Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Saturday, June 16th, 2018

Edmonton, Alberta


I was on the Whitemud Trail with Bala and Rati when I received a call from Rajasuya in Brampton.  “We are being eaten alive by mosquitos,” I told him.

Rajasuya, who used to live in Texas said, “You should see them in Texas.  They are like elephants in size.” 

I wanted to say to Rajasuya that his remark made me feel better.  In some ways it did, but they continued to be voracious with their appetite.  Bala was getting the worst of it.

“Bala, your blood is to their liking.  Do you eat a lot of sweets—sugar, perhaps?”

It was somewhat of a confession time for him.

Regarding food, Connor, who’s eighteen, had just a little too much prasadamwhen we lunched back at the Krishna temple. Connor has really impressed me with his devotion.  It takes him two hours to get there and two hours to get back home.  That’s devotion!  He is becoming quite devotional—and renounced.  On my second walking installment for the day, Connor and Jaga Jivan joined me as we made our way toward the Yoga studio for a “Tales from Trails” presentation.  It was while on our journey that Connor renounced his meal.  I could see something might be coming on with his pale look.

It was an unpleasant experience; his donation to the sidewalk.  He quickly recovered.

Finally, we made it to the studio and it was just wonderful—the attendance, the mood, the questions.  I want to thank Jaga Jivan for arranging the program as well as Candice for having us use the facility, “Spirit Path” on 124thStreet.

May the Source be with you!
4 km

Friday, June 15th, 2018

Edmonton, Alberta

Outing in Edmonton

For years I’ve been conducting satsangs or home programs which feature kirtan, talks and Prasadand often walking to the place of action.  Ananda is an excellent tabla player who accompanied me on 34thStreet in Edmonton.  The sky was a grey-blue, the hue that let us know it’s not going to stay.  A partial rainbow, meaning not fully-arched to our vision, made an appearance in that sky.

Generally these satsangs occur in the evening and are culminated with a meal.  However, upon arriving from our walk at the home of Yogendra, and settling down, I grumbled to our host about late-night eating not being good for you.  Yogendra concurred and so in the most jolly way we ate and chatted.  Then the kirtanwas begun by expert singer Nitai, followed by my talk on the personality, Akrura.  He was a personality not liked by the residents of Vrindavan—Krishna’s village—for taking Krishna away to the city.

I also did a reading ofThe Gopis Attracted by the Flute of Krishna.  The children who came with their moms and dads assembled in front of me. Unbelievably, they were most attentive.

The food was great and we ended with kombucha.  Yogendra insisted everyone dance during the kirtanso we all were inspired in a mix of Chaitanya spirit and “Grease.”  It was most enjoyable, thanks to the Edmonton team.

May the Source be with you!
6 km

Thursday, June 14th, 2018

Brampton, Ontario

Red Wings

After a dental visit, Nanda took me to a park, Chinguacousy, and I sat to write  by the pond. To the surprise of both of us, this red-winged black bird came darting at us.  “Oh Krishna!”  It must have been its nesting area, but in our minds this was our resting area, or at least relaxing zone before the Bramalea Mall opened.

But it got more serious.  Our feathered friend came right at our heads, flapping its wings.  No beak penetration occurred, like in the scenes from Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”

Nanda got defensive and picked up a convenient branch, fallen from the trees of yesterday’s storm.  It was somewhat effective.  The bird was persistent, however, and we were humbled by his territorialism.

A terrorist?  I wouldn’t demonize the fellow that much.  It was just a case of taking care of dharma—duty—in the form of protection.

I do like the sound of this red-winged creature.  The shrill sound throws me back to childhood.  In southwestern Ontario there are lowlands, former swamps, the space they like the most.

God made every creature in a certain way; most of them get cranky like this guy.  I thank him for reminding me of Garuda, a super hero in the eagle category.

After the episode of attack, Nanda and I took care of phone business and then enjoyed the succulent parathas he had made.

May the Source be with you!
4 km

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

Toronto, Ontario

The Force and the Source

Have you ever looked out the window to see, before your very eyes, a storm, not brewing, but suddenly hammer its way through?  I did.  It was on this very day.  I would say there was no physical warning.  It just came, turbulently.

