Archive for October, 2012

  • Vagabonding defined:
    • The act of leaving behind the orderly world to travel independently for an extended period of time.
    • A privately meaningful manner of travel that emphasizes creativity, adventure, awareness, simplicity, discovery, independence, realism, self-reliance, and the growth of the spirit.
    • A deliberate way of living that makes freedom to travel possible.
    • Latin-derived term that refers to a wanderer with no fixed home.
    • Vagabonding has always been a private choice within a society that is constantly urging us to do otherwise.
  • This book views long-term travel not as an escape but as an adventure and a passion – a way of overcoming your fears and living life to the fullest.

Research your own experiences for the truth… Absorb what is useful… Add what is specifically your own… The creating individual is more than any style or system. – Bruce Lee

  • Out of insane duty to fear, fashion, and monthly payments on things we don’t really need – we quarantine our travels to short, frenzied bursts. In this way, as we throw our wealth at an abstract notion called “lifestyle,” travel becomes just another accessory – a smooth-edged, encapsulated experience that we purchase the same way we buy clothing and furniture.
    • Ultimately, this shotgun wedding of time and money has a way of keeping us in a holding pattern. The more we associate experience with cash value, the more we think money is what we need to live. And the more we associate money with life, the more we convince ourselves that we are too poor to buy our freedom.
    • In reality, long-term travel has nothing to do with demographics – age, ideology, income – and everything to do with personal outlook.
    • Vagabonding is about using the prosperity and possibility of the information age to increase your personal options instead of your personal possessions.
    • Vagabonding is about looking for adventure in normal life, and normal life within adventure.

[We end up spending] the best part of one’s life earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty during the least valuable part of it. – Henry David Thoreau

  • … rooting ourselves to a home or a career and using the future as a kind of phony ritual that justifies the present.
  • Vagabonding is the ongoing practice of looking and learning, of facing fears and altering habits, of cultivating new fascination with people and places.
    • Vagabonding is a personal act that demands only realignment of self.

And they say in truth that a man is made of desire. As his desire is, so is his faith. As his faith is, so are his works. As his works are, so he becomes. – The Supreme Teaching of the Upanishads

Which would have advanced the most at the end of a month? The boy who made his own jackknife from the ore which he had dug and smelted, reading as much as would be necessary for this – or the body who had… received a Rodger’s penknife from his father? Which would be most likely to cut his fingers? – Henry David Thoreau

  • [Trustafarians] Because they never worked for their freedom, their travel experiences have no personal reference – no connection to the rest of their lives.
    • They are spending plenty of time and money on the road, but they never spent enough of themselves to begin with. Thus, their experience of travel has a diminished sense of value.
  • The “meaningful” part of travel always starts at home, with a personal investment in the wonders to come.
  • Work is how you settle your financial and emotional debts – so that your travels are not an escape from your real life but a discovery of your real life.

Wanting to travel reflects a positive attitude. You want to see, to grow in experience, and presumably to become more whole as a human being. Vagabonding takes this a step further: it promotes the chances of sustaining and strengthening this positive attitude. As a vagabond, you begin to face your fear now and then instead of continuously sidestepping them in the name of convenience. You build an attitude that makes the life more rewarding, which in turn makes it easier to keep doing it. It’s called positive feedback, and it works. – Ed Buryn, Vagabonding in Europe and North Africa

  • However you choose to fund your travel freedom, keep in mind that your work is an active part of your travel attitude.

We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope; without it the life of the cities would drive all men into crime or drugs or psychoanalysis. – Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

  • List the job skills travel has taught you: independence, flexibility, negotiation, planning, boldness, self-sufficiency, improvisation.

A lot of us first aspired to far-ranging travel and exotic adventure early in our teens; these ambitions are, in fact, adolescent in nature, which I find an inspiring idea… Thus, when we allow ourselves to imagine as we once did, we know, with a sudden jarring clarity, that if we don’t go right now, we’re never going to do it. And we’ll be haunted by our unrealized dreams and know that we have sinned against ourselves gravely. – Tim Cahill, Exotic Places Made Me Do  It

  • …travel allows you to experience the nuances of the world in a way that mass media never will.
  • Indeed, the freedom to go vagabonding has never been determined by income level; it’s fund through simplicity – the conscious decision of how to use what income you have.
    • Simplicity merely requires a bit of personal sacrifice: an adjustment of your habits and routines within consumer society itself.
    • At times, the biggest challenge in embracing simplicity will be the vague feeling of isolation that comes with it, since private sacrifice doesn’t garner much attention in the frenetic world of mass culture.

