Monday Morning Greetings 2019 #5 – Why I Hate Traveling

February 4th, 2019

Stuck again. People ask me how I come up with something to write every week. All I can say is that Krishna is in the heart and from Him comes remembrance, forgetfulness, and knowledge. When I finish one article I pray and generally something comes, and what comes is usually a realization from the past week. That’s the only way I can explain it. Well, something has come.

 

I arrived Friday evening after long, arduous travel from Puri. I am pretty much useless the next day, especially in terms of concentrated thought. I only now started writing the next entry, but nothing is coming. I am worried. I can’t risk waiting until later in the week to come up with an idea because the process of writing needs sufficient time to fructify to ensure I meet my deadline with something of quality. I hate traveling. Voilà! That’s what I feel now, so why not write about it? It’s kind of my Aikido writing trick, using the force of my opposition for my strength. So here it is, my latest Monday Morning Greeting.

 

A great deal of my service is writing and chanting, activities that require concentration. Traveling, which increases the mood of passion, is thus especially brutal for my service. After I travel it takes some time to shift into a productive mode for these services. Perhaps that’s just me. Śrīla Prabhupāda certainly wasn’t affected.

 

When I was younger, I remember sometimes walking out of my house to go to a social event and often just walking back. I just liked staying in one place so much better than the hassle of going to somewhere else.

 

My nature is not to get shaken or frazzled, even in crisis, but still, when it comes to travel I needlessly fret over the possibility of missing my plane or worry that I left something essential behind. I have written about that before, how I often arrive at the airport ridiculously early.

 

One of my important services is hosting people in the holy dhāma. Traveling out with people to holy places, however, is one of the last things I like to do. Those on my Puri yatra may have noticed that I skipped our visit to the famous Saksi Gopal temple, our only bus trip during the retreat.

 

I could go on and on about my repugnance for and jitters with long journeys, but I think there is an important point here to discuss. It is also a very personal one. Where do we tell our likes and dislikes to get off on the path of bhakti?

 

First, when to tell our likes and dislikes not to get off the path of bhakti. I think the best way I can do that is by sharing some of my favorite sayings on the subject:

 

“Our taste in Krishna consciousness is the door for us to gain entrance to the spiritual world.”[1]

 

“Whatever we like best we can offer to Krishna with the most devotion.”[2]

 

“The spiritual master finds the ways and means to engage one in devotional service.”[3]

 

Now where do they get off? A short story to illustrate the point:

 

About twenty-five years ago, when I had to leave India for six months, my solace was giving a weekly class at 26 2nd Avenue. At that time, I would especially relish listening to Śrīla Prabhupāda’s classes from when he preached there. One class particularly piqued my interest. Śrīla Prabhupāda was reflecting on living on the Lower East Side, which, frankly, was the dreck of New York at the time.

 

“Why have I come to this place? Why have I come to this place? Because it was the order of my spiritual master.”

 

When a person chooses a place to live, it generally reflects their proclivities and desires. The Lower East Side was the last place in the world that a very well cultured elderly devotional Bengali gentleman would retire, especially when he had already achieved residence in Vṛndāvana. Śrīla Prabhupāda’s residence in the Lower East Side was thus starkly not about his likes or dislike. And that’s the point. We accept things that are pleasing to guru and Krishna, sometimes in line with our nature and sometimes not. We tell everything else to get off, no matter what that means for our life. That’s called real love, or pure devotional service. And we won’t be cheated. Real happiness is a heart filled with such devotion.

 

I will finish this week with one more of my favorite sayings that I think is relevant to our discussion, a definition of bhakti that succinctly sums up the heart of pure devotion:

 

Bhakti means to make oneself available [for service].[4] And I may add, even traveling when one has absolutely no desire to do so.


[1] This insight was once shared with me by Bhurijana Dasa.

[2] I loved this answer to a question asked to one of the most prominent scholars in Vṛndāvana when a devotee asked if we can offer pizza to Krishna.

[3] This is a paraphrase of a quote by Śrīla Prabhupāda in the Nectar of Devotion about how the spiritual master engages the disciple according to his or her proclivities.

[4] This definition of bhakti was once shared to me personally by Pradyumna Dasa, Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Sanskrit editor.

 

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