Monday Morning Greetings 2020 #22 – Have I Become Nārada Muni and Other Pandemic Musings 

June 1st, 2020

Have I Become Nārada Muni?


A vision came. It was post quarantine New York. Pedestrians again filled the street. Cars again packed the road. All of sudden my mind let out a scream, “No!!!” What a strange reaction from this born and bred New Yorker. The peace and goodness of the last two months has indeed been spiritually intoxicating. I feared losing it. “Have you become Nārada Muni?” What a strange thought.


Nārada Muni gained audience with God only to have that vision quickly disappear. In desperation, he repeatedly tried to regain it, but to no avail. Finally, a divine voice from the sky revealed his defect, “You are not yet complete in service and have a material taint!” His taint? He was attached to the peace and goodness of the serene mountain place where he was meditating. How is that a blemish? Attachment even to goodness is passion and thus stains an otherwise pure consciousness. Permanent audience with God is only for those in viśuddha sattva, pure goodness, who are completely selfless and detached, and they go wherever service takes them, even New York. I hope this helps put my strange question in perspective.


Some Sannyāsī!


My students and friends from the Middle East were visiting me. I was being lavished with their gifts, and the bed where I was sitting was obscenely piled up with the exotic fruits, nuts and dried fruits from their country. I especially liked the pomegranates as big as softballs, the ambrosial sweet lemons, and the packages and packages of fresh saffron. A new devotee who was visiting Vṛndāvana, a red-headed actress and comedian from New York, suddenly walked in and paid obeisances in front of my bed. She then sat up, looked up at my bounty, and quipped, “Some sannyāsī!”


I loved it. That’s my type of city humor. Thinking back on it, I see some truth in it. Sannyāsa literally means “to practice dying”, learning the joy of shedding attachments before they are forcibly taken away. Modern sannyāsa, however, is filled with the accoutrements of opulence, such as followers and wealth. It poses a challenge to anyone entering that order, like sitting on a bed surrounded by doting followers and being showered with opulence. This is not by any means a blanket condemnation of the modern saffron soldiers. It is a caution, especially as a personal reflection on my own life.


In the last four months there have been challenges to the order of my world. I tend to handle things well, but when major attachments are threatened it tends to become a bit scary. But realizations also come. Why fret over that which you will lose anyway? Give it up now. Practice dying. Isn’t that what sannyāsa is for anyway? Otherwise, the red-head would be right, “Some sannyāsī!”


The Heart of Bhakti


Bhakti means devotion or love for God. Love manifest through relationship. The heart of chanting must be a call to understand our relationship with God. That is the specialness of the bhakti theology. Lover? Parent? Friend? O Lord, who am I? Please fully instill that sense in my heart.


A final thought: “Have I become Nārada Muni?” What a joke!



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