Union Square Park Subway Station,
New York City

I took the subway from Union Square Park to Second Avenue to avoid the rain. That is where I met Cosmos. Cosmos was a rastafarian. He had dreads and a couple of musical instruments in his trolley.

He saw my orange robes and said, ‘Powerful. This colour is powerful! What does it symbolize?’

I said, ‘Knowledge and renunciation.’

He mumbled some things about just coming back from the astral plane and seeing the markings on my head, ‘It was glowing so bright…like it was all I could see. You know what I mean. Then it kind of came back to normal…and the marks faded away.’

I continued my subway sermon, ‘Renunciation means we give up our attachment to material things and embrace the spiritual.’

He said, ‘Yeah. Like ying and yang.’

‘Something like that,’ I said. ‘Some people renounce this world because of the sufferings they experience in their relationships. Others get a sense of the temporary nature of this world.’

‘And stress,’ he interjected.

‘Yes. But renunciation is incomplete without some kind of spiritual engagement. Renunciation without meaningful spiritual activity is like being an autumn leaf blown about in the wind. According to our philosophy, we can be renounced and participate in spiritual activities – spiritual music, spiritual food and spiritual relationships.’

It was at this point that he told me his name was cosmos. He told me he was celibate and that he would like to visit our centre. I gave him an invite to the 2nd Avenue programmes, and boarded my train. We parted by saying, ‘Hare Krishna’ to one another. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!