Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

What To Do With A Kali Yuga Man?

Toronto, Ontario

Yogendra, 24, is another one of our monks from Halifax spending some time here. He and I had taken to a wet walk north on Yonge when we met a soul who is really struggling, messed up I'd say. He came up to us smelling like a brewery and began his rambling. He said, "..." , well, I can't repeat. It's not very monk like what was coming out of his mouth. We tried to detour by crossing the street because he kept to our pace and anything we would say would not calm him. He was too far gone. He was big bodied and his demeanour was 'aggressive'. Successfully and eventually we got rid of him. We saw him harassing others as well.

I was reminded of a Zen sarcasm remark. "Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me either. Just pretty much leave me the hell alone."

Yogendra and I left our foul mouthed friend who stopped traffic to spout out more 'stuff'. He created a 'jam' and the honking began. This poor soul caught up to us later. He was carrying a half female mannequin (from waist down) in his arms trying to offer it. At least he was in the mode of giving. Merry Christmas!

When returning to the temple ashram I reflected for a moment on our (Kali Yuga) man feeling a pint of compassion. I was compelled, however, to look up a few more (possibly related to our encounter) sayings of Zen sarcasm. I already gave number 1.

2) Always remember that you're unique. Just like everyone.

3) Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

4) Some days you're the bug; some days you're the windshield.

5) Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

6) Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your lips are moving.

7) Never miss a good chance to shut up.

To our friend, well, I hope I'll meet him again at a more sober moment when I can share a joke or two and then give him some 'sock it to me' wisdom from the Gita.

8 Km

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Walk the Lines

Montreal, Quebec

On the previous night I had a group of about twenty people memorize this verse from the Gita:

"This knowledge is the king of education, the most secret of all secrets. It is the purest knowledge, and because it gives direct perception of the self by realization, it is the perfection of religion. It is everlasting, and it is joyfully performed." (Bhagavad-gita 9.2)

The technique for learning this verse was itself joyfully performed. I apply this simple method of going over each word, but in Sanskrit, then line by line, and have each participant recite them to a beat, meaning someone is thumping at the end of a mrgdunga drum. I will do a drill of this and the memorization of the verse would really be moving. I guess you could say we were putting into practice 'a drill thrill' going at the verse forward, backward, inside and out and incorporating the meaning of each word at the same time.

The next time I render some kind of acting workshop I'll use this method. Within 30 minutes our test crew here had the verse memorized through our method. Let's say 80%of those sitting there in front of me in the lotus position were becoming transcendentally immersed in the verse.

Here's the Sanskrit of the verse in Roman transliteration, and it's beautiful:

raja vidya raja guhyam
pavitram idam uttamam
pratyakshavagamam dharmyam
su-sukham kartum avyayam

I usually propose that participants chant this verse which expresses the depth of Vedic wisdom while they walk down the street. That always brings a smile.

8 Km

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Monday, November 28th, 2011

At the Edge of St. Catherine's

Montreal, Quebec

Walking is fun in and of itself. You can add frill to it and it becomes even more interesting. Through an opening of a fence at the end of St. Catherine's Street we did go. This led to a trail and then a railroad track. We were sure we weren't supposed to be there but we reasoned that others do it otherwise there wouldn't be a worn out path. For some locals it's a dump site. Tires and some smaller household appliances are strewn about. This little 'escape route' as it appears with trees and grass, path and tracks is the kind of place where youths go to smoke their dope.

It's Montreal's east-end. Not the greatest neigbourhood, but there's a feeling of freedom where we were.

Sonny was with me on a second stroll for the day on St. Catherine's. He decided to leave his computer job of eight years for a year of pilgrimage which includes travelling with our Halifax monks. Good for him. He'll have an awesome time.

To also accompany us were Krtamala from Bosnia and Yajna, who is just ready to leave for BC to see his family there. All four of us are somewhat the creative type of people. We peered into one window at a shop that displayed some fascinating Medeival armour attire. Although it wasn't Vedic ksatriya wear, it reminded us of the battles outlined in the epic, "Mahabharat". We were taken by the work done on these costumes. Immediately I thought 'productions', 'theatre'.

To prepare for a February trip to India for a stage production that I'm working on I needed some fabric material for costumes. We decided as a group to leave that shop of our dreams for Fabricland. It was rather a spontaneous decision and certainly added to the enjoyment of the day. Within minutes we were inside the shopping mall and Fabricland. We selected many metres-length of rich flowing material which was advertized at 40% off. To get your bargain you require to have a card. Out of the four of us no one was cardholder although Yajna had one at home.

What to do? We were at the counter ready to pay.

"Is anyone looking for a card?" said the feminine voice. In the upheld hand of now a fifth person, Sharada, a godsister as we call it, who came out of nowhere, was the discount card we needed. Sharada so incidentally came to the shop overheard us and then whipped out that major card for the deal of the day. We were stunned.

Out of the day's little adventures our culmination was something we call "Krishna's arrangement." We live for that.

7 Km

Monday, 28 November 2011

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

A Monk with Direction

Montreal, Quebec

'Bonjour' means 'good day'. Such was the way we addressed Sunday afternoon pedestrians along La Rue de la Fontaine as they passed by us. I was with one of our Halifax monks, and we were talking. I was pleased to hear that he had definite plans about his future. He was clear that the student period of his life as a brahmachari, monk, would terminate for a pursuit at furthering his education and in preparation for his next phase in life of a hopeful family person. I appreciated that he approached several devotionally successful people before making his decision.

There’s nothing shameful about entering into a future relationship with someone. There is a mature way to approach it and so he wanted to do everything in “the right way”, as he put it. “Thoughtful” would be the word to describe the steps he is taking to shape what’s ahead. He is applying himself in a focused manner. As in the direction of the Gita, where it states, ekeha kuru nandana, resoluteness is required.

For the Sunday talk to the congregants at ISKCON Montreal, I capitalized on the point of sharing Krishna with others and to conjure up creative and innovative ways for this to happen. One sure way to make rapid spiritual advancement is by investing in sharing your spirituality with others. Since December is a month designated to the gesture of giving, one just needs to apply some conviction and then you have a recipe for success.

All over the world, people are participating in the Prabhupada Marathon with great determination in distributing and disseminating the message of Krishna Consciousness. There are various ways to do that.