Our crude civilization engenders a multitude of wants… Our forefathers forges chains of duty and habit, which bind us notwithstanding our boasted freedom, and we ourselves in desperation, add link to link, groaning and making medicinal laws for relief. – John Muir, Kindred and Related Spirits

… the general demand that they consume production and therefore have to work for the privilege of consuming, all that crap they didn’t really want… general junk you always see a week later in the garbage anyway, all of [it] impersonal in a system of work, produce, consume. – Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

  • … neither self nor wealth can be measured in terms of what you consume or own.

[Seeking happiness in one’s material desires is absurd as] suffering because a banana tree will not bear mangos. – Buddha

  • Despite several millennia of such warnings, however, there is still an overwhelming social compulsion – an insanity of consensus, if you will – to get rich from life rather than live richly, to “do well” in the world instead of living well.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune, Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing. – Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road

By switching to a new game, which in this case involves vagabonding, time becomes the only possession and everyone is equally rich in it by biological inheritance. Money, of course, is still needed to survive, but time is what you need to live. So, save what little money you possess to meet basic survival requirements, but spend your time lavishly in order to create the life values that make the fire worth the candle. – Ed Buryn

Travel can be a kind of monasticism on the move: one the road, we often live more simply, with no more possession than we can carry, and surrendering ourselves to chance. This is what Camus meant when he said that “what gives value to travel is fear.” – disruption, in other words (or emancipation), from circumstance and all the habits behind which we hide. – Pico Iyer, Why We Travel

  • There are three general methods to simplifying your life: stopping expansion, reining in your routine, and reducing clutter.

It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after your own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

  • Vagabonding is, was, and always will be a private undertaking – and its goal is to improve your life not in relation to your neighbors but in relation to yourself.
  • Indeed, not only does simplicity save you money and buy you time; it also makes you more adventuresome, forces you into sincere contact with locals, and allows you the independence to follow your passions and curiosities down exciting new roads.

My greatest skill has been to want little. – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone. – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

  • Vagabonding is not just a process of discovering the world but a way of seeing – an attitude that prepares you to find the things you weren’t looking for.

It is fatal to know too much at the outset; boredom comes as quickly to the traveler who knows his routes as the novelist who is overcertain of his plot. – Paul Theroux, To the Ends of the Earth

  • The key to preparation is to strike a balance between knowing what’s out there and being optimistically ignorant.
  • The gift of the information age is knowing your options – not your destiny – and those people who plan their travels with the idea of eliminating all uncertainty and unpredictability are missing out on the whole point of leaving home in the first place.
  • The goal of preparation is not knowing exactly where you’ll go but being confident nonetheless that you’ll get there. This means that your attitude will be more important than your itinerary, and that the simple willingness to improvise more vital, in the long run, than research.

Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity… no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. – John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley

  • A lot of media information – especially day-to-day news – should be approached with a healthy amount of skepticism. This is because so many media outlets are more in the business of competing for your attention than giving you a balanced picture of the world.

A good traveler has no fixed plan, and is not intent on arriving. – Laozi, The Way of Life

  • Human-centered adventures

When the virus of restlessness begins to take possession of a wayward man, and the road away from Here seems broad and straight and sweet, the victim must first find in himself a good and sufficient reason for going. This to practical bum is not difficult. He has built-in garden of reason to choose from. Next he must plan his trip in time and space, choose a direction and a destination. – John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley

Before the development of tourism, travel was conceived to be like study, and its fruits were considered to be the adornment of the mind and the formation of the judgment. The traveler was a student of what he sought. – Paul Fussell, Abroad

  • … moderate the amount of time you spend online as you travel – since nothing stifles your vagabonding flexibility quite like the compulsive urge to stay connected to the modern world.
  • Vagabonding is not like bulk shopping: The value of our travels does not hinge on how many stamps you have in your passport when you get home – and the slow, nuanced experience of a single country is always better than the hurried, superficial experience of forty counties.
  • Never underestimate your ability to learn and adapt quickly – and don’t waste time fretting about every possibility that might come your way on the road.
    • Simple courage is worth far more than detailed logistics, and a confident, positive, ready-to-learn attitude will make up for any travel savvy you lack at the outset.

Travel, there is no path
path are made by walking. – Antonio Machado, Cantores

  • Buddhists believe that we live our everyday lives as if inside an eggshell. Just a an unhatched chicken has few clues about what life is truly like, most of us are only vaguely aware of the greater world that surrounds us.

