Looking for Essence

by Sacinandana Swami

One of the fondest memories of my Vrindavan stay this year was a visit to a rural village somewhere near Varsana. We had just visited a little ashram with an underground cave for bhajan (prolonged contemplative spiritual practice) in the hot season (as it is much cooler under the earth) and were now moving through the narrow lanes plastered with bricks from the local brick-oven. We were on our way to the ancient Radha Raman temple, guided by the elders of the village and followed by many friendly villagers.

Suddenly my eyes caught an unusual scene. There was an old, wooden bed in the middle of an inner courtyard, under the open sky. On the bed was a very old lady lying covered under a thick blanket. Next to her were her prayer beads. When I stepped into the courtyard, one of the village elders came along, “That is my mother. She is 103-years-old, and will soon leave us,” he said gesturing upwards.

The elderly lady had by now become aware of my presence, and asked her son in Hindi, “When will I go? I wish to go to Krishna.”

The son answered with a smile, “Soon mother, very soon the Lord will come and take you.” There was no hesitation in their voices, no sadness, no shock, no hiding. Dying had lost its terror for mother and son, because they were prepared.

I remembered my spiritual master’s last words to me, “First of all you have to understand that life is eternal.” Someone who understands this has no fear, no regrets, and even in this life, no problem with the appearance of happiness and distress. To understand that life is eternal means you have understood the essence. Now you can lean back into a certain spirit. Just relax and watch what happens in the movie theater of life.