The Legacy for Those Who Follow
Posted April 6, 2007
A few years ago, a man in Canada wrote a book about the Holocaust of the Jews during the Second World War. What was different about this book was that this man denied the event; he said it had never happened. When I brought up the topic in conversation with my brother Jeff, who is a historian and the senior map archivist for the Canadian government in Ottawa, I foolishly said, "Well, what does it matter? Everyone knows about the Holocaust. Just ignore the guy."
At that point my brother became somewhat agitated and said, "No, you can't. This is not about now. This is about the future, when no survivors of this time or event will be alive. There will be no witnesses available to set the record straight. Our written history must be accurate. "What we leave behind, essentially, will tell those of the future what we were, what we did and what we were about.
In this modern era of multimedia sources, both in hard-copy and in cyberspace, the record of our Krishna consciousness movement may not remain so clearly defined. Our footprints may be muddied and perhaps disappear. A philosophy that has lasted millions of years may become so blurry that it could be obliterated.
After all, we are in the Kali Yuga, the age of unrest and dissent.In text 10 of the first canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam, we read, "O learned one, in this iron age of Kali men have but short lives.They are quarrelsome, lazy, misguided, unlucky and, above all, always disturbed."
Ah yes. Sound familiar? Sound like your neighbourhood? It sounds like almost everyone I know, not just the karmis -- as we in the Krishna consciousness movement sometimes refer to those who are not -- but also the devotees. They too, bicker and squabble amongst themselves because "Kali Yuga is so saturated with vicious habits that there is a great fight at the slightest misunderstanding." (Srimad Bhagavatam, First canto, Text 16, from the purport).
And sometimes there are great fights and bickering -- just because.Sometimes the debates are based on points of text, and the theologians of religion smack their hands and belabour point after point, splitting the hairs of God's words down to the atoms. Sometimes these debates are about nothing other than "lording it over the material world" (see chapter two of the Bhagavad Gita) to prove who is the best and just to win the blue ribbon of debate.Sometimes, these arguments raise legitimate concerns and are done inhealthy, constructive ways that prove to be a service to us all.
But what will remain of all of this for those of the future?What if a great flood comes again and everything is gone except for one library? What will be our record in that library? Will it be only our great translated books? Will it be dissension, unrest, bickering and fighting, as we do our best to support the cause of the Kali Yuga?Or will it be a legacy of kindness and love, cooperation, mutual respect, positive growth and intelligent discussion, with charity to our fellow man? If the great things done by Krishna-conscious people are obliteratedby the very actions of the Kali Yuga of which our scriptures warn, then what have we achieved?Well, not much.
We have to decide why we're here.If we find Krishna consciousness, what are we supposed to do with it? What are the possibilities?Hide it?Argue it?Follow it?Or share it?
Imagine yourself waking up in the middle of a play, on stage, in a role.Other actors around you are playing different characters.You are Caesar, and suddenly the knife is in your body.You hear yourself say, Et tu, Brute? And then it's over for you and the next thing you know, you're backstage.Everyone is clapping you on the back. The director says, "Not bad. Let's do it again, and this time you'll be Brutus."
Whoa. Hey, wait a minute. You don't know that role. "It's okay,"he says."You'll be fine.Just remember, I'll see you after and we'll talk about the part and how you did." Once again there you are, back on stage, and you really get into it.You're good.You are Brutus.You rationalize and argue. Rome is in your heart, and eventually, you're the one left holding the knife. Then it's backstage again, and the director says," Okay, not bad. This time I want you to be Caesar's wife."
Huh?Now you're really confused, but you are getting good at this role-playing, so... well, okay. Back onstage, the lights are so bright that you can't see anything else -- not the audience, not the lighting guy, not the set decorators or producers.Sometimes you think you hear something beyond the stage, but you're not sure.
Then out of nowhere, a man appears, a bald-headed man in an orange robe. He says, "Come with me.You are not the role you are playing.Come with me."He leads you off the stage into the audience. For the first time you realize that you were in a play.Somehow you got trapped in role-playing.Somehow you got trapped.
What a shock that would be.But what if the man hadn't come? What if he hadn't taken up his net and become a 'fisher of men'? What if you hadn't recognized him as a holy man, a monk, when you were riding your horse across a prairie taking cows to the slaughter?What would have happened to you?What if he hadn't sung at that rock festival and danced wildly with you on the edge of a sea in Eastern Europe? What if he had not climbed into that boat, and sailed across the water to bring you food when you and your family and friends were completely cut off by war and you were starving, alone and afraid? What if he hadn't braved the politics of Apartheid and stuck around and been there to feed thousands of your children when you were finally freed after decades of imprisonment? Just what would have happened to you? What would have happened?
Hmm.... What will our legacy be? Will we be fishers of men, as another great Acharya termed it, or will we be slinging the thorns and arrows of outrage?If we do only the latter, then what of those who have not seen, read or heard?What will become of them? Perhaps they will find themselves yet again onstage in the spotlight, singing, "Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome! Fremde, Étranger, Stranger," and caught up in aCabaret, in a holocaust and war,wondering just what the heck they're doing there.
It's up to you.What will be your legacy? What will be the legacy of
the people who know Krishna?