What was it like teaching Western philosophy? And why teach it to devotees?
I was impressed by the students’ clarity of mind, enthusiasm, and critical approach. The course aims at enhancing their spiritual awareness, by nurturing a deep conviction, rooted in honest, thorough, and challenging inquiry. The students have already been trained in this approach, and their participation was effortless and rewarding to me. For devotees, studying Western philosophy strengthens our faith in the Vaishnava tradition by raising our awareness of the important questions philosophers ask concerning epistemological, metaphysical, and moral issues, which are relevant to everyone in every society.
How did you become a devotee?
I joined ISKCON in 1988, while studying medicine in Florence. I was living in a Buddhist monastery, and one monk gave me the address of the devotees. I visited them and was impressed by their simplicity and generosity. Because of a bus strike, I had to stay at the Hare Krishna temple for three days, and in that time I became convinced that this was my spiritual path.
What is your present connection to the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies?
I am an affiliated student of OCHS. The Westminster Institute has offered me a place for studying, in order to obtain Qualified Teacher Status by 2007. As an affiliated student of the Oxford Centre, I attend some of its seminars, and I can borrow books from the OCHS library and study there. It is important that we devotees develop our full potential and engage all our abilities in Krishna’s service. OCHS and the association of other devotees who are students in Oxford help me to do exactly this. It is easier to grow emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually in an environment in which one feels comfortable.