A wanderer walked alone on a long dusty road. He had walked the road for years and had become weary of his travel.
He had this thought: There is so much unknown to me. I must keep walking.
It happened this day that he met another traveler on the road. The man was somewhat older than he and walked with a lightness that the wanderer had long ago lost.
The travelers greeted each other, and since they traveled in opposite directions they exchanged news of the town ahead and of the town behind.
The wanderer said, I have traveled this road for many years, my friend. How long has it been for you?
Many lifetimes, said the other.
The wanderer laughed at the jest and said, Then you are a greater wanderer than I!
The older man smiled warmly and said, I am no wanderer, my friend. I am a pilgrim.
The wanderer said respectfully, Of course a man may choose what he calls himself, but you are walking the same dusty and lonely road as I. You are burnt by the same sun, whipped raw by the same wind, and you choke on the same dust as I. What difference is there between you the pilgrim and I the wanderer?
The pilgrim knows the end of his journey and will one day arrive, replied the man. The wanderer cares not where the road leads him. He knows not his destination, and so he can never arrive.
Then tell me, please, said the wanderer, what is the end of your journey?
The end of my journey is the end of all illusion, the pilgrim replied. The end of my journey is perfect love for all who are and for all who ever were. Even now, the sun and wind and dust no longer torment me. They are my beloved teachers who remind me to remember always those who suffer.
I am tired of my journey, said the wanderer. May I join you on yours?
There are no wanderers on this journey, said the pilgrim. You may begin because you are tired, my friend. And you are welcome to join me. But I warn you that you will need courage – thoughts of relief or reward will not sustain you. Courage will come when you realize that you make this sacred journey because it is your destiny to do so.
The wanderer looked back the way he had come, down the road he had wandered for so long. The sun was beginning to set.