4 Km

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

Looking Up

Toronto, Ontario

I looked up at the trekking trail in a different way today. I looked up with trees barren, all kinds of things were exposed. Apart from black and grey squirrels ‘hanging out’, wiggling their tails, there were master crafted nests. In a short half an hour stretch I counted 6 hornets’ nests, some high and some low, practically dangling from the edge of a branch. The rest of the dwellings belonged to the bird family. There were hundreds. They come in dimensions from the size and shape of a small mug to that of the size of a small osprey’s nest.

I was amazed by the diversity of them and it was adventurous for me to explore this all. The last time I tilted my head slightly and looked at what’s above instead of what’s directly in front of me or below me, was when in Manhattan on Broadway I was looking at all the skyscrapers and flashing signs. That, right there, is the contrast of two worlds. The man made versus nature.

There’s not a day that goes by while walking when I question the direction of our techy and also ticky tacky world. Whether in Buenos Aires, Delhi, a US or Canadian city, the increase of the use of automation is creating a congestion that will be beyond our belief in our lifetime. In fact, automobiles for example, are the real hornets nests that are the sting of our society.

Srila Prabhupada, our guru, had the vision for a protected environment with eco-agro-friendly elements, as a way to counter the world of mass distraction and mass destruction. I sometimes feel like I’m living in this heaven walking through a tree zone. I often flashback to 500 years before and how simpler times were more wholesome times.

I will continue to look up, but not just at hornets or birds’ nests, but at a dream of a permanent, clear sky, that won’t be blackened by our own greedy residue of manufactured nonsense. We live in excess and for that there will be no success. Show me a horse, show me a buggy, and I’ll be humbled. Show me a car to drive and I’ll think I’m God in big time control.

I came back from this walk today to step into a wedding. Rupanuga, a very committed member devotee and attendee at this occasion of Suneet and Mahasundari’s wedding, mentioned to me that travelling can be increasingly a challenge to deal with, even to get to a wedding.

Yes, Rupa, you’re right. What are we all going to do about it? Here’s my crazy answer, stop driving and start living, so we can count the nests.

10 Km

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Friday, November 25th, 2011

I Am Not

Toronto, Ontario

I am not on a Christian kick necessarily, but since it is Christmas time, some Biblical messages seem to be coming my way. From the periodical 'Ministry' which comes happily by snail mail to our ashram mailbox, there is a quote from 1Corenthians (10:31 NIV), and it has a remarkable parallel to a verse in the Gita.

Here we go... from Corenthians

"So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

And here is the verse from the Gita where God speaks:

"Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer of give away, and whatever austerities you perform - do that, O son of Kunti, as an offering to Me."

Strikingly similar in message, wouldn't you say? And what if Christmas was actually like that - a time to give to God instead of it being a shopping racket? What was it that Jesus had received when he was born? Some gold, frankincense and myrrh. How did we get to the stats we are in now with such a heavy dose of commercialism? What happened to loving the Lord with all thy heart, soul and mind?

That's another Biblical teaching about loving. I look to a parallel verse from the Gita. From chapters 9 and 18 where God (Krishna) says, "Always think of me, become devoted to Me, worship Me, and you will come to Me."

Christ Consciousness and Krishna Consciousness. Not much difference!

10 Km

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Love Thy....

Toronto, Ontario

It's like we knew each other in a former life. This tall fellow, in his 60s, walking his German Sheppard, is someone I've bumped into for at least twenty years. He's an artist, does pencil portraits, is well read and is as regulated with walking that dog of his that it puts my regularity to shame. Every time we see each other its a chat. Funny thing is we never bother to ask each other our names. It's as if no intro is needed. It's always good to keep in touch and 'to love thy neighbour.'

I was informed that Surya (the sun) was being eclipsed around the time of interacting with the artist friend. The sky was overcast and carried a spooky aspect.

In any event, down the ravine I go near Chorley Park, down Milkman's Lane. Maintenance on this trail has not been much to be desired but recently funds were raised to address erosion problems and I can see now that this favourite route for Rosedale folks has a chance.

My chanting was persistant along with the trekking and intermittently between the words Hare Krishna or Rama I would leak out a "Hello!" or "Good evening!" or "Hi!" to the brave mud treaders in the ravine as skies became increasingly darker at this new moon timing. Again "love thy neighbour." The trek was at a retarded speed because of pinching sensations in the lower back. The cause? Too much air travel, I believe. But I walk to survive. Working those lower back muscles (and even sweat) will sustain me until it's time to stop all together. These bodies, this machinery, is not permanent, you know.

Finally, before I enter the temple ashram, I pass by the Prabhupada tree, a gorgeous and hopeful sprawling maple, designated in honour of our guru. All but few leaves have bit the dust, or at least have fallen to the wet grass below. This special tree planted about fourteen months ago, will see its second winter. I guess you could say that it's our new kid on the block. It's now our neighbour. We love thy neighbour. " Human or not.

11 Km

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

For Lynn

Toronto, Ontario

My peering out the window this early morning before sunrise revealed a wet street and a dripping sky. This told me to put on some rain gear and to walk to a sheltered area where I could pace back and forth. At Yonge and Summerhill there is this century old handsome piece of architecture, a former passenger Canadian Pacific Railway Station and now a high end liquor store. It is one of the few places near by the temple ashram where I can go for solitude to chant and pace.

I noticed a sign on the door, "Public Notice". It went on to read the the administration has removed liquor merchandise from the premises, a certain Woody's brand, that was found to have glass pieces in its contents. That's scary. Imagine getting your stomach sliced open in millions of spots. From the perspective of a swami, one who avoids intoxicants altogether, it raises questions as to which is worse, the fluid or the glass chips? With a peak through the window I was impressed with the neatly aligned filled bottles on shelves, brands of bottles with Christmas ornamentation. The shop is pristine inside and a worker was checking inventory very meticulously. Hmmm! "The quality of cleanliness is what a temple ought to always be," I thought. When you move around into different areas of a city or country, there's always something there to inspire you. You just open your eyes and it's there.

I received a call today (hours later) from Lynn, whom I met in Nova Scotia while on my walk this last September. She kept my number and wanted to talk. Apparently life has been rough for her. Her grandmom of 103 years of age, just passed away and Lynn herself is suffering physically from an accident from when she was in her teens. She was looking to be cheered up from what I could gather.

