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The man who facing you.
My name is Gabor Csonka. I am 49 and come from Budapest, the capital of Hungary. In the last 14 years I have traveled extensively (155 countries) and completely independently on as low a budget as possible, motivated to discover the real world and its peoples as long as possible.
I planned my journey with a very small budget so that I was forced to face and overcome far more difficulties than the average traveller. I wanted to seek new challenges and resolve them with the assistance of the people I met. Independent, because I have no fixed plan other than to visit some area or culture, allowing the countryside to reveal itself and friendly people to give me a deeper insight into local life and customs. This wandering has taken me across 5 continents and 155 countries.
My favorite place to travel is Asia, but not because I have a degree from a Buddhist University (studying philosophy, religions, art and culture of the East). My instinct attracted me to this continent where I have found that the ordinary people smile more, and are more understanding and trusting than in Europe. For those who have traveled extensively in Asia I may have nothing new to say, but for those who are keen to learn about real life on this wonderful continent, I aim to share my experiences through my writings (mainly in Hungarian and some in English), and my photographs.
I arrange slide- shows for the public to tell them about the countries I have visited, and organize exhibitions for my photographs. This is my mission – to show the land and people as they really are. Most people have a preconception about Asia based mainly on media reports or travel programmes, which feature principally the main tourist attractions, and perhaps a little geography learnt at school. They have little real knowledge or understanding of the people or their rich culture.
And how do I? I am fortunate to have studied cultural anthropology, so I know that the manner in which one arrives at a place can influence how one is received by the local people e.g. to arrive as a typical tourist or as a strange (unusual) man. To reach by bicycle a village over 2000 meters high, or by walking deep into the jungle, brings changes to the local peoples preconceptions. I eat with them, sleep with them and then we can start communicating openly without masks. Sometimes I am the first white man they have seen so I let them know more about us.
Of course travel without a sponsor is difficult but I have a strong desire to discover lands, lives, cultures, so I do so in my own way. When I have to fill in questionnaires I just write as my occupation: traveler. To be truthful I have done so many things in my life I can’t mention all. In Hungary I had a regular radio programme reporting about interesting people, thoughts, arts, traditions etc. I was editor of a journal, editing and writing books, organizing exhibitions and many other things.
Travelling and Buddhism, what is the connection? According to the wise people: to accept new things (thoughts) you should put away the old ones, or „give away everything and follow me” (as Jesus taught). By giving up the secure life you can achieve (attain) a kind of emptiness. Let things work on us, not knowing where we will sleep that day, what we will eat, or whom we will meet. As the Buddhist monks do. Through this kind of emptiness could come everything. The void (emptiness) would be filled with everything (life, experience). And everyone could do it virtually, through my writings and my photos
Gabor Csonka, Vandorboy
Many people say that I am bit different. But I do think just because someone travels a lot, has been to many places does not make him exciting. This curiosity might be the result of a series of inner happenings (stories). But it is a fact that behind many external happenings great inner ones take place. Also inside me, even though it does not seem to be, even though in some cases I can not explain it, when it is asked. They are just stick to me as the road dust. Once I read a saying ‘what we get at school is knowledge what during travel is wisdom’.
Yes, travel is a catalyst, a reagant which recalls into our soul projected essence of events through the experiences…???— We carry on something from the prints of golden age. I believe in this, I am searching for this. Gods answer is in all of us. This is our fortune. Life is within us. – cited from Weöres.
But the question is if we are in search of something? Are we in question? Are we interested in who we are, who we are standing against? If not, than there is nothing to search for, just float from colonial buildings to inca ruins.
If you have the desire for self knowledge then the cities of sipan culture or a gothic church, a crowded bus or your partner; all will be a mirror of self reflextion. Recalls, puts together, understands something with us, inside us. The outside happening will be already inside us. But of course this a longer process just as any inner journey. During many drifts, somersaults (as we say nowadays ‘we do not have time for it’) we forget to take care for understanding ourselves.
As the meditation itself, watching ourselves is always painful as facing ourselves does need patience and time which occupies us. You have to be there. Not just quite, as we know there is no half (understanding) conversion. Only full turn. If only we are willing to follow an (inner) path. Our path.
Trial, pleasure, many disappointments, discovery are also added into the net of events which are shaked down during the long bus journey. The things get to their right place inside us. We get a step closer to ourselves. All events guide us to ourselves (just if we are vigilant) so we not necessary need to travel. If we do why not we use it as our inner journey? Then it can be anything: ruins, church, rafting.
