There’s a delightful story about a sculptor who was renowned for his ability to create marble statues filled with life. After carving an amazingly lifelike image of an elephant, he was asked, “How were you able to make the elephant look so real?”

“It’s not that difficult,” he replied. “You just chip away everything that doesn’t look like an elephant!”

Jyotish and I are preparing to leave for our annual trip to serve in Italy and India for three and a half months. (In fact, by the time you read this, we’ll be in Italy.) People sometimes ask us, “How do you manage to travel for so long and keep strong and centered?” Our answer is the same as the sculptor’s, but with a slightly different twist.

When we’re preparing to be away for a long period, we think, “What isn’t really essential? What can we chip away?” All of our habits—what we eat, how we exercise and relax, when we serve, whom we see regularly, where we meditate—are only patterns that we’ve adopted. They aren’t essential to who we are.

Jyotish Novak Artwork: Prints, Canvas, Cards, and Magnets available www.JyotishandDevi.org/jyotish-paintings

“Master with the Children,” by Nayaswami Jyotish.

Once we are willing to give up small comforts and habit patterns, it’s easier to enter into the flow of life as it presents itself. Like the elephant emerging from the block of marble, with the nonessentials stripped away we can live more freely in our essential nature.

What is this nature? It’s unique for everyone, but shared by all. It’s who we are when we strip away all outer definitions. It starts with self-honesty and expands to become Truth itself; begins with self-acceptance and ripens into Universal Love; grows from a sense of well-being to a state of all-pervading Joy; and from an awareness of our individual self it expands to identification with the Omnipresent Self.

How do we find it? In the stillness and calmness of meditation, we can discover this essence. The interiorized mind is the gateway through which we experience it. Once we begin to recognize who and what we really are, we don’t want to return to superficial self-definitions. Then we let the chips fall where they may.

So Jyotish and I are beginning our journey by paring down physically, mentally, and emotionally. Why not join us in the same process of eliminating the nonessentials? Look at the habit patterns and attachments in your life, and decide what you’d like to leave behind. Remember that what’s necessary isn’t always to release things physically, but to break the thought that they define you.

Each of us is given a block of stone out of which we can carve our life. Be like the master sculptor who perceived the essence of spirit hidden within the material form. Release your soul from the prison of fixed thinking, and roam in freedom with the spirit of God.

Your fellow traveler,

Nayaswami Devi

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13 Comments

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  1. Thank you for the beautiful blog, Devi. Blessings to you and Jyotish on your travels to Italy & India! See you in a few months!

  2. Dear Devi, I found this inspiring – thank you. I find I am happiest when I can be a simple person. Two phrases that Swami used in the last years of his life come to mind: “childlike devotion” and “humble service.” As Swamiji’s children’s song says, “Help me see that happiness comes not with wanting more but less. Teach me all my friends to bless, hold them in Thy light.”

  3. Your inspirations always come at the right time!
    Enjoy your trip to Italy! i believe you will be in Assisi but if you pass by Verona you can be my guests any time!

  4. This was the perfect message for us right now as we make another big move! Wasn’t it getting comfortable here, our routine, our friendships, our way of life?
    Thank you for this inspiration – it was just what we needed to hear!
    Love,
    Priya and Bimal

  5. Dear Nayaswami Devi Ji,

    Thank you for this inspiring and profound blog!
    Need to work a lot with Master’s blessings to chisel my life according to thy design.

    Safe Journey and looking forward to meeting you soon

    In Master’s love
    Prem

  6. You are both, in our daily prayers as you continue your service to God, Gurú and Swamiji.
    I am daily thankful for these posts and divine friendship.

  7. Dear Nayaswami Devi Ji,

    Thank you for this inspiring and profound blog!
    Safe Journey and looking forward to meeting you soon 🙂

    In Master’s love
    Prem

  8. This is such a deep teaching Devi Ji. Paring down to the bare minimum……that seems to be quite a challenge. May Gurudeva take charge of our lives and help is with the sculpting. Jai Guru

  9. Beloved sister, I have lots of carving to do, but my beloved Guru, is the sculpture of sculptures💙

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