Excitement and depression, fortune and misfortune, pleasure and pain are storms in a tiny, private, shell-bound realm – which we take to be the whole fo existence. Yet we can break out of this shell and enter a new world. – Eknath Easwaran

Travel in general, vagabonding in particular, produces an awesome density of experiences… a cramming together of incidents, impressions and life detail that is both stimulating and exhausting. So much new and different happens to you so frequently, just when you’re most sensitive to it… You may be excited, bored, confused, desperate and amazed all in the same happy day. – Ed Buryn

I don’t want to hurry it. That itself is a poisonous twentieth-century attitude. When you want to hurry something, that means you no longer care about it and want to get on to other things. – Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

  • At home, you’re conditioned to get to the point and get things done, to favor goals and efficiency over moment-by-moment distinction.

When you travel you experience, in a very practical way, the act of rebirth. You confront completely new situations, the day passes more slowly, and on most journeys you don’t even understand the language the people speak.. You begin to be more accessible to others, because they may be able to help you in difficult situations. – Paulo Coelho

Did you think you should enter the Garden of Bliss without such trials as came to those who passed before you? – The Koran

  • In other words, tourist attractions are defined by their collective popularity, and that very popularity tends to devalue the individual experience of such attractions.

The practice of soulful travel is to discover the overlapping point between history and everyday life, the way to find the essence of every place, every day: In the markets, small chapels, out-of-the-way parks, craft shops. Curiosity about the extraordinary in the ordinary moves the heart of the traveler intent on seeing behind the veil of tourism. – Phil Cousineau, The Art of Pilgrimage

Bear in mind that the special advantage of vagabonding is the experience not really knowing what happens next, which you can obtain at bargain rates in all cases… The challenges you face offer no alternative but to cope them. And doing that , your life is being lived fully. – Ed Buryn, Vagabonding in Europe and North America

We see as we are. – The Buddha

Those who visit foreign nations, but associate only with their own countrymen, change their climate, but not their customs. They see new meridians, but the same men; and with heads as empty as their pockets, return home with traveled bodies, but untraveled minds. – Charles Caleb Colton, Lacon

We do not need to understand other people and their customs fully to interact with them and learn in the process; it is making the effort to interact without knowing all the rules, improvising certain situations, that allow us to grow. – Mary Catherine Bateson, Peripheral Visions

We need sometimes to escape into open solitudes, into aimlessness, into the moral holiday of running some pure hazards, in order to sharpen the edge of life, to taste hardship, and to be compelled to work desperately for a moment no matter what. – George Santayana, The Philosophy of Travel

Exploration is not so much a covering surface distance as a study in depth: a fleeting episode, a fragment of landscape or a remark overheard that may provide the only means of understanding and interpreting areas which would otherwise remain barren of meaning. – Claude Levi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques

  • The secret of adventure is not to carefully seek it out but to travel in such a way that it finds you.
    • To do this, you first need to overcome the protective habit of home and open yourself up to unpredictability.

Explore your own higher latitude. Be a Columbus to whole new continents within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought. – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

The man who is truly good and wise will bear with dinginity whatever fortune sends, and will always make the best of his circumstances. – Aristotle

We have no reason to mistrust our world, for it is not against us. Has it terrors, they are our terrors; has it abysses, those abysses belong to us; are dangers at hand, we must try to love them… How should we be able to forget those ancient myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. – Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquesioningly. Everything … we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is golden for him who has the vision to realize it as such. – Henry Miller

Our eyes find it easier on a given occasion to produce a picture already often produced, than to seize upon the divergence and novelty of an impression. It is difficult and painful for the ear to listen to anything new; we hear strange music badly. – Friedrich Nietzsche

Traveler vs. Tourist

The traveler sees what he sees; the tourist sees what he has come to see. – GK Chesterton

The traveler was active, he went strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience. The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him. – Daniel Boorstin

Tourists don’t know where they’ve been; travelers don’t know where they’re going. – Paul Theroux

Travelers are those who leave their assumptions at home, and [tourists are] those who don’t. – Pico Iyer

  • With escape in mind, vacationers tend to approach their holiday with a grim resolve, determined to make their experience live up to their expectation; on the vagabonding road, you prepare for the long haul knowing that the predictable and the unpredictable, the pleasant and the unpleasant are not separate but part of the same ongoing reality.
  • In this way, “seeing” as you travel is somewhat of a spiritual exercise: a process not of seeking interesting surroundings, but of being continually interested in whatever surrounds you.

