Karnamrita.das's blog

Being Open to Learn Through Humility: Part 2 “The Glory of Humility, and Pride Precedes a Fall”

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We continue exploring what could be called the “glory of humility” in this blog with an emphasis that pride precedes a fall. I find much to celebrate about someone who is modest in their attitude, yet competent, and—or—hardworking and sincere. Such a person shines in whatever they do, whether as a great leader, or street sweeper. Even though you won’t find humility or modesty listed on the qualities desired for a job applicant, this quality has always been appreciated, and even more so today since modesty seems extremely rare—even quaint, or archaic to some.

Part of humility is also being authentic and honest in our life—or in our conditioned identity, work, and family, etc., neither vainly proud, nor full of self-loathing. Being authentic means being a balanced human being with a good understanding of one’s nature and a feeling of dependence on God. Unfortunately with the decline of good families and spiritual values many children are raised with glaring deficiencies and poor attitudes that as adults they try to over compensate for. I speak from experience.

With television, magazines, and frenzied social media all hungry for sensational stories, coupled with a busy population awash in (mis)information and infinite entertainment distractions, a “sound bite culture” has been created without much depth, but with much money invested in promoting it. Fame, though still rare, may be easily conferred on someone for insignificant reasons, and is often pursued for its own sake, rather than given, unsought, as an acknowledgement for special skills or good qualities.

On the other hand, persons who do have the advantages of beauty, wealth, social position, or acting or athletic ability, can be full of pride, conceit, boasting, or unwarranted audaciousness. Those in the limelight have special responsibilities because, as the Gita teaches us

Being Open to Learn Through Humility: Part 1

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Sanatana Goswami approaches Shri Chaitanya in true humility photo SanatanapaysrespecttoLordChaitanya_zps88aa9202.jpg
I had the good fortune Sunday to spend time with a devotee friend and neighbor, along with her two visiting daughters—one out of college and looking for work, the other, soon to finish high school and already accepted at a college of her choice. I love to share my experiences and what I have found is valuable with others—anyone who is interested to hear and discuss—but especially to devotee young adults and teens. In my life growing up, and later as a devotee, I suffered for want of wise elder guidance, and basically had to wing it by trail and err.

Though my life has worked out well in many ways, I feel I could have had more skills to help others and be further along spiritually had I had help. Admittedly, we all have our personal journey and ways we are given to learn our own lessons (even with guidance) through personal experience and trying various endeavors. Never the less, I know that having supportive, kind, and experienced mentors can make one’s path more fruitful, one’s decisions better informed—if one is willing to listen. Remembering my own lack of guidance I feel inspired to share what I have learned in life, both my mistakes and successes. This is one reason I write, and in this case, enjoyed speaking to our guests.

I found the young ladies to be very open-hearted and humble. This caused me to think about the importance of humility on our lives. I have written a fair bit about this, as has my wife, but today I am looking at humility as a means of being open and grateful, and how there is real, and shadow humility. I shared with my two young friends that my behavior as a young devotee appeared to many to be humble, or unassuming, and I was willing to do almost anything. However, as I learned in my thirties, my so-called “humble” attitude was more a result of being beaten down by agents of the material energy as well as feeling bad about myself than arising from any spiritual understanding.

Leaving Aside, or Letting Go, of the Unessential

An important goal is to live a life with a focused and joyful purpose, and thus letting go of the unnecessary. While I will speak briefly about this in a subtle way regarding what we give our time and energy to, this is also true in regard to our possessions, which is this blog's main topic. One of the best ways to reevaluate what is truly important in regard to our “stuff” or possessions is when we have to move and thus need to go through our things to decide what can be left behind, or should be kept. Sounds easy enough, but not for everyone! Of the many ways to classify people, one of them is in being a “collector” or “thrower-outer.”

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This morning, after rising, folding up my sleeping bag, and taking care of some natural necessities, I read some of Shri Chaitanya’s lila in Chaitanya Bhagavat. Such a nectar book of spiritual delight! Regular reading of scripture is one of my benchmarks for a successful day. I read about Lord Chaitanya’s (so-called) “birth,” heralded by the resounding chanting of the holy names, which was the custom during a lunar eclipse; how child Chaitanya, or Nimai, would cry and only stop when the ladies chanted the holy name; how mischievous he was as he grew older; how two thieves tried to take him away to steal his ornaments only to find themselves back in front of Nimai’s house; and how Nimai revealed his divinity to a visiting Vaishnava holy man staying with his family. These are very sweet lilas (pastimes), full of deep meaning, and providing me a great way to begin my day!

