2002 Expedtion Story
To My Dear Friends
To visit the album of images from around the world CLICK HERE and follow my travels in the story below!
To visit the album of images from around the world CLICK HERE and follow my travels in the story below!
The 2002 Expedition Around the World by John Ryder, Ph.D.
Well returning to NYC is a bit shocking after traveling on my own for three months around the world. Yes, it was a fantastic trip visiting over 30 different places on our beautiful earth. Below I offer you a very brief summary of the highlights of my experience and the status of the world as I found it.
It was my intention for this journey to be a sabbatical, or a working vacation, reading and writing. It was also my desire to renew my pioneering spirit and explore parts of the world that I haven't seen yet. I know that, many times, I have suggested to others to take certain calculated risks and make significant changes in their lives when the right occasion arrives; well I took my own advice and did just that. This was a special opportunity for me to shift my focus and take some time for my self, something we all need to do. Being alone for such a long time is not easy and presented many interesting challenges however, it was equally an empowering experience that promoted a new kind of growth and awareness about oneself and what one needs.
My journey began in Paris, which really deserves the reputation of being the most beautiful city in the world. Paris has everything one would want, but it is packaged in the timeless charm of the renaissance with all the modern flair of NYC. Then I flew to Ibiza, a marvelous island in the Spanish Mediterranean. It is famous for being the hang out for the rich and famous for good reasons. Isolated, picturesque, with great food and all the modern conveniences; it also had incredible gigantic nightclubs. That seemed to be the winning combination for all the "hot spots" as I traveled through Europe. What was strange to me was the music most people were listening to, it was the Techno-House music with everyone sort of dancing by themselves or in large groups. I must confess, I do miss the old disco days and dancing in pairs. My journey then took me to Barcelona which was a very impressive city as well. The architecture there is dominated by the work of Gaudi, someone many years ahead of his time.
My travels went through the French Riviera. My favorite hamlet was the port town of St. Tropez, known as the pearl of the Mediterranean because it does sparkle with charm, class, history and romance. Cannes and Nice were also very special places to rest along the deep blue sea. When I finally arrived in Rome, I felt like I was actually traveling further back in time from the medieval villages along the coast to the classical roman times. The presence of ancient history seemed to explain the very high modern class parked next to it. Rome and Italy are certainly one of the birth places of passion and romanticism which was present every where competing with the imposing presence of the church. I wondered what would have happened with out one or the other? The next stop was Greece, where I spent some quality time on the island of Mykonos surround by beautiful clear water and filled with adventure seekers from all over the world. Time was stretched even further back by the ancient ruins on the island of Thylos, a place that feeds the imagination to see oneself parading in a long white tunic past marble columns of the temples filling a large city. Athens was also able to recreate an ancient era of kings, queens and philosophers looking down with delight from the Acropolis at their city and empire stretching out to the sea below.
The next stop was in Dubai, in the Arabian subcontinent. There I tried smoking a Shesha pipe with some local Arabs and took a very hot bath in the Gulf of Arabia, the water temperature was 96degrees! Then I flew to New Delhi, India where my adventures really started. India is the land of extreme contrasts and paradoxes. It was not the crowding or poverty but, the way everything still kept working despite the apparent chaos. There was a deep spirituality everywhere I looked, people expressing their reverence for what others might consider punishment. I flew up to Lahdak in the Himalayas where the valley was sitting more than twelve thousand feet above the sea level and sharp, jagged, rocky peaks stretched another ten thousand feet more into the very, very thin air. It was awesome! I met a number of very kind Tibetans living in exile there who helped me meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama at a private reception for him at his palace in the mountains. He is a very nice guy. The people, revere him as the head of the religion, government, and the enlightened leader of Buddhism which makes him a very busy fellow. He gave me his blessings for our Unity Logo for the 21st Century for promoting peace and prosperity through cooperation; hope his support helps us.
While there, I let my adventuring spirit propel me up one of those steep mountains to a peak just shy of nineteen thousand feet high. The views and excitement are difficult to explain but, I do better understand the compulsion many mountain climbers have to keep finding more difficult place to climb. There is a form of communion one must make with the mountain they are climbing, it is more than just a sense of respect for the inherent dangers, it is a new sense of exhilaration, inspiration and peace all rolled into one feeling that makes such a hike really worth while.
The next adventure was a jeep ride I took across four mountain passes from eighteen thousand feet high to just ten thousand feet. We kept going back and forth up and down what would be called an overused single lane mountain road holding on for dear life while the driver tried to keep at least three wheels on the ground. It was like a amusement ride for seventeen hours non-stop! Eventually I arrived in Dharmsala where the Dalai Lama lives and had the opportunity to meet him briefly a second time there. Although I was directed to several monks who were Tibetan scholars with whom I enjoyed deep discussions about philosophy, psychology, religion and our future. There were many westerners in this town studying Buddhism or just enjoying good cheap food and spectacular views of the mountains and valleys surrounding us. There were plenty of monkeys to entertain you also if other things bored you.
