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Is Yard Work Devotional Service?

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The “jungle” is returning,
time to “weedwack” to trim
and drive the lawn tractor
before it rains again.

I begin trimming under
gray skies and then it pours.
Putting on a Pancho to keep dry
I weed by hand, listening.

The roar of the rain in
the trees, the swish of wind,
raindrops on my covered head
I think the Hare Krishna mantra.

Pondering in my plastic Pancho
I think about my life as
a devotee, as I look at the beautiful
verdant forest, intensely green grass
and colorful flowers, with yellows and reds.

Is my yard work devotional service
just because I think I’m a devotee?
I have offered the weeding to Krishna,
thinking it is his home and yard.

Certainly in theory I believe,
and I follow the guidelines,
but what do I really feel,
since our heart is where we live.

I act dutifully, often in prayer,
yet if I really knew it was Krishna’s
home, I would keep it much cleaner
and the yard better maintained!

Trying to be more self reliant and
consume less energy, my son
is installing solar water collectors, and an
“on demand” water heater, which is good.

Yet, I think how we live in the US,
with central air conditioning
and all our convenience machines
would make a Himalayan yogi laugh.

Yet Bhakti is very generous
and we dovetail our conditioning,
desires and occupation, under a guru’s shelter,
making our focus Krishna’s service.

Standard of living is relative,
“simple living” an internal evaluation,
it varies with person and country--
who has too much, or just enough?

A devotee born rich creates a home
that feels “just” comfortable,
while a humble born devotee
think he has way to much.

My home could be a
palace in some countries,
yet here it’s “middle class”,
and I see it as normal with guest facilities.

In whatever way we can
be peaceful and inspired to serve;
we can adopt what we need
for our goal to love and serve Krishna.

We have to evaluate if
how we live is favorable for service,
and we are neither over endeavoring
or in anxiety about our next meal.

Speaking of which,
it is now time for lunch prasad,
my austere meal of pesto pizza
with artichoke hearts, and salad–
I guess I am a yogi after all.

Combined comments from old site

Mon, 07/14/2008 - 13:56 — Gemma
Green and Clean for Krishna

Thank you for this post. I think it's beautiful to ponder what makes an action an act of devotion. I struggle sometimes to know. Indeed keeping up your yard and making your house environmentally sound is a loving thing to do, I think, because who made the environment and all its creatures and plants afterall?


*Reply*

Tue, 07/15/2008 - 11:59 — Karnamrita.das
Know what you mean!

Hi Gemma! You are a real gem---actually souls are all gems from the unlimited Krishna mine. To feel Krishna is mine is actually higher then thinking we are Krishnas---which is still not to shabby if we have realized it. In Goloka, the spiritual abode of Krishna, the cowherd people think of Krishna as one of them, as a cowherd. They simply love him, and everytime they see him is like seeing him for the first time----ever fresh!!

If the world is Krishna's energy or his property from another angle, then surely proper stewartship of the planet or our little corner of it, can be seen as service to him in a general sense. Everything is a matter of our intent and where our consciousness is dwelling.

There is a Gita verse which also has a similar verse corresponding in the Bible (so I have been told) which can be a guiding principle for living:

"Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, and whatever austerities you perform -- do that, O son of Kunti, as an offering to Me." Bg 9.27

More advanced than that is to offer Krishna with love certain things that he likes which is the previous verse:

"If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it." Bg 9.26

So many verses, so little time, yet here are 4 good ones, which sort of say that God or Krishna is all things, especially the most significant ones for us (and the 10th chapter is dedicated to that):

O son of Kunti, I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man.

I am the original fragrance of the earth, and I am the heat in fire. I am the life of all that lives, and I am the penances of all ascetics.

O son of Prtha, know that I am the original seed of all existences, the intelligence of the intelligent, and the prowess of all powerful men.

I am the strength of the strong, devoid of passion and desire. I am sex life which is not contrary to religious principles, O lord of the Bharatas [Arjuna].

Bg vrs 8-11, ch.7

And to sum it all up another four:

Furthermore, O Arjuna, I am the generating seed of all existences. There is no being -- moving or nonmoving -- that can exist without Me.

O mighty conqueror of enemies, there is no end to My divine manifestations. What I have spoken to you is but a mere indication of My infinite opulences.

Know that all opulent, beautiful and glorious creations spring from but a spark of My splendor.

But what need is there, Arjuna, for all this detailed knowledge? With a single fragment of Myself I pervade and support this entire universe.

Bg ch. 10.39, 40,41,4142

Your friend in Krishna,

Karnamrita


Mon, 07/07/2008 - 10:52 — ekbhaktin8
Devotional Service

Hare Krishna

Thank you for all your blogs and articles. Inspiring and educating.
Prabhuji, you indeed ARE a Yogi and
Yard work IS devotional service.

