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Learn to dump your mental baggage

We unnecessarily carry on with old items, thoughts and practices. They were required once, but having served their purpose, they need not burden us further.

india Updated: May 30, 2006 12:43 IST

It's said that after enlightenment, no ritual, formal prayer or practice is required. In fact for an enlightened person, both knowledge and ignorance are compared to thorns.

In villages, a thorn is used to extract another one that has got into our flesh. After the intruding thorn is poked out, both thorns are useless and are thrown away, lest they puncture our skin again by accident.

The concept is like the yaana  of Buddhism. One takes a yaana  or ferry to cross the river. Before boarding the ferry, one has to reach a teertha  or proper boarding place, for a ferry cannot be anchored just anywhere on the riverside. One now boards the ferry and after crossing the river, pays the ferryman, alights and goes to one's destination. Neither teertha nor ferry have relevance any longer to us and should be left behind, cast away from our thoughts.

Ramakrishna Paramhansa explained the concept beautifully. In the Gospel documented by Master Mahashay, Ramakrishna gives the example of a man who received a letter after a long time from his home. Unfortunately the letter was misplaced. There began a frantic search and finding the letter became the most important goal of his life at that moment. The letter was found and the man read it. Along with the routine details, there was a request for five seers of sandesh  and a piece of white cloth.

The letter, which was the most important thing for the man a few seconds back, was now of no consequence at all. Action was needed next for procuring the items and arranging for dispatch. The letter could be thrown away. This is true of life as well.

We unnecessarily carry on our shoulders old items, thoughts and practices, which were required once, but having served their purpose, need not burden us further. The concept is that we should have no attachment to the means of our progress in the journey of life, not even knowledge, which can warp ego. Taken further, it means shedding mental baggage and moving on positively.