Tonite I'm in Boston. It feels cold here, after being in Florida and D.C. I visited the Hare Krishna temple this evening for their famous Sunday feast program. The temple is located in a beautiful century-old brownstone on one of the nicest streets in Back Bay, an elegant neighborhood. The building was probably purchased around 30 years ago, when it was cheap. Now it's worth millions, and surprisingly, the idiot GBCs didn't sell it off years ago, like they sold big properties in other major cities like New York City, Amsterdam, Paris, etc. So Iskcon has a beautiful building in Boston.
The temple is well maintained by what seems to be a combination of middle aged Indians and a few younger westerners. I don't know the details, but it appears to be functioning, like all Hare Krishna temples in the West, by the mercy of donations from the Indian community. About 80% or more of the guests tonite are from that community. It is really their temple. Being Indian, and pious, they are gentle, welcoming and tolerant towards all.
I missed the class but the kirtan was pretty nice, although led by an off-key singer. It felt at times a bit like forced exuburance, but did not go on interminably. And the prasadam was mild, tasty and very politely served by Indian devotees wearing plastic sanitary gloves. It was a very nice feast. Afterwards, i walked around, went upstairs to wash my hands, visited a store inside the temple and a few of the other public rooms. Again, it was mostly Indians, mostly male and mostly professionals. It could have been an IT conference. But it was KC.
I was a stranger there and only one devotee approached me to offer any assistance and to ask if it was my first visit. Actually it was my first time in that building. I was at the former location of the temple in 1971, when Srila Prabhupada installed the current deities, Sri Sri Radha Gopinath. It was nice to have Their darshan after so many years. It feels like another life.
My wanderings over the last 37 years, from country to country, house to house, ashram to ashram, looking for "my place," is what a good friend in Amsterdam wrote to me, a "reflection of our wandering from body to body, never satisfied, always defeated yet with renewed, but doomed hope every time. As Krsna advises in the 13th chapter (Bhagavad gita), 'see the evils of birth and death.'" Many people would say that is pessimistic. But Krishna says no, it's realistic. Evil is not about what others to do us, but what we do to ourselves.
We are not born free in this material world. We are bound by nature's laws, by our karma and by our misconceptions. Those misconceptions are the cause of our continued suffering. We can't change the laws of nature nor can we change our karma. But we can purify our existence by becoming aware of our misconceptions. Taking corrective medicine in the form of chanting the holy names of God and associating with the words and when possible, the presence, of saints is the path to freedom. All other paths lead us into deeper bondage. It may sound harsh, but this is our choice.