Its funny - many years ago, i liked to think of my home as God's ashram. That gave me a safe feeling since this material world turned scary at times. The thought of keeping the ashram spotless clean itself was very pleasing. Of course, that didn't really happen. I got caught up in mundane living and responsibilities, not to mention my procrastinating nature. So it was left at the level of "playing pretend" like kids. Of course, this was still better than the stage i was at even further down memory lane when i did not make that connection and was reluctant to do work that wasn't very stimulating to the mind - that made me procrastinate.

Now, its right in front of me in bold that my home is in fact the Lord's Palace ; the yard - His garden. Yet, i cannot keep it sparkling for Him. Not even close.

Some evenings are usually weeding time - some nice quiet time with the Lord . Every time i learn the same lesson :- once you get started on the task its so peaceful, and fulfilling. Its just a matter of transitioning from one kind of time with Him to another. The difficulty sometimes is making that transition. Sometimes i have my little helper - eager to help.

Krishnali.


Mon, 07/07/2008 - 06:01 — Radhikesh
A nice and simple poem,

which even a simpleton like me can understand.

I also wonder when I work in the yard how to consider the work I am doing is for Krishna. I have little taste for working in the yard - all the mowing, pulling out the weeds, trimming and other things. I do chant Hare Krishna when I do the work, but since I have difficulty considering my home as a residence of Krishna, I fail to see how the work can be dovetailed to Him. And when the work becomes tedious, I forget to remember Krishna or worse yet think why is Krishna giving me this arduous task, as if I deserve better. Then I justify thinking it is not my nature to engage in hard labor. May be I am more brahminically inclined - pathana (reading scriptures), paathana (teaching others) and so on. Or am I just lazy?

There must be some reason behind everything that happens and I understand Krishna is preparing all of us for something. Oh, thats too much of an ego on my part to think like that - the truth is I am just reaping the results of my karma.

You must be having a good laugh thinking why this poor soul consider yard work so difficult.

Radhikesh das


*Reply*

Mon, 07/07/2008 - 08:29 — Karnamrita.das
The Gardener Knows the Bhagavatam

Good to hear from you. It has been a while!

A Vedic scholar came to visit a temple where the great Bhakitsiddhanta Saravati Prabhupada was staying. He said something to the effect that he desired to learn the Bhagavatam. Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta, without any sarcasm, told him that if he wanted to learn the Bhagavatam he should associate with the gardener since he was living its' conclusions (he may have been illiterate as well).

Our Shrila Prabhupada, following the example of his Prabhupada, kept us all very busy doing external devotional service so we might become purified and be able to then understand the KC philosophy and pratice rembering Krishna. Any activity is what we make it by our attitude and realization.

It is true that we have our nature...by nature I have the Brahmin/sudra nature or goodness and ignorance, and little passion. I like to study and teach but am lazy in the matter of manual labor. We shouldn't be like the caste Brahmins and think certain work is beneath us. Though we have our preferences, for the service of the Guru or our Deity we have to be ready to do what is required----even (gasp!) pulling weeds, unless you surround your home with gravel and Astro turf!

When you pull the weeds from the yard, imagine you are pulling anarthas from your heart! So the yard or whatever can be seen like your heart, and we want to offer a clean heart to our Guru and Gaura! (easier said then done, but it is an idea to try to put into practice)

One of the points of this poem is to say that even if we haven't realized our home and/or yard is Krishnas, we have to start somewhere by thinking that it is his, and pray to see everything in relationship to him. Our life must become a prayer and meditation of service! Practice with a large dose of mercy makes perfect.

We have to do service that may not appeal to us to remind us how much further we have to progress (a servants business is to serve), and to teach us humility (in the yard by getting our hands in the dirt and working up a sweat). Since I am quite lacking in my spiritual progress and humility, I have a big yard!

One perspective is that it's nice seeing the mowed and trimmed yard, which I think would be pleasing to Prabhupada and Krishna! Who we are and how we live speaks loudly to others!

Your friend in Krishna,

Karnamrita


Sun, 07/06/2008 - 16:41 — Lilia
maying and mying

my sky is ceiling
but the fans are kneeling
while my heart is reeling
what come of maying and mying am I?

here are the trespasses
the great giants of masses
heavy mountainous window glasses
what come of maying and mying am I?

