Independent travel is a way of life with a rich tradition– a tradition that includes sufi wanderers, zen monks, pilgrims, explorers, and nomads.
We travel not just for vacation (though we do that too but for knowledge, wisdom, and growth. Independent travel is a process of never-ending learning. It is almost impossible not to learn when you are immersed in a new culture– awash in new customs, new beliefs, new sights, new smells.
One of the greatest benefits of foreign travel is that it breaks patterns. Suddenly, your whole routine is destroyed. This creates tremendous freedom– an open space for new ways of living.
Another power of travel– it frees your identity. At home, people expect you to thinking a certain way, talk a certain way, and do certain things. On the road, there are fewer expectations. No one knows you. You are free to choose, or to experiment with, completely new ways of talking, thinking, and doing.
I have always come back from my trips transformed– a new person. My political beliefs, my spiritual practices, my understanding of the world– have all been completely transformed by travel.
In fact, if you are unhappy with your life… if you feel depressed and powerless… if you feel stuck.. there is not better medicine than a long trip in a completely foreign land.
Several months abroad will cure much of what ails you… and will open you to profound insights.
This is why Independent Travel is a core practice here at Hobopoet.
At heart, loving-kindness means contribution. It is the deep desire in all of us to help ALL sentient beings be happy and free. Loving-kindness is the recognition of interdependence– understanding the truth that we are all connected, and ultimately, all one.
Loving-kindness is generosity… not giving money but rather a generosity of spirit– freely giving our compassion, kindness, understanding, and empathy. It is the Boddhisattva Way– Hoping and working for the happiness of all sentient beings.
To feel loving-kindness, however, you must give it to ourselves. You must be kind enough to let yourself be free. You must be kind enough to be your true self– to live according to your true beliefs, values, and talents. Usually, this means you must endure criticism from others.
If you are strange, be strange. If you are gay, be gay. If you are an artist, be an artist and stop trying to please your parents or family or boss. Love yourself. Build up your own happiness. Then you kindness will overflow and you’ll be happy to give it to others.
The cruelest and meanest people in the world are slaves and their masters. They are locked in a cycle of bitterness. In secret, they both hate their lives and what they have become.
Free your mind, be yourself, live simply… follow your bliss– these are the essential steps to developing loving-kindness in your heart.
Once you have it– give it freely, share it, and expand it!
Self Reliance means trust in yourself. As Alan Watts said, “Trust yourself to react appropriately when catastrophe happens. Failure of nerve is really failure to trust yourself.”
Self-reliance is an independence of mind and spirit– the courage to live according to your own principles, needs, and desires– no matter what other people think.
Self-reliance is resourcefulness. It is inner strength– mental and emotional and physical mastery. When you are self-reliant, you know you can handle any problem. You are full of courage and confidence. You are not discouraged by problems– in fact, you welcome “challenges”.
When something difficult happens to you, you rise up with strength. Maybe you don’t know how you will succeed, but you know you will– somehow.
Self -reliance means you have discipline– the discipline to do what is most important to you.. and the discipline to avoid what does not fit your principle, goals, and values.
As a self-reliant person, you recognize that you and only you are the authority for your own life. No guru, no religious leader, no political leader is more of an expert than you. Yes, you value teachers… but as guides and mentors, not as bosses. You are the only boss of your own life.
Self-reliance means you know how to take care of yourself– which gives you the freedom and energy to also help others. You are not always trying to take from other people, because you know how to make yourself happy.
You are a student of the “Science of Achievment” and of the “Art of Fulfillment”.
You are the master of your own life. You are the master of your destiny.
Freedom means opportunity and choice. Financial opportunities. Emotional and mental choices. Physical and temporal choices.
Freedom means you have the ability and opportunity to live your life according to your own:
Freedom means flexibility– it means living a proactive, rather than a reactive, life.
In today’s world, financial independence and freedom are particularly important. As Hakim Bey said, today most of us are more enslaved by jobs than by anything else. As an employee, you are nothing more than a slave with some basic human rights (or not,… in many places forced labor or sweat-shop labor means near-total slavery).
If you are lucky, you spend 40 hours a week in servitude– working hard to make other people rich. You must show up at an exact time, and cannot leave until an exact time determined by your boss. You must wear certain clothes, and follow certain rules. In many ways, you are still a child– still working to please those with more power than you.
Many of you work for horrible companies– companies that pollute the environment, assist murdering governments, cheat, attack unions, lie, and hurt people. You hate these things, but you tell yourself you “need a job”. This may or may not be true… but one thing is true– you are not free.
To live a life full of happiness, fulfillment, and achievement, you absolutely must be free financially. You must achieve financial independence and work for no boss but yourself.
You must also free yourself from nationalism and your government’s propaganda. Be honest- your government is bad. They torture people. They imprison people wrongly. They kill people. They help the rich and hurt the poor. Its the same in every country. If you are loyal to your government and believe its propaganda, you are a mental slave.
As Bob Marley said, “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds”.
This is what freedom means- a life that is open and full of possibilities… flexible… powerful… principled.
What is “voluntary simplicity” and why do you want it?
