Travel and the Mind: The Musings of a Glaswegian Buddhist Teacher.

Sometimes, just one sentence can change your life, a phrase of few words that carries such meaning that we never see things in quite the same way again. Our perception shifts, the universe rotates by a fraction of a degree and a new perspective is revealed.

Picking out a random quote from any of the twenty two precious books written by my Buddhist teacher can have this effect on me, but I would like to mention one that really resonated. He said: “The truth is that this world is not our home; we are simply travellers, passing through.”

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For a self-confessed geek with an academic history of astronomy and another vocational history of science broadcasting, this had the cosmic widescreen approach that really gets my chakras going. I also love to travel, so it hit the spot there, too. But also within this beautiful quote are many layers of exquisite wisdom, and if we take the time to explore we can unpack and revel in joy upon joy. So, here are just a couple of them.

We love the idea of home. Where we come from largely defines who we are, whether we choose a house, a close family circle, a country or even our planet as a focus for this feeling. But we tend to cling on to that which we love. We don’t want to lose our friends, our partners or anything we think that makes us happy. As a result, we are sometimes afraid to love and to open our heart because we fear it will make us vulnerable. However, Buddha taught that love never hurts. Never! What hurts is this clinginess, but we can cast it out of our mind once we start to taste the true meaning of happiness.

We think people make us happy; they don’t! What makes us happy is our love for them. Love is within. It is an inner state, so the key to our happiness lies within our own mind, not other people. Once we find it we can unlock the door to summer, to a blissful world where we love without pain and without fear. And with love we see beauty. We see the beauty of the world, the beauty of others and we see them for who they really are: precious beings with the same potential for this love. What about those who hate and who harm? We can feel compassion because they are trapped in their own delusion. With a mind of hate they see a world of pain. Only love can break them free. Try this out next time you watch the news. See what happens!

Accepting the truth that we live in a world where nothing is permanent helps us to let go of everything we fear to lose. Our clinginess, our mental attachment, melts in the warm rays of our inner wisdom. A few years ago, I walked the Camino Santiago, an ancient pilgrimage route across Spain. As an allegory for life, it was powerful. On the path I would meet fellow travellers and we would walk for a time until our individual paces inevitably separated us. But rather than feel sad and cling to the wish that we didn’t have to part, this taught me to treasure and savour every sip of the shared moments I had with these beautiful souls. And so it is with life. We don’t know how long we have together, but fully embracing this wisdom can teach us to love fearlessly. And with this love we will start to unlock our deep and hidden powers for unlimited joy. We really are travellers, of this world and beyond. And it is our love that will make these worlds more and more blissful and beautiful.

Bon voyage.

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