an overt feature of both of their journeys. 

---

"After managing the IMS Tape library for a year, the Board of Directors gave me a one year full meditation scholarship in 1984. It was a good time to be on retreat at IMS because four great Asian meditation masters taught there that year: Anagarika Munindra, Dipa Ma Barua, Tungpulu Sayadaw and Sayadaw U Pandita. I had heard endless stories about Munindra and Dipa Ma as they had been primary teachers of most of my Western teachers. Tungpulu Sayadaw was widely regarded as being fully enlightened. U Pandita was the successor to the late Mahasi Sayadaw, and was regarded as the leading authority on this method of practice. U Pandita turned out to be an incredibly powerful teacher, and has been the greatest influence in my developing an advanced meditation practice.

After the full IMS scholarship expired, I was able to continue my practice with a partial scholarship from IMS, grants from a private foundation and gifts from several friends. Finally, after being on retreat for almost five years, I decided to return to the real world. I spent eighteen months traveling all over the United States doing odd jobs and teaching meditation. During this period, my teacher Sayadaw U Pandita taught a ten-day retreat in California, which I attended.
I thought that I had learned the lesson that there is no particular time standard for how the practice unfolds. I expected that the purpose of a trifling ten-day retreat in 1986 was to renew old acquaintances and brush up on my meditation practice. I was surprised that this ten-day retreat turned out to be one of the pivotal experiences of my life. As soon as I could fulfill my teaching commitments after this retreat, I returned to IMS for another year and a half of intensive practice.


Peace Pilgrim

During this retreat, a Tibetan monk visiting IMS did a reading from the Peace Pilgrim book. After reading the book, I became convinced that Peace Pilgrim was a rare case of spontaneous enlightenment that Buddhist texts refer to. She seemed to conform to the Buddhist concept about these cases: she was an inspiring teacher, but she lacked a complete methodology for guiding others to the same attainment she had made. Peace Pilgrim died in 1981, and some followers had compiled the Peace Pilgrim book from transcripts of her talks, newsletters, and letters.

What particularly inspires me about the Friends of Peace Pilgrim, the nonprofit organization distributing her book, was that they give books, audio and video tapes away free. Anyone writing to Friends of Peace Pilgrim, 43480 Cedar Ave., Hemet, CA 92544 and requesting the Peace Pilgrim book will receive a free copy. They rely only on unsolicited donations to continue the distribution of Peace Pilgrim’s message. Peace Pilgrim believed that spiritual teachings should never be sold. This is an ideal in the Buddhist tradition followed in Asia, but no one had been successful with free distribution in the West. For years I had been trying, without success, to figure out how to distribute audio tapes for free.

At the end of my retreat in 1988, I went to Hemet, California to do one year of volunteer work for the Friends of Peace Pilgrim. I did this partly to support the teachings of Peace Pilgrim, but also to learn how to do free distribution of spiritual teachings. I learned that it could be done when free facilities are provided and the volunteers have independent incomes."

-William Hamilton, Saints and Psychopaths
thumbnail
Zachary, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Peace Pilgrim's Map of Spiritual Growth

Posts: 199 Join Date: 3/16/18 Recent Posts
Very cool that these two were connected! Thanks for pointing this out. 

I had read a print version of Saints and Psychopaths a couple years ago but didn't recall the Peace Pilgrim section when I wrote the initial post, looking back now I see it there in the book. It's interesting that Peace Pilgrim's emphasis on free teachings inspired Bill Hamilton, as I don't think he ever asked for money in exchange for teaching students like Ingram, Folk and others. In a downstream way, it would seem all of us here have benefitted from Peace Pilgrim's emphasis on this. May the Dharma continue to be free of charge! 

Breadcrumb