Monday, 20 October 2014

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Tirupati, India

Under the Rooftops


A light rain hit all the rooftops before the sun rose.  I was on that veranda unaffected by wetness.  Above me is the next floor creating a natural awning.  I could chant in peace and in dryness at an hour when temperatures are coolest.

My friend, Akrura, from Canada, had previously walked the streets and made an interesting observation about trekking in the sun, “You end up sweating in places on your body you never knew were possible.”  We both concluded it is just downright muggy here in Tiruapti. 

Another peer, Madhusevata, told another dynamic which took place when he was a young brahmachari monk in Kolkata in the 70’s, “At night the cockroaches would come out, but what’s worse were the rats chewing on the back of our feet as we were asleep.  The rats had this habit to blow on the wound in order that you wouldn’t feel the pain quite so severely.  You couldn’t detect what they were doing until you woke up.  They would bite then blow.”

Madhusevata hails from Italy.  When he joined he wasn’t yet married.  He pioneered Krishna Consciousness with his Indian friends in this very congested city.  I guess you could say he’s a real success story.  He went on to become a major leader with a mission in his homeland Italy and built up Hare Krishna Villagio, in a village not but a few miles from Milano. 

It was Madhu, Akrura, and others who enjoyed kirtan in the morning as I did in the exotic temple right next to where I did my pacing on the veranda.  The murtis  (sacred images) are named Radha Govinda.  They are decorated stunningly each day.  When the pujari priest brought his jasmine flowers towards the deities, and strikes the clothing, suddenly there’s a shimmer from the cloth which adds to the divine glamour which each morning displays the quality of otherworldliness. 

Far beyond being drenched in sweat or rain, harassed by roaches or rats, is the spiritual world. 

May the Source be with you!

5 KM

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Tirupati, India

Day of Thought


It was quite the day.  I do enjoy the company of my swami friends, godbrothers.  There are good talks amongst us, with godsisters as well.  We talked philosophically which means we as a group are going deeper into the field of life.

Physically though, anyone amongst us would admit that humidity and heat is intense, and would resort to the use of AC with or without the addition of ceieling fans.  In coolness, there is an eeasier chance of processing information. 

It was quite the day and after talks, I did my walk up and down the veranda.  Then I submitted to my room and plopped my body on one of those fancy Rajasthani chairs.  I reached up for the Bhagavad Gita while acknowledging the wording on the rear side of the book’s cover, “The most widely read edition of Gita in the world.”  I flipped over to verse 13.35.  This resonates.  “Those who see with eyes of knowledge the difference between the body and the knower of the body and can understand the process of liberation from bondage in material nature attain to the supreme goal.”

Further enlightening words arise from the purport:

“One can understand that the body is matter.  It can be analyzed with its 24 elements.  The body is a gross manifestation, and a subtle manifestation is the mind and psychological effects, and the symptoms of life are the interaction of these features.  Yet over and above this, there is a soul.”

Food for thought!

May the Source be with you!

5 KM

Wednesday, October 14th/15th, 2014

Tirupati, India

The Bat and Me


I doubt very much that he was the same bat I met two years ago in the same spot. He was fluttering about in the space that wasn’t really mine. I can’t reach that high, but almost. He can carefully manoeuvre himself just above arms-length, stretched up. These bats normally do.

I was chanting my japa, (mantras on beads) along the lengthy veranda at the Tirupati ISKCON Guest House when I met this fellow. It was his eating time, night-time. Like you see a lot of western youth with their invincible tummies having pizzas at night, this nocturnal winged wonder my bat friend got his munching in at what folklore calls the witches hour.

I think he was doing well due to the bugs galore. I can’t fault him for not eating veggies and not devouring with honour that which we call prasadam, food blessed by brahmins. My little bat friend was preying on what’s natural for him.

As humans we have so many choices for food. I had a brief four-hours-stay in the guest house at Hyderabad. During that time I was asked to speak to the brahmachari monks from a Bhagavatam verse, Canto One. The interesting topic was about looking at emergency situations where meat consumption may be permitted. In general, under normal circumstances, we humans commit to satvic food, food in goodness. Ultimately the choice is yours.

Again, my friend, was following his natural aptitude, his dharma. And that’s why I call him my amigo. I was glad not to be alone, in fact, at that quiet hour on the veranda. I still wondered if he was the same fella of two years past.

The answer hangs in the air like a bat at night time. If it’s a new guy, then I have two friends now. The more the merrier. I hope to meet him tomorrow.

May the Source be with you!

