Thursday, 29 January 2015

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

Toronto, Ontario

Plan in Jan


January is a great month for planning your year, so how this fits into my world is that I have plans to be walking in the States for pilgrimage purposes once again.  We are looking at the month of September as the start up send off time which means a walk from the northeast in Boston to Butler, Pennsylvania, and then finally to New York City. 

This is all to coordinate with the time that our guru, Srila Prabhupada, landed on US soil 50 years ago.  It’s a milestone event, really, since in one way or another, he affected the lives of many North Americans and people all over the world. 

I look to this project with anticipation and have been thinking about trekking in the US for many years now.  Back in 1997 I had done a pilgrimage presentation to a group of Krishna devotees in the communications department in Detroit.  I had, at that time, asked the group what they thought about me doing a trek across the US, which I expect to execute next year in 2016.  The consensus was totally favourable. 

To my Canadian friends of whom some have expressed concern for reasons that America’s wild, violent, gun happy, redneck, Bible thumping evangelical cowboy condemnists, I say that that is not my experience.  I am looking toward an adventure, and being in the place where a small holy man from India was accepted back in ’65.  He had been received by the American public at that time with a glance embrace, or at least were very curious. 

May the Source be with you!

9 KM

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Dallas/Detroit/Toronto

From Airport To Airport


Hours were given to air, little on ground.  Hours were also given to mantra, and not words, shastra (holy texts).  I was not able to carry on much of anything.  Baggage on flight was stowed as check-in, and so I was left with mantra only, but that’s okay, it’s positive providence.  In the Detroit airport, I went for a juice at a newsstand.  The woman at the counter asked about my clothes. 

“I’m a monk, a Hare Krishna monk,” I answered.  After I made the purchase, done in a hurry due to a tight flight connection, the young black woman was waiting.  Her eyes looked at me with an anticipation as I grabbed change and the receipt.  She asked another question.

“Well, aren’t you gonna tell me somethin’?”  When I said, “Hare Krishna”, the term didn’t register even when I gave its origins, “An ancient tradition from India.  By now a lineup occurred behind me, and so hastily I offered her a, “God bless,” and so, I believe, she felt it. 

Most folks on flights were on business trips.  The clothes, the demeanor, and their talking revealed their convictions.  I can appreciate that they were in that mode.  It would just be nice if God could be inserted here and there, like the juice lady who wanted just a small hint of the spiritual as an insertion for the day.

May the Source be with you!

0 KM

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

Dallas, Texas

Have Life


The packed room of the newly renovated Sanctuary had reached that capacity to delight in our drama, “Blue Mystic”.  Unfortunately I failed to achieve such numbers in joining me on a follow up walk.  One of the actors, however, Jagannatha, took up the offer.  For him it was the first trek on the Santa Fe Trail.  We committed to one hour of walking.  We also made a vow to chant japa on our beads, while keeping our eyes and ears open.  What did we see or hear or smell during this nighttime walk?

A stationary cyclist, a young woman with cigarette in mouth, was taken by surprise as we came from behind.  It was not our intent to spook her.  She rode off in a huff and a few puffs.  Jagannatha and I were left to wonder what issues might be there in her life.  Or, to put it in a slightly different way, “What drama is she going through?”

There was also a man who couldn’t walk a straight line.  Alcohol?  Most likely.  We were sure that he has some drama going on as well. 

On this same Santa Fe Trail, our third pedestrian to come within our purview was actually a confident walker, that was refreshing.  The fourth traveller on the trail actually crossed the trail and did so in haste.  He was not human, he was clearly a fox, gorgeous tail, four legs and all.  Does he have a drama?  He’s probably out for groceries, checking out what else lurks on smaller four legs. 

All souls that you meet on the trail of life have some story.  Most are trying to make some sense of the world.  When we contemplate, it shows we have a life. 

May the Source be with you!

6 KM

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

Dallas, Texas

The Mode of a Monk


At the end of the fifth day of sanga (spiritual gathering) we entertained the group with our drama, “Blue Mystic”.  Now it was my time to unwind and do due diligences to my physical self.  I hit the usual trail, the Santa Fe Trail.

By nightfall you are seemingly alone.  There’s the very irregular pedestrian, mostly male.  If I were in a female body I wouldn’t trust the area.

