Internet connection has not been working since we finished the Pad Yatra, due to some technical problems not resolved immediately. I should not be complaining since most of my friends and students are very kind to take time out from their normal life, to help us. It was also good for me, I didn’t have to write anything until now, after one particular connection was fixed. The only thing I can say is “better late than never”. But unfortunately, we are always so late that we never have a chance to finish some of our top priority commitment. Either we are waiting for someone to take up the responsibility or we always delay till “tomorrow”, and at the end, our responsibility is never fulfilled and our “tomorrow” never comes. So if you realise that you are late for something, especially doing something for your own spiritual development, then better improve immediately. You may not have a chance tomorrow.
Most of us have our priority upside down. When there is a conflict between spiritual commitment which will eventually lead us out of suffering, and mundane commitment, we always choose mundane over spiritual, yet at the same time we want to be happy. We will never be happy if we are only looking after mundane achievements, because these things don’t last. We will end up chasing after an endless list of dreams. When there is a conflict between spirituality and mundane choice, what should you do? If I were you, I would choose the spirituality because it is at least something that you are developing within yourself and something that you will never lose, something lasting.
I was very happy that I have a chance to take more than 450 of my monks, nuns and lay students and new friends on a Pad Yatra from Mumbai to Bhopal, visiting many holy retreat caves and cave monasteries where enlightened masters practised and attained enlightenment. Visiting these holy places gives us great encouragement, but when I saw the ruined buildings and statues, I felt quite sad, “Why would humans destroy beautiful things?” Forget about them being holy, at least try to appreciate the beauty. If we have a mind that is limited and only able to accept our own ideas of right and wrong, we would become like those people who destroy beautiful things in others’ cultures, traditions and countries, we would become those unhappy ones living in a box. When things do not follow our way, they have to be destroyed. This is the same as relationships, when our friends or family do not follow our instructions, we have the tendency to be angry and mad at them, though never at ourselves. This is why I always say, “Watch your mind, if you can guard your mind, your speech and actions would be okay.” Most of the time, we don’t do that. Instead, we always looking outward, measuring others against our own perculiar standards. Do not expect others to follow our ways, each of us has our individual path, some may be similar, but never the same 100%.
Talking about this, before we started our Pad Yatra, I met up with Aamir and his wife, Kiran and also their little new born. He introduced me a book “Who Moved My Cheese”, which I thought I would encourage everyone to read, and what I am happy about is the book does not have many pages, it’s very easy for someone who is bad at English to read. It is about coping with change, which is impermanence. Nothing stays the same, we are also changing every minute, getting older every second. That’s why whenever I see the word “birthday celebration”, I laugh to myself, “What is there to celebrate? Celebrating we are closer to our graveyard?” But of course this is a pessimistic way of looking at death and impermanence. The positive way to look at impermance and changes is to “enjoy impermanence” as it gives us a lot of opportunities to be creative and it reminds us that our present is so precious that we have to appreciate everything, our good experience and our bad experience. Like the book says, “The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy new cheese.”
As expected, compared with the last Pad Yatra, we picked up a lot more garbage this time. Humans have become garbage creators! Everything that we have invented to suit our laziness has become garbage, which is not surprising. Let’s look at “comfort”. In the name of “comfort”, any kind of comfort to make us do less and achieve more so to speak, we invent lift, elevator, car, plastic bottles, etc, we have created and are still creating a lot of garbage. In most cases, the more affluent we are, our desire for comfort increases. Most of the gadgets that provide material comfort leave behind side effects, not only material side effects of non biodegradable garbage, but also spiritual side effect. We end up losing “tsondu”, we have no more joyful effort or very little left, whenever we do something. Without a joyful effort, appreciation is also missing, without appreciation, happiness goes into hiding. This comes in a package. This is why I think Pad Yatra is important. I believe that whoever has joined any Pad Yatra, not necessarily the ones organised by us, but any genuine one available, will be able to find happiness in the right place and not in the wrong place. Trust me! Even I myself look forward to the next Pad Yatra, wherever we are going!