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Fsp Dvd 5-102

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When I invited him to come, a Christian priest, I explained to him about monotheism in India, and he was very astonished because most people think that Indian religion is only polytheist. So when he heard that there was also monotheism – only the worship of one God – he was very, very pleased. And then I explained to him about how bhakti was the devotional part of the various schools of thought in India and that it was so close to the Christian understanding of love of God. So he was very, very pleased; and when I invited him to come to Prabhupada, he said yes, yes, he wanted to come. And this time when Prabhupada talked with him, he had a very nice and sweet and gentle talk with him and not the heavy talks that he had sometimes like, for example, when he was talking with the Cardinal Danielou. Then he talked also with a gentleman called Mr. Geoffroy. He was the founder of La Vie Claire, which means the clear life, the pure life, which was the first vegetarian health food store that we had in France. So this was a very, very wonderful personality. It was Prthuputra who made him come, and Prabhupada had a very long talk with him about eating pure food. Mr. Geoffroy, of course, was explaining how they wanted to give very pure food in their stores. Prabhupada, he wanted us to have a farm at that time. We didn’t have it yet, we didn’t have New Mayapur. So Prabhupada was telling him, “So we will have honey in our farm. So we can bring our honey and you can sell it. And we will have milk. So you can also sell our milk.” But Mr. Geoffroy was saying, “Yeah, but the problem is that it’s going to be very polluted.” And Prabhupada said, “No, we are not going to use pesticides so it’s going to be pure.” But the gentleman said, “But even if the grass is pure, the air is impure. So it will go on being polluted.” Then Prabhupada said, “Well, that’s the reason that it’s impossible to have everything perfectly pure. So that’s why we are offering everything we are eating to Krishna. That’s the way to have things perfectly pure. Otherwise it’s impossible in this material world to have completely pure food.” Yogesvara had tried to get some people from politics to come see Prabhupada, and one of them agreed to come. He was called Mr. Mesmin, and he was a senator. What was very interesting was that Prabhupada, whenever he was talking, especially with Christians but also with politicians, he always wanted to talk about not killing the cows, not killing animals. So they had a discussion and Prabhupada was telling this gentleman that “If you absolutely want to eat cows, then just wait until their natural death and then you can eat them.” And we were very surprised because it was the first time that he heard Prabhupada mentioning something like that. But Prabhupada said, “In that way, you will always have meat to eat because there will always be cows dying and you don’t have to kill them.” So that was very surprising also to the gentleman, who certainly didn’t put it in practice. But it was an interesting point that Prabhupada could consider, “OK, if you absolutely want to eat meat, then do but at least wait until their natural death.” I remember going on a morning walk around the Bois de Boulogne in which there are some lakes, and I remember asking Prabhupada a question. I asked several questions, but one specific question was, “Srila Prabhupada, what does it mean to be humble?” And his answer was really incredible. He said, “Humility means that you are convinced beyond any doubt that there is nothing in this world, absolutely nothing in this world, not your money, not your family, not your fame, not your gun, not your education, nothing that will save you except the mercy of Krishna. When you are convinced like this, then you are humble.” And that explanation really impressed me. In other words, he was saying when you depend completely on Krishna and no longer rely on any material thing or formula as a backup, you have no longer any backup, just the mercy of Krishna, then you will actually be humble. So that was a wonderful explanation that he gave, and that stayed with me all these years because that is actually the foundation of humility in Krishna consciousness. And obviously Prabhupada was an example of that. I had made friends several years before with a lady who had a circle of friends that met regularly. She had a center for esoterical and inter-religious dialogue. I had spoken at her center several times so she and I had become very good friends, and it turns out that she was a personal friend of Cardinal Danielou, the chief cardinal of the Catholic church of all of France. At that time, she was actually dying. I went to see her, and I begged her if she would do a favor for me. I told her that Srila Prabhupada was visiting and that he had been received by the city of Paris officially, and I begged her if she would please help us arrange a meeting with Cardinal Danielou and she agreed. Paris in these early ’70s was a very political environment, and Cardinal Danielou fit right in. He was known as the bohemian priest. He had a very strong following among young people. Even though young people for the most part were very anti-religion, if anyone had an ability to circulate among them it was Danielou. He managed to maintain a very broad-minded and open-minded position among young people. Danielou in his own way was making a contribution, I think, reaching out to young people who were completely atheist and attempting to bring some sense of the value of a God-focused life into their purview. Still, because it was a ritualistic Catholicism, he didn’t appreciate, for example, the philosophy of the soul present in all life forms. The devotees were amazed by the discussion because it showed that here is the top man in the Catholic Church, and he’s an intellectual. He’s not only a performer of ritual, but he’s a top intellectual. And in the presence of Prabhupada, he was not able to discuss significantly the topic of compassion and nonviolence. He was unable to comprehend the subject, and it made me realize why Srila Prabhupada agreed to meet such people. It was more for the devotees than any other reason because we were able to see that although these were big people in French society or in society, they actually were very small in comparison with a pure devotee of Krishna and that was important for the devotees to see. I remember thinking when I was really early, “Why did my parents have to die?” So that was already in there. Then the Bible School and the Christians having fun things, and you’d go to that and spend a week and they tell you stories about Jesus and it always seemed very attractive to me. Then as I got older I started going to churches with friends, different Protestant churches. We’d get to a point in the Sunday School and I’d ask a question about “What happens to all those people that don’t know anything about Jesus, the Eskimos or the people in Africa or whatever?” And they’d always come up with this idea that “Well, no, to be saved you have to know about Jesus.” It just didn’t seem fair and I’d argue a little bit, and then I’d lose interest in that church. Eventually I ended up at the Catholic church, and when I asked them that question they said, “Well, innocent people don’t go to hell. There’s purgatory or there’s limbo and we pray and there’s a process, and they can move up to heaven.” It seemed to make sense to me and I thought, “OK, that seems fair.” Sruti-rupa and I by then had gotten also interested together. We had been friends since elementary school and lived down the street from each other. So she and I and my two sisters started going to Catechism at the Catholic church, and we did that for a while and eventually my sisters and I got baptized. The Catholic nun, Sister Dominica, she encouraged me to go for Confirmation. It’s the next step in the Catholic Church. You pass a slight little test, they ask you questions, and if you have any doubts, this is when your doubts would be cleared up because you’re going to go through this ceremony and you’re going to take the Catholic faith as your faith. And if you fall away later, it’s a more grave sin, it’s a mortal sin, a stain on your soul that cannot be removed easily. So I was going to classes, and now I came up with a different question: “What happens with my pets? Do my pets go to heaven?” It was totally sentimental on my part because I wasn’t a vegetarian, but I just wanted to know. She was very sorry, the nun put her head down a little and said, “No, the animals don’t have souls. Only people have souls so only people go to heaven.” Again, that just didn’t seem fair to me. I was by then 12. In the end, I went ahead and got confirmed because I thought, “Well, I haven’t found anything that makes more sense.” Then life goes on and adolescence comes in and you get distracted, and you’re a teenager and so many things happen. Interestingly enough, Sruti and I remained good friends and we would get into other things together. We’d talk about Siddhartha or Eastern stuff in general, not real deep but it was the hippie kind of thing to do, it was kind of cool. At some point in all of that, I had made a type of commitment that if I hear the truth I’ll accept it. Soon after that, I happened to see a TV show with the Hare Krishnas on it. It was a news thing, quick, from out of Miami, and that would have been local for Key West. But the thing that I remembered was the four regulative principles. So I heard that and I immediately made a decision, “I don’t know if I want to find out too much more about this because it might actually be the truth,” and I just didn’t really want to risk…the four regulative principles seemed a little severe to me. So I just didn’t really want to know, and I even almost made an effort to avoid the devotees. Once I saw devotees across the street and I went to the other side of the street. Then a little time passes and Sruti and I decided to take a trip to Europe. We were going to meet friends in Germany that were in the Army and travel with them a little bit, and just before we left somebody at the airport gave us a Teachings of Lord Caitanya and a BTG. So we traveled. We immediately realized after some difficulty and some ups and downs with our friends that we didn’t really have too much in common with them, and we just traveled on our own a little bit. Then we decided, “Why are we traveling all around? What are we looking for? We should just go back to our home and try and just be stable people.” So she gets the idea, she has this BTG, she says, “Why don’t we go to the temple?” It was a difficult trip to get to Paris. We had trouble with being vegetarians. So we got to Paris and we got off at a train stop, and there were two quite large men that were selling there. Sruti immediately went up to them and asked them directions how to get to this address, and they kind of gave us instruction. We started heading in that direction, and we realized that it didn’t seem quite right. So we stopped and asked in a hotel, and that man told us we were going in a completely wrong direction. So we left the hotel and we turned and we started heading the way he told us to go, and then we realized that these fellows were following us. It could have been coincidental; but then when we changed directions, then they also still were following us. It was just a scary scene. We were starting to walk faster and faster, they were walking faster and faster. We were hoping that at the end of this street there was going to be the door with the number on it. So we see the 4 on the door, we start pounding on the door, and that’s when the door swings open and light just comes pouring out and incense comes billowing out and music comes out, the chanting comes out. And Indradyumna, dressed in white, looking very angelic says, “Yes? Can I help you with something?” We said, “We need help! We need to come in!” He said, “Sure,” and he lets us in and he closes the door. And it was like he closed out all the scary stuff on the other side, and everybody looked up and smiled at us. So he took us upstairs and he said, “These girls just arrived,” and Bhagavan was very friendly. He came out and he said, “Oh, hello,” and we talked for a little while. We ended up staying up all night and working and being helpful. We took showers and had something to eat. Then the next day was the Rathayatra Festival, so we went to the park and there was a feast and a class and nice kirtan. I remember sitting there listening to that class. It was really sweet and the philosophy was so clear, and I could just feel the tears coming out of the sides of my eyes because I was thinking, “This appears to be the truth.” I looked at Sruti and she looked at me, and she just said, “This is amazing.” I was agreeing, we were just stunned: “What did we stumble into?” Bhagavan walked around after that, and