Bedlam in Bolinas
It’s all about recollection of so many things forgotten. Several of the characters are trying to remember things that are barely forgotten, old memories that are bubbling on the surface of consciousness, right there under the skin. It’s about memories from other lifetimes that are trying to resurface in the psyche. Plato said that all knowledge is like that, that when we learn, we only remember what we already know. He says that we know everything already, but have forgotten, and life is about remembering the truth. Everybody knows the secret, everybody knows the score [line from Blind Faith]. And Srila Prabhupada also says like that, that Krishna consciousness is right there in everyone’s heart, Krishna and full knowledge is inherent in every living being, and our process is to cleanse the dust of the mirror of the mind, and remember what we’ve forgotten. When Srila Prabhupada arrived in London, he told the reporter, “I’ve come to teach you what you have forgotten.”
In the story, there are 4 soul companions, and they need to remember what was forgotten. Yet there’s one character, hippie Sreejin, who already remembers, and has not forgotten anything, for a very long time. The major memory lapse is due to death, and someone is perpetually trying to revive the memory of the friends.
I hope it will prove entertaining for those who appreciate large chunks of philosophy interspersed in a flowing story. I’ve been fascinated by the story itself, although the actual execution of writing out the long story has proved to be a requirement of time, of which I’ve been short. I gave up for a while, and went to FL and a devotee was saying why I did not finish, so I’ve rethought the whole thing. And came up with the idea of first telling the story, explain the characters and their mission in life, describe the many plots, but leave out the cliff-hanger conclusions, and then pen the important parts that are philosophical and infuse Krishna consciousness into the reader. Then, at least if it remains unfinished, still the story will be told.
Why take time on this story? Someone may ask this question because it seems at first glance that this is a mundane story. It starts off like the usual novel with the introduction of characters and their interactions and the beginning of some plot and sub-plots, which are appealing in a dangerous or humorous way, which appeals to emotions of mirth or horror or dread and ghastliness or some meaning of life of which different readers can relate to in their own lives.
Often we see that writers will introduce some idealistic idea of a higher virtue of humanity, often by contrasting a depiction of deplorable qualities in certain characters, and by way of creating the triumph of the protagonist or hero in his/her struggle in relationship to these lower qualities, either in themselves or in adversaries.
This Bedlam story is an attempt at conveying Krishna consciousness through an art medium, the way of storytelling, or the novel. Preaching often means conveying an idea by way of entertaining the reader, or the conditioned soul’s senses via the material modes, and then imperceptivity, injecting the essence of the Holy Name or Aham Brahmasmi within the midst of lower modes of nature. Since the conditioned soul is habituated since time immemorial to the 3 material modes of nature, it is therefore the practice of artists and philosophers and transcendentalists to entertain their audience by the stories of life and then inject small portions of some ideology or philosophy, to be carried or supported by the narrative or art medium.
The best example of this is George Harrison, of whom Srila Prabhupada has said that George has done more preaching for Krishna than any of us could do in many lifetimes. Although his career began with the captivation of the senses of his generation, especially the senses of young teenage girls, still he was eventually able to use his seemingly mundane talent to preach the highest philosophy ever given to man. His song “My Sweet Lord” has been replayed continuously for the last 25 years or so and people love it, and they are not conscious of the fact that they are being induced to chant the holy names of God.
We see the same technique in Srimad-Bhagavatam and Mahabharata; especially the Mahabharata, which captivates the audience with mystical stories and intriguing plots and then infuses powerful Krishna katha in the form of Bhagavad-gita and other narrations of great sages and devotees. If one were to recite the Vedanta sutras, he would find the audience nodding off, but at the very beginning of the narration of a Mahabharta story, they are on the edge of their seats.
So, many times devotees will have to disguise their mission within the atmosphere of the material modes of nature in order to trick the conditioned soul into taking association with Krishna’s Holy Names or read some kind of transcendental literature, or get a spiritual message of some kind. Book distributors do this when they go to the airport, they dress like the people, even wear wigs, and talk the lingo to accost people rushing by. Devotee rock bands compose songs which are appealing to the people and inject the Krishna consciousness message into the lyrics. And such devotees undergo austerities to do this, like playing in smoky tamasic bars sometimes, but they are trying to help the conditioned souls. So the same with writers, sometimes they tell a colorful story mixed in the modes of life to get a message through. Otherwise, it may be very difficult for us to get the attention of the Kali-yuga inhabitants, who are conditioned by the material modes.
To be continued