Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – now that was a craze when I was a kid. More than the dynamic turtles, however, the character of Splinter always intrigued me. Although an elderly rat dressed in robes, he was the quintessential calm, all-knowing master of martial arts, his name derived from his proficiency in smashing wooden boards. For the most part he was quiet and unassuming, though he would occasionally spring into action, lending some devastating blows to save his students from impending doom. The young and spritely turtles had a dynamic repertoire of fancy moves, but when the old master came in there was something extra special – though frail and aged, his one hit could destroy everything!
The aged and wise are special – irreplaceable constituents of any family or society, what to speak of a spiritual movement. While many may have knowledge, the seasoned spiritualists bring something special to the table. Their practical wisdom from a life of experience and their inner purity from a life of selfless sacrifice, make their words penetrating and heart-touching. They may not move with the energy of a youngster, but their spiritual potency is as powerful as ever. Such personalities can move the world in a different way.
Swami Prabhupada is the living proof. At the age of 69, homeless, penniless and alone, he relocated to the Lower East Side in search of ‘better opportunities’ to preach his message. This was Skid row; the lowest of the low. Here he lived, worshiped, studied and taught. In the early evening, his new residence, the rat-ridden 94 Bowery, would fill up with buzzing acidheads, bearded bohemians, ruined alcoholics and disillusioned dropouts. Sex, music, LSD, and meditation is what made them tick. The Swami would nonchalantly step into the ‘temple’ and take his seat at the front, face-to-face with these confused souls who were looking for real love, real happiness and real spiritual experience. The Swami’s expression would exude bottomless depth, not phased in the slightest. In short, straight, basic philosophical discourses, he communicated eternal truths with unparalleled impact. When he sang in unsophisticated tunes with a bongo drum, their heads would spin, and their hearts conquered. His tremendous devotion was irresistible, empowering his simple message to penetrate the core of their hearts. As a martial mystic, he effortlessly smashed the illusion, unrelentingly speaking out in defiance of all materialistic ideology. Absolutely incredible. We follow that teacher in awe, hoping to one day become worthy students.