||Aum Sri Ramakrishna Sharanam||||Aum Namo Narayanaya||
It has been an exhausting few weeks as the preparations and final touches to the Arise Awake Fun Run was put in place. By the grace of the divine, the event was a mammoth success and continues to improve and grow each year. It is delightful to note increased participation from families as well. Swami Vivekananda’s idea of developing the body as a means to a strong mind seems to gel well with the community... however, post the event I feel like a flotsam battered from the barrage of variables from the onerous task. The mind accedes to the body’s request for a little getaway to rejuvenate and settle itself.
It was therefore with a little envy that I attended a small gathering of devotees of the Tongaat Sabha who came together to say ‘bon voyage’ and extend their best wishes and blessings to Brother Soobrie who was embarking on the retreat of a lifetime to Mount Kailas. The sacrosanct mountain embellished at the foothills by Lake Manosarover has been glorified since time immemorial as the abode and earthly residence of Lord Shiva. As the well-wishers came forth one at a time, you could sense a yearning in their hearts to one day touch this hallowed ground themselves. The elegantly be-suited Soobrie seated at the front of the hall like an epergne, surfaced like a blessed buoy amongst the drowning devotees caught in the tidal wave of life.
|Mount Kailash -Pic courtesy Google Images|
It struck me at that time that although many of us may have a similar itinerary whilst boarding a plane, there is a distinctive difference in our goals. When we depart the aircraft at the destination, some are immediately separated as tourists and others as pilgrims. A pilgrim is on a sacred journey where God is encountered at every path of the journey and in all situations; whereas a tourist merely sees sights, discovers new places, learns interesting facts, takes photographs - returning home more or less the same, just a little educated about the place visited.
The pilgrim on the other hand embarks not on travel but on transformation of the inner being. The pilgrim will never return the same person. Through the arduous and difficult journey, the pilgrim will journey inwards to find the incredible storehouse of strength and power challenging his faith and identity along the way. He will return with deep impressions on his consciousness rather than impressions on his camera.
Without removing the grandeur and glory of the holy sites... we could consider our life to be an incipient pilgrimage. The physical world has its own laws, and by understanding these laws and exploiting them man has made tremendous progress age after age. Chemistry, physical science and other sciences have used Mother Nature to catalyse the revolution of mankind. In a similar manner, the spiritual world has its own set of laws. Therefore it becomes imperative that we understand these laws should we wish to advance our spiritual life. In dealing with a realm that is abstract, it is on the word and guidance of the seers that we travel. Man’s incessant obsession with joy in the physical world has been all but ephemeral.
The journey to the soul and the subsequent identification and connection with it is the ideal that has been the bedrock of our religion. The journey however is not without its fair share of obstacles and challenges as found on the trek to Mount Kailas. Being choked with an inadequate level of oxygen, and maimed by weakening muscle strength against the harsh inclines and rocky terrain puts the physical body through its paces against nature. The triumphant feeling at the summit immediately floods out any feeling of languor.
We are all potentially divine beings, and we are reminded of this fact all the time... but our journey to reach this divine force is thwarted and frothed with obstacles like jealousy, anger, hatred, falsehood and adharmic tendencies that chokes the mind and maims the heart.
Every person has the opportunity to reach the abode of Shiva from wherever they are. They simply need to face the challenges of the mind with tenacity and temerity and oxygenate themselves with love and faith in God. The road to the Himalayas begins with the first step... so too, the path to transformation and happiness starts with a simple commitment to find the self in the jungle of the world.
As millions around the world pack the miles in the hope to find that island of bliss amongst the land mass of the world... a little introspection will tell you that the abode of joy and absolute bliss is only moments away within you.
May we all endeavour to transform from tourist to pilgrims at some stage in our lives, is my fervent prayer.