Discovering and Using our Gifts--the Fruit of Inner Work and Prayer

0
Author: 
Karnamrita Das

(this blog is recorded on the full page: quick time player is needed; works best with Firefox or Explorer; if you are using Google Chrome it will automatically play, so if you don't want to listen, mute your speakers.)

 photo talents-gifts_zpsf076c49a.jpg

This blog is a continuation of the last two about undercurrents in groups and for each of us, personally. In a sense the fruit of dealing with our personal undercurrent, or unresolved life issues, is discovering and sharing our gifts, and the joy and fulfillment that ensue.

Many of us feel that being a soul in a physical embodiment is a strange combination. So strange in fact that some people, even without any spiritual awareness, have the experience of feeling they don't fit into the world, or are depressed for no apparent reason. A few of us have taken this angst as an impetus to search for the meaning of life beyond the status quo, finding the spiritual quest as the solution. I understand though, that being on the spiritual journey doesn't mean to deny the physical, or to just live our life waiting to transcend—as I did for many years as a single monastic (brahmacari). Awakening to our spiritual nature requires being fully present in the world and understanding our unique contribution to the family of the Earth while focusing on our Source through spiritual practice.

There are many dimensions to life. My feeling of emptiness and depression with the world led me to begin my spiritual quest. This search inspired me to regularly visit and live in the redwood forest, observe Nature, and read spiritual books. That led me to Krishna and I lived a spiritually focused life in various temples around the world for 12 years or so. That was good for me and gave me standing in, and a taste for, bhakti. Then I came to another dissatisfaction, or inner prompting, which led me to the journey of interfacing with the world and understanding that I was out of balance with my material self; I had to attend to what I would come to understand as my life lessons and "karmic mission."
 photo imagesqtbnANd9GcRBtxwDKnfwOSImPWwgf_zps4ab4a3f3.jpg
Both our spiritual practice and understanding what we need to do in the world are essential. It is better to live in the world near devotees hankering for our spiritual ideal (Krishna Consciousness), then to live in a temple, hankering for material facilities and wondering what is wrong. I have come to a point where I want to focus more on teaching about the necessity of this balance since I find so many devotees are disconnected from their natural path in the name of spiritual practice. Yes, for devotees, our path is bhakti, yet that needs to be done in consideration of who are in this body. A few devotees have taken birth on a high spiritual level and can live the total life of KC and be full and satisfied—at the same time, some devotees imitate this in the name of doing the right thing, and suffer accordingly, tending to be fanatical.

For me, our occupation, or who we are as a person is our interface with the world and can be our platform for sharing our spirituality with our peers in their language. All parts of our current existence are important. Though the soul is most essential—being who we truly are—while we are embodied, we have to use the body's many constituents to their fullest extent. Sometimes in the name of spirituality we turn off certain parts of ourselves that we think are not important, or are "bad," or inferior, "material," and that puts us out of balance—like a person standing on one leg, or worse, like a cripple who feels only like a shadow. Self-care is essential and is part of our service to our Source (for devotees, Shri Krishna). And prayer and careful, uplifting intentions are essential for such care and service.
The Seeker photo MysticUniverse_zps17341ead.jpg
As I mentioned, the beginning of my spiritual journey was being in Nature and discovering how the Natural world could help us understand what is missing in our lives. Now that I live in the wooded countryside I am returning to this natural environment and the self-reflection it can foster. I spend time listening and observing my environment, doing my best to be absorbed in spiritual practice. I feel more balanced and guided than ever before. As I have done, I implore you to do also, at least as much as you can. You will be happier if you return to, or develop, a sense of wonder at life and the simple things that many people have forgotten. In this mood, I am sharing pictures of the natural world—the sun, moon, clouds, stars, and changing seasons. Amazing and aesthetically pleasing! And everything comes from the Person we are trying to love and serve—so in the midst of the beauty of Nature, we can remember our Source, or Krishna! Thus, in my experience this sense of wonder and natural appreciation helps in spiritual practices.

If I could, I would personally recommend that you spend quite time in nature and practice feeling your heart open for guidance. In counseling sessions my wife and I have found that generally people know what to do, but they don't trust themselves, and would rather have us confirm what they are already feeling or sense—but don't trust or believe. If you are not in touch with your joy or are depressed, this is a clue that something in your life isn't in harmony and that you need to search it out.
 photo reaching-out-helping-others_zps011e8d2e.jpg
When you are more in balance with your various selves—body, mind, emotions, intellect, and soul—your spiritual practices and your very life will be more joyful and full. Every one of us has many gifts that we are meant to embody and share with others. Our personal growth work and focused spiritual practices will help us accept and use our gifts, but if we don't accept our allotted power and contribution we will feel out of sorts, incomplete, or depressed. Please don't disqualify yourselves by a poor attitude or false humility. While real humility is essential, false humility means self-denial. True humility comes from knowing that in comparison to the Whole, we are insignificant, microscopic, but in comparison to our self-imposed limits, we have great power to do good in the world.

What we do and think is important so please give the best part of who you are now to your life, others, and the world. The Bhagavad Gita teaches us that we are instruments and not the ultimate doer, and yet, if we are aligned to our gifts in the service of the Supreme Power, (God or Krishna) we will feel increasing joy and meaningful purpose, and be part of the solution to problems in our life, community, and the world. You have an important contribution to make if you search it out and trust, and it isn't greatly esoteric, but who you are—or your potential.
 photo 1470014_10202013783625010_429351117_zps064dfc6e.jpg
What comes most naturally for us we tend to not value, but that is misguided. Use your natural gifts and spend time opening your heart. You are blessed, so share that with others. If you are happy and fulfilled, that helps others follower your example. I share my motto with you as I travel on my outings into the world: “Keep a smile on my face, and love in my heart.” Try it, as it reflects who you truly are, a Light of the world, and part of Krishna. Our personal example and character speaks much more than only our words, or spiritual philosophy.
 photo 10500303_10153020582523986_42381267_zps1743e364.jpg photo 10329235_608644185927922_1740610523_zps5049e133.jpg photo being-a-light_zps592a1ea5.jpg photo light_zps10cfce44.jpg