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A Cure for All Suffering
by Sundara nanda-gopala dasa (Jason M. Brown)

Although my office is located 40 blocks North of the World Trade Center, I am able to, quite clearly, experience the chaos. From the balcony of my office, I cannot see past 30th Street due to the incredible amount of smoke and debris blowing about. I can taste and smell the smoke from here. All of New York City is moving as if in a dream. It is quite surreal to all of us.

The only mode of transportation on this somber Tuesday, September 11, 2001, is by foot. There are, quite literally, thousands of people walking in droves from one end of the city to the other, across the bridges, everywhere, just doing whatever they have to do to get out of the city. And yet, for all those people, the city is eerily quiet. It is extraordinarly unnerving.

I myself am forced to walk 60+ blocks just to get to a ferry that would take me to the New Jersey side of the water. Thousands more are in line here and we board the ferry crammed together 400 or more, although each boat is only built to hold 200. Arriving on the New Jersey side, the docks are swarming with Secret Service Agents armed with machine guns, bomb-sniffing dogs, firemen, ambulance crews, and doctors. The inside of the dock building had been converted into an emergency triage center and is lined with stretchers awaiting the wounded. But, aside from a few emotionally shaken souls and a few minor cuts or scrapes, there are no wounded—because all are dead.

Any passengers having dust from the collapse on him or herself is whisked away by the Secret Service to a quarantined tent which had been erected and stocked with biological testing and forensic equipment. Samples of dust and debris are collected from people, they are hosed off, debriefed, interviewed, consoled, and, eventually, released.

The remainder of the ferry passengers are herded off to buses, split into two groups according to geographic destination and taken home by police escort. There is no thinking—you simply do as you are told. This horrific experience has served as a bonding agent for all, and everyone is extremely cooperative.

When I arrive in my neighborhood, which is directly off the George Washington Bridge, and in which there is a high school, therefore classifying it as a "HotZone," the entire area is covered with SWAT teams. There is even a tank rolling down the street. This is reminiscent of a warzone; it IS a warzone.

Even now, three days later, things in New York and the surrounding areas are at a standstill. Everyone is simply in a state of shock.

After reflecting on a recent conversation with my spiritual master on the topic of the Holy Name, my realization is this:

This is the sankirtana movement. Our main business is chanting Hare Krsna. The best thing we can do at this time—or any time, although the recent events have certainly solidified the necessity of such in our minds—is to wholeheartedly dedicate ourselves to the chanting of the Holy Name of the Lord.

The Srimad Bhagavatama clearly states: "Whatever result was obtained in Satya-yuga by meditating on Visnu, in Treta-yuga by performing sacrifices and in Dvapara-yuga by serving the Lord's lotus feet can be obtained in Kali-yuga simply by chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra." [Srimad-Bhagavatam, 12.3.52] Whatever your religion, just simply engage in chanting the Lord's name. If all of us come together and SINCERELY try to cultivate the pure chanting of His name, the Holy Name will manifest Himself and the amount of benefit we, and others, receive will be immeasureable.

Bhaktivinode Thakura describes, in Harinama Cintamani, how those who are trying to chant the name purely may not succeed in the pure recitation of the Name until they themselves are purified by such action. In other words, the end, and the means to attain the end—chanting the Holy Name—are the same.

Srila Bhaktivinode describes a stage in which one who, even while not chanting 100% purely, is still sincerely endeavoring to hear the pure Name. This stage is called namabhasa.

Namabhasa is called the "dawning twilight of the Holy Name." In a forest, night is the most dangerous time because the forest crawls with dangerous animals and dacoits and thugs who are unable to be seen by innocent victims. But with the coming of the twilight, the moment the sun starts to show his face, immediately, the danger dissipates and the forest becomes safe again.

Even if, collectively, we are only able to reach this initial stage, this namabhasa chanting, or "twilight" of the Holy Name of Krsna will immediately make us, those around us, and the entire atmosphere safe, both spiritually and materially.

Relief efforts are wonderful. Donating blood, volunteering at local hospitals, clearing rubble, donating supplies and food and water—especially prasadama—these are all honourable and pious things. We should do these things, we should become active, we should unite together with our fellow citizens to physically, emotionally, and psychologically combat the demonic forces of the world.

But the greatest service we can perform is to benedict the world with the Holy Name. As devotees of the Lord, this is our main business. All of the world’s citizens, no matter what denomination, must come together on the platform of chanting the Holy Name because everything we require is contained in the Holy Name. Srila Prabhupada has designed ISKCON in such a way that we have the unique opprotunity to introduce this process to the world. People are in a grievous time of need and Srila Prabhupada has given us the Holy Name, which fulfills all needs. It is nothing less than our specific duty to share the Holy Name with them. We must take advantage of the enourmous opportunity that has presented itself and teach the world, by example, what can be done to end it's suffering.

Krsna Himself says, "What great men do common men follow." We may not consider ourselves great, but Srila Prabhupada and the previous acaryas were all great men and we are following them. By directing our behaviour in such a way that we represent them, others will also follow those great men, and join us in chanting the Holy Name.

We must sincerely call out for the mercy of Krsna on ourselves and on others, by simply following Srila Prabhupada's example and chanting "Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare."

© CHAKRA 19 September 2001

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