"You can get inspiration from just about anywhere you look." I thought of the liquor store and how I was able to see beyond the nasty beverage, beyond the chips of glass, beyond all the money that's made from preying on human weakness and beyond the rain.

My message to her was, "Let's swing to the positive. Write down what's positive like I do every day and start healing. And the most positive thing of all is your spirituality." I vowed to send her a Christmas gift - a book about Krishna.

7 KM

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Meeting Christopher

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Doves and robins filled the ether with their precious sounds. Threes perspire (at least some), and drop rain even on a clear day. This is rather remarkable. There will not be a cloud in the sky and yet all this moisture drops from these massive trees lining the streets of Buenos Aires.

Fortunately this day is over-cast. It's also a day to pack up, give good byes to old and new friends and get a little mentally prepared for the flight back to Canada. I managed to squeeze in a measly three kilometres walking. It would have been more but as I embarked on a projected one hour of leg work, I was approached by a Portuguese photographer on assignment for some magazine. He was fascinated by the image of a monk and took quite the time in his perfectionism to go for the right backdrop of a portrait shot.

"Oh well," I figured, "if the photo gets published it will be a promotion for monasticism."

By evening I was grounded at the Buenos Aires Airport until flight time. A guy, Christopher, in his early thirties and who resides in Iowa, came to chat. I had a feeling he was going to go in the direction of evangelist schpeil. Sure enough. It began with first time niceities and then the Christian trump-card was played when giving me the ultimate "only way" line. He wanted my opinion.

"The problem with Absolutist statements is that it creates an exclusive, rather than inclusive, environment. If Christ wanted us to love our neighbour as much as ourselves then friendship should be sustained through commonality. Wouldn't you agree that loving God is of prime importance, that family, community and declaring war on drugs, pornography and other self centered habits are issues we share. Where you have a Jesus line about 'love' we have an equal message in sacred books like the Gita."

I would say Christopher intended to dominate the conversation. I let him have his space and I hope compassionately. Graciously he allowed for a two-way. I suggested that God is the source of all sperm and that He has more than one son, since He is the father of all. We both raised more points. For the most part it was a congenial exchange. I mentioned to him I appreciated his kind forwardness in talking to me and his resoluteness towards Jesus.

"Consider me your neighbour while I have a conviction to Krishna and please come and visit me in Toronto." He began extolling the glories of what started in the nineties as 'the Toronto Blessing", an evangelical healing movement located near the city's airport. Again, I appealed to Christopher to capture the essence of sacred statements and to not let walls divide spiritual seekers. It's a long journey to get home and we might just need each other to get there.

3 Km

Monday, 21 November 2011

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Measuring Up

Buenos Aires, Argentina

I don’t think a day goes by when we do not measure things.

This evening I had decided to trek from the Ratha Yatra site, at Plaza Francia, to Templo Hare Krishna. Others wanted to join me and avoid bus or car transportation. We asked Maha Hari, the temple coordinator, about the distance between the two locations. “About 40 street blocks.”

I was expecting an answer in kilometers, which makes it then easy to calculate the time it would take to walk. When you walk through the streets of a passionate city like Buenos Aires, and go with the flow, the pace can be good, even when factoring in stopping at red lights.

We moved at a steady clip and naturally we thought of the day. At least I tend to measure the success of the festival in terms of numbers attended, the quality of food, the quality of entertainment, weather, and the overall spirit of the event. I would rate it as good with some areas needing improvement. The hard work for play rehearsal paid off. The inexperienced actors, young adults in our community, pulled it off well. My dear friend, Guna Grahi Maharaja, asked me to speak to the crowd of hundreds, winging it as usual. Mahajan and I danced on the stage spontaneously to the rousing kirtan (chanting), of Ajamil who hails from Bangladesh. This segment was really interesting. The crowd merely copycatted our every innovative move. The trick here is keeping everyone focused on dancing and singing simultaneously.

As usual, prior, during, or at the end of an event like this, I get approached by one or two young monks who ask, “Please bless me that I will stay a brahmachari.” They then ask for advice to which I respond by encouraging them in strong morning sadhana (the spiritual workout). That, in fact, is a good measuring device. Your spiritual strength hinges on the performance of sadhana, the study of sacred books, chanting, worshiping, and wholesome dealings with spiritual companions.

9 KM

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

The Thing About Hair

Buenos Aires, Argentina

I was asked to speak from Canto 2 of the Bhagavatam on a verse in Chapter 7, entitled, “Scheduled Avataras”. Naturally, when asked to do so, the speaker attempts to draw from the verse and companion purport some main points that may have relevance to the audience. Interestingly, the verse (text 26) highlighted the coming of Krishna, who is described as Sita Krishna Kesha, and refers to His possessing beautiful long black wavy hair. So here is the thing about hair.

When I joined to enroll as a monk in the movement, it was the regiment to discard every hair on your head. Shaving the head for male members was a standard activity every fortnight at least. Hair was frowned down upon for those of us living in the ashram. At the same time, in the 70’s when I joined, it was totally fashionable to sport hair and lots of it, covering your scalp with adjoining sideburns, moustache, and perhaps a full beard. In fact, a clean shiny shaven head was regarded as the mark of insanity. The only people who were bald and regarded as cool were Mr. Clean, the squeaky clean caricatured man of a household cleanser, and veteran actor, Yul Brenner, who skillfully played the King of Siam.

Our guru, Srila Prabhupada, encouraged his male members to have the look of a pure Brahmin Vaishnav, or the look of a classic priest from India. Traditionally, hair was reserved for particular social roles, in the warrior, farmer, merchant, and worker categories.

So the paradox persists. Female students were encouraged to have long beautiful braided hair. Donning hair was for just about everyone, including God, with his fabulously gorgeous strands of hair. To the exception of initiated male members who were to be hairless. It sounded odd to me when I first heard the term, “Hare Krishna”, when I had to ask myself, “who are these hairless people who call themselves the opposite?”

Frankly, I gave brief mention about hair in the class. The thrust of the topic was more on the appearance of Krishna, who in this troubled age, comes without hair, in the form of pure sound vibration.