With the old growth of trees running along this former railway line, it attracts the usual wilderness.  Rabbits I see.  Raccoons I hear.  There’s the owl from the other day.  And the partial moon lies on its back set as a punctuation in a vast sky, a sky you would expect over Texas, a glare of utter openness.

“Hare Krishna….” I’m chanting with right thumb and mid-finger rolling over bead-by-bead.  I contemplated, “Yes, I left behind, decades behind, a world of rock ‘n’ roll for a world of mantra ‘n’ roll, with no regrets.  With only rewords like abstinence of the standard Saturday night mish-mash of a karmic world, I can boast that I’m getting my satisfaction from a social/spiritual life (I just entertained).  I am so content to submit to mantra and to the oxygen that projects from the trees and coolness from the moon.

Life can’t be better in the mode of a monk.

May the Source be with you!

7 KM

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Dallas, Texas

Excerpt About a Place and a Monk


An excerpt from Satsvarup Goswami’s book, “Srila Prabhupada-Lilamrita” read this morning in the front of the assembly of yogis, spiritual leaders from across the US and Canada.  I was impressed by the contents, composition, set in ’58, India and to do with our guru, Srila Prabhupada.

“Alone and poor, Abhay (Prabhupada) returned to Vrindavan.  He was sixty-two, but he wasn’t thinking of retiring.  More than ever his mood was reflective and renounced.  Because few people know him and because he wanted to unite, he kept to himself. 

He enjoyed deep peace as a resident of Vrindavan.  Outside his window, the sacred Yamuna flowed by in a peaceful panorama for his private audience.  The Kesi-ghata neighbourhood was quiet, though in  the predawn he could hear a few devotees bathing and chanting.  When the moon was full the river seemed like a coolly resplendent jewel.  And in the morning the sun would appear, like a red smudge, a fire burning through an opaque wall at last bursting forth and clearing the entire sky, until in the hot blaze of noon, while the room would be in shadows, Abhay could see from his window a shimmering sun high in the sky and glittering across the silver sheet of the gentle river.  Without so much as leaving his room, from his doorway he could see hundreds of temples clustered together for miles in the friendly town of Vrindavan.  The various punctual kirtans and bell ringings in the temples, the spontaneous songs of  Lord Krishna in numerous homes and in the streets rose and filled the air with devotion.”

I love the writing about this monk who poised himself before taking a journey to western soil.

May the Source be with you!

6 KM

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Dallas, Texas

What Do You Think?


In the morning Bhagavatam class, speaker Anuttama, touched on some good topics.  Most topical was the subject of religious fanaticism.  In every camp you have right wingers to the far extreme and it’s these people who are of the mindset to destroy.

The terroristic tendencies to be oppressive to an innocent public is the current concern worldwide.  That type of spirit isn’t religious at all.  I still recall Sheila Copps, a dignitary in Canadian politics say, “It has nothing to do with religion.,” in response to an arson act that destroyed Sita Ram deities in a demolished Hindu temple in Hamilton.  I was there when she said it at a ceremony to lower the deity parts at the base of the harbor.  Some fanatic decided that the peaceful temple was culturally connected to the 9-11 devastation in New York.  Were they ever wrong!

I asked Anuttama after his class whether he had an opinion on what was worse – spiritual arrogance or regular mayic or materialistic arrogance (I also ventured to say that spiritual arrogance is like an oxymoron).

“Well, what do you think?” he asked.

“Absolute power corrupts absolutely!”  And I expressed that when you put God behind your ego, you are worse off.

He nodded.

After his class I felt like I wanted to start an anti-fanatic walking crusade.

May the Source be with you!

4 KM

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

Dallas, Texas

The Fabric Came


Nancy had come to drop off the material – fabric that was flowy, dreamy and meant to be used as a prop in the weekend production of “Blue Mystic”.  Nancy I consider to be Miss Fabric herself because she deals with it all the time with her bridal boutique called “Gowns of Grace”.

She was telling me that gorgeous gowns had lost their lace in the sixties.  Princess Diana then reintroduced fancy feminine dresses to the world.  Her trail blazing the attire of glamour or perhaps grace is like Bruce Lee being credited for popularizing martial arts from the east.

