A Lotus in the Redwoods

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Author: 
Karnamrita Das

(this blog is recorded on the full page: quick time player needed)
[Some persons caught up in the counter-culture of the late '60's and '70's felt that all materiel prospects were void and society's status quo, miserable stagnation. Thus, as if in a life and death battle, they intensely felt compelled to search out meaning and happiness on the spiritual quest, appearing as their only hope. This free verse poem, inspired by the months I spent in the redwood forest in Muir Woods in Marin County [near San Francisco, California], condenses the background feelings of my spiritual search that culminated in Krishna bhakti and continues to unfold to this day, some 49 years later.

While the dynamics of my mood in writing this poem in 2011 was much softer than is expressed in this poem, my current mood has a similar quality in terms of inspiring action. The power of my original spiritual search gives me energy today, and has sustained my spiritual life all these years. I am inspired to remember that pivotal time of my life. It reminds of the power of urgency in fueling our endeavor to act for our dreams and goals, and what is required to make radical life changes for a higher purpose. I was so determined (for the first time in my life for anything!) to find the real purpose of my life and to make sense of what appeared to be a mad, pointless, world.

I was willing to forgo everything else to be successful on that pilgrim's journey. By the grace of my current cancer I am putting forward a more mature, subtle, but no less powerful, determination toward my life goal of service to others by speaking and writing, based on my life experiences. I'm inspired to remember the feeling and dynamism of that time of new beginnings, and to create another new beginning for myself. And as I have, so can you, whatever you age!

The time of existential crisis and spiritual focus in my youth is providing me spiritual momentum scented from the lotus flower I discovered in the redwoods, pushing me to change the course of my again, if I focus on my divine purpose with humility, enthusiasm, spiritual development and prayer. By facing my mortality and accepting and using my inner "shadow self," I have found passion, and purpose to share what I have learned. As I walk my talk, my path is illuminated as I give what I love. Power means the ability to act.

Thus, I continue walking up the bhakti-yoga mountain, step by step, worship by worship, holy name chanted by holy name chanted, lecture by lecture, blog by blog, book by book--all guided by spiritual adepts, inner guidance, life coaches, intention, and prayer. There is no question now of returning the way I came, from the "Valley of the Shadow of Death," as that road is closed to me, due to some unimaginable good fortune which has prompted me to my current life direction. Onward and upward!] (reposted from 10-9-2011)

A Lotus in the Redwoods

Pensive on a mountain top
looking through modern civilization
almost covered by smog
adrift in a sea of uncertainty
atomic threats and toxic chemicals
no charted course appeals
provided answers are shallow
all paths appear pointless
unlimited choices dull the brain
walking among the living dead
complacency dressed as a virtue
the status quo bewilders me
worldly recommendations disappoint
sensual thoughts and desires frustrate
dogs chase their tail repeatedly
smashed dreams and vain hopes.

In the midst of random chaos
where calamities surround me
indifference threatens my survival
out of my bleeding heart
a lotus in the redwood forest
revealing a divine purpose
now covered by madness
Nature’s order reveals The Law
a reason for doing and being
beyond the fast track to dying
yet death impels the wise
on the path of lasting Truth
the Secret of joyous living
awakening the mystic journey
finding meaning in misery
leading to the soul’s home.

Hidden force guides me
a script long ago decided
the spiritual path emerges
when all other doors close
Krishna’s holy name empowers
ten thousand lasers drill
cracking miles of concrete illusion
causing the soul to shine
blessed by gurus and sages
forced to surrender, then choosing
going forward or lost again
staying in Krishna’s embrace
He carries my lacks
preserves my progress
everything serves the goal
the quest of Divine love.

Feelings and mind states

Although I have written extensively in my blogs and in my bio here about how I came to Krishna, I have never really analyzed my emotions and reflections on society that prompted me (as mixed with my previous spiritual practice)to take up the path of bhakti. A call for a more detailed explanation prompted this poem. In some ways, for many of us who came to Prabhupada, it seems all other options were taken away, and taking up bhakti appeared as the only choice--on a gut level and/or logically. Although it is often explained away from the sociological or psychological perspective, it was practical example of the Bhagavad Gita's sixth chapter which describes the fate of the unsuccessful transcendentalist.

"Arjuna said: O Krsna, what is the destination of the unsuccessful transcendentalist, who in the beginning takes to the process of self-realization with faith but who later desists due to worldly-mindedness and thus does not attain perfection in mysticism? O mighty-armed Krsna, does not such a man, who is bewildered from the path of transcendence, fall away from both spiritual and material success and perish like a riven cloud, with no position in any sphere? This is my doubt, O Krsna, and I ask You to dispel it completely. But for You, no one is to be found who can destroy this doubt.

"The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Son of Prtha, a transcendentalist engaged in auspicious activities does not meet with destruction either in this world or in the spiritual world; one who does good, My friend, is never overcome by evil. The unsuccessful yogi, after many, many years of enjoyment on the planets of the pious living entities, is born into a family of righteous people, or into a family of rich aristocracy. Or [if unsuccessful after long practice of yoga] he takes his birth in a family of transcendentalists who are surely great in wisdom. Certainly, such a birth is rare in this world. On taking such a birth, he revives the divine consciousness of his previous life, and he again tries to make further progress in order to achieve complete success, O son of Kuru.

"By virtue of the divine consciousness of his previous life, he automatically becomes attracted to the yogic principles -- even without seeking them. Such an inquisitive transcendentalist stands always above the ritualistic principles of the scriptures.And when the yogi engages himself with sincere endeavor in making further progress, being washed of all contaminations, then ultimately, achieving perfection after many, many births of practice, he attains the supreme goal." Bg 6.37-45 I especially call your attention to the first sentence of the last paragraph: "he automatically becomes attracted to the yogic principles -- even without seeking them." That in a nutshell is what happened to me and many others. Hare Krishna!