7 Km

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Little Breakthroughs

Buenos Aires

At the corner of Shady Cuidad, de la Paz and Jorge Newberry Streets, is located the ISKCON centre. I have been placed in a guest room, actually the terrace. It’s a modest place with features of the developing world. The monks hang their laundry here, dhotis, lower cloths, kurtas, upper cloths, and even kaupins (monks’ strip cloth underwear), all flying in the wind, hanging from clotheslines. I have the sky with me which offers other inspiration. I was stuck in a particular spot in the development of the play, “Demon”, that I am working on with the community here in preparation for the weekend’s festival, Ratha Yatra. Being situated in this lofty and airy place, I found answers to my puzzles. At this spot I can think and iron out any kinks in my mind. I can think creative. Sure enough, certain breakthroughs occurred, or light bulbs lit up in my head.

To be more specific, I needed a prop for the king in the play, a type of royal seat or throne. I wanted something different. As I paced back and forth on that open terrace in the dimly lit space, a street light revealed to me the perfect rustic looking large spindle like apparatus that once put on its side, made the ideal seat. It was right there on the terrace. Also, when contemplating on how to make the hero, the lion avatar, look large, it came to mind that I could use the 6 young boys in the play to act as an expansion of him to surround the adversary and intimidate him, making him appear small.

Some people say that the greatest ideas, great or small, come from when you are walking or pacing, and so these little breakthroughs are my little testimonies of that truth.

After a 10 hour day of rehearsal, and a 2 hour jaunt on the street with assistant, Facundo, I climbed a narrow stairway to the loft and the terrace to retire. When checking the moisture status of my towel hanging there, I accidentally hit a clothesline at the chocking level by my throat. I could read this as a small omen. To me it just means that you have to watch where you go in life. Just continue to walk with care, chant, and breakthroughs and realizations will manifest.

9 Km

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Buenos Aires, Argentina


Two brahmacharis met me at the international airport, Adi Yugya, a 7 year monk, and Facundo, a young man who joined our order last June. Facundo is my designated assistant during my 5 day stay here and he is proving to do a marvelous job.

According to Adi Yagya, Argentinians like city life, he says 95% live in urban areas. Facundo is a native of this large city of millions, but he didn’t seem to achieve the satisfaction out of party life here. He had come upon the movement of Sai Baba, but after some time, “I had serious questions about his self proclaimed avatar status,” so Facundo said. He searched deeper for a more in depth presentation of the Bhagavad Gita, regarding Krishna’s counsel to his warrior friend, Arjuna. Reading that personal direction that Krishna gave to Arjuna, spoke to Facundo with heartfelt power. He met Hare Krishna monks and from there it was game over. He really pined for this type of life, one of discipline and focus on monastic activities. I am visiting Buenos Aires for the 6th year to participate in their Ratha Yatra. Two areas or maybe 3 contributions for me are the drama production, leading kirtan, that is, chanting, and delivering some classes in bhakti yoga. For the drama practice which I had commenced this evening with chosen actors, Facundo did all my assisting work.

“How did you think our practice went?” I asked him.

“It was all good except for …” and I then bust in,

“Except for when I was giving direction to the two young ladies?”


“What can you do? You have this wonderful hot Latino blood in you, it is the karma you are born with,” (laughter from both of us).

I see those two girls like my daughters, and you were present and so were others, so there was no problem. He admitted to being calm when he saw how I dealt with them. I was very happy for him. I took a much needed stroll to get some walking in, and at 11 pm, he was up waiting for me to open the gate at the ISKCON centre where I’m accommodated. He was tired, but he waited. He’s a very committed person and has many fine qualities. I wish him well.

7 Km

Pictures from New Orleans

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

I Like to See

Toronto, Ontario

My regular walking companion is Praveen. I am so fortunate to have someone like him. I chalk out the route which is usually a rather spontaneous meander. When a new person is invited to join us he/she can't figure out where we're going. It can be a kind of maze. It's a different route each day. What is consistent is our mantra: "Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare."

Today we took to a park called Rosehill Reservoir and then through residential areas. I appreciated the quiet nature of these places. It is inevitable to hit traffic though. I'm peaceful but for one thing. I resent the carbon monoxide just like I resent having to take in the fumes of a cigarette. My rebellious mind wants to argue and say, "There are such strict stipulations on where smoking is prohibited. Why can this not apply to automobiles? Why does my health have to be compromised by your greed, Mr. or Mrs. Motorist?"

I asked someone today, "What kind of world are we leaving the next generation, one that where we will gag at every breath because of people's laziness of body or people's brains lacking the intelligence to come up with innovations on clean mobilization?"

I hear horror stories about traffic in places like Manila, Mexico and Delhi regarding pushing people out of their freeness to walk safely. How is traffic emissions any less harmful than trafficking drugs? I would give preference to horse and donkey emissions than to the foulness we toss in the air from our automobiles.

As you can see, my resentment is strong but for a reason. I like to see a better world- a world increased in cleanliness and in spirituality.

7 Km

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Frame the Day

Toronto, Ontario

In the past when I was more firmly entrenched in management I found it absolutely necessary to give myself recess- that is, to break away from a routine that was going to wear me down. It could have been kitchen work in the ashram as much as it was office work. I needed to incorporate into the pattern of my activities a change.

I recall driving throughout Canada and the States, on behalf of the mission of course, putting on thousands of miles/kilometres. Driving a van with one or two companions/monks and carrying good Bhaktivedanta Book Trust reading material and our own brand of monk-made carved candles and such, I encountered a physical drain and lower back problems. Solution: change directions somewhat and start walking. My mottos became "Have shoes, will travel," and "Take beads, will chant."

It was a cure. Muscles became activated that were not otherwise and I developed greater calmness. There was time for myself with Him, God-in-the-heart.

Yogendra, Dhruva and I arrived by bus from Buffalo at 6am. We had a choice to take a cab or our legs. I suggested the latter. It was a break from wheels. Our trek was miniscule in length- a mere 2.5 km. Nevertheless, short that it was, it broke the dullness of sitting in a bus. We enjoyed the air.

To wind down the day I again broke routine. After hours of nailing down dates and tickets for future trips I just had to burst out the door at 9:30pm to meet the real air again, to meet the sidewalk and to have whatever little connection with Him that I could have. I arranged to meet with Keshava, one of our young facilitators at the temple. We discussed at Queens's park on a park bench topics to do with breathing fresh air and then walked back to the temple/ashram on the same route as the early morning, on Avenue Road. We parted. I lay down to rest happy to have framed my day with air, shoes and God.

