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Monk visits WCU, lectures on consciousness

Etta Griffin, Practicum Writer

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Krishna monk Devamrita Swami visited West Chester University last Thursday evening to lecture on the topics of globalism and higher consciousness. Swami has been a monk for more than 30 years and travels worldwide in his efforts to reconnect humanity with their lost mission of enlightenment through the ancient practice of bhakti yoga.

For the many problems that plague contemporary culture, Swami said there is no “magic bullet solution.” This was a lesson he learned at Yale University, where he yearned to find an answer for such concerns. It was after his graduation in 1972 that he discovered the bhakti texts, which sparked his search on a spiritual level.

The event, organized by Alpha Mu Gamma’s Zeta Rho chapter, was held in Mitchell Hall and began with a sound-based meditation. Two of Swami’s mentees led the Hare Krishna mantra, playing finger cymbals and a mridanga drum, while the crowd sang along. As Swami explained, bhaki yoga is about “connecting to the Ultimate Source; Krishna in pure love.”

It is through such spiritual contemplation that Swami believes people will be equipped to address the larger issues that affect both current culture and the future of the planet. According to Swami, such issues are so complexly intertwined that they seemingly cannot be addressed by the current institutions in place.

“Humans,” he said, “are left defenseless against the ravages of consumer society.”

Striving for personal satisfaction with a misdirected importance on material things, Swami said that humans have “become the first species to destroy its own environment.” By misplacing meaning in the material, people have neglected to seek the significance in their spiritual selves.

Swami then discussed the five biggest myths of human achievement: money brings prosperity, technology brings well-being, weapons bring security, the Earth provides limitless resources for exploitation and that the Earth provides unlimited space for used resources. According to Swami, social scientists have found that an increase in wealth beyond the basic middle-class level of living does not correspond with an increase in happiness.

In our technologically-driven society, an alarming number of people are afflicted by stress, anxiety and depression. There are over 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world. The Global Footprint Network found that it would take 1.6 Earths to provide resources at the rate humanity uses them. And by the year 2050, there may be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

“Humans,” Swami said, “are missing their mission.”

He believes that only by expanding the understanding of immateriality can civilization decrease its impact on the planet. Material happiness, for Swami, is “temporary and shadowy.” It cannot truly be grasped and it cannot satisfy.

“Humans,” he explained, “were made for more than that.”

It is with Krishna consciousness that Swami feels people can rise above basic desires and develop the mindfulness necessary to see oneself in relation to all living entities. Using bhakti yoga as “applied spiritual technology,” Swami believes that humanity can find enlightenment and change the world.

Etta Griffin is a fourth-year student majoring in English writings with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at [email protected]

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The Student News Service of West Chester University
Monk visits WCU, lectures on consciousness