Traveling and Self Obliteration

I write these thoughts as we’ve just hit the road again and a week into a 9 week journey through South America. We leave Rio de Janeiro tomorrow morning and fly to Salvador.

On the way up to see the famous Christo Redentor statue I was struck (like many others) by the beauty and vastness of the city and landscape of Rio. I then began thinking about self obliteration. Self obliteration is certainly not a violent or negative thing at least as I’ll describe it. It seems to be what everyone seeks and what everyone finds in a multitude of different ways.

The obvious example of Self Obliteration is the Buddhist pursuit of Nirvana…to achieve that great spiritual nothingness, the ultimate self obliteration. In a very brief interest in Buddhism years ago I came to realize that the pursuit of self obliteration (meditation) can take on many different forms in addition to purposeful meditation. I found that my major ‘meditations’ are work, art and music. In these actions, when I’m un-distracted, I am totally self obliterated. I believe this kind of obliteration of self occurs for the devout of most religions. And of course on the negative end of things it’s also the same drive to obliterate the self that drives people to vices.

So why was I thinking this atop Mt. Corvocado? Because I realized that moment that traveling to marvel at the wonders of the world is also the pursuit of that same, self obliterating goal. Traveling is often just a hard slog of plane tickets and bus rides, but the payoff is the destination…the Nirvana.

Why do we desire self obliteration? Most everyone is afraid of death, the ultimate obliteration of self. We desire living self obliteration because it’s our way of transcending our own bodily limitations. We connect with the world better. Nothingness becomes oneness. Inspiration becomes euphoria. Concentration becomes inspiration.

Self obliteration often never feels as grand as it sounds. This elemental mode of being is often over trivialized when really it’s not very complicated. It’s the same for the Buddhists, Artist or the Tourist.

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