6 KM

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Monday, November 14th, 2011


New Orleans, Louisiana

We have completed our pilgrimage to New Orleans, to the ISKCON Centre on Esplanade Ave and the Ratha Yatra (Chariot Festival) at Washington Square Park.

I asked the boys accompanying me for an assessment on our trip as we stopped over in Cleveland. Dhruva, Yogendra and Sing Lung gave their contributions while Nitai Priya stayed on in New Orleans for additional days.

Dhruva offered to say: "We were bumped off of the stage schedule to do our drama. We could have been upset but we saw it as an opportunity to do some other service. We went for public chanting."

Yogendra offered to say: "I made some mistakes in not getting the directions so firmly so our driving took so much time. I felt bad, guilty but guilt isn't always bad. It's part of being humble."

Sing Lung offered to say: "Wherever and whenever I go to temples and festivals I witness a genuine interest to serve and take care of others."

Dhruva offered to say: "We arrived late at the hotel to deliver prasadam (food) to other visiting devotees. They were not in the least bit disturbed, but grateful. That impressed me."

Yogendra offered to say: "Bhaktimarga Swami initiated this slow motion exercise. I learned that it takes a great amount of control and focus. It was good."

Sing Lung offered to say: "The weekend provided nice family feelings. Bhakti yoga is where I belong."

Dhruva offered to say: "When we were chanting on the streets we were giving people an alternative way to approach life. Was all the booze they were consuming really giving them happiness."

My remark: "I've always found it helpful to do a summary review on such programs. Such reflection is enriching to one's spiritual life."

Second remark: "I regret to say that I was restricted from walking. Storms rerouted our plane to Pittsburgh from Cleveland. We spent the whole evening making our way back home. We did everything but canoe and walk back to Toronto."

0 KM

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

A Small Endeavour Pays Off

New Orleans, Louisiana

Actually local people pronounce the name of this City of Love as "N'awlins" I stood to be corrected on my southern drawl version of it. Once again our little drama troupe took to the streets, N. Peter's and others and what to speak of Bourbon. Some people were telling us that the chanting is really needed on that street.

N'awlins really does pride itself in its music, partying and the certain flavour of voodoo culture they speak about.

We were fortunate to present our play "The Jagannatha Story" at Day Two of the Chariot Festival. Well received. It was fabulous bonding with peers like T.K., Nirantara - both from L.A. - and monk Bhakti Caru Swami from India. He in particular is always a real gentleman with me.

To say a small mention of this - behaviour is almost everything. The way one acts or treats others is the fruition of real culture, of training and of assimilating the true understanding of things.

I would also like to express appreciation to a godbrother, Visvakarma, from Canada. It was he who, as servant-leader of our temple/ashram in Toronto, took the time to help a new immigrant to Canada in the 70's. Mr. Ashok Patel called me on the phone expressing his thanks for being made to feel at home while so far away from his motherland, India. Ashok, who owns and runs the Hotel (yes, a Patel Hotel) where we are staying as guests. He has flourished with life's prosperities, while not excluding his devotion to Krishna. Because of Visvakarma's kindness thirty-plus years ago, Ashok has hung in there with us for all this time.

Please refer to chapter two, verse forty of the Gita for inspiration along this line.

6 KM

Monday, 14 November 2011

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

A different Sound in New Orleans

New Orleans, Louisiana

Canal and N. Peters were the streets where the Festival of Chariots took place. It's a procession, so naturally walking is incorporated into it. The public locals and tourists, responded so well. As usual, as time progresses, participation swells.

Our rendez-vous point was at Washington Square Park. There, a great feast was served for all, exhibits and a stage show were high-lighted. Unfortunately a few items including our drama got transcendentally bumped-off the schedule as the colorful carriot and procession arrived late at the spot and a group of professional singers were needing their time to perform.

Our drama troupe decided to tunr what could have been a negative into a positive by wearing their costumes while chanting in the streets of the French Quarter, as an event in itself. Based on the success of the previous night we felt it was a win-win situation. Our group was talented and chipper enough to not feel wasted by engaging in the ultimate beneficial service through the spiritual feel good event of Hari Nama chanting. We only needed to be cautious near the mule and horses drawing the carriages. They respond wildly to the hand cymbals.

In the French Quarter merchants and shoppers demonstrated participation through dance. When we diverted to one street we accidentally bumped into a Jewish wedding procession. Our drums blended into their horns and so it went for several blocks.

The chanting on this Sabbath evening will remain memorable for all those in the fire of singing and body movement. It's this chanting that takes centre stage to everything else including rituals and even eating the spiritual food. It is inclusive, joyful and rests on the bosom of Vedic wisdom. Yes, the king of knowledge is expressed in this most exuberant way,

12 Km

Friday, November 11th, 2011


New Orleans, Louisiana

Our small drama troupe was invited to New Orleans for their third annual Ratha Yatra. Travelling with me via air from Buffalo with stop-over in Cleveland was Dhruva and Yogendra, our two Nova Scotian monks, Sing Lung Wong, who is a lay member from our Toronto community and Nitai Priya, the receptionist at our temple.

The air was fresh after exiting from Louis Armstrong Airport. It was cooler than us Canucks had anticipated. We were treated to the local temple prasadam (sanctified food) and then set out for walking the French Quarter.

New Orleans is certainly a music town. You hear brass music in and outside venues. Brass and beer are the features of this birthplace of jazz and various forms of blues. It came to mind that jazz is really an expression of emotions rendered artistically. We say in Vaishnava (devotee) circles that Jagannath (a name of Krishna) is the master of the universe. Could we stretch it to say that God is the source of all sentiments and emotions and therefore we could call him Jazzanath?

It was a thought.

It became evident to me that our tiny group of pilgrim tourists had musical abilities. With no determined or scheduled service outside of the morning talk from the Gita, we decided to drive back to the temple to pick up mridanga drums. Our two Scotia monks went to N Peters Street and we, with our vocals and tambourine, played and sang up a storm. People were so warmed up to it. It convinced me that the sankirtana (collective chanting) is well-received in this city that breaths out music. 24/7.

New Orleans, we love you...

Another thought came to mind as devotees of Krishna we never need to feel that sight-seeing is complete in itself, unless of course, we're speaking about tirthas (sacred places). We always have something to contribute wherever we are. We pick up some instruments and sit down somewhere and project out devotional songs.