I was in the chair looking at the trees from our second storey. Suddenly those trees swayed in such a way that I didn’t know they could bend like that.

Of course, some didn’t bend.  Some older growth just snapped and crashed.  The winds with rain moved easterly, and it was severe for only about seven minutes.  The downpour of rain then shifted vertically.

The sirens resounded throughout the city.  I went for an aftermath walk.  Sure, enough damage was done.  Power lines were down in the Yorkville area.  Cars were crushed under massive tree branches.  Someone I spoke to on a stroll mentioned that the popular Eaton’s Shopping Centre downtown had major leakage coming from its high ceiling. With all this you can say it could have been worse.

“Nature is like the mind—turbulent,” I said to two guests in Govinda’s.  They concurred that they were seeing themselves in the condition of the weather.

During my nighttime stroll, I took the opportunity to sit in a cafĂ© chair by a parkette.  I was having a break from the return of the wind.  Indeed my dhoti experienced a good tossing in the air.  I had to tame it, holding it down at times.  I placed my japa beads on the table and was content to have them always near me.  After all, it is the Kali Yuga.

May the Source be with you!
4 km

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

Brampton, Ontario


Three of us, Keshav, Vijay and I, went for some fund-raising in Brampton.  There is a need to receive kindness from donors for the up-and-coming Chariot Fest in Toronto.  The target for collection is $20,000 (Canadian).  People were reciprocating.  One dentist and one pundit from a Hindu temple gave generously.

We lunched at Keshava’s, and since Vijay, the driver, wished to nap before the return journey home, I decided to get a head start. Eastbound I went on Wanless Drive which eventually changes name to Conservation Drive.

While trekking under a hot sun, a man I couldn’t recognize passed by me in his car and made a U turn.  He honked his horn which drew my attention.

“I’ll drive you.  Come on in.” He offered his pranams.

“Thanks, but no thanks,” I said in certain terms. “Someone—Vijay—is napping at the Asian Food Centre.  He’ll pick me up.”

Sorry at missing the opportunity, the gentleman went about his way. A second driver pulled over and didn’t offer a ride but delivered a classic question that I often receive, “You don’t remember me?”

“Vaguely, I’m sorry.”

“I’m Balen.  I laid down a floor for you in your temple.”

“Yes, it’s coming back to me,” I said in a genuine moment of recollection.  “That was in the mid-eighties.”  I thanked him and let him know we are ready to lay down tiles again for a different floor. He moved on and I was thrown into nostalgia.

May the Source be with you!
5 km

Monday, June 11th, 2018

Toronto, Ontario

Small Band of Monks

My physical body was in T.O., T-Dot, now called The Six—according to Drake—but really, I took a mental-flying carpet all over the nation; nay—the continent; nay—the globe.  By phone and e-mail, I moved about looking at how places can be helped, in a social sense.

There is a lot of pain in the world.  Higher, not lower, consciousness can alter that in an incremental way.  It’s amazing what a circle of monks can do.

I sat down with our small team of young monks in Canada—Prana, Marshall, Samuel and now also Karuna—planning out the month of June. For starters, the boys are planning to drive to Saskatoon, a length of some distance.  The mission is to stir up the town a little for three weeks, and reap a harvest of new students.  A nice Gujarati family, comprised of Kashyapa and Panchami, as well as son and daughter, had initiated a weekly program for awareness of the Divine.  This has been running for eight years.

Sadly, they are to leave, since work contracts have expired and finance isn’t looking that great in the province of Saskatchewan.  It is not booming at the moment.  The redeeming aspect of the place is its university; it’s pretty downtown with a big beautiful river, the Northern Saskatchewan, running through it, and there are lots of friendly people.

I was envying the group of monks who were embarking at noon today for the long journey through a scenic Central Canada route.  Too bad they’re not walking.  It’s a 3,000 kilometre trip and they’ll miss the hidden treasures of Lake Superior’s north shore.

