Published Saturday, 04 June 2016
To many places beings withdraw to escape from fear:
to mountains, forests, parklands and gardens;
sacred places as well.
But none of these places offer true refuge,
none of them can free us from fear.
Dhammapada vv. 188–189
It is almost certainly the case that global travel has never been more popular. In general, the idea of going somewhere on a journey has probably always held a certain appeal, but affluence and technology have amplified that appeal. But whatever reasons we may give for travelling – trying to 'find ourselves', free ourselves, enlighten ourselves – there may be other factors driving all this activity as well. Does increased restlessness have anything to do with it? When our impulse to go places and see people arises from a sense of adequacy and well-being, certainly the experience could inspire insight and broaden awareness. But when it is our unacknowledged fears of inadequacy that motivate us to travel, when the urge to travel derives from our limited ability to mindfully receive feelings of restlessness, travelling could be no more than another indulgence in distraction. All the energy we might invest in our travels won't free us from the fear that drives us. The true refuge to which the Buddha pointed is the training of our awareness until it expands beyond all the limitations we habitually impose upon it, and come to realize inherent fearlessness.