The World Is Inside You

“You are not in this world. This world is inside you.” – Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

I had a serious case of travel lust after chancing upon the concept of location independent living. It sounded like the life of my dreams! All at once I fell in love with the idea of living anywhere in the world while working on an online business.

When I suggested this to the Boyfriend, he said “You can’t run from yourself. The world is inside you.” I pouted for a while, then went off to ponder what on earth he was talking about.

The world is inside…

… a grain of rice

Chinese artist Shi Feng carved the entire 180 characters of a Tang Dynasty poem on a single grain of rice. You need a microscope just to read it, let alone write it. If he can write a poem on a grain of rice, how much could we do with the space we inhabit?

… an English village

Jane Austen, my favourite childhood author, was amazing in her ability to study human nature in minute detail. She wrote insightful volumes without leaving her small village. I am humbly reminded that I have set foot on more continents than she ever did, yet I’ve come nowhereΒ  close to her wisdom.

… and the world is inside you

We can travel the world, dive the ocean deeps, and climb the highest mountains. But we may be better off exploring the depths of our soul and chasing the heights of our ambition. And we can do that right where we are.

And so my travel lust was cured, with a little help from a friend.

“Bloom where you are planted and sow where you are fed.” – Stella Payton

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64 replies on “The World Is Inside You”

This article has made me to think deeply about myself and my ambition to travel and know the world. Do I know everything about myself? May be if I understand myself I will be able to understand the world better than I do now. This tells me that evrything begins and ends in me.

Lizwi, welcome! And thank you for leaving a comment. You’re right that a lot begins and ends with us. It’s also true, I think, that knowing ourselves helps us understand the world; and knowing the world helps us understand ourselves! So it’s fine to have ambitions to travel. I am grateful for your visit today.

Daphne that’s another post beautifully written.

I have found that for myself it helps to look both high and low, in and out, deep inside and on the surface, seek and ask for more – yet be happy with what I have and do not have. I have travelled quite a lot to know more about others and discover myself, I have also just stayed put and learnt more about what’s far away. Each time the experience and the knowledge is different. I do not know how to explain this better – but either way, we can and do learn.

BTW I loved Jane Austen too when I was a teenager. A few months ago I bought her complete works so that I may rediscover her again 2 decades down the road. Maybe rediscover my lost youth at the same time?

East meets West, wow you like Jane Austen too! That’s great. Yes do read all her books again. When I re-read a few after more than a decade, they were as good as new and I certainly appreciated the language and the wisdom much more as an older person.

You’re right that we can learn both from moving around and staying put. I think this is one of life’s great lessons – the experience is in us, not what is around us.

Robin, thanks! I’m sure I’ve looked in all the wrong places, searched all the wrong faces before. It’s good to find peace within ourselves.

Hi daphne,

This is a great thought although I am a true believer that traveling outside is as important as traveling inside – and a balance between the two is key to being whole. And when I say traveling outside – I mean looking outside – at others, going places, seeing the lives of the less fortunate and so on. I believe they are like yin and yang – like creating and consuming …

What do you think?

Maya, I love your use of yin and yang to explain travelling inside and outside! It’s a great way to balance both in a visually comprehensible way. I will remember this. Thanks!

Thanks for this post. The first time I noticed that “the world is in me” was when I started meditating. After doing it for a while, everyone around me started to seem calmer. I ended up asking my friends “have you been meditating?” But of course it was just my own newfound peace that I was projecting onto them.

Chris, that is an excellent example of the world being inside you! I love your story about projecting yourself onto the exterior world. So true, and another reason for me to get back to meditating. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

Hey Daphne, thanks so much for sharing such a lovely post (and lovely song!) Your post title that the world is inside you made me think that those who are looking to travel outside to ‘see the world’ might be too attached to the physical aspect of the world. I’m a very spiritual person and I agree that the world is inside of us – we just need to look within to see it. Thanks a lot for sharing the example of Jane Austen too – I never knew that she didn’t travel beyond her town! That’s an excellent example I can cite now when people try to use ‘experience’ to measure competence. Thank you!