5 KM

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Montreal/London/Hyderabad


The Grand Poem

I just can’t resist sharing an offering sent on my birthday from a soul who loves walking.  Here is the poem entitled, “The Grand Beaver”:

THE GRAND BEAVER

In the great and natural North
Was a hill of sticks and logs
Nestled in the clearest pond
Created by a Beaver’s song
He, pure servant of the Gods

All were welcome to the lodge
And put to steady use
This Spirit Beaver glowing grand
Always lent a helping hand
And tail and foot and tooth

All who joined him found a home
And a window in the nest
That opened to another world
Where dancers sang and singers twirled
Where all were duly blessed

Grand Beaver on occasion made
His way both far and near
To share spirit ways of family
And what is truly enemy
And what is truly dear

Nearby a moose walked forest trails
Of bramble, switch and thorn
And came upon Grand Beaver glad
Who noticed that the moose was sad
Entangled and forlorn

Grand Beaver said, “Be less like Moose
And more like Caribou,
Alone you haven’t stamina
And even saintly brahmina
Must work within a crew”

The moose then bowed and acquiesced
To Beaver’s mystic call
And with Beaver’s flick of magic tail
Came cool winds and sparkling gale
Moose – no longer Moose at all!

Now Caribou who humbly knelt
Before Grand Beaver, prayed,
“Please help me to stay nearer you
And aid you in the work you do;
Let not my mind be swayed”

Grand Beaver lead Now Caribou
Back to the spirit lodge
And gave him many roles to play
Bright colours to the darkest grey
Expression’s camouflage

Grand Beaver knew Now Caribou
Occasionally would fail
And at those times
Forgave the crimes
And offered massive tail

To give Now Caribou a push
And all else who sought his charge
This tail that built
Ne’er based on guilt
But compassion in the large

Grand Beaver gave wise counsel
And Now Caribou could be
An Otter and a Beaver too
As long as there were things to do
And done so lovingly

There never was so grand a Beaver
As Grand Beaver solely was
Save for his much beloved master
Who saved the world from disaster
And moved all creatures to his cause

-          Written by Nitai Priya

May the Source be with you!

0 KM

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Val-des-Roches, Quebec

Thank Your Shapers


It being Thanksgiving Day, we can consider a day to express gratitude.  “For what?” you may ask.  For at least what has come to you today, because the task to say merci beaucoup to all the nice people that have come to your life would be impossible.  Consider, however, that whatever has come to you as good or bad circumstances, are all welcome, because they shape us all.  Thank the shapers and love who you are.

I decided to be grateful for the people in my presence today, and the environment of today.  I decided to BE HERE NOW.  After hummous and toast sandwich, I took to a trail which might lead me to where the other three monk had apparently slipped off to.  I wanted to relay to them my thanks to them about the good company they provide. 

Well, I never did detect them.  No foot tracks or evidence of their wanderings were clues for me.  I then took to one of dozens of trails.  I stepped by moose hoof prints and felt the animal’s spirit.  I spotted a grouse, a chipmunk, and felt their presence.  Even so, I heard the woodpecker tapping his tree and viewed the green moss and the white of the peeling birch.  The smell of the spruce spurred me on.  All this was my company and I said, “Hare Krishna,” as a way to express thanks. 

The footpath was the way I like it.  It was sloping up and down and sideways.  There were areas of moistness and dryness, of sand and black soil, of laden twigs, leaves, bark and rock.  The path was an ankle strengthener and an eye alerter.  I was grateful even though I could not find the lost monks. 

It’s all quite relative, isn’t it?  Perhaps I’ve become the lost monk.  Let’s take this as a metaphor on life and when on the spiritual path, there must always be a sense of direction, and even more so, a sense of gratitude.

Thus ends the walk for today, and the super meetings of the weekend.  En route to Montreal’s airport, my auto companions, Sahadeva, Vrinda, and Gauramani and I, spent the hour pulling out the highlights of three days.  It was so fitting considering the day.

May the Source be with you!

6 KM

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

Val-des-Roches, Quebec

Gold Then Gold Now
 
We did plod the country road, but in the dark, after meetings that mattered.  Three Canuck monks and I took to the gentle up and down course.  It was down time after a long but rich day of discussion and presentation.
 
These presentations of a "close-to-the-heart" sort moved my emotions as there was vision behind such initiatives.  "Think for the future" was the theme.  And as I heard the voice of 'care' in the air I looked out several times through the resort's window to trees drip of tears.
 
I think they were hearing our message of opportunities missed, hence the tears.  They were an actual transformation of the lightest frost melting in the sun's warmth.
 
Triumphantly rose the yellow leaves of the aspen shaking for joy because not all occasions we spoke of were grim.  There has been far greater victory over defeats of the past.
 
Once our walk had terminated we found some of the weekend crew still in the dining lounge space engaged in happy chatter over the old and gold days, of the times spent in jail because we were misunderstood.  I joined in and oh yes, lest I forget, I escaped a near-death fire and when a moving train bashed again and again at our stalled vehicle on the tracks while I, the driver, sat there frozen in shock.
 
