So much has happened since my last post. It seems like a year ago that I was in Germany and Prague enjoying the Summer with some fabulous veg friends. Now we are in the middle of Winter in DC and I yearn for warmer weather. I remember Swami Prabhupada once said that the bitter cold of London was “hellish”. It seems almost contradictory to our conception of hell, but really “hell” is just that place, consciousness or feeling that is furthest removed from our divine nature and a loving relationship with God. Therefore, “hell” can mean different things to different people, depending on where we are in our spiritual evolution and understanding. But what Prabhupada meant is that this material world can sometimes present us situations that are so far removed from our divine nature that it is just “hellish”.
As eternal spiritual beings, we struggle to come to terms with our bondage in these physical bodies. The limitations they present us are also “hellish.” I mean, the human ear can only hear certain frequencies; our eyes are not able to see in the dark of night; we can’t fly, run or jump like other species, and who likes the fact that despite all our efforts to eat right, exercise and rest, we still get diseases and eventually die!? Indeed, the very idea of death is abnormal for the eternal soul and that is exactly why we pretend it won’t happen to us. The great King Yuddhisthir was once asked, “O great King, what is the most amazing thing you have ever seen?” The king replied, “Despite the fact that my mother, father, relatives and friends all die, I find it absolutely amazing that I think it will never happen to me!”
The truth of course is that we never die. At the time of death, depending on the development of our consciousness, we are either carried by the subtle body (mind, intelligence and false ego) to our next physical incarnation, or we are released completely from material bondage and returned to full spiritual awareness.
If you understand what I am saying here then like me, you will still feel challenged by the demands and responsibilities that come with the role we must play in our current incarnation. Whether we are a mother, father, uncle, aunt, or even indigo child, we have a calling – a specific lesson to experience or action to undertake. There are no exceptions. What that lesson or action is should be the central focus of our life. It is really a crying shame how people waste their blessed human incarnation and degrade their consciousness to such a level that material nature must then deliver them to a lower form of life. Never, ever underestimate the good fortune of a human birth. According to the Vedas (Srimad Bhagavatam 8.22.25), “While rotating in the cycle of birth and death again and again in different species because of his own fruitive activities, the dependent living entity, by good fortune, may happen to become a human being. This human birth is very rarely obtained.” And in the Bhagavad Gita (7.3) it is stated, “Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth.
My life now is so much different to what it was like when I lived as a monk. Back then, everything was simple and I fully absorbed myself in my spiritual studies. Now, there seems to be an endless demand on my time from clients, family, friends, debt collectors, and the aging body. But I know that I am in no way unique. We all in some way must face these challenges. And truth be told, our life is a culmination of all the decisions we have made up to this point. So there is no use in pointing the finger at anyone else. We must accept responsibility. This is all part of the divine play called “our life.” Embrace it, love it for what it is and know that you are as much loved as anyone or anything else in this world. We do not live in a vacuum; we are all connected and interdependent on each other. So the next time you step out into your yard, take a deep breath and look around. Really look around and know that everything you see, feel and hear is the loving embrace of your greater family. So give love back. Really give love. This holiday season, go the extra mile to show your love to the world. We all need it so give it out and watch it come back to you a million-fold. Rather than acting the “victim” when we experience something “hellish”, use the experience to raise your consciousness and to fuel your passion to be freed from these physical bonds once and for all.