Saturday, 27 December 2014

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

Brampton, Ontario

Cycles


What doesn’t go in cycles? 

Through the unusual weather that we’re having for the day before Christmas with its light drizzle and fog, I did loop my walking directions.  From the home of Rajneesh, where I stayed overnight on Meridian Drive, I did turn a right, then a right, then a right again, and another right, and just one more right, to be right back from where I started from.

I noticed on each loop that there was someone pulling out of the driveway in this residential neighbourhood.  People generally follow a daily pattern driving to work.  This assumption is a normal pattern.  Go to work!  Come back home.  Go to work.  Come back home.  It’s a cyclic performance.  On the weekend the destination could be the mall.  But you still wind up at the same place – home. 

Circles are an inevitable part of life, like the seasons.  Time brings us to a full 360 degrees through 365 days, full circle from December the 21st of the last year, we have done one complete round.  Life is all about wheels in motions.  Wheels are all around us and in us as well. 

The Bhagavad Gita makes the case of rebirth: “From childhood to youth and to old age, and then back to childhood again.  (2.13)  Sri Krishna, the Gita speaker, asserts that the soul is persistent in returning.  Here’s the transliteration to the Sanskrit of one of the verses that verifies this:  (8.19)

 bhūta-grāmaḥ sa evāyaṁ
bhūtvā bhūtvā pralīyate
 
While life is like a ferris wheel, the Gita suggests that we pull away and seek liberation from all of this. 

May the Source be with you!

7 KM

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Toronto, Ontario

Essence of Life


I took a trek with Cameron, who hails from Australia, to our local hardware store.  You can’t be more Canadian then when you zip over to a shop for merchandise, and when it’s called Canadian Tire.  My intent in the visit falls under the realm of maintenance, perhaps, not exactly.  It was for the purchase of mirrors, a prop I anticipate to use in the Lord’s service for a new drama production, Blue Mystic.  I obtained my four identical mirrors, and with the help of Cameron, we trekked back to the ashram.

My second journey on foot today was to the home of Subuddhi for a feasting type of satsang.  Here, perhaps more directly, you can call the ‘intent’ devotional, for even the exceptional food she cooked was blessed as prasadam and prepared with heart.  Absolutely!  It was a divine devour. 

Other ashram dwellers had also come, in fact, we trekked to Subuddhi’s as a group, no use of automobile today, that’s the way I like it.  Instead of horse power, we used human power to transport ourselves.  And what qualifies the program at this kind hearted lady’s home as strictly devotional, is that as a group we all enjoyed a session of kirtan.  It was to the beat of a symbol dhol drum. 

Anytime, anywhere, anything, when your purpose or usage is of devotional content, it’s orientation is a step towards transcendence.  You become an automatic yogi of sorts.  In Bhakti Yoga, the essence of life is to utilize everything in every moment for the service of the Supreme.

May the Source be with you!

7 KM

Monday, Dec. 22nd, 2014

Toronto, Ontario
 
Wet Socks - Yuck
 
 
I was pacing back and forth in the foyer of our ashram and I found my feet getting wet from the carpet.  I decided to remain socked and unshoed in order to avoid a pounding effect on the floor.  Beneath me, on the level below, ashram dwellers are asleep.  It is the women's wing of the building underneath.  Every time you take a step on the floor above, where there is not a laid out carpet, the pressure from the feet can be heard below.  In order to show my R-E-S-P-E-C-T to the ladies, I decided to "sock it to me" and use the closest thing to a soft shoe effect.  In other words, socks only.
 
Unfortunately, I felt as if I was not the recipient of the red carpet treatment while I was pacing (the carpets are red, by the way).  The cleaning boy who comes at night apparently left the floors too wet and did not leave enough drying time before laying out the carpet strips.  Results were annoying.  The carpets absorbed all the water used to mop the floor, leaving a wet sock experience.
 
Now there is about nothing worse than parading around in wet socks inside or outside the building.  It's a pet peeve of mine.  I would liken it to consuming a cold eggplant curry dish.
 
Two things had to be implemented I felt.  Number one, I would let the carpet strips hang to dry.  Number two, to inform the cleaning lad to improve on his services. 
 
Heaven knows that when it comes time to do your walking you want the most peaceful situation possible. Reality tells though that whenever you execute anything in this world there will always be something coming your way that will agitate.  During such perplexing times you can curse and cuss, but I decided let me "adjust my sails". At this point I was peaceful within.  Of course, I didn't forget step three, to remove my wet socks and chant Hare Krishna.
 
May the socks be with you (dry ones).
 
3 KM

Monday, December 21st, 2014

Edmonton, Alberta
 
Over Ice
 
 
Before and after a 3 hour trip to Edmonton from Calgary via auto to and fro on the Queen Elizabeth #2, I did tread a slippery trail.  Back allies and streets, not snow plowed, are the great walking challenges in Calgary.  Temperatures dip in this area and then rise by the mighty power of warm Chinook winds.  It causes a melting period.  This then is followed by a freeze which leaves pockets of bumpy ice all around.
 
I find it fun, really.  You go about treading as a stunt man would do.  You have to be ready for a slip and a fall and to make sure to try to land on where you will find the most cushion you carry, anywhere from the thigh to the buttocks.  Frankly, I haven't slipped yet this season that recall, that is nothing too serious.
 
Anyways, nothing usually deters me from whatever the outdoors will offer.  The walk on or off ice gives me life.  Any ride inside a vehicle makes me dull. 
 
The talk which I gave in Edmonton in the middle of today's ice capades covered a verse from the Gita from chapter 14 verse 17:
 
"From the mode of goodness real knowledge develops; from the mode of passion greed develops; and from the mode of ignorance develop foolishness, madness and illusion"
 
Dwelling on the topic of the above mentioned three modes or energies of nature, it should be a relief to know we have choices we can make in life.  The ideal is to gain governance and influence from the mode of goodness. 
 
And may the Source be with you! 
 
7 KM

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

Calgary, Alberta

Prairie Hopes


You can see the sliver of the moon, it was sky suspended as usual, hanging particularly low.  Gaura Chandra and I were trekking on the Greenway Trail when we spotted it this early morn.  From our view, our imperfect sense projection, that one thousand miles could get you there, to the point where you could stand under.  A good leap or thrust upward might allow you to grasp the sliver.  There you might dangle for a few seconds before hoisting yourself up to sit upon it.  That would be the coolest thing. 

Of course, we’re just dreaming.  In all reality, our age restricts such frivolity.  And, as usual, my dhoti, lower monk robe, wouldn’t measure up to the task, but may fantasy continue to take its course. 

