Vrindavana has an open door policy. Just take a stroll around the village lanes and someone will invite you in for a meal somewhere. It’s happened to me three days in a row so far. In bygone ages, householders would loudly call for any hungry person in the vicinity before taking their own lunch. Such a beautiful culture. Sages would randomly drop by and offer gracious words of wisdom, people would liberally share things with their neighbours, and children would freely run from home to home without any inhibition. It’s a stark contrast to our modern world, which is closed up and shut tight. Nobody enters our fortress, with top notch surveillance and guard dogs to make sure, and hardly anyone ventures out, too busy watching TV or surfing the net. Locked into our small worlds, lacking genuine human interaction, and becoming more and more isolated as the days pass by.
Today I reflected on how open doors create open hearts. The culture of a society fashions the culture of an individual. Where people grow up with the open door ethos, they naturally tend towards more open-heartedness – interested to hear the voice of others, ready to share their own thoughts, and able to consciously interact with sensitivity and empathy. Such open-hearted exchange is at the very heart of spirituality. The modern world, however, with its closed door policy, has inevitably crafted closed hearts. People are becoming socially awkward; impersonal, defensive, insensitive and selfish in their outlook. Our world shrinks when we close our doors, and our worldview shrinks when we close our hearts. In these few days, people have said and done things for me that I would never have thought of doing for anyone else. It’s touching, but humbling and embarrassing at the same time. Another resounding reminder of the need to become more open-hearted.
How nice if I could genuinely appreciate others, remembering how many people generously encourage me every single day. Maybe I could be more empathetic, balancing strength with sensitivity, recollecting the tireless mentors who patiently moulded and nurtured me despite my stubbornness. Considering how many selfless acts I was the recipient of, I wonder when I’ll rid myself of the selfish calculative mentality and embrace the joy of sacrificing to serve others. How relationships would transform if I was open-hearted enough to park my nit-picking judgemental attitude, and give people the benefit of the doubt. What about if I could let go and forgive, instead of bottling things up and holding grudges. I’m living in anticipation of the day when I’ll let cynicism and scepticism slide, and exude genuine positivity and optimism. Oh Vrindavana, demolish the lock of impersonalism, slide back the bolt of miserliness, turn down the latch of insensitivity, and reopen the doors of my heart so I can enter the world of selfless spiritual exchange.
Jan 23, 2022
Anandini Tikunov (8th-grade student)
Jan 22, 2022
Sunanda Das, tovp.org