Most people are on the world, not in it – having no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them – undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching but separate. – John Muir, The Wilderness World of John Muir

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move; to feel the needs and hitches of our life more nearly; to come down off this feather-bed of civilization, and find the globe granite underfoot and strewn with cutting flints. – Robert Louis Stevenson, Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes

  • The best way to confront reality is not with a set method of interpretation but with a sincere attitude of open-mindedness.

Luxury, then, is a way of being ignorant, comfortably. – Leroi Jones, Political Poem

  • Cling too fiercely to your ideologies and you’ll miss the subtle realities that politics can’t address.
  • Just as skepticism should not be confused with cynicism, however, embracing realism need not be confused with falling into pessimism.

The evaluation of tourism cannot be accomplished against a static background. Some of what we see as destruction is construction. Some is the result of a lack of any other viable option; and some the result of choices that could be made differently. – Davydd J. Greenwood

  • One particular potent strain of traveler pessimism is the notion that modern influences are destroying native societies, or that certain cultures were more “real” sometimes in the not-too-distant past. According to this assumption, any given society was somehow better twenty years ago, before it was “spoiled.” What such reflexive pessimism overlooks, of course, is that societies have always changed, and that “tradition” is a dynamic phenomenon.
    • … much of concern about the evils of change within premodern culture is less an interest in the quality of local life than our own desire to experience an “untainted” culture.
    • The purest way to see a culture is simply to accept and experience it as it is now.

While I complain of being able to glimpse no more than the shadow of the past, I may be insensitive to reality as it is taking shape at this very moment… A few hundred years hence, in this same place, another traveler, as despairing as myself, will mourn the disappearance of what I might have seen, but failed to see. – Claude Levi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques

The unreal never is: the Real never is not. This truth indeed has been seen by those who can see the true. – Bhagavad Gita

The drug vision remain a sort of dream that cannot be brought over into daily life. Old mist may be banished, that is true, but the alien chemical agent forms another mist, maintaining the separation of the ‘I” from the true experience of the ‘One.’ – Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard

  • The problem with marijuana, however, is that it’s the travel equivalent of watching television: It replaces real sensation with artificially enhanced ones. Because it doesn’t force you to work for a feeling, it creates passive experiences that are only vaguely connected to the rest of your life.

I never took drugs because I am drugs. – Salvador Dali

  • Strive to be drugs as you travel, to patiently embrace the raw, personal sensation of unmediated reality – an experience far more affecting than any intoxicant can promise.

Often I feel I got to some distant region of the world to be reminded of who I really am… Stripped of your ordinary surroundings, your friends, your daily routines, your refrigerator full of your food, your closet full of your clothes, you are forced into direct experience. Such direct experience inevitably makes you aware of who it is that is having the experience. That’s not always comfortable, but it is always invigorating. – Michael Crichton, Travels

We all have stuck in us deep somewhere a keenness for excitement, a savoring for the kooky, a leap-for-life outlook. From this comes the catalytic impetus, without which all other requirements mean nothing. Everyday types are as likely to have this sine qua non as the obvious icon-kickers. The person who strikes off for himself is no hero, nor necessarily even unconventional, but to a greater degree than most people, he or she thinks and acts independently. The vagabond frees in himself the latent urge to live closer to the edge of experience. – Ed Buryn

  • …what most people consider “paradise” is defined in contrast to the stresses of home.
  • In knowing my possibilities, I also knew my limitations.
  • Aboriginal walkabout – walkabout acts as a kind of remedy when the duties and obligations of life cause one to lose track of his or her true self. To correct this, one merely leaves behind all possessions and starts walking.
    • There is no physical goal: It simply continues until one becomes whole again.

One must not delude oneself that we are all alike or destined to be members of some sort of global family. – Jeffrey Taylor, Ex-Peace Corps worker

  • Acknowledging differences and avoiding superficial cures is not just a valuable lesson of volunteer work – it’s often the first step in actually solving the problems that you seek to fix.

He who stays at home beside his hearth and is content with the information which he may acquire concerning his own region, cannot be on the same level as one who divides his life span between different lands and spends his days journeying in search of precious and original knowledge. – al-Masudi, The Meadows of Gold

People say that we are all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think this is what we’re really seeking. I think what we are seeking is an experience of being alive. – Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

[Travel as a form of asceticism] is a way of surrendering to reduced circumstances in a manner that enhances the whole person. It is a radical way of knowing exactly who, what, and where you are, in defiance of those powerful forces in society that aim to make us forget. – Kathleen Norris

  • Travel compels you to discover your spiritual side by simply elimination: Without all the rituals, routines, and possessions that give your life meaning at home, you are forced to look for meaning within yourself.
  • Words are symbols, and symbols never resonate the same for everyone.

