A friend of mine, who is a footloose person, like Kalelkar, asked me, “ where should I travel so that it is the best place?” He is very much fond of travel. As soon as he gets some leisure time or gathers enough money, he sets out on a journey. In case otherwise, he rides his bicycle on Sunday to visit surrounding places, but he never stays at home, relaxing. He has travelled whole of India in all four directions. He does not have enough funds to visit foreign countries, otherwise he is prepared for it. Now, he visits the places twice or thrice. He has converted the call given by Subhashchandra Bose, “Chalo Delhi” to “Chalo Gumava”.
He asked the above question to the person, who himself very rarely goes out on travel.
He said, “Ah! I have travelled right from the Himalayas to Kanyakumari and from Kutch to Assam. I have enjoyed the culture and the nature there. I really enjoyed them. Still, I want to visit some place, which is more beautiful and enjoyable. Do you know any such place?”
I answered, “Are you prepared to sit for going on a journey?” He stared at me and said, “What do you mean by sitting for going on a journey? Sitting in a train or a bus?”
“None of them. Sitting at home.”
He thought of me going mad. If somebody sits at home, the question of travelling does not arise. He stared at me with a question in his eyes.
Smilingly I said, “The answer to your question can be given only by Daag Hammarskjold.”
“About sitting at home?”
“No, setting out on a wonderful journey.”
He got excited, “Who is this Daag Hammarskjold? Is he a world traveller? Is he a tourism minister or a travel agent or a person , fond of travelling like myself?”
I laughed. “C was none of them. Though he has travelled a lot, he is not a world traveller. He was the Secretary General of UNO”
He said with frustration, “You seem to be talking about politics.”
“No, I am not talking about politics. I want to talk to you about an enjoyable journey, which you want to undertake. Promises to talk about the journey that is not only enjoyable, but is the longest also.”
The friend got excited again, “Wonderful! But then, what does it cost?”
“Nothing in money.”
“Is it really so? An enjoyable and the longest journey without any expenses?”
“Then you better tell me about it immediately.”
I gave him the statement made by Hammarskjold, “The longest journey is the journey within.”
“Oh, now you are talking about religious topic.”
“But it is about journey.”
Even if you take out humour from this dialogue, the statement is worth attention. He says that you may travel around the world, not only once, but many times, reach the remotest corners, they are all shorter than the journey within.
The characteristic of a visit of any place is that it has to end somewhere. You can never cross the boundary of the earth. Also, the earth is round. So, go on travelling in a straight line however far, you reach the place from where you started. So, every journey has an end.
But, the inner journey is endless.
First, you need to have proper perception of inner journey. You have to travel within “Yourself”. It is not real, it is spiritual. You need not go anywhere in this journey, but you have to get settled in your “inner self” here. That is why we talked about sitting.
What do you mean by “in your inner self”?
It means that you are going towards your conscience, which is inside yourself only and not anywhere outside.
How does one undertake this journey?
By observing oneself.
Why is this journey the longest? Conscience is one’s own existence. Where is the question of it being distant?
In fact, it is not distant, but the position in which the person is at present, makes it so. Many hurdles have to be crossed to reach there.
You have to understand it properly.
To begin with, we think about the path of our journey. There are four stations on this path. First is the body, then mind, then intellect, and lastly the conscience.
How are we going to travel? We travel by self-observation. There is no need to ride any vehicle. You can sit wherever you like. It is enough that you sit comfortably.
First of all, you have to observe your “Body”. You have to observe all the organs, each and every nook and corner of your body. You have to consciously experience their processes. As you go on doing this, you will come to know the structure, functions and the beauty of your body. You will realise how wonderful body you are gifted and how beautiful each organ is!
When you consciously observe your body, you will realise that the body itself is lifeless. It cannot function by itself. It is only a “vehicle”. The reign is in the hands of a driver. Your observation will tell you that the driver is “the mind”. The body obeys the mind’s commands.
Now, you start the second lag of your journey. In that you will observe your mind.
As you go deep into your observation, you will realise that there is no independent entity called “the mind”. The mind is the virtual sum-total of thousands of thoughts, imaginations, and perceptions. Continuous thoughts prove the existence of the mind.
So, now you really observe these thoughts and perceptions. Then you realise that the most of them are unnecessary and meaningless. They are trespassers from outside and give rise to chaos. The thoughts are uninvited guests. One accepts them as true and their own, by mistake. That results in many problems, which are called “Politics in day-to-day life”. The body suffers as a result of these problems.
Once you understand this mind being virtual, you will be able to go further in your observation Now, it will enter the intellect. The intellect takes decisions based on these perceptions, but it can take decisions independently, if it is aware and wishes to do so. Acute observation will show you the futileness of your mind and will teach you to take right decisions, using your intellect Observation will make your intellect clear, clean and healthy. It will make it mature.
When this acute observation of the intellect is undertaken, you will realise that this decision-power of the intellect is not it’s own. It is really the power of the conscience. The intellect is like the moon. It shines only as reflection of light from the Sun in the form of the conscience. Thus, the conscience is the basic thing.
Thus, the last thing to be observed will be the conscience. It is sourceless. Its light is as powerful as that from the thousands of Suns. It is free from thoughts perceptions and decisions. It is pure.
As your observation becomes deep, you will have an altogether new experience. The observation and the observer both will get absorbed in the conscience. The conscience will spread wide. Both will become unimportant and suddenly a moment will come when both will disappear. Only the conscience will remain.
The journey will end here. At that time, you will realise that there are no four different things like the body, the mind, the intellect and the conscience. Only the conscience exists. There are thousands of places on the earth, but ultimately they all are the earth only. They are parts of the earth. In the same way, these three seem to be different, but are parts of the same conscience. The conscience reveals itself in three different forms.
The conscience is itself a formless existence. It takes the form of the intellect, when it wants to think. It takes the form of the mind, when it wants to imagine. Based on these two, it takes the form of the body, when it wants to perform any physical deeds. The body is the visible vehicle of the conscience and the other two are invisible vehicles. But, all three are the parts of the conscience.
Imagine visiting thousands of earths universes, Himalayas, oceans, and think of the joy you experience. The joy at the moment you touch the conscience is many more times than the former and will last for ever.
A person experiences the fulfilment at the end of the journey.
We feel this journey is extremely long, because it is very difficult to be objective towards the body, the mind and the intellect. It is very difficult to make them free from indulgences and jealousies. The journey is not tough, but it is difficult. Once you learn to see the perceptions objectively with awareness, the progress of the journey becomes faster, and then perhaps ,you may reach the end of it suddenly. The speed of the journey depends on “Aware witnessing’. Fast completion of the journey depends on the acuteness of this aware witnessing. In fact the journey is neither long nor short. If the longing is acute, it is fast and if the longing is confused, it is very long.
That is why the Upanishads preach, “Tad doore, tad vantike”.It means, it is far but it is near.
What is the result of undertaking this journey?
The answer is given by Saint Kabir. There are two results according to him. The first is you will experience the divine light and sweet music. The second is if this journey is completed then you feel the joy of journey of the whole universe.
So, run. The season to travel is already there, here and now. The price, “Acute longing to undertake it.”
- Translated by : Susmita Vaishnav, Ahmedabad