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Karnamrita's blog

The Problem with the World—Selfishness

(this blog is recorded on the full page: quick time player needed)
World revolving around me
[Originally published on January 13th, 2012]
While there are many ways to frame, or lead into, speaking about the root cause of the problems of the world, or of the country I live in, looking more closely at the concept of selfishness will be helpful. I have often thought that fanaticism is the real enemy of the world, since people’s inability to consider other viewpoints is at the root of most world or local conflicts. To me, fanaticism is a type of selfishness, or the result of a very narrow vision. Both come from bodily identification. My guru, Shrila Prabhupada spoke of selfishness, and extended selfishness. We are all eternal souls, yet we have the power to invest ourselves into matter. So although in the ultimate sense, or spiritually speaking, we have nothing to do with matter, due to false ego, we (the soul or consciousness) become duped or fooled by the illusion of the material world (maya), to think we are a particular body and mind, separate from God, others, and Nature.

Material life is a process of expanding this basic delusion, through the qualifier we give to persons or things by calling them “mine,” which could be called my-ness, or mine-ness (or mind-mess!). When things or persons become mine, it sets up the possibility of conflict with others: my body, gender, race, ethnicity, house, neighborhood, family, possessions, money, religion, sport’s team, community, nation, species, etc. We will think someone crazy who says they are Napoleon, Jesus, or Joan of Arc, but saying we are Joe Smith or Ravindra Gupta, man, woman, or gay, American or Indian, white or black, Christian or Hindu, is no less insane.

Realistically, for most of us to function in this plane we have to acknowledge these conditioned labels and act through them, since their influence upon us is so strong. However, we should note that material designations will frustrate us at some point and certainly at death, when these temporary constructs evaporate like the fog they actually are. To realize peace, purpose, and cooperation in the world, we have to cultivate spiritual knowledge of who we are (consciousness) and our spiritual propensity to serve the Supreme.

Relationships are Everything

The Importance of EQ
[Originally published on Dec 9th, 2009]
Some complain
about getting along
with others
who cause them
many problems—
ah, if they
could only be alone
they could experience
some peace and quite—
but really we are all
relational creatures
as is all existence,
conscious or inert
if we really study
the universe:

Cancer Diagnosis and The Seeds of Change

Immune cells attacking cancer cell photo Cancer cell attacked by immune cells_zpskabbpq2m.jpg
It is often difficult to keep secrets, especially about one’s health, so after due consideration (so you don’t hear this second or third hand) I am publically sharing that after preliminary tests, secondary cancer has been discovered in a swollen lymph node in my neck. There is at least one more test in conventional medicine that could be performed—a PET or full body scan—to try to find the primary cancer. Unfortunately, I have found that just mentioning the word cancer freaks everyone out, as if this is a death sentence. However, this is not necessarily so. There are many alternative treatments with a high success rate—much better than the conventional radiation and Chemo. Although many who are reading this don’t know me personally, this could be your story just as easily, or it may already be, since in the USA, cancer strikes 1 in 2 men, and 1 in 3 women in their lifetime. In 2015, there will be an estimated 1,658,370 new cancer cases diagnosed and 589,430 cancer deaths in the US.

I don’t like to give anyone any pain or discomfort by telling them this news, but I bring it up as an educational experience for all of us and to document my travels through what may be a long journey of recovery. There is much to learn about what cancer is, what it means when it grows in the body, and what the best way to treat it is. We have found this the following site very helpful in our both our education about cancer and quest for the best treatment.

At the same time, I do appreciate all the loving I am getting from my friends and families! I get the most amazing hugs and those looks of disbelief like I might disappear at any moment. If only we could all appreciate one another like this all the time!

The Blessing of Illness

(this blog is recorded on the full page: quick time player needed)
forgetting Krishna
[reposted from 9-26-2012]
None of us want to be sick, and yet we all experience the occasional cold, flu, or something more serious. Some persons, like my wife, who have a weak immune system, deal with a body that is prone to catch whatever bug is going around. Having such a delicate bodily instrument, if they don’t eat and sleep properly they become more susceptible to illness. Thus my wife is a much greater expert than me in understanding the benefits of sickness to her spiritual life and how the body can be a great teacher. Never the less, I have a few experiences that have helped me appreciate the value of illness. Having a background in Krishna consciousness and a trained philosophical eye and heart helps us see everything—even great reverses—in relationship to Krishna and bhakti. Illness can bring us to our knees in surrender and teach us the smallness of our existence (even Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakur glorified ill health for this very reason, and he underwent many bouts of sickness in his life). I was reminded of this after I ate something at Radhastami that didn’t agree with me, and have had the runs for the last 3 days. While not a pleasant experience on one level, I also practically experienced how sickness can be a helpful part of our spiritual journey.