Then the journey took me to Rishikesh on the Ganges River. This was a town of ashrams, too many to count, just hundreds of pilgrims coming to study, pray, get blessings, and bathe in the river. The Ganges is almost as big as the Hudson River but much faster and is known to swallow people by its powerful currents. While I was there I studied with several swamis and gurus. The most interesting course I took was about Tantric Yoga. I was initiated into the mysteries of transforming sexual energy and learning to move it up through one's body a process called raising the kundalini up through the seven chakras. This art takes a long time to master but, the rewards are present from the very beginning of practice, with the biggest ones at the end. I was convinced by the teachers I encountered that there are many things they teach which are very difficult to understand or perform for a westerner because they are the result of years of disciplined practice and not that they are eastern in origin. This actually made many of the eastern concepts that I have studied easier to understand. It also follows my concept of doing things deliberately until they are finally deeply encoded into the brain's hard wiring. Practice, practice and more practice; a simple and very powerful program for anyone to follow.
This journey kept forcing me to confront the extreme polarities or strange paradoxes in our world and life that we often must try to accept, although it may not be always possible and seldom easy. The tragic poverty in contrast to the unjust wealth, the strength of some and weakness or illness of others, the universe is full of conflicts. It can be very happy or terribly sad. This is the world I observed traveling, it is also a reflection of the people I encounter here in NYC as well as around the world. I saw the tears of mothers who did not have enough food to feed their children and I felt the earth cry because of the abuse or neglect of its ecology. I was also impressed by the profound beauty and awesome stature of what the forces of nature sculptured in our earth as well as the incredible, inspiring, fantastic things that we have built upon this planet during the past ten thousand years of civilization.
I would like to report to you that the world is in great health, prospering, and very happy, however, I must confess that this good stuff was usually struggling to surface despite the often harsh realities and painful problems that many people face. The troubles we encounter in our life in NYC, are found everywhere in the world, often in greater intensity and with fewer resources to alleviate those problems. So what was remarkable, to me, was the amazing degree to which people were able to accept their challenges and find a way to live despite the difficulties. I attribute their ability to adapt successfully to the spiritual perspectives each group of people embraced. As I traveled across Europe, the Middle East and Asia, I was struck by the enormous differences that I encountered there. It was not just the way things looked but, the effect the religion or philosophy had on the way people would think and live. Truly fascinating!
One of the most wonderful countries I visited was Thailand. It is a perfect blend of Asian and Western culture. There are parts that have not changed for ages and yet there were all the modern conveniences. Most of all, the "energy" in Thailand was great; civilized, free, easygoing and very friendly. I attribute it to the fact that 98% of the Thais are followers of Buddhism and truly respect the five simple laws he espoused. It gives credence to the law that says simpler is better. I must add that the palaces and temples to Buddha in Bangkok were magnificent easily compared to the Vatican. There are thousands of islands, large and small floating in very warm light green waters that surround Thailand. There are countless places to rest and enjoy the surf and fresh seafood.
The next step of my travels took me to Korea, where I got to know Seoul. It is a very busy city with so much business that it easily rivals NYC. It is also contains a westernized form of the ancient Asia where historical pagodas proudly stand next to towering skyscrapers. There I met a Moudan who is a Buddhist shaman; she gave me a very interesting "reading" that will encourage me to continue working diligently on my books. Otherwise she offered interesting insights about how she "sees" the other dimension from where she gets her information. The next city was Los Angeles. I stayed in Hollywood where I had fun meeting with my friends who live out there. It was also a way to slowly get my biological clock to move back to where it belongs.
Another issue that I had to face was that people everywhere seem to accept the most difficult circumstances even if they do not have to. For example, we, in New York, really have to put up with the many difficulties, expenses, troubles, etc. I wonder why with all the wealth and resources in NYC it continues to be more expensive and difficult for people to live in this city? New Yorkers are the world's greatest experts at putting up with pressure, chaos, tension, the-cost-of-living, crowding, noise, and yet most people say they still love this city - 'go figure'? Well, at least we are free to travel and live where ever we chose to. To confess, I am still impressed with the Big Apple for all that it offers but, this trip has made it much more important to me to escape this place more often than I had before and visit the rest of the world. And I highly recommend such a journey for anyone ready to escape the routines and explore the amazing people and places around this world. If you do it on your own, independently like I have, the experience becomes even more potent and important as you confront who YOU really are and what YOU really want.
This journey afforded me the time to meet many outstanding individuals who were an inspiration and opened entire new vistas in my own horizons. I asked many questions and studied with the swamis, gurus, monks, teachers, yogis, lamas and the countless people I met during my expedition. I have returned to New York with renewed energy, ideas and more passion to share with all those I meet. I intend to spend most of my time writing but will be available for meeting you on Wednesdays and Fridays at my old office. So allow me to pass along the blessings from HH the Dalai Lama and so many other kind souls I encountered.
Stay in touch! I really enjoyed reading your emails and look forward to getting your reflections or questions in the future! Now you can still catch me at the office 212 686-5758 till we meet, all the best! John Ryder, Ph.D.
Email me at: DrJRyder@aol.com
Dr Ryder in Roma
This is St. Tropez on the French Riviera
Nice and Cannes look like this... very nice!
The Vatican in Rome on a sunny day
A Greek Temple from 2500 BC
The Parthenon of the Acropolis in Athens
The Mountains of the Himalayas
The peaks are between 12 and 28 thousand feet high!
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
Very nice guy
The Holy Ganges River in Rishikesh India
Thailand is the ultimate home of Buddhism
The Exotic Island of Koh Sumui Thailand
Ancient Pagoda in Korea
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