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Karnamrita.das's blog

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?

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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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
[Some persons caught up in the counter-culture of the late '60's and '70's felt that all materiel prospects were void and society's status quo, miserable stagnation. Thus, as if in a life and death battle, they intensely felt compelled to search out meaning and happiness on the spiritual quest, appearing as their only hope. This free verse poem, inspired by the months I spent in the redwood forest in Muir Woods in Marin County (near San Francisco, California), condenses the background feelings of my spiritual search that culminated in Krishna bhakti and continues to unfold to this day, some 45 years later. While my mood is currently much softer than that expressed in this poem, the power of my original spiritual search still gives me energy and reminds me of what is required to make radical life changes for a higher purpose. I was so determined to find the real purpose of my life and to make sense of what appeared to be a mad, pointless, world, that I was willing to forgo everything else to be successful on that pilgrim's journey. Unfortunately I don't have the same level of focused and powerful determination that I had in my youth, though I'm inspired to remember the feeling and dynamism of that time of new beginnings. Fortunately, I still have momentum from the scent of the lotus flow I discovered in the redwoods. I continue walking up the bhakti mountain, step by step, guided by spiritual adepts. There is no question of returning the way I came, from the "Valley of the Shadow of Death," as that road is closed to me, due to some unimaginable good fortune.]

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

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