May the Source be with you!
6 km

Sunday, June 10th, 2018

Moundsville, West Virginia

Success Between Him and Her

I applaud any couple who can do the job of staying together. Although I am an unwavering renunciate, I am a blesser of families.  I remain a firm believer in true-hearted couple-ism as much as I hold onto my saffron dhoti(robe).

Vraja Kishor is a happy householder—though not without disagreement with wife, Nitai.  They just know, or are constantly learning to know the ropes behind living it out on the foundation of compromise.  Their five year old, Arjuna, is a major factor who glues the relationship together.

Vraja looks after me when I come to visit their community in ‘them there hills’ of West Virginia.  Happily, they celebrated their 10thanniversary today.  I and others, I’m sure, bless them that those ten years will be multiplied by five or six decades.  That would be something worthy of having an eggless, processed-sugar-free cake.

A particular ingredient behind the success of a marriage is the spiritually-centric nature of it.  Yes, the dharmaside of it teaches compromise and communication.  Anything can come to tempt you, to displace you, and when your guard is down, emotions are up and good rationale is ebbed low, then, you can register as a disaster.

Disaster!  There are just too many of them today.  We don’t need any more to add to the list.

Vraja took me to the Pittsburgh Airport where they only play good classical instrumental music, the type of vibration which keeps couples as one.

Back home in Toronto, I sit in a room with brahmacharis—monks—who respect married men and women.  They are content to be as they are, and if any of them choose to marry, we will encourage the loyalty between them and their spouse.

May the Source be with you!
0 km

Monday, 11 June 2018

Saturday, June 9th, 2018

Moundsville, West Virginia 

More Medicine

The concluding day for the Bhaktivedanta Medical Association Retreat included grainless meals to honour the bi-weekly Ekadashi.  (That was #1.)

2)   Improving japachanting
3)   Financial Planning for seniors (I led this discussion)
4)   Asanas/ postures and stretches
5)   Physical / mental foundation ofMahamantrayoga
6)   How to grow your own food
7)   Medical updates
8)   Spiritual Jeopardy
9)   Spiritual journaling
10)How well do you know your spouse (a workshop)
11)Breathing Exercises
12)Raising Conscious Children
13)(Finally) A Swan Boat Festival with Kirtan

In addition to the above, we also made a visit to the first old barn where the community began in ’68.  It is quite the vintage home.  Inside we sat, discussed and explored the contributions that our guru, Srila Prabhupada, gave to the world.  Here is what the group came up with:

Srila Prabhupada was the one…

1)   To introduce kirtan to the world
2)   Who mass-propagated Vedic philosophy
3)   Who fought war on drugs throughbhakti
4)   Who mass-propagated vegetarianism
5)   Who encouraged the back-to-land lifestyle
6)   Who mass-propagated reincarnation
7)   Who introduced to the West, ancient rites from the East
8)   To promote peace through mantratherapy.

May the Source be with you!

5 km

Friday, June 8th, 2018

Moundsville, West Virginia

With Doctors

Here were some of the activities that doctors and healers, who had converged in New Vrindavana, took part in.  I witnessed and partook of the education and fun, too.

1)   A full morning sadhanaof chanting, a lesson from the Bhagavatam,and a wholesome breakfast
2)   Pranayama / good breathing
3)   Surya Namaskar
4)   Cooking demo on an oil-free meal—quick enough and easy for doctors on the go
5)   Lunch from the demo—chili, quinoa, oat and banana cookies and asparagus
6)   Stroll to Palace of Gold and temple cleaning
7)   Kartalplaying lessons—by yours truly
8)   Family bonding games—charades
9)   Hearing from a youth’s perspective
10)Heart 2 Heart Panel discussion
12)Campfire kirtan,and, in the rain

Most activities were held in the Yoga Shala.

Many interesting subjects came out of the sessions.  Sad, but true, a high percentage of doctors in America suffer from doctor’s burn-out.  Suicide is high in the profession.

We did discuss some factors that could alter the figures, such as boosting spirituality, a better pacing of oneself in the profession, and making families strong through communication input.

Simple statements, but much work needs to be done, for medical students, as well.