Speaking of courses, my afternoon was occupied with feet firmly on the ground as I was facilitating a Kirtan Standard Workshop.  To accompany me in this endeavour was Dhruva Das from Montreal.  Together we presented the disciplines and joys applied to the ancient practice of sacred sound output.  The 50 plus people there were intrigued.  In fact, the response was such that you could see the craving for more guidance on this and other topics which deal with bhakti, devotion to Krishna.  In the evening, such eagerness for more fullness in devotion came through at a satsang, the home of a Bangledeshi family was the hosted space for Dhruva and I.  There, a flow of questions came, primarily from university students.  It was so sweet. 

I picked up on a phrase of goodwill from one of the attendees.  I really like it, though it may not top, “Hare Krishna” ever. 

“Merry Everything!  And a Happy Always!”

May the Source be with you!

5 KM

Friday, December 19th, 2014

Calgary, Alberta
 
Walk to End Violence 
 
 
I shared, in conversation with others, my inner disturbance at the news of terrorist attacks in a cafe in Sydney, Australia and worse still, over a hundred school children being killed in Pakistan. I had come out of the bubble of Saranagati safety to receive more details on acts of cowardice that are shaking our world.
 
To say that we reside in the Age of Kali (the era of darkness) would be an understatement. Could such a shameless venture as gunning down 141 children at school be on par with the assassination of JFK or the ill-fated destruction of New York's twin towers? I should think so.
 
While taking an afternoon walk with Krishna's devotees at Calgary's north-east Greenway, we addressed with heavy hearts this recent-most incident. Speaking for myself, my initial feelings are mixed with compassion for the innocent, and contempt for the offenders, or for the sinners as much as for the sin. What could drive people so mad to come to this? I'm afraid these feelings will linger for some time.
 
At the Radha-Madhav Cultural Center I became a teacher for the evening before children, youth and adults. The session held before the deity of Krishna became more of a Q and A program. I simply put the suggestion forward "What's on your mind? Questions on anything, please." The bulk of the questions that rolled out held onto the topic of long-distance walking and so I obliged and answered, hoping it would inspire the group to walking-and-chanting initiatives.
 
May pilgrimage play a role in people's lives and help to stamp out within the mind of the walker any notion of any anticipated senseless violence.
 
May the Source be with you!
 
5 KM

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Saranagati Village, British Columbia
 
Stepping Through Silence
 
 
I was stepping through silence in this world of mountain magic. Suddenly I was struck by surprise. The quiet of walking broke. A grouse just appeared seemingly out of nowhere. He fluttered in frenzy and made his way to hide behind the bushes. No doubt I was the one who scared him. Life or signs of it are very diminished on a winter's day but "look, listen and feel." There is always some life force exhibiting itself even during the sleepiest seasons.
 
I had gone house-hopping in the valley and the space in between each home allows for the most uplifting breath sensation. Phoebe, who is, it`s my guess part Labrador, caught up to me again. To keep this eight month-old large pup engaged you throw a stick for her to catch. I also toss out a mantra or two. Yes, even dogs are eligible recipients of sacred sound.
 
My `hopping`program began at 5:15 at the local temple with Kulashekar, then Mahidhar, the school, then lunch at Partha and Uttama`s, then back to Mahidhar and finally the gorgeous and rustic home of Govinda Gosh where his dear wife Bhava held her birthday party.
 
Govinda is a great chef and his personality to add, draws the community. Well we had the kirtan of our life- boisterous, bold and beautiful.
 
In the serenity of a mountain valley, so much joy can explode.
 
May the Source be with you!
 
5 KM

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Saranagati Village, BC
 
You Canʼt Miss the Mist
 
 
Some of the mist was tucked between mountains. Some had escaped and softly drifted into higher heights. For the most part the sun was the king today as it gazed over a silent world of green snow. I had just completed giving a class at the elementary school on my recollections of Yamuna devi, a saintly woman who had resided in this valley.
 
She passed away three years ago today.
 
Phoebe the dog accompanied me on my trek through the valley as I visited households.  When it came to the team of goats that Francis herds, Phoebe, in her efforts to get to know them, would slowly nose her way towards them. Once she would get real close, she wasnʼt sure, and sheʼd jolt backwards. Goats have these marble-like eyes, almost transparent. Youʼre not quite feeling they actually are looking at you. Phoebe would just freak each time the dozen or so spooky-eyed creatures came in close proximity.

Eventually Phoebe abandoned me once I visited Sarvaʼs house. As Sarva and I chatted about this medic work he does up north, we could see Phoebe outside taking the last of Sarvaʼs brick of ice cream, which was in the perfect fridge lain on the snow. A good at that and Phoebe decided itʼs time to go, while Sarva thought nothing of losing his dessert.
 
My day wound up at Yamunaʼs house. Now uninhabited, this straw-bale built home, was the cozy gathering for the release of her biography by thirty-eight year partner, Dinatarini. Yamuna had a full life, so the book reveals, according to Kartamasa the presenter. A slide show highlighting the pictorial contents of this smart-looking publication became the charmed promotion of the text.
 
I remember Yamuna as the major anchor, the pure stabilizing factor for the devotees in the valley. Her experience and seniority, along with Dina, gave the place a family feel.  Her presence, which still exists, along with the students of the Govardhana Academy as well as the group in between make Saranagati a very “whole” community.
 
May the source be with you!

5 KM

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

Saranagati Village, BC
 
Let me Stretch
 
 
I am back in mountain air, dry and clean. While my greeters / drivers, couple Manu das and Satarupa dasi, drove me from the city of Kamloops to Venables Valley, we stopped for motor oil. Their young 8 year old, Nikunja Bihari, and I, took the road for a short stretch. Why wait for the purchase? Let me stretch. I have gone through three airports before I met this family, just sitting around. Let’s take advantage of the opportunity.
 
Nikunja and I extended our little game, I spy with my little eye, something that is...RED. This was engaging as much as the walk. What I admired about today was the light sprinkle of snow cast over the barren mountains. Yes, I spy with my little eye, the beauty of nature. Once reaching the valley, and the village of Saranagati, Manu and I added a trek towards his new work-in-progress home, built solidly of Douglas fir. This area of greater green is graced with mostly coniferous trees. I was happy to hear the pine beetle was less of an issue. They appear to operate in cycles. Their ravaging of pine and spruce has drastically decreased. Then, at a dear friends, Kripanidhi’s home, the community converged for a Krishna Conscious group’s usual, some chanting, followed by a discussion on the Gita’s verse; param drstva nivartate, about the higher taste in sound.
 
May the source be with you!
 
5 KM

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Edmonton, Alberta
 
Improve
 
Sudama Gopa is one of the two local pujaris at the Radha Govinda Cultural Centre, and he was kind enough to drive me at opening hours, 5:30 am to the rec centre. I learned later that is was the same time as the morning arati, the ceremony to honor Krishna. We both missed that event but, as usual, my walking, this time again at an indoor track, would prove to be spiritual nevertheless.
 
As long as chanting or divine contemplation takes place as legs move forward, you have got a spiritual program. Moving at a good clip, Sudama stuck right next to me, then he slowly ended up following behind. Then he just disappeared. Eventually he reappeared. Adventure got the better of him (or perhaps my pacing was too high gear). He made his way to one of the numerous gadgets you can use to “workout”. Anyways, all was done in an effort to trim down and reshape flesh. In the evening we had a session to fine-tune our approach to precious kirtan. The effort here is in tweaking the ancient practice of devotional music. It was really just a warm-up to a future more evolved presentation that I will make. What I find here in Edmonton is that our community is wanting and willing to know how to improve their lives through improving kirtan.
 
May the source be with you!
 
7 KM

Friday, 19 December 2014

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

Edmonton, Alberta

Live the Movement


The offer was on by my host, Yogendra, to try out the track at the new Meadows Rec Centre, located in his neighbourhood.  With this agreeable proposal, I took to the 4.25 laps that make 1 kilometre.  I completed my desired 6 km for a morning jaunt before my first engagement for the day. 

I find it awkward to do the counter clockwise walk.  I understand they alternate the direction each day.

I got a charge from the caption I read on the back of one woman’s tshirt, “Live Your Movement”, is what it said.  I’m sure that this is a take on how you move your body, but this was a good message which I took as a queue to voice my feelings in regards to the movement that I’ve joined.  Sometimes I’m a little concerned regarding some immature dynamics that I find go on even in a spiritual community.  In my talk to the community, I mentioned that a person behaves at school, behaves at work (might even behave at home), but when in a devotional environment, it should not be the time to vent or to emote.

“In a spiritual setting it calls for shanti –peace.”  To add to the message, I expressed that as long as humans come together, there will eventually be a collision of opinions.  A decision needs to be confirmed in order to unlock an apparent stalemate.  It is structure, a respected managing team, that carries the responsibility of breaking the dam that hinders the flow. 

Now, I joined a movement which sometimes is on pause.  I pray to be instrumental as much as possible, in pressing ‘play’ if not, ‘forward’.  I pray to ‘live the movement’ and to practice what I preach.

May the Source be with you!


6 KM

Saturday, December 13th, 2014

Toronto, Ontario

Not Bored


The seductive woman, the boy smoking dope, the ungratified corporate man, the hungry grizzly, the curious kid wanting to know if I could walk on water, the generous donors in the poorest town in Canada – these were the people and entities I talked about from cross-country treks before a group of people.  It was the second day to talk to a Russian speaking group.  It was inspiring to see their enthusiasm as they listened.  Except for the three kids, the 8, 9 and 10 year olds, who admitted to being bored, all else were quite perked up.  Believe me, I take no offense to kids and their remarks. 

After three months of silence from Dana, the trekker who vied for challenging the cross-country trail, I had succeeded in reaching him by phone.  Last month he had completed 20,000 kilometres on that trail.  He told me he’s in great shape, and has been doing speaking engagements on the glories of walking.  He also informed me about his receiving sponsorship from Keen, the shoe company.  It will be a great day to meet him in person.  We are trying for that.  And as I get enthused in hearing what he is doing, he mutually gets inspiration by my efforts.  There is a walking bond going on here, even though we’re thousands of miles apart from each other.

As I completed my phone call with him, I was in the airport at the time, waiting for a flight to Edmonton.  A fellow by the name Ahmed, asked if he could sit next to me.  My robes struck his enthusiasm, or his inquisitiveness, and so he then expressed his wish for spiritual input into his life.  Like many people, he is feeling a vacuum.  This sparked a fulfilling conversation which continued until it was time to line up for boarding. 

Not everyone was bored that I met today.  It was more like one long ribbon of exchange with motivated people. 

May the Source be with you!


3 KM

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Vancouver, British Columbia

Path of Simplicity


Our local pujari (priest), Swiss born, Hadai Pandit, offered to take me to see a god-sister.  Her name is Padyavali, she is a small gal from Newfoundland, and she joined the ranks of Krishna Consciousness back in the early 70’s.  At the seniors’ home where she resides, we found her lying down.  Her Parkinson’s disallows her from moving with speed.  And when it comes to hearing, with her mature years, it means you have to raise your volume a bit. 

Hadai, his wife, Mahatma, and I, took Padyavali for a short, slow stroll down the hallway and back.  Being rather sedentary today, this little short stroll is something I needed more than she did.  She encountered some dizziness from that brief walk, which is a mark that she is not in her best health.  We sang a devotional song by her bedside, and she participated.  If walking and talking doesn’t help very much in the communication department, then you can always use mantra power, correct? 

We will see our dear sister on the next visit to Vancouver. 

And you know, those Russian speaking people that I had the honour to see as part of a weekly get together, was also really sweet.  Here I gave an option on what I should speak about, “Do you want a verse from the Bhagavad Gita which to dissect, or a reading from the book, “Krishna”, or an abbreviated 9 Devotions Workshop, or a talk, “Tales from Trails”.  They opted for the latter, and so we trekked the road together as I recalled crazy but cool experiences of pedestrian pastimes.  It was nothing short of leading people on the path of simplicity. 

May the Source be with you!


3 KM

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Port Coquitlam, British Columbia

I Was Driven


I was driven to Port Coquitlam in one of those new electric cars, a Tesla model.  It drives real smooth, still, I wouldn’t trade walking for a fancy car ride anywhere, any day.  It was simply practical taking this mode of travel. 

What was the attraction to Port Coquitlam?  Food, rather, the people who prepared it.  Jogender and family invite like routine each time I come to Vancouver.  It’s custom to host a sadhu, holy person, to one’s home, bathe the person’s feet in clean water, after his long walk, and then feed that same mendicant.  In exchange, the mendicant will offer words of inspiration. 

Now, in my case, I was a guest who was not worthy of a soothing foot wash.  I didn’t trek to Jogender’s home, I was not a weary or worthy traveller.  I wish though, that I could put in more time to trekking. 

I did slide a few minutes in with Peter near the Chinese farms in Burnaby.  Peter is a gardener and looks after the grounds at the ISKCON temple.  As an outdoors type of person, he thrives on physical activity.  With the gardening, he earns his keep, and also washes his feet, and all that above those feet after a day’s work. 

As  bhakti yoga practitioners, cleanliness becomes a part and parcel of habit.  One get cleansed with water externally, and with mantra internally. 

Back to Jogender’s home and the food.  What can I say?  Good hosts, great food.  Thank you. 

May the Source be with you!


5 KM

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Vancouver, British Columbia

Dancing (Walking) Monk

Time and rain were two hurdles to a meaningful footwalk session.  I did manage to use more body parts than just the feet and legs, however.  At a yoga studio, “Yoga on 7th”, I was more or less introduced as the Dancing Monk.

It started off by a group of us sitting down to some mrdanga drum lessons by Vyasa.  Then vocalist/harmoniumist by the name of Anand gave voice lessons.   Part three of the evening program consisted of my introducing dance steps to the chanting and drumming.  We kept the moves ‘folk-like’, clean and for the most part, we moved in a circular fashion and all the while chanted simultaneously. 

It was great getting off our butts, so to speak, and engaging in what is generally amiss in many current day kirtans where people tend to just sit.  In the words of one of my peers, Lokanath Swami, a monk from India, “To make the kirtan complete, you dance.” 

I do hope the kirtan people of the world catch on. 

Now, there was one other beautiful element to the day which had less to do with dance.   Sitting before senior residents of the Earl Haig Residence, I spoke of my walking escapades before dance lessons at “Yoga on 7th”.  These mature people in their grand 70’s, 80’s and maybe 90’s took to chairs in the rec room to hear of my pilgrimages.  They had questions.  I answered. 

What a bunch of sweetie-pies they are!

May the Source be with you!

Maybe 2 -3 KM worth of footwork in the form of dance. 

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Vancouver, British Columbia

Thrilled


I was thrilled that the chap sharing the quarters with me at the Burnaby temple was enthusiastic to take the lead in the kirtan culture on behalf of our guru in the city of his residence, Victoria.    As a musically inclined person, Adhosha Darshi, by name, volunteered to take up this responsibility and embrace the project.  He seems the perfect fit.

And Victoria, being what it is, is a gorgeous town with a populace that is open and eager for such kirtan.  It needs to be said that chanting already has a foothold in this capital city of British Columbia.  I don’t think that it would be a speculation to say that Krishna monks pioneered the ancient practice here in the late sixties.  I am a product of someone who met chanting monks in the summer of ’72 right on the street in downtown Victoria.

At that time I was walking (when I wasn’t I) near Beacon Hill Park with my bro, Jerry, and friend, Rob, when we were met by a group of shaven-headed, robed monks.  Years have passed and there isn’t a permanent presence for chanting by our members in Victoria.

Somehow I felt that today’s the day that blessing came our way in the form of a great life-long monk, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati.  This happens to be his day as we remember him on the anniversary of his departure in the twenties.  It was his urgings that compelled his student, our guru, Srila Prabhupada, to come to the U.S. in ’65 to initiate the chanting movement in the west.

Now, I feel, that by his blessing of kirtan by one of our men, Adhosha, will take hold in Victoria on Vancouver Island.  As Shakespeare wrote, “If music be the food of love, play on.”  And so , if chanting be the fuel of Absolute love, then do indeed play on.

May the Source be with you!

5 KM

Monday, December 8th, 2014

Vancouver, British Columbia

I Was Walking


I was walking in darkness, at night, a meagre mile with a young fellow from the island.  Everything was obscure because of lack of light.  Whatever dim light did exist, for instance, oncoming headlights from a car, casted an illusion.  What might look like a puddle of water was actually an upraised patch of dark asphalt.  And that which appeared to be a dip in a road, might turn out to be an elevation. 

Some people live in darkness (by choice usually) and this poses a problem for perceptions on life.  That which is perceived as beneficial could actually be detrimental and vice versa. 

Walking partner, Adhosha, by name, got wet in the process like I did.  The rain that descended limited our vision a tad bit more.  This only meant that we had to be extra sharp with our steps, and carefully avoiding to get socks soaked.  Wet footwear doesn’t matter, but when socks are drenched, it’s a little unpleasant.  When it does happen, then it’s time to take shelter of tolerance. 

I had a full day of meeting people.  Now with the wrap up of the day, I, or we, are meeting the elements.  It brought about some introspection. 

May the Source be with you!

5 KM

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

Vancouver, British Columbia

Travel Easier


The urge to walk is especially enhanced when failing miserably the day before to doing any trekking.  I tried making it up today and managed to jaunt by taking my usual route – an ultra flat district in profitable delta rich agricultural plots of land. 

There, and in my walking, in those two installments, companions and I had sweet talks in touching the three phases of time – past, present, and future.  I imagine most conversations anyone ever had embody actions  that have already been executed, aspirations for the future, and also being very alive and present. 

I had said something about life in a depressing commercialized Christmas atmosphere before I devoted my life to monasticism.  I also asked other about personal projects coming ahead.  And for the here and now, well, “How are you doing with your sadhana?” becomes a natural question.  In other words, are vows to a veggie lifestyle faring well, how is your japa (mantra meditation) doing lately?  Is regulation in these and other departments doing well? 

With the two groups of people I had trekked with, taking substances is not even an issue.  At least I give the benefit of the doubt, so I need not inquire about that.  Everyone naturally has their own life to live, and such subject matter is really just their own business.  Still, as someone senior in years to the others walking with me, and me being the more monk/guru figure, I may ask out of genuine concern.  How safe are we leading our life?  Principles and promises are generally for our protection. To follow the path of dharma we’re going to obey and observe the signs that make our travel in this life easier. 

May the Source be with you!

7 KM

Saturday, December 6th, 2016

Hamilton, Ontario

Coming Together


According to chapter 18, verse 5 of the Bhagavad Gita, a person in the renounced order of life (that’s me), encourages the sacrifice of the vivaha-yagna, marriage.  The purport by our guru, Srila Prabhupada, makes a point of this as a wholesome principle.  Let’s face it, most people will end up being in a relationship.  To solemnize it, a spiritual person is asked to get involved. 

It was in Brampton that I had the honour to be there for this “blessing” while speaking a few words on the opportunity for a couple to truly develop communication skills and exercise patience through a God-centric partnership.  We wish well the matched two people in this regard. 

In Hamilton, a group of seekers I guess you could say, showed up for one of those Nine Devotions Workshops that we conduct from time to time.  What a fabulous group they are.  Each individual, of which I know little regarding marital status, all who came were of marriageable age, but here, matrimony was not our topic.  Connecting with the divine was through these often familiar processes identified as healing exercises:

1.       Shravanam – reflecting hearing.
2.       Kirtanam – penetrative chanting.
3.       Smaranam – positive recalling.
4.       Pada Sevanam – sincere serving.
5.       Archanam – image honouring.
6.       Vandanam – power praying.
7.       Dasyam – submissive connecting.
8.       Sakhyam – friendship building.
9.       Atmani Vedanam – sweet surrendering.
 