10 Km

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

In The Course of A Day

Fort Erie, Ontario

In the course of a day there are situations to be happy about and to be grave about. Sadness should never fit into the picture.

I was glad to read about the vegetarian campaign going on at the U of Toronto. Posters read, "Why Love One and Kill Another?" with images of a puppy dog on one side and a piglet on the other. That's progressive thinking.

I was indeed feeling warm about this day being the Rasa Yatra of Krishna. His dalliance with the cowherd maidens is a celebration of the heart for devotees world-wide as is the anniversary of the marriage of two divinities, Tulsi and Salagram.

It's the full moon and you could visibly see it as serious clouds had passed by over Erie, one of the Great Lakes, where I'm accommodated with four actor devotees. Swans graced the sky and waves rippled against the beach where we tread.

My thoughts shifted to greater gravity when our conversation with Pundarik and Murli, our hosts, moved in the direction of a war between Canada and the U.S. two centuries ago. The old garrison, Fort Erie, is right near us.

I Became more pensive when I heard someone express dissatisfaction at another's service when in my mind I felt the performance was fine. Who's perception and who then is wrong? Such dualities of mind can be puzzling. You should always give the benefit of the doubt to someone and yet it might not always be stepping into the truth.

The beach is the place to deliberate. In the end the only reconciliation over such matters is determined by Divine Intelligence.

5 Km

Friday, 11 November 2011

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Conquest for Satisfaction

Toronto, Ontario

I had the great privilege to cook breakfast, give a class on conquering God with love (bhakti) and then taking conquest over our drama and costume room. Years of stuff has been accumulated in the way of clothing, props, and whatever knick knacks and tools are related to productions of Krishna Conscious theatre.

I get requests all the time for scripts, background sound tracks, costumes to borrow and how to start a drama troupe for dummies. Assembling plays is a very big part of my life when you consider I keep going to all continents with productions. With theatre I feel practically the same adrenaline driven power in me as in the walking. I never seem to do enough of both.

Anyways I see these two forms of seva (service) as my offering to our guru, Srila Prabhupada. Both provide me with mercy or blessings. Both are very therapeutic.

Everyone of us has an illness, a serious disease. We are in the bodily concept of life, overwhelmed by ego and deeply infected by three gunas (modes of nature) as explained in the Gita. Fortunately there are cures, with one of the most important ones being, whatever you have as a gift, a skill, a propensity, use it in the higher service to God. Do not horde it for yourself. Engage your abilities and intelligence for that higher cause and become satisfied. Who isn't looking for satisfaction?

Since the dawn of man that has been our inclination- to be satisfied. I passed my day straightening-out and cleaning that drama room leaving no time for walking but I was content. I'm sure that I'm a far cry from conquering God.

0 Km

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

I Took A Break

Toronto, Ontario

I took a break from administrative duties to walk one of our brahmacaris (monks), Yogendra, to a spot for his meeting people on Bloor St. to interest them in books on spirituality. Upon arriving at the corner of Spadina, a chap came forward, drawn by the robes, and took interest. I proceeded back to the ashram. Not but one block away a couple of young women were raising awareness towards an organization called "Because I Am A Girl." It raises funds for women who need assistance particularly in areas of the world where attention is lacking. I was approached by one of the women. With her index finger in the air she indicated with a kind voice, "Just one minute!" So I stopped and listened. Her black binder with hot-pink writing entitled "Because I Am A Girl" sparked a question in my mind.

"What about the boys?" I asked in the least challenging tone. I added that women are treated quite second rate in developing countries. I mentioned to her that I see that in my travels. In the developed world, however, it is somewhat reversed. My opinion is at least in Canada most large-sized bill board images are of women. Men are usually the butt of jokes, legally they are at a disadvantage, and when it comes to decision making within a couple, the woman usually has the last say. The girl seemed to agree with what I said.

My plea with her was that I wish we could balance matters fairly. "That would be a perfect situation don't you think?"

She was gracious as a listener and I invited her to our temple dining room where we have fabulous vegetarian meals. After the dialogue I took off by foot-power to destinations; the ashram and Govindas Dining Hall.

I believe it always pays off to have a balanced diet in eating and in attitude. Extremes create indigestion.

10 KM

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Monday, November 7th, 2011

How Things Fall

Toronto, Ontario

I trekked with Praveen down my favourite path east of Mount Pleasant Road along with the Brickworks and through the Rosedale residential area. Being autumn, leaves make a sail downward. Some make a longer journey than others, coming from more lofty positions. All hardwoods participate in this discharge, sending varying designs of leaves in a straight descent or a twirl. The landing is a soft one and makes hardly a sound. I am reminded of the eternal debate of the soul's fall to this material world. Did the soul fall from a spiritual planet or a spirutal sky? Did the soul even fall in the first place or was it automatically a component of existence? There are various allegiances to these philosophical theories about the soul's origins, but one thing is for sure, our consciousness is low and usually in the gutter. We should seek eleveation, a raising of our consciousness. It is generally implied that one should look within and ultimately go upward. By practice in devotion to Krishna it "brings one into spiriutal life even while one is within the jurisdiction of matter for it is an arousing of spirutal existence by practice in the material world," as Srila Prabhupada puts it.

I have another imagery I would like to share about things falling in relation to a spontaneous occurrence. It was unrehearsed. Nursing students arrived from George Brown college. I delivered a presentation about life as a monk. I engaged the students in listening, chanting and even involving them in a ritual. After they arrived we gave each a handful of flower petals to hold. After reciting mantras we asked them to trow them at the footprints of our guru's murti (statue). Now that they were trained up by the time the presentation was completed, the students were handed another batch of some petals.

I asked Kathryn, their teacher, to come forward (she didn't know it was coming to her). After reciting mantras we flung those petals in the air and in her direction. She was surprised and on behalf of the students she was honoured.

It was a little gimmick that worked and contributed to making 'their visit very rich; said Kathryn herself.

7 Km

Monday, 7 November 2011

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

People Know Sam

Wasaga Beach, Ontario

Everyone in Wasaga seems to know Sam. The manager at the local hotel, the gas station attendant, people at the beach and even I know Sam, for that matter.

Sam runs a boxing studio near the beach in this modest size city of 16,000. He was as a young adolescent growing in Fiji a body builder and got in rigorous training for all of his growing years. Something that paid off. "It kept me out of trouble" he once told me. At 69 he still teaches boxing and he doesn't look his age.

