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AVERSION, INSIGNIFICANCE, CRITICISM--VRINDAVAN HEALING JOURNAL DAY ONE AND TWO

Vrindavan Journal photo IMG_3314_zpsdgx3ubnc.jpgI have been living in Vrindavan for the last 5 weeks of an eleven month stay doing a very intense Ayurvedic/Homeopathic treatment. I had to set up a household as I cook for myself and have to deal with the cold and terrible air quality, some mornings near 500 (0-50 is considered good air quality). If the air was this bad in the US they would likely close everything and tell people to go out as little as possible.

I wear a surgical mask when I go out, which people think is amusing. However, according Government statics, over 150,000 people died last year from the polluted air--and the air quality here is almost as bad as Delhi. I wrote this and another blog during the beginning of my treatment, but then found that took too much time. Thus I have been posting video blogs of about 10 minutes, which I'll post after the second written journal. Today I am working Volume 9, and plan on posting them all gradually, so you can see them in real time. I hope you find them as interesting as I do in posting them. I speak and about my treatment, challenges and reflection on living in Vrindavan, and still facing the possibility of death which has been with me for the 3 years since I have known about my throat cancer. Living in Vrindavan has intensified this, due to both the outer environment, and the spiritual feeling here. The cancer was kept at bay for nearly 3 years with alternative treatment, but has just begun getting worse, and thus my treatment here.

We often find pairs of opposites combined in the Gita, Bhagavatam, and other scriptures, in verses that recommend us to be equipoised in the face of all dualities. In the combination of attachment and aversion, attachment has in the past seemed to me to be the greater problem. However, after my first day in Vrindavan, and on my drive from Delhi to here, aversion is my bigger challenge, and is a significant “in my face” opportunity to miss the dhama or inner Vrindavan. Additionally, it takes some days to make the adjustment to living in India because flying here is like being dropped from one world into another practically overnight. Thus, I have been advised to be patient as some people can’t handle it and leave.

APPRECIATING KṚṢṆA AND HIS DEVOTEE

To write about the devotee who corresponds with me is an honor and a humbling effort as I do not believe myself worthy to write and discuss Reverend Rambhoru. She is gracious, patient and has a heart of pure gold. Our very first connection by mail was of a familial tone and nature. Her letter was written to me as though I was a longtime devotee. This began a teacher/friend relationship over three years ago. Not so long, but spiritually and soulfully enriching.

I HAD AN INTERESTING DREAM LAST NIGHT and MY PRAYER FOR DIVINE HELP

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I HAD AN INTERESTING DREAM LAST NIGHT. I was able to fly and was looking at all the sights of the planet. It was fun, but I wasn't very satisfied with the experience. Then as I was attempting to help someone in a seedy part of town, I was captured and injured. As my new master was putting me in a cage, he freed the former resident of the cage to make room for me, who happened to be my wife. I awoke as she was telling me the rules for living in the cage.

I relate this dream to my wife's difficult health throughout our marriage, and how now it is my turn. At the same time, one of the important ideas, while keeping death in mind is to know what is truly important. I also need to keep a good sense of humor and laugh a lot. That is very healing. I feel such gladness and gratitude for the outpouring of love, affection, and support from my friends, as I try to share the lessons I am learning. It's rather overwhelming even as I drink it up as the most valuable healing elixir of shared love. I am a rather mild mannered, introverted type, but inside my emotions can be raging.

At this point, I am feeling a great deal and pray to reciprocate with the kindness, love, and prayers of the devotees. And now, I am getting ready for yet another installment on my healing journey, my next adventure to live in Vrindavan for all around healing—physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual.

Reflections on the Guru, on Prabhupada’s Disappearance Day

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[reposted from 10-21-2009] ISHRILA PRABHUPADA'S DISAPPEARANCE DAY REFLECTIONS: It is likely that most disciples of Prabhupada remember exactly what they were doing when they heard the news that indeed Prabhupada had “left his body,” 'disappeared," or departed this world for the spiritual plane or Goloka. As the death of our mother and father is a kind of initiation or rite of passage for everyone, when one’s guru leaves the planet, it calls for a new birth—and an unexpected, difficult one, as it ushers in a another stage of life.

