Discover more from Tattva | S.B. Keshava Swami
School of Life
India is the land of extremes. You can ascend to the altitudes of the Himalayan mountains and then descend to the dry, scorching deserts. There is drought and monsoon, severe poverty and unimaginable opulence, breath-taking beauty and heart-breaking pollution, chaos and serenity, courtesy and rudeness. It all exists side-by-side, alternating with the blink of an eye. The most mystical extreme is that India spans material to spiritual - geographically situated in the physical dimension, yet dotted with innumerable tirthas, or mystical portals, which connect one to the cosmic reality. After six weeks in Vrindavana, the foremost of tirthas, I find myself in another world… the urban jungle of the UK, a quagmire of modern civilisation. Living in the land of extremes, however, has trained me in the art of adjusting to such extreme contrasts!
This coming month we’ll be up and down the country, contacting as many people as humanly possible. The high streets, city centres, bustling markets and urban hubs will become our second home as we descend to ground reality, meeting the people, stimulating inquisitiveness and sharing wisdom that breathes. We try to intercept someone in their tracks, weave beyond the complex myriad of thoughts, penetrate the bubble of their life and begin a dialogue about deeper topics. Some people naturally tune in, while others are sceptical, uninterested and otherwise-engaged. Each to his own, after all, we’re each on a unique journey. Mystical, magical, moving things happen. These times are like a transcendental drama where providential participation is palpable and recurrent. This is street-spirituality, and what I call the ‘school of life’ – hands-on training in mind-control, resilience, sensitivity, compassion and humility. Things you don’t learn in the classroom.
On deeper reflection, I realise that the sacred pathways of Vrindavana and the bustling streets of the UK may not be entirely different. The saints remind us of the two holiest environments in the world – the first is the location where the Supreme Person unfolds His divine play (lila-sthali), the second, however, is the location where we have an opportunity to render selfless service (seva-sthali). After all, only a heart cultured in unmotivated service can truly envision the totality of divine reality. In this sense, the time in Vrindavana inspires us to come back to the UK and serve. The subsequent service rendered qualifies one to return to Vrindavana for a deeper revelation. This is the rhythm of life – learning and teaching, introspecting and inspiring, receiving and giving, going within… and also reaching out. Perhaps we’ll meet you on the journey!