Platform 18

Having had a serve of teachings on Yoga Therapy at a conference, I began to meander back to Central railway station for the train ride home to Newcastle. As I strolled through the streets of Sydney in my fisherman pants and sandals, I realised the Yogic apparel was not a wise choice for a cool Sydney afternoon. Folks where moving back and forth, buses and cars a plenty. My senses where being offered a plethora of data. Horns honking, kids laughing and screaming, people on their phones chatting excitedly, sweetly and gravelly. The gamut of people touched my eyes, many with much, and few with little. Exotic clothing and hair, busy and anxious, spacious and timeless, oh Sydney town, what a rich gathering.

I arrive at Central, check my backpack for my return ticket to Morisset and mindfully enter the turnstiles. The flashing signs boom out their message of platforms 19, 20 and 21 are closed and all aforementioned trains will be leaving from platform 18. A mass of humanity ascends the stairs in an ordered chaos to meet the fellow travellers on the journey to who knows where. Having trod the final stair with my rail compadres, I arrive on the flat ground of platform 18.

The feeling and vibration of life is palpable. Some sit, some stand, some squat, some wander edgily. Headphones share their sounds with the ears of their beholden, phones share messages with friends and lovers, and some drift into a reverie of the moment, others are just being. Each being has a story which could make a mini-series, each soul an incarnation unfolding with the chance of awakening.

The station master voice rings out: “next train on platform 18 stops at Strathfield, Parramatta, Blacktown and all stations to Penrith”. People prepare themselves, aligning themselves to where they think the carriage may rest. Many step back clearing the way for the lucky winners of the train lottery, others sigh with a disgust in not being the lucky ones.  Each reaction or response has my mind a dance in the joy of platform 18.

The train to Penrith exits and the dance begins again. The digital train scoreboard flashes up who is next in this lucky dip of travel. The information on my train to Newcastle pops up briefly as I am a long way down in the queue to physical warmth and heading in the direction of home. I find a nice strong stanchion and lean myself up against. Squatting down, I ask myself if should I pop my IPod on and listen to a chant, maybe a teaching playlist from Ram Dass or Swami Tyagananda. I start to shuffle through my back pack to find this little purveyor of sounds only to be distracted by the oncoming train to Hornsby.

I glance up a see some people certain that this is the train for them and they’re in. Another group of friends traveling together are not so sure and look for help from the train scoreboard blinking above their heads. Is this our train, the question rings out? Will it get us to where we want to go, or is it headed in the wrong direction? One member rushes up to the platform guard and engages in an animated conversation. She rushes back to group and they all join the north bound train. As the train exits, my mind starts to contemplate the melodrama I have witnessed. I return my IPod to my back pack and let my mind explore what I witnessed.

I thought about those people who were certain about their train and how confidently and assertively they boarded the train. I pondered the minds of the unsure commuters. What if they had jumped on the north bound train, yet their destination was south. What if they had not alighted and discovered that this was their train and had missed it? What if they had boarded the train and then realised it was not their train and exited at the next station. Possibilities swirled around in my mind, scenarios of wayward travellers cold, scared and alone ebbed and flowed. What of those who slept deeply in the metal transport vessels and missed their station, what then? What happens when we travel beyond our destination, asleep or none the wiser?

The next train rattles and rolls into view and a similar dynamic unfolds. The will’s, the will not’s and the maybe’s chatter and bustle until the vacumous ssssccch sound of the electronic doors ceases the debate.

My mind starts down a new path, a new train of thought. What if our thoughts were like trains and we could board the ones which took us where we wanted to go and allow the thoughts that weren’t taking us in the direction we wanted to go, to quietly and unceremoniously leave the station without us engaging? What would it take for us to know which thoughts keep us chugging along in the direction of our heart-mind and which will have us stranded on the wrong station: cold, scared and lonely?

I contemplated this metaphor for some time and felt that to constantly be boarding the Peace train of thought we would need to see the thoughts arriving just as the trains had arrived at Central station (the mind). We would be required to know where the thoughts would take us if we boarded or gave them any energy or time. We would also need to know where we wanted to go, so when our train/thought arrived we jumped on board with confidence and certainty.

Being able to see our thoughts arriving in the platform of our mind takes awareness and dwelling constantly in present moment. Many, many thoughts will arrive in the platform of our mind each day, and the majority we can allow to enter and exit without engaging. The wise seeker is well informed about the content and conclusion of the thoughts before the thought comes to a halt on the platform thus they rarely catch the wrong train.

The wise traveller becomes familiar with the unhelpful thoughts and does not let them stop in the platform of the mind, they may even be able to usher the thoughts on before they come to a halt in the mind. These skilled travellers of the mind have practiced diligently and know their timetable of the mind intimately. They know that the train to heaviness, attachment or depression often arrives after disapproval, rejection or despair, hence they wave it through and the examine why they boarded the train of disapproval, rejection or despair in the first place. They have colossal wills and will not board thoughts that previously left them stranded in a station far from their inward home. They are able to be still, stony still in the mind and feel a thought long before the clickety clack sound births in their conscious mind.

So, I guess it is up to us now to board the trains/thoughts that will take us home to the Soul.

All aboard the Peace Train.

Train Tips

  • Be on the right platform. Keep your mind clean and free from delusion.
  • Know where you want to go.
  • Watch the thoughts come and go, chose the ones you want to unite with rather than jumping on every thought that arises in the mind.
  • Don’t board a thought unless you know where it is going or feels intuitively pure.
  • Don’t rush, if you miss the train of thought you believe you should have boarded. Smile, another will arrive soon.
  • Know your mind’s timetable impeccably.
  • Make a new timetable of the mind, free from the thoughts that disturb or distract.
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