Ring! Ring! Ring!
It’s already the second time this morning.
The first time you ignored it—it’s far too early for phone calls.
Normal people, you have learned, phone after 10:00 in the morning and before 10:00 at night.
A little nervous you ask, “Who is there, please?”
A long silence—a timid silence, almost as if the person is afraid to identify him or herself.
You demand to know the answer. “Who is phoning at this inhuman hour?”
“Here speaks your soul, your self.”
It sounds too unusual to be fake but too strange to be real.
“Please, I beg you, don’t doubt me.
I have only a few minutes to speak to you.
Later, when I am finished, you can think about everything. For now, please listen.”
“Ok. What do you want to tell me?”
“Are you ready?”
“I am not sure, but I’ll listen.”
“Good. It won’t be easy but I’ll try my best.”
All of a sudden the sound of the voice changes.
Gone is the insecurity—it is resolute and clear, inexplicably full of light and kind.
The person seems to be very sure about the message.
“See, my friend, you have illusions about who you are. You are running forward all the time but you don’t know where you are going. Your mind and body have formed an unhealthy partnership from which you have excluded me—your real self.
“For so long I was also bewildered by you, but some time ago I found out that I don’t need and want what you crave. In fact, your so-called pleasures have often been a diversion from real life and made you and me suffer.
“Now, with my misidentification gone, I am no longer yoked to the ups and downs you experience, which are fully controlled by the laws of matter. I refuse to be a slave to you any longer. I’ll be living my own life.”
“Oops,” you think, “am I becoming a split personality, a schizophrenic?”
But the voice sounds so healthy, strong and pleasantly compassionate, that you ask a crucial question: “Is that all you wanted to tell me or is there something you want from me?”
Your telephone instantly seems to come alive with energy, energy that emanates from the enthusiasm of your hidden partner at the other end.
“An excellent question. I am grateful to you for asking. Yes, I wish to suggest a program of cooperation that will be beneficial to both of us.”
Nothing to lose, you think. I won’t sign anything. Later I can decide what to do about this unnerving phone call.
Full of energy the voice continues: “Let’s go together to the source of all pleasure, to Krishna. Be intelligent, mindful. Think of Krishna—you will be full of love and free from disturbances. Make plans to serve Him—become a Krishna dasa.”
Then your partner addresses your body: “Body, worship the Lord—dance and sing for Him and offer your full obeisances. Bow down, be creative. Oh, I can already see—we will all be held in the Lord’s embrace. We will be unified in ecstatic bliss.
“That’s all,” says the soul, “my time is up. I have been blessed to be with you only for this long. Usually maya [illusion] keeps careful watch, trying to keep me away from those like you who live in her prison.
“I don’t know if I will be given another chance, but today her Lord Krishna outsmarted the powerful energy of illusion so that I could reach you for a few brief moments. Now think about everything very carefully and do what you wish.
“We certainly will review your decisions one last time, when, at the moment of death, I’ll leave for my next destination.”
“Wait, soul or whatever! I have some questions….”
Click—tut, tut, tut—the connection is lost.
Many of us have heard the call of the soul, sometimes whispering softly to us and at other times crying loudly. Those who integrate its requests witness amazing changes in their lives. Their eyes start to see things they never saw before. Their ears hear about ideas that change their own hearts and the hearts of the people around them. And time has changed for them and become their friend. The years go by as reliable supporters, bringing with them increased maturity.
In the early years of their spiritual developement it is different. In the beginning they often shift their attention exclusively to the soul, almost as if to make good for all that wasted time spent in maya. Later they learn that mind and body are not to be neglected. They are also needed for the journey, in a purified and sanctified state. When they recast their lives, all aspects of their being become peaceful and healthy.
The most wonderful phenomenon, however, is that those people of the soul bathe their entire being in divine love, which comes about due to their living connection with Krishna and the amazing exchanges in that fascinating relationship.
Those who ignore the call of the soul have entirely different experiences. The doors to spiritual life remain closed for them.
If you listen very carefully, however, you will hear the calling of the soul almost every day. Maybe its voice is not as clear as it is in the story, but if you practice the art of spiritual listening, you will soon hear it even without the “telephone.” It’s a wonderful voice, an inspired voice!
Under the Banyan Tree is a regular column featuring the writing of Sacinandana Swami.