Buddhism is a choice religion for this, as it emphasises meditation, contemplation of nature, and non-traditional thinking. To understand how Buddhist temples can become educational centres for this kind of spiritual journey, one must first understand the nature of Spiritual quests and Buddhist faith, before looking again at the issue of questing and education. Spiritual quests have been an essential part of religious experience for most of recorded history. From shamanistic vision quests to the separations of Religious leaders, the spiritual quest is the path to enlightenment. These journeys often involve great challenges, difficulties or impossible tasks to be performed. Mythologies often depict heroes going on long journeys, and overcoming terrible odds in order to obtain valuable items, or important knowledge. The Scandinavian tale of Odin hanging from the world tree in order to obtain knowledge for human kind is one example of a spiritual quest. Often originating in personal catastrophe, the spiritual quest seeks to bridge the divide between possible and impossible worlds. The seeker isolates him or herself from general society, and puts himself through an ordeal. Passing through that experience gives the seeker enlightenment, and they can then return to their society with the gifts that the quest has brought out and developed within them.
In modern western society, the religious quest does not seem to be so important to us. Many people do not undertake these journeys - jobs, families and other ties mean that it would be extremely difficult to isolate yourself from the rest of society for long periods of time.
In the present day, these quests are generally undertaken in less strenuous circumstances. Anyone wishing to perform an actual quest or journey can go on vacations to spiritual places, or join quest expeditions which
Combine sightseeing with meditation, Yoga and other lessons
in self-discovery and self empowerment (Andrews)
Even if modern Western societies have adapted the spiritual practices of the past, then this does not mean that they are any less valid or challenging. In recent years, the spiritual quest has been compared with the scientific questioning of the world:
The scientific quest is to discover the order in the external world
of space, time energy and matter. The spiritual quest is to
discover order in our consciousness. (Krishna)
Krishna also emphasises the importance of personal experience in spiritual seeking. "In the spiritual quest, knowledge is not helpful" (Krishna). What is needed is an insight into the truth, the same insight which the spiritual leader once had:
Buddha's student has to observe all over again and rediscover
what the Buddha discovered, in order to come upon that order
in his own consciousness. One simply cannot learn it like
Spiritual quests demand that the seeker not only know the works of the leader, but also attempt to go through the same journey than Buddha, Christ, Krishna, Odin, or any other religious leaders. In this sense, spiritual questing can bring about a greater understanding of the seeker's faith, and give true meaning to the texts of religious traditions.
Buddhism is not necessarily what one would expect from a religion. Instead of teaching salvation though submission to a supernatural entity, Buddhist teachings focus upon the mind as the way to spirituality and understanding.
While the Buddha is venerated as a god or gods might be in other religion, it is also true that he is seen as a