Travelling for Peace as a Way to break down Prejudices | SICOGA 2022

Presentation slides | Click to enlarge

What is the way of peace? Can we find peace in these turbulent times or must there always be war? How can we create peace in our lives and our minds? Can traveling help achieve peace? Let us discuss here that what we so desire as humanity—PEACE ✌️

Who am I?

Baisakhi Saha

A globetrotter, I left home still in my teens, to study abroad on scholarships. Since then, I have not just traveled but lived across different continents learning the language of life and love through myriad mirrors of reality. From Asia to Europe to Africa to South America to North & Central America, I have stayed with local families eating their food, adopting their lifestyles, contributing to their economy, inhabiting their culture, imitating their costumes, negotiating extreme realities and belief systems, navigating varied traditions and religions, scanning the energy of each country I lived for several years to answer life’s most pertinent questions. Coming from a conservative family background in India, I had to overcome all limiting beliefs and cultural prejudices to fly in the direction of my dreams! 

Now with that little introduction in the background, let us delve deeper into today’s topic: Travelling for Peace!

The reality of duality

We live in a dual world where what we want to experience is defined by its direct opposite. The opposites create a contextual field within which we experience the things that we want. We know hot because cold exists. We want the highs of life because we’ve experienced the lows that we don’t like. We want happiness because we can’t bear sadness. Where there is big excitement there is also great disappointment. We desire peace because we know the devastations of war—war leaves us all bereft! In the moment that we meet our highest love, we also greet our greatest fear. We love, then destroy, then love again that which we value the most. For the first thing we worry about after saying “I love you” is whether we’ll hear it back. And if we do hear it back, then we begin immediately to worry that the love we’ve just found, we’ll lose. So, all action becomes reaction—defense against loss—disagreements, conflicts, wars, destruction, violence, abuse… with not much room for conscious creation. But we don’t have to live in a continuous state of reaction. We can turn our biggest fear into our greatest glory. How?

Is it really possible to achieve absolute peace? We all know that a healthy level of conflict can, in fact, challenge us to grow. And a very peaceful relationship can actually get boring, because there may be self-abandoning tendencies in one partner who, afraid of conflict, always tries to maintain peace in the connection. We seek excitement, joy, love, happiness but those very things are defined by their direct opposites, like disappointment, sorrow, fear, sadness, which provide us with a context to learn, evolve, grow, change, and overcome adversities, so we can be our own heroes, so we can impress ourselves in our own creations!

The way of peace | Relationships are everything

Every connection in this world is based on someone’s relationship with someone else, be it at the governmental, political, familial, cultural, racial, societal, communal, or individual level. When one or both parties in that relationship does not take the other as a part of itself, war begins. And rather than creating connection, it begets separation. But it is possible to make a point without making an enemy of someone. We can be right without being righteous. Debating need not lead to debasing. We can disagree with someone without being disagreeable. It is possible to cooperate rather than compete in unhealthy, revengeful ways. It is possible to create healthy boundaries in a relationship rather than hating on someone.

Essentially, what we are seeking is the middle ground, the trinity amidst the duality, a combination of the contrasts! We seek warmth, because too hot will burn us and too cold will freeze us to death. We want an exciting connection with someone where there is a healthy doze of love and challenge. Too much love, over giving, people pleasing, self-abandoning tendencies can be overwhelming, smothering, leading to toxic dynamics in a relationship and too little love will also create distance, misunderstanding and separation. What we really desire is connection not separation or restriction, authenticity not superficiality or opacity, interdependence not independence or codependence in our relationships with each other.

Travelling for peace

The one thing that stops most people from traveling is money. But traveling is never about money… I’ve spent years on the road, with what money, what savings to bank on? Nil. I never even had enough for the tickets. Nonetheless, those were my best days, my most cherished adventures, my fondest memories: eating poorly, sleeping on hammocks, building tents or backpacking, not comprehending local dialects, communicating through gestures and symbols, depending on others for my survival, using currencies that were mere paper to me, befriending strangers, adopting strange traditions, breaking cultural barriers, treading lonely street corners hoping I wouldn’t get mugged, getting robbed, putting my faith to test again and again, and after all of it I discovered a totally new person within me, metamorphosed by all the treasures of the heart I amassed over time and space; I changed countries, cities, continents like people change clothes. You see traveling is not about money as it is a matter of will. Because where there is a will, there is always a way. There are two things you need in order to travel, to adventure, to really explore the world you were born into: tenacity and audacity.