When I think of life as a Krishna monk in the 70's and the monks of now who live on easy street, it is like night and day.
 
May the Source be with you!
 
5 KM

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

Val-des-Lacs, Quebec
 
Millions
 
Millions of fallen leaves were under the foot until it stepped down to be submerged by them, both moist and dry.  But not so dry were they that they would break to flakes.  The challenge was to take them at a slope with the extra stretch and stride for a leap over the log.
 
The log was also a submergee.  You are looking for a solid something to anchor your foot but it most helplessly falls prey to the rot beyond the bark.  It's deceptive.  You then pull out the captive foot and search for a more secure footing.
 
This climb is not possible without the young and older living trees that serve to offer themselves as we grasped them.  Speak of anchor, well, that's exactly what they are.
 
The water cascading over rocks is the creek that makes the sound pleasant enough for our meditation, japa or chanting to the finger-roll on our beads.  Only a few minutes is sufficient for relishing a moment before it was time to trail on.  The rocks we sat on were just too nippy on the butt.
 
There were four butts, excuse me, bhaktas, devotees who decided on this brief trek of adventure, which lead us to wonder and wander this wilderness.  We had spent a full day on couchy-material over meaningful meetings.  Our stroll through the woods, reminding us of mutual guardianship, was of equal significance because you couldn't help but think of the master craftsman behind it all.
 
May the Source be with you!
 
5 km

Friday, October 10th, 2014

Val-des-Lacs, Quebec

Points
 
It takes some hours to reach this destination near the reputed Mount Tremblant in Quebec.  Unfortunately it was not on foot but cab, plane and car.  I had great company though, Vrinda from Winnipeg and Sahadeva from Calgary.  We travelled and wish listed much of the way over en route to partake in our annual Krishna Consciousness leaders meetings for Canada.
 
We had reached a rustic retreat place nestled in Laurentian Mountain territory.  Once we arrived and settled in I took note of remarks made by our guru, Srila Prabhupada, from an article recorded on Dec 1, 1966 in New York City.
 
Some significant points made are as follows:
 
Kirtan usually means describing.
 
Unless you hear you cannot describe
 
God has given you power of hearing,
 
The process to acquire knowledge is hearing.
 
There are two processes of knowledge, ascending and descending.
 
The ascending process means trying to go high by your (own) strength and the descending process means receiving the pure knowledge from above.
 
And we have four kinds of imperfectness - (the tendency) to commit mistakes, to be in illusion, our senses are imperfect, and the propensity to cheat.
 
Our attempt to understand the Absolute Truth by our faulty senses and experience is futile.  We must hear, sravanam.  That is the Vedic process.
 
May the Source be we with you!
 
0  km

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

Toronto, Ontario
 
Origins of Walking
 
 
I had Googled the topic "Origins of Walking".  And the response I received was not surprising.  You'll get all this speculation (directions Darwin) about when apes came out of trees and became erect.  That's when they, or we, apparently learned how to walk. 
 
There is tons of material on You-Tube about moon walking.  Very entertaining! And this is pre-Michael Jackson material.  Yes, he has predecessors.  There's a succession of moon-walking dancers.  Michael was not the inventor. 
 
When I was twenty and I started mantra meditation and reading the Bhagavad-gita, I became so filled in thought with the Gita's speaker, Sri Krishna.  I used to imagine Him walking next to me on the way to school, even in the snow.  I had superimposed Him as a walking companion.  Reading about His being the Source, the origin of all, I concluded that walking began with Him.  He did this with grace, a good stride and not touching the ground.  Snow?  Yes, He might heave imprints in the fluffy white stuff.
 
Walking in that phase in my life and having Him next to me gave me good reason not to bus or hitch-hike to college.  At least I could say that my imaginative mind was put to good use.  The subject, Krishna, and the object, Krishna was reassuring to me.  I felt safe walking as traffic roared by me.
 
Regarding origins of walking, I am not sold on evolutionary theories.  I always felt a Creator, someone whom you and I can and cannot perceive; someone who mystically (beyond scientific explanation) can travel and not have human legs.
 
It is natural to be logical about life.  It is also natural to believe in the unexplainable.  As the Gita expresses in its final verse, there is someone called Yogeshvara, the Supreme Mystic.
 
May the Source be with you!
 
5 KM

Monday, 13 October 2014

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

Scarborough, Ontario
 
Recently
 
Recently a friend pointed out that actor / political head Arnold Schwarzenegger was quoted in a men’s fitness magazine as attributing his success to the meditation he’s done.  Perhaps there’s a trend among politicians. 
 
