San Jose, California — Wednesday, February 21st

Slow but sure

I don't know where I was. It was very dark. I could not see anything.

I could see that it was snowing. The big white flakes materialized briefly out of the darkness before disappearing again. I could dimly discern the tall, thin length of what looked like a telephone pole a few meters away, and the faintly darker shape of what might have been a hill in the distance... It was still too dark to tell.

I could tell that it was getting lighter. Maybe it was my eyes becoming accustomed to the darkness, but I was beginning to make out some other vague shapes in the gloom a few floors above the ground, outside the kitchen window.

I had come into the darkened kitchen after taking a shower, because everybody else was still asleep, and I did not want to disturb them. It was cold, but not that cold. I stared out into the darkness as I softly chanted the Hare Krishna maha-mantra on my japa-mala.

As I chanted my rounds in the brahma-muhurta, it grew imperceptibly lighter. In the half-light and the snow, the telephone pole sometimes looked a bit like a long, slender tree (although I was pretty sure that it was a pole) and it dawned on me that the looming shadow that I had thought was a hill might actually be the back of another apartment...

I was on the fourth-floor of an apartment block in Nizhniy Novgorod. I remember now. We had arrived there late the previous evening from Yaroslavl — the previous stop on my lecture-tour of the cities around Moscow. You get disoriented on these tours sometimes: a few days in each city, one city after another... Soon all the other devotees are up, and breakfast is served.

Looking out the window when we all sit down for breakfast in the tiny kitchen, it is inconceivable that I ever thought that the tall Siberian silver birch and the large concrete edifice across the way were anything but a tree and an apartment. It is so obvious in the bright light of day: there's the tall tree, there's the apartment building! How could I have possibly thought that they were anything else?

I recall listening to an MP3 where Srila Sridhar Maharaj says:

With the proper conception, misconception vanishes. At dusk one may mistake a post for a man, but when one comes to understand that it is a post, the conception of man vanishes. In the half-light, that misconception may sometimes be repeated — "No, no, no! It is a post, not a man" — but ultimately, when one is fully conscious, one can reconcile that memory within oneself, and seeing the post clearly, no longer conceive of it as a man.

Progress in Krishna consciousness is like that: not instantaneous, but a gradual, step-by-step process of elimination and new acceptance. Our progress may be slow, but our progress must be sure. The sun does not rise immediately, but is heralded by the dawn.

As the darkness of ignorance dissipates when Srila Gurudeva's beautiful conception of reality gradually begins to dawn on us, our consciousness will be so imperceptibly revolutionized that it will be difficult for us to remember ever having any conception other than that revealed by Srila Gurudeva — just as it is inconceivable that I ever thought of that birch tree as being anything other than a tree.

Tags: Making progress

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Layout by iMonk — February 21st, 2007.