Blogs

IF NOT NOW, WHEN?

 photo RSCN3935_zpskv4ldrn5.jpg
There is no perfect time or place,
so if we wait, we will never accomplish,
or sing the song which vibrates our heart
meant to nourish every cell in our body.

To breathe out, one only has to breathe in,
but we can’t hold our breath forever;
so begin today while you are still breathing
because there are no tomorrows or could-bes.

Only a string of nows, do-days giving potential
at least one step of progress on the miles ahead
though even a step back can help us go forward

THE WORLD IS A BLAZING FIRE

Trying to put out the fire photo Blazing fire 3_zpsh5rqtt9w.jpg
All of the material existence, the universes, outer space, galaxies, stars, planetary systems, planets, continents, countries, cities, and everyone’s body, are all on fire. In worldly consciousness, our illusory task is to deny this fire at every turn, or recognizing the fire partially, to create structures to protect us from being burned, keeping that fire “over there,” overseas, or in another neighborhood, and not in our view. However, as much as our societies, elders, and parents are trying to reassure us that there is nothing to worry about, we find clues everywhere about this all-consuming fire, if we can read the signs. We can’t combat what we deny.

Great devotees come to this world to warn everyone about the fire that is consuming all physical life and every aspect of the material world. Religions are begun around such saintly speakers of cutting truth to reveal the fire, but in course of time, religions also become deniers of the fire, or they teach people how to work with the fire so they can be happy with it until they die with the promise of going to heaven, which is just another type of fire--not giving the real solution.

We can fight this fire with a different type of fire. Though we can’t stop the material world from burning, since everything material is meant to change, transform, and eventually burn to ashes, we can fight the fever of material existence with the transcendent cooling firepower of life-giving divine wisdom and spiritual practice.

SELF-ABSORPTION

self absorption? photo FSCN3752_zpse6ptxwhs.jpg
SELF-ABSORPTION isn’t thought of favorably and generally means to be excessively concerned with one’s own life and interests without taking into consideration other people. Some synonyms are egoism, self-centeredness, narcissism, self-importance, self-preoccupation, etc. However, in my thinking this morning while chanting, which is the attempt to “hear” God in his holy names, or become absorbed in the Supreme Self, we need to be self-absorbed in the sense of becoming aware of those parts of ourselves that need to be adjusted and purified. When we are chanting or praying we become aware of our highest ideals and our various types of material interests, or even our lowest worldly desires.

Prabhupada has compared chanting the holy name to making ghee. In ghee making, we boil butter, and must work to skim off the “impurities” or milk solids which rise to the surface. Then we will be able to create clarified butter, or ghee, which has so many medicinal properties and uses. This is an interesting analogy which can help us in our daily spiritual practice.

We can think of our spiritual practices, like chanting the holy name, as the cleansing fire, that is meant to burn up the impurities or material contaminations. If we expect to go anywhere spiritually we have to

Vraja origin of Brahmas and Sivas from trees and gopis from flowers

svAyambhuvo dhurjatayaz ca sarve
prAdurbhave suSThu jaTA-ghaTAyAm
succhAyakAH sUrya-samAz ca vRkSA
AbAla-zobhAH sanakAdi-vac ca

From the branches and roots of the trees of Vraja all BrahmAs and Zivas
emanate. Although the trees of Vraja are as splendid as the sun, they still
are wonderful parasols to shade one from the sun's rays. They shine with the
luster of youth, just as the four KumAras. (VizvanAtha CakravartI ThAkura -
VrajarIticintAmaNi 2.21, trans. Kuzakratha dAsa)

gopI-svarUpApti-para-prasUna-
praphullatAyai kusumAkaro 'yam
zrI-nArado yatra babhUva gopI

OFFERING OUR LIFE, BREATHE, THOUGHTS, ACTIONS, AND HEART TO THE SUPREME SPIRIT, OR GOD

 photo Speaking to devotees 2_zpsqor3eba3.jpg
I am entering the mood of preparing for my talk a week from Friday, on the 20th. This means for me, hours of chanting, prayer, deep contemplation and writing, in order to be as prepared as possible to say what is most essential for the audience who might attend. I always keep high ideals! The presence of my listeners is a gift for me since they bring me to higher levels of being, knowing and loving in devotion. Though I am responsible for what I bring to any discussion, the audience is considered at least 50 % of the equation, as their mood affects the speaker, either expanding or contracting the possibilities.

We give who we are, so I have to prepare myself to be on the highest, most compassionate, and loving platform, to manifest vital, life-giving wisdom, practical and transcendent. Though I am always praying to be my most empowered spiritual self, speaking to others gives me more urgency to be all I can be to serve and uplift. This is beneficial for me, as well as whoever listens with an open heart. Meditating on this mood with the prayer to share is exciting, and I very rarely use that word!

I’m endeavoring and praying to be open to receive much more than ordinary materialistic, limited thinking might deem possible. Then I may reach high to be a spiritual possibility thinker, or spiritually and miraculously minded, by connecting to the higher spiritual realms, and be guided by my seen and unseen spiritual benefactors and teachers. As we shower with water to cleanse our body, I am meditating on being more deeply cleansed through the divine Light shower of the holy names, prayer, and the serving mood in bhakti, offered to our Deities, and ideally put into everything I do, with whoever I am with.