Celes, I’m glad you like the song too. It was my favourite at one point. Yes travelling can be addictive if we’re attached to the physical world. On the other hand, seeing new places reveals us to ourselves and helps create us. As Diane said, there is nothing wrong with travelling per se.

As for experience and competence, there are people who have seen the world from their armchair, and people who have travelled the world but might as well have stayed in their armchair! πŸ˜‰

This post is beautiful and makes such a great point. We are the creators of our inner “world” and self exploration and growth can often be quite adventurous in itself!

I like Jennifer’s comment. When one becomes a source of happiness instead of trying to find it externally, that is a great accomplishment. πŸ™‚

Metaphysical Junkie, you’re right that the journey inwards can be adventurous and occasionally hazardous to our peace of mind when we find a place in us we don’t like! Jennifer made an excellent point about being a source of happiness.

Hi Daphne!

First of all, I love your new gravatar!!! Very cool!

Also, you should be live at my site no later than 10pm (California time) I am so excited and so honored!


Henie, you noticed the gravatar! Glad you like it – part of my endless redesigning of the site. Can’t wait to be on your site!

Daphne — What a great post. As Jane Austen is also one of my favorite authors, I loved your line, “I am humbly reminded that I have set foot on more continents than she did in English towns, yet her insights cast mine into shadow.” She created characters that have lived far beyond her existence. My favorite book is Persuasion!

Sara, wow a fellow Austen admirer! She really had a way with words but it’s her observations of human nature I find admirable. My favourite book is Emma!

@ Daphne – Very true. I think there was a substantial impact on us by living away from our family and what we knew. I think at the time though, we were moving for the wrong reasons. At this current juncture in our lives, I feel that if we moved, it would be for the right reasons and not necessarily wanting to “get away”.

Thanks for the feedback!

Hi Daphne. Well, Diane beat me to it with her comment. I was going to say the same thing. Although I don’t know you, the feeling I get from reading your blog is that you have an adventurous spirit. I can’t imagine you needing to run from yourself. But, while you are “home” you can find a lot of new places and nooks and crannies that you’ve never uncovered before. Walk down a different street. Shop in a different store. Have coffee in a coffee shop in a different neighbourhood. There are so many ways to “travel”. πŸ™‚

Davina, I’m flattered that you think I have an adventurous spirit. Your suggestions to check out nearby nooks and crannies is a good one – like many people I am a creature of routine and tend to hang out in the same spots. Time to discover my own backyard, as they say!

Daphne, I agree, what a beautiful post. I constantly try to escape myself but this post made me realize you just can’t.
That is amazing about the grain of rice. I will spend many hours pondering how the heck someone can do this….or would even attempt it!

Tina, thanks for your kind words. I agree with you that I can’t imagine ever wanting to carve on a grain of rice! Makes a blog seem like child’s play in comparison huh? πŸ˜‰

Really cool post! I’ve had the same sort of travel bug. My wife was bitten as well. Our solution was to move to SF from TX. Did it solve our problems? Absolutely not, BUT we did learn a lot about ourselves that year and infinitely grew and matured as young adults. I guess in a way, we ran to get away from ourselves, but ended up finding who we were in SF.

HIB, thanks for sharing about your wife and your move to TX. I’m sure the move was good for both of you in many ways. As Diane pointed out, there is nothing wrong with wanting and choosing to live in another place. Sometimes we see ourselves best ‘from a distance’, from literally a different place.

Hi Daphne,
The journey within … we can travel the world over – yet, if we have not traveled to the depths of our soul – where have we been? This post is just so powerfully affirming to what life has for me – right here, right now. Thank you, Daphne, for reminding me that there is much for me right here. While travels to far away lands is fun – travel to the far away locations within our being are even more important places to travel to…

Lance, “what life has for me – right here, right now” is a beautiful way of summarising what I wanted to say in this post. Thank you for understanding, as I knew you would!

I haven’ read all of your post….yet but why is it if a person wants to be a little adventurous and have an experience of living somewhere else for awhile or forever…to soak up a new culture…is it about running away..instantly…its about something in you is wrong????