For we, the Fallen, the Hope of Karttik: Radha’s Mercy

Radha--her month Kartik
(©syamarani dasi, used with permission;

[reposted from Oct 2009]

Often I have spoken
of matter’s “naked form”—
its conditions upon us
or rather how our body
is subjected to tribulations,
conditions and diminishing returns
with misery sometimes
reaching such a pitch
that cruel death
seems a welcoming friend,
but “death” is only another beginning
as we take birth again
to pursue the same things repeatedly
looking to fulfill our spiritual urges
through external, physical bodies—
a vain hope against hope!

Then there is our internal
“naked form” of inner desires
unconscious before—
but now as a devotee
our “dark side” revealed:

Saved From Cosmic Crud

(this blog is recorded on the full page: quick time player needed)
[One of my favorite poems—this one reposted from 08-16-2012]
Remembering my material sojourn:
Caught up in the waves of a Cosmic storm
ever-increasing change and uncertainty
swirling, frightening energy @ mind speed
lightening wind, amidst thunderous explosions
bewildered, I go all directions at once, but nowhere,
I’m desperate for stability, fulfillment, truth, peace
a lasting resting place with loving feelings
understanding who I really am through and through,
asking what’s my relationship to life & the Universe
searching to find meaning in chaos and misery—

Lord Chaitanya's and Nityananda's "Mercy Cases": Realizing Our Ineligibility

[Republished from 09-09-09]
I thought of this blog while offering mangal arotik (early morning public worship ceremony) at the Temple this morning which I do twice a week. During the years I lived in Temples I was mainly a pujari (priest who looks after the Temple Deities or forms of God) and cook. After so many years, I am quite comfortable in this arena and love the beauty of the altar, the Deities and their opulent paraphernalia, and of course the many services like bathing and dressing them. I also don't mind being in front of people, which pujaris often are, as in doing arotik and other public ceremonies like bathing of the Deities or abhishek. Whatever service I do, I try to do it on behalf of the devotees, praying for ever increasing devotion. I feel the years I spent in what was a very focused and intense service has given me much of my spiritual foundation, and "staying power" as a devotee.

Contributing to the Family of the Earth

 photo Earth as a person 2_zpstglsqjkb.jpg
[Reposted and revised from March 3rd 2009]
What can I contribute to the family of the Earth, divided by gender, mentality, nationality, religion, or ethnic tradition?

By spiritual constitution we are all one--individuals of the same nature and family of God. By living in the material world we accept a false ego that tells us we are the material body, mind, intelligence and emotions, and that we should act for this limited self-interest. Our general conditioning is to believe we must compete with others for what we perceive as scare resources and facilities for survival and enjoyment.

At times we may feel like this: "How pitiful that although I believe in my own and everyone's spiritual identity, and have experience of myself beyond the perishable body, I am still affected by the same selfishness." Of course, it is a question of degree in how much selfishness we have, yet we are wired for survival, and have to learn the benefits of giving and then strive to increase our kindness.

Morning Chanting Magic

Morning chanting magic photo FSCN6822_zpsl8nejedj.jpg
For spiritual practice, the early morning
quietness, calm, lack of fruitive action
more than quantity, time’s has a quality
like fragrant gold and pure magic
morning facilitates hearing, contemplation.

Like a blanket, darkness accentuates sound
we better hear the holy name, Hare Krishna
mind is less active, the newness of the day
at any age the morning is our excited youth
full of potential, promise, highest aspirations.

Receiving Nature’s Aesthetic and Wisdom

Clouds galore photo DSCN6705_zpse0nzw0hl.jpg
Amidst serene and scenic beauty
an island house getaway
observing vistas three stories high
visible water on two sides
crashing waves and calm waters

salt scented wind forever blows
the all-powerful sun runs the show
floating unimaginable tons of water

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