I then though how our own guru, Prabhupada, set a trend for bringing kirtan to the west.  He really did trail blaze and made an impact on the world, whether people are aware of it or not.  I discussed this with my dear godbrother, Gunagrahi Goswami, and brought to his attention the article by journalist Brennan O’Connor who declared that we are all now Hare Krishnas.  He admitted that Hare Krishna may not be mainstream, but all their ideas are.

What an honour it is to be a small component to the arrow head of the pioneering of Krishna Consciousness.

May the Source be with you!

0 KM

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Dallas, Texas

Tough guys!


Cowboys?  No!  I haven’t met any yet.  But tough guys, yes.  Pitbulls and other ferocious dogs are abundant, at least in the neighbourhood of Kalachandji’s Restaurant and Palace where our continental meetings are held.  Meetings of sadhus or sages, both men and women, converge at Texas to discuss Krishna Consciousness.

Back to the pitbulls:  young Brajananda, my monk companion and I, venture down this alleyway.  It was daring for both of us to trek down this unused trail, uneven in terrain and overgrown with weeds, yet it became our opportunity for adventure. 

We started to hear the snarls from the other side of the wooden fence.  And then there were these fences that were of steel mesh where teeth and bark are clearly revealed.  The look and bark of these boys coming from both sides of the alley way was rather intimidating.  One particular canine stuck his aggressive head and paw through a hole in the fence and it was hair-raising because a little more push from him and he could have burst through.  Thant would mean open game for us. 

As Brajananda and I ambled along through that noisy trail of barkers, some emotional buttons including fear were pushed.  Believe me, these were mean dogs who looked eager to tear us asunder.  Tough guys made of muscle, hair and teeth, their arousals didn’t let up. 

The alley way continued on but our journey had to come to an end.  We veered off.  We got our thrill for the day.  I guess we were a little like stray dogs.  All the fellows we met had masters.

Come to think of it, we are all dogs, servants to our Master?  You know whom I’m talking about. 

May the Source be with you!

7 KM

Monday, January 19th, 2015

Dallas, Texas
 
Pilots
 
 
On our way to Dallas the pilot was sleeping while in flight.  I was sitting right next to him.  Now let's get this right.  I was not sitting in the cockpit, nor was the sleeping pilot next to me in the cockpit.  He and I were in passenger seats while he was being flown to his next destination assignment.  Another pilot was flying.
 
As the pilot next to me with uniform and all arose from what appeared to be a good slumber, I decided to ask him, do you fly planes?
 
"Yes I do."
 
I asked him about the training he went through, so he told about his year in flight school.  I also was curious if he had his own life, whether his work was very demanding.
 
"Do you have down time, and at home?"
 
"I spend about half of my time on the road."
 
"The road?" I asked the pilot.
 
"Not exactly on the road, but in hotels while in transit..."
 
The plane had landed and stopped.  Passengers where filing out.  We kept talking. He was in the aisle seat, I had the window.  We were immersed in conversation.  "I better let you get out", he said.  He had proudly spoken of his trade, which I could appreciate.
 
Not but 3 hours later, on the Santa Fe Trail, on foot with monk Vrajananda, we spotted a proud owl perched on top of a tree.  It was at dusk and one fellow at the base of the tree was transfixed on the bird (and the bird on him) until Braj and I shouted out to get the owl's attention.  The owl turned his head around towards us.  He then spread out his wings and took to flight.
 
That's two pilots I personally met in one day
 
Our guru, Srila Prabhupada, said of piloting that each one of us must fly our own plane, meaning that after taking guidance and training by the guru one must learn to be somewhat self reliant while keeping guru's instructions in mind.
 
And may the Source be with you.
 
7 KM

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

Brampton/Toronto, Ontario

What Is Family


ISKCON Brampton was a tad more quiet than usual according to one of the members.  Though their turn out of 80 people was low due to pilgrimages to India and the absenteeism of some of the youth on drum lessons, I thought the attendance was quite fair. 

It is Sunday, after all, and it’s a day that families are available for spiritual charge-up.  Hey, I’m proud to say that there are a lot of families, good family folks that form the major body of attendees at this midday gathering. 