We’ve also heard of former Prime Minister of the U.K., Tony Blair, speaking of the need for spiritual values being in people’s lives.  Also the current head of India, Prime Minister Modi is generously delivering Bhagavad-gitas to world leaders as he meets them and speaking of the virtues of yoga at the 69th session of the United Nations.  President Barack Obama had carried a small brass deity of Hanuman as a good luck charm.  Is Mr. Obama going Vedic?
 
Closer to home, the very controversial mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, made a diplomatic utterance of “Hare Krishna” at our Festival of Chariots this last summer on Centre Island in Toronto. 
 
And I’m sure there are more examples of our leaders taking or talking of a spiritual edge.  It’s about time.  Of course, speaking and doing from the heart is always better than the motive of seeking votes.  Let’s give the benefit of the doubt.  Integrity lies in everyone, even if it’s in the deepest recesses of the heart.
 
Personally I’m looking forward to the day when a political leader will say, “Walk, Chant, Love.”  “Love” implying for the Absolute. 
 
May the Source be with you!
 
5 KM

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Bracebridge, Ontario
 
Usually
 
Usually when people speak of a Patel, a common name in Gujurat, you refer to one who's quite familiar with the personality, Sri Krishna.  It comes natural for someone from the Gujurat state in western India to have reverence towards Nataji, or Krishna.
 
It was fortunate for the family from Hamilton and I to be hosted by the two Patel brothers and their families and to be accomodated in a Patel Motel.
 
Jaya Gopal (Patel) led us on an autumn trail, a stretch of the Trans Canada Trail.  The gods were with us providing sunshine, moderate temperatures in the mid-teens (Celsius) and with a pleasant breeze.  Waterfalls and rapids were by our side at Saugeen Pines surcharging an oxygenized air.
 
We trampled on colours of scattered fallen leaves which was almost painful to see by dint of utter brilliance.  The sun drew extended shafts of light through hard and soft wood trees.  It was like lasers coming at us as we strolled and dodged some puddles and muddy patches along the way.  We were in heaven.
 
But one man was in Mars.  Upon our returning from this late morning trek, the motel (Riverside Inn) was being under repair while undergoing its remodeling.  Vladmir had been on the roof shovelling off caked-on years of BS (bird stool) while a second worker, on a ladder opening the ceiling, introduced himself as hailing from Mars, or so he declared.  Steve could easily be my age.  When seeing my attire he got curious and expressed his doubts about life, the world and God.  The remark about Mars was a joke.  He was jovial enough, judging by his well-groomed hair, self-worth was important.  Not in a challenging or accusatory tone he expressed why wars are started by religions?  This is classic inquiry.
 
To respond I offered, "In truth we need to be more of a realized or experienced spiritualist then a religionist.  There's a gulf of difference."
 
He couldn't agree more.  Personal surrender of your lusts, angers and greed is tantamount.
 
May the Source be with you!
 
8 KM

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Duntroon, Ontario
 
Actually
 
Actually my day today did not provide for me any wonder of walking, other than a short jaunt, a measly 2 kilometer trek through posh and tree-blessed Rosedale neighbourhood with peer, Kalyapani.  That was just before a car trip bound north.  During the short and sweet trek it was serene and lightly a drizzle graced our heads.  October 6th swallowed me up on three triumphant visitations to people of inspiration.
 
Firstly, a family from North Hamilton, Vrajadhama, wife Nityananda and young 20 month old Arjuna, picked me up for a visit to Rami Bleckt, author of a number of books on happiness, self-realization.  He is a good acquaintance with Dr. David Frawley, a foremost Ayurveda doctor.  Rami, himself a doctor/astrologer, impressed us with insight at his home in Duntroon, a small village north of Toronto.
 
He looked at me before even looking at my palm and relayed what he consider my physical internal challenges.  He gave remedies, an adjustment in diet and a colon cleansing.  With Vrajadhama he looked at his past through astrological calculation and offered advice on the most favourable vocation for him - farming.
 
The topic of food had also occupied our conversations as it did one hundred kilometers east, near Sutton Ontario.  There we visited Jai, Rasa, and their four kids at their farm where two milking cows provide the family with the great miracle of food.  Significant here, apart from the devotion to Krishna that the family imbibes in, is their commitment to cow and bull protection.  Ahimsa is the term we most aptly use here.  It means nonviolence imposed - no slaughter.  We indulged in the beautiful and boiled liquid religiosity.  And in the good company of a model family.
 
Another one hundred plus kilometers north took us to Bracebridge at Riverside Inn, owned and operated by a Patel clan.  Bhakti (devotion) oozes out of this family in behaviour and sadhana practice.  A little more of this group tomorrow.
 
May the Source be with you!
 
2 (embarrassing) KM.