I Hope You Dance.......
There are so many references in my mind for the title of this blog. There's a song.... something about "if you have the chance to sit one out or dance.... I hope you dance". There's also something written by an old woman, and she's saying what she would do if she had her life to live over again, and she says she would dance more. There are also a thousand ways and times, in my own personal life, where dancing has meant so much to me, both as a spiritual activity (directly) and also indirectly as physical exercise that keeps my body healthy so I can do the things I need to do.
All things considered, I would say dancing is a really important thing to me. I remember kirtans for hours when I was younger and living in the temple, jumping up and down for the whole kirtan. Dancing and chanting with other devotees is a totally blissful experience. The sound of the mrdanga, the kartals, the chanting, the Dieties, the devotees. There is nothing in the world like it. You can be half asleep, tired, whatever, but you walk into the temple room for mangal arotike and the chanting and dancing brings you to life.
I was thinking about this because, here, on this website, we are dealing with the internet. A rather impersonal, abstract format. Words, words, and more words. Concepts, thoughts, issues, discussions. (yes and we have a lot of amazing Dieites here, and lots of pictures of Krishna! not to underestimate those) Still, I think about people who are new to Krishna consciousness, who perhaps have never even been to the temple, and how hard it must be to really relate to some of the things in black and white type.
I know a lot of people tell me they love the things I write and are inspired by them. I am very grateful for that. I do have to say though, it's comes from all the years I spent living in the temple (and I do mean "in" the temple). Also living next door, in the ashram, or the grhasta ashram. All our lifestyles in those days involved constant interaction with other devotees. Daily, hourly, moment by moment. We slept in the same rooms, we bathed together, we ate prasadam together, we served together, we dressed together, we laughed together, we cried together, we fought together, and made up together.
This living in the physical association of so many other devotees had a profound and permanent affect on my entire life and my views and understanding of Krishna consciousness. I would not write any of the things I write, understand the things I do, or be able to get up every morning to chant, or do anything I do at all if not for this association.
Today, people have more independent lives, and live further away for the most part, and not everyone goes to mangal arotike and the entire morning program (yes, it was a requirement in the "old days" ;) A lot of the devotees on this website only have the chance to visit the temple occasionally. Some not at all.
The reason for this blog is that I would like to encourage anyone who has not spent much time at the temple, chanting, dancing, singing, playing, working, serving, associating, reading, studying, talking, laughing, bathing, cooking, cleaning, worshiping, and generally loving Krishna together with other devotees, to realize how important this physical association is, and how much there is to be gained from it.
I hope anyone and everyone who can go to the temple, will.... and when you get there, stay as long as you can, talk to everyone you can, get involved in some service, make some friends, attend the kirtans, honor prasadam. Try to go and stay for the weekend, in the ashram if at all possible, or a guest house, whatever is available. I mean, live with the devotees, even if for a weekend.
It's so essential to spiritual life and the ability to fully appreciate the things we talk about here on this website. Without that direct personal interaction, so many of these things will be very difficult, if not impossible, to grasp. So, go to the temple, and when you get there:
I Hope You Dance...........
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Sat, 11/08/2008 - 04:50 — Karnamrita.das
Dancing and singing
Many of us have heard the verse in the Brahma Samhita that in the spiritual world, all walking is dancing, and all speech is singing. Jiva Goswami comments, that if all walking is dancing and speech a song, just imagine what their dancing and singing must be like!
Some have compared living in the ashram to "boot camp" or the preliminary training in the military. I would agree that it is helpful. For me and many there was little sense my-ness or of having a fruitive mentality, as we happily lived out of a milk crate and our life was centered around service. It certainly helped that I was nineteen and had given up everything I owned and any ambition I might have had. I felt it was spiritual life or death.
Of course my desires surfaced later, yet being able to give our self to Krishna without material expectations is very favorable for making spiritual progress. I think it would be helpful for anyone to experience living in the ashram for at least some period of time, to get of a taste of being absorbed in selfless service. I know that can be done in any circumstance, yet having lived many years in the ashram I know its great benefits and liabilities. We can accept whatever is favorable for our spiritual progress, and there is no material impediment.
Your friend in Krishna,
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Sat, 11/08/2008 - 23:43 — Navasi
Essential Milk Crates
You really made me smile with that statement about the milk crates! Yes, the only piece of furniture for any devotee! Those milk crates certainly did a lot of service. Tables, altars, bookcases, cases to carry books to the van and store them in, to carry kartals, etc., for Harinam, suitcases, room dividers. That and a sleeping bag amounted to "possessions". I remember the dairy companies finally decided to make it illegal to use those milk crates for "other purposes"....
lol... I wonder why???
I thought it was hysterical when companies around that time began manufacturing and selling colored "milk crates"! : )
I love that commentary about the singing and dancing in the spiritual world, that's enough to make you want to go there alone. Compare that to here, where most people trudge around, burdened and tired, and certainly not singing, what to speak of dancing.
I had the same experience of desires surfacing later... I was 21, after so many years of living as a devotee, without much of anything, and suddenly, I wanted a house!!! LOL. Of all things! I had no idea what in the world was wrong with me! I remember saying to another devotee..... "I think I'm really losing all my spiritual strength, I don't know what's wrong, I suddenly have this intense desire to have my own house!"
And after thinking I would surely be a pure devotee by the time I was 25, this was rather shocking. I mean.... this was not even one of those "common desires" that we all have to deal with... a house? what?
I didn't do anything about getting one right then, but it was a shocking revelation. It made me really understand how deep material desire is, and how we can go on for years and years at a time feeling totally free from desires, then they surface again, and again, until we are totally pure.
I agree, that chance to focus only on serving Krishna is priceless. I'm very grateful for it.
Thank you for your kind and generous comment ;)
Your friend in Krishna,