(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 13 January 2013, Amsterdam, Netherlands, Sunday Feast Lecture)
I grew up 20-25 kilometers outside of Amsterdam. My family, in 1940, they were 20 years old. So in 1945, they were about 25; just graduated, just ready to take on the world and then the world was destroyed! The economy suffered from the world war, everything just totally collapsed and the Netherlands was strongly affected! So they were the generation that was supposed to do it, supposed to rebuild the nation. And they did it! By the end of the 50s, it really was a lot better and by 1965, no maybe no earlier, in 1963, the Netherlands began to really recover and catch up! They began to catch up with America. Oh yes! This catch up with America was a big thing. And then we also, in our street, the first television came. I was 10 years old.
Wow! That was a big time. All the kids, we marched to that house. I remember that day. We didn’t care, you know, we were not invited but we invited ourselves and it was alright. They gave us lemonade and cookies. We liked it and we knew, we were going to come back. And then, about a year later, everyone in the street had a television. Everyone! That’s how it was. Everyone had a television and we started to have a fridge and so many other modern things.
Just like in America! So, what can be said. My parents, they were very proud of their success naturally; they had made so much progress and then they said, “Yes, we’ve done it all for you, my dear children.” And we were the ungrateful generation. We said, “But we never asked for this,” and sang, “Money can’t buy you love!” (singing)
In this way, the generation gap became a reality and we faced it like that. And within that atmosphere, a few years later, the Beatles came and no self-respecting young man went to the barber again. Barbers went out of business overnight. Finished! (laughing) That was it! There was a crisis, economic crisis due to the Beatles. Whatever it was, there certainly was a lot of external things. There were a lot of people looking for things.
I wound up in India. I did an overland, long journey. In India, I became overwhelmed by the strong faith of the people at large. And I could see that there was saintliness in the country. Absolutely! More than is commonly available in my own country. So in this way, India captured my heart. And I stayed as long as I could on my visa and then just went back home, made some money then turned around and went back to India, again overland! All up and down, overland. Long trip, lots of mountains, lots of valleys, lots of dry riverbeds, lots of crazy places, the Khyber Pass where you can buy any weapon off the shelf. That is to say any machine gun, bazooka or anything like that, you buy off the shelf. A tank, you have to order; that takes one week! They all walk around with straps of bullets and it was the wild east.
Anyway, so many material adventures but I was not disappointed because of the spiritual depth that I was looking for… that I had felt was lacking… that was lacking in western society because it had become so materialistic in response to the collapsed economy… the economy was everything and where was spirituality!? It was there on the decline. But in India, it was so strong and so alive. Anyway gradually, after quite some years in that environment, I slowly began to see, why Krsna… why one God… why is there a God in the first place? That, I began to see. Secondly, I began to see, why one? But I only really saw it through the mercy of the vaisnava.