Monday Morning Greetings 2023 #38 – Aliens and Earthmen

September 18th, 2023

I’ve exposed myself before as an “alien”,[1] a person who grew up revering asphalt and stickball,[2] never went camping, and hates country walks. Still, by Śrīla Prabhupāda’s grace, I aspire for the forest of Vrindavan and the planet of the cows. I also honor “earthmen”, people who not only commune with nature and love country walks but can live off the land. If there is any failure of the modern-day Hare Krishna movement, it’s that despite Śrīla Prabhupāda’s teachings of “simple living and high thinking”, almost all of us, his followers that is, are stuck in the city or suburbs conditioned by a false sense of opulence based on technology and could never see Goloka Vrindavan as the spiritual world if it didn’t have 5G. Seriously!


Where did this rant come from?! A friend sent me a short video interview with a pious young Christian named Titus. He lives without running water and electricity on his own sustainable farm on a strictly plant-based diet. He works hard all day, and if he has spare time, he reads the Bible and an occasional history book. He seems peaceful and fulfilled. The quality and especially integrity of his life hit me because it reinforced in me many of the things I needed to hear again that Śrīla Prabhupāda stressed about simple living, especially that most of our material problems are self-created by the way we choose to live and that few people today, if any, have a relatively peaceful life.


Just think of the struggles the average family is facing today. Have you recently checked the price of gas, which affects the price of everything, or gone shopping for groceries? Our purchasing power has been rapidly decreasing to the extent that those entering the workforce today are the first generation in America whose economic prospects are worse than their parents. Even the most basic things such as owning one’s home, getting married and raising a family, and retiring at a reasonable age have suddenly become a challenge, even a dream. What’s even more stressful is that the fate of our sustenance is increasingly dependent on people who care little about our plight in life. That strain, Śrīla Prabhupāda warns us, over dependence on such people’s mercy,[3] is one of the root causes of disease. I could go on and on with the madness of modern life, as those who hold power and “know best” are increasingly intruding on our privacy and subverting our values. My main point, however, is that Titus had a solution for such oppression, as did Śrīla Prabhupāda—simple living and high thinking.


I found Titus’s video tempting, yet personally challenging. Tempting because it seems so attractive to trade our attachments for a relatively worry-free life, and challenging because even as a renunciate I am not sure I could live that way. Have I already been too spoiled by the impressions in my heart of an attraction for a life of technology and comforts? Are we all doomed to a life of endless complexity, anxiety, nine-to-five slavery, and oppression just for a few trinkets of technology? Introducing Titus, the consummate earthman:[4]




[1] I have used the phrase “aliens and earthmen” this way before. It comes from my Godbrother, Varsana Maharaja, who has dedicated himself to developing New Vrindavan and has a unique communion with nature, animals, and the land. He described to me two classes of devotees: earthmen—those who commune with the land, and aliens—those who have little relationship or attraction with nature. I should note that at the time he shared those phrases with me, perhaps thirty years ago, the masculine gender in plural referred to all people. Probably, if he coined phrase today it would be earth people.

[2] I grew up in Brooklyn and was conditioned to the joys of the city. I never went camping and loved stickball. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stickball_(street_game). Here is an article I wrote about my feelings towards country walks.  https://wavesofdevotion.com/2017/07/17/now/

[3] “[…] By keeping regular habits and eating simple food, any man can maintain his health. Overeating, over–sense-gratification, overdependence on another’s mercy, and artificial standards of living sap the very vitality of human energy. Therefore, the duration of life is shortened.” (Bhag. 1.1.10)

[4] The video of Titus was by Peter Santenello. I like his work. I previously used him when I wrote an article about Lakewood, a city of Hasidic Jews in New Jersey. Here is another video by him on simple living: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LEoW81mUXU


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