Journeys (Pause For Thought, BBC Radio 2, May 14, 2015)
Life today is full of journeys, it seems. Most of us could hardly survive without our cars and think nothing of a fifty or sixty mile trip, a good two day walk in olden days. For many of us, there’s the daily commute which here in London where I live is less of a journey and more of a battle to the near death. Thankfully I only have to go twenty or so miles, but a lot of people nowadays have to commute as much as a hundred miles and back every day.
Life can be quite hectic, but in the midst of all our moving around we should not forget that our whole life is itself a journey. All of us are travelling continuously through life, observing so many changes as we go. In fact the spiritual teachings of the Bhagavad-gita suggest that by carefully considering this we can understand that we are eternal beings. We go from childhood, to youth to old age, but through all these changes of external body we remain the same unchanging spiritual person.
For me the most important journey is the one within, the search for my true self. This is truly a voyage of discovery, but you don’t have to go anywhere. It is the practise of yoga, which means to re-connect with the spirit. Each day then, before embarking on the furious rush of daily life, I sit down for a couple of hours to journey within myself, to peacefully meditate and contemplate my real existence, beyond the ephemeral world.
Krishna's instructions tell us that this fleeting life is but one small part of a great journey. It ends when we reach God, where we are said to really belong. We are thus enjoined to prepare for that end by cultivating our inner life. By such practise, which I personally do by the simple method of chanting God’s holy names, we can ultimately perceive our true existence. The Gita describes this as eternity and bliss, and it promises us that when we finally achieve that our stressful travels in this world will be over.