Sunday, January 20, 2019

Notes from Destination Earth: A New Philosophy of Travel by Nicos Hadjicostis

While preparing for my five-week trip to South America, I've taken some time to review my notes from Nicos Hadjicostis's wonderful book on traveling:

-As Sri Aurobindo says, there is a universal principle at work by which the difficulties one has to solve are proportionate to the things one must learn. The rarer and novel the difficulties, the more precious and long-lasting the gifts they bear. Every difficulty can teach us something new about ourselves and our relationships with other people. Through tangled and complicated situations, we are forced to become more awake and muster the totality of our energies and capabilities channeling them into new fields of action and play. In doing so, we come to touch the world at points we never knew existed. 

-The more the world-traveler explores and knows our planet, the more he comes to feel that he is an integral part of one huge human family. The human qualities and traits he shares with this family are felt to be stronger than all the differences that apparently set him apart from other people. 

-Stunning landscapes exist as such because of their contrast to boring or uninteresting ones. Beautiful cities and villages are judged as being so because they are compared with the ugly cities and non-picturesque villages that outnumber them. 

The mutual dependence of ugliness and beauty, pleasantness and unpleasantness, makes our world what it is. Interdependent origination is actually one of the central tenets of Buddhist philosophy. It is the notion that nothing possesses its own irreducible self-nature, but everything depends on something else for its existence. These inter dependent opposites are the building blocks from which our world is constructed. It is meaningless, if not impossible, to attempt to shy away from the negative pole of reality. That said, most things in the world lie between the spaces defined by the extreme opposites and include qualities of both. One may thus cultivate the ability to see qualities of beauty and harmony in things that seem ugly or imperfect. 

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