Friday, 31 May 2013

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

In Or Out

Toronto, Ontario

The term ‘take the cake’ is derived from the culture of something from the Cake Walk in Europe so I learned today. Claude DeBussy’s music masterpiece, ‘Gollivogg’s Cakewalk’ (1908) was played by piano virtuoso Linda Ippolito in the opera house. I was there to hear her play her music, and it was definitely like eating dessert.

Just before indulging (with the ears), Dustin, one of our members, and an accomplished opera singer, invited and accompanied me to the concert at noon. And also, was it ever a sweet treat to have a sneak peak at the main hall, one of the very best acoustical rooms in the world.

Security was kind enough to arrange for lights to power on as Dustin and I entered this hall of glory. Dustin, who has sung for the Queen and other dignitaries, asked that I sing from the stage, so I did. ‘Samsara davanala lida loka…’ This is a song honouring one’s guru, the master of life. I also sent the sound of the maha mantra, Hare Krishna, out there. Yes, acoustics are right on.

Two days earlier Dustin sang a line or two of Mario Lanza’s “Be My Love For No One Else Can End This Yearning”. These penetrating lyrics can easily apply to Krishna and the prema, love, that comes thereof from service, which begins with hearing. Sound does impact, when spiritual, it does so absolutely. In any event, Dustin really appreciated the fact that the mantra permeated the ether in a space where sound is so much transmitted.

A second installment of mantra transmission happened in the out of doors with a group of brahmachari monks, we ascended perhaps the highest elevational point in the city (which is not to hold your breath about). Nevertheless, we sang, overlooking a valley from a small amphitheatre where walkers, cyclists and runners frequent. Those who showed up by chance seemed to enjoy the sweet taste to the ear.

Mantra – whether indoor or outdoor – is seen as compatible in either place.

8 KM

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

That one I just sent was a mistake! Here is the right one:

Grant Me

Toronto, Ontario

In a fast car you would never notice plaques of historical significance. I ambled along my way near Mud Creek when I stumbled upon a plaque which honoured the Tamils of Sri Lanka who fought for justice from the 80’s up to 2009.

The other day on Bathurst Street, I noticed a plaque near one of those prominent synagogues, it was in front of one of those wartime apartment buildings. It read, “Actor Lorne Green from 1941 – 1944”. Remember Ben Cartwright from Bonanza? Then in Northern Ontario you see this small obscure marker which is the marker for Terry Fox’s last steps on his famous ‘Marathon of Hope’. Running on one leg, dying of cancer, he could not push himself any more. He seized running and died shortly thereafter. Hardly a soul knows of this marker because everyone is just going too fast.

The philosopher Nietzsche said that the greatest ideas occur when walking. You think and hear and see so many things that are wondrous and which has everything to do with a creator. The double rainbow of yesterday gave testimony of the amazing imagery captured in the course of a walk.

All this simply reminds me of a prayer by author, Richard A Hasler. I will modify (Krishna-ize) it:

“Lord (Krishna), so many creative people have had their imaginations stirred in the most unlikely places. Grant to me a consistency in my walking regiment, that I may be ready to hear your word (Supersoul) speaking to me, showing me things I never dreamed possible.”

7 KM

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

At the Crack…

Toronto, Ontario

At the crack of dawn pink skies and blue clouds danced about. Then a cloud released a drop here and a drop there that hit the surface of our faces and shoulders. It was as if the sun was arresting those clouds. But those candy flossed giants pulled free. Then, behind us in the westerly direction came a rare and beautiful silent self invited sky guest. The song ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ took on a new meaning. There beyond a glorious arch of a rainbow came a second rainbow.

That’s exactly what we saw. Spanning the entire city were two arched wonders, one on top of the other.

“Awesome!” said a neighbour who was walking his dog and passed by us. The mere vision humbled us all including dog and master. This put us on common ground turf.

“Of course there’s no God,” was the sarcasm blurted out by myself. Whether God or nature (how can you separate?), we were being pulled together. No pot of gold was required as fairy tale or make believe mind set would have it. We were just happy looking at the sky.

Apurva, Praveen, Shanti and I were content to behold with our eyes those two unexpected visitors. We knew they were with us only momentarily, that became so evident as giant puffy clouds enveloped the sky. A light rain was now heard and not seen, nor hardly felt because by now in our promenade we were under green canopies of trees, they sheltered us like anything. They were natural roofs until we maneuvered our way out of the ravine’s foot path.

We really did feel like the happening was like a kid’s story book. As Apurva confirmed, “The colours and the fragrances – OMG. “

The area we were in was Rosedale where neighbourhood gardens endorse the surreal nature of our morning walk. We were definitely not indoors and we were definitely not on this planet. Catching a glimpse as to what will come in the future, we saw the spiritual world.

We hope and we wish.

5 KM

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Monday, May 27th, 2013

The Dentist’s Heroes

Toronto/Brampton

It is an annual event for a small group of us monks to visit a dentist’s office for an afterhours chanting session. Doctor Netan Bobby Bakri is a young dentist who hosts us for chanting. It is always a month or so before the Toronto Chariot Festival.

A Vedic custom, you could say, is to have priests come over to your home or place of business and ask them to bless your establishment. We were lead to the first room of the clinic, the children’s play room. A large poster of superheroes dominated the wall. Before we began chanting our mantras for fun, we identified each hero, drawing a comparison to a Vedic character.

Superman, in blue, is Krishna. Green Hornet is Ram. Wonder Woman is Durga. Some guy in gold tights is Gauranga; then Batman, the guy in black at the bottom of the poster was ascertained to be Yamaraja, the lord of death.

To be honest, the archetypes in the picture, unknown to the Bengali brahmachari monks who accompanied me from room to room, primarily matched or redefined the heroes. They put their Vedic spin on it.

In another room where the patient’s dental chair reclined, we identified this comfortable seat as the divine bed stead of Vishnu. There were even adjoining nozzles that resembled snakes. Snakes generally adorn and shelter Vishnu’s head while he lies down. In the next room one wall displayed rotten, decaying and damaged teeth and gums. Here we likened the dreadful images as reflections of the dodgy age in which we live – Kali Yuga, where the number of heroes are in the decline. Finally, the last room, and office, had affixed to the wall a replica of Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’. This impressionistic piece reminded us of Arjun, the hero of the Gita, and how he saw the awesome cosmic form of Krishna.

