(N)ever Changing Realities
I deliberately select extra-long stopovers for connecting flights. It’s an idiosyncrasy that drives my travel partners up the wall! Aside from from the pleasure of saving a few pennies, I find my time at airports to be extremely rewarding – they are like full-stops in the story of life. Just as punctuation marks close one thought and allow the beginning of another, airport transit lounges represent the conclusion of one adventure, and the commencement of another. Thus, ‘airport-time’ naturally inspires me to look back and reflect, look forward and realign, and peacefully sit in the present, grateful for it all. Learning from the past, planning for the future, and all the while appreciating the present – the art of life! What can I say, international airport lounges have become my second home.
Today is an eight-hour stopover at Frankfurt International, reflecting on an eventful few months. It feels like life has shifted a gear in formality, responsibility, and overall intensity. Yet it’s a great opportunity. With a new role in the community comes the necessity to redefine my individuality, but also find a deep authenticity so there can be sustainability. It’s a small attempt to continue venturing beyond the safety that breeds mediocrity. If I have the genuine sincerity and humility, then it will surely awaken a higher-quality spirituality. (This post has inadvertently morphed into poetry… it must be destiny!)
But I don’t think I’m alone – everyone’s life changes – our health changes, fortunes change, careers change, the people surrounding us change, world situations change. We’re living in an ever-changing world, a virtual reality of transient conditions.
Amidst the ever-changing reality, however, is the never-changing reality. In a few hours I’ll catch a flight to Delhi, enroute to the holy town of Vrindavana. Thousands of pilgrims will descend here in the coming month for spiritual rejuvenation. I’m anticipating the smell of cow-dung fires, the unbroken ringing of temple gongs, ascetics around every corner, and the natural, heartfelt devotion that envelopes everything. In Vrindavana, we go beyond the ever-changing identities, abilities and facilities that we define and value ourselves by. In Vrindavana, popularity, position and productivity fades into insignificance. In Vrindavana, we enter as beggars, desperately seeking divine communion. In Vrindavana, we remember that although everything changes, in reality nothing changes. At birth I received the name “Sandeep.” When I became a novice monk they called me “Bhakta Sandeep.” Later on I was ordained with the name “Sutapa Das.” Nowadays they call me a “Swami.” Behind all those names is a beggar, trying to connect with the never-changing reality that somehow feels much more accessible in the powerpacked Vrindavan village. May I glimpse the real Vrindavana, where, since every moment is spent in selfless loving service, there is no past or future, but simply the eternal present. That is the real reality.