Recently I began reading the Srimad Bhagavatam again from the very beginning. Last year I started reading the Bhagavad Gita again from the beginning. Reading scripture is very different for me than ever before. Instead of just reading and studying, I am thinking. I stop to think about the concepts and teachings so much, as I read, that I can sometimes stay on the same page, or few pages for days at a time. So, right now, with the Srimad Bhagavatam, I'm thinking about the introduction.
What does that mean? Is prayer an action? How is prayer active? Isn't prayer a meditation? A desire in our heart? A thought, a wish? What does it mean to pray actively?
When we need help, assistance, guidance, strength (or any other thing) we pray about it. We ask Krishna to help us. Sometimes we pray for certain things, like if we want to go to the temple, but for some reason we can't, we might pray to Krishna to make it possible for us to go to the temple. Everyone prays in different ways, and for different things, depending on who they are.
When I was a young devotee, I had a very dear friend who I loved and admired very much. She was older than I was by quite a bit and had been a devotee a little longer.
There were a lot of unusual things about our relationship that made her special to me. Mostly that we could talk about things in a more intimate way, and we shared a lot of the same difficulties and were able to help each other (sometimes) to overcome some of the problems and we kept track of each other about our japa, and some other things that were particularly challenging at that time in the temple we lived in.
In honor of Lord Krishna's appearance day, and as an offering to the assembled devotees, I would like to share with you the story of my very first Janmastami celebration. This is just my memory of course, from my perception, about my experience.
It was at New Vrindavan, in 1971. I was 14 that year. I had been living in the temple since the end of the school year (8th grade), which would have been about the end of May, or early June. So, this was about 3 months later.
Last night I looked at the clock anxiously. I was running late. It was already 9:45 pm, and I still had a few things I had to do. I was agitated by seeing the time because I dislike anything to interfere with my morning japa.
As devotees, we talk a lot about getting free from the material energy, free from the influence of maya, free from our attachments to material sense pleasures and their objects.
Why do we want to do that? What would be the reason?
Sometimes it can be confusing. It may seem like we're taking all this too seriously, when really it's all Krishna's creation and life in this world can have so many pleasures to offer us.
Here is an example that perhaps will illustrate the reasons.
I've been thinking a lot about something that Karnamrita said to me when I commented to his recent blog. I was thanking him, and saying that I thought what he wrote was wonderful, and that I hoped others would read it also, because I found it to be so meaningful (in an essential way) and thought it would be helpful to everyone.
He was mentioning his efforts to write for the particular audience here, and not being certain if what he wrote would be meaningful to them.
As devotees we do a lot of accepting of things. We accept the will of Krishna, we accept adversities as opportunities for advancement. We accept a certain amount of chastisement and difficulty from our fellow devotees because we realize that we are always in need of improvement.
There are a lot of other things we accept in our lives in this way.
Sometimes these kinds of acceptances can be carried to an extreme.
We are not fatalists. Fatalism means there is no free will. Fatalism means that nothing can ever be changed.
Every one of us has a propensity to love. It is the very nature of the soul. The soul loves Krishna.
In the conditioned state of existence, this loving propensity is misguided, misdirected, misunderstood and misused. The heart has become hardened, do to contact with the material energy, and our own desire to be separate from Krishna.
In this age of Kali Yuga, the process of reawakening this natural dormant love of God, that the soul feels, is chanting the holy names. The holy name cleanses the heart, and opens it. This chanting is the process.
I was just thinking this morning how much we all owe to the devotees who are responsible for us having Krishna.com.
It's an incredible project, an amazing website. There is so much work that goes into something like this. All these people have lives, just like ours, they work, they have families, they have commitments.
Still, every day, they spend time and energy and money doing all the things that need to be done to keep this website going, to keep adding to it, to make it a wonderful place for all of us to come to and get all sorts of things we need for Krishna consciousness.