Just comparing these western prototypical personalities to Vedic superheroes and avatars gave us a good laugh.

On a more serious note, the dentist has been reading BBT books, in particular, Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He loves it when remarks are made by the author, Srila Prabhupada, when he smashes the scientists. It looks like our dentist friend can relate to the real heroes.

7 KM

Monday, 27 May 2013

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Identifying the Enemy

Niagara Falls, Ontario

Sing Lung Wong and I took to the bush at Camp George Forbes. There is a trail but it's been obscured by winter dynamics. It's covered with fall leaves and winter weather sent down twigs, branches and even trees. It had become a natural obstacle course.

We like it that way. It makes for a natural work-out.

While I love the forest, there's something about it that doesn't like me - poison ivy. I spotted it, stayed my distance from it and even pointed it out to our troupe at a stop-over at the Niagara River's whirlpool, where its' gorge suddenly twists to take a whole different direction. The place is awesome as a vista wonder.

On our return journey I found myself in spots and by evening I discovered symptoms of a rash. How mystical this plant poison ivy is. I don't even have to touch it. Somehow, through an indirect way I contacted it's juices. Maybe it was a handshake by someone who was in contact with the culprit or when I pressed for soap in the public washroom the previous user may have been in touch with this three-leafed character? I don't know. But I've got it.

The great saint Prahlad voiced a message about adversaries and he wasn't referring to people or plants. He laid the finger on the actual enemy. In the book Bhagavatam he expressed it and made it clear. "The enemy is not lust, anger, greed, madness, envy or illusion. The antagonist is the mind."

7 KM

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

Attitudes

Cleveland, Ohio

I managed to put in a meagre kilometre of steps before heading off to the U.S. and eventually to Cleveland. We got drilled at customs and then got more than mildly chastised by an officer for parking in an area prohibited as we waited for our second car. Okay, that was our fault, a gingerly approach of correcting could be effective.

Our destination was Camp George Forbes, a retreat outside Cleveland which is frequented by inner city kids who get a taste of the out-door world and outdoor activities, camp fires and so on. Our devotional drama troupe was accommodated in a rustic cabin as were other attendees, mostly of Afro-American and India-American background.

The event was called, "Uniting Srila Prabhupada's Family" and is in honour of a spiritual peer who passed away in 2005 from cancer - Bhakti Tirtha Swami. He was an outstanding monk who was very self-austere and so very kind to everyone else.

We arrived at a time where a panel discussion was held covering the topic of gratitude. On the panel included Radhanatha Swami, Bhakti Caru Swami, Bhakti Vasudeva Swami, Malati, others, and your humble servant. With this group we were extolling the glories of such a special person, Bhakti Tirtha Swami, who is very much missed by all who knew him.

More festivities involved a kirtan chanting session led by members from Ghana, Africa. Then, on with the show and the drama, "Gita Concise." Never before had I, nor any of our troupe, experienced such appreciation.

The attitude of gratitude was very strong. It was something I won't forget.

To quote Bhakti Tirtha Swami in addressing his master Srila Prabhupada, "When I try to calculate all that you've done for me, I am bursting with gratitude...I thank you for arranging my rescue!"

6 KM

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Blue and White Paint

Toronto, Ontario

Jagannatha and I drove downtown to pick up some makeup. It was not for me. I don’t wear any makeup, but Jagannatha does. He will drench himself in a blue body paint from head to toe practically. He plays the role of Krishna in our drama, Gita: Concise, something we will stage in Cleveland this weekend. We are looking forward to it.

After the purchase of a bottle of blue paint and a bottle of white paint which gets mixed together, and in the course of our return, I saw a cluster of Muslim men doing their midday prayers. They were doing their ablutions just outside their tiny mosque near the bus station. I guess the place was so jammed up, some followers were forced to do their prayers on the street. I appreciated their level of commitment.

At first glance, I thought, “This is odd that people are engaged in their spiritual practices in the public like this.” It seemed odd and also familiar at the same time. Oh, yes, of course, we do that too. We, the Hare Krishnas, are known the world over for our extroverted spirituality. Why, just the other day, our monks along with students went up and down Yonge Street in a casual celebratory procession, 50 strong. The mix was great, like the blue and white paint.

The group passed by Dundas Square where a rock concert was in session. When our procession went by, heads turned and faces lit up. Some people made their way to step in line to join us. This naturally qualifies as a walk as much as it is a chant. The drums were pulsating and karatals (cymbals), were clanging. The mantra was echoing, bouncing off store front walls, and in the case of stores that had their doors open, the mantra got trapped inside.

If that isn’t a display of anti-material fervor, I don’t know what is. The public accepts it, we don’t impose, they love it. The chanting makes people happy. We’ve been at it for 40+ years on this street. You’ve got everything else going on here. Why not throw something spiritual in the maya mix?

6 KM

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

I Had A Chat

Malton, Ontario

Before I took to the day's trek (which ended up being extremely brief) I had a chat with someone in the sitting room of our temple ashram. This is the very place where our guru, Srila Prabhupada, spent time. From that second story room I could see through the arched window two fellows in the distance climbing an angular building crane. It was a careful climb upward - way up.

I admit I was distracted while in the course of our dialogue. My mind raced to something I heard our guru say in the summer of '76 in Detroit. I was but six feet away from where he was talking about the leading demon-character from the epic 'Ramayan' - Ravana. The story goes that Ravana was building a stairway to heaven. He did not succeed, however, in his attempted ascension because he lacked the qualification to enter this sphere. According to Prabhupada the practice of intense piety earns one a post in the heavenly abode. Pious? Ravana was not. Therefore Ravana's program was an utter failure. The message was that at least one has to be a 'good person' before one can achieve such greater heights.

I resumed conversation after this inattentiveness on my part. Within such a short span (seconds in fact) my detour went on this lazer-speed mental journey. So much mental territory had been covered.

I was slightly embarrassed when my eyes met with the eyes of the conversationalist. My excuse was that it was just so unusual to see two construction workers make their way manually up this huge crane. I did not voice even a subtle apology. I only hoped for pardon by being super-attentive from there on. I tried to compensate. Overall the talk was friendly, productive.

