Thursday, December 07, 2006

Five good things

I heard that people who get into the "three good things" end up finding way more than three good things each day. I think I am afraid to think of the good things because I want one thing so much more than anything else.

But I am going to accept my situation and wait for "Divine Intervention." It's nothing new: I've been reciting Mahaprabhu's words to Raghunath Das--krame krame pay lok bhava-sindhu-kul--for a long time. I am confident that Mahaprabhu has more waiting for me than sitting in this office. My mother-in-law recites that old proverb, "Il n'y a pas de sot métier, il n'y a que de sottes gens." Not that I consider this a métier, but wallowing does not behoove me, as I said.

In a bit of serendipity, one of the customer service people downstairs came up today carrying Daniel Coleman's latest book, Social Intelligence. In talking to the people working the floor, I have found that one is a jazz musician, another is a city planner from Algeria, one is a young man who wants to become a firefighter. Philippe looks like he is in his late thirties, but wants to go back to university to study psychology because he has been so influenced by Coleman's theory of emotional intelligence. Though he has not yet shared his personal story with me, Philippe did tell me that he wants to work in suicide prevention, which he thinks can be helped through getting people to recognize and express their emotions.

Funnily enough, the very morning after having this conversation a few days ago, I happened to hear Coleman interviewed on the radio. This nourished another exchange the next day with Philippe. Then yesterday morning, I was very moved by another interview I heard on the local Catholic radio station with Andrée Ruffo, a retired juvenile court judge who is now trying to reform the child welfare system. She had many stories, some of which she told with such feeling and conviction that tears welled up in my eyes. This is not such an infrequent occurrence, and happens usually I am impressed by individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to meaningful goals.

At any rate, I consider it serendipitous that Philippe handed me this book today and so I will take time out to give it a look-see.

Actually, I am like most people of this era--I am overloaded with information. Radio, newspapers, internet... I need to take a page out of Auguste Comte's book and practice intellectual hygiene.

To just follow through on the introspection that follows some of the above: I am happiest when I am preaching, speaking on the subject about which I am most conversant, namely this religion that was taught by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Whenever the occasion arises, I find joy and hopefully those who listen also get some pleasure and inspiration. And yet, I rarely speak. The primary reason for this is that I am passive: I await “divine intervention.” And perhaps, like so many others, I am unable to recognize divine intervention when it comes, though I can follow up on a trivial case of synchronicity like the one I described above. Who knows—perhaps not so trivial, that is waiting to be discovered…

What I do know is that I have long abandoned the aggressive evangelical approach that we embraced in our younger Iskcon days. Do I have the same kind of simple faith message such as the one my Catholic fellow employee Bruno expounded to me the other day? Believe me, I appreciate simplicity, but I have taken a complex side road through history and theology, with that overinundation of information, related or not, that creates the thick overlay of trees that sometimes makes the forest difficult to perceive.

I am wary of both over simplicity and over complexity. Certainly my Krishna consciousness has travelled a long way from “Krishna is God. Chant Hare Krishna and your life will be sublime,” even though I could see myself repeating those lines to someone. But I would find it hard to preach in a setting like that of Iskcon, where anything but the grossest anthropomorphism is current. What to speak of all the other Prabhupadaisms that Iskcon stores in its closets. What I am getting at is my message. My raison d’être. What has my delving in so many books accomplished when it comes to Krishna? I know that it has served me in some way, but what good has it done anyone else?

I am still stuck, practically speaking, behind the principal objection to Sahajiyaism, which as it turns out, is exactly the same argument that faces the one who calls on us to renounce all dharmas.

Anyway, five good things for today:

  • There is still a Krishna temple standing in Montreal.
  • There is good prasad at the Iskcon temple.
  • Hare Krishna radio.
  • Srila Prabhupada, for all the ridiculous things he said.
  • Philippe bringing me the Daniel Coleman book.

No comments: