[Taken from: http://www.saranagati.net/index.php?S=3&Article=731&mpage=1]
“You can’t postpone it any longer,“ said the surgeon. “We have to do it now.“
“Okay,” I answered, “when is now?”
“As soon as you can be in the operation theater! See you, I am making the necessary preparations now,” replied my doctor.
This is how my story starts – a story, which many friends asked me to share. It is a story of protection and how a divine promise was fulfilled.
For years I had been suffering from a festering abscess, sometimes it was giving more pain, sometimes less. Since I didn’t know what it was and all the while hoped that it would disappear, I tried to be patient when the bouts of pain came. But one day as I was cleaning my shelf from unnecessary things, the pain returned with overwhelming intensity. This time, however, there was something new: A voice from within that told me, “Now is the time. Go to a specialist. You will get a good address. I will be with you. I have promised that I always protect My devotees. Have faith – and don’t fear. Remember My promise.”
There are magical moments in life, when you are absolutely sure that there is a higher connection working, and this was one of those moments. From this point onwards, everything went ahead with lightning speed. Before I had time to rethink and doubt, I was already lying in a bed on wheels, dressed in an “angel-fashion” surgery dress. There was a name tag tied to my wrist with my diagnosis (to avoid a possible mix-up with other patients who got wheeled into the room before the surgery hall, like airplanes before take-off.)
To be confused here with someone else might mean that your stomach gets removed instead of an abscess…
What surprised me was that despite the scary environment of the surgery department, I was totally peaceful. So peaceful that all the assistants who were busy preparing the instruments and looking after patients who just “woke up” were astonished and came over to talk with me. “What happened to you? Why are you so composed and happy?” asked the nurses. I didn’t want to tell them the actual reasons – my two sources of inspiration:
1. The promise
2. And the Saranagati prayers, as I remembered them:
O Lord – You are full of compassion and mercy.
You surely drive away all fears – since everything is under Your control.
No one else in this world has the power to rescue me.
I have given up everything now and come to Your feet.
I am Your eternal servant and You my only maintainer.
I no longer belong to myself.
I am Yours.
(from Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura)
Then the anesthetist who had briefed me earlier came, gave me a warm smile and asked, “Remember what you have to do?”
“Think of your favorite dream, your spiritual idea, where you really want to be… Okay the white liquid enters your vein now – it will burn. Stay with your goal! Stay…..”
As I tried to concentrate everything around me faded away…. But then there it was: The sacred river Yamuna – the kalpa vriksha tree and – o could it be true…. so kind ….. so brilliant … so splendid…. o words, why don’t you come to my help? O weak pen, why do you stop writing…?
The next thing I knew was that I woke up in my room and my secretary asked me,
“We informed everyone. Now Ani, the violinist would like to come and play violin to lighten your spirit and quicken your recovery. Alright?”
I was surprised, but – yes, it sounded like a good idea!
A World of Suffering and the Magic of Music
During the first night in the hospital, a terminally ill patient (advanced colon cancer) was re-admitted in the hospital for an emergency surgery. All night he was whimpering in pain despite all the pain medicine pumped intravenously into his weak body. The next night, the day after his surgery, he fainted in the bathroom with no-one else to help him than me, who was limping out of bed to call a nurse (no one had responded to the automatic call system).
Oh, these were wild nights and busy days in a world of suffering.
Soon, the patients got to know that a monk was amongst them and came to discuss their problems and ultimate questions.
I remember one patient who had morphine constantly dripping into his veins, to divert him from the pain. He said he was already here for two months and could see that the doctors did not really know how to help him. I told him things like “take shelter” and “awaken your inner pharmacy to heal yourself,” but he looked at me with a despondent smile and said, “I have no training in these things.”
I spoke to nurses and asked them what their most difficult moments in their profession were. Here are three interesting answers:
“When a patient says: ‘Leave me alone and let me die,’” said sister Marga.
