Free Press Journal

Life is like a train journey

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At each juncture or halt, just as people entrain and detrain, so is it, not only with the people in our lives but the thoughts floating around in our mind

Call it a belief, term it a thought or merely an observation, fact is one discovers the land while travelling by train. Humans through their extraordinary imagination and quintessential dexterity have developed several modes of transportation; airways, seaways, inland waterways or motoring through concrete roads, among others. But none of these modes of transportation can perhaps match journeying by the good old train.

A metaphor for life


Railway personnel belonging to Western or Central Railways or the average Mumbaikar would instantaneously appreciate the coinage- Super-Dense Crush Load. It refers to the nearly 4700 people travelling by a nine-car coach Mumbai suburban train as against the prescribed capacity of 1700 passengers. The train is choc-a-bloc with passengers packed like veritable sardines.

Metaphorically, if the train journey be the journey of our life, then our ticket or pass is our prana level. It is a vital part of the journey, in fact, it is the factor without which the journey is well-nigh impossible. Our co-passengers are the multitudes that we encounter through our lives – strangers, relatives, friends, family, children, parents, spouse – all those who appear and drop out at various stages in the journey of our lives.

If we scratch deeper, those thousands or even millions of people could well be the millions of thoughts that cannonade our minds; some taking up permanent residence, others having not more than a fleeting presence. Both mirror our personality and emotional state. The stations along the train journey could be likened to the major landmark events in our lives.

At each juncture or halt, just as people entrain and detrain, so is it, not only with the people in our lives but the thoughts floating around in our mind. Some stations are of greater significance and so is it with the people in our universe, some more important, others relevant to a lesser extent. Some thoughts leave a lasting imprint on the journey of our life, and some others cannot be recalled mere seconds later.

The journey

We are born to our parents on planet earth (the belief prevalent in both oriental and occidental philosophical schools and a few religions too, claims that the departed souls choose a new set of parents after a period of hibernation in the netherworld- may appear quirky or weird).

However as humans, we ought to express profound gratitude to our ancestors and parents for our presence and existence, revere Mother Earth (from where our life originates and terminates and the entire drama of life is staged on this amphitheatre) and the Sun God which provides us with vital prana or energy.

Our first co-passengers on this wondrous and incredible journey are our parents. They rear and nourish us, besides providing us with all the emotional and physical sustenance that we need.

As we step out of the innocence of childhood and step into our teenage years and youth, friends and relatives make entries and exits at various points. So is it with the innumerable thoughts that envelope our febrile minds. Not all our people to people encounters leave positivity, similarly, Sisyphean thoughts too are like an unwelcome friend or relative, who through their behaviour and attitude diminish our prana or energy levels. An intelligent human being sifts through the thoughts and does not allow the mind to play host to such thoughts and emotions. Likewise, a discerning individual skilfully eschews such friends and relatives.

How many of us remember our parents in this journey of life? Are we present during the winter of their lives, perhaps infirm, not financially equipped or do we cast them away like some de trop appendage or thought? This is our test, or examination of gratefulness and gratitude. Similarly, how many individuals acknowledge the inestimable and priceless moments in our lives that came about through other people, happy thoughts and unexpected happenings which suffused us with jollity? The more grateful we are, the greater the journey of life attracts efficacious moments that charge-up and enliven us.

Topography of the mind

In this peripatetic existence, we witness to several events and lend our ears to innumerable people. The events and conversations trigger a process of conversation within our mind. The nature of the human mind is interminable to agree or disagree. These result in schisms and dissension in the mind and human body and the consequences are visible in our relationship with others.

A ‘Yes’ mind that accepts the sequence of events, people and thought processes will expand in consciousness. However, in a majority of cases our preconceived notions act as barriers to the flow, which consequently results in a wide degree of contraction. This diminution is both at a physical and emotional level and often causes imbalance in the mind and body. Many a time the human mind is unable to grasp the more subtle nuances of a chain of events, thoughts, or people interactions encountered in the journey. This can too cause disconcert and dismay in the mind.

Train your brain

There is, however, a way out to live life in a resplendent and joyous manner while travelling by this train of life. For this the human mind needs to live in the present moment and accept situations with equanimity. As a practical measure, we can purge negative thoughts and remain calm, unruffled and centred through the practice yoga, pranayama, meditation techniques and breathing techniques like Sudarshan Kriya.

Human life is full of peaks and valleys, vicissitudes, adventure, surprises and even gloom-ridden situations. But we all have to travel by this train, remaining motivated and taking corrective steps to improve our experience.

“The journey of thousand miles begins with one step,” wrote the noted philosopher Lao Tzu aeons ago.