Karnamrita.das's blog

The Most Joyous Time of the Year?

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It is said that Christmas time
“is the most joyous time of the year,”
which seems to be a double edged sword
with some trying to be kinder and generous,
while others feel bad, and become depressed
that they’re supposed to be happy, but feel miserable.

While it is doubtful that Jesus
was actually born on this day
it is still a spiritual celebration of
Divinity’s appearance in the world,
so when it becomes materialistic
it loses its joyous nature, becoming a shadow.

This is a lesson for those involved in bhakti

Who is the Cause of My Suffering? Part 2

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[continued from part 1] In this wisdom story, the bull and cow were fully conscious beings, representing Dharma (religion personified) and the personality of the Earth, to teach us valuable lessons about the real principles of religion, and how they are maintained and lost. Thus the king, who was a pure devotee of the Lord, was able to converse with them. Upon stopping Kali from beating and injuring the bull, he began an instructive discussion with the personality of religion, or Dharma the bull. After telling the cow and bull that as long as he was king, they need not fear further mistreatment, he spoke to the personified Earth, and then inquired from Dharma:

“O chaste one [the cow], the king's good name, duration of life and good rebirth vanish when all kinds of living beings are terrified by miscreants in his kingdom. It is certainly the prime duty of the king to subdue first the sufferings of those who suffer. Therefore I must kill this most wretched man [Kali] because he is violent against other living beings.

Who is the Cause of My Suffering? Part 1

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Who to blame?

From a spiritual perspective, this isn’t a very helpful question. While it is true that part of the beginning of spiritual life is to question why there is suffering, looking to only blame others misses one of the most empowering perspectives: taking personal responsibility for our life. (Accepting responsibility for one's suffering [BG 13.21* ] doesn't mean that one considers oneself an independent actor [BG 18.13-14* ], rather a devotee learns to act in this world as a service to Krishna, detached from the fruits of action [BG 5.10, 18.57* ] Even for good psychological health, blaming others or things for our suffering or problems is only a stage of healing (not a place to live forever). Two main types of people seek counseling, those who assume too much responsibility for their life (used to be called neurotics), and those who blame others for their problems, or character disorders. Of the two, neurotics are easier to treat. Without taking responsibility (in a balanced way) for our life and our reactions to what happens to us, we may remain stuck in anger or resentment, or consider ourselves a helpless victim of circumstances.

Being Receptive to Receiving Krishna’s Blessings

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I have the pleasure of being in touch with a number of Krishna devotees online, and I hear about their struggles, doubts, and difficulties. This blog is a general response to the suffering, or challenges experienced by devotees, since anyone with a material body has them—they only differ in intensity and how they are dealt with. As a popular adage intelligently teaches us, “It isn’t what happens to us that determines our success in life, but what we do with what happens to us.” I do my best to address various concerns, yet there is always more to say, or a slightly different angle of vision. Although I may repeat myself, “Repetition is the mother of learning (or skill).”

Thus I am again gently reminding you that our attitude, faithful outlook, positive expectancy, and peaceful, spiritual certainty changes our world. We could also add that to change our world we must change our self, which is brought about by spiritual practice (which includes prayer), and associating with saints and positive people. Change is difficult, yet that is what spiritual life is about,

Relationships, togetherness

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Relationships, togetherness,
connection, and sharing
are not merely the spices of life,
they’re the foundation of animation
the juice and energy which sustains us
beyond merely existing or maintaining,
the celebration of we, us, our, the many,
pointing us in the direction of selfless service.

Where there is Hate, Let us Sow Love--Love is the Answer part 2

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We continue our discussion of love and hate and their interrelationship, with the idea of sowing love where we find hate. When we feel unloved, and by extension, that life is unloving, we tend to deny the existence of love all together, and thus decry the reality of God. In such pain, it is easier to deny God and think that the Universe has no Source or ultimate purpose than to think that love could exist at all, and that God is merciful and kind. Such persons become cynical and angry. Everyone has their conditioned angle of vision, and we tend to see life as we are, or according to our limited experience, forgetting that we haven’t experienced all of life. Thus we find that some children are taught by their parents and elders to hate other groups of people and see them as the enemy. This perpetuates the world’s conflict and strife, generation after generation.

Spiritual Thanksgiving: Levels of Gratitude

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Although I have written a fair amount about the importance of gratitude, and giving thanks, in honor of the day (which is Thanksgiving on Thursday in the USA), I thought I would add a few more thoughts about it, hopefully from a slightly different perspective. While those of us who are vegetarians find it odd to celebrate our gratitude with a dead bird, many don’t have that sensitivity, and to them, that is food. Without belaboring that point, the general idea of giving thanks is certainly a good thing, especially in relationship to the Supreme Lord. From a religious perspective ordinary everyday gratitude for material facilities, things, and relationships is a step in the right direction. While gratitude isn’t “ordinary”, and is welcome, there are levels of gratitude, which are practically never considered.

Love is the Answer Part 1

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Pure children
With the inspiration of Saint Francis, a great mystic in the Christian tradition, I am exploring his famous prayer since it seems very much in the mood of our great Vaishnava saints and bhakti yogis. I spoke of sowing peace in a recent blog which began my thinking of his prayer. Whereas peace may be a kind of passive, inactive state of being, it requires to be coupled with love to realize its full potential. A progressive idea of love is that love is an action word, or verb, and not merely a feeling, or noun. “Love is as love does,” expresses this idea, and is the basis of bhakti or devotional service, with the additional idea of being part of the soul’s spiritual relationship with God. If it is really true that “love makes the world go around,” or that hate is the basis of many world conflicts, then it is essential to think about and understand these opposite states or energies.

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.

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?

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