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What is the use of such a long life if it must be lived as a tree?

Saturday, March 20th, 2004

Soquel, California, U.S.A.

Stoic Existence

What price longevity?

While staying here at the Seva Ashram in Soquel with Sripad Janardan Maharaj and Sripad Siddhanti Maharaj, I live in a small room in Sri Govinda Seva Kunja, the lovely cottage that is the California residence of Srila Gurudeva.

The cottage nestles against the side of a hill, and just to the right of the main entrance, a little way up the hill, grow some of the tallest eucalyptus trees that I have ever seen. They must be two hundred feet tall, towering so high above the cottage that you have to tilt your neck way back to see all the way to the top.

I wonder how old these giants are? They must surely be hundreds of years old. What crimes did these towering trees commit that deprived them of their freedom of movement and condemned them to stand stoically for so many long years in the sun and the wind and the rain?

Generally, we think that longevity is good, but what is the use of such a long life if it must be lived as a tree? Which one of us would swap our relatively brief cognitive lives for the longevity of such an insentient existence?

It is only in the human form of life that we get the opportunity to break out of this cycle of birth and death:

svalpam apy asya dharmasya / trayate mahato bhayat

"The least little performance of devotional service saves us from the great fear of repeated birth and death in this world." We must utilize whatever little time we have left to try to get out of this endless cycle, by hearing from the saints and the scriptures.

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Layout by imonk — March 20th, 2004.