I just returned from Amsterdam where we had a huge Hare Krishna procession for the annual Queensday festival. I’ve never seen such crowded streets in my whole life. As we weaved through the revellers, chanting the famous Hare Krishna mantra, everyone smiled, many sang along, and some enthusiastically danced with us without a care in the world. The chanting seemed to break the barriers of caste, creed or culture and penetrated their hearts on a much deeper level. As I observed our party – men, women, young, old, from all backgrounds economically, socially and politically – all chanting together in great joy, I realized that this really is the process that has the power to unite the world.
The world is desperately searching for the common ground we need for world peace and unity. The great saint Srila Prabhupada who founded this movement once walked by the United Nations building and remarked “they call this the United Nations, but every time I come here there are more and more flags!” Without a spiritual foundation, we may at best manage some superficial unity and cooperation, but on a deeper level the division will remain.
Real peace and unity comes from seeing the spiritual equality of all beings. Such a vision destroys all racism, nationalism, ageism, sexism – even ‘species-ism’ (the idea that humans are superior to all other animals and can treat them in whatever way they want). Prabhupada was commended as “having built a house in which the whole world can live.” This house is not simply a physical building, but rather a house of profound spiritual consciousness. It’s a house which is centred around the Supreme Person, but not in a way that alienates or marginalizes any living being. It’s a house in which the chanting of God’s names is the activity which creates and sustains the spirituality. Most importantly, it’s a house open to any sincere spiritual searcher who really wants to find the essence in life.