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.
I've been thinking a lot about something that Karnamrita said to me when I commented to his recent blog. I was thanking him, and saying that I thought what he wrote was wonderful, and that I hoped others would read it also, because I found it to be so meaningful (in an essential way) and thought it would be helpful to everyone.
He was mentioning his efforts to write for the particular audience here, and not being certain if what he wrote would be meaningful to them.
As devotees we do a lot of accepting of things. We accept the will of Krishna, we accept adversities as opportunities for advancement. We accept a certain amount of chastisement and difficulty from our fellow devotees because we realize that we are always in need of improvement.
There are a lot of other things we accept in our lives in this way.
Sometimes these kinds of acceptances can be carried to an extreme.
We are not fatalists. Fatalism means there is no free will. Fatalism means that nothing can ever be changed.
Every one of us has a propensity to love. It is the very nature of the soul. The soul loves Krishna.
In the conditioned state of existence, this loving propensity is misguided, misdirected, misunderstood and misused. The heart has become hardened, do to contact with the material energy, and our own desire to be separate from Krishna.
In this age of Kali Yuga, the process of reawakening this natural dormant love of God, that the soul feels, is chanting the holy names. The holy name cleanses the heart, and opens it. This chanting is the process.
I was just thinking this morning how much we all owe to the devotees who are responsible for us having Krishna.com.
It's an incredible project, an amazing website. There is so much work that goes into something like this. All these people have lives, just like ours, they work, they have families, they have commitments.
Still, every day, they spend time and energy and money doing all the things that need to be done to keep this website going, to keep adding to it, to make it a wonderful place for all of us to come to and get all sorts of things we need for Krishna consciousness.
I saw a movie one time that was the life story of the great American singer, Johnny Cash. Almost everyone knows who Johnny Cash is because he is so famous. Johnny Cash (1932-2003) is considered to be one of the most influential American musicians of the 20th century.
This movie about his life told the story of the event that occurred that changed him from being just another mediocre gospel singer, one of thousands, into the legend that he became.
The only thing that ever actually belongs to any of us is our free will.
Free will means making choices. We always have choices about everything.
We chose what we do, what we think, how we spend out time, who we spend our time with. We chose what things to put our energy into, and what things are a waste of our time.
All of our lives are these constant choices.
Sometimes people get into a state of mind where they forget that they are constantly making choices. They say "well, I had no choice" .... usually followed by "therefore I had to" .... such and such.