December 1996

I began to read Juan Mascaro‘s Gita with more attention.  Ranke’s History of the Popes made me feel disillusioned with Catholicism.  If Roman Catholicism was already so corrupt by the 1400s, what must it be like now?  I accepted Christ’s life and teachings, but saw many flaws with the Christian institutions.  I loved the sense of relevance of the Gita and I was attracted to the simplicity of Krishna’s teachings.  How could I learn more?

I read a verse in the Gita that described how a person who had lived a virtuous life in yoga with the Supreme would take birth in a family of yogis in his next life.  My mind created a picture of such a family.  They might be carpenters, like Jesus Christ.  Maybe they practised yoga asanas and lived a simple, peaceful life.  They would wear robes, of course, and work in the spirit of detachment that the Gita spoke about.  To the best of my knowledge, no such families existed in the western world.  They would have to live in India.  With my heavy routine of exercise, study and philosophical inquiry I was beginning to consider myself a bit of a yogi.  I realized, however, that I was unqualified.  I had taken birth in a western family, far off the mark of the devotion and ascetism I had read about in the Vedas.

It dawned on me that I needed to find such a family like the family of yogis I had read about in the Gita.  They must exist.  Maybe you could find them in India.  Yes, I thought to myself, maybe I should go to India.  I did not realize I would not have to go that far.  I wanted my flatmate, Justin, to read the Gita.  He had told me that he had read some eastern philosophy before.  He was studying an MSc. in Geology, specializing in aquafers – underground deposits of water.  Justin was very spontaneous.  Sometimes he’d just get on his motorbike and take a ride out into the countryside – see the Namaqualand daisies or some local oddity.  He had ridden through Africa, from Cape Town to Turkey, on a motorbike at the age of twenty-one.  He was the one who inspired me to run up to the blockhouse, above Rhodes Memorial.  He had done that to get fit for Western Province waterpolo.

The Bhagavad-gita contained a precise description of spiritual understanding or, what I had discovered to be, the Absolute Truth.  It was the final destination of my literary wanderings and the beginning of a new journey.  The 700 verses of the Gita seemed to summarize all knowledge and point to the boundless, eternal wisdom of the soul and God.  My experience of Christianity had proved disappointing.  There did not seem to be a very integrated congruence between the Biblical text and spiritual experience.  The Gita also seemed to offer a more life-affirming approach to life than the nihilistic and negative teachings of Buddhism.  I am cognizant.  I am aware of who I am.  I must, therefore, exist.  I must be an individual.  My discovery of Vedic literature aroused in me a thirst for spiritual excellence.  And the Bhagavad-gita was showing me the way.