Racism: Based on the cultural conditioning & programming we are exposed to, based on what others tell us to beware of, we expect to experience racism while travelling and so we do. We attract our fears. I honestly feel racism is created in our minds, but in reality it doesn’t exist. It is your approach that makes people decide how they want to treat you. Do you keep to your tribe, do you criticize other cultures, races, religions or do you have the courage to create meaningful connections with strangers? It is the energy you exude that encompasses your beliefs and thought patterns which people respond to. I’ve traveled to so many places across the globe but I have not experienced discrimination or racism anywhere. Not once! In fact, everywhere people were really interested in getting to know me, hanging out with me, learning about my culture, no matter what race, culture, color or religion they were from. I experienced the opposite of discrimination! Blacks, whites, browns, yellows, greys or whatever other skin colors exist, were all equally welcoming of me everywhere. How is that possible, if racism exists?

Cross culture: Culture creates variety and adds color to our existence. But people sometimes mistakenly think that somehow their culture is superior to another’s. Well, it is the same with culture as with racism. These are just concepts in our heads, but if you don’t let the differences bother you so much, you will not encounter discrimination on your path. If you are open to learning, you will evolve and grow.

Language barrier: One thing I realized, that if you even try, just try to speak the language of another country, one word, two words, five words… people will be extra friendly with you. I remember when I was in Germany, I used to speak in broken German, excruciatingly stringing a few words together to make a grammatically incorrect sentence, and people were like, “Oh look at this little Indian girl trying to speak our language”, and all their barriers melted away. It was the same in Latin America with Spanish or any other culture for that matter.

Safety: No amount of law, order, punishment, or security measures can make this world a safer place for anyone. Because real security is within you. It comes from a place of deep inner knowing that you are safe, and you will be! You are here for a reason and you’re protected on your path. And still if you feel scared, in your mind surround yourself with white light and program it to protect you in dire circumstances, should one arise in the first place. It works, believe you me! I have lived in some of the most dangerous places of the world and came back alive, unhurt, unscratched… And always try to travel with minimal valuables so you won’t lose much anyway.

When you travel this way, you will learn how to manage your expenses, make do with a low budget and yet have the best time of your life. I, or someone else, don’t have to teach you these things. You will learn by yourself, how to stay healthy and safe while traveling or living abroad, how to navigate across multi-cultural boundaries, how to be a confident traveler, how to be language smart, how to travel at the drop of a hat, how to travel cheap and yet have a ball! You will connect with strangers and make the world your home. You will create quick inventions to save the day, those unconscious witticisms, hilarious epiphanies about life, intimate childlike revelations of yourself in honest, funny, sometimes pathetic imaginings, exciting play of fanciful imagination, of lively curiosity, cheerful and bubbly, of the need to know, to find out, to seem wise beyond the years… and these will bring immense joy to your soul.

Thus, you will be living your dreams literally. And wise as you become from all these travels, you will have already reaped gold, rich with the kind of knowledge that has nothing to do with the information you acquire from textbooks or YouTube videos. Because you will have your own experiences as your teacher to guide you, because your knowledge applied has now become wisdom. Above all you will become fearless… fearless enough to fly! You naturally want to do things that will serve the world at a greater level than just be content with a 9-6 job. Sitting in Singapore, I never imagined I would be a globetrotter one day. My life is unrecognizable today. And I feel this larger destiny calling me to live out a grander vision of humanity.

