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Coming to Krishna and Finding a Way to Stay the Course


Redwoods 2
I often lived in the redwoods
near Muir woods across the bay
from Berkeley and San Fran
where every day was a quest,
a search for the Real Truth
beyond appearances
so I observed everything:
the Natural Order of
changing seasons, moon cycles,
the sun rising and setting,
old trees fallin’ to fertilize
new ones risin’ up through
decaying, rotting tree bodies.
Soul taking off body close up
Do you remember when you first
heard about Krishna?
and events unfolded before and after
you tried to make this path yours?—
even if you are new to Krishna,
someday you will gain insight as
to the significance of these days.

For me, looking back
gives the vision of
an amazing, magical time
of my then turbulent, unhappy life—
in the thick of it,
lacking perspective
I didn’t realize this,
it seemed the most natural
unfoldment and direction
as I only looked forward,
never back.

I am still astonished to
contemplate these
momentous events—even though
I have written extensively about them
in numerous biographies,
here, in other cyber places
and in the Sept/Oct. BTG.
Baby me, Muth and Fath
How could this have
happened to a very ordinary
“red-blooded American boy”
from an abusive alcoholic family
who never excelled at anything
or was passionately committed
but was detached, indifferent, neutral
not a shinning star anyone would
have picked as religious—
certainly not spiritual.

If I had a little good looks
it never got me anywhere—
yet I had a hidden treasure
in my heart and soul—sukriti
or standing in Bhakti from previous lives
being uncovered by connecting
to Prabhupada through his disciples
which was what
my life was meant for—
so alien in the West,
though then
I couldn’t have cared less.

K youth close up
Yet with the 60’s counterculture
my world was torn asunder
I rejected my parent’s beliefs,
opening the door for new ideas
with help from psychedelic drugs
causing existence to seem unreal,
not solid—it could melt away into
a puddle at any moment—
doubting everything material
uncovered great hope:
out of body experiences
and past Bhakti created
a new portal,
trusting for the first time
my soul’s searching for a way
to come closer to my soul
and its origin.
Redwoods 2
I often lived in the redwoods
near Muir woods across the bay
from Berkeley and San Fran
where every day was a quest,
a search for the Real Truth
beyond appearances
so I observed everything:
the Natural Order of
changing seasons, moon cycles,
the sun rising and setting,
old trees fallin’ to fertilize
new ones risin’ up through
decaying, rotting tree bodies.

When I would return to
Berkeley after my Natural
nothing else but my quest
was important or mattered—
I saw a crazy civilization
cut off its roots, artificial
plastic culture unaware
of its connection
to the natural world
arrogant and proud of puny
so-called achievements which
made life more complicated
confused, chaotic, polluted.

Teacher makes point
College professors didn’t inspire
by their example to become
like they, who were a part
of the material system
I didn’t want to be part of,
since I wanted higher knowing
than just earning a living—
to learn who I was
what life was for;
how to help others
making a difference
becoming a better,
vital, introspective person
connected to the Earth, to Spirit
and whatever our Source was.

I bet my life on the search for my soul
and its Source—so I gradually gave up
everything material I owned:
my girlfriend, material education,
job—and yet I was cared for,
nurtured, illuminated, and prompted
as I read all the spiritual books
I could get my hands on,
studying ancient Chinese seers
and mystics who spoke of superior men
and “The Way”, non-endeavoring action
and peaceful coexistence and tolerance.

I gave away almost everything, like
my bed and began sleeping and sitting
on the floor, studying before a low table
thinking deeply, I considered: “In order
to learn a spiritual discipline I need
to become a monk”, like a student of Truth
majoring in a spiritual curriculum;
I began looking at various groups:
yoga communities, Christian Trappists,
Buddhist monks and whoever I could find,
though when I met the devotees of Krishna
on the streets, I knew—as I told one—
“I will become like you”
which surprised me when I said it.
Reading the Gita and BTG magazine
seemed to build on all I had studied—
here was a way to live a spiritual life
which gave a clear, concise method
of spiritual attainment with an exacting
philosophy of the nature of the soul
and God—the Krishna conception,
unique while so attractive and accommodating;
yet it was the devotee's character and peacefulness
that convinced me and seeing them chanting,
hearing their knowledge and conviction
feeling that sense of dejavu at the Temple.

Now my worldly renunciation made sense
helping me have a clear sense of purpose
with a focused mind, free of responsibilities
or distractions so I could completely embrace
the Vaishnava practice and easily close
what little materialistic life that was left
to become a brahmacari monk in the ashram
rising early with the life of kirtana,
japa, and sharing my life with others.

