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Karnamrita.das's blog

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, even though I have do so often. 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.

True Independence Comes from Dependence on Krishna Part 2--False and Real Independence Taught by Ajamila

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After setting the mood with six verses and excerpts from Shrila Prabhupada’s purports in part one, in the next two blogs, I will do my best to unpack some of those ideas through appropriate stories from the Shrimad Bhagavatam. The foundational understanding to gain the most from this, or any Krishna centered talk or writing, is that our lasting identity is spiritual—we are eternal awareness, or a particle of consciousness imbued with the serving tendency. Presently, by identifying ourselves with the material body and mind and their attachments, we are forced to serve the needs of physical survival, and are also led to fulfill our desires for enjoyment and accomplishment. By conditioning, we think fulfilling our personal desires is freedom, yet our proclivity to be attracted to specific material tastes is relative to the type of body and mind we have—not to our spiritual selves, or who we truly are. We are the perceiver or animator of the body, but have a different nature than we are currently identifying with.

True Independence Comes from Dependence on Krishna

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Since "Independence Day" in the USA was on July 4th, I gave a class the following Sunday about the idea of real independence from a spiritual perspective. I will share some of the points I made in this and a second blog. To begin with, material "independence" is an illusion based on our forgetfulness of our spiritual nature. Since we are tiny parts of Krishna, our normal condition is to be under a superior shelter. Therefore, we can only work under the power of His energies, either consciously through bhakti (internal superior energy), or unconsciously through the modes of material nature (separated inferior energy).

Spiritual dependence is the true reality and secret for peace, happiness, and fulfillment. Real independence comes from total dependence on Krishna by seeing Him as the Supreme Source of everything in our lives and the world. Krishna is the supreme proprietor, enjoyer, and dear-most friend of all. I explain these points through six verses from the Gita with some of Prabhupada’s purports and then I ran out of my allotted words, so I will give practical examples by sharing spiritual narrations from the Shrimad Bhagavatam in my next blog. I then end with some prayers from Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakur that speak of how to practice seeing Krishna as our supreme maintainer and protector.

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

Prayer is Life

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Absorbing ourself in worship
Prayer is my life
it always sustains me
through the day and night,
either in pain or joy
reverses or successes,
I go to bed with prayer,
awakening, I bow down
remembering my gurus
in gratitude for service
amazed at my good fortune.

I pray to offer my day
to beautiful, flower clad, Krishna,
folding my bedding with prayer
drinking Prasad (blessed) water

Nourishing My Roots—part 2--Helping Our Chanting of Japa

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In this blog I share some basics in revitalizing or beginning your journey with japa, which my wife and I taught in a recent workshop in New Vrindavan. One might consider these aids like creating a structure to facilitate our spiritual lives. Although there are no hard and fast rules for chanting, most of us need some material support to facilitate it. The points I am going over are simple but can be powerful if applied. Regarding my japa, I have had to relearn to chant properly by slowing down and really listening, and also learning to not skip beads (my bad habits). There is a tendency after long time practice of bhakti to think that we really understand the philosophy and the basics. I would like to suggest that isn’t necessarily so. In order to discover this, one has to keep a beginner’s mind, and be willing to reexamine one’s foundational practices and assumptions. If this can be done, we may experience some surprises, even disconcerting ones, but they will help us grow spiritually. That is my experience!

Nourishing My Roots—Returning to the Forest, Revitalizing Our Spiritual Practice in Japa part 1

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The blogger

Even though living in an idyllic place in the country, and sometimes working outside, I still need to occasionally visit one of two spots on our property which I have set aside for writing and contemplation. Sitting in a chair nestled in the forest I am embraced by the trees, and sometimes the lovely wind, and feel a type of home coming--at least emotionally speaking. I am grateful to the trees, who as Krishna’s agents have taught me so much about life, and remind me of my insignificance by towering above as the hairs on the Universal Form expansion of my Lord. I find it hard to imagine life without trees—especially old growth trees—though in Kali-yuga, they are becoming more and more scare, seen simply as a resource to feed the hungry appetite of a culture that is consuming the planet.

I don’t look forward to seeing the Earth as a barren waste land (as predicted in the Vedas), a testimony to the godless temperament of the exploitive tendency of humans on steroids—which the misuse of technology facilitates. At least for all of us personally, we can endeavor and pray to check this type of conditioning, and practice seeing ourselves not as master of Nature, but as Her stewards. We can see this as one service to God, and to all living beings. I wonder how world conflicts would be greatly lessened if the Middle East was covered by vast unspoiled forests, rather than desert with great oil reserves?

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