Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Crying For Krishna

About a month later, I'm finally sitting down to write about my experience in Germany. What's that? Japa retreat? You're kidding, right? Oh, I haven't forgotten, but I'm not sure if I'll be sitting down for that one any time soon. Anyway...

One morning, eating breakfast in the Novotel in Aachen, I noticed a little boy one or two years old. He had just suffered a childhood trauma of some description. I'm unsure of the exact nature of the incident, and at the time I got the general impression that he wasn't quite sure either. By the time he had found his way to his mother's lap - all the while crying 'Mama! Mama!' in steady, insistent sob-tones - he seemed to have forgotten what the original source of his distress had been. Not that this dissuaded him in any way from rather vocally taking shelter of his mother's love.

I thought of how much his steady, repetitive 'Mama! Mama!' sounded like a mantra, and I was immediately reminded of how Srila Prabhupada has instructed us to chant Hare Krishna like a child crying for its mother. I also realized how there was something about this boy's crying that was faintly comforting to me, and I think, to him as well. Though he kept crying, and showed no sign of stopping, I felt that he didn't have a care in the world, but was in some way taking pleasure in both the crying, and in his mother's eager reciprocation - satiated by her desire to alleviate his distress.

The boy's apparent detachment may seem odd, but it seemed rather palpable to me at the time, and it reminded me of the nature of our own material strife. If we can follow this example, and take pleasure in crying out the Lord's Holy Name in the same way, the Lord will eagerly reciprocate. Any distress we may have had will then disappear without a trace. Nonetheless, we will continue chanting with the same urgency, feeling the bliss of mutual reciprocation with the Lord of our heart.

Our material distress is completely inconsequential, after all. Just as the pleasures of the body - and the world it inhabits - are illusory, so too are the distresses. The greatest thing the devotee has to fear in this material world is that he may at any time fall into illusion and forget Krishna. But if we are sitting at the Lord's lotus feet, crying out His Holy Names with relish, then what chance does maya have to enter our consciousness?

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