Belief systems & cultural prejudices

I firmly believe if more people could travel like this, there will be little or no room in our world for religious wars, racial discrimination, cultural hatred, dysfunctional belief systems or judgements in our societies, because you will see the futility of it all! You will see that your culture is just one culture, one way to look at life, but not the absolute truth or the only way. Someone in Asia believes this, someone in America believes that, someone in Africa believes something else. Do you know that in Africa men pay dowry to marry women? Do you know that in Latin America there is no concept of shaming a woman’s body whereas in Asia if a woman exposes her body she is considered to be of loose character? While in a rich oil producing country like Nigeria people literally live in darkness with no electricity during most of the day, in yet another oil producing country like Venezuela you can fill a whole car tank with less than what a bottle of water costs. You will notice opposite things and you will marvel at life’s idiosyncrasies. What will be obvious to you won’t be obvious to others. You will find out that sometimes the nonsense makes the best sense. You will discover that what is right in one culture, is wrong is another culture. What is polite in one country is rude in another country. What is respectful in one region is disrespectful in another region. What you think is good, another thinks bad. You may lose your grapple of reality, not knowing what to believe anymore, how to behave appropriately. Sometimes you won’t know right from wrong, good from bad, polite from impolite, and that is okay. Sometimes you may feel alone, that nobody understands you, a feeling that you do not belong, because others are still holding on so strongly to their cultural beliefs while you have seen so many different cultures that you know inherently, none of it is real. We are all making it up, all the way! As you get a bite size of all cultures, races, religions, ethnicities, backgrounds, your world view will expand to hold more of reality in it, a grander truth, a larger picture of humanity! It is all just different lifestyles, different belief systems, different cultures… One is not necessarily better or worse than another. Just different! And that creates variety. You will see that your god, your belief, your religion is just one of many thought systems, and that there are others with their definitions of god, their faith, their culture, their religion, their tradition, and everyone is right in their own perspective. At the end of the day, none of it matters really!  You will see that what is going on within you is going on inside everyone else. You will start understanding yourself; the storm inside your soul will suddenly start speaking to you. You will not let culture define you, rather you will define culture, create new cultures should the old be dysfunctional. You will develop more tolerance and love for humanity. You will break molds, shift paradigms and transcend mindsets.

Epigenetics | Culture & environment

One’s concept of self comes from the culture one is born into or grows up in. If this is a dysfunctional culture then they will have all kinds of limiting thoughts about the self and that will create disease conditions in the physical body. Many cultures actually don’t let you love yourself, amplify the perceived defects of individuals, hence it’s hard to have a healthy self-image for a person operating inside of those cultures. This is why travelling helps so much as one comes in contact with different cultures, races, religions, traditions, belief systems in different parts of the world, one can in fact detach from their own culture and delete much of the garbage programming they were fed by so called “authorities and elders” while growing up. A healthy concept of self involves “inclusive narcissism” where one is harmlessly proud of oneself and has a highly positive image of not only the self but also of others, where one can appreciate the good in everyone and everything. And if one cannot find favorable cultural circumstances, it’s a good practice to look out of one’s culture for validation of the self. For example, darker skin color may be considered ugly in one culture but beautiful in another culture. Once again travelling can erase a lot of dysfunctional programming from one’s mental and emotional bodies which then can eliminate disease conditions in the physical body. In these circumstances, radical self-acceptance should be practiced where one not only accepts one’s physical body but also the difficult and uncomfortable emotions one experiences, and can find a healthy outlet to process them rather than suppressing or repressing them. To understand this better read Feel your feelings, know yourself.

Cultural and environmental factors are stronger than genetics, which implies that if you are genetically predisposed to an illness that runs in your family, it’s not necessary that you’ll get it. It depends on how you live your life and how much the culture of the place where you live or grew up has conditioned you. If you can break out of all those programming and limiting beliefs, you can overcome your genetics. Epi-genetics is above genetics. The immune system is not a protector, rather it is a confirmer of your consciousness. If you have a disempowering consciousness, i.e. negative beliefs about yourself, then you will have a disempowering immune system and vice versa.

Balloon love

When we meet someone and fall in love, it is like riding a hot balloon. We are in a continual state of bliss, dreaming, wishing, imagining, desiring, and that is our true identity, to live in a state of limitless possibility. It is a state of being when we are conscious of the present moment instead of letting our subconscious programs run the show of our lives. The conscious mind is where creativity resides. It holds our wishes and desires and what we want from life. Falling in love does not necessarily mean getting into a relationship; it is just a state of being that opens us up to the myriad realities and infinite possibilities of existence. It sparks our creativity and beckons us to live a higher reality, a grander truth, a larger vision. It throws us outside of the programming. 

