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Perfect worlds

The former travel journalist in me bears some of the responsibility that falls on all who ply this dubious trade for unthinkingly serving up every last unspoiled corner of the earth and her cultures to the ravages of appetites greedy for exotic new pleasures. So the particular spot in which I recently found a more harmonious and wholesome reality than any I have yet experienced on the planet should remain concealed behind a light veil of imprecision.

This perfect place was, though, a magical combination of spectacular, otherworldly scenery, lushly abundant nature, a wealth of traces of the vanished magnificence of a great empire, a peaceable, relaxed local population and a vast, resonant silence and tranquility. Fairytale landscapes dotted with peaceful ruins stretched improbably away under the flaming colours and fantastical cloud formations of fabulous sunsets. Birds and monkeys chattered idly through sparkling days freshened by luxuriant vegetation and lazily flowing waters. Even the stones gathered from beside the picture-book river were more perfect in substance, form and colour than their counterparts out in the ‘ordinary’ world.

The splendour of this location has long worked its subtle magic on those who have inhabited it to create a rare sense of harmony. This in turn has perhaps led to the formation of such beautiful stones, not so much in geological time, but in a time concurrent with and interwoven with the local mental space. Nature surely cannot meld itself into such a harmonious state in places where the surrounding vibration is not so fine, so wholesome – in places charged with the ugly, disturbing energies of environmental devastation, aggression, unhappiness, pollution, greed and so on.

It is something like this subtle refinement of reality through a true harmony between the human spirit and its environment that is evoked in mandalas such as Heavenly kharabaat, One night in spring, The Dome of Home and Meditation in the marketplace - reality with the rough edges smoothed a little to create this sense of a more fully flavoured and richly rounded world. When a higher level of caring and conscious integration between the human spirit and its surroundings (and other humans, too) is achieved, then surely this kind of perfection becomes manifest.

The work of Masaru Emoto, cited in About beauty and healing, reflects a similar vision for the potential transformation of our earthly existence – a recognition of the power that lies within the human mind to effect this total renewal of a reality that is, after all, ultimately also a creation of that same human mind. It is through this power buried within each of us that the world really would be transformed by meditation, if everyone were to embrace it wholeheartedly and work to clean all minds of the junk that cannot but be reflected outside in the environments in which we live. This is how we can heal the world from the inside out.

There is no doubt that spending time in spots like my magical retreat affords a powerful reminder of the magnificence of our earthly home, and it can help to bring about a renewal, a reconnection with a deeper sense of awe and wonder at life, without which no transformation of either inner or outer reality is possible. Experiencing a strong outer silence, where this is available, can help to connect us with the inner silence that is meditation, too.

But there is a difference between this conscious inner nourishment and the greedy guzzling of earthly paradises for short-term and superficial new experiences that fuels large sections of the travel industry. The restless mind’s perpetual thirst for something new, and the profit the industry generates by catering for this appetite, together create an oppressive and often blindly destructive force. As a previously unexploited corner of the world is discovered, the inward rush of tourists soon changes its very nature, often irrevocably.

Why this insatiable greed for new locations, new experiences? Because we need them perhaps. When we no longer believe that we will be transported to paradise after we die, and the rest of our lives is often mundane, they afford us a brief escape into a fairytale or paradise world. These excursions into other people’s realities can certainly revive flagging spirits and help to put things into a healthier, more relativist perspective.

But they do not have a lasting impact on our lives. We visit one, then a few months later, book a trip to another. And the photographs and home movies pile up uncontrollably. Yet revisiting these does not bring lasting contentment. It is not enough. This is where our mind-driven society cannot help us further. Until the understanding dawns that hunting for paradise out here in the world is not the answer, we may well go on trotting across the globe, helping to wear it out – for as long as this luxury is available to us.

But it is well to remember that the key to the happiness we seek does not ultimately lie in such external stimulation. It is only when we turn inwards to explore the undiscovered places within us that a deeper contentment can be found. This contentment does not depend on any first-hand experience of exotically ‘other’ locations. It doesn’t depend on anything external at all.

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