यही तो है हमदम, वो साथी, वो दिलबर, वो यार
मोहब्बत का दरिया अजूबा निराला, जो तैरा वो पाया कभी न किनारा
It is a privilege to be in good health — both emotional and physical. Proper bhakti and particularly meditation is very difficult when I’m sick or when my mind is agitated. A slight pain in the eyes is sufficient to spoil a meditation session 😦
Mind runs in all directions — it likes to imagine problems and solve them. Things that would probably never happen, it likes to imagine those and ultimately resulting in worry of some sort. I try to ‘watch’ the thoughts as they arise in my mind. Have you ever closely watched milk or tea boiling on a stove? Bubbles form so quickly that before you fix your eyes on one, the next one had already pushed it into the air and with a blup it vanishes. It happens so fast that you cannot see how a bubble forms and how it vanishes. If you record this phenomenon on a video and play it frame-by-frame at a much reduced speed, you’ll probably see what’s going on in the tea pot, how the bubbles form and vanish.
Mind is much like that tea pot continuously producing the bubbles of thoughts. I want to watch these bubbles as they form and eventually be able to stop and start their flow at will. Imagine, you are sitting in meditation and after a while your mind starts to feel bound and tries to escape, that is, it wants you to get up. You probably resist the initial few attempts of the mind. Unless you are highly focussed and attached to something within and are enjoying it, the disruptive thoughts keep raising their head. At some point you give in to such thoughts and you get up. Meditation session is over. This leaves you frustrated because you had set out to sit for a longer time than what you actually sat for! Now you slowly rewind the scene, and find out how did you exactly gave in to those thoughts that made you to get up? I need to find this out and fix the damn thing 😦
I feel it is necessary to have difficult times in one’s life. Taken in the right spirit, these times have a profound spiritual impact and serve as a vehicle to makes us better human beings. All my learnings about ethics, morals, virtues and so on get tested only in such times. Mind just likes to feel good about the bookish learning that it has gained about leading a virtuous life and about practicing the faculty of discrimination between good and bad etc. Difficult times serve as the testbed to try out this learning. I can safely say that there is huge difference in knowing the theory and in practicing it. It’s very difficult. I often think that Lord doesn’t have any other way to ensure that we are worthy of becoming Him except by trying us in His parameters (what are those?!). He is all in all, omnipotent. Now someone like me with so many weaknesses of flesh and mind, how would One ensure that I’m worthy? Looks like the algorithm defined for the likes of me is to: first impart the theoretical knowledge, then continue to throw at me the difficult situations until the theory has been transformed into wisdom. It is like we test a product in repeated QA test cycles to ensure that the product is worthy of the market. The higher the quality the more stringent tests it needs to pass. This often reminds me of a particular show on Discovery where they showed how the high end cars go through crash tests and so on. Until they are confident enough about the quality of car‘s safety devices to keep the passengers safe, they keep on crashing the car in tests! So the only way out for the poor car from the crash testing is: to PASS THE TEST!! Failure is not an option for a car that dreams of being the Safest Carrier.
Visiting a hospital can be a very humbling and eye-opening experience in many ways. In recent past I have been visiting hospitals for one reason or another. Recently I went to Fortis Mohali for some consultations regarding my mom’s condition. While we were waiting to see the doctor, I would notice the patients. Most patients were elderly men and women and few were young adults accompanied by thier respective attendants. May be this was just a conincident, in the elderly group, I saw more men accompanying their unwell wives (how did I know if they were a couple — I’ll write about it another time!) than the other way around on the days I was at the hospital. Those elderly men and women showed utmost care for thier unwell partners there. Most couples were not accompanied by any other family members. Some were on wheelchair with the other partner pushing it.
I was moved to see one particular couple: a lean sikh gentleman of about 70 was accompanying his wife. She appeared quite worried while he was comforting her by explaing some documents which appeared to be some diagnostic test reports. On thier turn he very gently took her hands and walked her into doctor’s cabin. We were the next to see that doctor.
Most couples of my parent’s generation that I know have given thier enire lives to raise and nurture the families, with wives holding the fort at home and the husbands at work. Driving back home after the hospital visit I kept thinking about the life in old age. I had mixed feelings. It was pleasantly touching to see some elderly partners care so lovingly for thier unwell spouse. In some cases I felt sad to see the elderly couples struggle alone to deal with the hospital running around.
Last Sunday dad, two of his friends and I went to listen to murshid‘s discourse. Weather in Punjab last weekend was unusually pleasant in mid May. We started early from home at about 4.00am. Drive from Ghanauli up till almost Jalandhar is a breeze these days. I like the road along the canal from Ropar till Balachaur. This small stretch of the highway is surrounded by green country side of Punjab. Early morning drive is amazing there! Dad’s “dollar” works at the Balachaur toll plaza, but the blokes at another toll plaza before Phagwara are a finicky lot and (rightly) refuse to recognize dad’s “dollar” — his now expired ID. Children don’t let him (mis)use his ID or anything that he ethically shouldn’t be using to have his way. This time opponents were in majority so they tried to exploit the “dollar” but the attempt failed when the toll plaza guy refused to accept that ID. However, the toll guy asked dad where we were headed — people often get influenced by dad’s persona, particularly his now all-grayed out mustache. Dad said we were going to Dera at Beas. Hearing this the toll guy said: “OK now this ID of your works because you are going to Dera”. I almost stopped the car and tried to pay the dues then and there. The elderly friend of dad then stopped me and said: “At the final day too it will be His Name that will let us through, why worry if He let us through this little toll thing?” I reluctantly moved on, but these words of the elderly gentleman kept lingering in my head. Being a responsible citizen I wanted to pay my dues. Invoking your Murshid‘s name for the most trivial of the things like this toll is almost criminal in my view! Nevertheless, I was thinking that ultimately it will again be His Word that will save me at the final day and not my own effort; at that moment too am I going to say: “No I want to pay all my karmic debts myself“? From the principle standpoint I’m not sure if the two situations — the toll and the final day — are much different.
Nevertheless, Lord’s Name is His Currency that is valid everywhere!
I’ve been living in a temporary home ever since I left my own home; first time when I went out for learning then afterwards whenever I moved to different jobs in different countries. I always knew that those were my temporary homes and one day I’ll go back to my own home. I never collected more than bare essential stuff in those temporary homes, and was never hesitant of leaving away the little I collected when moving to the next temporary home. I often missed my own home when in a land so foreign.
I still live in a temporary home, but I am closer to my own home than I was before and slowly moving towards it. Often the lyrics of American country artist Carrie Underwood’s “Temporary Home” come to my mind:
…This is my temporary home
It’s not where I belong.
Windows and rooms that I’m passin’ through.
This is just a stop, on the way to where I’m going.
I’m not afraid because I know this is my