Voluntary simplicity means “living below your means”. If you make 1000 a month, then you live off less than that (ideally, much less than that). Thus, my definition of voluntary simplicity is a very fluid and flexible one. What it really means, in spirit, is getting the most achievement and fulfillment possible with the least amount of money/time/effort necessary.
But perhaps the most important question for many is why? Why in the world would you want to live more simply than necessary? What are the benefits?
What if you would actually feel much happier as a result of living a simpler life? What if you would feel less stress, and a greater sense of certainty, ease, and power in your life…. would simplicity sound appealing then?
Well, that’s exactly what voluntary simplicity offers- in purely practical terms. When you live off of less than you earn, you gain a tremendous amount of certainty in your life. You become certain that you can get by. You are certain you cann save money. You feel more secure– financially and emotionally.
Voluntary simplicity is an amazing stress reducer. Living ABOVE your means (by using credit cards and other loans) is a guaranteed bringer of stress. Just imagine– you are totally and absolutely debt free. You owe nothing– no credit card debt, no house mortgage, no car payment… not even a car insurance bill (because you paid it in full). Imagine how incredibly relaxed you would feel in this situation.
Now imagine that you are not only totally debt free– you are also saving money EVERY month. Maybe a little, maybe a lot. After a while, you save enough to cover ALL of your living expenses for a full month. Then enough to cover all expenses for 3 months. Then enough for a full 6 months of living.
Imagine how certain and secure you would feel. Not much worry about losing a job– you’d have 6 months of full living expenses (not to mention possible unemployment benefits). Hell, you might even welcome getting laid off– time for a vacation!
In fact, that’s exactly how I felt once I committed to voluntary simplicity. I no longer worried about losing my job… and in fact, I quit jobs quite readily in order to take extended vacations (several months of travel).
Voluntary simplicity brings ease, relaxation, certainty, and effortlessness into your life. It is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.
What is “Hobopoet” about?
I’ve chosen five general themes:
My definition of “simplicity” is simple– living well below your economic means. Of course, this will vary for different people. For someone making 10,000 dollars a year, simplicity might involve living in your car (as I did). For a multi-millionaire, simplicity might contain a more luxurious lifestyle– but still well below your income level.
Simplicity offers a great deal of mental ease and happiness. It is also a key ingredient for the second Hobopoet principle, Freedom….
I’m talking about freedom in all its forms. We need economic freedom– freedom from bosses, freedom from wage slavery, freedom from deprivation. We need mental freedom– freedom from cultural propaganda and programming. We need emotional freedom– the freedom to master our emotions, not be ruled by them. We need temporal freedom- the freedom to use our time doing what makes us most happy and excited about life. Of course, we need physical freedom– freedom from imprisonment and physical harm…. and also freedom from illness.
When we live simply and are free, we feel a tremendous amount of happiness. It is that happiness which inspires us to feel and share our kindness….
Simply put– we want all sentient beings to be happy and free from suffering. This is the boddhisattva vow– to achieve liberation not only for oneself, but for all beings. As we grow happier and more free, we are naturally inspired to help others do the same.
As we share with others, we also grow stronger within ourselves. We need to depend less on others. We need to take less from others because we learn to fulfill ourselves. We gain an abundant self-reliance…. a spirit of independence and generosity….
Our goal is not to take from others, nor to beg, nor to live like stunted dependent children. We aim for self-reliance– a deep trust in ourselves. Our aim is to give and contribute. The only things we are strongly driven to acquire are knowledge and wisdom. Independent travel is our primary way of connecting with and learning about the world…..
There is, arguably, no better means of learning and growing than independent travel. Travel strips away our safe, culturally programmed beliefs and identities. Travel opens us to new worlds, new people, new cultures. As Hobopoets, we are not nationalists. We are citizens of the world.
We follow in the great Zen, Sufi, and spiritual-nomadic traditions– seeking knowledge and wisdom through internal and external exploration.
Five years! I started Hobopoet five years ago while I was living in my van, in Gainesville Georgia USA, as part of a voluntary “homeless” experiment. Of course, my van was my home– so really it was an experiment in voluntary simplicity.
All the stories and adventures from the last five years are still available at the old Hobopoet site– just read the archives at: www.Hobopoet.Blogspot.com
What a long strange trip it’s been!
Now I’m in San Francisco. I’ve got my own internet company and am finally financially independent. No wore wage slavery!
But that doesn’t mean the adventure is over. Quite the opposite.
Now its time to raise the standards and embark on a whole new set of challenges, experiments, and adventures.
Thus the new site for Hobopoet!
This time, I hope the adventure will be more interactive. I’m adding Forums to this site, so we can all share our strategies and experiences with:
- Voluntary Simplicity
- Independent Travel
The new site is also more media friendly, so I’ll be adding more video, pictures, and sounds of travels and adventures.
Welcome! I look forward to building a world-wide community of Hobopoets– people committed to freedom (economic, physical, mental, and emotional), life-long learning, and adventure!
A new design. Forums. Lots more adventures. And lots more strategies for living: The 5 Hobopoet Principles