I wonder about that….How about you, Daphne? Is it really because you need a bigger change? Want to experience a different surrounding? Just why does that have to eman you don’t bring all of who you are with you when you go? How do you know???? Really know? What it is for just you?
When someone questions your motivations instantly????

I’ll not read the rest for awhile…just because…its important to know yourself…call me crazy….Why have you thought about that for such along time???

Diane, your comment was really insightful. You’re right that it doesn’t instantly mean a person is running away. In my case I have nothing to run from except perhaps mild boredom from being in a comfort zone so long. I think I was running towards an idealised lifestyle more than anything.

Also a lot of people choose to work and live overseas and that doesn’t mean they’re running away either.

Travelling is not ruled out for me, not at all. I’m still planning long vacations this year. I just realise that living like a nomad is perhaps not my thing right now, or ever. I like having a home. Even if I have a home on each continent, each would still be a home.

I appreciate your questions, Diane. You made me think about why I accepted that comment so quickly – I think I saw the wisdom in “the world is inside you” and wasn’t very bothered by the “you can’t run from yourself” but because I didn’t feel I was running. The post was actually focused on the truth of the world inside us.

Thanks again for commenting. I love the way you made me think about this!

That graphic invites readers to explore inner worlds more vast than ever imagined. You can travel infinite distances within yoruself and make more discoveries than you would be able to count. You inpisre people to take a stpe back from conditioned impulses to rediscover their true sources of motivation. To move beyond ego brings you into otehr realms.

Liara, that graphic was powerful indeed in provoking thought. There are indeed realms within us, as your blog challenges people to discover.

Yes, I agree. You cannot escape yourself.

If one can bring themselves fully to the table of life, then travel would simply serve as a different backdrop for what is going on anyways inside.

Personally, I find differing backdrops highlight different parts of me, sometimes bringing forth inside places I have forgotten or have yet to discover.

Middle Way, ideally I would love to be in your situation – to have different homes to choose from depending on which part of me I want to experience. That’s a great way to live!

I’ve always loved the quote but seeing your photo with it is very powerful!

About travel my daughter works for the airlines so for the last 2 years we can fly free anywhere.

Mostly we go back to MI from Az where are kids and grandkids live.
Interesting isn’t it?

I agree travel has been glamorized. Also so many families have gone in debt to travel. My kids didn’t go on spring break because we didnt’ have the money.

There’s balance in everything…

Tess, I couldn’t believe I found that photo so quickly – it captured the essence of the verse didn’t it? Yes it’s interesting that when given a choice, most of us end up choosing family. I lived overseas for a while and ended up flying home twice a year instead of exploring more of that part of the world! So I fully understand your choices.

Hi Daphne

I think that in general, there is too much importance and glamour placed on travel. I think it is quite OK not to travel, not to have travelled and not to want to travel.

I have been to many places with my work and whenever I need to travel abroad my heart sinks. It certainly is no fun alone! When I do go and enjoy it, it will be with my boyfriend and not for too long.


Juliet, I actually enjoy travelling on my own for work. It’s nice to have so much time to myself at the airport, hotel, over dinner etc. I even enjoy going alone for holidays.

It’s not short-term travel I was craving, but travel as a lifestyle – to live in one place for 3 months then move to the next place… with no permanent home. It seems a great way to live, but then so is staying put in one place as Vered pointed out.

Thanks for sharing about your travels!

Hi Daphne

The journey is where ever you are. Your life is a journey, some days are more colorful than other, some days you run and other days you might walk. Then point is you are on the move. and watching the colorful scenery.
Life is long and you can travel as far as you want.
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than no action

Giovanna, you speak wise words. I like your analogy of some days we run and other days we walk. I’ll remember that next time I feel life is moving slowly.

Daphne, thanks for this. I sometimes feel less interesting or qualified to talk about certain subjects because unlike a lot of my friends, I haven’t traveled much.

I don’t think that a person has to see the world to become wise. It probably doesn’t hurt, but it’s not a prerequisite. An open mind and open eyes are better tools…

Sara, I can’t believe you feel less interesting or qualified than anyone in any way. I admire your blog a lot and look up to you as a successful blogger.

You’re very right that a person can become wise without seeing the world. You’re a shining example of that!

