Dhanurdhara Swami April 22nd, 2001
John Havlek came over this morning to the cabin where I am staying to invite me to visit his house on the way to the evening program at Kaisori Mataji’s. John’s house is one of my regular stops at Gita-nagari. He is a practical man with integrity and his wife, Damayanti, also has high ideals. They came to Gita-nagari about ten years ago with a practical plan to raise a family in Krishna consciousness?to take full responsibility for their own family and to not become overly dependent on the success of a particular Krishna consciousness community for its development.
It’s not that they aren?t community-minded. They are. And they do appreciate the importance of a community to raise a child. That’s why they moved to Gita-nagari ten years ago. It’s just that they are watchful of idealist expectations. If they wait for Gita-nagari, or any pioneering spiritual community, to fully provide their social, educational, and spiritual needs?which may or may not happen?aspects of their family development may suffer or be delayed. Also, in frustration, they may move from place to place and
never get settled.
John’s spirit of healthy self-reliance allowed his family to move to Gita-nagari to take advantage of the Deities and the devotees with the confidence that they wouldn’t be moving again. As a result they were able to immediately get on with their business of planning and settling their family.
John and his wife both found jobs as teachers. This has allowed them to buy land and build their house, but their plan is long range. By owning sufficient land, residing in a place with very low taxes and with no mortgage, rent, or utilities, and by living simply, they are hoping to gradually have increased time for a more natural and spiritual life. John’s house has developed a lot since I last visited. It has lots of windows and faces south to get the morning sun. It is also very well insulated, which makes it easy and cost-efficient to heat. He built the house himself. The wood floors cut from the timber on his property give their home a natural and peaceful ambiance. The house, by choice, has no electricity. For most people, that would be a difficult and unnecessary inconvenience, but for them, it would be more inconvenient to work the rest of their lives at meaningless jobs to pay off all the modern conveniences one can become overly reliant on. They do, however, have a phone.
When you walk in the house you can feel the special peacefulness of a non-electro/mechanistic living space, but the present lighting?propane night-lights?pose a fire hazard. They?ve decided, therefore, to opt for solar electricity. He showed me the new all-in-one cast iron stove?strongly and efficiently built?that cooks, heats the house, and pumps hot water into the bathroom. They also have a garden and a family cow.
Plenty of milk products, grains, and few overhead costs give them hopes for financial and occupational freedom in the future. In pursuance of this goal they plan for a possible little guesthouse, a summer camp for devotee children, and perhaps an herb business so they can easily maintain their minimal expenses working at home.
Not everyone could, or perhaps should, live that way, but one has to give them credit for a plan to rest control of their future from bondage to heavy expenses and meaningless work. It’s a trade-off?only a few less modern conveniences for a simple and saner life. As Damayanti told me, ?I’d rather go into the forest to collect firewood then drive twenty miles to work just to pay for it.? It’s worth a thought.