"Often I feel I go to some distant region of the world to be reminded of who I really am. There is no mystery about why this should be so. Stripped of your ordinary surroundings, your friends, your daily routines, your refrigerator full of your food, your closet full of your clothes -- with all this taken away, you are forced into direct experience. Such direct experience inevitably makes you aware of who it is that is having the experience. That's not always comfortable, but it is always invigorating.
I eventually realized that direct experience is the most valuable experience I can have. Western man is so surrounded by ideas, so bombarded with opinions, concepts, and information structures of all sorts, that is becomes difficult to experience anything without the intervening filter of these structures. And the natural world -- our traditional source of direct insights -- is rapidly disappearing. Modern city-dwellers cannot even see the stars at night. This humbling reminder of man's place in the greater scheme of things, which human beings formerly saw once every twenty-four hours, is denied to them. It's no wonder that people lose their bearings, that they lose track of who they really are, and what their lives are really about." -- Michael Crichton, Travels (via Rolf Potts' Vagabonding blog)
I'll have my review of Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality by Anthony De Mello online at 800-CEO-READ this coming Monday. De Mello thoroughly emphasizes direct experience. And I can attest to the virtues of travel (which just returning from my own yesterday) for stripping ourselves of extraneous layers and reclaiming our authentic selves.