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Karnamrita.das's blog

Essential Thoughts and Questions for Life and Death

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Ma and Pa are congradulated for 60 years together

My wife Archana and I just returned from visiting her parents to participate in their 60th wedding anniversary celebration. A momentous occasion for anyone, though even more so when we consider the state of today’s marriages. Our family get togethers are always fun and help everyone come closer together, while gaining understanding, and appreciation for the differences and similarities between us. From a spiritual perspective, any event can be a learning experience, and any person our teacher. All circumstances present an opportunity to think of the Krishna conscious, or bhakti yoga, philosophy in practical terms. We can learn to be more understanding and seek common ground. I share some thoughts in free verse about my experience, in the mood that everyone’s life can be connected to Krishna’s service. Mundane or spiritual is a state of mind, and we have to make the best of any situation and relationship.

Be Who You Really Are!

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Soul taking off body close up
In the face of all our apparent problems, mistakes, and perceived failings and shortcomings, it is absolutely essential to remember our spiritual identity as a soul who is part of Krishna. This spiritual understanding is the solution to all problems and is the success of our life. You aren’t that body—remember? Don’t get so caught up in life as to deny this, or please consider this view if you have never thought of applying it practically. Bodily identification which is created and fostered by false ego—that most insidious and subtle element—encourages us to defend our misconceptions, and thus causes all our conflicts with others and unhappiness. Rather than looking inward, we think we need to add things on to our lives for fulfillment—of course, this is good for the economy!

Being an Instrument of Peace

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Although the perfection of Krishna consciousness doesn’t stop at inner peace, peace is certainly a by-product of our spiritual practices. When I lived in ISKCON ashrams, I was often asked by guests visiting the Temple if I had obtained peace, or shanti. Although those who asked me about peace had what is considered a “high standard of living” compared to much of the world, real peace of mind was lacking. In fact, in modern education, peace and satisfaction aren’t offered as important goals, since the implication of materialism, is that if we have the right occupation, family, and accumulation of appropriate possessions, we will find happiness. Peace seems an illusive goal to some, yet it is possible to achieve through spiritual practice or Krishna consciousness.

I am sure many of us are well aware from living in the world and observing others and modern media, that our current materialistic civilization, which is run by the mode of passion, (raja-guna) promotes dissatisfaction. Why, and what are practical ways to find inner peace?

Govardhana, Prabhupada, Sweet Potatoes--seeing the Spiritual in all Circumstances

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Govardhana hill of prasad
The reward for surrender?
Vrajavasis receive trouble
from angry Indra
trying to destroy Vrindavana,
devastating rain, intense storms,
not one leaf fell
to inspire us,
that refuge in Krishna
is always a blessing
despite first appearances.

Spiritual Variety in Universal Oneness

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Happiness
One Source, One Power
Within Oneness, Diversity
Shri Chaitanya’s Special Gift
Everything One, Different
Distant view, One mountain
Up close—form, variety
One sun, infinite particles
All-pervading Spirit consciousness
Indivisible serving soul-units.

Family Life: Giving it up, or making it a success

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Bridging the gap

A classic inquiry that I sometimes receive, which may run through many married devotees minds at times, revolves around how to deal with the difficulties of practicing spiritual life with the hectic demands of a family. Some fantasize that if they lived in the spiritual atmosphere of an ashram, their lives would be much happier, simpler, and spiritual. If you feel overwhelmed in your occupation/job/situation and family, I can empathize with your frustration, since I also had a hectic, stressful work life, with the uncertainties of being a parent. In my experience, there are always difficulties even in the best occupation or family, but an active spiritual life will give you added strength to deal with them and to see your circumstances in a spiritual light. Whether you are a student, unemployed, looking for a marriage partner, or in any type difficulty or even happiness/success, you will gain clarity by taking time regularly for prayer, the holy name, and in general, making a connection to Krishna.

Ring Around the Rosie: We all Fall Down/Rise Up

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Earth in Hands
Self-realization in a circle
what goes up
must come down
within the Spring leaf
the Autumn falling power
Vedic Cosmology
champions cyclical time
linear time’s a modern illusion
after the light, darkness
begetting again the light
yesterday’s gain
today’s forfeiture.

Month of Kartika—Pure Devotion on Sale for Less

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Yashoda tries to bind Krishna
One of the recommendations for advancing in devotional service is the observance of Kartika Vrata (special devotional practices) especially in Vrindavana, India, or at some holy place, but anywhere that we worship Krishna during the Vedic month of Kartika, or Damodara, which corresponds to October-November. It began yesterday on the full moon and continues to the following full moon. As the next month of Margashirsha represents Krishna, [Bg 10.35] this month represents Shri Radha, who is the feminine compassionate aspect of Krishna. Shri Radha is considered the best devotee of Krishna, and she is both Deity and ideal of devotion for Gaudiya Vaishnavas. We try to please Radha, and our gurus who represent her, to obtain the favor of Krishna, which means engaging in His devotional service eternally. Our aim is not so much to obtain Krishna, but love of Krishna, or prema, because wherever prema exists, Krishna lives! Thus by the grace of the Divine Couple, Shri Radha and Krishna, Radha’s month is considered like a special sale, where the ordinarily very difficult ideal of pure devotion, becomes easily available for a small price. Ours is truly a path of mercy, though as much as possible we also follow the recommendations in the scriptures for our daily spiritual practices.

A Lotus in the Redwoods

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Mt. Tam looks at Bay Area
Pensive on a mountain top
looking through modern civilization
almost covered by smog
adrift in a sea of uncertainty
atomic threats and toxic chemicals

no charted course appeals
provided answers are shallow
all paths appear pointless
unlimited choices dull the brain
walking among the living dead
complacency dressed as a virtue
the status quo bewilders me

Decide to be Happy

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To some, the idea in the title of today’s blog sounds too simple, or sentimental to be true, yet I have found that happiness, or sadness, or a host of emotions, are a state of mind, or more correctly, are a result of whether we remember our spiritual, joyful nature, or not. Happiness is a choice we make, moment by moment, by what we focus on, and who we think we are. Many great persons in the world also know the power of our focus. Abraham Lincoln once wisely observed that “People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be,” and he was a man who underwent many reverses, and hardships in his life. We all have tremendous power to be happy and to help others, but this power comes from the soul, who is a spark of Krishna.

As eternal spiritual beings our nature is joy, peace, satisfaction, and in relationship to Krishna, everlastingly, blissful celebration. While we live in the world, and strive for various goals, or solutions to personal or world problems, one of the most important components of our success is the joy and spiritual consciousness we bring to life. In spiritual, or Krishna consciousness,

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