Karnamrita.das's blog

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.

The Holy Name Carries our Life

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At our monthly “japathon”
six hour japa opportunity
sitting down with devotees
power of combined focus
like buzzing bees chanting
our primary spiritual practice
potential to go deeper
the beginning and end
recalling, calling to, Krishna;
alas! but I struggle
to rise above sluggishness
yet chanting keeps me
Krishna pushes me on.

O Guru/ Radhe, Krishna
allow me to become
a real devotee servant—
forgive me, help me:
forgive my failings/faults
help me rise higher

Finding Treasure at the Garbage Dump

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For one who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me, I am never lost, nor is he ever lost to Me." [BG 6.29-30] Surrounding the land fill, as I prepare to dispose of some waste products from our throwaway society, a small mountain range grabs my attention, displaying sensational rocky cliffs, and providing a strange contrast to my business at hand. As I put on my work gloves, before I begin my tossing, I look down in the dumpster to find an extremely stained, beat-up set of couches, once someone’s prize possession, now waiting to be squished and compacted. This has given me a dramatic commentary on the material world of impermanence and transformation! Looking up into the sky I see a beautiful sight: huge puffy white clouds gently floating by in the deep blue sky, seemly closer than at home due to this higher altitude, yet feeling more powerful and thus prominent.

No matter how many times I see clouds, I am in awe of them, and I wonder, especially today, how to share my inspired vision. Although clouds are in everyone’s experience, many wonders can be lost by narrowly focusing on our pressing needs for living, while being oblivious to the larger context of life which surrounds us. Yet to me, clouds and the wind which moves them, are really inconceivable, reminding me of the Supreme Law Maker. (Sky and clouds in an old children's song, are colored like Krishna and Balaram.) Science may be able to describe the mechanics of the wind and clouds, but certainly not how they seem so esthetically pleasing to me, or the brilliance of this system to distribute water. To top of these thoughts, higher in the sky and directly overhead, are turkey vultures, one of the largest birds I know of, enjoying their gift of flight, beckoning us all to soar in our unique contribution to the world, and for the glory of God.

Could You Know Your Soul, and, In Pursuit of God, Joyfully Embrace Problems? Part 1

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With or without spiritual life, we will experience the miseries of the material world such as disease, old age, the death of our body or a loved one, seemly untimely. Unexpected stuff happens—guaranteed! Our car is totaled, we are injured, our house burns down or is submerged in water, or someone steals our possessions. People disappoint us. Leaders act inappropriately or give up their spiritual practices. Someone who inspires us dies. Relationships go sour. Chronic diseases plague us. Money is scarce, or we may experience any number of problems—and after we have dedicated our life to becoming Krishna conscious! Such events may make us question our connection to bhakti or to Krishna and we feel discouraged or depressed, as human nature tends to blame God for our suffering. Thus, it is essential to be conversant with the scriptures and note the apparent reverses suffered by great souls, and how they go through them and depend on Krishna throughout. In fact, they are teaching us how to live in all circumstances.

Could You Know Your Soul, and, In Pursuit of God, Joyfully Embrace Problems? Part 2

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One of the original and great motivational speakers in the United States, and the father of “positive thinking,” was Rev. Norman Vincent Peale. He tells many interesting and instructive stories concerning his responses to people who approached him for help and spiritual counseling. One person in particular he recalled so poured his heart out complaining about the countless problems he seemed to always encounter, that Norman considered he needed a profound teaching example. The man expressed that if only he would be free of his nasty problems, then surely he would be happy. At a certain point, Rev. Peale told him that he knew a place where the people had no more problems, and he enquired if the man would like to visit there. The man replied with an enthusiastic “yes.”

They drove silently for 15 minutes, and pulled into a long driveway. “Here my friend,” said Norman, “is a place where the people have no more problems.”

The Spiritual Basics Must Be Mastered (And it takes a long time!)

