My name is Beth and I am about to embark on an 8 month journey to India, Nepal, and Thailand. I wanted to take some time to explain what this travel photo-blog is about and the purpose of my trip.
The ultimate goal of my trip is to learn about Eastern Philosophy. I’ve always thought that spirituality is an essential part of health, but one that is often ignored in Western society. This trip will allow me to take the better part of a year to explore my Spiritual connection to the world. But before I upset anyone, I’d like to take the time to define spirituality in the sense that I’m using it.
I have a broad and loose definition for Spirituality. I’m not really talking about religion exclusively, nor am I referring to hippie granola stuff. I’m not opposed to but don’t ascribe to either. What I want to talk about on this blog is simply a feeling of reverence for the universe. This feeling of awe manifests itself in a lot of religions, but can also be felt completely separately. I have observed the elegance of the universe in physics, biology, chemistry, philosophy, and simply felt it emotionally.
I believe this feeling of ultimate respect for the universe is linked to our sense of place in the world. In turn, this leads to a feeling of responsibility and connectedness with the Earth. A root cause of the human abuse of nature in North American society could be related to a lack of spirituality. We have the resources, technology and power to alter the way we live. We have the ability to manage our natural resources using methods that are more compatible with sustainable living, yet we do not. Even in the face of climate change and species extinction, many people would rather deny human-induced change than change the way they are living.
We are disconnected from the environment. To the general public, it is not evident how heavily we rely on our environment for survival and the extent to which our lifestyle impacts it. We do not see where our food, gas, water and building materials come from but instead, see them readily available for purchase at retail outlets. The dominant culture of our society is consumption and this is the main way in which we exercise freedom within it. In other words, we purchase what we want with little regard for the social or environmental impact that it may have. However, we are not free from the ultimate effect of this lifestyle: the earth will not be able to sustain us if we deplete its resources past the point at which they can be replenished. I believe that this disconnectedness from the environment has ultimately lead to a lack of spiritually and respect for it. Perhaps a new spiritual, environmental ethic is necessary in order to address the current environmental crisis.
To invoke societal change, I do not believe that making people feel guilty about their lifestyle will inspire individual change, nor do I believe that education is solely the answer. A spiritual reverence for the earth provides people with a reason to alter their way of living. If people have a deep respect for their environment, each choice to reduce consumption or to use a sustainable alternative is made as an offering. This spirituality does not necessitate religion and can be shared by everyone. I am interested in the insights that Eastern philosophy may provide as a solution to environmental and social inequalities still present in our world.
Finding out what parts of Eastern Philosophy may be useful for my own spirituality and what parts can possibly be applied to resolving the conflict between humans and the environment, I have to learn about it first. In general, this trip will be a chance to explore new perspectives, gain an understanding of other cultures and learn what Eastern Philosophy is all about.
Each society and individual has a worldview which influences their behaviors, values, beliefs and decisions. As a result, our world is inextricably linked to and altered by humanity’s understanding of their worldviews and how these govern environmental use. I believe that through a better understanding of our worldviews, we can change the way we interact with the natural environment. It is important that I submerse myself in different worldviews in order to understand their impact on environmental and social ethics.
At the very least, I owe it myself and the people who have supported me in this venture, to dedicate myself whole-heartedly to learning about Eastern Philosophy while I am away. I have to be open to new experiences, to step outside my comfort-zone, to learn through practice, to ask questions, to converse with travelers and locals, and to look, listen and read. I want to share as much as I can with you through this blog and tell you about my life experiences as I travel. I would be happy if you stopped by this site once in a while to see what I’m up to. 🙂