Updated: Aug 1, 2021
“ Tears rushed to my eyes, and I began to cry, knowing that this man knew Srila Prabhupada and generously offered what he might have thought of me. "
The elder devotee crossed the quiet lobby, stepping over random pairs of shoes and sandals left outside the temple door. He sat down on the long, wooden bench next to me and asked where I was from. “New York,” I answered, shyly. “Are you staying here?” he asked. “Yes, I came out for the holiday to read and chant in a place that felt safe.” “It’s a magical place, isn’t it?” He asked. “I came here in the 1970’s as a disciple of Srila Prabhupada,” he said, and described the day, so many years ago, watching a Harinam near Times Square from a distance, then going back to his room and turning on the radio to hear the Hare Krishna chorus of “My Sweet Lord,” taking that as a sign. He asked what I thought of New Vrindaban and of the world, and as I answered he reached over and touched my shoulder. He seemed to look right into me, never breaking eye contact. “You are humble about Krishna Consciousness. Srila Prabhupada would like that about you. Read his words, chant the Maha Mantra, and watch what happens. You will need nothing and have everything. I see it in you.” Tears rushed to my eyes, and I began to cry, knowing that this man knew Srila Prabhupada and generously offered what he might have thought of me. I was overwhelmed and embarrassed of my ignorance, as I often am when I speak with devotees. “I don’t know…” I began to say. “I do,” he interrupted, his fingers gently strumming the bench next to me. “Forget the rest for now. Prabhupada is your guru. Just let go and listen to his words and your intellect will follow your heart.” I couldn’t stop crying. “Thank you,” I said. I thought of the talk in the temple this morning by another elder who explained how we often hear but seldom listen. I remembered last night sitting at the table of new devotee friends who identified with my curiosity and warmly encouraged my compassion. I wondered, after this year of heartache and struggle, what I have done to deserve so many of these moments of clarity and joy, rapidly coming now one after the other. I looked up at the man sitting next to me, as he smiled and shook his head. “Do not change the way you are. Just open your heart and Krishna will take care of the rest,” he said, and stood up and walked away.“