“When I have to clean a helpless patient and am exposed to the most aggressive smells,” said a young, beautiful nurse, who was obviously new in the field of care.
“When I have to be the one who tells a young person that he came too late to the hospital and that he might have to prepare for the inevitable,” confided sister Magdalena.
Many kind devotees visited me to give me encouragement and strength.
When Ani finally came and played violin in the room I shared with that other patient, my doctor came in, listened to her approvingly and humbly requested that she continued playing on the corridor for all the patients to hear. He reasoned, “They need to free their minds from fear and desperation, otherwise how will they heal? Music can bring out the best in us. It is therapy.”
That day, many doors of station 5 opened to allow the music of life to enter. Next time we can maybe do kirtana.
Treasures Found in the Hospital
As you see, I carry many impressions from the hospital into my healing phase, but the one which comes back again and again is how the Lord fulfilled His promise.
There is a wonderful text about the divine promise:
“It is My vow that if one only once seriously surrenders unto Me, saying ‘My dear Lord, from this day I am Yours,’ and prays to Me for courage, I shall immediately award courage to that person, and he will always remain safe from that time on.”
(CC Madhya-lila 22.34; Ramayana (Yuddha-kanda 18.33))
Krishna is ready to immediately accept someone in His care who sincerely says:
“My dear Lord Krishna, although I have forgotten You for so many long years in the material world, today I am surrendering unto You. I am Your sincere and serious servant. Please engage me in Your service.”
(CC Madhya-lila 22.33)
Also Queen Kunti praises Krishna, because He fulfilled His promise:
“Even the sunshine may one day become cool and the moonshine hot, but still Your promise will not fail.”
(Nectar of Devotion, p. 160)
Throughout my stay in the hospital, I simply could not forget how Krishna carried me through the ordeal of a heavy surgery. I strongly felt the urge to run on the street, raise my hands and tell the world that Krishna really protects someone who sincerely turns to Him.
The one thing required is that one steps out of one’s tiny world of needless plans and worries and turns with faith towards Him. Then He is immediately there, leading, carrying, protecting, supplying, maintaining – in simple words: taking care.
I am now back in Gaura Bhavan, my base outside of Berlin – with a long, deep open wound and a happy mind. It’s time for healing, both physically and otherwise. Every event in this world has several dimensions. My prayer is that the surgery did not just remove an abscess, but wrong conceptions of life. May the clouds of anxieties, worries and so on not come back any longer. May they disperse once and for all times not only for me, but for the many people who are known and unknown to me as well.
As one Chinese monk (Wu–men) once said befittingly:
“If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.”
Epilogue: Thoughts After Full Anesthesia
I am just returning from the doctor who examined the slowly healing wound (nothing to worry). Naturally, I reflect on my life after I will be well again. What will be my emphasis? While driving through Berlin familiar sights of the city flash by, and my thoughts again go back to the anesthesia. In anesthesia, the known world around us fades away and totally disappears. We enter the region of the unconscious mind and rove around in unknown territory where we stumble upon many strange figures and happenings. But when we wake up, we have forgotten everything. Only an eerie feeling remains – if at all.
These days it strongly appears to me that what I experience now of the material world is comparable to the visions of a person under full anesthesia. It’s not the real world. It’s illusory and not highly attractive. Only when we wake up to our original natural spiritual consciousness are we in real life.
Then there is again love, again connection, again Radha Krishna (God), again home, again unbounded happiness….
How much I long to wake up to that eternal reality only the stars who witnessed my prayers know. I am aware that for the spiritual reality to fully reveal itself, I need to be completely released and clear from the anesthesia of material life, for as Thoreau once expressed so well: Only that day dawns, to which we are awake.
I sincerely hope that, in sharing both the dark and the bright side of my story, you have gotten inspirations and courage for your spiritual path. What I wish to say in so many words is simple: Krishna fulfills His promise – we just need to let go of the unnecessary things in our lives to receive His gifts.
Better we do it on our own …
(written in spring 2010)