Karnamrita.das's blog

The Way Out is Through

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This is a follow up to my last blog which spoke about how over-attachment to our family can distract us from spiritual practice. For the purposes of this blog, “over-attachment” is the key word, although in modern culture this term is practically unheard of—while at the same time “under—attachment,” or neglect of the family is also not recommended. I am speaking about a balanced approach to family life informed by keeping our spiritual goal always in mind, applying the maxim, “always remember Krishna, never forget Him.” In the first chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna teaches us how undue family attachment can cause our reluctance to serve Krishna—in this case to engage in his duty of fighting— because of his identifying his family as himself (my and ours) rather than seeing his family in relationship to his primary relationship with Krishna, or God.

Vedic culture is big on detachment and renunciation, but this has to understood properly and maturely through the eyes of devotion. In the early days of the Krishna movement, it was primarily composed of young single devotees with few married ones, and was strongly influenced by a culture that frowned on married life and all that went with it. Thus families and children suffered due to our immaturity and lack of mature elder guidance. Many individuals went into marriage feeling fallen into the “deep, dark well” of family life, being afraid to be kind and affectionate—so they wouldn’t get too attached—and were practically dooming themselves for failure. A more positive view of marriage and family has gradually evolved, though much work remains to be done to prepare the current generation of "grihasthas", or spiritually minded married couples.

Which People are “Ours,” or Our “Own Men” [or Family]?

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I was listening to a lecture by my guru, Shrila Prabhupada, on the first chapter of the Bhagavad Gita and I wanted to share some of his points, my reflections on them, and other related ideas. Sometimes this chapter is skipped over, or we recommend newcomers begin reading the second chapter, since that seems to be where the real spiritual philosophy of the soul begins. Besides (we may think), the first chapter has so many difficult to pronounce names of people we don’t know anything about, speaks of foreign social customs, and begs the question of how a spiritual book takes place on a battlefield. However understandable such a perspective might be, it misses the important concepts and teachings of this chapter, which are fundamental to understanding the whole book. Although some prep time is required to help a person navigate this chapter, it is well worth the time.

The book is based on solving Arjuna’s (and all thoughtful people’s) dilemma regarding life, death, family, suffering, and duty. We are given the whole problem of material existence in the first verse, and later verses spoken by Arjuna. These verses speak about “my” and “our” in terms of those one favors or wants to protect, based on family, bodily relations.

A Second Chance at Love

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Under my thumb

My dear friend! It has been so long since I have been able to sit down to write you. One of my many prayers is to do better from now on. Though it takes discipline to do so, it is one of my labors of love and service. When I write about my life, I want to connect it with Krishna, and bhakti, and though this medium is an informal talk between friends, (or potential ones) I want it to also have substance. I realize there are many things that you can read, and that today’s reader can be overwhelmed by so many demands in life, and with online reading material. As I was out shopping a few days ago, I happened to hear an old Rock song, “A Second Chance at Love” or something like that. As is so often the case in such songs, if one listens with a Vedic ear (from years of study of the Gita and other such spiritual literature), the whole struggle for existence in the material world is outlined. Although music is ultimately meant to elevate our consciousness through being combined with words about God, spiritual philosophy, and especially His holy names, when we do hear ordinary songs or experience mundane media, we can endeavor to see it in relationship to the interest of our soul.

Saved From Comic Crud

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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—

When it Rains, it Pours, and then Janmastami

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Have you lived the adage,
“When it rains, is pours”?
or, “Either feast, or famine?”,
well, this describes my current life,
from having extra time to
being busy with many activities

which could be a “busy-ness” burden
or simultaneous multiple accomplishments
of important tasks and goals—
we still must remember Krishna
in all circumstances and endeavors
identifying ourselves as servant
but never the enjoyer or controller
though we plan and work to accomplish.

Deck-mates—Tiny Construction Instruments try to Remember Krishna

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I have had a busy week, and haven't been able to complete the last part of the "True Independence..." series. However, during my busy week, I gradually put together the following poem, documenting some of my thoughts during construction of a deck. After the short poem I share some thoughts about my writing. I am still in awe of the writing process, and I come up with a few new intentions behind my blogs.

Accomplishing even the smallest task
requires assistant facilities and prerequisites
both seen and unseen, past karma, current desires
like so many subtle pillars giving support—
the Gita teaches there are five factors of action
each component essential for accomplishment
and only one is the actual endeavor!—
this requires philosophical and spiritual thought
since today, endeavor and luck are thought supreme—
keeping this in mind my son and I build a deck
praying to remember Krishna and offer the work to Him.

Where is Krishna? Giving Value to Our Lives

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Rainshowers

Two days of sweltering intense heat
oppressive 100 degree-plus weather
at night, huge violent wind storms,
leaves and branches decorate the ground
heat lightening, thunder, but no rain
our sleep is spotty at best, the day, tiring
then, finally tonight, cooling, lasting rain
where the crashing thunder has meaning.

Knowing I won’t sleep, I rise
downstairs at 1:30 am, I chant
the thunder and lightning subside
while the rain continues unabated,
opening the sunroom’s sliding doors
I pace with the holy name and breezes
in-between chanting rounds, I listen
to the soothing, steady rain.

Simple Living Amidst a Thrill Seeking Culture

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As a regular writer of blogs, I am often thinking of something to write about to share with you. One might think this would require embarking on exciting adventures or exploring new territory in order to find material for writing about. The previous sentence was in response to my stepping back from my daily routine, as I cut tall weeds and sweated, to reflect upon it. As I drank water and took in the extraordinary, typical country scene of blue sky, white clouds, trees in all directions, and our veggie and flower garden, I wondered what I might write about, since I have often spoken of our country life. As many readers know, my wife and I live in a country setting surrounded by trees and gardens. We don’t see many devotees, and although we have many friends and acquaintances all over the world, here we have only a few friends we see occasionally. We aren’t in the wilderness, mind you, and there is town ten minutes from here, yet we feel very connected to the land, Nature, and more and more, to Radha and Krishna, by the grace of our gurus.

We are pretty self-contained, and except for my traveling a few miles to get fresh raw milk from devotee cows, or supplies, we are satisfied to remain at home. Of course, our home is a temple or ashram, and we have lovely, inspiring Deities of Shri Shri Radha and Krishna,

Reflections on Birthdays, Time, and Aging

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My Karmic Family

June 22nd, marked my 62nd year in my current body. My wife Archana Siddhi and I decided to observe this day by chanting 64 rounds as a testimony to our endeavors to increase and deepen our spiritual practices. Throughout the day various perspectives about having a birthday and its relationship to time came to me, a few which I will share. Being a philosophical and somewhat spiritual person, any way I can soberly reflect on my life by taking stock of my spiritual progress, and obstacles to that, are welcome. The tendency for most conditioned souls is to be comfortable or complacent in our life and not want to rock our routine, however meager. Thus, we have to regularly revisit and revitalize our spiritual motivations by honestly examining them and determining if we are on track spiritually. This means to be introspective to understand our desires and what we truly want, because this is the hidden engine that determines who we will become—in this life and the next. In other words, what would be your destination, if you were to die today? Though we may casually identify with being a devotee of Krishna, our inner absorption defines who we are. What we do for “fun” or in our spare time also reveals our absorption.

The Holy Name Chants Us!

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Monthly Japa Immersion Day
setting six hours aside
for only chanting Hare Krishna
an intensified opportunity for Presence
joined together with others
we gain collective supportive strength
yet each person is alone with the Name
everything else is on hold
our investment only in chanting
revealing our faith and interest.

We sit before Radha Krishna Deities
with only our beads and voice
reducing time to one mantra

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