Thursday, August 2, 2007

Words Work Wonders

A New York Times article of June 21 entitled “50 Years of Heavy Reading” reported on a book club called the Friday Workshop, a group of ladies who had been gathering in Long Beach, NY for over 50 years. It started when they were in their 20's & 30's with small kids. The ladies "yearned for something more than just kitchen table conversation." They were determined. They set their mark high. Plato, Kafka, Virginia Woolf, Faulkner, Shakespeare. A laudable list. Sometimes they even invited a college professor conversant with the author to lead the discussions. Over the years sickness, death, and moving away has reduced their numbers from 30 to about 10. The founder of the club, Fanny Marshall Cohen, passed away in 1994 at the age of 90.

It’s certainly fascinating how everywhere people are feverishly engaged in talking about something. Not just talking, but really hashing over things and analyzing it. Books, batting averages, football lineups, , the movies, the hottest stars, the latest rave in fashions, political spin meisters, televangelists, investment gurus, song writers, chefs. It’s a tsunami, a volcanic eruption, an outright epidemic! I wonder what type of energy would be available if all the talking could be harnessed? (You know what they say about the tongue being the most voracious and uncontrollable.)

The world is flooded with talking, gossip, chatter. Mark Twain once said, “I’ve been cautioned to talk but to be careful not to say anything. I do not consider this a difficult task.” It’s not about getting people to stop talking. The trick is to begin to redirect talking and hearing to something about Krishna. It’s time for devotees to seriously think about how to do this. Years ago, the temple president in Chicago informed Prabhupada that the schedule included reading Bhagavatam and CC in the morning, and Gita and Krishna Book in the evening. Prabhupada replied – Thank you very much. But let’s face it, not too many people are showing up at Bhagavatam class these days.

Besides distributing Prabhupada’s books, it would be good to connect people to discussion groups to facilitate the reading. Krishna Consciousness works best on a grass roots level. What’s needed is home book clubs and study groups, innumerable workshops, to read, study and discuss Prabhupada’s books, or to discuss contempary issues in the light of the Bhagavatam and the Vedic conclusions, or to learn vegetarian cooking and relish prasadam (a’la Kurma & Yamuna), etc, etc. Prabhupada said – “in like a needle.” Devotees are beginning to find their own needles to impact various segments of society.

“The thoughts of My pure devotees dwell in Me, their lives are surrendered to Me, and they derive great satisfaction and bliss enlightening one another and conversing about Me.” Gita 10:9