Reflections about a School Reunion
By Sankirtana dasa
On my recent visit to Switzerland I attended an event that had not taken place for twenty years. Around 800 people that at one time went to the primary school in my home village came together. Since I was there I decided to join them. Several times I was asked: after all these years abroad with people of other cultures, how do you experience this meeting? At the time, an ordinary answer was appropriate. The atmosphere at the reunion was not suitable for serious topics, else I would have I said what I truly wanted to say. I then wrote down my reflections and a week later the local newspaper published them. Here are my reflections.
I found it interesting to meet people after twenty or more years. What did they do with their lives? What had become of them? Who among them was eager for knowledge and freedom? Because over the years these things had taken on priorities in my life, I was wishing to find similar minded persons. And I pondered, if they were not interested, what was it that prevented them from taking interest?
I discovered, that some think that it was too early in their lives for such topic and that they had still time. But in fact, we have little time. One speaks of a world that turns faster and faster, were things are restless, hasty and rushing. And yet we paradoxically believe to have still a lot of time until death. But we deceive ourselves: who knows whether we will at the next reunion still able to discuss the passing away of others?
Some think that their workload leaves them no for spiritual engagements. But it is vice versa – they work so they do not need to do this essential task. Their constant business is a form of escape from self-knowledge. The say they need to work for surviving but has ever anyone survived? Until now all humans ended their lives with death.
Priceless and irreplaceable time glides past – our responsibility is great. No gold in the world, no tears, no action is capable to recover a single senselessly wasted moment. From the viewpoint of eternity, the short amount of time that I call "my life" is just a scent in the wind. And yet it is infinitely precious, because much "valuable" can be done.
Regularly, a feeling of inner emptiness visits people who have achieved a great deal. Any earthly gain, success, or beloved person cannot pacify this uneasiness. The question arises: what is valuable? What do we really need? We will only find peace if we return to our inner source, which is never boring, is secure and gives as homeliness, a place from which we will not have to leave, that never evaporates between our fingers. In search of property and wealth is these longing for peace, that desire that we may finally come to rest. But the fatality is: ownership makes us possessed, occupied; it drives us even more into unrest.
Unrest is always included in owning things that are foreign to us. All that we have is foreign to the soul – be it in form of learning, recognition or in the form of objects and people. Each possession – or that what we call our own – makes us feel heavy and restless. Because the fact is: nothing belongs to us. But our adopted worldview is: by acquiring possession, we will be more powerful, more secure and less vulnerable. One gets to know what freedom is, when one abandons the belief of ownership. Our great opportunity and responsibility of human life is to use our time to gain this freedom by engaging in the spiritual quest.
I consider, the understanding of what the needs of the soul are, is the most valuable thing that I have obtained by my stays in Asia. We are a soul, but every day we identify ourselves with the role-playing game and think we are healthy or sick, are a woman or a man, believe we grow old and die. But the soul is our real identity. The soul is not affected by the time, but because we are accustomed to this thinking, we live largely outside our identity. What is the effect of having knowledge about the soul? All miss conceptions that we carry in us – the idea to have something; the belief to control situation; the identification with the body and the mental structures, in which we believe to exist within the material time – are dissolved. One then comes to understand how life feels without constant self-deception.