THE SEARCH FOR, AND STRUGGLE TO FIND, OR CREATE IDENTITY

Book table at Gita Nagari Rathayatra photo P1060630_zps8456d5d2.jpg
Examining my life and studying the endeavors of the young and old, I find this energy or push to find one’s calling, one’s “authentic” or real self, one of primary motivators in life. If we are thoughtful and blessed this should tell us something, as does the fact that our life goes through stages, is of short duration, and seems to be always threatened by non-existence. Behind everything is a message and lesson to learn. We can learn to listen or dull this urge through the endless distractions that are offered by modern society.

If we were a body we would be happy just to exist and live, yet we find that no one can just live without this search for identity, or someway to designate themselves. We can't just be zero. If we are simple minded we won’t spend too much time or energy on this. We’ll just identify with our body, village, culture, religion, and follow our parents’ or peer’s ideas. If we more sophisticated or have some spiritual bend of mind, we’ll make the time to stop and contemplate the existential questions of the ages and sages.

We may search out guidance from the world’s religious or spiritual literature and those who live it by them. Then we may discover that our search for worldly identity hints at the true quest of life, self-realization to uncover our soul, or animating principle of life, the real “I” or “me,” spiritual identity, who is part of something much greater, our Source. This could be seen as the all-pervading undifferentiated “Brahman” or “Clear (or White) Light,” or as the Supreme Being, God, the originator of all energies and spiritual aspects and conceptions, who we are part of and meant to serve. For some, matter seems all there is, and birth and death ends in nothingness.

devotees and physical yoga

yamadibhir yoga-pathaih
kama-lobha-hato muhuh
mukunda-sevaya yadvat
tathatmaddha na samyati

It is true that by practicing restraint of the senses by the yoga system one
can get relief from the disturbances of desire and lust, but this is not
sufficient to give satisfaction to the soul, for this [satisfaction] is
derived from devotional service to the Personality of Godhead. (SB 1.6.35)

yogam nishevato nityam
kayas cet kalpatam iyat
tac chraddadhyan na matiman
yogam utsrijya mat-parah

Although the physical body may be improved by various processes of yoga, an

JOYFULLY BEING ALONE

Straight talk photo Who am I really_zps7n7gycsk.jpg
JOYFULLY BEING ALONE: This subject is an extension of a frequent topic of mine which I deal with on a daily basis: extolling the virtue of introspection and self-analysis as part of clearing out impediments to devotion in the stage of bhakti called anartha-nivritti (retiring unwanted habits of thought and action)--at least that is often the hint. We live in a time of busy-ness and addiction to innumerable distractions, where it isn't seen as cool to just be sitting down without a handheld device, something to do, or talkative friends.

I remember once on a busy street being taken by the beauty of a particular cloud, where the comments I heard from passersby were about my being on drugs or exhibiting unusual, curious behavior to be looking up at the sky, as if their personal business of walking somewhere, or hanging out with no real purpose, was the only important activity, and my looking at a cloud was deranged tomfoolery.

Though we are social creatures that need interaction with others, the importance of being alone with one's thoughts or taking the time to reflect on life is crucial. Some people aren't comfortable being alone or don't know what to do with themselves

TIS THE SEASON TO BE SURRENDERED AND PRAY

Invisible, though, constant change photo TA0465_zps3849ee53.jpg
Like many people who engage in creative pursuits, I tend to have high expectations for my writing, which I have frequently expressed in blogs. I know, I know, I write about it too much, forgive me, but I think about it every day and whenever I write or teach.

As I chant and worship, I meditate and pray for uplifting spiritual power that flows through me in loving compassion and wisdom to be expressed through my speaking and writing. While I know it is there to some extent, I see being able to inspire people to take to spiritual practice, or devotees to revitalize their practice, as a natural outcome of sadhana, and personally, as a result of facing death. To me this is a win/win situation, good for me, and good for those who resonate with what I share. I will explain how knowing this about me may be of us to you--or why would I write it?

I share it because doing so inspires me to keep my spiritual focus—when I write or chant I feel spiritually connected—with the prayer that you may also nurture high spiritual aspirations. For so many years I was busy in bhakti but didn't really have high spiritual yearnings and goals as is offered in our tradition, nor did I pray for them. I stalled accordingly and lost my way, though the holy name saved me. My hope is that by this sharing my inner and outer life, you will seek to understand the goal of bhakti and appreciate its value, regularly praying for it with feeling. Ours is a path of grace--we endeavor or serve to attract grace.

So, what about you—what are your spiritual goals that you pine for, regardless of where you are on the spiritual path? Keeping this in mind and understanding its inestimable value is crucial for keeping on the path, not just casually, but with heart, for our whole lives—lest we give up in despair or hopelessness.

SB 9.9.49: sunyavada refuted in one verse

yat tad brahma paraM sUkSmam
azUnyaM zUnya-kalpitam
bhagavAn vAsudeveti
yaM gRNanti hi sAtvatAH

The Supreme Personality of Godhead, VAsudeva, KRSNa, is extremely difficult to understand for unintelligent men who accept Him as impersonal or void, which He is not. The Lord is therefore understood and sung about by pure devotees.

Syndicate content