One thing that drew me to Srila Prabhupada initially was his extensive use of metaphors and analogies drawn from nature.

I can still remember the one that was the tipping point for me. Before the Caitanya Charitamrtas came out, there was a smaller paperback book called something like “Lord Chaitanya in Five Features.” I had been trying to wrap my head around the concept that the world was an illusion, mostly looking from a Buddhist perspective, and I couldn’t get it on a gut level. The world seemed so tangible, so experiential, so real.

Then I read in that book something like the following (that book isn’t in the Vedabase — this is from an article in the Back To Godhead magazine #56, 1973 by Jayadvaita dasa but it is the same analogy):

“It is said, “All that glitters is not gold.” Sometimes a seashell underwater appears to be gold though actually it is not. If one thinks an oyster shell to be gold, this is an illusion. But this does not mean that the oyster shell itself is an illusion nor that there is no such thing as real gold. The gold exists, and the oyster shell exists, but mistaking one for the other is illusion.

“Similarly, the conditioned souls are attracted to the glitter of temporary material enjoyment, as if it were permanent, due to illusion. In the material world, nothing is permanently enjoyable. Therefore anyone who tries to be permanently happy here is a fool and a rascal acting in gross illusion. This does not mean, however, that there is no such thing as real enjoyment. Real enjoyment is elsewhere, in the spiritual world.”

The oyster shell thing clicked with me and I was started on my path towards devotional service to Krishna.

Here is a poem I wrote based on this: Illusion.

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