I brought pilgrim, Manu, with me and he gave the talk citing many references to the family unit.  It got me thinking.  There’s one way we might describe the word family, it is a group of souls that share biological karma together.  Then, let me try something else, it is a network of souls that have the opportunity to serve each other over and over again.  I thought further on, a family could be viewed as a group of beings who can evolve or devolve together. 

We’ve heard of family feuds such as in the case of the Pandavas vs. the Kauravas, as found in the epic, The Mahabharat.  It’s sad, but all blood relations don’t always get along.  Evidently, genuine spiritual discharge has proven to help in damage control.  Somehow we need to see beyond the bodily platform and come to appreciate that as spirits, we belong to a one universal family. 

I was glad to catch a glimpse of this concept being put into practice.  A young drum teacher, Devala, by name, came to our ISKCON Toronto branch, where youths from Brampton and other areas took some lessons from him.   Devala created an atmosphere of family just with the thump of the mrdanga drum.  With his 30+ students, a powerful heartbeat of drums made you want to march, if not dance into the world of synchronicity. 

It was great!

May the Source be with you!

6 KM

Monday, 19 January 2015

Saturday, January 17th, 2015

Russell, Ontario

The Trail and the Waiting Room


Manu, who arrived from Vancouver, and I, flew to the nation’s capitol, Ottawa.  It was the first time he had ever seen those amazing fortress like buildings at Parliament Hill. 

We visited Govindas for some banana bread, and of course, people.  Saturday morning is kids time, so they were there to receive lessons from the stories of Krishna.

Onward to Russell we went, and now it’s my opportunity to hit the trail that runs through the town.  It’s old rail to trail route.  Given the time of year that it is with the trail being snowbound, fewer than normal tread it.  The only people I met up with was a man and his dog, and then a man on his snowmobile.  I also connected with the Sherwood Forest, peaceful, not a peep from wildlife.  Shhh, everyone’s asleep. 

Where life really was to be found in Russell was a music school/cafĂ©.  Kasper (K. Dulal), the owner, calls it ‘The Waiting Room’.  There, you have these exotic brews, not coffee, but hazelnut and all kinds of nuts, and essential date and almond hot honey flavoured beverages to address the nippies of the outdoors. 

At The Waiting Room there was a scheduled program for kirtan, food – a mattar paneer dish, and a showing of the drama, 'Gita: Concise'.  Really, it was the rocking kirtan with Kasper’s keyboard and Krishna’s beating it out on the drum set that offered a fine flavour to a wintry night.  The kids from the morning also came, babies included.  For some of them it was probably their first rock ‘n’ roll experience.

As the Gita states, su-sukham kartum avyayam, spirituality can be a joyful expression.  Pat, as in Patricia, who came to be part of this event, jived with the joy that permeated the room.  She was raised in a convent and then joined the Canadian Forces, so she knows all about working and moving together with people.

May the Source be with you!

6 KM

Friday, January 16th, 2015

Toronto, Ontario

Everyday There is an Arjun


Practically every day Arjuna comes to visit us at our ashram.  By that, I mean, the soul who is struggling somewhat and comes to submit himself to our temple room space for thought, prayer, and chanting.  Perhaps there’s even a need to talk to someone.  Sometimes the sense of purpose and meaning becomes trapped in a cloud of confusion, and duty seems to have lost its beauty. 

Like Arjun in the Bhagavad Gita who goes for some kind of deliberation and consultation with Krishna, he takes the absolute right course.  In other words, it would not have been a good idea to just stand alone in the cloud of doubt.  Express it, be heard, and then hear. 

In the opening of the dialogue found in the Bhagavad Gita, the two great souls, Krishna and Arjuna, one is wobbling, and the other is firm.  The one who is strong responds to the doubt of the other with concern and with love.  He speaks with knowledge behind him.  He affirms that dharma, duty, is not to be renounced, only up until one is free to be a fully surrendered soul.

Now those who come to visit us at the ashram and come for solace deserve our attention.  We may not be able to act as Krishna who helped Arjuna gain all confidence, but while acting as Krishna’s servant, you do the best you can.  If you have once been helped by someone, then you have the obligation to help others. 

Having the presence of Nick at our reception desk is making such a difference.  He greets people, acts as security, answers the phone, and then becomes a rep of Krishna.  He provides comfort to the soul who’s going through ‘stuff’.  I really appreciate what he’s doing.

May the Source be with you!

6 KM