The World Seen Through the Eyes of Vedic Knowledge
You can't miss Jack. The feather in his hat, the flower in his lapel, the sottish old twinkle. Round the town square he courts ladies often half his age, tipping his hat like some preposterous prince. We get along tremendously, Jack and I, because there but for Srila Prabhupada goes your Vedic observer. And because what I have to say sounds so wonderfully preposterous to him that he loves to ask me questions.
"What's this country coming to, Rich?" he began recently, unfurling the morning paper.
"What's the matter, Romeo? Juliet jilt you again?"
"I'm serious, Rich. Look at this."
The headline screamed in the sunshine: PRESIDENT FAVORS GAYS IN MILITARY.
Then came Jack's editorial: "Queers in the schools, queers in the churches, queers in the government. Now our wrists are going limp on the front lines! Rich, I ask you again, what is this country coming to?"
"The mode of ignorance, my friend. But don't worry about our wrists. Alexander the Great favored males, and he conquered clear to India. If we really want to save the country, we'll have to tame our passion or accept its fag end, ignorance. Tell me something, Jack, do you remember the first time you heard about sex?"
Jack smiled at the question, a setup for my "wild wisdom," as he called it. Playing wistful, he looked out across the courthouse green. "It's been a long time, Rich. How about you?"
"As a matter of fact, I remember the exact instant," I said, seizing the cue. "It was the first day of junior high school. I was walking up the long steps, thinking about what the guys had been talking about at the bus stop. About what Jeff and Judy had been doing in the McGee barn. And then it hit me and I whispered, 'That's weird.' Another step and I whispered it again. 'That's weird.' And another, each time whispering my conviction, until at last I reached the top step and realized the ultimate weirdness: my parents conceiving me. 'That's really weird.' "
"That's nature, Rich," twinkled Jack.
"I know, but listen to how an innocent's impression of sex can remarkably resemble the mature realization of great saints." Thumbing through my pocket Gita, I found Prabhupada's citation of the Vaisnava saint Yamunacarya: " 'Since I have been engaged in the transcendental loving service of Krsna, realizing ever-new pleasure in Him, whenever I think of sex pleasure, I spit at the thought, and my lips curl with distaste.' "
As I read, the courthouse clock struck twelve, sending a parade of secretaries on their lunch hour. Jack moistened his lips and leaned in close. "What if every time you spit, you think of sex?"
"Ah, then ignorance is truly nigh," I emoted, feeling like a foil to Woody Allen. Like Woody, though, Jack wanted something more than the fashion show unfolding. Me too. I kept going.
"Instead of educating innocence, our hedonistic society exploits it, convincing us that our essential nature is not spiritual but sexual."
"But sex is natural," Jack persisted.
"Then so is homosexuality."
"I don't know. You tell me."
"Okay. But if sex is natural, you also have to admit that sex is miraculous."
"Amen," he said laughing.
"Why? Why is sex miraculous?"
"Conception," he grimaced. "That's the problem."
"That's the miracle. You said it. Forget the miracles and we forget the divine purpose: to conceive and raise children to love God. And what a shrewd lover He is. Raising children is such a challenge, who would conceive them if sex were not so pleasurable?"
"Sensational," Jack added, eyeballing a miniskirt.
"There's the rub," I said with a laugh, seeing the shapely thigh. "Lost to bodily sensation, we lose ourselves, our ecstatic love of God. I scratch her itch, she scratches mine. But the souls within remain untouched and unsatisfied. To a saint, Jack, we're all rather queer."
"Speak for yourself, young man. I still say homosexuality is a plague."
"And the saint would agree. By its very nature, homosexuality precludes the miracle, the divine intent of sex. So do contraception and abortion. They're all perverse, to varying degrees, the rotted fruit of our misunderstanding."
"That we are this body."
"This what?" said Jack, now tipping his hat to the luscious young lady waving his way.
Jack's voice grew distant as her pink derriere wiggled past. "If I'm not this body, then … whose body am I?"
That finished me. Gasping and laughing, I could hardly reply. But Jack, eyes still tracking the pink, became strangely sober.
"There's only one thing that bothers me, Rich."
"What's that, Jack?"
"Why did the good Lord put the funhouse so close to the outhouse? Do you think He's trying to tell us something?"
"I think you're becoming a saint."
Suresvara Dasa, a recovering heterosexual, has been practicing Krsna consciousness since 1970.