The Real Voyage

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."
-Marcel Proust

I read this quote before I began my physical Voyage abroad, not knowing the truth and the sheer power within these words. I was inspired to travel after completing my yoga teacher training. I thought I could cultivate more compassion for others while sharing my own passion- yoga. What I found was beyond my expectations. 

 The beauty of traveling is that eventually we no longer need to go anywhere to get the experience that traveling once afforded us. Traveling is just a path or a launching pad to show us what's possible. It's the first glimpse of what it's like to truly "wake up". Traveling can be compared to one's experience with taking drugs. You keep seeking new or more places to get you to that place within you which cannot be touched physically. "...the kingdom of God is within you" is one translation from the bible (Luke17:21).  In his many books and lectures the yogi and spiritual teacher Ram Dass writes of his relationship with psychedelics in this way. In his book "Polishing the Mirror" he describes it this way, "I continued using psychedelics for five or six years, trying to stay in that place of enlightenment, that place of being love. I would get high and come down, get high and come down, touching that state of being love but unable to stay there. I wanted to be free, not high."

 We go to a new place; we get the high, only to come down until we get to the next place. It makes me sad to see so many travelers who get lost in this game. They even get an ego behind how many places they have been. More places = bigger ego. These travelers have missed the mark completely. 

 I encourage traveling for many reasons. When we travel we are afforded the opportunity to see that there are different ways of doing things. There are different ways to live in this physical word. We can see that we don't need to work a "Nine-to-Five" job everyday.

 Traveling can teach us compassion. It teaches us how to give to yourself and one others. When we travel we discover a new languages, hobbies, careers, and even relationship. But we must be careful not to miss the point. The point being that we don't have to travel to begin the practice of waking up. We can wake up through anything- writing, music, gardening, sewing, church, yoga, relationships etc.  Every moment—every breath holds the opportunity to awaken. When we breath in we touch God, when we breath out he touches us. I’ve heard many Buddhist monks express it in a similar way. The saying goes "When you breathe in, it is your gift from the trees, when you breath out it is your gift to the trees." Scientifically speaking we know the truth to this saying. We know nature needs both carbon and nitrogen elements. 

 So, in reflecting on my travels, the question now becomes what do I see with my "new eyes"? My eyes see there is no me without you, no us without them. There is no sun without rain, no light without dark. There is no summer without winter, no warm without cold. My eyes see the importance of all things. They see that flowers need good soil (or cow poop) in order to grow- "No shit, no flowers".  My eyes feel God crying in your tears. These ever changing eyes see the beauty of an impermanent reality. My eyes see that within one thing we can experience everything.

-Heather Walter