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On Seeing Krishna part 3--Seeing Krishna in Nature, and in our Life

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Redwoods

As a nineteen year old living in the redwood forests near San Francisco, California, I became tuned in to myself and my spiritual feelings, and the forces of Nature, which we often become forgetful of in today’s world of gadgets and things. I now appreciate how the juxtaposition of my simple life (I had given up my education, relationship, and employment) with my past life’s unfinished spiritual practice, naturally fostered a spiritual awakening. This was fueled by my existential crisis, without which I couldn’t have turned toward a spiritual path. When we are not distracted and in a receptive mood we can notice many things we formally missed.

For example, at that time, I rose with the sunrise amidst the sounds of the birds, and spent my day reading spiritual books, and walking in the woods while simply observing, then pondering the meaning. I saw the decomposing tree bodies on the ground with young saplings growing up through the fertile soil they helped create. The various cycles of Nature were all around me—the simple rising and setting of the sun, the appearance of the moon and stars, and the changing seasons—all had meaning to me, helped by the spiritual books I read. It was like I never noticed it before—like a child excited by things grownup are too familiar with. This is a perfect example of not “seeing the forest for the trees!” My mom once proclaimed after a trip to Colorado, “If you seen one tree, you’ve seen ‘em all.” A shocking statement to me now, since so much is there even in one leaf, and what to speak of a tree, or a whole forest!

Although you may not be able to spend extended periods of time living as a hermit, you can still practice seeing Krishna in his energy right where you are, and at least spend time in peaceful, natural environments. There are many Vedic verses that can help facilitate this. For example, in Bhagavad Gita, chapter seven, verses four to eleven, we learn that Krishna is the origin of all material and spiritual things, the supreme truth, the taste of water, light of the sun and moon, sound, our ability, intelligence, strength, the original pure fragrance of anything, the heat of the fire, our penances and very life. One can learn those verses, and apply them in daily life.

When we taste water we can see it as Krishna, and thank him for supplying it to quench our thirst, or when we see light or hear a sound of any kind, we can know that Krishna is the Source of that, and is kindly giving us that facility. These physical manifestations represent Krishna, yet we don’t worship them independently, as does the pantheist. As aspiring devotees of Krishna, we have to connect them with Krishna, seeing him as their source. The painter (Krishna) is much more valuable than the painting (his creation), though we see him in his work. There is so much more, but we are out of time. Do check out other verses in the Gita’s tenth and eleventh chapter, as well as in the Shrimad Bhagavatam, Second Canto, First and Sixth Chapter, which also explains Krishna’s Universal Form. I will end with two verses from the Bhagavatam:

“O King, the rivers are the veins of the gigantic body, the trees are the hairs of His body, and the omnipotent air is His breath. The passing ages are His movements, and His activities are the reactions of the three modes of material nature. O best amongst the Kurus, the clouds which carry water are the hairs on His head, the terminations of days or nights are His dress, and the supreme cause of material creation is His intelligence. His mind is the moon, the reservoir of all changes.” [Shrimad Bhagavatam 2.1.33-34]

Krishna's Universal Form

The introduction for the above that I cut out for brevity.

This was a topic I could write extensively about, but in keeping with the spirit of brevity, I have shortened it to a bit under 700 words. However, for those who want, I share here the three paragraphs I cut out. What can I say, writers like to be read, but at least you can read in installments, should you desire that:

The beginning of my spiritual quest was living in Nature, and observing and pondering her ways, and wondering who I was in this vast Universe, whose laws I observed amongst the trees and plants, being far away from the loud noise of so-called civilization. As some of you know who have read my bio here, I, like many of Prabhupada’s early disciples, was part of the counter-culture of the 1960’s in America, before I came to Krishna. Although I am quick to counsel people that “they are not their stories,” or their difficult past when I see their current suffering, the past has value if we learn from it, and ultimately, gently, and with love, let it go, so we can be fully in the present.

My perspective is that sharing our human face, our sordid pasts, and our many mistakes has value for us and others. Even now, my feet are very much on the ground. As you might expect, my sights, or goals are focused on Krishna, yet I have learned that we have to be fully present in our bodies to learn our physical lessons, and use them as a spring board for our service to Krishna. If we live our lives properly, as we age we will feel satisfied that we used our desires and nature to serve Krishna, and now in the last part of our lives, we have no more compelling reasons to stay in the material world—unless Krishna, or our gurus, require our services.

Part of being present in our bodies is also being present and observant in our environment. Our own body and mind, those of others we have relationships with, everyday events, and Nature, all have much to teach us if we are open to learn, while not just condemning or criticizing them. Shri Ishopanishad teaches us the vision of a pure devotee, which we can try to think about, and apply as we can: “He who sees systematically everything in relation to the Supreme Lord, who sees all living entities as His parts and parcels, and who sees the Supreme Lord within everything never hates anything or any being. One who always sees all living entities as spiritual sparks, in quality one with the Lord, becomes a true knower of things. What, then, can be illusion or anxiety for him?” [Shri Ishopanishad mantras 6 & 7]