Part 1: Have you noticed the invisible currents of life? My experience currently, (using this as an excuse for my not writing for a few weeks), and upon reflection on past events, is that sometimes it is apparent that I seem to be swept along, lifted up as it were, beyond my will into the air of destiny, on some already decided course, which it is best if I accept, and not fight. I have come to see that our free will and power of choice though very small, can be applied, at least, to the attempt to be as present and introspective as possible.
Thus, I feel it is an important practice to develop the wherewithal to be as aware as possible, like a third-party witness, doing our best to accept what is beyond our control, with the hope to learn. Through “mistakes” or trials by fire, learning and growth are essential outcomes, regardless of external results. Furthermore, as an aside to the main topic here, as an aspiring devotee of Krishna, I know now to also add—or look for—Krishna to help me be present in the moment, by chanting the holy name, or remembering his form, pastimes, or instructions. This is “the life” for those on the path of bhakti.
I am applying this truth, which could be seen as awareness of destiny, or synchronicity, first to a recent, seemingly ordinary event, when I was volunteered, as is done in Facebook groups, to be part of an attempted reunion of Prabhupada disciples, and secondly to the events of my past life, which practically forced me to take up the path of bhakti. A few weeks ago I was implored upon visiting this FB site to share my devotional history. Fair enough, and yet, when I began attempting this, the scope of the writing took on a life of its own, as I have found is often the case, turning into more of a detailed autobiography.
[Reposted from 3-24-2010] On Tuesday April 4th, in the USA we observed Ram Navami, or Lord Rama's holy appearance day anniversary. Although Lord Chaitanya is the combined form or Radha and Krishna, coming to give Krishna prema for the fallen souls of Kali-yuga, he also contains all other incarnations of God within him, including Lord Rama. Therefore, Lord Chaitanya is Universal. Anyone desiring to make spiritual advancement and increase their devotion toward any real incarnation of God can obtain that goal by taking shelter of him—he is so merciful and accessible.
Devotees of Shri Rama can see Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as the manifestation of Lord Rama for this age. Shri Chaitanya showed a six armed form to his devotees to demonstrate that he was also Lord Krishna and Lord Rama. At least two principles devotees of Shri Chaitanya were also devotees of Lord Rama. One of them is none other than Hanumanji, who in Chaitanya lila, is the Kaviraja (Ayur-vedic doctor) and great devotee, Murari Gupta. It is said that Murari Gupta cured people’s material and spiritual diseases. He was also one of Lord Chaitanya’s principle biographers. The stanch devotion to Lord Rama of these two devotees was tested in a similar way by Lord Chaitanya, and then he greatly praised their Rama Bhakti or devotion to Shri Rama.
BLESSED BY SPRING’S INSPIRATION and my poem, LISTENING FOR SPRING: Stepping outside this morning around sunrise was so lovely, enlivening. The “spring thing” feeling in the air, subtle, yet palpable, encouraging me with thoughts of possibilities and new beginnings. Cool temps stimulate, yet hint at approaching warmness. The sun seems especially bright after yesterday’s dark clouds and torrential downpours.
That special morning spring light shining off the dew, with new grass and other tiny excited plants coming up. A few trees just begin to show their small intense green leaves, while most are still sleeping, but telling us they know their time is coming soon. The first robins showed up two weeks ago, while the crows come daily for leftover prasad.
In a hurry, running off to work, you might miss it, or if you did sense it, you could easily forget about it in the stress of the day. Krishna’s or God’s Material Nature—his “separated energy” no less—is so amazing. As I have written about before, living in the country can really change one and give a new awareness, like the wonder of sight after being blind. One slows down, or at least that happened to me, as I have never been a passionate person—as I shared yesterday, in good and problematic ways.
However, today, I am stressing the positive aspect of the mode/quality/energy of goodness which colors one’s perception, as would the other “gunas,” of ignorance and passion.
THE POWER OF OUR LOVE TO REVEAL WHO WE ARE NOW, AND IN THE FUTURE, and a short essay on what our love reveals and teaches us
WE SHOW WHAT WE LOVE BY WHAT WE GIVE OUR ATTENTION TO and WHAT WE LOVE IS WHO WE BECOME: Truth is simple, yet profound. Please join me in thinking about and unpacking these truths in a practical way. I find a number of applications both in a negative and positive sense. The idea that we demonstrate what we love by what we give attention to is another way of explaining the law of attraction, of which the ultimate purpose and expression of, is the principle behind meditation and the goals of bhakti. Another way of saying this is that what we focus on increases in power, or as Emerson taught, “We become what we think about all day long.”
