An Unexpected Journey
In a recent session at the Dera, Baba Ji kept urging us to be positive. To a question posed at the evening meeting, he noted that being positive is not establishing a delusional alternative to reality. Rather, he indicated, that in everyone’s character there are negative and positive aspects. If attention is given to what is negative, that gets amplified. Likewise, if attention is given to what is positive, that gets strengthened. On another occasion, when someone complained that they weren’t that enthusiastic about the prospects of life in this world, and would rather leave sooner, instead of later, the Master emphatically said, no. We must cherish this life as the Lord’s gift. We must appreciate our lives. We should have something to look forward to every day. It was almost as if he was commanding us to live with joy, and to enjoy our being alive. For some of us this is a challenging assignment.
Nevertheless, I was somewhat skeptical about my own capacity for being positive and appreciative when we were all asked to leave Dera a day and a half early. It seemed that the trains in the Punjab would not be running on our scheduled day of departure. Those of us who imagined and hoped that we might have a relaxing last few days of darshan, evening meetings, and plenty of time to pack and clean our rooms were startled by the announcement that we had less than twelve hours to pack, clean, and get on the train. I remember thinking that there was not much of a chance that anything positive would come out of this rapid change of plans. But being in the presence of the Master leaves one open to the possibility that there might be surprises ahead.
And indeed, when the Master is your ‘travel agent’, there is every reason to remain optimistic.
That night, rooms got cleaned and suitcases were packed. At an early breakfast in the dining room, we were offered fruit to take on the journey along with our new train tickets. Then the buses came, and carried us out through the gates and back into the world.
Standing on the railway platform with the other guests was rather fun. People were sharing food and offering generous sprays of mosquito repellant. When the train arrived, the prodigious amount of luggage belonging to over one hundred guests was rapidly tossed on board by an enthusiastic line of sevadars. There was not an inch on that train car that was not filled with satsangis and their suitcases. And away we went! Only this was an especially slow train. The express train, which most of us thought we would be on, takes five hours to get to Delhi. This train was scheduled to take eight hours, but in the end actually took twelve hours.
Along the way, we started to discover the most amazing abundance. At the very first stop, sevadars brought on-board cold bottles of water and fruit for everyone. Then about two hours later, in Ludhiana, we were met by sevadars serving hot samosas and tea. Again, that same snack was waiting for us at another station further down the track.
Yes, it was a long trip. But everyone on board this car was from the Dera and there were wonderful conversations, lots of good humor, amazing laughter, and acts of thoughtfulness and kindness. People who had only found a seat lying down in one of the upper bunks traded off with those who were by the windows. People chatted in the aisles and helped one another negotiate through the cars of the train.
Still, by the ninth hour of travel people were getting restless. Even seated with good friends and lively conversation, weariness was setting in. That is when our compartment started to sing Broadway show tunes, ballads, gospel songs, old folk music, and Beatles songs. We sang with great feeling and enthusiasm, if not always with perfect harmony. We sang for over two hours until we were all hoarse.
It felt like the Master had travelled with us all the way to Delhi. Although it is usually quite difficult when plans get rearranged, on this train trip, it seemed to me as if we were all on a wonderful journey: light of heart, able to sense the grace that was moving with us, seeing with our own eyes that the Master was always taking care of his guests, no matter what the circumstances.
At the Dera, away from the Dera, on slow trains or fast ones, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could always remember that he is travelling with us? If we could remember, if we could keep positive, we would enjoy the journey. Occasionally we might even sing as we make our way home.
Dance with abandon, cast off your veil!
Let the whole world watch your free dance.
Your aim is to please the Lord –
Who can stop you from dancing to your own heart?
You are fortunate, says Paltu, to have won his love.
Sant Paltu, His Life and Teachings