There is no God but reality. – Sufi saying

  • it is not a declaration of unbelief. Rather, it is a warning to avoid turning inspiration into fetish and tradition into dogma; it is an admonition to never reduce the spiritual realm to the narrow borders of your own perceptions, prejudices, and ideals.

Beauty and grace are performed whether or not we sense them. The least we can do is try to be there. – Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

http://www.vagabonding.net/resources/

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Heaven and Hell

Posted: October 21, 2012 in Short Stories
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Once there was a man who was very curious about the difference between heaven and hell. He knew that beings in heaven were very happy and that those in hell were very unhappy. One day, he met a sage who told him that he could take him to both heaven and hell so that he could see for himself what the differences between them were. The man said that he was ready to go immediately.

Suddenly, the sage transported them to hell. The man was surprised at first because the scene before him was very similar to a scene on earth. A group of people were seated at a table eating dinner. When he looked more closely, however, he saw that the people were using chopsticks that were three feet long. Since the chopsticks were so long, the people at the table kept bumping each other and dropping their food. No one was getting enough to eat and everyone was very irritable and nasty.

Suddenly the scene changed, and the man knew that he was in heaven. But once again he was surprised at what he saw. Before him there was a group of people not all that different from the group he had seen in hell. This group, too, was seated at a table eating dinner, and they, too, were using chopsticks that were three feet long. When the man looked more closely, however, he saw that instead of dropping their food and becoming irritable as the beings in hell had been doing, the heavenly beings were using their long chopsticks to feed each other. Everyone was laughing and smiling and they were all getting plenty to eat.

The Man-Eating Tigers

Posted: October 21, 2012 in Short Stories
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Once there was a sage who agreed to teach three young students the way to enlightenment. Fearing that they might be lured from the path by the glitter of the world, the sage took his students to a place deep in the mountains, where he taught them for many years. When the boys reach the age of sixteen, the sage decided to take them into a city to show them what life in the world was really like. No sooner did they enter the city than the sage noticed that his students were fascinated by the beautiful women that were walking about there. To keep their minds on the truth, the sage said, “Be careful of them for they are not what they seem. They are man-eating tigers!”

They continued touring the city. They visited the temples and shrines, and called on several renowned masters. At nightfall the sage led them back to the mountains. When they were safe in their retreat again, he asked, “What did you learn today? What was the most interesting thing you saw?”

Without hesitation the three replied in unison, “The man-eating tigers!”

We cannot run from who we are. That sage would have done better to raise the boys in a town where they would have learned to understand themselves from an early age. We must learn to disentangle ourselves from the fixations of our minds, not to run from them or pretend that they can be ignored. This tale reminds us that only wisdom can overcome ignorance, and that it is impossible to run away from ourselves.

Persistence of Habitual Desire

Posted: October 21, 2012 in Short Stories
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Once there was a group of young women returning to their village from a fishing trip along the Ganges River. They carried baskets filled with fish on their backs. On their way home, the evening sky clouded over and the women were forced to seek shelter. Fortunately, a keeper of a flower shop saw them and invited them to stay in his place for the night. His shop was filled with fresh flowers. The women lay down to rest. Though they all were tired from their long day of walking and working along the river back, not one of them could fall asleep. They were so unaccustomed to the fragrance of the flowers that they could not relax. At last one of them got up and went outside for her basket of fish. She brought it in and placed it in the middle of the room. With the odor of flowers covered by that of dead fish, the women soon fell asleep.

Excessive desire is like the odor of dead fish. We get so used to it that when the pure fragrance of fresh flower is offered us, we cannot relax. How tragic to remain bound by a habit generated by an illusion!

Talking Too Much

Posted: October 16, 2012 in Short Stories

Once the great philosopher Socrates was enrolling students in an informal class he was giving on public speaking. The fee for the class was ten cents. A young man came to register for the class, and as he was doing so he explained at great length why he wanted to learn to become a good speaker, what the value of speaking was, and so on. After he at last stopped speaking, Socrates asked him to pay an additional ten cents. The student was shocked to hear this and asked him why he was being required to pay twice as much as the other people in the class.

Socrates said, “The other students are paying ten cents to learn how to talk, but you must pay twenty cents because not only do I have to teach you how to talk, I also must teach you how to stop talking.”

Posted: October 16, 2012 in Quotes

Life is a shipwreck, we need to make sure we sing in the lifeboat.

– Voltaire