Saturday, July 29, 2006
Questions and Answers: What is it like in Heaven?
We had Ratha-yatra at 11:30 a.m. which turned out to be the final one. As is often the case with Ratha-yatra, it was rainy lightly minutes before we were to leave, but it cleared up and was even sunny. I realized it was possible to chant, dance, and distribute flyers at the same time, so I was doing distribution probably half of the time. I know how people benefit from our festival, and thus I took pleasure in promoting it.
The Ratha-yatra went late and Maharaja decided to cancel the second Ratha-yatra altogether, not even replacing it with a harinama. Some of us who like harinama were disappointed, so we organized another harinama anyway. We knew Maharaja would not mind if we went out and distributed a few more thousand flyers and gave tens of thousands of people the chance to hear the holy name and dance in kirtana again. I wanted to do my questions and answer slot, so I could not go when the others had felt it best to schedule it, but I was happy just to encourage the devotees to do it. They went out for an hour or so and continued chanting for an hour and a half in front of the Ratha-yatra after they returned to our site. At the site, many young people, and an occasional older person, chanted and danced with us in great happiness. It was so nice to see.
My second day in questions and answers someone asked about what it is like in heaven. I explained to the audience that there is a difference between heaven and the kingdom of God. Heaven has a better standard of enjoyment than we have. Even in this world, there are heavenly places. For Americans, Hawaii is such a place, where it is always warm, there are many fruits, and beaches, etc. So heaven is like Hawaii but much, much better. But in heaven, the conception of being the enjoyer is still present. In the kingdom of God, everyone gives pleasure to God, and that is their great pleasure. In heaven, service to God exists, but there is also a sense of being an independent enjoyer. Then a young man asked, "Why perform so many austerities to go to a place that is just like here although with a better level of enjoyment?" I said, "You are intelligent. You have understood. It is much better to strive to go to the eternal kingdom of God." As in past years, someone always has some impressive realization, not something you would expect from a drunken youth, and it makes the service inspiring just to witness it. I am sure I wasn't smart enough to pick up on something like that at that age.
Izabela and Mikal came to questions and answers every day and listened to the bhajanas we had in the bhajana tent. On the last day Mikal inquired from me about the difference between the two Bhagavad-gitas we had, and I encouraged him to get the unabridged Bhagavata-gita As It Is or as they say here, Bhagavad-gita Taka Jaka Jest. He considered that 60 zlote ($18) is a small price for such a book. In the U.S.A . we sell them for $10, perhaps because we print a large quantity in English, and so they are cheaper. Mikal surprised me by saying he would like to travel with our tour for a couple of weeks next year. I didn't realize how much he was attracted to our programs. I said we had certain standards like no meat eating, intoxication, illicit sex, and gambling, and I thought some commitment to chanting was required, so I suggested he get to know the local Krishna group in his area first, and went to find Trisama Prabhu, nama-hatta leader. He came and talked to Mikal. Apparently Mikal is from the same town as Dorota, my translator from my first Woodstock festival in 2001. I told him Dorota's hours in questions and answers and her email address so he could get in touch with her, and later noticed that Mikal and Izabela came to hear her speak in the Q & A tent.
After the final kirtana by Indradyumna Swami which had caught the rapt attention of one-third to one-half our large tent, engaging most in dancing, I went to the bhajana tent to hoping to continue till 5:00 a.m. We just had chanted for ten minutes, and got the microphones and harmonium set up when our security people said we had to stop because it was not safe enough. I was aware we had security people guarding our place the whole night and I thought that was sufficient, but there were more incidents of physical violence this year, so they wanted to be strict about it. It was a great disappointment to me because I always like to stay up till sunrise (5:00 a.m.) as we did three and four years ago. The people who come always appreciate it and for me it is a small sacrifice to give grateful people a little more mercy.
Just minutes before we left someone stole my shoes, which is indicative of the mood of some of the more drunk people. The loss of the shoes was a benediction as they did not fit properly and gave me so many blisters I only wore them half the time. Now I will be forced to buy some new ones.
Posted by Seva at 2:52 AM