Someone very dear to me recently asked me to write about humility. Well, I've been really struggling with this. As much as I want to write about it, as an offering to this devotee (and anyone else it may inspire) it's still very hard.
I could go into some quotes from scripture, and write the things we all know and read about humility. That would be easy. Most everyone (and I'm sure the person asking me to write about it) knows and has read things in scripture. The hard part is trying to write about it from a personal perspective.
I'm a pain junkie. I love to suffer. Krishna knows this about me, and He's always giving me what I want. You know that saying "be careful what you wish for, you just might get it". Well, when it comes to Krishna, you have to be even more careful. At least I do.
I tell Him I want to be happy, I want things to be easy, but He knows it's not true. I was talking to Snehal about how we don't always know what we are desiring. We think we're desiring one thing, but really, there is something else we want more.
I'm sitting in the dark stairwell of the temple, near the hallway, just outside the kitchen. I'm crying, huddled against the wall, it gives me comfort. The darkness is comforting. I've had a very rough day, and it's now 10:30 pm, and I still have rounds left to chant. I am trying to chant them. It's dark and the lights are out because everyone else is asleep.
I'm thinking about the suffering of cows. I think about this a lot, because there is a lot of conversation about it and a lot of devotees have boycotted milk products as a result of the concern about the mistreatment of cows.
So, I'm thinking....
What can we do to help the cows that are suffering?
If we decide to stop using these milk products, that means each suffering cow who could potentially have had it's milk offered to Krishna, will now not be given that opportunity.
Recently I began reading the Srimad Bhagavatam again from the very beginning. Last year I started reading the Bhagavad Gita again from the beginning. Reading scripture is very different for me than ever before. Instead of just reading and studying, I am thinking. I stop to think about the concepts and teachings so much, as I read, that I can sometimes stay on the same page, or few pages for days at a time. So, right now, with the Srimad Bhagavatam, I'm thinking about the introduction.
What does that mean? Is prayer an action? How is prayer active? Isn't prayer a meditation? A desire in our heart? A thought, a wish? What does it mean to pray actively?
When we need help, assistance, guidance, strength (or any other thing) we pray about it. We ask Krishna to help us. Sometimes we pray for certain things, like if we want to go to the temple, but for some reason we can't, we might pray to Krishna to make it possible for us to go to the temple. Everyone prays in different ways, and for different things, depending on who they are.
When I was a young devotee, I had a very dear friend who I loved and admired very much. She was older than I was by quite a bit and had been a devotee a little longer.
There were a lot of unusual things about our relationship that made her special to me. Mostly that we could talk about things in a more intimate way, and we shared a lot of the same difficulties and were able to help each other (sometimes) to overcome some of the problems and we kept track of each other about our japa, and some other things that were particularly challenging at that time in the temple we lived in.
In honor of Lord Krishna's appearance day, and as an offering to the assembled devotees, I would like to share with you the story of my very first Janmastami celebration. This is just my memory of course, from my perception, about my experience.
It was at New Vrindavan, in 1971. I was 14 that year. I had been living in the temple since the end of the school year (8th grade), which would have been about the end of May, or early June. So, this was about 3 months later.
Last night I looked at the clock anxiously. I was running late. It was already 9:45 pm, and I still had a few things I had to do. I was agitated by seeing the time because I dislike anything to interfere with my morning japa.
As devotees, we talk a lot about getting free from the material energy, free from the influence of maya, free from our attachments to material sense pleasures and their objects.
Why do we want to do that? What would be the reason?
Sometimes it can be confusing. It may seem like we're taking all this too seriously, when really it's all Krishna's creation and life in this world can have so many pleasures to offer us.
Here is an example that perhaps will illustrate the reasons.