We rise in consciousness every time we are in love; I call this “Balloon Love”. To illustrate how it works, refer to the figure above. Let’s say person ‘A’ and person ‘B’ fall in love… or rather rise in love, akin to riding a hot balloon! In this example, I’m especially referring to a situation between two completely different cultures, countries, continents… because two people from the same culture and belief system can often sustain the relationship as they have familiar expectations from each other, whereas, two people from two completely different cultures brought together by intense synchronicities wouldn’t really know how to be with each other, what expectations to fulfill, hence, would often step onto each other’s toes. Nevertheless, the experience is very enriching and helpful in raising their individual consciousness. So, back to my theory: when ‘A’ and ‘B’ are in love let’s say, they are connected with their true essence, they are inspired, aware and living in the present moment, as if forcefully brought together by some intangible force challenging them to open up their consciousness and grow, as described above about love. Very few people can actually sustain this kind of love in a relationship; it’s not impossible but most cannot remain in that state of high for too long in this physical reality and eventually the balloon bursts as they “fall in love”. However, they don’t fall all the way down to whence they had begun. As they are exposed to a higher reality inside the balloon, their individual energy expands substantially so that when they “fall” they are still a level above where they had initiated the journey, and so person ‘A’ becomes more than himself referred to as ‘A+’ and person ‘B’ becomes more than herself referred to as ‘B+’. Are you understanding this? Since not all those connections were meant to end up in physical relationships, they were just there to raise their individual consciousness, so that those people can then go on to impact others as ripples of change are created in human consciousness and thusly the collective mind evolves.

Synchronicity | Bridging the divide

The world is in this state today because most people in positions of authority have lost their connection with the larger universe. In order to feel good and powerful about themselves, they think taking away power from another will raise their power, so they can control others. However, the exact opposite happens! People who do that are in a perpetual state of fear as they constantly try to gain more and more power over others in order to feel secure about themselves, but in the process feel less and less in touch with their true essence—love and freedom. They are always stressed, always insecure, always doubting, always strategizing how to gain more power over others… and such a baseless pillar can never stand tall so a fall is inevitable. Hitler committed suicide!

Synchronicity is a means by which the higher self communicates with the little self incarnated into physical life here on earth. Through magical signs & symbolism, be it repeating numbers, meaningful coincidences, chance encounters, or multiple external episodes reflecting our momentary subjective mental state, the higher self or the deeper portion of our subconscious mind communicates with the surface mind, to remind the little self of the things it came here to do thereby bringing one’s conscious awareness to the present moment where past programming cannot reside. It is magical because it throws us out of the programming we’re conditioned to believe and instead invites us to contemplate infinity, a larger reality, a grander truth when we suddenly awaken to our true selves. But if we ignore the synchronicity, it’ll pass us by without creating a single ripple and recede into the past. On the other hand, if we do decide to heed a synchronous moment and take note of our thoughts in that instance, we will begin a two-way communication with our higher selves and build a personal store of intelligence to navigate life. To learn more about synchronicity, read The heart language of synchronicity & symbolism and Synchronicity: A new dimension of reality approaching humanity.

As we create this magical connection with something larger, something out there in the infinite universe will start responding to our wishes and desires, and guide us on our destiny paths. With more people travelling across the globe, a more homogeneous mixture of population will be created as they meet, breed, understand each other’s perspectives, and thusly consciousness will be raised with their mindsets expanding to bridge the divide in the world and automatically there will be less war.

Life Is Abracadabra

My new book, Life Is Abracadabra, recounts twenty-one magical stories from my travels across the globe that will make anyone look at life with new eyes, and perceive reality from an altogether new dimension of synchronicity. Get it on Amazon.

“When you have confidence in your dreams, when you cling to the vision of your highest ideal, you can create miracles. This book is a testimonial to that.”

ÓSCAR ARIAS, two-time FORMER PRESIDENT OF COSTA RICA AND NOBEL Peace Prize LAUREATE

The book has been endorsed by renowned luminaries, peace advocates, and world visionaries. Above is one by former president of Costa Rica and Nobel laureate. To read more, visit baisakhisaha.com/life-is-abracadabra.