I have been struggling with this recently. I always thought I wanted to own a house in a beach community. This year I had an opportunity to spend a month in a beach resort development. Just today as I sat on the beach, bored out of my mind, I realized that I am no happier here than in my own beautiful house. I want to go home now! The grass is always greener somewhere else for me. I am just running from my own uninspired life and it just goes along with me! No matter where you go, there you are.

Hi Sandy, a warm welcome to this community. Your sharing helps me a lot. I knew in theory that even living in paradise can get boring, and your experience confirms that. It’s not where we are that makes the difference.

I love your phrase “No matter where you go, there you are.” Thanks again for your insightful comment.

It`s well said that the world is
in inside us. Whenever I feel like running away from everything around, I try to think of the peaceful sea nearby. It is a life worth living.

Hi Soumet, welcome! Wow, sounds like you live in paradise! I would feel that way if I had the sea nearby (well I do but it’s a 20 minute drive away so I can’t see it from my window). Thank you for commenting.

Hey Daphne! That pic is awesome. My view is very similar to the comments above me. After moving to another city, I have a better understanding of the fact that your inner world follows you. However I do want to travel the world, but now I know I wouldn’t be traveling to run from myself. Thanks for this post! It really got me thinking.

Broderick, I love that pic too. It’s one of the few I found quickly and just knew it was perfect. Our inner world does follow us – thanks for sharing that from your personal experience.

The idea of roaming the world is romantic, but I like better the idea of staying in the same place, in the same house, for many years and cultivating strong local friendships. Plus once you have kids, they have a way of making it clear that moving a lot would be hard on them.

Vered, you’re right. It was a romantic notion that swept me off my feet for a moment (well actually quite a few days) until I realised that I want a home base after all. The bonds that bind me here are strong and I know I would miss them enough to be miserable if I cut myself off. Trust you to have a sensible take on this!


Your words always takes the reader around the universe! This is splendid!

Fortunately, I have never run away from myself but what I love to do is run with myself, arms open wide and let the universe chase me around the sun, moon and stars! :~)

Your posts always carve deep spaces in my heart!

@ Henie, your comments touch me to the core.

I love the image of you running with yourself… and may I add for yourself and by yourself, but never from yourself. Thank you sincerely for this uplifting comment.

It is inside. What a thought provoking post. It doesn’t stop me from wanting to travel and see the world πŸ™‚ (I love traveling, but it’s not to run from myself.) However, the meaning here is still relevant. Are we looking on the outside for happiness? We’ll NEVER find it!

@Jennifer, I love what you said about “looking for happiness outside…we’ll never find it!”

I believe when we look within, it is to savor not to search! :~)

@ Jennifer, I still want to travel too! But I’ll take it in small doses, and come home to face my ‘real’ life here. Good point about never finding happiness in a place.

@ Henie, I love your phrase ‘to savour not to search’!

Daphne, your words ring true. We cannot run from ourselves. In my early 20s, just after graduating college I wanted to move…anywhere…I never did. I realized, thanks to the words of a friend, that I was running from my life, not necessarily to explore new land. My problems would have followed me. Wise words a friend said to you, words I still hold very near and dear.

That said, I still love to travel, and do enjoy wonderful vacations. Though my travel bug is not as frequent or obsessive. I used to travel to run, now I travel to explore and enrich.

This is a very thoughtful, insightful post. Have fun with your armchair travels!

Stacey, those were wise words indeed. I’m glad you didn’t move anywhere, just as I’m glad I’m staying put. I love to travel too, and do so frequently enough to keep me happy.

It sounded so romantic to have no permanent abode and move around with my home on my back. Yet this option is not for everyone and most of us do better with a permanent home base. Thanks for reading and leaving a thoughtful comment, Stacey.

What a beautiful post Daphne! You might not have written this on a grain of rice, but you were certainly able to capture my heart with a few paragraphs of a wordpress post. It may be bigger, but the task remains a tough one (capturing hearts). Thank you!

Jay, I’m deeply humbled that this little post could capture your heart. You are so sweet for saying so. Thank you for making this worth writing!

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