I have had continual interruptions, or necessary duties, in my regular attempt to write. Writing is a joy for me, but also a discipline; even though I find the effort relishable, setting priorities is required to make it happen—as we must, in the accomplishment of any valuable goal. Those who are devotees of a particular manifestation of God, or who have a spiritual orientation, will see the value of hearing about the activities of the Lord or great saints, and yet they are often understandably less interested in sharing about their own lives. However, everyone’s life is full of important lessons and inspiring events. We only need the right attitude to see this played out as we generally see what we are looking for. This is one of the reasons I write about my life—to show that even a regular person who is trying to live a devotional life has much of value to share. “Ordinary” or “extraordinary” are labels from a state of mind. We notice what we value, so what is going on in your life, right in front of you, that may be trying to get your attention?

Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s Appearance—The Exoteric and Esoteric Reasons

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There are many ways to know a person. One can know a person by guessing what they might, or should, be like, study the person from a distance—say from the Gossip column, Internet, or Facebook— hear about them from others who may, or may not, know them, or we may directly experience the person through a loving personal relationship. The last way is the best because if we love a person we will discover, and they will reveal to us, all their secrets. It is similar with Krishna. Even though he is both infinite and inconceivable he has the prerogative to reveal himself to those who love him purely and selflessly. In regard to Krishna, and specifically Shri Chaitanya, there is both an exoteric (apparent) as well as an esoteric (hidden) reason for his appearance.

The closer we come to Krishna the more we will know about him, by his grace. And there are many ways to explain the necessity of the Lord’s various forms and energies. For example, great devotees have looked very carefully at Krishna, and discovered another person, Radha, or devotion personified, who is most dear to Krishna. There is Krishna, and his energies, all of which come from Radha. And looking even more closely at the Divine Couple, pure devotees have found that Radha and Krishna have combined together to become one, in the person of Shri Chaitanya. Such pure souls, such as the Six Goswami’s of Vrindavan, Shri Krishnadas Kaviraja, and others, have shared their experience with us in their writings, and given us the logic of their love, referenced by the Vedic scriptures.

If we study the lila, divine activities, of Radha and Krishna as revealed in the Shrimad Bhagavatam and Chaitanya Charitamrita commented on our Gaudiya Vaishnava acharyas including Shrila Prabhupada, we will understand that there must be a Lord Chaitanya to fulfill Krishna’s unmet need. Krishna is perfect, complete, and full in himself, so when he wants to experience something, he manifests a situation and spiritual body accordingly.

Dreaming a Quest up the Relationship Mountain

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Amidst thoughts about my past in my Fatal Attractions blog series (still in process) and how it relates to my present, I have thought, and felt, deeply about relationships I have had, and endeavored for. In response to my contemplation I wrote this free verse poem. It is full of angst and intense emotion for my failed relationships, disappointments in good ones, and my hopes and aspirations. While most of us value relationships highly, they are also the source of our greatest distress and sadness. Everyone wants to be loved and understood, but it is never quite to the degree we want. Even in what seem the best of relationships we may be separated from our beloved through death, debilitating disease, divorce, or mental imbalances, as in dementia.

Examining the depth of my capacity to love, I question who in this world can we love and understand that is capable of fully accepting our heart’s gifts? At least in my experience, no one can completely satisfy either our desire to love, or to be loved in return. This could be depressing, or in my tradition of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, could point to the goal of loving and serving Radha-Krishna with our spiritual heart and soul. On my path, the negative impetus for such love and service is our bitter experience, or at least disappointments, in worldly relationships, while the positive impetus comes from taste in spiritual practices and eventually progress toward the goal, which for me is pure love for Krishna, or prema. Our desire for unending and ever-increasing love can only be fulfilled by the One who can accept our love unlimitedly, said to Krishna, the fountainhead of all relationships (rasas), the cynosure of our eyes, heart, and soul.

I
I’m a disabled person
climbing a mountain:
my words are my hammer,
feelings are my spikes, and rope,
I know not if they’ll hold or help me up,
in giving me a grip on my steady journey
to avoid be hurled down by trolls;
I only have my effort and a prayer
with the aspiration to reach the top
where I find the entrance to your self-universe:

Just Because

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Just because something is
doesn't mean it should be.

Just because a poem is written
doesn’t mean it’s good.

Just because I have a manuscript
doesn’t mean it should be published.

Just because I don’t like a universal law
doesn’t mean it isn’t good, or I can break it.

Just because I own something
doesn’t mean I should keep it.

Just because it’s a cool techno gadget
doesn’t mean I need to buy it.

Just because I want to be humble
doesn’t mean I don’t need appreciation.

Let’s be Against Something! Yeah!

