- The act of going from one place to another
- A movement through space that changes the location of something
- Self-propelled movement
Step outside the gate, once in a while,
how the bread smells rich…
the people, the children laughing,
the rich aroma of coffee brewing.
Cross your invisible borders,
and maybe, just maybe, you will step outside yourselves.
What do you think of when we talk about the word travel? Sunny beaches, bikinis, swimming, relaxation, exotic food, holidays, winter sports, flying, adventure? It could be all of those things, it could be just going on business. Travel overseas is exciting, isn’t it?
Especially if you haven’t been there before. The expectations. What will it look like, smell like, taste like, what will the people be like?
It’s fantastic for a holiday, but could you live there?
“Oh no, I couldn’t live there, it’s too hot, the food’s too spicy, the people are too rude, there’s no english newspapers, I’d be scared.”
Basically, it’s too different from what you know, and what you’re used to. I think everyone can understand that, because once your brain gets used to a way of doing things, it doesn’t like too much change.
I have travelled extensively during my life, and lived in several countries for extended periods of times, and it is hard to adapt. I am now writing this book in the czech republic, but I started it in australia, was born in scotland, and brought up in southern england.
The first thing I noticed is how breakfast is different here. I am used to cereal and a cooked breakfast, followed by toast and jam, whereas the czech people may have a roll with ham and cheese. I drink tea at breakfast, they drink coffee. They have lunch as the main meal of the day, I am used to having a sandwich, and then dinner in the evening. They add butter to the outside of their rolls, I cut the roll and put the butter inside. The food tastes different, smells different, and the combinations are different.
I was once even offered a sweet pasta with ground poppy sauce and fruit compote on the side as a main course, which I told my host I would normally eat as a dessert (if at all)!
So although we have only talked about food, we can already see some major differences between two northern european nations which I believed to be quite similar.
Every country is different. They all have their own language, mannerisms, culture, etiquettes, and we need diversity in the world.
But the longer you stay in a country, the more you start to see through all the differences and discover that we are exactly the same! We may look slightly different, or have different skin colour, or behave in slightly different ways, but there is no denying that we are human. That is the most important thing.
Over thousands of years, people have been exploited, murdered, enslaved and judged, because of the colour of their skin, religion, or traditions. Nations of people have been attacked, and attempts have been made to wipe out specific races. Why? Because one nation believes that they are superior. They are superior because of the colour of their skin. They are superior because they are more civilised. The list goes on and on.
There is always someone who can come up with a reason why they are superior to another. “I am white and you are black, therefore I am superior.” Can you see the stupidity in all this? Can this be clear thinking?
It seems crazy when we discuss it here, but that is what’s happening all around the world. We have to get underneath the clothes and the skin; the religion and the politics; the food and the traditions. We have to get into the mind of the individual.
We have to understand him, to see we are both the same, we are both products of conditioning, of tradition, and culture, and underneath we are all compassionate human beings full of love and generosity. Above all, we have to be interested in someone other than ourselves.
The more interested you become in other people, wherever they come from, the more you will see how much your nationalistic feelings reduce in intensity. When you learn another language, you are not only able to communicate with people, you see that your language is no more important than anyone else’s.
When you talk to someone about their life, you will see that it mirrors yours, that they are full of the same hopes and dreams.
They want their family to grow up in a peaceful world. They want a good job so they can pay their bills, so they can go on holiday, so they can have a nice house or buy a car. They are the same as you. It is only when you listen to your politicians and the media that you start to dislike, fear, or distrust entire nations of people.
People are the same the world over. They have the same size brain and exactly the same bodies – it’s what’s inside their conditioned minds that’s different that’s all; minds full of tradition, culture, politics, religion, media, parents and teachers. But if you take time to listen, to seek out, to spend time with people from other countries, and allow yourself to put aside your conditioning of what they “should” be like, you will find new friends the world over.
It is only the conditioned minds that can dislike each other. How can you dislike, hate or fear someone you have never met? Surely that doesn’t make sense does it? It is thanks to history, and the teachings in school, amongst other things, that we believe we know a whole race, as conforming to a specific type, and apply this knowledge religiously wherever we go.
So when I talk about travel, I am also talking about travelling to a different place in your mind, without the need to fly anywhere. Travel to a place where we are all born exactly the same. Travel to a nursery and watch the chinese, kenyan, japanese, english, german, iranian, or pakistani children as they interact and play together. Do they hate each other? Are they afraid of each other? Do they judge each other? Does one child believe he is superior because he is from one country? Do they not laugh the same when they’re happy, cry the same when they’re tired and hungry?
Now imagine all of those different children when they grow up to become adults. Imagine what a world we would live in if we were not conditioned. If we could see the adult kenyan, the german, the iranian exactly as they were when we played together in the nursery, before we were burdened by religion, politics, media, and war, could we hate each other? Would we be scared of each other?
For most of us the only time we get to meet individuals from other countries is in our own country, or when we go on our short summer holiday. If we are to live together on this earth happily and peacefully spinning in space, we need to shift our thinking, and get out and explore. Don’t just accept what you hear about countries and the people who live there; go and see for yourself.
Go for longer than a week,
live with languages you don’t understand,
with alien traditions, with foods you don’t know,
and silently listen to the judge in you;
the voice that mistrusts and fears the unknown.
See through it, and embrace new experience
See the individual, not their culture
treat them as you would your family, with kindness.
We may live in different lands,
but to someone coming from a different planet, we are all the same.
by alan macmillan orr
“The natural mind – waking up”