Karnamrita.das's blog

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?

Krishna Carries What we Lack

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At various times in my life, time seems to go at warp speed, and I feel caught up in the rush of Krishna’s arrangements. Whooooooooooooosh! This happened during and after my wife and my trip to New Vrindavana for the Festival of Inspiration a few weeks ago. As a result I have been thrown off my usual routine of writing blogs which I take as one of my spiritual duties, or a small way I try to give back to my guru, Shrila Prabhupada, and Shri Chaitanya and Nitai, by attempting to serve and help devotees of Krishna, or those interested in investigating the bhakti path. I will share one spiritually rich experience.

The day before we left for New Vrindavan, I had to go to the post office to mail a few of my Blog books, “Give to Live,” (available in July on Krishna.com) to be reviewed, but the normal parking area was blocked by a semi-trailer truck. Thus, I went to the back parking area in the bank lot. After mailing the books I got into the car and backed up with a kirtana loudly playing. I wasn’t used to this parking spot, and didn’t see the curb on the passenger’s side. As I turned the steering wheel to back out,

Neither Here, Nor There--So Where Are You?

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On the road from New Vrindavan to home
a refreshing highway rest stop in West Virginia
sits at the bottom of a ravine with sharply steep slopes
covered by trees, decorated above with deep blue sky
while lazy, puffy clouds, contrast the highways fast pace,
I sit with my wife honoring Krishna prasadam
observing harried motorists park and move to the bathroom
a smile is rare, and they seem neither here, nor there,
apparently disconnected from the moment, and life’s beauty.

Hiranya-kashipu’s Disappearance Day (Lord Nrisimhadeva’s Appearance)

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Merciful Lord Nrisimhadeva

I am only half kidding with today’s blog title, yet I am trying to make a point, as you will see. Specifically, this is the day we celebrate the devotion of Prahlad, his constant remembrance of Krishna, and Krishna’s assuming the fearsome, though ecstatic, form of Lord Nrisimhadeva to protect and glorify His pure devotee. However, we can also feel a kind of gratitude to Hiranya-kashipu, for without his demoniac nature, and trying to kill his son, we would have never heard of Prahlad, or seen the practical demonstration of the Lord’s love for his devotees. Great souls are glorified by their struggles and victory over adversity. In every great life story there must be an antagonist which allows the hero to shine. Although unimaginably powerful, Hiranya-kashipu also represents our tiny selves, or our personal rebellion against God, and—to put it nicely—those less than ideal qualities in our heart that we as devotees, or sadhakas, struggle with. Thus, in our material conditioned state, we can think of our dark side like a mini-Hiranya-kashipu, and pray that the Lord slay our “anarthas” or our unwanted conditioning, such as lust, anger, greed, enviousness, etc. We are fortune to have both good and bad examples in the scriptures, so we will know our ideal, and what we want to rise above. Everyone can be our teacher!

Simple Profound Truth

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Sitting in the quite sun room
joyfully bright after dark days
clouds, rain, even a late frost
killing leaves or plants too tender;
afternoon fading sun, trees gently sway,
thinking of our sharing time together
trying to give you a good read
wanting to attract creative energy
the “Cita” or reservoir of wisdom
akin to Jung’s collective unconscious mind.

Yet I don’t have to fabricate
extraordinary stories, events, actions
I only have to observe and remember,
praying to uncover the veiled message

Encouraging Words

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Everyone falls short, or doesn’t progress as fast as they would like, on their spiritual journey. Can we ever think we love or serve Krishna sufficiently, when even great souls consider themselves deficient in devotion? Therefore, I always feel it is essential to portray my struggles as well as successes, so that devotees will be comfortable accepting and acknowledging where they fall short—at least with a select group, or a confidential friend. If we hide behind a veneer of external practice and trying to look good, without admitting and sharing our struggles, we won’t be able to hear how other devotees have dealt with similar problems. Some devotees think they are the only one with a particular challenge or sensual weakness, but if there was more honest sharing of experiences, devotees would see that while the exact details and degree of intensity vary, most of us have many of the same issues and struggles. To make spiritual progress we must be introspective enough to understand our strengths and weakness, as well as where we are now, and what the goal is (so we can remain fixed on it). There is a time to hear and chant about Krishna, and a time to be real about our material attachments and lack of spiritual standing. We only get to steadiness and taste in bhakti through being conscious of, and retiring our anarthas, or unwanted ways of thinking and acting—and that is a long, winding road!

Spring Meditation

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Every year I’m so inspired by the feeling of spring as I watch its gradual unfolding like the stages of a lovely flower, from bud to full blown petal perfection, or a step by step, most profound, yet accessible concert, which carries one to a moving experience, difficult to convey to others. While the basics of earth, plants, flowers, trees, insects, animals, wind, sky, clouds, sun, moon, and stars are obvious, how they affect and teach me by the power of Krishna’s seasonal changes, can be challenging to express in fresh ways. This is my challenge every year as I am stirred by spring and the various natural transformations, yet because I have the desire to share something meaningful with you, making the endeavor to serve and give, I find new inspiration. This is what has come to me:

The cultivation of spiritual life is like setting different small parts of special lenses in place which enables us to view life from a new and deeper perspective. Beginning with the premise that there is a God, we are eternal souls having a relationship with Him, and that this is a purposeful universe gives us insights completely different from thinking consciousness is simply chemical, electrical reactions, and that life has no meaning. As quantum mechanics in physics has taught scientists that the act of observing something changes the phenomenon being observed, life reflects back to us according to our faith or belief about existence. This can be expressed in the words of Krishna in his Bhagavad Gita [4.11],

The Appearance Day of Lord Ramachandra (Ram navami)

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baby Ram, napping
Saturday March 31th is the appearance day of Lord Rama (in the USA, please check your local Temple for other parts of the world). Such a day for any incarnation of God is not called a “birth” day since God is ever-existing and primeval. Their “birth” in the material world is only a superficial ruse, as much as an actor exists before going on stage. Queen Kunti in her prayers in the 1st Canto of the Bhagavatam explains this: ”Being beyond the range of limited sense perception, You are the eternally irreproachable factor covered by the curtain of deluding energy. You are invisible to the foolish observer, exactly as an actor dressed as a player is not recognized.”

"In the eighteenth incarnation, the Lord appeared as King Rama. In order to perform some pleasing work for the demigods, He exhibited superhuman powers by controlling the Indian Ocean and then killing the atheist King Ravana, who was on the other side of the sea." Shrimad Bhagavatam 1.3.22

Unlike conditioned souls such as ourselves who must take birth out of karmic force and necessity, incarnations of God manifest themselves upon the earth to execute many special purposes or “lilas” (divine activities). His lila is fully recounted in the great epic, Ramayana as well as briefer accounts in other Vedic texts such as the Srimad Bhagavatam. These lilas are not myths or just stories as the mundane, faithless scholars would have us believe. They are spiritually powerful pastimes of God, meant for our welfare and the benefit of the entire universe and great devotees never tire of hearing them.

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