On the wall at his studio on Dunkerron Street. He has his students commit to reciting the tagged on quotes from the Gita- quotes that emulate the qualities of a priestly warrior.

"Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, cleanliness, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom and religiousness, heroism, power, determination, resourceful, courageous, generous and ability to lead."

Beyond reciting the above the students hear from Sam about curbing fowl language, smoking, and drinking. Sam gets real happy when he sees their commitment and the transformation. Sam himself is a staunch applicant of not only martial arts but of bhakti yoga, the lifestyle of surrender to Krishna. He has a large mural of Krishna and his brother Balaram engaged in stick fighting and a second one with Krishna fist-fighting the notorious opponent Kamsa.

I've known Sam since the seventies when he became a student of bhakti yoga master, Srila Prabhupada. It was good to see him and his wife, Bhismaka, who was the guru's cook in the last months before he passed away. I enjoyed the invigorating walk with Sam aka Vishnu Tattva on the beach which goes on forever, so it seems.

It was a snap decision in the late morning to drive up to Georgian Bay to see them after delivering a talk on the topic of "balance." Sam, by the way, leads that perfect balanced life of levelling spirit and material.

8 KM

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

Attitudes Changed

Markham, Ontario

"Holy Cow!" remarked the guy as he passed by. It confirmed for me that the North Americans can be rather extro-verted and uninhibited about expressing something when they see something different, namely me, a monk.

I've been called "Love Guru", "Grasshopper" (a martial arts character) and numerous other things by passersby, mostly compliments, from people on the street. It's mostly young people who volunteer names. When travelling the world you find most people to be reserved although it doesn't mean there isn't judgemental thoughts milling through people's minds.

Opinions have changed over the years with subsequent remarks so I've seen since I was a young brahmacari who joined the order in the spring of '73. We, the Hare Krishnas, were a curiosity at that time, a residual spill-over from the liberal sixties. By the mid-seventies we were viewed with suspicion by the public, mainly hyped by the media. The Ontario government commissioned an inquiry in the early eighties into surging faiths, (cults as we were called then) and with the Dan Nill Report groups like us became more or less liberated from sinister opinion. With so many immigrants coming into Canada, a feel for multi-culturalism and a firm alliance with the Hindu community we succeeded in gaining acceptance from the public.

It was no longer "cool" to call someone a cult member just because he/she belonged to a minority. The world was shaping into a mosaic form and we, the Hare Krishnas, were part of it. I recall battles involving the Human Rights. We were perceived as antagonists, but those were truly just not well informed people.

As of late people have become more cautions about what they say and if they speak spontaneously it is with enhanced respect. Malicious remarks have been on the decline since I've hit the streets. It's a kind of victory over unhealthy prejudices.

In Markham a community which epitomizes multi-culturalism, I attended a home program, a sat-sang, where everyone feels more or less in a safe environment. Of course the highlight feature was the kirtan, chanting.

10 Km

Friday, November 4th, 2011

A Rather Regular Day

Toronto, Ontario

I had not the chance in the morning for a brisk walk due to plane travel from Columbus. When you get home after being absent even for two or three days, and avalanche of tasks descend on your lap. Happily there are the usual emails from hopeful communicators. There are issues to discuss with ashram dwellers and with people who come to do volunteer services. I had two sibling sisters who came for a surprise visit which I was really charmed about. It meant I had to delay walking. How important is it to prioritize?

I don't mind being swamped or being under some pressure as long as Krishna is centre stage and as long as I can get a breather now and then. Then I accomplished for the day as the sun began to sink. The weather was near-freezing. I went out in my thick hemp robes. One man who was placing these deep red dogwood branches in a municipal planter stopped and wanted to know, "How about when it's real winter?"

"I'll wear a coat."

"How about long-johns?" he queried.

"I'll do that too. We have to be practical and use our brains."

He went on to say, "Yeah, we have to use the gifts we've been given."

"Thanks for being concerned," I said, no sarcasm intended.

I proceeded on, walking a steady pace to keep warm, I walked the brain as well, thinking that the human gift is to be introspective, spiritual. "We must follow our nature," is the message of the Gita in chapter Four.

When I returned to the temple/ashram (my home) I was handed a slip of paper with a quote from Einstein:

"Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid."

6 Km

Friday, 4 November 2011

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

A Spacey State

Columbus, Ohio

We were moving in a weaving fashion between tree trunks walking light as on air (or clouds), actually leaves, layers upon layers. Madhu, Ram and I drove a short distance from Ram's house to Allum Creek State Park for a fresh air experience. It was Ram's first time to this place. I like to think that wherever I travel I contribute to helping my host explore his/her neighbourhood territory. I insist, "Let's go for a walk and see what you haven't seen in your own backyard."

To my own surprise, Ohio has lots of great woodsy escapes. And talk about it being a spacey place, well, astronauts John Glenn and Neil Armstrong come from Ohio. And there's also the Wright Brothers who claimed Ohio as their home. Wilbur Bright wrote: "Let in the autumn of 1878, our father came into the house one evening with some object partly concealed in his hands, and before we could see what it was, he tossed it into the air. Instead of falling to the floor, as we expected, it flew across the room 'til it struck the ceiling, where it fluttered awhile, and finally sank to the floor... a toy so delicate lasted only a short time in the hands of small boys, but its memory was abiding."

It appears that fascination for flying really took off for the two boys. In 1903 they built the first aircraft.

The Krishna community in Columbus this evening showed a fascination for my pilgrim pastimes. Students from U of Columbus wanted to hear and so that's what I delivered. In speaking about trekking for the soul you should never assume that it's only a topic about moving on the ground. In any of these talks I let people know that there is a big sky up above where a whole world exists beyond what you could imagine - a world not dependent "on sunlight or moonlight or electricity", a world of lightness where life carries no exertion of weight.

I like to explain that in long distance walking you travel very light and you might keep in mind a hero like Narada, the sage, who does interplanetary travel between both the material and anti-material worlds.

Ah Ha! There ya go. There is this monk who is an actual astronaut who moves continuously into outerspace.

8 KM

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Getting to Know

Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Tiffany and Kaustubha got married. It happened in the summer. They did it the way they wanted, they were determined. The young couple wanted a Krishna Conscious style marriage. Their pundit, or priest, was Dayal Nitai, AKA, Don Foose, who is a hardcore rocker. Could a priest be both a man who solemnizes marriages and at the same time rocks the punk crowd with over amplified music muddled on high decibel music?

