-by Pranada Comtois
The youth clad in hiking boots and jeans hoisted his back pack over his shoulder and hurried out in front of me. Swinging my head to the side to avoid the brusque movement of his pack, I slowed my step to give way to his determination.
Perhaps he knew what to expect: clearing US customs takes time. He was making sure to be in front of the 200+ passengers deplaning in Atlanta from Costa Rica.
We arrived into a mile-long hall to Passport Control forming a single-file snaking line of hundreds of passengers. I was peaceful listening to a kirtan. Then I noticed how unhappy people seemed, which struck me since I was feeling joy.
I thought, Maybe chanting the maha-mantra every day has helped me gain patience and peace that doesn’t come easy for others.
Curious, I became attentive to individuals as they rounded the corner and saw the length of the line. Dread, agitation, and concern showed in their faces. The longer we stood still the more I heard rumbles of unrest.
I stood nibbling on dinner until the line reached an area filled with multiple rows of automated kiosks. We scanned our passports, answered questions, then had a picture taken, which was printed out on a piece of paper the size of a boarding pass. Several people repeatedly commented on how awful they looked in their photo.
The unhappiness of the wait and ugly pictures is unnecessary if they simply checked negative thoughts. Notice this, Pranada. Commit to changing all traces of your own mental negativity.
Our lives are lived in our minds. Factually, our mind dictates our state of being.
If I don’t like being unhappy, I don’t need to focus on the length of the line, I could be thankful we landed safely (the plane had touched down so hard that people were jostled in their seats. Many screamed; I had said “Krishna!”).
Now I was listening to transcendental sounds; I had packed a healthy meal; I was on my way home . . . I kept finding more reasons why the moment was utterly precious and I smiled.
Once past Customs we headed, not to our connecting flights, but to a TSA security checkpoint. This line was seriously long. Now people’s faces were more than gloomy and agitated.
Out of hundreds of people only one young couple was jolly and bantered. Perhaps the newness of their union buoyed their spirits. Their silliness was also an external manifestation of their mind’s playground.
I began to wonder what it would be like if I was with this large group of people during a catastrophe. What would happen to our decorum-veneer if our mettle was really tested? How would we fair at the most demanding checkpoint, death?
If not border control, or control by work, a spouse, money, event or other person/circumstance, we’re controlled unequivocally by Time.
We’re not controllers. When we accept this, we have an opportunity to practice patience and humility which strengthen our ability to control the mind.
For we must stand in line; we must wait; we must accept what is; we must die.
We can note, though, that while perfectly restraining the mind can give us peace, it doesn’t allow us to transcend the mind (or body) which is the root cause of our suffering and insecurity. Nor is it by mind control alone that we’re able to pass through the border at the edge of the multiverses beyond the time-space barrier. Another type of qualification is needed.
Entry into the superior nature is simple: Arrive as a lover.
Proceed as your self, disentangled from identification with the temporal material mind-body. This is possible through a spiritual practice that is ego-effacing. Reach there with full spiritual rapture for your Divine Significant Other.* The force of your transcendental passion is the passport required.
Bhakti is the East’s path that promises the charming objectives of becoming a lover and perpetually free from borders. Additionally, it’s ego-effacing practice—unlike most paths—is easy and sweet.
For centuries, saints, seers, mystics, sages, and ordinary practitioners have validated the efficacy of Bhakti’s mantra meditation kirtan (group singing of Krishna’s holy names) and japa (individual chanting).
Chanting the names is a potent form of dialogue. In a conversation there is an exchange of ideas and sharing of personal interests. When our discussion is with an extraordinary person, our communication stirs feelings of appreciation, and often gratitude. And when our connection is deep and abiding those feelings mature into love.
Bhakti encourages, Sing and chant your way to wise-love.
Taking daily time to free the encaged self from ancient patterns is worth every minute and the inevitable inconveniences are no aggravations at all.
May you be free to pass beyond all borders,
*The five spiritual moods (rasas) parallel the five primary types of loving exchanges in human experience. The relationships of the self with the Divine are reverential/passive love (shanta), subservient love (dasya), friendship/mutual love (sakhya) , nurturing/parental love (vatsalya), and intimate, passionate love (madhurya).
Pranada Comtois is a devoted pilgrim, teacher, and author of Wise-Love: Bhakti and the Search for the Soul of Consciousness, which has received four industry awards in spirituality and body/mind/spirit. She is a featured speaker in the film “Women of Bhakti.”