Compelled to seek something more than what modern society has to offer, Robert Sibley turned to an ancient setting for help in recovering what has been lost. The Henro Michi is one of the oldest and most famous pilgrimage routes in Japan. It consists of a circuit of eighty-eight temples around the perimeter of Shikoku, the smallest of Japan's four main islands. Every henro, or pilgrim, is said to follow in the footsteps of Kōbō Daishi, the ninth-century ascetic who founded the Shingon sect of Buddhism. Over the course of two months, the author walked this 1,400-kilometer route (roughly 870 miles), visiting the sacred sites and performing their prescribed rituals.
Although himself a gaijin, or foreigner, Sibley saw no other pilgrim on the trail who was not Japanese. Some of the people he met became not only close companions but also ardent teachers of the language and culture. These fellow pilgrims’ own stories add to the author’s narrative in unexpected and powerful ways. Sibley’s descriptions of the natural surroundings, the customs and etiquette, the temples and guesthouses will inspire any reader who has longed to escape the confines of everyday life and to embrace the emotional, psychological, and spiritual dimensions of a pilgrimage.
Since medieval times, pilgrimages have been a popular religious or spiritual undertaking. Even today, between seventy and one hundred million people a year make pilgrimages, if not for expressly religious reasons, then for an alternative to secular goals and the preoccupation with consumption and entertainment characteristic of contemporary life.
In The Way of the Stars, the journalist Robert Sibley, motivated at least in part by his own sense of discontent, recounts his walks on one of the most well–known pilgrimages in the Western world—the Camino de Santiago.
A Rumour of God is a collection of essays by award-winning writer and journalist Robert Sibley that explores a variety of routine experiences – home, place, solitude, wonder, walking, and “everyday epiphanies” – to show us the possibility of restoring the spiritual side of our lives.
In an accessible yet thoughtful way, Robert Sibley recounts “moments of being” – his and others – that demonstrate how individuals might better respond emotionally and intellectually to the soul-sapping incoherence and disenchantment of the post-modern world.
Northern Spirits is an exploration of the philosophy of three Canadian Hegelians: John Watson of Queen’s, Grant, and Charles Taylor. Kantianism has often been taken as the founding philosophy of Canada, but Sibley makes a strong case for the importance of Hegelianism.