Dr. Vijai S Shankar MD.PhD.
31st December 2008
“The moment is the journey”
A journey means a movement from one point to another. Journey is basically a movement, but the point to get to, which is the destination, becomes and is more important than the journey itself. Therefore, a journey could be small or big. A visit to the next room would be a journey, and who could deny this? Man nevertheless loves a journey, no matter how small it is.
There are many journeys that man makes. He is aware of some as a journey and oblivious to others. Everyday chores that man thinks he has to make are a journey, but do not appear so to him: he views them as a chore. So, any movement that excites the mind appears as a journey to man. A chore is not exciting to the mind and therefore does not appear as a journey to man, while it should; it is and will be, whether he likes it or not.
A journey can be exciting, disappointing or a little of both. It all depends on man’s acceptance or rejection of it, either partially or totally. He desires any journey that he undertakes to be exciting and prays and hopes that it will not be disappointing; he believes that it should not be either. Man believes that it is up to him to make the journey as he wants it to be, and that is exciting and exciting alone - never disappointing.
A journey could be an adventure of all sorts, a pilgrimage, a holiday or various types of expeditions. It could also be a sea-voyage for discovery or a visit to the discovered; a journey to space or the moon. Man does not undertake these journeys every day. It is occasional - either planned or a sudden happening. It carries with it surprises or pulses of the expected, and a desire for repetition lingers in the mind.
Everyday journeys include visits to the supermarket or the local market for food and drink. The journey to the place of work is also a journey one wishes for, but longs for retirement from it. The everyday journey to school from home by the parent for the child is often similar to an urgent evacuation from a disaster zone or an orderly military parade. Higher education is filled with excitement and a sense of adventure for those aspiring to it, but it is nevertheless a journey. There are many infrequent journeys that man makes, for example, to places of entertainment, the zoo, the ice-cream parlour, the shopping mall etc. Man makes a journey every moment as he is in movement in every moment. Every point is a journey and the destination as well. A small movement of the body, like a flicker of an eyelid, would be and is a journey.
Marriage to some is a long journey and for others it is short. This is one journey which may last until death or may not. How brief a marriage will be can never be predicted. The aftermath of divorce is yet another painful journey man has to make his way through. The preparations involved in making any journey, small or big, feasible and possible is a journey by itself.
Spiritual journeys are as varied as marriage ceremonies, with just one difference: sensationalism, which is the hallmark of any kind of spiritual journey, and hope for enlightenment or a promise of a meeting with God for eventual bliss. Sensationalism is merely a merry-go-round trip in the mind; it gets man nothing except old age, but never enlightenment. Sensationalism takes man on a journey to ‘la la land’, a make-believe land. Enlightenment cannot be got or achieved. Enlightenment is the realisation that the journey is the destination and not separate from it.
Marriage, on the other hand, is a gradual progression from hope of marital bliss to eventual disaster of divorce. Strewn in between are promises or hopes of happiness - the proverbial ‘give me another chance’. Marriage is a journey wherein, unlike other journeys, the raw mind, without any form of expected behaviour, gets exposed to scrutiny and enquiry. Marriage is a tremendous journey, which enables man to understand the illusory nature of the mind.
But what is the meaning of journey? It means an act of travelling from one place to another. The meaning is vague but not specific in terms of place or distance. A point anywhere in the universe would represent the starting place and, similarly, any point would once again represent the destination. The distance between these two points would suggest the distance between the two places. Basically, it means a movement from one point to another.
Life is made up of such points. The distance between the points would be made up of points too, because life is energy and energy is everywhere. Even space is made up of points of the same energy. In that case a journey could never be recognised as an act. A journey could only be a singular movement of transforming energy. This singular movement of transforming energy is a continuous, spontaneous, uncontrollable and unpredictable precise movement of light. The light reflects an optical illusion of a journey.
So, as life is energy, birth will be a journey and so will death. Birth indicates the end of a journey, which began as death, and death indicates the beginning of a journey that ends as birth as well. This means that birth and death occupy the same singular point. This is because there can be no separation between these two phenomena, as all points of separation would be points of the same energy.
This means that birth and death are interdependent and are a process of integration and disintegration rolled into one and not separate from each other. This translates as integration and disintegration happening in the same moment, which is the sophistication-process of life. Birth and death are one, and they are whether anybody likes it or not. This is what makes life a mystery because it is illogical that birth and death could be one. The word birth means a beginning to the ego and death an end to the ego.
