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Within this extraordinary memoir Radhanath Swami weaves a colorful tapestry of adventure mysticism and love Readers follow Richard Slavin from the suburbs of Chicago to the caves of the Himalayas as he transforms from young seeker to renowned spiritual guide The Journey Home is an intimate account of the steps to self awareness and also a penetrating glimpse into the heart of mystic traditions and the challenges that all souls must face on the road to inner harmony and a union with the Divine It is a tale told with rare candor immersing the reader in a journey that is at once engaging humorous and heartwarming Radhanath Swami was born in Chicago in 1950 In his teens he set out to wander the world on a spiritual quest eventually discovering the yoga path of devotion He presently travels in Asia Europe and America teaching devotional wisdom but can often be found at his community in Mumbai India People who know Radhanath Swami speak of his dedication to bringing others closer to God and their own spirituality Almost in the same breath they speak of his lightness simplicity and sense of humor Visitors and friends are inspired by his unassuming nature and natural unwillingness to take credit for the works he inspires community development massive food distribution to indigent children missionary hospitals eco friendly farms schools ashrams and emergency relief programs


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    I started reading this book somewhat grudgingly and after a tumultuous ride on a journey with the author I came to this It describes the author's confusion about whether God is personal or impersonal and how one day Srila Prabhupada removed his confusion I had the same confusion regarding the nature of the divine and this removed my confusion as well But unlike the author I lean towards striving to attain the divine as impersonal through meditation I will always remember this book for this section which inspired me to resume my spiritual quest For some time I had been troubled by a fundamental philosophical dispute over whether God was ultimately impersonal or personal On the one hand I had heard some yogis and philosophers profess that ultimately God is impersonal and formless but that he accepts a temporary material form as an avatara when He descends into the world for the benefit of all beings After accomplishing His mission He again merges into His formless existence All form and personality according to the impersonalists is a nonpermanent product of material illusion In the final state of liberation the soul sheds its temporary identity and becomes one with God merging into the all pervading spiritual existenceOn the other hand I had heard other yogis and philosophers profess that God is the Supreme Person that His spiritual form is eternal full of knowledge and bliss At the time of liberation the soul enters into the kingdom of God where it eternally serves the all beautiful Personality of God in pure loveI often pondered this apparent contradiction How could they both be correct? God must ultimately be one or the other Either He must be ultimately impersonal or personal Out of respect for my beloved teachers it had been difficult for me to think that any of them were wrong Some attacked the opposing point of view while others refrained from argument by keeping the subject vague I found that many spiritual teachings were similar until they came to this pointWhat is the goal I should aspire to? I wondered Should I strive to transcend dualities to become one with an impersonal formless God? Or should I strive to purify my heart to serve a personal Lord with unconditional love in His eternal abode?One afternoon a guest asked Srila Prabhupada this very question “Is God formless and impersonal or does He have form and personality?” The chattering of birds screeching of monkeys and honking of distant rickshaw horns were silenced by the anticipation in my heart I sat up with attention eager to hear his answer Srila Prabhupada slowly leaned forward his face perfectly relaxed and full lips curved downward at the edges Sitting cross legged on the floor his elbows rested on the low table in front of him and his hands were clasped together under his chin With a grave gaze he quoted from the Vedas and explained “We must first understand the inconceivable nature of God The Supreme Lord is simultaneously personal and impersonal It is an eternal truth that He is both formless and that He has an eternal blissful form”I felt a warm peaceful sensation flood my chest With one hand Srila Prabhupada stretched his index finger upward “The Lord’s impersonal all pervading energy is called Brahman And Bhagavan is the personal form of God who is the energetic source and never under the influence of illusion Take for example the sun The form of the sun as a planet and the formless sunlight can never be separated as they exist simultaneously They are different aspects of the sun Similarly there are two different schools of transcendentalists who focus on different aspects of the one truth The impersonalists strive to attain liberation in the Lord’s impersonal formless light while the personalists strive for eternal loving service to the Lord’s all attractive form There is no contradiction“Similarly the soul is part and parcel of the Lord simultaneously one with God and different from God Qualitatively we are one with God being eternal full of knowledge and full of bliss But quantitatively we are always but a part just as the sunray is but a tiny part of the sun and yet has the same qualities as the sun We are both one with God and different from God God is the independent controller but when the soul misuses his God given independence he forgets his relation to the Lord and falls into illusion and subsequent suffering”Leaning back against the wall he tilted his head slightly and gazed directly into my eyes “The two schools personalists and impersonalists both approach different aspects of the One God” He went on to explain how Krishna His form qualities personality and abode were unlimited and that all the true religions of the world worshipped the same One God He had simply revealed Himself in different ways at different timesHow beautiful With these simple and intelligent words Srila Prabhupada had harmonized two apparently opposing views As I listened to him tears of appreciation welled up in my eyes Yes now it all makes so much sense I thought A dilemma that had confused my progress was now completely removed A spontaneous joyous smile stretched across my face Srila Prabhupada reciprocated with a smile too one endowed with both wisdom and serenity