Vanity thought #279. Flooded.

Some folks in power screw up run off water management in this country and now it’s living through a flood of Biblical proportions, if they believed in God.

It’s been going on for over a month now and finally flood waters are approaching my house. They’ve actually been approaching for four days now, they surely take their time. Our house is a part of an estate build on a pretty high landfill so it’s now an island, beyond our walls there’s a sea of water and two days ago the road in front of it became impassable for small cars, there’s a large truck transporting people to and fro, though, life still goes on.

Most of the houses in the neighborhood had been boarded up, all cracks have been sealed, temporary walls have been built around the doors, cars have been taken out to the dry land and people have left for safer grounds. This was the first time I was sleeping at home alone – all my family members have moved out, too, they have jobs to go to and they don’t trust the ad-hoc transportation arrangments. The main road in our area had been flooded at both ends and there’s only one bridge left that connects us to the mainland and locals in the neighborhood blocked it in the protest against the closed sluice gate they blame for inundation in their neighborhood.

They say they’ve lived with water for three weeks now and it’s up to their chest level already. I live only a few kilometers away and my foot hasn’t touched flood waters yet.

Our problems are still incomparable to the devastation in other parts of the country. Our water is rising very slowly but in some places it went to the chest level in one hour and swept away cars as if they were rubber duckies.

So, despite living smack in the middle of the affected area I really have no idea what the actual flood is. I bored everybody with my google plus updates that show absolutely no progress. I restrict these updates to family members only, I’m too shy to go public with them, they do not qualify as flood news and I should keep my mouth shut.

So, what am I to do now? Why don’t I move out like everybody else? Our house will be safe, it can hold off water rising up to one meter, which should take about two months at the current rate. I swear water dries faster. Okay, there was a day when it went up fifty centimeters overnight and it might surge again but it’s unlikely. Family members think I’m stubborn and I should join them in their hideouts.

I refuse to go.

I have plenty of supplies to last me for weeks, I can still cook and there’s plenty of drinking water. Electricity is not going to be cut off until water goes up by another two meters, tap water is also flowing without problems. I set a condition – until there’s Internet I’m not going anywhere.

Initially I thought I’ll just get rid of all the distractions and happily chant day and night and read books, but this isn’t happening – I’m on a constant flood watch and I’m always in touch with people outside. More importantly, my mind is greatly disturbed by all the news. Occasionally I manage to snatch an hour or two and enjoy some quality chanting, most of the time, though, I’m running all kinds of scenarios in my head while mouthing the mantra. I don’t know if it will change.

Initially I thought I would use my solitude to meditate on Krishna, on Holy Names, on books, on recordings of kirtans and so on. This is not happening.

Why?

I see a lot of hypocrisy in my actions. Subconsciously I am trying to get people’s attention by playing a victim. I want them to bring me stuff, I want them to care about me, I want them to appreciate my sacrifice. They see right through my plan and don’t pay me any attention.

I tried to do the same thing with Krishna, artificially withdrawing myself from the outside world and thinking that it would attract His attention, that he would appreciate my sacrifice and show me some mercy. He sees right through me, too.

This is yet another lesson in how we won’t attract Krishna’s attention and win His heart. Not by abandoning our duties and taking to renunciation, that won’t work. How many times do I have to hear this from myself? Why does it never stick in my consciousness?

What I have to do is perform my duties given to me due to my material conditioning and try to think of Krishna. Sometimes I think that thinking of Krishna would be easier is I didn’t have any duties at all but this is not true. I can purify my senses only through engagement, not through withdrawal.

Most of the time I’m afraid to engage my senses, I don’t think my activities will be purifying enough. I guess the intention is admirable but the fear is unfounded. Just like Arjuna was at Kurukshetra, I’m afraid because I don’t know the science of Krishna Consciousness. I’m nothing like Arjuna but if he, for the sake of the lost souls, pretended to be conditioned for half an hour I guess it should be okay to compare myself to his presentation of weakness.

Srila Prabhupada had taught us the science of engaging in Krishna’s service but all I remember from it is that it only works for people living in ISKCON temples and serving ISKCON programs. Fair enough, I guess I have to settle on making very little progress by staying outside and doing what normal, non-Krishna conscious people do. I’ve heard it time and time again – this is not the way to make spiritual progress. Fine, but does it mean I have to abandon my duties and my job and move to the temple? I don’t have a job, okay, but getting life settled in a temple community is not like going to movies on a Saturday night.

Okay, but what about the duties themselves? Some things I have to do, like brush my teeth or lock the doors at night, but most of my duties is the stuff that I want to do – going out to take pictures and post them on google plus, read all the flood related tweets, dutifully download stuff that I’m not going to watch alone just yet. Do these things count as “performing my duties”? I honestly don’t know.

What I know is that I will do these things anyway, with or without Krishna consciousness. Sometimes I lose interest in them and I think of them as my duties, sometimes I am very excited about them and I can’t admit it to myself, hoping that if I were alone I would simply chant instead of watching that silly stuff.

I can’t count how many times I checked twitter while typing this, and that’s not counting the trip outside to take pictures before it gets dark. Actually it was because I enjoy getting out and seeing people gathering outside and chatting to each other about their flood problems. Does it count as performing my duties? Should I feel as if I betrayed Krishna?

Oh the life of a conditioned soul that can’t see the world as made of Lord’s energies, that sees danger on every step.

And then I heard yesterday that the only way to attain devotion is to absorb it from advanced vaishnavas. Yeah, sure, but what does it mean practically?

I see quite a few potential deviations in practical application of this principle. If I don’t lose my train of thought it might become the subject for tomorrow’s entry.

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