I was chanting japa around the fountain at the Alachua temple with Mahatma Prabhu. He told me a few things about chanting:
"This mantra is dangerous. It will make you want to renounce the world." And,
Sivarama Swami is absolutely right when he says chanting while sitting is best. Chanting while walking requires navigation, and that takes energy and focus away from the Holy Names.
"Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,"
New Living Translation (©2007)
I live by the beach. Whenever it's low tide, I chant my rounds up and down the shore. Our beach isn't popular for swimming — no soft sand, only endless dunes of broken seashells, which can easily puncture bare feet. It attracts only locals; dog walkers, shark tooth collectors, and a few fishermen.
Dallas Morning News,
43 years ago, from out of the blue
a radical change took over me
everything else fell away:
girlfriend, college, bad habits,
giving away my possessions
spiritual thirst became my life
ancient wisdom informed me
the forest my classroom study
my heart yearned for truth
my prayers to transcend the world
I thought, “I must become a monk”
Shri Chaitanya answered me
thru Prabhupada’s loving disciples
the holy name knocked at my heart
through tumultuous street (san)kirtana
inspiring me to follow their example
I began my journey with japa.
By the mercy of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada and my Guru Maharaja, I received the inspiration to serve the ISKCON Prison Ministry. On Vyasa-puja day, while chanting myjapa, the inspiration came to me to serve in the prison ministry. Interestingly enough, at that time I didn't even know the prison ministry existed.
I researched the internet, saw on the web site a request from IPM for volunteer pen pals. I thought this was an easy service, one I would enjoy and could do from the comfort of my home and in my
In May 2012, a Chaplain from El-Paso, Texas, Steven Cottingham, emailed me in the hope of getting some books for the inmates he served. He said,
“My name is Steven. I serve in 5 jails, 3 federal prisons, and 2 state prisons and there are people asking for books in each of these institutions. What I do is place books in each institution’s Religious Services library, so it is cost-effective that way. Do you have books we could have?”
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After reading, and remembering, very heated discussions—often intense arguing or worse—between those with seemingly great differences of opinion, I was reminded that often the issues are not that important in the larger scheme of devotional, or spiritual, advancement. Such conflicts are often more about both person’s ego of being right, than in trying to understand the real truth—which, after all, one already has. It is sad that for the most part no attempts are made to understand the other person, find a middle ground, respectfully agree to disagree, or sympathetically search to discover if there could be value in the other position. The study of psychology has revealed that we tend to find what we have defined as our aim, or what we’re focused on. If we are not careful, we will only notice what supports our premise, perhaps missing an important opportunity.
I am reminded of a story Shrila Prabhupada tells to outline how stubbornly opinions can be held: “One man declared that a piece of paper had been cut with a knife. A second said no, it was done with scissors. An argument ensued, and the first man, being stronger, took the other to a river. There he told him, ‘Now, if you don't agree that it was a knife I shall throw you into this water!’
“The other man boldly continued to insist, ‘It was scissors!’
“So the ‘scissors advocate’ was tossed into the river and began to drown. Still he would not concede. As he disappeared for the last time, his hand emerged from beneath the surface with two fingers moving together like a pair of scissors, while he kept thinking. ‘No, it was by scissors! It was scissors!’ " And so he died for no good reason except to be right.