Daily Darshan

Excerpt: Saint Petersburg Television Interview

Thursday, March 27, 2003
Saint Petersburg, Russia [A Television Interview]

Russia + 21st Century Theism
A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma

"I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma."
Winston Churchill, British statesman, writer, thinker.

We have come to Saint Petersburg, the seat of progressive thinking, to discuss 21st century theism. Just as Russia and her people are at a juncture pondering a new identity, the whole world is at a juncture deciding what its future spiritual identity and role will be. There are those who say, "Forget everything about the past; it is antiquated, unscientific, uninformed by modernity and subsequently irrelevant. It is an embarrassment — let us welcome the future and embrace its prospect." But the future also has its enemies, those who distrust what is faddish, foreign, unknown and unproven. A humble suggestion: preserve the inherited wisdom of the Russian experience with a cautious eye toward the future.

The Russian people have always had a healthy skepticism about materialism, specifically consumerism, as means of achieving happiness. Despite their recent affair with atheism they remain chaste to a long tradition of spirituality, and belief in a Supreme Being — one who exists beyond humankind and its frailties. It is time to re-establish its relevance. This is part of the Hegelian dialectic so well known here: thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. In this instance, the past is the thesis, the future is the antithesis and the present necessity is to synthesize them and progress: balance the secular with the sacred.

The visionary Solzhenitsyn pleads for a modest approach: "After suffering decades of violence and oppression, the human soul longs for things higher, warmer and purer than those offered by today's consumerism, introduced by the revolting invasion of advertising, and television stupor…" If we ignore his warning, the ghost of that post-perestroika saw may echo: "We tried to make it better and it turned out the same."

Now is not the time, for Russian people, like a bunch of bears discovering a fishing hole, to dive into an ocean of materialism. Rather, they should start wading into the ocean of consciousness. Just as five hundred years ago men were exploring the sea, the great oceans and discovering new worlds. So the realm of consciousness is also an ocean and there remain new worlds to seek and discover.

This spiritual center is called, Drugoy MirAnother World [where the interview is taking place]. There is in fact, another world, everyone intuits this from life experience. Pursuit of otherworldliness is the driving force of existence. We feel threatened within the present mortal environment. In a world of unfulfillment, we seek fulfillment. And that is what compels us to seek love relationships. But the pursuit of relationship invariably, inevitably, indubitably ends in frustration — disappointment. Any honest person will admit this. But this does not mean that love doesn't exist; that beauty doesn't exist. Unfortunately, when people think of divinity, they often make the mistake of misconceiving God as devoid of these attributes. Not so with Krishna. The Krishna conception of Divinity is one of love, beauty, charm and sweetness. It is what you are looking for, it is what I am looking for, and it is what we are all looking for. So the good news is what we are looking for exists.

Many people have heard the word, "Om." Om means, "Yes." A big, "Yes!" What you want — YES it exists! But like searching for water in a desert, you won't find it here, in this environment. Instead of searching for water in the desert, it is time to search for nectar in the ocean of consciousness. We are conscious living beings; it is time to start exploring the realm of consciousness. This is the unexplored frontier for modern, literate, thoughtful, informed people. Although civilization prides itself on its discoveries and achievements, the realm of consciousness remains virtually unexplored — especially in the West. The Rishis of India (consciousness researchers) were experts in navigating this ocean. Their discoveries are recorded in books such as Bhagavad Gita.

As we enter the millennium, the people of Russia are perhaps more poised than any other to begin this exploration. It is resonant with their nature, inclination, history, and aspiration. As the Russian philosopher Chaadaev observed, ""We are neither of the West nor of the East. We belong to that number of nations which does not seem to make up an integral part of the human race, but which exists only to teach the world some great lesson."

So what is Russia and what is that lesson? It remains to be defined. But one thing should be clear, there is no Euro Reality, or American Reality; there is — Reality. We hear from the Vedas that Reality is not digital but beautiful. And as Dostoyevsky concluded, "Beauty will save the world." Not economics, nor technology; but Beauty and Love. He was right then and right now. Accept no substitute.

There is a spiritual wave sweeping across the country and the leading thinkers of Russia are attuned with this sort of progressive spiritual thinking and diving deep into Reality.

Sri Bhakti Sudhir Goswami

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