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Looking for Essence - New Year’s Message 2020

By Sacinandana Swami

One of the fondest memories of my Vrindavan stay this year was a visit to a rural village somewhere near Varsana. We had just visited a little ashram with an underground cave for bhajan (prolonged contemplative spiritual practice) in the hot season (as it is much cooler under the earth) and were now moving through the narrow lanes plastered with bricks from the local brick-oven. We were on our way to the ancient Radha Raman temple, guided by the elders of the village and followed by many friendly villagers.

Suddenly my eyes caught an unusual scene. There was an old, wooden bed in the middle of an inner courtyard, under the open sky. On the bed was a very old lady lying covered under a thick blanket. Next to her were her prayer beads. When I stepped into the courtyard, one of the village elders came along, “That is my mother. She is 103-years-old, and will soon leave us,” he said gesturing upwards.

The elderly lady had by now become aware of my presence, and asked her son in Hindi, “When will I go? I wish to go to Krishna.”

The son answered with a smile, “Soon mother, very soon the Lord will come and take you.” There was no hesitation in their voices, no sadness, no shock, no hiding. Dying had lost its terror for mother and son, because they were prepared.

I remembered my spiritual master’s last words to me, “First of all you have to understand that life is eternal.” Someone who understands this has no fear, no regrets, and even in this life, no problem with the appearance of happiness and distress. To understand that life is eternal means you have understood the essence. Now you can lean back into a certain spirit. Just relax and watch what happens in the movie theater of life.

New Year’s Resolutions

People have commented that the next year heralds the arrival of a new decade. And many have asked, “What will it bring?”

Many people make incredibly inspiring new year’s resolutions only to find that they can’t maintain what they set out to do. However, when you learn to touch the essence, then there is immediate nourishment!

I am convinced that our next revolution is a spiritual one. Many, many people will begin to look for answers inside, trying to re-discover their inner self, and to establish connection with the Divine, the unknown Lord and master of all. My conviction is that this will be true not only for spiritual persons, but also for those who see themselves as secular.

Touching Essence

Often, people shy away from deep spirituality, thinking it requires a huge investment of time that they don’t have. But the fact is that they can actually touch eternity in a much shorter time than they imagine! This is possible by divine grace.

There are two methods of advancing in spiritual life – the ascending path, by our own efforts, and the descending path, when the Lord invests us with His kripa-sakti (the energy of His mercy). In the bhakti tradition, efforts are needed to show that one is not at all indifferent to obtaining Krishna’s mercy. However, on this path, advancement is far more effective and substantial via mercy. By endeavor we’re tethered to our limitations. Mercy gives us the wings to fly…

Let me therefore suggest how we can come in contact with that alive spirit – a well-spring of divine inspiration and mercy:

Simply sing and pray more!

The Lord has a soft spot for those who sing His glories. And prayers open the Lord’s heart (see Padyavali 8) to unleash grace. Knowing this, my recommendation for the next year is NOT to compose a huge catalogue of New Year’s resolutions (that you would put aside after a few weeks), but to sing and pray more. Then you will be empowered with the strongest force in existence – divine grace. By that grace, we move forward with ease, under divine protection, even in difficult circumstances.

In this spirit, I see before my eyes the happy, old, toothless lady of Vrindavan (there’s no good dentist in her village), who conversed with her son about her ultimate journey. She was as relaxed and natural as one speaking about moving from one room to another.
 

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