A Good Traveler Never Leaves Home

A Good Traveler Never Leaves Home

A good traveler never leaves home, for everywhere he goes is home.

– Unknown

I ran across this image on a Web page where someone claimed it was based on the Daoist Dao De Jing. This is not true. And if I may riff for a moment; it is typical of so many quote Web pages that there is no attempt at accuracy. On the one hand, it does not really matter where wisdom comes from. What matters is how useful it is. On the other hand, falsely attributing a thought is just simply not wise. It is also quite disrespectful to the cultures involved to conflate their traditions. African, Native American, or Asian cultures are not interchangeable

The thought expressed in the graphic is Buddhist, which the original artist understood by using the image of a Buddhist monk. The saffron-colored robe being a telltale sign. We can debate whether the saying is particularly true to Buddhism, but since Buddhism has many traditions and philosophies, a thought can fit with one Buddhist tradition but not another. In this case, my opinion is that the thought is Buddhist in its alignment with the Buddhist principle of non-attachment. Non-attachment leads to the idea that one should detach oneself from the idea of a physical home. “Wherever I lay my head is home,” is the sense in this graphic. As a wandering monk, the Buddhist has no physical home–the bhavana (practice) or the tiratana (the three jewels–the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha) is home. When one has that, one needs no physical home. In this reading, the good Buddhist is one who is home everywhere because home is brought with.

Another way to think of this thought in the graphic is a more modern and Western way. I think of it as a corollary to the thought that moving doesn’t solve problems if you do not change because then you just bring your problems with you. Whenever I travel I see this from too many tourists arguing with their companions because they brought their problems and petty disagreements along with them. If your life is bad at home, traveling only makes life better if the problem remains at home. If the problem is your own attitudes and thoughts, then you probably bring that problem with you when traveling. The good traveler is one at peace who brings that peace along. The good traveler is comfortable everywhere, therefore home is everywhere.


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