Though long, train journeys can be fun. It is a blessing if you know the art of converting this travel time into meditation time. There are many people who embark on yatras in trains. They get-together at different hours in the morning and evening to sing bhajans and have satsangs about the deity they are going to see. They decorate the compartment with garlands. The tiresomeness of the journey is dissolved in remembering, singing and talking about the name of their beloved deity.
On train journeys that connect pan-India or at least big parts of it, we get opportunities to simply look out of the window. There are innumerable elevating visions to meditate upon—the mountains, the hills, the trees, forests, fields, the rivers and lakes, the people, their festivals, their lives of richness and poverty, the animals, an occasional fire, the sun and the moon.
Even the nature of constant change that is the nature of this world can be meditated upon when we look at the fast shifting scenes out of the window. The steady nature of the seer is like the travellers in the compartment who are steady within and watch changes outside. As for sounds that lead the mind to meditation—they are endless. Even the “tea coffee, chai coffee…” of the vendors or “doodh… doodh… doodh…” breaking the silence of the night are great triggers for meditation. If none of these are there, the constant rhythm of the train—ta ta ta ta tak tak—quietens the mind.
Contemplation of the whole train itself is a highest form of meditation. The engine drags all the compartments so effortlessly as the force of life drags all the compartments of this body, mind, intellect and the innumerable thoughts through the rails of life. Every thought is like a compartment. The moment you focus on one thought, there are innumerable beings inside it that disturbs our attention. For instance, if there is an ice cream thought, the moment we think intensely, it becomes a force that drives us to be indulgent enough to go to the shop, buy the ice cream and relish it.
There are innumerable things to know from all the people in all the compartments in the train. Yet we choose to focus only on those people who share our neighbouring seats, or some familiar face that we may come across in our compartment. Though the world is large, we are always focussed on the little things that give us joy and sorrow.
Another beautiful contemplation is the train of thoughts. One compartment is linked to another and the whole train is in motion. If we watch a train standing on the platform, we can see one compartment end, then there is space and the next compartment begins.
Similarly, one of our thoughts ends with another one. Then there is space of just consciousness and the next thought begins. Focusing on this consciousness thoughtlessly is the way of expanding that space in our mind to experience the bliss of consciousness.
The writer is Acharya, Chinmaya Mission, Tiruchi