Monday Morning Greetings 2018 #52 – Don’t Think This Won’t Happen to You

December 24th, 2018

Śrīla Prabhupāda had been bedridden for months in Vṛndāvana while preparing to leave this world when he turned to his young sannyāsi disciples surrounding his bed and issued a sober warning: “Don’t think this won’t happen to you.” Well, forty-one years later it is happening. Śrīla Prabhupāda’s disciples are leaving us at an increasing rate.


I remember one devotee describing this phenomenon with the analogy of cooking popcorn. The analogy, although helpful for my point, is a bit morbid, so please bear with me. Initially when heating up the kernels just one or two will pop. Gradually, minute by minute, the number of kernels popping increases exponentially until they are all popped. In the same way, we had only one or two premature departures of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s disciples in my first few years as a devotee. Now, as those devotees are aging, we are losing a few every year, a number that will continue to increase more and more until, in the not so distant future, they will all be gone.


When I begin to write each week I look for a realization that has crossed my mind the preceding week, so excuse me if what I came up with this week is a bit gloomy. I remember sitting at my desk in Vṛndāvana, reflecting on my life, and marveling at the thought that at sixty-eight years of age I am about the same age as Śrīla Prabhupāda when he left for America. I just couldn’t believe that I am that old. It was then that Śrīla Prabhupāda’s words, “Don’t think this won’t happen to you,” came to my mind and a flood of thoughts followed.


Mostly, the realizations were positive and inspiring. For sure it makes one much more detached. In the presence of temporality, many things that seem of grave importance suddenly seem petty.


The reflection that hit me strongest was the thought of impending separation from many Godbrothers and Godsisters who may leave the world before I do. It was hard to fathom the void in my life by the absence of such substantial people, even if I only see them just a few times a year at most.


I also realized how much we need such reality checks for a healthy spiritual life, and that if we don’t refresh the fact of our temporality such thoughts will certainly recede in our consciousness by the core nature of human psychology. The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam thus tells us that the most amazing thing in the world is that we act as if in this body we will live forever in the face of the fact that everyone in history has died. So yes, realizations of the temporary nature of the world do most often fade. I love the generic term Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam uses for this phenomenon: śmaśāna-vairāgya, the temporary thoughts of renunciation that arise only at a funeral and then quickly fade, but I pray not.


I am left with a sobering thought. Seriousness in Krishna consciousness is not something we plan for the future. If we don’t appropriately dedicate ourselves now to guru and Krishna according to our station in life, it may never happen. Trust no future, however pleasant.[1] I pray to heed Śrīla Prabhupāda’s words spoken in earnest to his young disciples. I meditate how much more relevant they are to me now: Don’t think this won’t happen to you!





[1] From “The Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Comments are closed.