My day wound up in a suburb, Malton, with a fantastic devotee family who treated me to a great Malaysian meal. After the meal, at a relaxed moment I once again thought of the two guys on the crane anticipating some high-rise heavenly scenerio like Ravana, I'm sure the building will get completed and I'm also sure that ultimately happiness will not come to the future residents unless some soul connection takes place.

4 KM

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Kids and Walking

Toronto, Ontario

Child safety is important to any community. We have all heard about child predators out there, there’s nothing more horrific. This may be one of the reasons for driving your kids to school, even if they live a block away.

What comes to my flippant mind on this topic is that while a community may respond to media hype on safety, there’s another evil that lurks in depriving kids of fresh air, exercise, interacting with neighbours and so on (God knows that even the school isn’t a safe haven – remember the massacre in Connecticut?). Recently some pundits have analyzed the situation of kids being driven to school. The Toronto Star ran an article outlining the backfiring nature of chauffeuring children. Surely, we don’t need more spoiled brats, sorry to say, and certainly we don’t need more traffic than necessary. The findings are that the generation is being robbed of nature. Are you surprised?

I reminisce about my one mile walk to and from school at SS 1 Harwich County along a quiet, windy road, and that occurred during the winter months as well. We had no school bus, and dad was at work with the car. To this day, I relish past thoughts of that special ‘down time’, and incidentally, when God was also on my mind.

I sometimes scratch my head at the schitzo society we live in. We say we don’t want any violence to come to our children, yet the gun happy culture found on the screen is rampant. We say we don’t want sex predators, yet we tolerate so much garbage from media and advertizing that make promiscuity main stream. I just don’t get it. I beg at the lotus feet of all readers to this blog to help me to understand the depth of hypocrisy that we live in. But in the meantime, I would say, let the children walk.

7 KM

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Let The Ritual Begin
 
Toronto, Ontario
 
I was taking a walk with a person having difficulty in his marriage.  Looking for some refuge, he decided to speak his mind, so I offered, “Did you get counseling?  Do you both want the relationship to work?  If so, then agree to seek help.  As a sanyassi (monk), I can only hear so much about your personal details, therefore, I defer the issue to the experts.”  We reverted to walking and doing japa chanting for the time being.  I got to thinking, you sometimes see couples taking that hard walk together.  They’re not exactly locked in each other’s arms, but they’re also not arguing with each other.  I didn’t suggest to the anguished walking buddy next to me if he would think about applying this method with his spouse, perhaps it was a bit idealistic, or even presumptuous to consider and suggest that a good hard stroll under the canopy of trees and over stones or dirt as opposed to asphalt could be a solution to conflict.  Yet such a daily habit of companionship could have its great merit.  Perhaps there is a magic to it all.  It would be as simple as saying when you cook for a group of people with love, that group is likely to bond quite well, instead of ordering stuff from outside.
 
“Yes,” I suggested to my friend, “you two should walk it out together, let the magic take place, let the ritual begin.  What have you got to lose?”
 
5 KM

Maritimes Pictures









Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Merry Times in the Maritimes
 
New Glasgow/Halifax
 
There is a lovely spirit behind the Maritimers.  It came my way when I met an elderly guy on the Albian Trail.  It’s been encounter #3 with him.
 
“So, you’re back again, eh?” he said in passing, and with the biggest smile.
 
A second take on walking for the day found me on Stellarton Road in New Glasgow.  A jolly younger fellow by the name of Tom pulled over from driving. 
 
“Are you the walking monk?”  he queried.
 
“Yes,  I am,” and he gave the heartiest handshake times three.
 
Then Sarah, a mature lady of curiosity drove all the way across the huge parking lot to meet.  To her, I was a Buddhist monk, but I had to clarify my Krishna consciousness. 
 
“Well, I take a liking to Buddha, but I’m really interested in your walk,” she said.  At that moment I was whisked away to be driven to Halifax by Dr. Jal for the weekly chant at “The Hub”.  The Hub is located on Barrington Street on a second floor – a cozy spot rented out to groups like ours.  Here again, the spirit was one of lightness and joy.  Weather can be rather dismal being near the Atlantic, yet the dreariness was not able to touch our hearts because of our immersion in the Hare Krishna mantra which was garnered with varying melodies. 
 
Our snug jig at The Hub marked the finale for the blitz Nitai Ram and I took throughout the Maritimes.  Our audiences were appreciative and gentle.  Although I’m willing to bet that ancestors from the Maritime coast were likely a rough and ready bunch, a heartier kind.  To quote from Farley Mowat, the book ‘Grey Seas Under’, one old Newfoundland seaman expressed his bravado like this:
 
“Ah, me sun!  We don’t take nothin’ from the sea, we has to sneak up on what we want and wiggle it away.”
 
8 KM

Monday, 20 May 2013

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

From Fiddles to Mantras

Fredericton, New Brunswick

The province of New Brunswick prides itself on harvesting some of the world’s best fiddleheads; fiddleheads - the early shoots of the wild fern plant. So I happen to be here walking a lonely trail, hoping to perhaps stumble upon some. My confession is that I’m a sucker for these tasty edibles that are unfortunately now about a week out of harvest.

Sentier Trail on the east side of the Saint John River bare them no more. “Fiddles,” I thought, “these are about the best wild veggies you could offer Krishna; I’m several days late.”

What I must settle for is the harvest of humans. Are there some sincere seekers of the truth out there ready for being plucked from their material roots? Of course there are. There are plenty of souls lurking about who are exhausted from materialistic pursuits. Mick Jaggar’s song comes to mind, “I can’t get no satisfaction.” We all hear you, Mick.

11 AM comes about. On the second storey, in downtown as what’s referred to as the art building, Marilyn Mazerolle opened up her art gallery space for our kirtan presentation.

Wade, Ron, Tiffany, Gabriel, Alicia, Nina, Marilyn and also Nitai Rama, all local New Brunswickers, sit for a session on a true out of body experience. I say out of body because when you let the mantra do its own work you feel lifted from this world of puny stimuli.

In actuality, it’s our stubborn rootedness to material attachments that prolong the hankerings and accompanying pain. When submission in a devotional way is applied to kirtan chanting, we yield the best chance at personal freedom.

With Marilyn’s colourful art adorning the walls around us, and being in the midst of the powerhouse of mantra passion, we felt some moments of transcending. I then lead the group as a closure to the session and a brief verse memorization from the Gita, 6.26:

Yato yato nischalati-manash cancalam asthiram

“The mind is always agitated, it’s flickering and unsteady,” is the translation.