If you meet Don, or Dayal as he's known by his Sanskrit name, you'll understand. He's a sensitive man who has embraced the philosophy of Indian sage, Vyasa. He loves Mantras as much as he does his personal lyriced Rock. He's a fabulous vegetarian cook to boot and he also does construction work for his livelihood, when he's not tattooed torsoed at his concerts. Imagine that, he's all that, all wrapped in one.

Kaustubha, the happily married man, is much like Dayal, whom he assists at concerts. Kaustubha is creative, does hairdressing, builds and renovates, in addition to serving the devotional gathering that takes place at Dayal's every Wednesday night. He's a multitasker. 'Kaustubha', in Sanskrit, is a particular precious stone, and this Ohio kid of the same name, is a gem of a soul.

As far as Tiffany is concerned, the lovely bride of August last, well, I'm just getting to know her more, and that was possible shortly after arriving from Canada via bus to Cleveland. I have been cooped up in the Greyhound all day and needed to unleash the legs, so Tiffany suggested for us to take the trails at Metro Parks. She had the right idea. Together, the couple and I and dear friend, Akhila, trod down the oak and maple trail near Rocky River. It was a creative, active and devotional group that blazed the path of bhakti, getting to know each other more before departing for the gathering, where we all get to know more of Krishna.

6 KM

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Let’s Get It

Toronto, Ontario

Earth’s population reached the 7 billion mark. I propose it’s not Earth shattering to hear that. An acquaintance of mine, she remembers when she was young, that the 4 billionth kid was born in 1987. Imagine, in such a short time we’ve blown up to an incredible proportion. Poor Mother Earth, poor us.

To hear about the rate of human population growth gives me the creeps. I don’t know what it does to you. I personally feel a concern, like you, about the overload of energy consumption, and the subsequent waste thereafter. I picture in my mind an Earth ravaged in the not so distant future, of trees leveled and wild life carcasses found everywhere for lack of food and space.

In the time that our guru, Srila Prabhupada was with us for a decade, from the mid 60’s to mid 70’s, the topic of population explosion did arise from time to time. Back then he dissuaded us from being alarmed, when it was then a concern. He argued that the Earth can accommodate many people. He’s right. The problem is who we are as a species and what we do with precious Earth. We are a destructive lot, expert at the ruination of our habitat. We’ve proven to be so, and we are not correcting ourselves at a fast enough rate. For instance, China and India, who have well over a billion population each, are supposed to be in an economic boom, but reportedly these places are being divested of good air and water to hold their astronomical supply.

The problem is that we Earthlings, more particularly, humans, just do not have our priorities straight. Going deep into matters is not our strong point. Going into our selves is not our norm, and yet, to be introspective is a gift we have over all other life forms. We shouldn’t expect them to correct our wrongs. At some point in time, Goddess Bhumi (Mother Earth) and Bhagavan (Father God) will say, “Enough is enough. We flush you all down.”

Isn’t it better to pay heed to warnings than to selfishly pass on our crap to the next generation? It would allow us a better karma to contend with. I hope we get smart. I hope we ‘get it’. I’m also guilty of contributing to the mess like everyone else. I hope I ‘get it’, and become a better guardian of my place, the Earth. She’s too sacred. Let’s enjoy her a whole lot more and walk upon her soft and hard soil, giving her the massage she deserves, and let’s watch the pollution.

10 KM

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Inspiration from Optimistic Words

Toronto, Ontario

Each morning Praveen faithfully reads a passage from the Gita to our small group of fifteen residents in the ashram. I particularly like today's reading from the purport of 1:21-22.

"The relationship between the Lord and His servitor is very sweet and transcendental. The servitor is always ready to render service to the Lord, and, similarly, the Lord is always ready to render service to the devotee. He takes greater pleasure in His pure devotee's assuming the advantageous position of ordering Him than He does being the giver of orders. Since He is master, everyone is under His orders, and no one is above Him to order Him. But when He finds that a pure devotee is ordering Him, He obtains transcendental pleasure, although He is the infallible master in all circumstances."

This was read in a pleasant and sincere tone as the message is.

I had spoken to a good friend of mine, Ugresh, whom I used to travel with when he was single, a monk, as I was (and still am). In our dialogue it came up that pleasant remarks, positive words and encouragement is the true spirit and culture of Krishna. We made mention of the sad internet culture of bashing and put-down. This is unwanted. Again, I look to the lines in the Gita's purport, "He takes greater pleasure" and "He obtains transcendental pleasure." That's the spirit - the willingness to serve and take pleasure in doing so.

I had taken a walk to see some people who were decked out in Hallowe'en ghoulishness (frankly, they are Krishna devotees in disguise). They externally cut the ghastly profile but in spirit they resonated what is totally optimism.

They couldn't scare me even if they tried.

8 Km

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

Kicking Leaves

Toronto, Ontario

As fallen leaves were tossed by the shuffle of the feet I looked up and imagined the street without automobiles parked at the edge. Replace those machines with pathways and green things and you would have something that would look awesome and handsome.

I incorporated into this day some hearing and chanting as usual. The message from our visitor, a monk hailing from Nigeria - Bhakti Vasudev Swami, was a breathing of freshness into the atmosphere. He's a scholar working on his PhD (Yes, even swamis can go to further their education). He spoke of the application of varna and ashram which recognizes one's natural propensity with regard to career inclinations and how to make pure our practical activities.

"Everyone must work," so Krishna states in the Gita. But how are you working? Is it with satisfaction that you execute your work?

The general key to happy life is you do what is natural for you. For this reason the four varnas (career-types) and ashrams (marital states) is established. Doctor, lawyer, Indian chief, monk, married, whatever niche we are in must become God-centered. Because we are all uniquely psycho-physically individuals, we require something in our life to anchor ourselves together. That anchoring is the spiritual component. It is that which is common ground to all. We are all spirits in essence. Our bodies vary, as do our different natures. The thing that glues us as one is the spiritual side of life. The Maharaja, Bhakti Vasudeva Swami, proposed a Krishna-centric life.

So on a second walk that I took to I tossed some autumn leaves just by accident and I likened it to turning our lives around and not being lazy with our spiritual selves. We must be active in both the spiritual and material lives.

8 Km