he asked us how we were doing. We said, “OK.” He said, “Our spiritual master is coming in a few weeks. Why don’t you girls think about staying for a couple of weeks and then you could meet him.” And he said, “You could help. We’re trying to get ready. We need some sewing, we need some cleaning, we need painting, and we’ve got the new temple.” When we didn’t look like we were jumping at the opportunity, he said, “And you can always go sightseeing. It’s in Paris. You could go to the museums and then just do a little work during the day.” Of course, we never went to any museums. We stayed and pretty soon we were fully engaged doing things around the temple, all the usual things that have to be done. I was sewing a lot. That’s what I had done before I was a devotee, I was a seamstress. So I was sewing every day, and I did a lot of the sewing in Prabhupada’s room – his asana, the curtains and things like that. I remember distinctly every day going in and praying because I was kind of confused. These seemed like really nice people, and that’s how I would pray. I said, “These seem like really nice people, and they say this man who is coming is Your servant. I don’t know if that’s true or not. But in case he is, I would like to be a little bit helpful and I would like to know if he is.” So that was the mood, and that went on for a few weeks. Then Srila Prabhupada did come, and it’s a flurry of excitement because he didn’t come to France very often. So the devotees were really getting ready with programs and people to come see him – dignitaries and educated people. Everybody was real excited. When Prabhupada came in, I remember him sitting on the vyasasan talking, but I can’t really remember what he was saying. I don’t remember really connecting with him. He seemed nice enough, but I was more involved in the activity. There was always something to be done and somebody directing you, “Take this here, take that there.” So everybody was very gracious, and I particularly remember that Yogesvara was very gracious. He was always trying to include, and I was still kind of bewildered. Yogesvara was really excited about Prabhupada speaking to this cardinal, and he was playing it for us. I was interested, and so he starts the tape and Prabhupada is speaking with Cardinal Danielou and we’re listening. There’s translation and you’re getting the gist of it, and it seems like two elderly gentlemen that seem to be equally dignified exchanging ideas about spiritual life. It’s kind of vague, but I got the gist of that and it flows. All of a sudden out of the blue Prabhupada says, “What about the animals?” Even today…without a doubt, even today I get chills when I think of that because I said, “What?” And Prabhupada says, “What about the animals?” and he goes into a whole thing about the animals. And the cardinal says the same thing that the bishop had said to me years before, “Well, the animals don’t have a soul,” and he makes all these justifications, “You need the meat to eat, and it’s more important to feed people.” Prabhupada answers one question after another, and the cardinal persists. It seems to be almost like a…I won’t say a battle, but Prabhupada is very…he won’t let him off the hook. Finally he brings up the analogy of if a man has two children and one child has diminished capacity, does he love the one that’s not so intelligent less than the one that’s qualified? And of course the animals have a soul and of course the animals…It never fails to move me. All of a sudden I felt this real clear understanding, almost like a voice, “Yes, this man is My servant. Yes, this man will answer your questions. He will answer the questions you forgot you had and the questions you haven’t even thought of yet.” It was so clear that I was stunned. So I didn’t have a doubt. I’ve had lots of ups and downs and I never had a lot of association with Prabhupada, but I just felt that Krishna had answered that request. I had had that simple request, “I would like to know.” The previous year Srila Prabhupada had come, we had organized a big festival for him. He had wanted us to install Deities, and we had a very small temple at that time. So when we finally secured this building in a very prestigious neighborhood and arranged for the Deities to come and then Srila Prabhupada to come for the installation, it was really a moment of great happiness and auspiciousness and a wonderful culmination of years of work doing sankirtan and so forth in Paris. So I remember walking to the temple that day, and I noticed outside peering in the windows was one gentleman. This was a gentleman that had been following our movement for years. When we were in the small apartment, he would come and ask us questions. He was a Christian and he would always try and discourage us by telling us, “Your movement has no hope. The French people won’t accept it at all.” So very clearly he was peering in the window trying to see what was happening. There was a large crowd milling around outside and inside. I said, “Oh, you’re here,” and he was surprised when I said that. I caught him looking in the window. He said, “Oh, how are you?” I said, “I’m fine. What are you doing here?” He said, “I just came to see what you’re doing.” I said, “Well, what do you think now?” And now Prabhupada is present and large numbers of devotees and a temple in a prestigious area of Paris, and he was livid. I said, “Well, you see, Krishna has a big plan for the French people and now you’re seeing it unfold, and it’s thanks to you also because you were always encouraging us,” and he almost choked when I said that. I said, “Yes, you were also encouraging because you kept coming and telling us there’s no hope and every time you said that, that gave us more hope to do something for our spiritual master.” So I just left it at that. So it was really wonderful walking into the temple and seeing all the fantastic preparations, and I remember just the sheer ecstasy of chanting Hare Krishna during the whole installation ceremony. All the devotees were very enthusiastic, inspired and in a great state of bliss with the presence of Prabhupada and the installation of Sri Sri Radha Paris-isvara. And the Deities were so beautiful, it was electrifying just seeing Them. They were just brilliantly shining and glowing, and every one of the devotees was also glowing.

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Posted by: lopter001 on Jan 3, 2022

Fsp Dvd 5-102

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