“Have you trust in the mind?” was the message. “Fixate yourselves on spiritual sound, let’s be harvested.”

Thank you, Mukunda and Hladini, for organizing the program.

10 KM

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Saturday, May 18th, 2013

Heal and Wonder

Saint John, New Brunswick

Nitai Rama and I had flown to Halifax to join up with Mukunda and Hladini, a devotee couple residing there. From this coastal city we drove to another province, New Brunswick, to reach destination point – The Inner Wholeness Centre, in the urban settlement of Saint John. The venue is a mid 19th century building, a former stately home of a ship builder, still solid in structure, with architectural features of another era, this space was just perfect for a Krishna meditation session arranged by Nina, a local nurse.

It goes without saying that mantras do heal people all around. It impacts the subtle inner body which then influences our exterior body of flesh, marrow, skin and so on.

The healing power of mantra was at work for the group that came. We also swung into a dance as we swayed in robes and pants (the women are in pants and the males are in dresses, well, robes).

After all was done in this unique kind of fun, Mukunda, Nina and I, hit the urban nature trail where we spotted a fox and her pup, a porcupine busy at chewing, and varying waterfowl. All of them are in their own element, wild and free.

I do sometimes wonder why humans can’t be simple like them, being into family, and in harmony with the environment?

11 KM

Friday, May 17th, 2013

My Path is Very Difficult

Manuels, Newfoundland

“My path is very difficult, I am blind and my feet are slipping again and again. Therefore, may the saints help me by granting the stick of their mercy as my support.”

The above passage is from the text Chaitanya Charitamrita, and when I came upon it in my reading this very day, it shook me into a moment of coincidence, analogously, the ‘path’ is likened to our journey in life. We may not always see what’s up ahead; we might even lose our footage or step in mud, or just be exhausted, and hence, slip or fall.

When I saw Ted today, this passage and Ted’s life were on a parallel. Ted and I are friends for ten years now, he is a patient of multiple sclerosis. He came to see me just to chat and recall our similarities in our individual journeys across Canada.

After Ted removed his shoes at the door (and this he did so with some strain) we sat in the living room of Rikin’s condo overlooking beautiful Conception Bay. Ted spoke of his continual fatigue attacks. He also mentioned having his periods of almost going blind. These are, I understand, some symptoms of MS. All along through his struggle, though, he gets humbled and gets reminded of the greater force controlling him. These epiphanies actually bring a richness to his life.

He and I first met in 2003 on the Trans Canada Hwy, I was on my 2nd cross nation trek, and he was cycling with a cause – to create an awareness of the fatal encumbrance of multiple sclerosis. The location was just north of Sault Saint Marie, the city, on the strip of the highway rimmed with rock and trees. He and I hit it off right away so to speak. He’s been struggling with the disease for years now. He had been an editor for a Maritimes newspaper, but had to resign his work for obvious physical reasons. He’s done some writings about his trip on a bicycle across a massive land, and in his heart he constantly writes mentally about the realizations that keep coming up in life.

Ted Warren, a travelling friend, seems to be going okay, despite the difficult path he’s on. I can’t imagine the pain, not feeling it. His spirits are up though. We had a good chat, and on his behalf, I’ll give him a good chant in hoping he’ll continue to cope. He really downed well, the smoothie that Nitai Ram prepared. Ted went for seconds, thirds, if I’m not mistaken. So, even though his path is a difficult one because of the MS, he’s much better off than many people I know, simply because he believes.

7 KM

Friday, 17 May 2013

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Spiritual Emission

Manuels, Newfoundland

My speculation and guess is that the water I see rippling over the rocks is very clean and pure. The abundant rain feeds this vein of water, the Manuels River, before merging into the salty liquids of Conception Bay, the ocean. Invigorating!

It was a good hike going along this river; much needed for me. The rains had been restricting and now, by 3 PM, the clearing of sky water allowed me full permission to enjoy a solitude of sorts.

By night, seagulls were in their flutter outside our window as they were during my hike. People had come together at Rikin’s condo which overlooks this awesome bay of water drama with the gulls flapping and screeching and currents tossing every which way.

We were focused, however, on sound descended from another world. It was part 2 of our Sadhana Bhakti presentation. Nitai Ram tapped fingers on the mrdanga drum ends to display a mini demo, and then we sang the song, Gaura Arati, to honour the luminary of mantra mastery, Chaitanya, the avatar saint who walked India in the early 1500’s.

We then spoke about the soul as our true identity, and of its function – service, and of inner peace derived from service. We talked of gossip and the negative things we get swept up in, and of a remedy, change the topic, recognize the glory in all and take to service, devotional service. We spoke of how we were all gulls before, in flight, on rocks, and on waters. But now we are humans, and we can do more than just squabble as the gulls seem to do. We owe ourselves and the world, a spiritual emission. In other words, whatever you’ve learned, share it.

We were comfortable hearing and chanting while couched in chairs in circle formation. So even the newcomers, if stiff and uptight in the beginning, became relaxed and relieved because the message gets home.

7 KM

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

The Lotus Centre

Manuels, Newfoundland

Nitai Ram and I clearly stood out in our robes as we descended the escalators at the Toronto Airport. At the base of the stairs a curious woman was waiting to address us.

“Where are you from?” asked the white haired woman, assuming we would say we are stationed some place exotic or even mystical.

“Here in Canada,” I said.

“Oh, I thought you might be from Nepal where I met some Buddhist monks.”

We clarified our actual allegiance, and were happy to have met her.

Once we arrived at the Saint John’s Airport and made our exit, we were met by our host, Rikin, and were struck by a top sail gale as the automatic door opened. Rikin had lined up an evening program for us. He mentioned to Nitai and I that our topic of discussion would be sadhana bhakti. My evening actually did evolve; he drove us to the Lotus Centre downtown. I was unprepared on paper, and gave the topic not even a mental preparedness. I decided to wing it and asked very competent Nitai to help in the presentation.

With the faith based sentiment, I believe if you kick start everything with chanting, things will naturally flow. Nitai Ram played beautifully on the mrdanga drum, as I led the singing, and attendees responded. Participation was great. I began to vocalize some thoughts that came out of inspiration.

