There was a movie called “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” from 1956. The story is such a classic combination of sci-fi and horror that it has been remade several times.
In that movie, alien life forms were killing and replacing people. From memory ‘real people’ had to figure out who where the aliens and who weren’t.
The fact is we are all aliens in this world. We come from a place not of this world, a place where there is no time, a place that does not change.
In this world everything changes. Time gradually changes everything. Everything has a use-by-date. Even a rock becomes sand eventually, then that sand becomes dust, and that dust becomes minerals and chemicals that are absorbed by grubs and worms or by plants, which are then eaten by different animals.
Everything in this world changes – everything that is, except us. Our true spiritual form does not change. We are eternal, and our eternal spiritual form is not subject to change; it is not under the influence of time. When our material form dies we continue to exist, we just move on to another life, maybe in another world, but we still exist.
When I was very young I felt like an alien in an unfamiliar world. I would pass a mirror and be totally surprised at the reflection that was ‘me’. I would wonder who was looking out of these eyes, in a sense, imprisoned in this body. I wondered was it the same for everyone. Did everyone look out their eyes at me as I looked out my eyes at them?
My spiritual journey started in a Uniting Church in a country town many years ago when I was in my early teens.
My parents would drag me along to Sunday School from an early age, and I was very taken with the life of Jesus. At about the age of 13 or 14, I asked the minister something that had been worrying me for a long time. Lord Jesus says, “The first and foremost commandment is to love the Lord thy God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” And secondly, “Like unto it, love thy neighbour as yourself”.
OK, I could understand the second part, I could love people I knew, but how could I love God if I knew nothing about Him, other than that He is all powerful and the father of Lord Jesus. What does He look like? What does He do besides create everything? How can I love someone I know so little about?
I was disappointed with the answers this young minister gave me: “God is everywhere. He is like a cloud looking down on all of us,” etc.
How could I develop a loving relationship with such an ethereal entity? How do I develop a loving interactive relationship with a cloud!
I stopped going to church at about 16, coincidental with our family moving to Brisbane, and I put all such thoughts aside for the next 2 years while I finished school.
I was fortunate to win a Commonwealth Scholarship to study architecture at University. Once again, my curiosity about spiritual things surfaced and most weekends found me at some religious organization or other, trying to find some answers to my questions. I visited the Roman Catholic Church, the Quakers, the Rosicrucians, the Buddhists, and pretty much every Christian organization in the phone book (we didn’t have google in those days!). During a trip to Sydney I also went to the Bahai temple in Mona Vale.
But nothing really satisfied my quest for answers. After a year or so I gave up looking.
Fast forward a couple more years to 1972. I’d just finished year 4 of the 6-year architectural course. In December of that year, after a culmination of a series of many unusual events I, and a couple of my good friends, ended up in Byron Bay in New South Wales, Australia. If any one of those events had not happened, our lives would be far different. Our now spiritual teacher, our guru if you will, Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda, was there at that time, and we managed to spend almost 2 months visiting him daily.
It was an extraordinary experience. Siddhaswarupananda answered all of our questions about spiritual life and much more. He offered unconditional friendship, wanting nothing from us in return. He introduced us to the teachings of the Vedas. I must admit it took me many years to appreciate some aspects, however I thought if this person, Siddhaswarupananda, is the result of the process of hearing and singing Vedic mantras then I’ll keep at it.
After that Siddhaswarupananda left Australia but I corresponded with him, and over the next 5 years or so, at different times, he came back through Brisbane or the Gold Coast on his way to somewhere else. I would pick him up at the airport and arrange for a place for him to stay. During those times my wife and I also cooked for him.
It was 10 years before he formally accepted me as his disciple. (In the near future I’ll be writing a post where I talk about the key qualities and qualifications one should look for in a spiritual teacher. There are so many so-called gurus out there and the Vedas give guidelines on how to discern who is qualified, who is a safe person to place our trust in).
I keep in touch with my spiritual teacher to this day, but he has already taught me everything I need to know about how to develop my spiritual life; it is just a matter of me applying that knowledge. I do see him occasionally and as well as the teacher/student aspect, a deep friendship has developed over time.
Some time ago now, almost 18 years, I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. I’ve learnt so much more about spiritual life and relationships and what it means to live without fear of the death of this body from dealing with the cancer.
I’d like to finish by saying again that this material world is governed by time.
This material world is governed by time and the spiritual world is governed by love. The spiritual world is where we can exist in our true form. Here we exist temporarily in a form governed by time.
We are aliens in a world that is constantly breaking down around us. The people of the Pacific Islands are very aware of this; their islands are gradually being claimed by the sea, the land that they exist on is getting smaller and smaller. Everything here is breaking down, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly. As I’ve said, everything in this material world has a use-by-date.
How do we find our way back to the spiritual world and “Love the Lord thy God with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind.”? How do I do that?
“Hallowed be thy Name”. The names of God are holy, they are all powerful, in fact they are non-different from God. The Vedic literatures, in fact all the theistic scriptures of the world, tell us that we can live in this world but not be part of it by singing, saying and chanting His names i.e. kirtan. We, the living entities, can live yet not be governed by time. Rather, we can develop our love for the Supreme, the Supreme father, our dear most friend, known by so many Holy Names, including the name ‘Krishna’, which means all attractive and contains all the wonderful qualities of God.
Kirtan is cleansing. It removes all the debris, all of the things that have covered our heart and allows this natural condition of love for the Supreme soul to shine forth.
This knowledge is not something new. It has been in existence for thousands of years, first handed down aurally, and later written down in the Vedic literatures.
So, we take part in kirtan, to break the hold that time has over us, the living entities, and to re-awaken that love for God that Lord Jesus spoke about as being the goal of life.
Namaste and thank you very much. Chaitanya das
You can read more about the benefits of KIRTAN here. There are also links on that page of beautiful kirtan soundtracks you can download.