Do Not Let Go Lightly

By Srila Jiva Goswami dasa

When one lives at the Temple, there is no reason to leave. When one leaves, it is apparently harder to return than it was to live there. One visits, one promises him or herself and others, one may even hang on for some months in a drive and struggle to come back. Indeed, it is very possible to take up where one left off. The purport of today’s offering however is to admonish you if you have any thought of leaving; stay where you are if you are living at New Vrindabana, and hang on for dear dear life.

Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

One winter evening, when Christmas lights and decorations were up everywhere, Temple authorities sent me to Wheeling to pick up a Devotee who had come to live with us from Nigeria. As an ex-cab driver from New York, where I’d driven for various medallion companies for four years at night while I went to Queens College during the day, I was pretty good at being the silent, polite chauffeur.

As someone in an African American body, this particular visitor immediately caught up my ever-seeking, vulnerable heart. My daughter was living on the farm, in various appropriate Ashrams, and at the time, I had no wife.

This woman was tall, elegant and to me, most extremely beautiful. As a representative of New Vrindabana, I took the responsibility of “coming correct” as seriously as could be.

The girl climbed up onto the bench seat of Dodge Rama dasa and sat quietly against the far door. I noted the graceful way she folded her hands in her lap. The angle of her chin told me she had excellent posture. Her understanding of the call for silence was pleasing. Her skin was the color of rich smooth chocolate. By her wrists, somehow it was clear to me that her waist was narrow.

I wondered if the authorities had sent me on this particular mission not just because I was good at driving and delivering, but because of my situation.

I thought of mail order brides. I was attracted on every level. Stealing a side-wise glance as we soared up the hill from Wheeling to Bethlehem and Route 88, I saw that she was smiling a quiet satisfied smile.

We did not engage in any chit chat. When the girl spoke a few words, her lilting accent was enchanting. Her teeth were sparkling and even. I could see it all just then and there … a future together, serving together, helping each other.

And I knew how to woo, officially, in accordance with principles, directives, Sadhu, Shastra, Guru, the works. I took that official path because really, I wanted success.

During the week, I got permission to court. I asked her to come with me, in Dodge Rama dasa, on rides. We parked in nice overview places and keeping to my side of the cab, I spoke to her very sincerely and simply. I made no move to touch her. To me, the intimacy factor was the easy part. To NOT try for intimacy was far more difficult.

I liked her an awful lot. Part of my Service for the Temple was to do the laundry for certain Pujaris. I was a Pujari myself. In the cabin where I was living, Jaya Maurari had installed a nice washer and dryer, after all. It was only practical to do a whole load of Pujari wash rather than just my own.

Again, with official approval, I invited the girl to my house, to help with the laundry. Devotees talk about the heightened liability to agitation when celibacy is practiced. I can vouch for the accuracy of that state. When she came to my cabin to assist with the washing service, I saw her without her tweed winter coat for the first time, and I could have swooned.

She seemed to represent the key to any lock or door in my spiritual life. Together we did the service. She showed me the proper way to fold a shirt, so it looked professionally done. Without ever once touching or even so much as flirting, we quietly clicked on the path of Devotional Service.

We were going on very formally, and whatever I learned about her made me more convinced that we could be happy and productive together.

Then, one day, she announced that she wanted to go back. Back to Nigeria. At that point, I was indeed, very crazy about her. Crazy about her yes, but not attached. Maybe that lack of attachment was there due to the approach path we’d taken together.

At any rate, when she announced that she wanted to leave, I cleared with authorities, and took her right on back to the bus station. No problem. I had a head shaking time of things: I did not understand why she felt the need to leave, but I respected her expression.

I let her out at the bus station and slapped Dodge Rama dasa into gear. Rama dasa and I rolled away without looking back.

About a week later, she called from New York. “I love you,” she said.

“I love you too,” I replied.

“Come and get me,” she said. “I’m at the New York Temple.”

She could not ruin our relationship. “You have to come here,” I told her. “I’ll meet you at the bus station.”

She seemed to consider this. Then she replied, “I can’t.”

“OK,” I returned. It had ended, in fact, back when I’d returned her to Wheeling, a week earlier.

We have not seen or spoken to each other since. I think of her often. Because of the nature or platform of our interaction, there was no harm, no foul, and no entanglement. I can picture her in my mind’s eye very clearly; tall, demure, wearing a shiny green sari, her burnished mahogany cheeks and fast clear bright eyes quickened my heart with attraction and simultaneously, a protective sensation.

I thought we’d be great partners, but now, I believe the fit was probably too perfect to consummate without going astray.

That official platform carried us right up close together … like the proverbial straws upon the ocean … and there was that audio equivalent of a final glimpse, her call from New York…

Now I too am away, and ever on the verge of just now coming back. Brothers and Sisters, if you are there. Stay the course. Wait too for me now. I know you won’t and should not come to get me and you know I love you in a way which is without traction unless there is Service.

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Reader Comments

Haha! Kind of true I guess, it really depends on your perspective. I’ve tried really hard not to come back, but in just one month I’m on my way. Maybe in the short term it’s hard to return, but in the long run you can never escape!

I agree with your agreement: When I left Woodstock to join, one neighbor cautioned me: “You’ll never be able to return.” He meant to that place where I was before joining. You and he are right, I think. Where are “my” thoughts? Polishing the rail before the Altar. That’s where. Forever.