so, i'll be taking some time off from "life" to study Caitanya Caritamrta and other books concerning Lord Caitanya... i made this video to describe what i have been doing for the last eleven years, what i plan on doing wile i'm away, and why i've decided to retire to the forest for a year.
For the last eleven years I have been doing a lot of traveling… non-stop traveling actually. Spanning across 8 different countries on 4 different continents, I haven’t spent more than a few months in one place.
I’ve hiked breathtakingly beautiful trails, witnessed many vibrant cultures… I’ve had the opportunity to gain a glimpse into how people have lived hundreds of years ago all over the world. I’ve seen things that made me realize that much of what I learned in school was not an accurate representation of reality. I’ve met new friends… new families… I’ve experienced things that cannot be understood by reading books, seeing photos or watching videos.
I’ve seen modern man struggling to build empires, and I’ve seen nature effortlessly tear them down; and I have also seen ancient civilizations still standing after thousands of years.
I’ve observed that we unconsciously waste our resources without giving a thought to where they came from, how long they will last, or what the effect of their absence will be.
I’ve come to understand that no matter how much we think we are independent, there are so many things that we depend upon at every second… and I’ve come to see just how fragile we are and that our lifestyles are completely unsustainable.
I have noticed that we have forgotten that our necessities come from the ground, not from the store, and that education is not limited to what we heard in some brick building when we were kids. Having forgotten this, we live our lives thinking that we are doing the responsible thing for our family, friends and society, but we are just becoming numb to reality.
I’ve experienced that just because someone understands the value of something, it doesn’t mean that they actually appreciate it, and I’ve observed that people give more importance to being perceived as being right than they do to doing the right thing.
I’ve seen that we are willing to fight tooth and nail over things we have absolutely no control over and that are ultimately meaningless, yet we fail to fight for the things that are actually beneficial to us.
While I have been traveling for these eleven years, I have been studying an ancient Vedic scripture called the Bhagavat Purana. The eighteen thousand Sanskrit verses of this volume of books are aimed toward eliminating the distracted nature of man and reawakening the eternal nature of the soul.
It explains that in this world, which is limited by time, there is good and bad… but that there is another existence, which is beyond this duality, and is eternal.
By understanding and practicing spiritual science, one can begin to experience the eternal realm even while existing in this temporary world by following the process of sanatana-dharma. This practice gradually re-directs our consciousness from self-centric to God-centric.
Now, I realize that many of the people I know are not comfortable with the idea of “God” and some don’t like to even hear that word. Others have a very specific and exclusive concept of God that leads them to believe that the God I’m talking about is somehow different from theirs, thus making me a blasphemous deviant who is on the fast track to hell…
Which brings us to the most important thing that I have learned during my travels…
The thing that I have observed that has had the biggest impact on me is that no matter where I go, and what kind of people I am with, the thing that is holding each of us back from our goals, whatever those goals might be, is distraction.
Distraction is a dream killer and it is destroying our way of life.
We are too busy proving that everyone else’s way is wrong that we fail to follow our own path…
We don’t acknowledge that the people we are arguing with are on the same journey that we are, so instead of cooperating with one another and making progress together, we hold each other back by engaging in useless banter… and although sometimes we feel like we are making progress by adjusting someone’s viewpoint to coincide with our own, we are actually just pulling one another away from attaining our goals.
In this way, we remain in a stagnant state while considering that we are doing quite well.
We are simply wasting time and energy.
There are many things throughout the day that we never fail to do… our morning routines, bodily maintenance such as eating and exercise, our jobs (even if done reluctantly)… we have our recreational and entertainment quotas (our hobbies, favorite shows to watch, etc.)… but most people, although quite regulated with these things, which they consider to be “basic human necessities”, do not regularly spend time cultivating what they claim their values are, or what their purpose in life is. We hear wonderful conversations about what is most important in life, but then we observe in most cases that these ideals are only regarded in a theoretical sense and not strived for in any practical or tangible way.
The world we live in is designed to keep us distracted at all costs, and the more we struggle to break from the mold, the more opposition we face.
Therefore, we have to be diligent if we wish to make any real progress.
We have to assess our values and determine if we are giving ourselves enough time and energy to properly cultivate them.
If we wish to progress, we must constantly evaluate how we spend our efforts and make the necessary adjustments that will facilitate our desired growth.
For that reason, I have decided to make some changes… Although my life has already become fairly simplified over the last decade, I have maintained seasonal jobs in order to enable my traveling and thus my focus had been split.
Although I again plan to make yearly pilgrimages to India and continue my volunteer work there in the future, I am going to take a year off of traveling and seasonal work to study another volume of books that I have been wanting to study for a couple of decades now.
For that year, I will be staying in a small cottage that I build in the side of a mountain in rural Kentucky. I purposely chose to spend this time without electricity or modern amenities in order to take my simple living to the next level and allow myself to give the proper focus to studying scriptures and appreciating the divine presence in nature.
Even while building this hobbit house, 90% of which is made from natural materials harvested from the property that it sits on, I got a deeper understanding of the value of working with our hands and using raw materials to process our necessities rather than numbly and unawarely following the philosophy of “in commerce we trust”.
Everyone has something that they consider is important in life that they feel they don’t have the time to pursue… we owe it to ourselves to at least try to give ourselves the time and space (even if only five minutes per day to start), to strive to achieve those goals... otherwise one day we will realize that we have gotten old and we spent our entire lives on autopilot to a destination we didn’t even want to visit in the first place.
Anyway, for the year that I’m away, I will not be using anything electric or gas powered, so if you would like to contact me, please feel encouraged to write me a letter and send it to:
2935 HWY 711
West Liberty, KY 41472
I wish you all success in your spiritual endeavors.