“What we just did was perform kirtan. The pronunciation is ‘keer-tan’, like the word ‘ear’ with a ‘k’ in front of it, and not ‘curtain’, which is something you drape in front of a window. The group resounded in laughter, and from there Nitai and I basically laid out the components of sadhana bhakti yoga as we are accustomed to. It involves japa chanting, recitation of a daily mantra, and discussing it as a way to deepen our understanding of it, the ritual to honour the sacred green Tulsi plant, and a song for protection called the Narasingha prayer. It was evening and Nitai and I walked the group through basic morning sadhana (spiritual workout) as a way to suggest a transcendental day starter. The group seemed delighted. Several of them took home with them japa meditation beads.

0 KM

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

More Smooth
 
Toronto, Ontario
 
While visitors from Montreal where enjoying the company of Visesika and his wife, Nirakula, and chanting on their meditation beads in the comfort of the temple room, four of us chose the wonderful openness of the outdoors while chanting in motion.  We took to the ravine at 5:30 AM, walking a good pace.  The trail is lined by the white flowered garlic mustard plant.
 
The discovery of this wild edible by my three companions was childlike for them.  The one couple from North Carolina loved their salads.  They now found a new ingredient.
 
Emily, from Montreal, who was also with us, is a young dead ringer to Mona Lisa.  I swear.  She looks facially like, I mean she is the splitting image of DaVinci’s painting.  It is interesting to see that most classic visage be there with you in real life – and moving. 
 
The walk was a bit long and hard for the others, but it was a breeze for me.  It’s this very path that became my training ground for cross-nation walks. 
 
What a pleasure it was then to sit down after the walk in the temple singing a bhajan, devotional song, with 30 other devotees.  We sang aruna doy kirtan, the ultimate song about a life reality check.  The message is something like, “We spend our nights and days uselessly wasting away time.”  Then Vaisesika delivered a class that was, as usual, nectar to the ears.  The message was about moving forward in life, depending on Krishna, etc.  Nothing could be more smooth.
 
8 KM

Festival of Inspiration - New Vrindavan - Moundsville, West Virginia (RE: MAY 11 & 12, 2013)




The YMCA - Buttler Pennsylvania (RE: Sunday, May 12th, 2013)







Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Talking the Walk

Toronto, Ontario

On Torstar News Service something appeared that advocates walking.

"In Toronto's wars over traffic and transit, Dylan Reid is a foot soldier. The walking activist is fighting to reverse our affair with the car and to return us to our natural mode of transportation."

Reid says he's doing it because, first, it's healthy for people, the city and the environment, and second because it can be fun and social. By walking, you can de-stress, bump into friends and neighbours, get to know your local merchants as well as attract more amenities to the area because you're not speeding past them.

My response: "Dear Dylan: Thanks! It's a worthy cause. I'm doing my bit but not enough I feel. Since I began my long distance walking in '96 by embarking on a cross Canada walk, I too advocated walking as the best means for human movement. Since that precious time when I kick-started a pilgrimage of sorts on April 12 at Beacon Hill Park on Vancouver Island to eventually reach St. John's, Newfoundland on Dec 8th, I've done the trek two more times. I'm actually in the middle of the fourth one.

The response has been good from media and the general public. I know that some of my own colleagues, now in their 60's have become inspired to do more walking because of what I do. They tell me so. Overall, I wish I could impact people more. I guess it happens by doing and also by talking about its benefits. I try to say that when you're a walker you're a rocker. I firmly believe that it's cool to walk and that when there's more walking, there's less squaking."

8 KM

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

I Took to McCreary's Ridge

Moundsville, West Virginia

I took to McCreary's Ridge Road when the week-end's event came to an end. As usual the Festival of Inspiration was as it was set out to be - a program that lifts the spirit. I particularly liked, as part of the entertainment, the routine of Ekendra who is a stand-up comic, portrayed Yama Niyama, a Russian fundamentalist Krishna monk. He is out to condemn all non-believers and places harsh judgement on any left-wing devotion. He's dug a deep opinionated trench for himself and we, the audience, love the laughter he creates.

As I trailed along on that Ridge Road I breathed in a great air and relished a calm wind that was taking the trees for a dance. I reflected on the great performance our troupe executed. Our drama, 'Gita: Concise' went well. What was happening is that on the average every other motorist stopped (mostly festival goers) to offer a ride which added to the joy of the day. People are good at heart!

When you walk with the sky above you and the natural colours around beckon you to dream, I do dream. I thought of the dream of our guru, Srila Prabhupada, to make the world a lighter and brighter place, to discourage a world bent on "profit" and to make it more "godfit." Yes, "fit God in" was his message.

Automobiles moved slowly along that windy and pitted road and then one came, the one that was my ride. We were then destined for a seven hour drive back to Canada. On the way back our crew of passengers were speaking about that dream and I recalled that in Pennsylvania, the modest city of Butler was enroute. This was the place where our guru's dream to alter the world's ways began. He stayed and spoke formally at the YMCA in September of '65. Butler was his touchdown in America and the first place where his dream began to materialize in the western world.

We enthusiastically pilled out of the van and stood in front of the Y for a photo of that historic place. What a special spot!

6 KM

Monday, 13 May 2013

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Quotes and Statements.

Moundsville, West Virginia

Here are some quotes and statements which support healthy and spiritually-cogent lifestyles. The source of these came from a very empowered guest speaker at the Festival of Inspiration.

"Without rules there is chaos".

"The world is changed by examples, not by opinions".

"If you are humble you will listen".

"Service is not a chore, it's a privilege - Mother Theresa".

"Action expresses priorities - Mahatma Gandhi".

Statement: "I don't believe in karma". Response: "It doesn't matter. It believes in you".

Statement: "If I eat meat I'll get stronger".
Response: "If you eat someone's brain does it make you smarter?"

"Do not be upset with the instrument of your karma - Srila Prabhupada".

"Moderation is halfway between discipline and disaster".

"No one dies from protein deficiency. Excessive protein causes death".

Question: "What do you do if you train someone and they leave?"
Response: "What do you do if you don't train and they don't leave?"

3 KM

Friday, May 10th, 2013

True Identity

US/Canada Border

People say that since 9-11, when the New York Twin Towers came down, the world has never been the same. That might be true from a safety/security point of view, but really, there must have been a 9-11 in every generation. If not, then in every decade.

