The Path, the Road, the Way – is a metaphor for the spiritual journey to Enlightenment. All of us at one time or another can be said to be on the Path whether we know it or not. However, we most often only start to discuss the nature of the Path once we have come to an awareness of it.
We first learn about the Path when we get the first inklings of the mystical nature of world. When we first realize that there is something more than just the mundane world, we quickly learn that there is a “Way” that can lead us to perfect union with the “Truth” of “Life.”
Once we become aware of the Path, most of us find it necessary to seek it out. When we discover a version of the Path that gives us confidence, we can begin to take our first steps on the journey to Enlightenment. Often people will find a nice little way station or oasis on the Path and be content to stay there for some time – maybe the remainder of their lives. But these rest stops, however pleasant, are not meant to be the end of the journey. The Path goes on. Eventually, after some degree of experience, we can be said to know the nature of the Path – we learn when we are on it or not, and we learn the difference between a simple rest stop and the ultimate stop. By continuing on the Path and learning to understand its nature, we can begin to assist others in following the Path, as well.
At some point, we, the travelers, reach a clear end point. Perhaps it is the real end, perhaps not – yet the experienced traveler accepts it as the end. Now, fresh choices open up. We, as travelers, can go off the Path and find some new adventure beyond the experience of the mundane world. Or we can return to the Path and be a guide and agent to help others find the end. Or, very rarely, we can generate a new Path – become a Path of our own and accept new travelers moving towards Enlightenment.
But the first step is to realize that somewhere there is a Path appropriate to each of us and to go out to find it. And once the Path is found we should seek to follow it, joyously.