We had a blast connecting. 

May the Source be with you!

0 KM

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Varaderro/ Toronto

Left Feeling Good


Farewell to Cuba!  Off to home!  Left feeling good knowing that bhakti yoga is easily taken by people on this special island.  To celebrate this year’s trip would be natural, since a small plot of land is now secured for devotional purposes, details of which will be revealed in future blog entries.  Sorry to sound mysterious about this acquisition, but it is all in keeping with plans to add to the quality of life, again, in this special place. 

While leaving on the Sunwing flight along with past week companions, both monastic and lay members, I had the chance to project ahead and contemplate the day forward.  An anticipated visit to the Shanti Yoga Centre in Hamilton tomorrow will be an opportunity to walk the group through a Nine Devotions Workshop.

One of the outstanding features of the workshop is often the item called vandanam, power praying.  A much loved prayer comes to mind, one well known is, Reinhold Niebuhr’s.  In an abbreviated form it goes like this:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

In our Vedic tradition, prayer is highly recognized by one contemporary of Sri Krishna.  His name is Akrura, and he offered not just a petition to God, but full appreciation of the Creator’s accomplishments. 

May the Source be with you!

7 KM

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

Matanzas, Cuba
 
Staples
 
Hayagriva and I stayed at a very decent bed and breakfast. We woke up to get our usual regimen of chanting japa. At the first opportunity we took a stroll down "Boulevard" where no vehicles come through. At dawn people are found at bakeries, much like the convergence of people at a Tim Horton's coffee place in Canada. There are enough bakeries that line-ups for the daily bread rations are not too long. Bread seems to be the staple in Cuba if not rice and black beans.
 
We were happy to break bread along with cut papaya and guava fruit at our bed and breakfast where Sahil, Brhat and Frederic joined us. Then off we went to Varadero and then enroute to Matanzas. Everywhere we travel on the island of Cuba I see people are quite prone to the outdoors. Young men are out playing in the soccer fields. Cubans are the most "in shape" people I've seen.
 
At one stage of our journey one of our monks needed to tend to the bladder room so we did stop at a corner gas station. I told the cab driver I would proceed ahead walking. "Por favor, pick me up down the road." Fifteen minutes later the car pulls up and the man is enwrapped in laughter. He didn't realize that in that short amount of time you can span the edge of several driveways and several blocks of streets, in this case passing by a factory and several fields. It floored him, really.

The last event in Cuba was another one of those electrifying chanting sessions, a talk from 15.5 of the Gita, a minor snack, and then, goodbyes.  Just to demonstrate her love for those of us who came from Canada, middle aged Chaitanya Priya, handed me packets of salt and pepper to address the blandish food we sometimes contend with in Cuba. 

It was hugs and kisses amongst all, and then we parted for the last sleep at Riu Resort. 

May the Source be with you!

5 KM

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Santa Clara, Cuba
 
Rough Sleep
 
 
Sleep was rough. Without a fan running at night, mosquitoes harass you like anything yet the propellers brought on a cough that persisted. Secondly, like the cars in Cuba, mattresses haven’t evolved in sixty years. The mattresses are still stuffed with springs that somehow brace one or two of your ribs. Ouch!
 
It was the second consecutive night of sleep discomfort. Room-partner, Sahil, took sick the night before, renouncing all he consumed for the whole day. “Use the toilet to do that, not the sink, please, Sahil!” I really did feel for him.
 
An hour drive took us to Santa Clara after a great two hour walk from Rodas’ precincts into country territory. Common imagery are, once again, horses and now cowboy hats.  Farmers take to the fields of sugar cane, greens, orchards, beans and rice.
 
Our small contingent of Canadian monks were walked to our first venue in Santa Clara for speaking at, “Sol Teatro” off of a pedestrian-friendly street called Boulevard.  Favourable responses came from all. Cubans love kirtan. Sahil, now feeling better, was at his optimum on the drum. Hayagriva mentioned that he was impressed by the youth attendance as well as the repeat presence by people from last year.  Some have taken now to japa chanting and in the kirtan everyone has their moment to dance up a storm in the centre of our formed circle.
 
The final stop for today was at the Theosophical Society centre. This was a mature group of folks. The president, vice-pres., secretary, treasurer and members made it a point to come. Most of the group are familiar with Krishna’s teachings, most appeared to be firm believers in the soul’s transmigration. Chanting came natural to them. The only thing that appeared “new” was having a swami to visit them. I told them I’ll be happy to come again next year.
 
Adios!
 
May the source be with you!
 

10 KM

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Rodas, Cuba
 
More Pretty Than A Car
 
 
A horse is always more pretty than a car. Even if it is a souped-up ‘55 two-tone white and green Chevrolet, our first leg conveyance en route to small town Rodas. Still couldn’t match the beauty of the more dominant horses pulling buggies.
 
Our monastic team took advantage of the beach at Varadero, in ocean-splashing-fun before embarking on our ride to Rodas. There, we indulged in an explosive kirtan followed by a Q & A session.
 
Q: “How do we, in Cuba, develop a strong devotional community?” asked one of the local devotees of Krishna.
 
A: Success in this area will depend on strong relationships. There are four major categories of people that we need to cultivate relations with. The four categories to consider are: 1) Superiors referring to God, guru, elders, parents and mentors. 2) Peers refers to friends, equals in realization or age. 3) Innocents refers to children, students and the inquisitive. 4) The inimical refers to those most uninclined towards spiritual life. They may even have a highly critical nature.
 
I explained how each category be approached in their own unique way. Above all it is highly important to view everyone, from the bigger picture, as an equal spiritually but, for practical reasons, distinctions must be made.
 
More questions ensued, all with insight. Yes, it was a good evening. It was by our calendar, that we were compelled us to honour “Gita Jayanti”, the anniversary of when Krishna spoke the Gita. Today was also an ekadasi, a day to relax the stomach from consuming grains. Finally, we were in relatively quiet Rodas, where horse-drawn carts out-populate autos. Such a place can’t be all bad.
 
May the Source be with you!
 
4 KM


Monday, December 1st, 2014

Varadero, Cuba

 

We Are Here

 

“Try this mantra which helps to get your mind off of materialistic things,’’ said Hayagriva to the fellow in the car. It was he, the fellow, who was curious when he drove up to where we were ambling along and then who asked what we were all about.

 

‘’If I try this mantra and it doesn't work, I’ll come back to see you then, okay?”

