Monday Morning Greetings 2018 #30 – It’s the Mind!

July 23rd, 2018

Everyone has their own set of irrational fears and anxieties according to their past experiences, this life or the previous, often embedded deep in the subconscious. Mine is travel. I wouldn’t say it is debilitating. I don’t lose sleep over it, but when I travel I worry unnecessarily. I have to be hours early for a flight. I can understand being reasonably cautious, but inevitably I arrive far beyond what is necessary. And as soon as my car pulls out of the driveway to leave for the airport, I nervously slap my pockets checking for my passport, ticket, and wallet, although I checked for these things numerous times before I left. Today after more than forty years traveling in the Hare Krishna movement, I think I finally came to my senses:


Why all this worry?  Am I really the controller? Whether I miss my plane or not is really not up to me. There are five factors of action and only one is our endeavor, so just do your duty and leave on time, not hours before. The rest is really up to Krishna. He has already decided whether you need to be to the next place on time or not. It is all so basic that it is almost embarrassing.


And when thinking this way, it clearly reaffirmed a realization. It’s the mind! In other words, all our problems are more how we see things than how they actually are.


A personal and classic example: Previously, when coming from the airport to Vṛndāvana, I would have my driver head directly to Keśi-ghāṭa on the bank of the Yamunā. My ritual was to take a holy bath for purification before daring to begin my undeserved stay in this most sacred of places. One year while descending the steps of the ghāṭa to bathe, I noticed a big black snake looming on the very bottom step. Whoa! Apprehensively, I moved thirty yards further down the river before quickly bathing, still harboring that very dangerous serpent in my mind. While walking back to my car, I looked down to the first step only to see that same black snake sitting in the exact same position. It hadn’t moved an inch! I was surprised. As I wasn’t wearing my glasses I began to squint to examine the situation more clearly. I began to chuckle. Oh, it was just a black tire! Just see, a snake posed a danger, but the problem existed only in my mind.


A deeper existential example: The greatest problem or fear is death because we lose everything including our present identity, but death itself is only the illusion of non-existence. How much unnecessary and unlimited worry do we have to endure due to the mind before we wake up!


Now back to my petty anxieties. I am in Sochi. My flight for Vilnius is 11:15 AM and the airport is 45 minutes away. My host says we will leave at 8:00 AM. I suggest leaving 15 minutes earlier, but my host assures me it is more than enough time. I naturally start to think “What if…” but I check my impulse.  Stop this silliness and depend on Krishna. I began to reflect that the anxiety I accrued over the years in the process of travel was so much worse than the worst-case scenario, — a rare missed flight — which may never even have happened. It is so clear. There may be serious challenges in life, but most of our worries are needless. How much time and energy we could save for a productive and peaceful life if we could only starve those irrational thoughts by neglect. It’s funny, but I suddenly think of one of the most famous quotes in American history:


“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”[1]



[1] By Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States in his first inaugural address referring to the Great Depression the country was facing at that time.

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