Nostalga for the place of birth
On my way to and from the Northern California Redwoods, I stopped in San Francisco, which is basically my hometown. I spent 14 years of my life there. In general I don’t feel particularly nostalgic for this town I grew up in, though I do have a fascination for my past. Why? I see how it has shaped me psychologically and the negative feelings and resentments from my childhood have caused me quite a bit of difficulty in my spiritual practice. It is a two edged sword, first helping me come to Krishna, and then presenting "issues" or attachments to be purified. It is funny how the motivations and consciousness that brought us to Krishna have to be transcended in time to call our spiritual progress.
In addition to my sadhana (which is the real "healing" method for our ultimate disease of the body) I have spent many years sorting out my past, trying to learn its secrets and lessons, and making peace with it and my parents less then ideal way of raising me (though perfect karmically). I find it amazing, though understandable how unprepared most of us are for this job of parenting which so affects our children. With all my years of mediocre sadhana I still found I also needed counseling and the introspection it fosters, self help books, personal growth workshops, and endeavoring for spiritual understanding. In some ways I feel I have risen above much of the negative aspects of my past, though our conditioning is deep and has unexpected surprises.
Even though I accept I am still affected by my intense childhood conditioning (which is the way our past life's karma imprints us), I was still taken by surprise at my affectionate feelings--attachments--for the surroundings I grew up in. It seems we have layers of self understanding which come to us when we are ready to learn.
The surroundings were so familiar yet I realized how small my childhood vision was. As a child I just saw my immediate area with few details. Currently I am quite a detail person, so with my adult eyes there were just so many things I noticed for the first time on this visit. I just couldn’t get enough of it---like an explorer deciphering an ancient code with important lessons for today!
Perhaps it is the time of life I am in now, when I am preparing and meditating on being an elder----with some resistance---mind you---as part of me doesn’t want to grow out of the illusion of youth I have been stuck in for so long, and really give up my enjoying spirit. I aspire to embrace the spiritual platform of seeing everyone as a soul who is part of God, and not in terms of how they are attractive or unattractive from the physical perspective. What is the real truth of a person anyway?
If I can’t rise to this platform----at least acting consistently on it in theory, my ability to really help others will be limited. That is my current major challenge---it is a challenge for all of us on a spiritual path--yet now it is right in my face as I see the light at the end of the tunnel of my life. Perhaps I have 20 or 30 years--or maybe one moment more! How can I make those years, months, weeks, days and hours count for the best benefit for myself and others?
I share my life experience at the New Age store where I work and through my writings, yet to be most effective I have to really walk my talk and exemplify my path of Bhakti yoga (example is stronger then just words). So much of life is dependent on our faith, attachment, and desire. What do any of us really want? We may intellectually think we SHOULD want to be a certain way, but what we feel rules us, sometimes forcing us to act.
We know from the of 8th chapter of the Gita that our attachments and state of mind take us to the next body, while modern self help authors teach how to use this principle (Law of Attraction) in this life to obtain material things (though they don't know that you have to have the karma for success to use these ideals effectively). It is true that we can have most anything we want---at least in some life if not now---but no one asks who has set up this law or what its ultimate purpose is.
Seeing that we can obtain things and desirable situations can be a start if it points us in the spiritual direction (like the karmakanda section of the Vedas), but is not a permanent solution to our soul's hankering for love and lasting freedom beyond the limitations of matter. As devotees of Krishna we understand that we must know who we truly are as souls, our eternal destination, and eternal relationship to Krishna to really to use the laws of Krishna's Universe to benefit ourself spiritually.
Our material body and mind are temporary and in the highest sense have nothing to do with our eternal soul. Thus our material family is also illusory since it pertains to the body, not our self as we are spiritually. (Much easier to understand in theory then by realization, and many of us have fanatically applied the theory causing our families unneeded suffering.) In spirit we have our true lasting family. When in material consciousness we have to deal with our attachment to the physical family while doing our duty, yet as we make spiritual progress, it has less and less importance as we see the soul within all.
My trip to San Francisco, demonstrated very practically that I still have forgotten bonds to my childhood which I have to purify by spiritual practice. Who has really transcended theirs--is it even important? From my perspective it depends on where our heart is, because that is where we are. I have come a long way, yet I have still far to go, and during the last period of my life I pray to make more spiritual progress. Generally for those on the spiritual path, this is a natural absorption after the children are grown and our material concerns are diminished.
I know where I want to go in my head, yet part of my heart is still attached to the flesh and trying to love matter. In material consciousness we think the body and mind are the real object of enjoyment and affection, yet it only appears real because it covers the soul---who we are in fact. When will I realize this in truth, and for all time?
Real love is for Krishna and between souls in relationship to him. Spiritual life means to realize this fact and act accordingly. We will see how I fare in the years to come. I will continue to explore that quest in my writings. I ask all devotees to pray for me and for each other so that we can all obtain spiritual perfection in this life, or as soon as possible. Though it may take many lives of spiritual practice to obtain Prema, it is also true that in one life we will go to Krishna. The only question remaining is which one?