If we realise that what we do is wrong-amidst change-we have the opportunity to move on, much easier compared to someone who is willing to get to a different (life) situation from a static one. And if what we do (how we do it) is good then not-to-change will be in the middle of our change.
So we will continue to travel in order to denude further layers of our masks. So we meet and find ourselves. We have never lost ourselves as the fate, God, so the answer is inside us. Always. Found. Realization. (Enlightment) Who ever wakes early will enjoy its fruit for long time.
So if we are travelling it shouldn’t be a rush if possible. You may do it for a while but after a month you will get tired of it. But it also may not be idlness as you could have stayed at home. Here we can follow Buddha’s journey if we take center as a base. We look and see so we admit beyond things and also past ourselves, our ego, our mask so we know the coin has two sides. The best thing to do is to watch ourselves as we are after our reactions exceeding our comfort zone. Being on road makes it possible. So the travel offers many opportunities to exit our every day lives. This is what this is all about the rest is just the icing on the cake. Of course this is quite good but why not we go deeper? There are so many situations, let’s turn them to your side strengthen yourself from it!
So the question comes up what about those who are always on road? How they exit the every day travel? The zen buddhist answer would be: the journey itself. As I said before it is possible to eat also to gobble; to look or to see. The main thing is how we do it. It is possible to travel in many ways. This is how I do it.
For those who travel contstantly coming home may be the exit. This can be painful and shocking which makes them to set sail again. The time has not come just yet to turn back. This is what happened to me the time has not arrived yet to come home. So to say this is not that time yet. And one day the time will come. How could we be in Heavan if we have not lived in Hell yet? How could it be good if it has not been bad yet? How could it be easy if it has not been hard yet? (idézetet nem találtam angolul – szabadfordításnak nincs érteleme)
As I wrote earlier travel is not necessary locomotion. It is possible this way. For the wise ones. I still have a long journey ahead me. So this is my point about travel. Does it seem to be a bit controversial, doesn’t it?
What is it to travel?
To see the cross of South? To climb 6.000m high or to marvel a sunset from 10.000m over the clouds? This landscape is not just a map for me rather then where I live where I used to live where I belong what made it possible for me to live. Thank you.
To live with the people’s altruism, the children’s openness, the old one’s peaceful wisdom; to face the unexpected turns from which a new life has just begun. To let it happen. Just to be.
To fly a condor, to surprinsingly see a whale, to see a red panda intimidated as it glimpses me. Termite castle, continuous flow of millions of birds, toddling of penguins, the tranquility of a koala, kangaroo’s pouch with a joey, these are all such experiences which will never leave us. Harmony.
3 I feel myself small in a crater of a vulcano, step into the underworld through the cracking sulfur gases or floating in the volcano’s marsh and feel the endless depth under me, to fly from a summit into the heaven in thought and talk to God. Forever and ever.
To feel being nothing beside an erupting vulcano also during an earth quake the power of Earth Mother. To enjoy the blessing which shows up in a form of mulberry or raspberry bush during hitchhiking. Real world.
I feel touched (and my eyes get wet) when the old poor lady comes and shares her crops with me when she sees me hitchhiking on the outskirts of the village. She shares with me her happiness that the nature had blessed her with fruits. Blessing. Blessing.
Or to experience the Transylvanian mountain shepard’s joy to be able to give me place for the night and the next morning he plays on his giant horn from the opposite mountain and offers me ’hominy’ (traditional Transylvanian food) for breakfast. Even though he is much poorer then I am. But not in respect of global competence. He’s got the ladder. Does not expect anything in return. He knows that to give and help is joy. He gives: live situation, shelter, love. These kind of experiences can not be expressed in monetary terms, can not be bought as a tourist.
What I can give him in return is a couple of stories of mine to step out from his own world to the world; tune or taste. Or just to be with him for him. But he does not except it. The things are still pure.
I will never forget whenever you will be picked up in Asia as a hitchhiker, he will stop by each and every house to introduce you proudly to all of his friends and relatives as naturally we are the most special guests in his homevillage. Might be the only one in hundreds of years. He has half of the village on his doorstep, children are looking through the window to be able to see the newcomer.
It energizes me during travel if I can experience that the selfness devotion, helpfullness still exist in the developed societies and not just in words. When a complete stranger offers his house spontaneous to stay at in an absolute hopeless situation not to soak in the rain during the night. These are all eternal experiences and might be eternal linkages. To the world. You are at home in the world. It probably would take pages to enumerate all that kindness, help what I get from strangers constantly. I can not be ever so grateful for you/them even anonymously to help/helped me out.