May the Source be with you!

3 km

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

Moundsville, West Virginia

Next to Me

Next to me on the Air Canada flight was Justin, a cradle/born Catholic, and a medical practitioner in the field of radiology in a hospital in Pittsburgh.  He struck me as being a nice caring guy—caring enough that I could have a conversation with him about life for almost the entirety of the plane ride, which was only an hour or so, but still.

Justin told me he has a friend from India and that he heard about karmafrom him.  Indeed he also learned of dharma,and, in my analysis, couldn’t put the two rhyming words together.

“If we pay attention to our dharma, we would produce a much better karma,” is what we both concluded from our conversation; that in performing duty (dharma) well and then inherent reactions (karma) will be of a greater ease.

Justin agreed with me that Krishna and Jesus walk in parallel, and are not opposed to each other, so to speak.  They are for elevating the consciousness.  They embrace and convey the same universal principles.

Our conversation started with talking about the poor and not pure quality of food, and the less than good performance in life, which for many people is no performance—meaning sedentary.  We eventually evolved into talking about spirituality, so all was good, and it warmed me up for the retreat I’m attending at New Vrindavana, the countryside haven near Moundsville.  The event is called “Bhaktivedanta Medical Association Retreat.” I am honoured to be invited.

May the Source be with you!
5 km

Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

Toronto, Ontario

The Downtrodden Man

The morning’s discussion with the resident men proved lively.  It entailed modes of transportation in the ancient Vedic context, particularly by horse and chariot.  We identified several famous charioteers.  There is Akrura, who came to Gokula to give Krishna and His brother a lift to nearby Mathura.  Krishna had a regular chariot driver when residing in Dwarka, Daruka was his name. And let’s not forget Krishna Himself in the position as a chariot driver to friend, Arjuna.  Also, what came to mind was the adoptee-father of warrior Karna, Atiratha was his name, and like the story of Moses, Karna was found as a baby while floating in a basket by way of a river.

Enough of reflecting on mobile chariots.  Karuna and I committed ourselves to a walk along Bloor Street. Yes, it is leg power that we use as an approach to getting around.  It is a three kilometre trek to Christie Pitts.  We made some observations along the way.  The Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church is holding a Blessing of the Bikes (another mode of transport).  And on June 10th, the church is conducting a Blessing of the Animals. That’s commendable!

We also took note of the sculpture in front of the iconic building at Rochdale.  The artist was Edward Apt.  The figure is of what looks like a downtrodden man, called “The Unknown Student”.  He looks absolutely depressed.  The Rochdale Building was a student-run operation.  It failed.  Some Krishna families lived on a floor of that structure in the ’70s.

May the Source be with you!
6 km

Tuesday, June 5th, 2018

Bracebridge, Ontario

From Wilson Falls

What is quite surprising to me is witnessing the enthusiastic devotion of a small group of people living in a little place far, far from a temple.  The eight men who trekked with me brought with them their japa meditation beads.  When this group of people goes for a walk, it is synonymous with chanting. This motivation amongst them occurs under the influence of two brothers, Jaya Gopal and Vyasacharya.

Today, we took to trekking a short distance along the Great Trail—formerly the Trans Canada Trail running at 24,000 km—which meanders along the Muskoka River.  Our brief walk began at Wilson Falls.

It is at locations like this where I can’t help myself but to point out wild vegetation, which I have some meagre knowledge of.  “Here is poison ivy, cedar, honeysuckle, horse tail, etc.”  This is all new to my co-walkers who have given little attention to such things. Frankly, most of us were concentrating on protecting ourselves from the eager mosquitoes.

We continued with our devotions with a discussion from The Mahabharat, and the section of a glimpse into the Kali-yuga—prophecies.  This was followed by a Mexican-style lunch.  On the theme of conflict and subsequent resolve, a group of the Tuesday Sangha and I looked at Chapter 18 of the Gita, after returning to Toronto.  We read together the entire chapter and then highlighted the entire Gita’s conclusion.  Please look at 18.65 to 66 for that.

May the Source be with you!
5 km