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You might consider this blog as a mirror, or opposite, of my last one on amazing things. I have often noticed how it is easier for people to be against something, than for something, and was reminded of this topic by a few comments on some Facebook posts. One person was upset with my “amazing topics” blog that I didn’t include something he was attached to, and then someone complained about my Bhagavad Gita quote, since it is a translation by Prabhupada with certain editing they don’t approve of. While I understand their complaints, I post on my Facebook page and share my Krishna.com blogs to (hopefully) inspire devotees and as my service to them—certainly not to upset them, though hopefully to get them to think—which is, of course, hard work, while reacting is easy, and is the just the opposite. Anyway, along with being a tad annoyed, I had to laugh at human nature (always a good idea), and was grateful for a blog topic that I think is quite interesting.

If you want to get a big group together in “agreement,” find something to be against, some pending problem or disaster, or the shortcomings of a public leader, and you will likely be successful. This is why negative political ads work. Even though the general population says they don’t like them, they still listen. Another way to "unite" people is to discuss, or complain about, the news! Bad news and scandals' sell and make headlines, while good news or stories of a Good Samaritan are often hidden inside the paper or website. If they do make the front page, they are only one out of twenty stories.

News is business, and a news business means readers or viewers are require to make money. Thus they want to give people news that gets their attention through being sensational, or shocking, which in reality doesn’t often reflect the sum total of what is really going on. And the result of constantly hearing bad news is that people become more afraid, cynical, and negative about life.

What’s Amazing? Everything! Really? YES!

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Part of the downside, or the disease even, of being an adult in the modern industrialized world, is to lose the amazement and curiosity of a child, becoming almost oblivious to our surroundings in the name of time management, progress, or efficiency. We become jaded by familiarity or thinking we understand things. We also live in a world of overstimulation, and infatuation with newness and change. Our modern gadgets seem to save us time, but then they force us, and we are expected, to move faster and do more, in less time. Many people can’t sit still and “smell the roses,” finding it necessary to multitask even when on vacation, or accompanying their small children to the playground. What used to be part of life’s simple pleasures, like taking a walk in the park, or just quietly sitting, seem like a luxury or waste of time.

I have been blessed with a life which isn’t hurried and is surrounded by the beauty of the countryside. I only have to go out a few times a week, and can be focused on my spiritual practices, service, and self-improvement. We have lived in rural North Carolina for ten years, and I have gradually noticed a change in me. I have slowed down and am more in tune with my environment than I was when I lived in Baltimore and was busy with work and the fast pace of modernity. This is part of the reason that I can write and consider so many topics. As it is said, 50% of life is just showing up. To me, part of showing up, is to slow down, or be present enough, to observe our surroundings—or as Ramdas said many years ago, “Be here now,” or we could refer to this as mindfulness.

Contemplating Temporal and Eternal Family

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Family blood ties are impelling
we give them energy and attention—
whether they’re compatible or caustic
blissful or fairytale sounding to others—
we can’t change, or bring back, our history
or modify time we’ve spent together
so we tolerate or emphasis the best
though we may try to forget
or laugh at the pain of our shared issues
our experiences together still shape us
as our basic foundation in this life;

our past lives have created our present
which can soften bad feelings, or victimhood
since everything happens for a reason
and no one is completely innocent
in family dynamics and interactions.

For the purpose of a family reunion
we drive 12 hours to South Florida

The Inner Life of a Devotee: Energizing the Best Thoughts, Feelings, and Intentions

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All there is in existence is Krishna, which includes His unlimited expansions and energies. I have experienced how seeing everything externally and internally as different types of energy can be helpful in life and service. I am speaking about developing sensitivity to what we are taking in, or being affected by, and what we are giving out, focusing on, or contributing…I will explain. The soul is one type of energy, matter another. Let me direct you to two Gita verses which show the broadest divisions of matter and the soul which animates them, [Bg 7.4-5]: “Earth, water, fire, air, ether, [and the components of the subtle body of] mind, intelligence and false ego – all together these eight constitute My separated material energies. / Besides these…there is another, superior energy of Mine, which comprises the living entities[the souls]who are exploiting the resources of this material, inferior nature.”

All living physical bodies are a particular combination of material elements (energies) revolving around the mind, uniquely combining together to facilitate the desires and destiny (karma) of the soul. Of more importance for this blog is that not only is the body energy, but it is an energy generator and receiver. We have to be careful of what we allow to influence us as we endeavor to be absorbed in spiritual consciousness. Here I am going to emphasize the importance of what we focus our mind on even when we may be externally engaged in devotional activities or visiting a temple or holy place.

Our intentions, or reasons for acting, are all important, as is what we are thinking about, or are focused on while chanting the holy name or engaging in any of the nine main limbs of bhakti (hearing, chanting, remembering Krishna, etc.) This mental culture of bhakti is sometimes assumed to be in place, yet neglected, especially if we are very busy or rushed for time, don’t have a good spiritual foundation, don’t regularly study and hear the philosophy of bhakti, or have developed bad internal habits. I am speaking from personal experience.

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