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Spirituality

The Trials of the Spiritual Tourist

Christopher Buck | Aug 27, 2015

PART 3 IN SERIES The Spiritual Search

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Christopher Buck | Aug 27, 2015

PART 3 IN SERIES The Spiritual Search

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

I first introduced you to the Baha’i musician Dale Marxen in “Narrowing Your Search – Part 1” (November 3, 2013), and posted the lyrics to one of his songs:

The Trials of the Spiritual Tourist, or
I’m On the Road Again
© 1975 by Dale E. Marxen

~ Chorus ~

I’m on the road again, I’m on the road again —
And I can’t give up, it’s another dead end …
I’m on the road, I’m on the road, I’m on the road,
…again.

Well, I had a dream that I was a worm.
So I called to my guru.
And for $35, he confirmed
I was a worm back in ‘22.

~ Chorus ~

I saw so many posters tacked to the wall.
I saw faces large, I saw faces small.
I saw Lenin, Maharishi, Krishna, too —
With their faces of red, yellow, and blue.

~ Chorus ~

Well, I tried to talk to the people who say they’re on the One Way
But, after listening to them for a while, I’d say …
They’re going the wrong way
On the one way.

~ Chorus ~

Well, I finally found a road that I can really cruise upon,
And like any other freeway that I’ve known,
…the problem’s just getting on.

~ Chorus ~

Well it’s been a long time since I wrote this song,
And I’m really very happy to say:
That the road I chose 40 years ago
Is still working well today!

I’m on the road again, I’m on the road again,
And I can’t stop now, ‘cause I see no end,
I’m on the road, I’m on the road, I’m on the road again.

At long last, Dale Marxen recently recorded this song, with the addition of a new stanza. Now, before reading any further, please listen—and enjoy!

So I figured now would be a great time to interview the musician who wrote and performed this high-spirited song, with lyrics that are still meaningful today:

Q: Dale, as a Baha’i musician who writes Baha’i-inspired music, how did you come to write “The Trials of a Spiritual Tourist,” or “I’m on the Road Again”?

Dale Marxen: This song was written in the 70’s, when I became a Baha’i. It seemed that there were other people interested in spiritual or other metaphysical paths. It was the age of gurus. A lot of money was made from these “seekers,” and much confusion abounded. Back then, I heard a song by Jim Page, a Seattle street musician, something about “On the Road Again,” but it had a totally different subject or focus. So I got the idea from him about being “On the Road Again.”

Q: How well has this song been received by your audiences?

Dale: I never played that song for too many audiences. But if I did, they would have been small (probably Baha’i) groups, mostly. My original songs were usually received well, because I only rarely performed them for small audiences that I wanted to sing to.

Q: If you don’t mind explaining your lyrics, what’s “the road”? Is it a metaphor for the spiritual search, progress on the spiritual path, the quest to understand the meaning of life and its purpose?

Dale: Yes, these ideas about the “road” metaphor are valid. One point I could make is that, to me, the Baha’i Faith is also a “road.” It is a dynamic path—not a static “home plate.” So the Baha’i road “sees no end” as long as we are alive on this planet, and can make choices. And, of course, it is also possible to fall off the “road,” or fail to use the accelerator enough, or fail to use the brakes of patience on some of the curves we will experience on this Baha’i road of life, our spiritual journey.

Q: There’s one very clever (and controversial) lyric that I’d like to ask you about. What do you mean by this stanza?:

Well, I tried to talk to the people who say they’re on the One Way
But, after listening to them for a while, I’d say …
They’re going the wrong way
On the one way.

Would you mind “explicating” these words in your song?

Dale: The answer to this one should be obvious to anyone who lived in the 70’s. Regarding explanations of what is meant in a song, personally, I think that art and music are not like academic science. The purpose of good art and music should be to stimulate thought and imagination.

Q: Can you tell us what the “road” is, here?:

Well, I finally found a road that I can really cruise upon,
And like any other freeway that I’ve known,
…The problem’s just getting on.

Dale: For me, the “road” was being a Baha’i (or trying to become one), with all the implications that brings. I don’t know how much “cruising” on this “road” I have done, but I still seem to be on it, as I wrote in this new stanza:

Well it’s been a long time since I wrote this song,
And I’m really very happy to say:
That the road I chose 40 years ago
Is still working well today!

Q: Your advice for others who also are on a spiritual search, path or quest?

Dale: As for advice regarding a spiritual search, path, or quest, I think everyone should investigate the Writings of the Baha’i Faith, and of the other major religions. There is not enough time to join, and participate, in all the multiple forms of these religions, and this would just lead to great confusion and a waste of time, but the core writings of all should be read. As for the Baha’i Faith, reading a good introductory book, along with Baha’u’llah’s The Seven Valleys, The Hidden Words, and the Book of Certitude, is almost a necessity. Also, I think a person should be always examining his/her life, and looking for meaning in it, for: “He hath known God who hath known himself.”

Chris: That’s quite a testimony. How many of the rest of us could express our life’s journey in such a light-hearted, yet serious, song such as this? Let me close with a Baha’i quote on the spiritual path:

Man must pass from degree to degree of progressive unfoldment until perfection is attained. For instance, if a man should live his entire life in one city, he cannot gain a knowledge of the whole world. To become perfectly informed he must visit other cities, see the mountains and valleys, cross the rivers and traverse the plains. In other words, without progressive and universal education perfection will not be attained. Man must walk in many paths and be subjected to various processes in his evolution upward. … Briefly, the journey of the soul is necessary. The pathway of life is the road which leads to divine knowledge and attainment. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 295–296.

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Comments

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  • Linda Sue Covey
    Dec 17, 2019
    -
    Awesome! Highly enjoyable.
  • Sep 5, 2015
    -
    Hi Dale, Great job! Loved it. Just got back from a month in Mongolia so I'm off the road but still on the Most Great Road.
    • Sep 6, 2015
      -
      Hi Duane -- nice to hear from you! You must have some stories to tell -- it would be nice to see you sometime again. Maybe at one of our summer schools some day?
  • Aug 31, 2015
    -
    Mnogo simpatija i dobrih želja svima koji ovako misle i osjećaju! Ksenija Rožman
  • Aug 29, 2015
    -
    Paul: Yes, I am alive, and living in Zagreb, Croatia -- the social candy store; the center of the social universe! Also, please note that Willie Nelson wrote his song in 1980, while mine was copyrighted in 1975. What could I do? We have to be lenient with these guys from the Old World Order.
  • Aug 28, 2015
    -
    Paul: I assure you that Dale Marxen is very much alive and well, living as a Baha'i pioneer in Zagreb, Croatia, with his dear wife, Vajdieh. "The Trials of the Spiritual Tourist" is published with Dale's permission, as is the audio, which was recorded quite recently, in fact.
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