I think, Oh Krishna, certainly this is yours
the movements of construction in so many city doors
I've been charmed many times before even at the ocean shores
but, what come of maying and mying am I?

the glitter is pestle besides you in churning
whether cities or meadows it is I'm discerning
all ceilings, all buildings, all grasses are turning
but, what come of maying and mying am I?

this movement in skies, in cars, or the rains
highways jostled in ferrying combustion's strains
but My Lord's feet are dancing upon all that pains
so, what come of maying and mying am I?

oh, Kaliya is wretching and painful in dying
his poisons are all but uselessy drying...
there is no more need of rasping and sighing...
what could ever come of my maying and mying...

when Krishna's feet are everywhere...?


*Reply*

Mon, 07/07/2008 - 04:33 — Karnamrita.das
The world is Krishna's poetry

Thanks for sharing your poem. I wasn't sure if you just wanted an outlet for your poetry or if it was meant to be a comment on what I wrote. I know you are clear on what you are intending to say here, but I am not at all sure----sometimes poetry is like that for me, and it can sometimes be a lot of work to try to understand. Perhaps the appeal of some poetry is that there can be many interpretations. Rather then guess or infer I thought it better to ask your intention and meaning here. And what do you mean by "maying and mying"?
Your friend in Krishna,
Karnamrita


*Reply*

Mon, 07/07/2008 - 05:19 — Lilia
Krishna's lotus feet

Hare Krishna.

LOL - This was a response to your poem. You were talking about being outside under those rainy skies working in the yard contemplating your devotional service. In your contemplations, you made me think about how this must be, this simple life. Your eyes are looking at flowers contemplating Krishna. I live in the city, in an apartment stacked right next to another apartment. There are no gardens, only lots of concrete!

So, in my contemplation, I am seeing overpasses and sky rises, contemplating. I was "maying" thinking about how wonderful it must be to be able to be outside among flowers...and to put my hands to work at touching Krishna's creation. "Maying" is wishful thinking for the sight of raindrops upon flower petals and the desire for contemplation such as yours is my "mying" (meaning that I am wishing to see Krishna this way in a "my" sense)...But, then, I look around and I see that here in this city is wonder itself...the wonder is in Krishna and Krishna is everywhere looking at me. All those steel frames and those glass windows and those railway stations are scintillating with His energy...so, there is nowhere that He can't be. Then, I become awe-inspired and see that it is the contemplation of Krishna's lotus feet that rescues me.

You were talking about how devotees live in different environments and I was thinking how amazing this actually is...Here are all these devotees scattered everywhere in all kinds of living circumstances, yet they are finding Krishna's lotus feet. I very much enjoyed your contemplations...

Thank you,
Lilia


*Reply*

Mon, 07/07/2008 - 08:36 — Karnamrita.das
Great meditation

Wow, I think your meditation from the poem is much better then what I was thinking when I wrote it. That is what I would hope to happen through my writing. Thanks for sharing and clarifying. It makes the huge difference to understand your points!

Your friend in Krishna,

Karnamrita


Sun, 07/06/2008 - 03:40 — Go-Seva
Lovely

PAMHO prabhu, Hare Krsna~ I feel like I am there, rain and humidity all around, what a beautiful and vivid portrayal. I also feel the same way when I am outside, weeding the garden where veggies grow so I may offer them to Krsna, digging potatoes in the dirt on my belly, and even mowing the lawn so (I imagine) if Krsna ever stopped by and surveyed His yard, it would look nice for him. I always think, "Would He enjoy this surrounding?"

I love this poem! And I, too, am taking a break to prepare breakfast prasadam for Him and may family with newly dug potatoes, fresh tomatoes and peppers. Isn't it great?

Haribol!


*Reply*

Sun, 07/06/2008 - 12:19 — Karnamrita.das
A glimmer

I was just trying to give a glimmer of my day in the rain pulling weeds in this beautiful country and being the philosophical type I naturally think of so many things which I shared. I have land, though I am not much of a farmer like you are. We have some cleared land, but the "soil" here is red clay or mud, and needs a lot of work to build up.

If my son helps me (he lives 2 hours away, and works for a solar energy co.) develop a bigger plot I will, but only a low maintanance garden for now. Presently I work 4 or 5 days a week as you may have heard (see Kindred Spirits blog) though someday we may have to live off our land, and I at least want to have the potential for that. Necessity is the mother of invention, so if you have to eat, then you do what is required. After getting our solar hot water, we plan soon to have a solar water pump---you have to have water, and if the grid isn't working it is a long way to the river.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing. I appreciate what you are doing. My wife and I lived in MD for 15 years and only moved here 5 years ago. We love the peace and purity of the country, though we aren't really "frontier types" like some of the devotees here. You should come for a visit sometime, and then you could have plenty of experience being with devotees. There are also many protected cows here ----including miniature zebus and big zebus as well.

Your friend in Krishna,

Karnamrita