But, in life, there can never be an end or a beginning because man cannot identify the point of start or end. This is because every point is a point of integration and disintegration, which is sophistication. Since every point is a point of sophistication, it means that all points are one and one only. This is the meaning of oneness of life. If the beginning of birth or death cannot be identified, can any journey that man thinks he makes possibly be identified?
To the mind there appear to be so many separate journeys that man is on, and these journeys have been the same since thinking happened to him. The journeys have been sophisticating in every generation and, in fact, every moment, and will do so as life sophisticates every moment. The belief that man has to make his own life acts as an impetus to man to make such journeys.
Why does man undertake a journey? Man undertakes a journey only to ‘become’ educated, wealthy, happy, powerful, prestigious, healthy and enlightened, amongst other things. He is also on a journey to prevent sickness, loneliness, sadness, poverty, war and every other feeling that he does not want. He can undertake one journey at a time and not two at the same time, so he has either to choose a journey to ‘become’ or opt for one to ‘prevent’. He cannot possibly do both at the same time.
Fear would compel man to pursue a journey that would ‘prevent’ what he wishes should never happen, while greed would draw him into the web of journeys that would make him ‘become’ what he desires, wishes and hopes for. The journey to ‘become’ is a journey of competition and makes man competitive, pitting man against man. Wherever there is greed competition becomes apparent to an individual, society or to a nation. Anger, jealousy and hatred make their mark and cannot be avoided. These feelings are evident in every household, between societies, between religions and spiritualists, and between nations.
In man’s life both the journeys are intermingled, which means that both journeys happen in the same moment, like birth and death, and cannot be separated from each other. It is not possible for man to make these journeys, for he can make only one kind of journey at a time and not two. It is life that makes both the journeys possible at the same time and at the same point, as the process of sophistication, which is singular and continuous in nature. The sophistication journey of life cannot be controlled or predicted. The journey of life is precise, but nevertheless illusory. The journey is an optical and auditory illusion of light and sound. The journey of life is mysterious just to make man realise that he or she is a mystic - eternal and enlightened - and he need not ever try to become enlightened. Even the trying happens so that man may understand that he need not.
So what could this journey be which appears as many journeys all rolled into one, and makes man believe that it is up to him either to make it or break it? The journey is to make man understand that he is not the thinker, speaker or the doer. The journey is to make him understand that man and mind is illusory and not real. The journey is to make him understand that to blame or criticise reflects a superficial mind. The journey is to make man understand that, if he is angry, disappointed, sad and jealous, it is to God that these feelings are expressed and not to man. This journey is to make him understand that God appears as the world, man and mind too. The journey is to make him understand that life keeps him alive and he does not keep himself alive. If man understands, love and gratitude will be revealed and not otherwise.
The journey is to make man understand that what he needs to know, do and have, he will come to know, it will happen to him, and he will come to possess what he is meant to have. In this journey the journey itself is the destination. The journey and the destination are in the same point of life as is birth and death, and this is the case in every point of life.
In every point the drama is the same, only the intensity is different. Every point in life is dual and non-dual; every point is freedom and bondage too. Every point is light and sound that reflects a drama in the mind, which is illusory too, of a world full of journeys to make. The appearance of vegetation, animal or man lasts for just a moment, as birth and death of appearance happen every moment. The journeys of man last for just a moment, and life’s journey happens in one way only and there cannot be an alternative journey which man wishes and hopes for. There is no spare moment beside the moment that is so that an alternative journey can happen.
The value of any journey, if there is any, lasts for just a moment and no more, for there is only moment. This singular moment is eternity. Therefore, the value of any spiritual journey, technique or yoga lasts for just a moment. The moment is just light and sound, and this moment of light and sound reflects an optical and auditory illusion of actions, situations and time in the mind, and not in life.
The curtain goes up and the drama begins with birth, and the curtain comes down with death. The paradox is, in this drama of life, that the curtain goes up and comes down every moment of life. Life is a journey of light and sound and this journey is all there is. It lasts for a moment but appears as if it lasts for a lifetime. This is why life is timeless and thoughtless. Enjoy the moment for it is a journey and the destination too, a precious gift of life.
© Copyright 2008 V. S. Shankar