Karnamrita Das

chanting and sleeping on the Biomat photo FSCN4788_zpsldbmhmdm.jpg
Life in the material world is difficult and challenging for everyone to different degrees. While we may see in the world great misery and take some consolation that ours are much less, still, initially in the thick of our personal misery, we are still effected and challenged to keep our positivity. Can we use our distressful situation as a negative impetus for spiritual practice? In other words, human life is favorable for spiritual practice when we understand its glaring shortcomings and thus use them to our spiritual advantage by taking shelter of Krishna and his holy names. Prabhupada taught us to "make the best of a bad bargain."

Whether we are able to remain positive even amidst difficulties depends on our personality type, general attitude toward life, and spiritual development, which such small or large misery brings to light. We are called to improve ourselves through the crucible laboratory of suffering or pain.

The following two incidents in the scheme of world suffering are tiny difficulties, and yet they still add a shade to the general color of our lives. Our reactions to even small miseries teach us about ourselves and how well we have dealt with suffering in the past. If we are on an overload of general suffering even a small pain or problem can be overwhelming or we could be so callous that we barely notice. However, if we have handled life reverses well, have a generally stable life situation, and see problems or material miseries as meant for our highest good, we will meet them in our stride. I am sharing this as an opportunity for you to think about your own life and evaluate how you deal with reverses and small or large difficulties, pain, or miseries.

Yesterday began very early for me waking up at 11:30 PM unable to sleep with some stomach complications. I am still fine tuning my cancer recovery diet and overdid it with the evening meal. I wasn’t in much pain, but in discomfort and angst at not being able to sleep and wondering how that might affect the next day. I made the best of it and read for a few hours.

I have been taking my temperature at different times and have noticed it varies at different times of the day. Perhaps it is the case with all vegetarians but my wife and I both have a low body temperature (what about you other vegetarians out there?) compared to what is considered to be “normal,” or 98.6—mine is usually 97.8 or so, though in the morning it can be as low as 96ish. However, in the middle of this stomach upset I had a fever and a temp of 100.
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I still didn’t feel terrible, just a bit foggy and very weak, so I lay down on the Biomat, after cranking up the temperature settings, and began to sweat it out and be positively beamed with far infrared rays. I was in and out of conscious though I was able to listen to a few spiritual lectures. Then I rose, showered, and as usual put on my devotional garb for worship, and began chanting. Usually I pace back and forth to chant, but I felt too weak and sat down to chant. That didn’t go very well. By this time the sun was brightly shinning and I went outside to chant with the bhakti plant, tulasi devi, do some more sweating, and get my quota of Vit D. I also did a water fast that day as well. By 2PM my fever broke and with a long nap, I was on the road to recovery.

Inside the house, another greater drama was going on, continuing from the day before when my wife found hundreds of fruit flies in the garbage. While we keep our compost container in the frig and are careful what we put in the garbage, we had a guest who had just left who had discarded some perishable items which attracted legions of fruit flies. The hot and dry weather seems to spawn them and every year we have to be careful to keep perishable items in bags, as well as our organic lotions and potions. Once they get into the house they are difficult to get rid of. Various bugs that get inside the house are one of the features of the world my wife gets upset about. We all have our life challenges, and in general, or her, it is her health. Having a peaceful, clean home environment is very favorable for absorption in spiritual practice. She is tested when that is absent.
Fruitfly invasion photo Fruitfly invasion_zpsfbtgddzn.jpg
They were literally everywhere, but mostly in my wife’s bedroom, where she spends a good portion of her day, exercising, doing pranayama, making jewelry and garlands for her Radha Gopinath, and talking to clients on the phone or on Skype. They seem to love her and get into her nose and mouth and dive bomb her. She was not a happy camper, and had to begin vacuuming them up. When I was out the following day I got some attractants to catch them, but they didn’t work well. A homemade one with vinegar worked better, and I had to release the bugs outside, but the infestation was just too great to make a significant difference.

As I write, they are buzzing around my head and landing on the window and computer screen. What would you do? We hate to kill them, but we have become distracted, as even in chanting they fly into our nose, mouth, and face. As many as we vacuum up, they still are coming from some fruit fly generator or portal, and that is with considerable cleaning and putting way anything that might attract them. Gradually we the numbers are diminishing and our life is getting back to normal. We can say definitely that neither of are frontier people!
What it felt like at times photo Fruitfly torture_zps3j9qkxve.jpg
This picture is how it felt at times.

I can’t say we have learned any profound lessons other than the material world, though an opportunity for spiritual growth is not our real home. Its many shortcomings and miseries can help spiritual aspirants like ourselves keep up the intensity of their spiritual practices. Our positive taste from the holy name and service to God and his devotees also fuels our practice.

Though we don’t merely aspire for liberation from the material world and its problems, we do aspire for the spiritual serving ego to be absorbed in loving service to the Radha and Krishna through the method given by Lord Chaitanya and his followers. That is liberation even in the material world! Physical or mental difficulties, sufferings caused by other living entities, illness, harsh weather, reverses, annoyances or worse—basically the 3 fold miseries, from nature, other living beings, or our own body and mind—are like a good kick in the pants, in case we had any doubts about the concomitant miseries that accompany us all into life. We all have our share to endure and learn from as the background to the holy name and bhakti endeavors.
Our solace, Radha Gopinath photo DSCN4840_zpsnblloife.jpg