Elevators and escalators and wheeled suitcases. What do these three have in common? They make it easy for us to manage our baggage in airports with minimum effort, especially when traveling alone. Of course, once we reach our destination and exit the airport with our multiple bags, it’s a different story. Sooner or later, we will most likely have to climb up a flight of stairs – from the platform of a train or subway station to the street, from the street to a hotel and sometimes even to our room on a higher floor. Then even the young and fit among us may be challenged, what to say of the elderly and infirm. Stairs are the great equalizer. Unless there is help at hand – a willing passerby or a porter whose profession it is to carry luggage from A to B, sometimes on their heads – how can we go up unaided?
Isn’t this question just as valid for our spiritual journey as for our worldwide travels? How can we go up unaided when we are carrying a heavy load of worries, cares, attachments, and desires? For this journey, we need to let go of everything that is weighing us down and holding us back and ask the Master for help.
When taking a business or vacation trip, according to experts in traveling light, we must ruthlessly reduce the contents of our bags to the bare minimum; what we cannot carry, we can buy when we get to our destination, if we have to.
How do we travel light on our spiritual journey? What do we need to take with us? Nothing. What will we need when we arrive at our destination? Nothing.
For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
Bible, Timothy 1, 6.7
So what do we need to ruthlessly discard? Everything – all the things that disturb and fill our minds when we sit down to meditate.
How do we discard our thoughts, not just in meditation but throughout the day? How do we stop worrying about our families, our finances, our health, and agonizing over every little decision? We need help from someone who can take our burden from us. Just as a porter relieves us of our physical baggage, for this inner path we need to seek the help of the Master and then let go. Let go of our physical, mental, and emotional baggage. Ask for help and let go when it is offered to us.
Why is it so difficult for some of us to ask for help? From when we were very young, especially in the West, we have been taught to stand on our own two feet and not to depend on anyone. Such independence is a good thing. But taken to extremes, the toddler who pushes his mother’s hands aside as she ties his shoelaces, saying proudly “me do it,” can trip over his loosened laces and hurt himself; the lone traveler who says firmly, “I can manage” has to climb up and down stairs multiple times, ferrying each piece of baggage one at a time. And the initiate sitting in meditation may waste decades worrying about worldly problems instead of relaxing, focusing, and rising.
At some point, at the foot of the stairs or at the end of a scattered meditation, with his grace, we may realize that we cannot do it all by ourselves. There is strength in admitting our helplessness – surrendering to the inevitable: “Please, please, help me.”
The truth is that we are not all by ourselves, we never have been. Maharaj Charan Singh comforts us:
Your Master is always within you. He is not anywhere outside at all.… We are never alone – our master is always with us.1
The Master is with us on our travels outside and in. He is there 24/7. He is there when we are worrying about how we will get our luggage out of the overhead bin on the plane (a fellow passenger lifts it down), how we will manage the stairs to the tarmac when we arrive (a flight attendant grabs our bag); he is there when we are dealing with issues in our families and world (a sudden memory of our Master brings instant relief); he is there when we are sitting in meditation lost in the coming day’s affairs (our attention suddenly is pulled back to our simran). He is there and he is constantly whispering. As Maharaj Sawan advised us:
Your worries and cares are Master's worries and cares. Leave them to him to deal with. Having become carefree, your business is to cultivate his love.2
How do we get to the place where we truly believe that we can safely let go and that everything will be taken care of by him? Faith and Effort.
- Faith: he has given us so many gifts already: a human birth, initiation, yearning. He has given us access to his physical form even in this time of Covid through weekly Q&As online, Zoom calls to our sangats, and personal visits to some of our centers. He is continually showing us how far he is willing to go in supporting us on our path; so surely, we can safely let go and let Him handle our baggage.
- Effort: our daily meditation will take us to our inner Master and the true faith that leads to surrender.
Maharaj Charan Singh explains:
When your mind is attached to the Shabd and Nam within, then you don’t think about the past or worry about the future.… When you positively put your mind in touch with the light and sound within, automatically you cease worrying. You get that bliss and happiness within yourself.3
Meditation, as always, is the solution. When we go within and experience the Shabd master, we will be enveloped in his loving kindness and there will be no more doubts. True faith will be ours. This, then, is how we let go; this is how we put down our burdens; this is how we travel carefree – inside and out.
Maharaj Charan Singh says:
With nothing in our pocket and the Father with us, this is the best grace we can have from the Father.4
- Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, Q # 130
- Spiritual Gems, L # 117
- Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, Q # 254
- Legacy of Love, p. 438