Personally, I’ve noticed more intense watchfulness when you cross the border into the US. At the Fort Erie/Buffalo Peace Bridge, Customs was only doing their job I guess when they pulled over our van to look further into 2 of our 5 passengers – one from Latvia and the other from the Congo. When we stepped into the official security waiting room, the 5 of us who were destined for a spiritual retreat in West Virginia, realized we weren’t the only travelers being sifted through . The room was full. Investigating people has so much to do with bodily identity, with no consideration for the soul. You can’t blame Customs for the territorialism that we all latch on to. In the name of patriotism, we strut about in this world with a false pride, thinking, “I am this body, and this body comes from the best land because I was born there.” This, of course, is downright incorrect information.

We held in our hands our individual passports to reinforce the myth that we are these bodies while two of us offered a PR form, Permanent Residents, which is another lie. Who is here permanently in this world? We witnessed one woman in the queue being called to the counter and then after the interview, sat down crying with tears rolling down her eyes.

Fortunately when our name came up over the loud speaker after a long line and wait, we got down to a greater truth. We were asked by a rather friendly personnel behind the counter and computer how we were all related to each other. “We belong to the same spiritual community, Hare Krishna.” The Customs officer seemed to know about us and that gave us a sigh of relief.

Even though we are truly not these bodies, we do have some identity and that is our connection to the Blue Mystic, Krishna. We gladly left the customs building and drove off to one of the most ecstatic events of the year, the Festival of Inspiration, which always reminds us that we are unmistakably happy spirit souls, and that is our true identity.

4 KM

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Everything’s Light

Toronto, Ontario

When a newborn comes into the home, it makes everyone light – before it gets heavy. I could see it in the eyes of Radha Mohan, the father, and Shyama Mohini, the baby’s mom. “It changes everything, doesn’t it?” I asked the parents of their new son, Govinda, indicating that full attention is now on the baby. In our tradition parents ask for a blessing from a local priest (brahmin), and that was one of my reasons for the visit. The parents became very generous; it came in the form of a great meal. The couple was happy.

I thought a lot about their future and the road that lay ahead of them. There will be bumps. The dad had jokingly expressed the son will be under peer pressure in the years to come, even though he’ll be trained spiritually at the formative years. The time now is critical. All the love that can possibly spill out should do so now.

Krishna is behind love. He is also behind hate, but He prefers love. A loving environment makes it so much more conducive to inner development and becoming a whole person.

It’s strange to see mundane love, the love of this world which is shifting all the time. It is ready to crack at any moment. It’s certainly not endless. Yet, if we look adoringly at our young child, that is about the closest you will get to touching the love for the Divine. There are no conditions there. That love is as natural as the seasons that are always encircling us. In spiritual love it is a perpetual love.

7 KM

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Scoring

Toronto, Ontario

I was trekking southbound on Yonge Street when I heard my name being called, “Bhaktimarga, Bhaktimarga!” I turned around and there was Billy.

He’s bearded now, I couldn’t recognize him in the beginning. Billy is well known in the city for his voice. For some, he is the subway singer. He composes his own songs and plays them on his acoustic guitar. They have these spiritual messages and overtones.

He decided to walk with me and then tell me of his current legal battle. This one, like all legal battles, is ugly. He asked if I could walk back with him and for me to listen to him. We reversed directions and went to an eatery where he left his backpack. A few minutes before when he saw me whizzing by the place, he was sitting at an eatery and then ran to catch me, and so now we are here in this place, run by a Muslim guy by the name of Sumir.

The hockey game on the screen revealed to me why the streets were quiet. People were indoors watching the Toronto Maple Leaf’s playing against the Boston Bruins, the semifinals. The game was intense. I stood by with Billy watching for 10 minutes. I never do this. I’m too much of a monk I guess, but as a friend to Billy I felt the need to share a piece of his world, which is right now a struggle for him.

We have chanted together before, he was once a guest at our ashram, and he had a fine spiritual experience.

The game was tied, Boston 3 and Toronto 3. As far as I can understand the game went into overtime. Then Boston scored and Billy’s heart sank for a moment, so did Sumir’s. I did admit I also got a little affected, but it was time to depart to continue my trek and to chant.

I feel that if Billy got more into chanting he’d be less obsessed with what he feels is injustice that’s come to him.

What to conclude?

Karma is a complex thing. Yes, there appears to be unfairness in this world. The legal system is corrupt, life is tough, but it’s temporary. We can cross over these hurdles. Take a spiritual recourse, that would be making a score.

7 KM

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

One But Many

Toronto, Ontario

The teacher wanted to know if we believed in monotheism, “Is there one God?” asked the instructor from Saint Mary’s Secondary School. She was standing there with curious anticipation in the center of our temple room with 2 co-instructors and about 30 grade 11 students.

“The short of it is,” I explained, “We have a word for God – Yogeshwara, which means he is the supreme mystic. Being mystical, “He is One but many simultaneously… “

I was given 30 minutes to do my presentation. Their school bus arrived late due to traffic (another good reason to forsake cars for using your feet).

“Doesn’t the old testament speak of God as a burning bush? There is no limit to God’s limitless manifestations,” I pointed out.

The students had the fortune to be interactive. They all chanted mantras at my lead, then threw flower petals at the icon of our guru, Srila Prabhupada. This was followed by Darshan, the viewing of our Krishna deities. “The most prominent feature to our culture, however, is the mantra meditation.” So I engaged the students in singing that best of mantras, “Hare Krishna.” They did so with relish. Their volunteered dance steps was a bonus for them.

Time zipped by. 30 minutes became 30 seconds. The teachers noted that as well. “Time flies when you’re having a good time.” I would take that a step further, when you enter a sacred space, it surely becomes like entering into a timeless zone. You are in an eternal atmosphere.

You can feel it.

7 KM

Monday, May 6th, 2013

For the Feet

Toronto, Ontario

I received a pair of bright orange croc wear, it was a gift; a nice gesture. They really stand out though. I’ve been looking at them. I imagine how they would appear in a woodsy trail. They might be like headlights for the moose. And if walking on the shoulder of the highway, the crocs might appear as traffic cones at a distance. I see that their bottoms have good traction. I think they’ll work great indoors and in particular in the kitchen where the floor tends to get slippery at times. As you can imagine, the colour is very strong – enough to upstage my robes. People’s eyes will naturally gravitate to my feet. That might be a good thing or a bad thing. In any event, the head will take a humble tilt slightly forward, and since humility is the pillar of success, I believe the shoes will render a great service to those that see them.

