Monday Morning Greetings 2020 #5 – Traveling Makes a Man Old

February 3rd, 2020

I just don’t do well traveling. I am so disoriented from the day-long travel from Puri that the travail of traveling is the only realization I have to write about. Let’s see what I can say.

 

Śrīla Prabhupāda circled the globe twelve times in ten years, beginning after the age of seventy, yet wherever he arrived, he automatically clicked into his daily schedule without losing a beat. To me that’s unimaginable.

 

I am not Śrīla Prabhupāda. I become unsettled and inefficient after even a short jaunt. By my nature, travel is especially tough. Although, in general, modern travel is burdensome in ways for everyone. I remember the cautions of an Āyurvedic doctor:

 

“Anytime you travel faster than a bullock cart it blows out the fire of digestion. If you change your environment it takes seventy-two hours to adjust physiologically to the new air, water, food, and so on. Quick movement exacerbates the mode of passion, which is not good for the mind.”

 

A spiritual mentor offered an insight:

 

“People used to walk days or weeks to arrive in Vṛndāvana. Their minds would arrive in Vṛndāvana days or weeks before their bodies. Today we fly to Vṛndāvana. Our minds arrive days after our bodies.”

 

Whenever I go to the holy dhāma, the first thing I try to do is to bathe in a holy river or lake. It is the quickest way to help my mind arrive in the place where my body rests. Another way is to circumambulate Vṛndāvana proper. Haven’t had a chance for that either. I’ll go tomorrow.

 

My service of speaking and writing requires a clear mind. Efficient memory is very much a product of the mode of goodness. If my mind is not calm and clear it is hard to keep a fluid train of thought, or to quickly access the memory for an important reference to enhance my point.

 

The passion of travel has stolen that, at least for a few days. It’s Thursday; I am just beginning this week’s post. What happened? It has become near impossible to write.

 

I have to be fair. Traveling can also have a substantial upside. When we stay in one place, we tend to build our environment according to our desires and material identity. That’s natural. We need a level of satisfaction and peace to even pursue our dharma or spiritual life, but it can also fortify the conception that one is the doer, attach one to the temporary, and create the illusion that family and home are the ultimate reality. When mature, those who seek to loosen those conceptions and who have appropriately satisfied their responsibilities traditionally retire from material life. They wander in the forest bereft of their material protective agents to learn that we are not the doer and that God is actually our maintainer and protector.

 

Of course, like many strictures of the past, one must seek the principle they represent and intelligently apply it to their present situation. However, there is something to be said about leaving one’s comforts and travelling for a spiritual purpose where one is forced to face situations that challenge one’s control and foster faith and dependence on God. All true, but my service now is to stay in Vṛndāvana. I need to be here in the proper mind-set.

 

I just finished parikramā of Vṛndāvana. It was just a two-hour jaunt. I even wore shoes and socks for the first time on the now-paved road, which traditionally is navigated barefoot out of respect. I can’t believe it. How did I get a huge blister despite thick socks and footwear? Is this Vṛndāvana monk, who has lived here for over forty-three years, getting too soft? Anyway, I have finally entered the dhāma, but only after suffering the import of the maxim:

 

“Traveling makes a man old.”[1]

 

 

 


[1] Cāṇakya Paṇḍita

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