I’ve just returned from Ireland. Great trip. As I catch my breath in London for a week, I simultaneously prepare for a flight to India this coming Monday. My destination is the holy village of Vrindavana where Krishna spent His childhood years. Located 130 km south of Delhi, it’s a mystical place which is full of inspiration, insight and intrigue. They say that nobody returns from Vrindavana the same person, and that’s exactly why I’m going there! We can present ourselves as spiritual doctors, but we are undoubtedly patients as well. People may accept us as teachers of wisdom, but we remain humble students. After a month of sharing spirituality with others, now comes an opportunity to explore my own heart and question whether that inner transformation is really taking place.
These trips are not just a physical journey to a special place but also an inner journey towards transcendence. The great saints of Vrindavana were so absorbed in meditation and prayer that they became indifferent to the external world. Their living quarters were not formal brick or wooden structures, but temporary arrangements like the hollow of a tree, a clearing under a thorny thicket, or an underground cave. One saint is renowned for performing his meditation in a vacant crocodile hole. In these austere and solitary settings the great saints would slide into spiritual trance and have their conversations with God. They would continue on for hours on end. Their chanting wasn’t a casual activity. It wasn’t a ritual. It wasn’t simply a discipline – but it was full of emotion and feeling. It was from the core of the heart.
Could I ever isolate myself and go that deep? Probably not, and neither is it recommended to try. But hearing of such remarkable personalities nevertheless inspires me to intensify my spiritual endeavors. I’m trying to break free of my mechanical and ritualistic approach. I’m trying to rediscover the freshness, enthusiasm and simplicity that attracted me to this path. I’m searching for that childlike innocence that I once had. I’m going back to basics. Core spiritual practices like mantra meditation, scriptural study and practical service to others are the bridge to the eternal reality. They are not to be taken lightly. I’m approaching Vrindavana in the mood of a beggar: spiritually impoverished but confident that I’ll find some sacred treasures along the way.