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BEING MINDFUL AND CENTERED, EVEN AS WE STRIVE TO ACCOMPLISH IMPORTANT GOALS: The Vedic literature provides a way to understand the workings of the material world through categorizing them into three broad qualities, similar, though different, from the Chinese philosopher's division of yin and yang. The intersection of the two systems could be the balance of yin and yang, which could be analogous to the quality or mode of goodness. The other two qualities given in the Bhagavad Gita, as many of us know, are the qualities of passion and ignorance. I am thinking of these qualities today in terms of myself and what I just observed. My primary influences, considering these 3 qualities, are goodness and ignorance, with very little passion--which means in conventional terms that I am not much of a doer or "manifestor" type of person. However, we all require a bit of focused energy to accomplish or be successful in our endeavors.

With my new sense of a possible very limited time left in my body, I want to be very efficient in my use of it with the projects I have given myself. However, I saw yesterday that if I try to be too focused on accomplishment, then I am sloppy in doing my daily tasks--like putting things in the frig which don't belong there, etc! Mode of passion means being too focused on getting results and making great endeavors. I watched myself knock over things and not be "mindful" of what I was doing as I thought of the future.

Even thinking my days are numbered--as they are for everyone--I still must act according to my nature, and as carefully and conscientiously as possible. Though I work as efficiently as I can (which may be slower than someone else with a different nature), I have to be conscious and present as I work, and as a Vaishnava, to remember Krishna or God in all my activities. I am excited about what I am doing, for example, putting together my poem book, and getting ready for my my next lecture, yet I still have to endeavor in a way that works best according to my conditioned nature. I find it helpful throughout my day to observe my state of mind and how I can be more mindful and spiritually oriented. This helps me catch myself up in old patterns. Happy New Year to everyone! May you be blessed in every way, and go deeper into your spiritual practice!

I made my first presentation, or really my trail run, on "Facing Death to Live More Fully Now," in Hillsborough, NC, and it was a very moving experience for me. I have been preparing for this for weeks and had a list of topics. Even though I didn't follow my planned sequence and was sort of spontaneously speaking, I felt much mercy flowing through me and I was able to speak with power and conviction--more than every before. So this was encouraging and I received much positive feedback from the devotees. I felt it was a memorable afternoon and evening in many ways, and I am soooo grateful, that I can offer this as my contribution to support and encourage others in dealing with their physical life in a way that is more conducive for their spiritual practices. To me, it is something like the book, "The Last Lecture," if you are familiar with it. I am endeavoring to share, in as many talks as I am allowed, what I have learned and am inspired by. Thanks to everyone who helped make this possible, and for the generous and attentive audience.

As some may know, I love quotes and speaking about them. One that has taken on new significance for me is something like: "This moment is a gift, therefore it is called, the present." Each moment is truly such a valuable commodity, such a divine present and gift. This seems especially true when we have a deep sense of personal mission that we feel passionately committed to do. This is what I am feeling now. Sometimes we are called to rise above our comfort zone and do what we know we must. If we can, and it may seem difficult with plenty of reasons why we shouldn't, but if we can, we will feel a joy we have rarely experienced, and the wind behind our sails. I can relate to the idea that Prabhupada lived a lifetime in preparation to accomplish his mission. Though I am not trying to compare my life to his, the general principle applies and this fuels my sense of urgency to share what I know and feel, that is life, not merely words.