We learn in the Chaitanya Charitamrita that one meets one’s guru by the grace of Krishna: “…Out of many millions of wandering living entities, one who is very fortunate gets an opportunity to associate with a bonafide spiritual master by the grace of Krishna. By the mercy of both Krishna and the spiritual master, such a person receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service.” Cc Madhya 19.151

The guru is considered a kind of incarnation of God (a mercy incarnation)---he is an individual soul as we are, but is acting as a representative of Krishna. He or she is a tailor-made manifestation of Krishna just right for our particular nature. Although Krishna is present in scriptures such as Bhagavad-gita and Shrmad Bhagavatam, he is for the most part passive in this form—he doesn’t talk to us if we don’t understand or teach us how to follow the instructions. For that we require a guru, who is referred to as the “active agent of Divinity” because he not only asks us to read the scriptures, but will ask us if we have understood, and to explain it. Therefore we require both the book Bhagavatam and the "person Bhagavatam"—the person who lives the Bhagavatam and also teaches it by example.

Govardhana, Prabhupada, Sweet Potatoes--seeing the Spiritual in all Circumstances

(this blog is recorded on the full page: quick time player needed)
Govardhana hill of prasad
[reprinted from 11-03-2011]
The reward for surrender?
Vrajavasis receive trouble
from angry Indra
trying to destroy Vrindavana,
devastating rain, intense storms,
not one leaf fell
to inspire us,
that refuge in Krishna
is always a blessing
despite first appearances.

WHO ARE YOU? WHAT IS REALLY YOURS? WHAT DO YOU TAKE WITH YOU WHEN YOUR BODY DIES?

Our family photo Karnam Arcana Narayan old from BTG_zpsrq9be3re.jpgBefore I travel to Vrindavan this December I was planning to back up my storage drive for my computer—whoops, too late!!!! I shared some pictures from this drive with a friend and it seems got a worm virus in return, and as a result, all my pictures and writing, including two books I wrote, and one I am working on, were gone the next day. Some pictures are irreplaceable, though the majority are on my blog on Krishna.com and Facebook. Naturally I was sad and disappointed, but in my usual style, I sighed and said, “O well,” and I thought about it philosophically, and wanted to at least get a blog from it.

So here is today’s meditation from the title of today’s blog: Who are you, really? What belongs to you? What can you take with you when your body dies? There are many ways we could answer these questions depending on whether one thinks they are the body, or has experience that they are an eternal soul temporarily inhabiting a body. Even for those, like myself or likely you, who understand we are a soul, can also define ourselves by what keeps us in material existence, or elevates our consciousness.

RECOVERING FROM MATERIAL EXISTENCE

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As I recover from the flu
I realize that my whole life
is about recovering from impositions.

Think about yourself as a soul
with no material identity or externals—
what then belongs or covers you?

The body we are so attached to—
whether we like it or not—
gradually deteriorates and turns to dust.

Our material ego fiercely defends impositions
or whatever temporary position or possessions
we define ourselves by or think "this is me.”

I am a “this or a that,” a created handle

CRAVING TO READ ABOUT KRSNA OVER THE MUNDANE

[Excerpts from two of inmate Bhakta David's letters]

Dear Mother Bhakti-lata,

Hare Kṛṣṇa! My most humble obeisances to you. Jaya Srila Prabhupada!

I am so very grateful for all the books you sent me and I wish there was more time in the day, but I try to read at least fifty pages each day from a few of them. I am learning and enjoying the process so much! I actually find that now I crave reading this Kṛṣṇa conscious material over the mundane. Still, I am but an infant and have very far to go.

SKIN DEEP--DERMATOLOGY REFLECTIONS

Dermatology office photo Dermatologist office 3_zps6usw55oq.jpg
It seems as we age
we're forced to become more
bodily conscious in terms of
keeping the body alive.

Most of our lives we're on
automatic pilot, unconscious
of the limits of physicality,
searching for happiness, a calling.

Sitting in the dermatologist lobby
surrounded by other gray haired folk,

Three Vaishnava Saints—Our Worshipable Family

Bhaktivinode Thakur
[reposted from 9-21-2010] We have had back to back to back holy days commemorating the appearance or disappearance of great saints in Gaudiya Vaishnavism. These include the appearance day of Shrila Jiva Gosvami (sort of hidden by Lord Vamanadeva’s appearance on the same day), the appearance of Bhaktivinoda Thakur, and today, the disappearance day of the “namacharya” (great teacher of the glories of the holy name) Shrila Haridas Thakur.

Though I can’t do them justice especially in the same essay, at least in this short piece the significance of these great personalities can be brought to your attention, perhaps inspiring the need for more research. So please consider this three blogs in one! Though we don’t have to all be great scholars (as was Jiva Goswami), we do need to see life philosophically by being conversant with the basics of a Krishna consciousness outlook on life. Such a perspective will bring us peace and understanding in the current time of great turmoil, violence, suffering and confusion. Even without the difficulties in the larger world situation we all go through problems and reverses that can be seen in light of the Bhakti scriptures like the Gita, Shrimad Bhagavatam and others.

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