Author (Your Name)

Jay Holman, Colby CollegeFollow

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Colby Access Only)


Colby College. Religious Studies Dept.


Nikky-Guninder K. Singh


The nature of religion has always perplexed me. I was not raised in a religious household, yet was free to explore religion if it interested me. What I did spend lots of time doing as I grew up was wandering countless journeys. There was something inherently comforting about traveling the unknown, not necessarily knowing where I would be settling for the night. My adventures instilled my love for the outdoors, but also affirmed my passion for journeys. I did not realize it then, but journeys took the place of religion in my life. I began to conceive my own personal religion through journeys into the unknown wilds of the outdoors.

I took up the subject of "journeys" as an academic discipline through my major in religious studies at Colby. I noticed a trend in religions, particularly those surrounding India, to describe the spiritual experience as a path or way. Within Hinduism the Kathopanisad describes the journey of Naciketas encountering "Yama," or Death, in which he seeks knowledge of the world. Buddhism's fourth Noble Truth is the Noble Eightfold Path, literally describing the way to escape suffering as a path or journey. Taoism's message centers upon following the Tao, or the Way: it begins by describing it as a divine and preeminent path, "The Tao that can be trodden is not the enduring and unchanging Tao." Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam, describes its different orders as "tariqas" translated as paths, which lead to the "haqiqa," translated as truth or reality. In Sikh scripture Guru Nanak describes the spiritual journey along the five realms of Duty, Knowledge, Beauty, Action, and Truth that a Sikh must explore to better understand the infinite nature of the Divine. The religions appeared to me as if they were describing enlightened trails through an unknown wilderness. The paths they described were spiritual and seemed to move at a metaphysical level beyond the physical journeys I was familiar with. I decided to further explore the phenomenon of the journey within religion.

It is exciting to follow the wanderers as they explore the unknown. They leave the safety and security of the known in search of an unknown epistemological goal. What is their underlying motivation? What is their perception of the world? What are the stages they move through along the journey? Ultimately, how do we interpret and relate to the wanderer's journey?


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comparative religion, world religions, travel

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