Those were simple, carefree days
giving me a strong foundation
preparing me for dealing
with more complex issues
of my conditioned embodiment –
my struggles to find balance
as my “anarthas” became conscious
like milk solids rising
when making ghee
forcing me to look at myself
more realistically with a less grandiose
vision of my spiritual standing
revealing the need for marriage,
occupation, a vision for the long haul
of a lifetime strategy
so I could life in the world
but not identify it as who I am
helping me to be peaceful,
focused on my spiritual
life without being distracted.
A portal
The flower airplane which I expected
to pick me up very soon
from the material whirlpool
was not soon forthcoming
making it evident that I couldn’t
major in emergency devotional service
with the necessity of “dovetailing” my
natural tendencies in Krishna’s service
so I wouldn’t burn out and I could
enthusiastically finish the race to Krishna.
In Vrindavana
So forty years later I am still inspired
by the vitality of my original spiritual quest—
yet I don’t nostalgically see these as
“the good old days” as I was ignorant
of so many important spiritual truths
and of myself without the benefit of life-long
experience as I have today gained
in the School of Hard Knocks
with brutal self examination
coming face to face with my “shadow self”.

Let me be inspired by how Krishna,
Prabhupada, and the devotees plucked me
out of the material world—in such a fascinating
tailor-made way—yet let me live today
for today and my future will come from this
as I come closer to my bodies demise.
Sometimes I’m challenged not to be depressed
at my shortcomings, at other times by my successes
but in any case I need to be grateful
for the spiritual progress I have made
since despite my many trials, tribulations
reverses, or tests of happiness or success
I am still on the path of Bhakti
being in the best part of my life—as it is
all I have to deal with—so all I have learned
and realized is preparing me to take shelter
of Lord Chaitanya/Nitai, the instructions of
my gurus, the holy name, scriptures,
K.C philosophy, hearing from sadhus
in order to face my final exams of
diminishing body through old age,
diseases, and impeding death,
talking about which could seem
cliché for devotees, but it is really
very crucial to remember.
1972 kirtan in San Francisco
I have to believe in myself
what I can become, or uncover
by the Lord’s grace, ever present
helping me, and that somehow
as a result I can encourage you to also
believe in your spiritual potential
who you truly are, strengthening
your resolve to stay the course of Bhakti
for your whole life, in your full capacity
pointing out your good qualities and successes--
if possible being there with you, for you
when you are down or feel defeated
discouraged, or lost—at least this
is my ideal understanding of
devotee association:

Sharing the nectar of the holy name,
Radha-Krishna and Gaura-Nitai lila
and the minuet of the KC philosophy
serving together, never giving up
on one another, even if you are I have—
that we are each other’s “keeper”
leaning on each other while gently,
lovingly, sometimes strongly
encouraging one another to keep dusting
off the dirt, should we slip and fall.
Hill Rainbow
A meditation:
We are always on the path
though sometimes in climbing the highest
peak we first pass through the foothills
giving the appearance of going down,
yet we’re still progressing if the
sight of the goal still inspires us,
if we keep on keeping on,
knowing that stumbling blocks
can be stepping stones
mindful that our gurus and Krishna
never give up on us if we don’t quit—
so with a grateful heart,
armed with yoga
we will fight the good fight
with determination, love,
dependence on Krishna,
with the conviction that we
will be successful.

Combined comments from old site

Fri, 10/16/2009 - 17:55 — jivatattva
Nice Redwoods

I think i've been to that place, we used to go there when i was at UC Berk - great place for an OBE :)

I used to love the Bay area and always thought I would go back and stay permanently, but the last time I visited family a few years ago it just didn't feel the same, like the attachment was gone.

Its funny how we can transcend attachments, and sometimes not even know it until that thing comes around again.



Fri, 10/16/2009 - 20:21 — Karnamrita.das

Yeah, I thought I would return there for the longest time, but there was no compelling reason to return--only to visit, but not to live. I wrote about my visit to S.F. last year on a blog here and on Dandavats on Nostalgia for the place of birth. When I visited there after 30 years it was a really amazing experience, comparing my somewhat (comparatively) mature vision with my myopic childhood perspective. In the part of town I grew up in, little has changed, but it was like I was viewing it for the first time. It was very familiar, but the difference was something like seeing in HD color, to fuzzy black and white. In any case I have no pull there now. Home is where the heart is, and that is wherever I am with devotee friends, family and service, as I look toward Goloka, praying to have attachment to that realm

Good to hear from you!

Your friend in Krishna,