September 11th, 2001

Bhaktivedanta Ashram – New York City

I am trying to see the world through the eyes of sastra and then relate that view for others. The scene outside is so devastating that it’s difficult to just be analytical. Should I? An hour ago I was standing on East 4th and Bowery. The roads are practically desolate except for the rushing of fire trucks, ambulances and police cars screeching in an endless procession to and from the West Side. Except for the constant sirens there is almost an eerie silence everywhere. Throngs of New Yorkers are hurriedly walking north almost like refugees in their own city, several covered completely in ash, even though the World Trade Center is burning to the southwest nearly forty blocks away. A young middle-class woman weeping uncontrollably runs past me into the middle of the street to embrace an ashen covered businessman, evidently her husband. She has been anxiously waiting in front of her apartment since news of the disaster broke, not sure if her husband was dead or alive.

Just yesterday I was again thinking that I am the controller, that my destiny is in my hands, and that the world I live in is an eternal reality under my control. What an illusion! A whole city was turned topsy-turvy in a second by the will of God, despite so-called plan makers and world organizers. What then is the stability of my little world and what power and intelligence do I have to control it.

With hundreds of other pedestrians Akincana Krishna was watching the World Trade Towers burn from Mercer and 4th street. He watched in shock as it suddenly crumbled and watched the onlookers crumble in heart with it. “It was horrible. The most inauspicious thing that I every saw”, he said somberly as he entered the ashram for shelter. His mother calls and starts crying uncontrollably, “I fear for the danger of humanity! I don’t know what’s happening! My son is trapped in Manhattan like a prisoner!” People are so much shaken as their environment and comforts have moved forcibly and controllably beyond their control, and they fear it is a shift with lifetime consequences.

Queen Kunti prayed for such calamity as such adversity brings one closer to reality. What is that reality? God and God’s energies! Everything else is an illusion. We tend to see that more clearly when the world we embrace shockingly reveals its impermanence. What does this mean for devotees? Hopefully, it means a reality check. Am I accepting material life as my eternal life and my present body as the eternal self? Am I overly attached to that illusion and thus investing too much of my energies in it, although such life has no endurance and is thus unreal? Am I endeavoring for real life, Krishna consciousness.


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