About five years ago, I decided to visit holy places like Haridwar, Rishikesh and Vrindavan in the company of my friend Prof Shubhprem. It being a tour of about a week, I packed a jumbo-sized suitcase and an airbag with dresses and other things.
On the contrary, Shubhprem just carried a shoulder bag with only an extra T-shirt, a pair of shorts, a toothpaste, a toothbrush, soaps and a couple of books. Wherever we stayed during the trip, he would wash his dress. Throughout the journey, Shubhprem remained tension-free while I faced a tough time grappling with my heavy baggage.
This experience turned out to be an eye-opener for me. Now, when I see people setting out on a journey loaded with heavy luggage, I am pained to think that we have no faith in the travel-light philosophy of life. In fact, we have made our lives so burdensome with useless paraphernalia that simplicity has become alien to us. We have before us the example of Diogenes, the Greek mystic who had nothing worth its name to possess but an earthen pot to drink water from a pond. But one day, as the holy man saw a dog quenching its thirst from the river, he threw away even the earthen possession thinking why he can't do without it if even a pariah can. Unfortunately, we treat Alexander, not Diogenes, as our role model.
It's a law of nature that as we ascend higher, we keep losing weight and a stage comes when we get out of the reach of gravitational pull, totally weightless. Therefore, nature wants us to shed more and more weight for scaling new heights. And this truth is applicable not only at a physical level but also at a spiritual one. Sages and seers of yore did not leave their homes and hearths for nothing in quest of the ultimate truth.
We, the lesser mortals, have not learnt to live in the present. Poets like Omar Khayyam have exhorted the man to forget both the dead past and the uncertain future and enjoy the present. Nonetheless, we have become accustomed to carrying the load of the past in the form of years-old grouses, jealousies, feelings of vengeance and rivalries on our minds. Even the future keeps clinging to us like a leech. During the course of bringing up our children, we persistently worry about their careers, marriages and even bequeathing property to them. So the need of the hour is to stop both the past and future from making a hell of our lives and enjoy the present with an unflinching faith in the travel-light theory.