If you feel that what you’re giving your main attention to isn’t what you really love, then you need to make some adjustments in your life so you CAN give attention to what you truly love. Just like some people say they love God, or their spouse, children, or family, but don’t give them any time or energy. As it is said, “Love is as love does.” We only have so much energy or power of focus, so we have to use it judiciously with the knowledge that we become what we are absorbed in and giving most of our energy to. Is our outer life congruent with our inner one? For many of us, our work is in this kind of honest introspection, for it holds the key to being all we are capable of, and reveals what we are here to do.
paTaham dundubhim caiva kAhAlam sindhuvArakam
kAMsyaM ca karatAlaM ca veNuM vAdayate tu yaH
pUjAlale mahAviSNos tasya puNyaM nizAmaya
steyAd yaiH pAtakair mukto mandiram yAti cakrinaH
Anybody who in the temple of Lord MahA-Visnu at the time of worship plays a dundubhi drum, a kahala drum, a sindhuvaraka drum, a bell-metal gong, karatAlas or a flute, becomes free from sins like theft and goes to the abode of Lord Cakri. (Padma Purana, Kriya Yogasara 14.32,33)
(translation by yours truly, feel free to send in corrections)
Discontent, depression, disconnection,
or dissatisfaction, are our friends
if we take them as messengers
to help us to change course
pushing us to leave our comfort
zone and get off the couch,
to be uncomfortable to strive
more than merely survive.
This is such a common theme,
(for me) but sharing's still important
as many on a spiritual path,
or those who strive for excellence
confront obstacles to realizing
their goals and life mission
so please don’t mind my repetition,
only think if it can help you rise up.
FEAST OR FAMINE FOR MANY FACILITIES OR PREFERRED ACTIONS: These days I am in somewhat of a famine, or at least some restriction, in terms of writing, which I consider so central to my life lived in the pursuit of being a giver. This makes me sad, but also brings introspection on the way my life works--a very recommended and helpful practice!
Our lives have their demands which require our attention to properly deal with them. This seems to be just the nature of material reality even for spiritual practitioners in bhakti. Though the ideal of followers of Shri Chaitanya is to be fully absorbed in seva (loving devotional actions), still, we can't completely escape material necessities that require payment and thus bring certain ebbs and flows in our life aspirations. We could also describe these ebbs and flows, or ups and downs, as cycles of life.
This is certainly no big revelation, but for me, at certain times, it is more painfully evident (during the ebbs) then during those inspiring flow states when everything seems divinely ordered and empowered. As always, in addition to just sharing, my intention is for you to think over your own life and how this might apply to you. We can ask ourselves when reading or listening to a talk, "How can I use this," and try to find at least one good point to put into practice. Such openness will help us notice the useful and practical in what others miss due to focusing on the faults of the presentation. This is the meaning of the saying that we get more of, or notice, what we focus on, and how so much of a successful life comes from our attitude and faith. The Gita teaches us that we are our faith, for without faith, we can't do anything, remaining on the doubting fence of the intellect!
Please, therefore, describe the Almighty Lord's activities which you have
learned by your vast knowledge of the Vedas, for that will satisfy the
hankerings of great learned men and at the same time mitigate the miseries
of the masses of common people who are always suffering from material pangs.
Indeed, there is no other way to get out of such miseries.
O VyAsadeva, you are freed from all sins. Thus I have explained my birth and
activities for self-realization, as you asked. All this will be conducive
for your personal satisfaction also.
I originally published this blog on February 15, 2011. Since I don't have time this evening to prepare a blog about Lord Nityananda, I thought I would post it again now. Wednesday, February 8th will be the observance of Lord Nityananda’s holy appearance day. I was blessed in 2011 to be able to give class to the devotees on that day. I am sharing with you part of what I spoke about then. On the one hand, I appreciate the special mercy that comes to one who is able to speak to the devotees about Krishna and the philosophy of devotion, while on the other, I also find it very humbling to realize that I really don’t know much about the philosophy. It is like an ocean, and I can only share a few drops. However, I speak for my own purification, with the prayer and intention to inspire and inform the devotees. Besides this, Krishna appreciates our taking risks in his service, assuring us in the Gita, that he carries what we lack and preserves what we have.
It is interesting how Spring is associated with Shri Chaitanya and his associations. First Shri Advaita Acharya, who prayed for the Lord’s appearance, then Shri Nityananda Prabhu, the expansion of Lord Chaitanya and his most merciful aspect, and finally the crescendo, next month, on the full moon day, Lord Chaitanya’s appearance. Although Shri Chaitanya is widely known as the “most munificent” avatar, freely giving Krishna prema (ecstatic love for Krishna), Shri Nityananda is considered even more merciful, since he gives prema to the most unqualified persons.