Travel Tips

I leave you with my best travel tips for peace:

  • Travel light: do not carry those heavy suitcases. Take the bare minimum and that is enough
  • Backpack: nothing like traveling long distances with just a backpack that contains everything you need but nothing you greed.
  • Build tents: the fun of building your own tent by the seaside and spending the night listening to waves crashing onto the rocks is a miracle
  • Travel in groups: this is best to do when you have a low budget
  • Travel solo: this is important if you want to know yourself in experience. You take it all in, the good, the bad, the ugly, process them in your own heart, learn, evolve and grow adding more dimensions of reality to your existence.
  • Take up exchange/volunteer programs or foreign internships: there are many programs and exchange organizations like AIESEC, that can provide the skeleton for you, and the rest you can manage on your own.
  • Couchsurfing: live in people’s houses when you travel, share with them. Most times this is free or paying very little in exchange for the warmth of someone’s home. Maybe you can buy them lunch in return for a free night’s stay. There are reliable websites where you can register for this.
  • Airbnb & youth hostels: if you really want to know other cultures and people, these are other options to interact with locals, tourists, foreigners or stay in their houses for much less than what you would pay in hotels.
  • Mitfahrgelegenheit & uber pool: travel in shared cars and save money on local transport.
  • Trust in the unknown: have faith in the goodness of life and you will be rewarded generously by life.
  • Have no fear: believe you are okay and you will be; the only real security is within you.
  • Potluck: you can pool in food, each person in a group buying something and cooking together. It’s so much fun and cost-effective!!!
  • Get invited to people’s houses: during your work, you can befriend colleagues and work partners who can invite you to their houses, show you their culture and feed you delicious homecooked meals.
  • Wear their clothes: it is always so much fun to wear local costumes and attend local events. You get all the attention, as a foreigner in a native garment! Much more than what you would get on facebook! Haha
  • Attend religious or traditional functions: this one really opens your mind. Do this not to buy into other’s religions, traditions or belief systems, but to understand how your own religion, tradition and belief system is just one way of thinking and there are others who think differently and that is okay.
  • Make merry: never forget to cherish each experience for that moment will never return
  • Have passion: passion is everything. Passion defines you. If you have no passion, then don’t do it.
  • Go the distance: a street corner in Berlin has more stories to tell than what your entire life can teach you. Just go. Don’t stop. Don’t second guess. Don’t pause. If you look for opportunities, opportunities will present themselves to you.

SICOGA News Bulletin, 24 November 2022

Servas International

NOTE: Servas International (“we serve ” in Esperanto) is a non-profit organization providing a hospitality exchange service. Servas is a member organization that builds peace and cross-cultural understanding through day visits or overnight home stays among members who share information about themselves, to help ensure accountability. It was founded in 1949, in the aftermath of World War II, by Bob Luitweiler and other Danish students as an international network for people to meet and where suitable, to be offered a short stay, as part of the peace movement.

The organization may now be described as a part of a gift economy. Members can be both hosts and travelers, and hosts do not charge for lodging. People wishing to join SERVAS can access the website: www.servas.org, complete an application form, supply letters of recommendation, and be interviewed to ensure that they understand the purpose and protocol of being a Servas member, whether as a traveler or host or both. Members pay an annual fee to the organization, which is determined locally by the country. There is an international executive and each country has an elected board or committee to manage memberships (including interviews for new applicants), determine membership fees, organize social events, and support various peace related activities.

Servas is owned by an accredited non-governmental organization and has been affiliated with the United Nations since 1973. SICOGA 2022 was organized by Servas International at the Asia Plateau, Panchgani in Maharashtra, India from 22 to 28 November. Servas follows the motto: Traveling for Peace while breaking down cultural barriers & prejudices.

More activities at SICOGA 2022

Flash mob against gender-based violence
Proposing Costa Rica to host SICOGA 2025

Local interviews in Hindi

Interview – Part 1
Interview – Part 2
Interview with Rafaela Mora

Related videos: travel & peace

Watch my talks below at a local university in Central America addressing the subject of peace in relation with culture & belief systems, and a TEDx presentation on the topic of travelling to foster friendship and bridge the divide in a world without strangers.

A Culture of Peace | Universidad Metropolitana Castro Carazo – UMCA, Costa Rica
How to travel the world at the drop of a hat | TEDxSOAUniversity, India

Author: boi

Hi, I am a storyteller; I tell real stories about real people to fictitious characters!

4 thoughts

  1. I?ve been exploring for a little for any high quality articles or blog posts on this sort of area . Exploring in Yahoo I finally stumbled upon this site. Studying this information So i?m happy to show that I have an incredibly just right uncanny feeling I came upon just what I needed. I so much undoubtedly will make certain to do not overlook this website and provides it a look regularly.

    Like

  2. The following time I learn a weblog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me. I imply, you have something attention-grabbing to say.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.