‘’Surely!’’ said Hayagriva reassuringly and with an ounce of humor. The man then took off in a blast of diesel exhaust, as is common enough, even in the more posh resort areas of Cuba.

 

Hayagriva, Brihat and I took a two hour jaunt near the peninsula’s end, on the conventional side-walk parallel to the road which accesses all the resorts frequented by South-Americans, Germans, Russians, British, Canadians, just about everyone to the exception of U.S. Citizens. Double-decker buses whiz by and then retard speed to full stops along the way. I’ve been noticing tourists finding a three-some brigade of monks to be met with inquisitiveness.

 

Of course, we are not just here, in Cuba, to relax. We are in this intriguing country to strike up sparks of interest. Conversation is what we thrive on. Being that it is a day off (no speaking engagement today) we’ve left ourselves to be servants of a world of adventure, discovering that inner contentment is indeed sought after.

 

While the interaction with tourist is not just our prime goal in Cuba, we focus primarily on the sharing of the bhakti path to local residents, and those who have already begun the process previously. We are here to nurture and to be nurtured through the pure act of sharing something most worthwhile.

 

May the Source be with you!

 

9 KM

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

Habana, Cuba

 

The Way It Is

 

A librarian, Ariel, accepted the name Agni at his initiation today.  There was also Rahul who received the name Ramachandra (via Hridayananda Goswami) and the massage therapist, 23-year old Elvis, took the name Ekanath.

The Krishna community here in Habana was very happy for them.  They could appreciate the achievement.  The joy of community and initiate-recipients was expressed through the dance and mantra after the fire ceremony held in a generous woman’s apartment. 

Not everyone can own a car in Cuba.  At average, 20-30 dollars a month, it’s virtually impossible.  Being that the way it is, a good heap of attendees walked the 5 KM to and fro.  Certainly an event like a (havan) fire ceremony takes on a more traditional flavour when you walk to it.  Another advantage - people are outdoors.  They get to see you and you, them.

I was particularly keen on this response from the public which always gives me a big thrill, especially at our return to Riu resort in Varadero. 

In the relaxed atmosphere, the pop-over and questions didn’t stop.  Just as one curious browser would leave, another would come. Their question period was never long enough to go deep into a subject matter. The best of the bunch was a happy-go-lucky chap from Toronto, perhaps in his late sixties.

“What are you doing here?  I see you at Yonge and Bloor all the time,” he remarks about my frequent walks there in Toronto. He was less interested in my lifestyle in place of his own I guess. This is not as a judgmental remark but he really did brag about the cigars he smokes. 

“Great, but I stay away from the stuff,” I told him. “I don’t and I’m doing pretty good,” the man said in all smiles. 

As I close today’s blog entry I just wanted to reveal a true smile-maker.  Our new initiates and companion-monks from Canada sat together to memorize a verse from the Gita in Sanskrit whose translation goes as follows, “Even if you are habituated to erroneous deeds, when you are situated in the boat of transcendental knowledge you will be able to cross over the ocean of miseries.”  (4.36)  This might even apply to the cigar man.

May the Source be with you!

14 KM

Monday, 8 December 2014

Saturday, November 29th, 2014

Habana, Cuba   

Monastic Getting Around                                                                

I, along with three monks from Canada, taxied our way to the city of Matanzas last evening after a long beach walk.  Sand and salt water met our our feet along the Varadero beach.  At a bend to the beach we split ourselves for a preference to a dip or a nap.  Away from the industrial world and away from the masses, we enjoyed solitude on sand while shaded by plants.  Readings and discussions from the Bhagavad-gita centred on the topic of bhakti as the supreme yoga.  Just imagine if you will, four single men, (by name Hayagriva, Brihat, Frederic, and I) with not the worries of the world on our minds.  It really does work that way for monastics. 

After sundown in Matanzas we had this Cuban reception, initiated by a kirtan, followed by my talk.  Then today, a long drive to Habana , landed us at a culture house where we engaged in, once again, kirtan. From the lotus position, sitting down cross-legged, we all eventually stood up for a spontaneous dance.  The venue was Casa de la Cultura, a former architectural Spanish building of beauty, now in disrepair, like so many aristocratic edifices of the area.

People here appear to be immune to the disregarded state of affairs, but they do have each other.  They are the lovin’ kind.  They like rhythm and movement.  With that being said we did deliver.  All being pleased.  In the short time here in Cuba, a day and a half, we spanned some kilometres on foot, some on wheels and treated ourselves to the spirited hospitality of the Cuban people in Varadero, Matanzas and Habana. 

May the Source be with you!

6 KM

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Friday, November 28th, 2014

Havana, Cuba
 
Sauntering – Part 3
 
From “The Spirit of Sauntering;  Thoreau on the Art of Walking and the Perils of a Sedentary Lifestyle”, by Maria Popova:
 
I am astonished at the power of endurance, to say nothing of the moral insensibility, of my neighbors who confine themselves to shops and offices the whole day for weeks and months, aye, and years almost together.

Of course, lest we forget, Thoreau was able to saunter through the woods and over the hills and fields in no small part thanks to support from his mom and sister, who fetched him fresh-baked donuts as he renounced civilization. In fact, he makes a sweetly compassionate aside, given the era he was writing in, about women’s historical lack of mobility:

How womankind, who are confined to the house still more than men, stand it I do not know; but I have ground to suspect that most of them do not stand it at all.

Thoreau is careful to point out that the walking he extols has nothing to do with transportational utility or physical exercise — rather it is a spiritual endeavor undertaken for its own sake:

The walking of which I speak has nothing in it akin to taking exercise, as it is called, as the sick take medicine at stated hours — as the Swinging of dumb-bells or chairs; but is itself the enterprise and adventure of the day. If you would get exercise, go in search of the springs of life. Think of a man’s swinging dumbbells for his health, when those springs are bubbling up in far-off pastures unsought by him!

To engage in this kind of walking, Thoreau argues, we ought to reconnect with our wild nature:

When we walk, we naturally go to the fields and woods: what would become of us, if we walked only in a garden or a mall?

Give me a wildness whose glance no civilization can endure — as if we lived on the marrow of koodoos devoured raw.

Life consists with wildness. The most alive is the wildest.

All good things are wild and free.

But his most prescient point has to do with the idea that sauntering — like any soul-nourishing activity — should be approached with a mindset of presence rather than productivity. To think that a man who lived in a forest cabin in the middle of the 19th century might have such extraordinary insight into our toxic modern cult of busyness is hard to imagine, and yet he captures the idea that “busy is a decision” with astounding elegance:
 
I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit. In my afternoon walk I would fain forget all my morning occupations and my obligations to Society. But it sometimes happens that I cannot easily shake off the village. The thought of some work will run in my head and I am not where my body is — I am out of my senses. In my walks I would fain return to my senses. What business  have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods?
 
