At The Lotus Feet, Long Street, Cape Town

2009

Another year. Another day.

What have we accomplished? Where are we going? When are we going to wake up and see this sleaze-bag western civilization for what it really is? Are we better people? Or are we just selling-out to “The Powers That Be” and their cheap world of brands, logos, mass-media, theoretical science and pseudo-religion?

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur Maharaja – a great saint in the Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition – expressed it so well, ‘Too long have you spent in the house of the prostitute.’ Too long, dear friend. You and I.

It’s closing time at the bar. But we want to stay! Oh…just one more drink…uhhh…uhhhh…uhhhhhhhh…

Sometime back Kadamba Kanana Maharaja lifted back the cosmetic veil of illusion with the following analogy. The material world is just like a party except at the end everyone is shot. No Bollywood romance, friend. Plain old stool. Swami A.C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada repeatedly reminded us that this world is a place of birth, death, disease and old age. Who wants to get sick? Who wants to get old? And who wants to die? No-one. And why? Because we are eternal. We are spiritual beings just caught up in the mesh of this world of matter. Sometimes a fish, sometimes a bird. Sometimes a human being. What are you waiting for, old chum? Do something!

These, my dear readers, are the facts of life. Why live in denial? Why kid yourself into believing that there is anything worth holding onto in this world? Krishna explains in Bhagavad-gita that this world is asasvatam duhkalayam. It is temporary and full of suffering.

Acknowledged. Are you still with me? Temporary and full of suffering. If we are smart enough to take these realities seriously we want to escape, we want moksha (liberation) to end our sufferings. But moksha alone isn’t the goal of Vedic Culture.  The Aryan (‘Ar’ means ‘pure’ in Sanskrit and ‘Ya’ means ‘Yadus’ or the ‘pure path of the Yadus’/ Krishna-consciousness) culture was aimed – and is still aimed – at linking the soul with the Absolute or the Divine. That is called yoga. It is something higher than impersonal liberation, simply being free of material suffering. The pinnacle of yogic absorption is personal. It is the development in the individual soul of fully blossomed spiritual consciousness in a loving relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna. This activity in Krishna consciousness is also called bhakti-yoga.

Where were we? Oh, we were describing how terrible this material world was and then we touched on some of the spiritual ideals…as described in the Vedas… and by the acharyas (saints who live according to the teachings of the Vedas and devotional writings). So where does that leave us fence-straddlers? One foot on land, one foot on water. One foot solidly situated in the material world; and the other stretching out, like a feeler, into the realms of spirit. Sometimes an angel, sometimes a human, mostly a beast. Meeow.

The great thing about the the path of bhakti is that it has been carefully delivered to us by the disciplic succession of gurus going back all the way to Krishna Himself. The process is very simple (especially in our present times). It is recommended in the Vedas that in the Age of Kali (this modern age) that we should simply chant Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada taught this process to the whole world. It is not a practice for spiritual adepts only. A child can chant Hare Krishna. And the process is the same for the beginner as it is for those reaching spiritual perfection. Just chant the Holy Names.

Another wonderful thing about Krishna-consciousness is that we have many spiritual role-models, both in the scriptures (like Srimad Bhagavatam) and in this world at this moment. Accomplished chanters can help us chant without offences so we can achieve life’s ultimate goal, pure love of God or Krishna-prema.

So, from Mukunda Charan, a happy, belated, beautiful New Year….

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