When hitchhiking, people often invite me into their home at the end of the journey and they are all interesting poeple with an exciting life. Be open; it can be anything. Let it come. Even a hitchhiker. This is what our past life is related to and strengthens our present life. Faith still exists and it does not worth to live without it. This is what we loose rapidly on our modern world. We have way too many pseudo existence around us. The new world mechanism places values instead of humanity. If someone gots the money, the position, this is the person to believe in. Yes, the world is changing, happy situations getting rarer but you know what until there is just two right person…
You are refilled with curiosity during travel, you just want to try new life situations. To step out from 4km height into nothing, texperience the narrowing and articulation of space at the same time, smell the space then return to the sphere of fragrances, while the parachute opens you just peacfully float.
Travel and disappear in the reality of a gigapolis when the ’it never ends-people are still living here’ feeling faces nothing (me) like a mythical monster while as in the empire of ants, everyone has its place in the impenetrable chaos.
Travel-stand in the middle of nothing, hope for the not happing future or rest in the silence of a village at the end of the world where time stands still. The calander turns back decades while my soul gets younger with years. To find eternity in the simple everyday life; is also part of the journey.
Travel-the auroral müezzin, hindu song or a buddhist mantra can stop time, tomorrow is today, yesterday is today and in this endless time the moment will be forever. I have lived it, I carry it.
Travel-give myself weeks, when I step out from the (dream) world and step into the reality, sometimes the other way around, when there is only inhalate in and out. Vipassana. There is no word, no contact. Meditation. There is no reality, only inspiration. The reality is not interpretable. So I can not write about it, only feel it. As anyone else. I feel it as anyone else. 6000m high or 20m deep, at the botton of the sea, on earth, in air or under the burning sun. The world is mine. It’s ours. Live for it so I can live for it. I can recognize it.
To be the biggest as being the smallest, but as the strongest not abuse the power-this is the secret of greatness says Lao Ce. The nature knows this. And some people. Even though they have never left their village. To be in the backwash but not be drifted away but to see the swirl from a distance. To eat but not to be or to be be but not to eat-this is the only difference? To drifit or to be drifted away.
Travel-to walk 60 km up and down the hill, there and back for weeks. To climb into the depth or hight from where there is return. Not to sleep for days, travel 10-20 hours on a crowded vehichle. These are all crossing the limits. Ours.
Travel-to be cold and soak, not to know where to sleep that night. Or to parch in 40 degrees, hopelessly hitchhike in the hot wind but spiritually it is really difficult to hitchhike for hours on the busy road as nowadays society is even rigider then any form of nature. To know how it is when there is no air, no food or water around me; these are all pushing my boundaries. I am slowly oultined so the circle is closed. But I guess this cirle was not drawn with a callipers.
Travel-to see a crocodile jumping right in front of me, meet an elephant in a narrow path, sleep with hundreds of mosquitos, take a rest close to ants, be among annoying flies as they are flying into our eyes and throat, wrestle with a mess of sand flies who are not prevaricate as the mosquitos, they bite straight away. These are all trials of ourselves. Of course an aggressor or a drug-addict is not any better but you can meet them anywhere do not need to go far.
Travel-to know how it is to be driven away by militants, be locked down, experience it how people die a not peaceful death around you or be threatened with a knife or just be hit spontaneously. Because you are there, there and then. Since people returned from the Gulag, I believe my world is round. Anything can happen. I am burnishing, embossing but I might have hidden everything in this 34 years what others just piling up until the end of their lifes. I have them, I know where to keep them. Even though I feel I am saturated and I feel I can lock it. The rest is left for destiny. I am here for it.
Life was given as a gift.
Csonka Gábor vagyok, immáron 49 évem elszelelt, s az utóbbi 22 év alatt már úgynevezett „independent low budget traveller”-ként (kvázi szegény független vándorként) járom a világot és Európát. Ez „csupán” annyit jelent, hogy nem hagyományos értelemben vett turistakent utazom,
A világvándor filozófiájáról pár szóban, aki 138 országon keresztül stoppolt11 éven keresztül.
1- Röviden itt: ARS POETICA, avagy kivel ül szemben.
2 – Buddhizmus és utazás. Interjú velem
3 – Kanapészörfön így nézek ki
4 – Hivatalosabb verzióban az önéletrajzom
5 – Rádióműsorokban meghallgathatsz
6 – Cikkek, amiket írtam, vagy rólam írtak