May the Source be with you!
 
5 KM

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

Havana, Cuba

Sauntering – Part 2

From “The Spirit of Sauntering:  Thoreau on the Art of Walking and the Perils of a Sedentary Lifestyle”:

“He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all; but the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea.

Proclaiming that “every walk is a sort of crusade,” Thoreau laments — note, a century and a half before our present sedentary society — our growing civilizational tameness, which has possessed us to cease undertaking “persevering, never-ending enterprises” so that even “our expeditions are but tours.” With a dramatic flair, he lays out the spiritual conditions required of the true walker:

If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again — if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man — then you are ready for a walk.

No wealth can buy the requisite leisure, freedom, and independence which are the capital in this profession… It requires a direct dispensation from Heaven to become a walker.

Thoreau’s prescription, to be sure, is neither for the faint of body nor for the gainfully entrapped in the nine-to-five hamster wheel. Professing that the preservation of his “health and spirits” requires “sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields” for at least four hours a day, he laments the fates of the less fortunate and leaves one wondering what he may have said of today’s desk-bound office worker:

When sometimes I am reminded that the mechanics and shopkeepers stay in their shops not only all the forenoon, but all the afternoon too, sitting with crossed legs, so many of them — as if the legs were made to sit upon, and not to stand or walk upon — I think that they deserve some credit for not having all committed suicide long ago."

… To be continued.

May the Source be with you!

5 KM

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Toronto, Ontario

Sauntering – Part 1


My good friend, Michael Oesch, cross-Canada walker, forwarded this article regarding walking, and a major proponent of the art, Henry David Thoreau.  This article is stupendous. 

The Spirit of Sauntering:  Thoreau on the Art of Walking and the Perils of a Sedentary Lifestyle

By Maria Popova

 

“Go out and walk. That is the glory of life,” Maira Kalman exhorted in her glorious visual memoir. A century and a half earlier, another remarkable mind made a beautiful and timeless case for that basic, infinitely rewarding, yet presently endangered human activity.
 
Henry David Thoreau was a man of extraordinary wisdom on everything from optimism to the true meaning of “success” to the creative benefits of keeping a diary to the greatest gift of growing old. In his 1861 treatise, Walking, penned seven years after Walden, he sets out to remind us of how that primal act of mobility connects us with our essential wildness, that spring of spiritual vitality methodically dried up by our sedentary civilization.
 
Intending to “regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society,” because “there are enough champions of civilization,” Thoreau argues that the genius of walking lies not in mechanically putting one foot in front of the other en route to a destination but in mastering the art of sauntering. (In one of several wonderful asides, Thoreau offers what is perhaps the best definition of “genius”: “Genius is a light which makes the darkness visible, like the lightning’s flash, which perchance shatters the temple of knowledge itself — and not a taper lighted at the hearthstone of the race, which pales before the light of common day.”) An avid practitioner of hiking, Thoreau extols sauntering as a different thing altogether:
 
I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks — who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering, which word is beautifully derived “from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going a la Sainte Terre, to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, “There goes a Sainte-Terrer,” a  Saunterer, a Holy-Lander. They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre, without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. “
 
… To be continued.
 
May the Source be with you!
 
5 KM

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Houston/Toronto

Sounds at the Airport


If I don’t make a deliberate effort to sing (very softly) my morning mantra, I will be subjected to mundane sound all around me.  Through the loud speakers at the Houston Airport, country western music vibrates through the airwaves.  It is not my cup of tea.  The selections chosen are indeed rather cheesy, if I could use the term.  It’s not the kind of stuff that stimulates self realization.

In the Toronto Airport, these old Motown greats are pumped out through the system.  They are no doubt, nostalgic.  At least you’ve got happy tunes.  I’m really impressed though, with the airport in Philadelphia, where they play classical music.  It’s an easy background for chanting japa on the beads.

Airport facilities are usually large enough that you can get away with a low volume, rhythmic Sanskrit song.  And even if you are caught singing, it’s of some benefit to the casual listener.  Sanskrit, and sometimes Bengali, and Hindi are the three principal languages that Krishna monks sing.  It may sound foreign to us, they’re sweet sounding nonetheless, and they are of a spiritual quality.  They can soften the heart, much like a good old song by the Von Trapp family. 

So, I’m stuck in an airport with the usual humdrum sounds.  I look out the window at a Texas winter outdoors and I wish I could be out there.  Not on the runway, of course, but somewhere where I can loosen limbs, somewhere where I can hear the sounds of a more free world, of birds and coyotes, and somewhere on a trail amidst trees or prairie.  There, I can sing at a volume that even the spiritual world could catch.

May the Source be with you!

0 KM

Monday, November 24th, 2014

Buenos Aires, Argentina

My Big Brother and I


My spirit brother, or what we call, god brother, goes by the name of Hridayananda Goswami.  He first became a monk under our guru’s mentorship back in 1969, if I’m not mistaken.  This morning he and I collaborated together.  Although miles away, Hridayananda was present with us in the temple room through Skype.  Still, I would say the event was totally mystical because two people, a couple who are undergoing a transformation of sorts, Marcello, who takes active roles in the dramas I bring to Buenos Aires, and his wife, Guadelupe, had decided to make a commitment towards spiritual advancement this very day.

Sitting by a fire yagya, the two expressed their vows to respective gurus, Hridayananda Goswami for her, and myself, Bhaktimarga Swami, for him.  It was both Marcello and Guadelupe who desired to make their vows announcing before their present well-wishers and friends, the reason for taking vows. 

In a brief paraphrase, here’s what they said, “To boost compassion, you accept a life of vegetarianism.  To enhance austerity, one avoids intoxication.  To be clean in both body and mind, you adopt the lifestyle of no illicit sex.  And to embrace the principle of truthfulness, you abstain from gambling.”

Guadalupe and Marcello were quite content with their new names.  Just after the fire ceremony, their family and friends already began calling them by their Sanskrit names.  Guadalupe is now Govinda Lila and Marcello is now referred to as Matsya Lila. 

It was a pleasure dealing with team player, Hridayananda Goswami.  He is my big brother.

May the Source be with you!

4 KM

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

Buenos Aires, Argentina

People Stayed


Sunday proved to be just that – sunny.  Under this condition more people are inclined to travel from far reaches of the city to get on with the Ratha Yatra, the Chariot Festival.  I became the privileged chanting leader for the procession at the start.  The challenge was the increased number of humans.  Moving on foot in crammed conditions proved awkward, especially if you play a musical instrument.  My piece of paraphernalia was the microphone.  I was noting that the mic I used was small enough to fit through the earringed earlobe of a fellow.  Not that the mic was small, the ear hole was huge. 

