Monday, December 9, 2013

Travel for wisdom (video)

Dhr. Seven and Pat Macpherson, Ashley Wells, Wisdom Quarterly
"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." - Saint Augustine
(Funny Commercial) Lionel Messi versus Kobe Bryant: Globe-trotting Selfie Battle. A soccer superstar and basketball all-star join forces once again with the help of Turkish Airlines.

"Not all who wander are lost" - JRR Tolkien
Travel! Originally, all Buddhist monastics were encouraged to behave like proper "wandering ascetics" (shramanas) in Indian. Rather than staying put inhabiting temples like Brahmin temple-priests (brahmanas), they wandered far and wide to break the sense of identification with one group, culture, way of looking at things, what one might call parochialism.
Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.

Buddha walking (WQ)
While travel was difficult for mendicants, it was possible due to vast India's dana system, a mutually beneficial system of providing for the needy, particularly to spiritual seekers. They were provided with requisites as a means of social cohesion and making merit. "It is only right to give food to those who do not make or store food," was the common outlook.

"To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries."

East-west travel along the Silk Route went between the large city-states of India (Bharat) through Central Asia. The enriched the Buddha's hometown in present day Afghanistan (not Nepal), which was the northwest frontier of India, according to Dr. Pal. It made it possible to go long distances when desired. But it was quite enough to travel lesser distances and still benefit by being exposed to great variations from clan territory (janapada) to clan territory -- different customs, observances, dialects, ways of life.

“As the traveler who has once been from home is wiser than [one] who has never left [one's] own doorstep, so a knowledge of one other culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily, to appreciate more lovingly, our own.”

Having left the comfortable social order, take self-responsibility.
In a time when most humans lived and died within ten miles of their birthplace, it was quite eye opening and conducive to getting the most out of the liberating Dharma the Buddha taught. The same holds true for us today. 

In spite of the ease of travel, most people stay close to their birthplace most of the time. Some may never leave, but even the few who do return and linger in the region. We seek comfort and familiarity. We have ties and social circles. And these tend to blind us to others and other ways of doing things. Therefore, travel then and now can be a wonderful thing, opening one up to a connection to all people on the planet, our t small place in the grand scheme of things, our parochial and small minded attitudes.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness... Broad, wholesome, charitable views of [people] and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”
- Mark Twain (The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It)

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