It takes a village to raise a child

I had been cultivating Casey for a few weeks. I met him at an outreach event at Mission Bay, New Zealand. He was very appreciative of the spiritual atmosphere created by the kirtan and the questions he asked seemed indicative of a sincere soul searching for spiritual connection and knowledge.

I asked him how he ended up here and he told me about 5 years ago while in Manila, Philippines, his hometown, he felt inspired to go to a local temple. It turned out to be an ISKCON temple and he met a monk outside and gave a donation for a Path of Perfection. Then about 2 years ago he met two German monks in Manukau (turned out to be Nitai Jivana and Krishna Gopinath) and got a Hiding in Unnatural Happiness off them. He then explained that while at his work only a couple of weeks ago, a brand new bhakta from our University club came in to work and they struck up a conversation. Both of them being sincere souls, the conversation turned to spirituality and our new bhakta, Rory, invited him to the opening program of the year at The Loft.

It was at this program he got to hear my spiritual master and the author of the book he bought 2 years ago, HH Devamrita Swami speak. Being so impressed with the talk, he was inspired to take a Bhagavad Gita from Manobhirama Prabhu. He had a sincere desire for knowledge and Krishna being the fulfiller of all desires, was reciprocating.

He explained that the depth, clarity and practicality of Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad Gita was what he had been searching for for so many years. Having grown up in the Philippines, which is a very Christian nation, he always had a longing for knowledge of and love for God.

We began reading the Gita together before the Sunday programs at the Loft and meeting up in the city as he worked close to the university where I do my prasad distribution service. At the same time other devotees in our community helped him along on his journey, such as Bhadrasena prabhu and the men in his ashram. I always hear it takes a village to raise a child!

Because of his deep appreciation for everything about Bhakti and his acceptance of finding God as his life’s goal, I thought it appropriate to invite him to the Kumeu Temple for Nityananda Trayodashi. He said his experience was “suprisingly sublime” and felt very moved by the abhishek ceremony. I had brought it up before and he expressed interest but on this night he firmly decided to get a Srimad Bhagavatam set!

When packing the set in the van heading to the Loft the next Sunday, Krishna planted an idea in my head. “Show him the Chaitanya Charitamrta and Lilamrita sets as well.” My heart began to race as it seemed crazy that someone might take all three but I thought, why not at least try?

I showed him the sets and he loved them all. In that moment I lacked the confidence to push him to get all three so he paid a deposit for the Bhagavatam set plus a Nectar of Devotion and Nectar of Instruction and said he could get the others at a later time. The Loft programme was ecstatic and as I was driving him to his car, Krishna intervened again.

The thought arose in my mind. “Push the other two sets.”

So I said, “Why not take the other two sets now? You’re going to get them at some point anyway so you might as well take them now”. To my disbelief he agreed without hesitating!

I was overwhelmed by Krishna’s kindness and mercy he had bestowed upon both of us and barely slept that night. Krishna is more anxious to take us back to his kingdom than we can desire, so as soon as someone shows a sincere interest in returning to Godhead, Krishna helps in all respects.

Casey is now chanting, reading Srimad Bhagavatam and distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books to others regularly. All glories to Srila Prabhupada, all glories to Gurudeva.

Pictures attached

Your humble servant, Srivasa-sarana dasa

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