Although my spirit may come across a trite sarcastic or facetious, I genuinely appreciate the gift coming from the Grover family, they have captured the essence of Vaishnava culture. An expert in the culture is Rupa Goswami, an early 16th century saint from India who wrote that giving gifts from the heart and receiving gifts from the heart are prime devotional activities. When I see or wear those crocs I will remember the family of the heart. Bless them.

14 KM

Monday, 6 May 2013

Sunday, May 5th 2013

Don’t Step on the Trilliums

Inglis Falls, Ontario

We were careful not to step on the trilliums. They are the provincial flower and are highly protected. If someone’s caught transplanting them, you can get fined. They are three petaled peaceful flowers, and come in colours of white and red to burgundy.

A small group of us wanted to make an escape from the city for a few hours. We headed north for the pristine town of Owen Sound. Something special happens here every Sunday, it’s kirtan, discussion and prasadam (spiritual food). The Hanna family that hosts the program weekly also stages a mantra rock show, provided the bass guitarist is there; people love it. Those of us who came from the city were not lucky enough to fill our ears with the rock music that incorporates beautiful Bengali songs. In its stead I volunteered to talk to the group in what’s called Mud Town Centre, which was once the local community centre for black slave descendents who escaped during the US civil war. It just worked out perfectly that Garuda Hanna, now 65, and his son, Tulsi, accompanied me on my first cross Canada walk in ’96. We couldn’t resist letting everyone know about our awkward interaction with police, encounter with bears and the crazy miracles that occurred.

With just great weather, we allowed those of us with ghost white pigments to get the sun’s exposure, while the brown toned amongst us savoured the rays. Our obvious trail was the Bruce Trail, Canada’s oldest and longest foot path, a 900 km meandering trail of mainly escarpment, woods, caves and waterfalls.

This is where we spotted the trilliums. What can they remind you of? Could the petals represent the three modes of nature? Or the three deities of creation, maintenance and annihilation? Somehow it’s cool to make a Krishna conscious connection. It’s always good to make that spiritual connection to everything you see and do.

8 KM





Sunday, 5 May 2013

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

So Gratifying

Toronto, Ontario

It is so gratifying watching the increasing number of people enjoy the yoga food at Govinda’s.

Govinda’s is a chain eatery/restaurant found in locations around the world and offers a pure vegetarian karma free menu. One location is in our ashram building at the premises 243 Avenue Road. We first opened it in the 80’s, myself and Visvakarma, a spiritual brother opened it together. Only recently has it taken off in terms of patrons showing up in good numbers. The room in our ashram where the exceptional food is served is called Govinda’s after a name of Krishna, which implies His dearness to animals, especially the cow. Hence, you have this animal friendly meal, an all veg entrĂ©e which is great for the soul. Weekends (except Sunday when it’s closed) is particularly a popular time for visiting Govinda’s. I managed to greedily consume the day’s end of the line at the end of the day. Some baked yams and a kind of casserole dish, colourful and tasty, before heading out for a 10 km hike along the Don River. My companion was a Trinidadian by the name of Archie. Certainly I needed to burn off the contents of my stomach. According to Ayurveda, the health/healing department of Vedic wisdom, it’s not good to eat after sundown.

It was a pleasure to trek with Archie, he loves to walk, and to dance. You have to see him during kirtan chanting sessions, he’s got this really unique step. He dances like Hanuman, the monkey god. He keeps the upper arms rather stiff and dangles his lower arms along his sides. It’s a must see at kirtan time, as much as it is tasty to eat at Govinda’s.

10 KM

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

Don’t You Think?

Toronto, Ontario

It’s been about ten years since I hopped on to that Krishna Youth Bus Tour. While driving through the Midwest of the US and beyond we came upon Mount Rushmore where you have these 5 former presidents of America with their faces carved in mammoth scale on the side of the mountain. At one of the tourist buildings, you can put a check mark by the name of your favourite president. The tally thus far goes in favour of Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865).

We all know he was a towering figure. What most people don’t know is that he was an avid walkier wherever he went. Apparently he had a unique style of walking. A friend of his wrote, “When he walked he moved cautiously but firmly; his arms and giant hands swung down by his side. He walked with an even tread, the inner sides of his feet being parallel. He put the whole foot flat down on the ground at once, not rising from the toe, and hence he had no spring to his walk… The whole man, body and mind, worked slowly, as if it needed oiling.”

It came quite so coincidentally that when I read a little bit about Abe Lincoln, and in particular about his way of moving, that I had been observing closely, more than usual, the various styles of walking by pedestrians. It’s interesting to note the various speeds, springs, and splits that go into the leg mechanics of humans. It’s especially easy to see with the skin tight clothes of today. During Abe’s time women had those billowy skirts and men donned baggy pants and long coats.

In George Harrison’s famous song, “Something”, the lyrics start like this, “Something in the way she moves attracts me… “ He was referring to Krishna’s moving or Krishna’s walking. He only changed the gender to ‘she’ in order to make the song more conventionally appealing. So sometimes I imagine how Krishna walked, that’s a nice meditation, don’t you think?

7 KM

Friday, 3 May 2013

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Reading on the Plane – An Excerpt

Vancouver to Toronto

On a morning walk May 7th, 1973, on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, our guru, Srila Prabhupada had this to say when speaking with Dr. Singh:

“Yogis are mainly concerned with developing different mystic powers. A yogi can walk on the water without drowning. The law of gravity does not operate on him. That is a mystic power called laghima. Laghima means that a person can become lighter than cotton and counteract the law of gravity. The yoga system simply develops the inconceivable potency in the practitioner. These boys are swimming (gesturing to surf bathers) but I cannot swim. Yet that swimming power is potential within me, I simply have to practice it. So, if yogic power is so potent in the human being, think how much more yogic power God has. Therefore, in the Vedas, He is called Yogeshwar, which means master of all mystic powers. In the Bhagavad Gita 10.8 it is stated, “I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from me.” Unless we accept this statement from God, there is no conclusive explanation to the origin of material nature. God cannot be understood without accepting the existence of mystic power. But if you can understand the existence of God scientifically, then you can understand everything.

