The Zen Traveller: A How-To Guide is 38,000 word manual aimed squarely at the everyday 21st Century traveller who wants to deepen their travel experience into something they will not soon forget. No longer bothered by check-in queues or their fellow passengers, the Zen Traveller guides you along the road less travelled, your personal adviser.
After all, for centuries, religions around the world have believed pilgrimage to be a path leading to spiritual maturity, if not enlightenment. It is the method and mind-set of the traveller that is important, not so much the destination or the particular path taken.
The Traveller draws on the timeless principles of Zen Buddhism to create the mind-set that leads you to know yourself. In time, it takes you on a journey to the core of your being. The outer journey becomes a metaphor for the inner journey, fusing to become one.
The Zen Traveller: A How-To Guide draws on the work of 19th Century French poet Charles Beaudelaire who described the figure of the Flâneur. Someone who seeks an authentic travel experience by strolling about in an unstructured way, responding intuitively to what they encounter. The Flâneur, or Zen Traveller remains detached, non-judgmental; appreciating the nuanced perceptions that come their way.
Travel is so much more than mere movement from one place to another. Travel is means by which we learn more about ourselves from the experiences we have when out of our familiar comfort zone. At its best, travel makes us a better version of our self.
Those necessities include sustenance, shelter and security. But we also need friends and to feel good about ourselves. Once we have satisfied these basic needs we then look for meaningful work and finally self-actualization where we become the fullest expression of our potential. This is the hierarchy of our human needs.
The psychologist Abraham Maslow describes this phenomenon in his Hierarchy of Human Needs model. He asserted that people will seek to satisfy the lower-order needs for food, shelter, and sex, then the middle-order needs for safety and security, then the higher middle-order needs for love and belonging. Above these is the higher-order need for self-esteem. But the highest need of all, sitting like the capstone on a pyramid is Self-Actualisation.
The Zen Traveller, the person described in this book, has worked out how to satisfy their lower and middle order needs, and who now recognize travel as contributing to self-actualisation.
The experiences we have when travelling may vary from great to catastrophic, but what they all have in common is that they can teach us something to make us wiser than before. This quote from the poem Little Gidding suggests:
We shall never cease from exploration,
and the end of all our exploring,
will be to arrive where we started,
and know the place for the first time –T.S. Eliot.
Travel gives us a fresh perspective on the world, allowing us to know it in more adaptive ways. When we come home we see our familiar environment in a new light; in a sense we come to know it for the first time
The Zen Traveller
A How-To Guide
Publication date: 01/09/2017
Travel can be a spiritual practice, but only if you know how.
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