Many times we are taken by surprise. We are so ensconced in doing our daily tasks – work, study, eat, sleep, look after family, and so on – that we lose track of who we are, what we are doing, where we are going. And then something happens. Something which brings us back to reality. Like death in the family or a terrible disaster or an accident. We start to question everything. Everything was going on so well, but all of a sudden, even ‘all is well’ becomes ‘nothing is good’. Imagine someone who is enjoying good health, has no worries, goes for a medical check-up and finds out he has a terminal illness. Had he not gone for check-up, he would have continued to go about doing his things normally. But just the news of his illness topples his world.

Why so? Did he not know that he would die some day? It will make a difference when he is gone, for sure. But if we are always prepared that death will strike some day, we will be better able to handle such situations. The unexpected outbreak of the COVID-19 has had a similar outcome on many people. If it is not the fear of death, it has been the scare of confinement or the pain of separation or the anxiety of loss of money or the uncertainty of food shortages…. Satguru Kabir Saheb warns us to stay focused on our goal as we forge ahead in this world.

“Raahi le piparaahi bahi, kargi aawat kaahou na kahi
Aayi kargi bhow ajgoutaa, janam janam yam pahire boutaa”

The traveller was having a good time under the banyan tree, suddenly he is carried away by a flood; no one warned him about the flood coming. He and the whole world were cheated, now he is back under the rule of Yamraj life after life. The traveller is the soul trapped in the human body; the banyan tree is the world with all its attractions (worldly enjoyments); the flood is Maya. Just like the fisherman puts the fish trap and catches a whole lot of fish after leaving it in the sea overnight, similarly people who give in to the traps of Maya get caught unaware. While living in this unreal world, we have to always be conscious of our real world. That way, we will not be caught by surprise.

On his way to a holy site, the pilgrim does not stop to watch a movie. Or stop to have a party. His focus is on his destination. Of course a lot is happening on his way. There are theatres, markets, fairs, playgrounds…. He is aware of everything happening as he moves on, but does not indulge in any of them. The soul’s journey is very much alike. It is our duty to practise self-restraint. Not that we should not eat, not watch movies, not have fun with family and friends…. We can do all of these, but still have our consciousness set on its aim. The banyan tree and the floods are the ‘realities’ of this unreal world. Therefore, we must tread with caution so that we are not swallowed into the unreal realm, and remain there for ages.

Let us not be taken by surprise into the illusory domain of existence. Let us hold fast to our goal.

Mahant Jay Jaggessur, Kabir Association of Toronto.

Bijak Ramaini # 10