Frozen in Eternity
It’s time to head back. I could miss the flight, lose my passport, and slip right back into Vrindavana life… chappatis and dahl, wandering the holy tracks, immersing in scripture, singing into the early hours. We could adopt the determination of the ascetics and old widows, leaving Vrindavana only when the ashes from the funeral pyre merge into the River Yamuna and float downstream. Realistic? Probably not. The holy month concludes and pilgrims disperse, the temperature drops as winter looms, and another year in the material world gradually winds up. Vrindavana, however, remains forever unchanged, steeped in a devotional time-warp. The singing goes on, the bells, cymbals and drums steadily reverberate, and offerings at the rustic shrines, saturated with raw, unpolished affection, continue. Vrindavana’s devotional fervour perpetuates, day after day, as it has for generations. When you return, nothing’s changed. Old is gold – timeless transcendental tradition. Those who reside here in spirit, live in the eternal present, oblivious to the ever-changing tides and trends of the ‘real’ world, deeply content with simple devotion in the here and now.
How beautiful to live in the eternal present! I reflect on my own life which, for the most part, is out of sync. Eagerly planning the future, regularly drifting to the past, but seldom relishing complete presence in the present. The self-development gurus highlight the Power of Now, urging us to check the overthinking mind from hijacking the opportunity to fully experience life. A good proposition, but not so easy. The Bhagavad-gita reveals that it’s not a psychological adjustment, tip, trick or technique that roots you in the present. That will never sustain. What we really need is deep spiritual connection with the identity, life and activities we’ve assumed. The real reason we glide to the past or chronically fast forward to the future, is because the present hasn’t captured our imagination. It’s just not exciting or enthralling enough. The present is an anti-climax, and thus we restlessly gravitate to the past or future. We have to make our day dream our day job.
Time plays out in different ways. There is clock time, consisting of the seconds, minutes and hours which govern our day. Then there is biological time - our body clock which intuitively operates according to its unique cyclical pattern. There is also psychological time, or the relative experience of time according to our emotional state – we’ve seen how time flies when you’re having fun. The spiritual dimension, however, rests in timelessness – the ‘eternal present’ – a space of consciousness in which we transcend every conception of time. In Vrindavana we encounter an existence free from ethereal past or future. Though Vrindavana is undoubtedly a transcendent abode and earthly pilgrimage site, it’s ultimately a mysterious space of consciousness. This magical space is actually the simplest and most accessible of all experiences. To access it, the aspirant must uncover their innermost authentic spiritual persona, craft a life in which everything connects to it, and then fully embrace the opportunity to live it out. At that time, we “drop time” and effortlessly rest in the eternal present. Life’s roles and responsibilities go on, but our consciousness rests in another dimension. This is the only way to experience the Power of Now.
Thank you Vrindavana, for reminding me of the eternal present. May I one day discover that life, in which I become frozen in eternity.