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Thursday, July 31st, 2003

Ankara, Turkey


A history of exploitation

After breakfast this morning, the devotees take me to visit one of the showpieces of Ankara, the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations (winner of the European Museum of the Year Award in 1997). Anatolia is the Asian part of Turkey, or Asia Minor.

Because of its strategic geographical location — at a point where the three continents of the old world (Asia, Africa and Europe) are closest to each other — and because it has always been at the crossroads of the major trade routes, like the Silk Road followed by Marco Polo, Turkey has been the warp and woof of many great civilizations.

The Anatolian Civilizations museum displays archeological artifacts from the Paleolithic Age (or Old Stone Age) through the Neolithic (New Stone Age), Bronze, and Iron Ages to the present. The history and the accumulated detritus of the Assyrian, Hittite, Persian, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires are painstakingly traced and neatly displayed in glass cases.

So many fossils, stones, dead things. And all have a history. All tell the story of the objective evolution of consciousness: the history of conquest. Conquest of the elements, conquest of the animals, conquest of mankind: increasingly refined and sophisticated degrees of exploitation.

As I leave the gloomy mausoleum, I reflect that what Srila Guru Maharaj and Srila Gurudeva have given us is not dead, but living. They have given us the subjective evolution of consciousness; they have directed our consciousness away from this civilization, away from this Land of Exploitation, to the Land of Dedication.

I step into the sunshine; it's good to be alive...

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