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I
It’s the basics revisited
I write about it often
spiritual life 101—yet again
I know the theory by heart!:
“We are spiritual beings
covered by body/mind.”
Oh, it seems old news
I am such a mature devotee.

Though truth be told
realization is difficult
a long education process
of trial and error repeatedly,
naked truth of embodiment
the laboratory of life
hearing it frequently
thinking it over carefully.

Making Time to Remember Who We Are

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Soul taking off body close up

I am speaking to you—who are reading these words—I hope “to” you, and not “at” you. (In other words, I am doing my best to be relevant.)

Do I expect too much of what appears to be merely words on a screen, or can I somehow be embodied in these words, allowing us to have a meaningful conversation, and even a relationship? (My conviction is that there is life in these words as I share my experience, and more so to the degree that I am embodying the teachings.)

Can I speak to you as a human being, since we all want the same things if we dig deep enough: to be happy, fulfilled, avoid suffering and too much pain; to love, and be loved; to have family, community, meaningful work, and a sense of deeper purpose in life than just existing? (We are ultimately souls, yet we have to use who we are now, to realize our eternal nature--the way out is through!)

Many people and religions seek commonality on the human platform or as a living organism sharing the Earth—and this is very important, since sometimes spiritually interested people play this down, and are aloof physically, artificially, giving the slogan, “You’re not your body,” to somehow magically elevate everyone beyond material needs (which they may look down on) to the soul platform.(There is theory and realization, and much harm can come from immaturity in the guise of spirituality.)

The Kirtan Avatar—Shri Chaitanya Gives Divine Love

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The Prime Benediction
The appearance day of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has come upon us with the rising of the full moon. Those unfamiliar with the significance of Lord Chaitanya, and/or who want to gain a deeper appreciation for Him—not just intellectually, but practically, personally, and factually within themselves, are recommended to not only study about His life and teachings, but to also chant the Hare Krishna mantra very intently in personal meditation (japa), or with others in loud, melodious song and dance, sankirtan. The ideal environment for this is with those of faith and spiritual standing in the practices Shri Chaitanya taught. If this is not available, you can create a sanctified area in your home, dedicated solely for spiritual practice, praying for good association. The real fruit of knowledge is receptivity, and inspiration to engage in loving devotional service, and chanting brings about both, as it is the means and end of perfection. My teacher, Shrila Prabhupada, using the idea of science to verify theories by experiment, often encouraged us to experiment with chanting.

Prabhupada personally experimented with the holy name when he came first came to the United States in 1965, by chanting with those who had no background in Krishna consciousness, or the Vedic conclusions. Due to his spiritual purity, desire to help others, empowerment by Lord Chaitanya, and full faith in the power of the holy name, his experiment with the Hare Krishna mantra succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.

Aspirations While Chanting: When Will This Day Be Permanently Mine?

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Japa Day

I didn’t begin with the idea that the fragments that came to me during a japa emersion day, now made into a poem, would be a continuation from my last blog, on “Identifying Our Self with Krishna,” but it has turned out that way. What I am exploring here, are my thoughts about what it means to be devotee of Krishna, why I chant the Hare Krishna mantra, and what I really want, in my heart of hearts—or at least, what I pray to obtain as a permanent condition. We are all a complex combination of many parts, which can sometimes compete for dominance, yet whoever I am as a human being is being changed by bhakti, albeit, very slowly. Still, it is nice to look at our most spiritual aspirations—not just officially, but truly—and really want to go there, and thus far beyond our materialistic qualities, like lust, anger, greed, enviousness, and all the rest. Looking at what we want to become, or our highest ideal, is like taking our spiritual pulse, because it gives us an idea of who were are, and will become. As Prabhupada taught us, through bhakti practices, we are in the bath of purification, scrubbing the dirt off our soul, and eventually, with the mercy of Guru and Krishna, our soul will awaken, and our material identity will be subservient to the needs of our soul.

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