Our usual location for entertainment and food was perfect – shady trees and peaceful atmospheres.  The stage was the best set up yet, about 8 by 5 metres.  It amazed me when music bands came in with their equipment, they know their stuff so well with their cables, gadgets and playing instruments.  The band called ‘Mukunda’ does this reggae style of kirtan and the yoga rave band called “So What” provide excitement to their respective audiences.  There was a clear focused attention given to our drama, “Little Big Ramayan”.  The great epic condensed to a half hour as we presented is very riveting. 

After the two ‘hot bands’ completed their sessions, we were on.  Not the drama, that came earlier on.  A monk from Germany, Gaura Vani Swami, and I, were expected to hold and excite the crowd.  With no chance of rehearsals to our more traditional approach, it left me feeling somewhat apprehensive.  The sun had vanished for some time by now, and we thought people were likely to depart.  Both GV Swami and I were taken by surprise, people stayed and followed the chant and our improvised dance steps.  We held the crowd.  It’s all the mercy of Krishna, really. 

May the Source be with you!

7 KM

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

Buenos Aires, Argentina

How November 22 Went


I have a sister whose birthday is today.  I usually never forget it.  I remember walking her home from school the day that JFK was assassinated on the same day.  That was an impactful day.  Who will ever forget? 

Somehow, being immersed in devotional service, dates just do not register in my mind.  I also didn’t have Roseanne, my sister on my mind, not until this writing, what to speak of remembering the day that those fateful bullets hit the US president.

There was just so much engagement, in fact, 16 hours straight I spent in a basement room working with a crew from scratch, “Little Big Ramayan”.  It was going to be my finale of this piece for this year.  Trying to direct a play to people who are accustomed to a different language, Spanish, is very interesting.  I would give a directive, and three or four people would volunteer and blurt out their own translation to the poor artist who was trying to understand.  And, as you may know, the Spanish language is much more flowery and expansive than the English language.  That approach had to change, so I had to select one person (uno) to help me with this.  Furthermore, working on a tile floor for those hours in a basement takes a toll on the body, and it happened to be a damp day.  The temperature outside is moderate, but tomorrow promises to be 30 degrees plus Celsius, a chance for sun exposure. 

Walks in the city can be pleasant enough.  I took note of less dog dung on the streets from previous years, trees are tall and shady, the air is great, it’s spring.  Pigeons are well fed here, plenty of breadcrumbs are dispersed by benefactors.  Doves are also recipients while Robins go for the worm after the fresh showers of rain.

I’m loving it. 

May the Source be with you!

5 KM

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Houston/Buenos Aires

Snags


A delayed flight in Canada caused me to miss my connecting plane destined for Argentina.  I was surprisingly stranded in Houston.  How to make the best use of a night and day in this Texas city?  Answer?  Call the people I know and ask them to come to the rescue. 

Quick to my plea for help were Pakistani born, Abhay Charan, Shruti, and their daughter Lakshmi.  The family was happy about my being run aground, and of course, I was thrilled to see them.  They took me to the gorgeous ISKCON temple.  As soon as I walked inside, the Bhagavatam Class presenter asked me to come on board, to share the seat and deliver some words to a morning group of devotees.  The theme of the class was “The Principle of Oneness”.  The text which was spoken by the mendicant, Narada, qualified the true meaning of ‘oneness’ on the devotional path; you use your body mind and words, your entire being in your devotional endeavours. 

After a great breakfast (not a sugary one, thank God) we hastily left for Memorial Park, finding ourselves in a setting of natural Texas bush wilderness.  It was a two hour trek on meandering paths with the first hour in wondering wander, the last hour – lost.  That’s okay.  The five of us, including teen, Krishnaya, concluded that the incident helped to increased our prayer.

The flight, now 24 hours after the first due departure also met with a snag.  The break mechanism on United Airlines flight 819 needed repair.  Just after we all sat down and boarded, we were asked to deplane, and then waited for a new aircraft to pull up.  That ordeal took another four hours.  So, here’s the challenge: you’re a day and a half late and  you’re required to put on a production for Festival De Los Carros in Buenos Aires.  I did meet the happy crew who were to be my actors, techies, proppies, and everyone else.  God’s mercy!

May the Source be with you!

10 KM















Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Toronto/Houston

Man With a Light Heart


“What’s this?” asked the tall service man in a most jovial tone.  He was gesturing at my vestments as he was about to handle my luggage for the drop off at the airport terminal. 

“I’m a monk,” I said.

“Buddhist?”

“No, Krishna.”

“Do you teach fighting?” he went on with keen interest.

“Our order gets more involved in teaching music, teaching, singing, chanting, like that.”

“Oh, you mean all that peaceful stuff.  I go for those monks that fly in the air, come down crashing and then flattening someone.”

I joined in on his facetious way, appreciating that he loved his work and life.  I let him know that I was truly sorry to disappoint him.  I relayed that I do pilgrim work, occasionally fly (by United Airlines this time) and hopefully come down for a soft landing.  I offered him a mantra card, which when recited, the chant can take you places. 

The man gladly hoisted my two hefty pieces of luggage, one by one, onto the conveyor, gave a nod and outstretched his arm for the next person about to go through security.  The brief encounter with the happy uniformed man showed me how you should treat life – lightheartedly.   

May the Source be with you!

5 KM

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

Toronto, Ontario
 
Favorites
 
At the Tuesday sanga led in our ashram last evening, I was asked to prepare a message. I chose to speak on my favorite verses from the Bhagavad Gita. I would say that I have about 10 verses that I have picked that are most endearing to me personally. I also gave a brief explanation as to why they are my chosen ones.
 
I see no harm in embracing words that resonate the most. Here goes:
(BG 4:35) "Having obtained real knowledge from a self-realized soul, you will never fall again into such illusion, for by this knowledge you will see that all living things are but a part of the Supreme, or, in other words that they are Mine."
 
My comment: Here, Krishna gives reassurance that after assimilating the wisdom He imparted, one will be protected. Secondly, the true perception of the world is that all creatures have a divine connection with Him.
 
Verse 2 (BG 5:18) "The humble sages, by virtue of true knowledge, see with equal vision, a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog, and a dog eater."
 
My comment: This verse speaks of spiritual equality over physical difference.
 
Verse 3 (BG 7:8) "O son of Kunti, (Arjuna), I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable Om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man.
 
Comment: Here, most profound, is the fact that Divine presence is identified in basic things, not excluding our outputs. We can take little credit for what we do.
 
May the Source be with You!
 
0 KM