When I arrived at the homeless shelter for men in Rockville there was no shortage of hands to help me carry the hot, freshly cooked prasadam supper into the building. The men, of various ages and backgrounds, were grateful and thanked me many times. We had cooked for one hundred.
As I drove away I felt light-hearted and happy. I had taken time to help others in need. I was also grateful – that I am not homeless, that I have the opportunity to serve, and that I am part of movement that actively cares about the welfare of others.
The supper not only addressed the mens immediate need to eat, but because it was prasadam it had the power to affect their consciousness. We call it the yoga of eating. Yoga, a sanskrit word, means to ‘link up’. By eating food that has been cooked and offered with love to Krishna, the soul is nourished, the mind is cleansed, and one is connected to the source of all existence. That connection brings real and lasting change.
These men without a home also reminded me of our existential homelessness. As souls we are temporarily housed in various bodies and we travel lifetime after lifetime in search of happiness. Between birth and death we have a temporary sojourn in this world. Whether housed in a mansion in Potomac or a hut in shanty town, death, the great equalizer, will move us on. Where then is our true home?
It is said that home is where the heart is – but that is also temporary if the heart is linked to things material. Only with the heart connected to Krishna will we find our true home, that place beyond the temporary nature of this world. Until then we are as homeless as those I met in the shelter in Rockville.
Remembering this can be an impetus to serious spiritual practice, to deepen our relationship with Krishna. When that happens our surroundings in the material world won’t matter. Our destiny may have us live in large or small homes, or even to live without a home – we won’t be bothered. We will have found ourselves in the heart of the bhakti practice, in love. We will be home.