6 KM

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Saw Much

Boston Bar, BC

The arrangement was that I would leave the house of my stay and make a head start on the road back to Vancouver before getting picked up.

It was 5 AM. The sky was then slowly lighting up when I set foot on the dusty mountain road. Trees of evergreen were at my either side and then they disappeared, or thinned out, to reveal a tranquil space of sage bushes. The scent of it was arousing as was the sound of a loon hauntily making his cry that was soaring above me. Every curve of the road is a remarkable surprise of sight as the path had me descending down a winding lower elevation.

A hawk shrieked at the top of a dead pine. He more or less merged into the tree as camouflage. Then I heard below the sound of a roaring truck, ironically, as I was gazing at a gorgeous vista of the meandering Thompson River. You could see for miles. Then, came to view, the trail trekked before. It was Highway 1, the Trans Canada Highway.

Following the flow of the river and the line of the road, I spent my 2nd hour here, traffic was sparse. One couple pulled over though and offered a ride. I assured them that my ride was on its way. Finally, my ride, Mahidar and Nandini came. We drove in through a clear day. All was good except for the vehicle, a Ford Escape, whose transmission gave way. A tow truck came to the rescue from Boston Bar, then a taxi at Chilliwack, and then to complete – a rented car to Burnaby. Final destination. We felt like souls being reincarnated over and over again.

The cab driver was Anil Kumar Bharadwaj from Delhi. This, he very well articulated. He is a lively guy, proud to be from India. He was taken by the fact that us three white persons had Indian names. When I asked him in our conversation if he knew the temperature outside, he said, “It’s 40 degrees – in Delhi.” Of course, I meant, what is the temperature here in BC? I actually caught his mind still in India. You know, one day we could all be in Vaikuntha, the spirit world, and we will remain there. That will be the day.

12 KM

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

A Birthday

Saranagati, BC

With the sun warming up the valley, the rattlesnakes emerged. In the south end of Venables Valley I spotted a few in the past. They have already been poking around this spring. “One made his way under my house,” said Sarvabauma, one of the residents I went to visit. In Saranagati, not all creatures crawl, some fly. It’s the waterfowl that are plentiful here. In the spring you might find anywhere from 50 – 100 trumpeter swans sitting on the lake for a well deserved break during flight from the south. “They are in the migratory mode,” explained Partha, my host.

While here, I spent the bulk of my time with humans, more complicated creatures. On my list of visitations was a trip to Govardhan Academy once again for a class on lessons from the Bhagavatam, and to add extra spice, I conducted part two of a drama workshop.

At the north end of the valley, I engaged in the 8th stop of the day, it was the 56th birthday of Bala Krishna. An impromptu party was announced to the dwellers of the valley via word of mouth. “Hare Krishna to you Hare Krishna to you, Hare Krishna Bala Krishna, Hare Krishna to you,,” we sang with heartfelt purpose.

Bala is the progressive principal farmer in the valley and his physical labour and ideas keep him young looking I think. His yearly produce is all organic and to the credit of the valley residents, you are looking at a vegetarian community, and more importantly, a Krishna centric village, it is one of few on planet Earth.

5 KM

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Monday, April 29th, 2013

I Knew
 
Saranagti, BC
 
I took the liberty to lie down on the forest floor to take a nap.  I could hear a pervasive whisper; the wind blowing through the pine needles.  The ground was dry and there was ground and moss despite a light snow that had struck earlier in the day and then melted. 
 
I knew the bears were still asleep and ticks were unlikely to move about. 
 
I had the perfect sleep, a 40 minute transfer to another world.  Half awake then from slumber I mentally perused through what had just passed since dawn – a morning chant and arati with hosts, Partha and Uttama, a class and drama workshop with young students at Govardhana Academy (that was sweet), and a lunch and discussion while emitting healthy emotions and reason.
 
Left to do was more visitations at two more homes.  What lay ahead for the people of this valley?  Just what course or direction do we take here?  My answer would be that the first and foremost is the spiritualization of the self through the collective effort of all and to do so under the allegiance of guru and Krishna.  There appeared to be a need for the community to come closer together.  I had suggested we venture through the 9 Devotions Workshop, “We shall see how it goes”, I thought in my half doze. 
 
The sprinkled snow landed on my nose, compelling me to rise and complete the day’s ration of activities.  As I walked to my next destination, breathing in the greatest mountain air and seeing not a trace of a tossed Starbucks cup, I knew I was in heaven. 
 
3 KM
 

 

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

The Daring Dog
 
Saranagati, BC
 
Hadai, his wife Mahatma and I spotted a smoke in the distance amongst the trees across the Thompson River as we approached the village of Saranagati.  The drive from Vancouver to here is panoramic and you adore the majesty of the elements.  But fire?  Experts say that forest fires play an important role in the cyclic need.  Nature seems to impose it and here in the mountains forest there is no exception to this policy. 
 
Set in Venables Valley is the modest village of Saranagati.  We knocked on several doors to meet and chat with residents, all devotees of Krishna.  We parked the vehicle and walked, even though there are metres of distance between homes.  In the course of it all, a dog from the valley followed us.  We learned a number of things from him. 
 
I first tested his playfulness by grabbing and tossing the short stub of a branch, a stick, actually.  Hadai also joined in with the frivolity by tossing a stick which the dog would run after and return, gripping it between his teeth.  One of my tosses sent the stick into a pile of sticks.  Miraculously, the dog found the one amidst the pile and eagerly returned.  I used various sticks.  I came up with new ones which are strewn throughout the forest floor.  Each successive stick I deliberately chose to be larger than the previous one.  We kept going on like this and our dear dog friend did not falter in the follow up.  He brought back every piece of wood that we had tossed. 
 
Finally (and this is where Hadai and Mahatama chuckled), I found and lifted a branch hefty enough to be practically a log.  I thrust it forward as the weight and size wouldn’t allow a fling.   The dog ran to it and grasped the fine end of it, ready for heaving it.  He tried, but couldn’t budge it.  He came back to us ready for any new task and challenge. 
 
What we learn from this stranger that followed us was to be energetic, loyal, persistent, frivolous, courageous, cooperative, reciprocal, obedient.  To us, he was our guru for the day. 
 
7 KM