Friday, 28 August 2015

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

 
Tuesday, August 25th, 2015
Richmond Hill, Ontario
 
Seeing
 
On the previous evening, our small chanting party made our way westbound on Danforth Avenue where we passed by a pub. Danforth is known for its outside cafe and pub culture. "It's forty years since I seen them," blurted out one of the guys, referring to Krishnas doing just that - chanting. I'm glad we gave him a thrill.

Signs are going up for a political federal race. That's in both Canada and the U.S. It's the time when terms are up. New and old faces with names will pop up in increasing numbers and I'm not sure that it excites a whole lot of folks. Apathy might be the word to describe the mood for North Americans. Our guru, Srila Prabhupada, would say of Indian politics that people are hopeful of Rama-raj in reminiscence of the years of Rama's reign.

That's hard to find. A dharmic ruler? Practically impossible! Can't get hopes up too high.

I spent my afternoon at a palace of a building. It's actually a home of a friend and godbrother, Subha Vilas. The mansion reminded me of how I would picture the abode of Prince Rama as outlined in the epic "Ramayana." We are talking about the location known as Ayodya in Uttar Pradesh in north India.

Anyways, what I appreciate about the structure with its marvelous and massive slab pieces of limestone from Indiana is that it is designed for not only a family to dwell in but also, it facilitates crowds for special function days. On the ground level is a temple of Radha and Krishna and there's ample cooking cuisine for the masses. That's big thinking. Yes, thinking out of that me-and-my-family shows benevolence.

One big attraction of the place is that there are walking trails in the area. Subha Vilas tells me of the wild turkeys they spot in the area. It just gets more intriguing.

May the Source be with you!
 
0 km
 
 

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Monday, August 24th, 2015


Monday, August 24th, 2015
Toronto, Ontario

Cannot Give Up

My trekking partner today has been mentally challenged for decades, perhaps since birth. Personally, he has found it difficult to make and keep friends largely due to the unpredictability in his behaviour. Having known him for some time, I felt I could offer him some service by allowing the chance for us to walk together. I thought it would be good for his condition.

We trekked up Bloor street to Christie, then to Dupont and back to the ashram. It got tiring for him at certain points. Overall, I think he did remarkably well in acting like a trouper. He was distracted at certain times, although the attempt to fix his ear to the mantra that he was chanting was sincere. In other words, we both were walking and chanting together. I admit to also being distracted while chanting with the aid of my japa mala (meditational beads). It is the natural course that the mind takes when attempting to harness it.

At one point he needed a break from walking. We spotted a park bench but the recent rainfall left the bench to be drenched. So I pulled out a newspaper from a newspaper stand and spread it out over the bench so that we could sit. We just wanted to keep our behinds dry.

My friend and I reached the ashram by 7 AM. We have a policy, however, that he is not permitted to be within the premises. Some of his impulsive behaviour in the past has complicated the situation for him. But I must hand it to him, it was honourable of him to take that hour to walk and chant with me. I cannot give up on people. After all, we are all struggling souls in this world. We need to provide support.


May the Source be with you!

10 km

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015


Sunday, August 23rd, 2015
Point Pelee, Ontario

I Shared

Gaura, my godbrother, and I shared a message with our weekend beach crew on the birth of Krishna, how the stars and planets lined up in such a way as to challenge regular orbital movement. As we spoke to our listeners, the waves from the lake’s water were lapping next to us.

We had set a picture of our guru, Srila Prabhupada, on a piece of driftwood and fixed it in such a way that it was held by spiralled broken branches. We were under good shade from a tree. But for a branch that hung over us with the silky webs of the tent caterpillar, all was perfect. It was our last hour of water and beach fun before rushing back for duty in the city.

Duty for me was connecting with the congregation in Toronto beginning with delivering a talk on how valuable it is to make a spiritual link through texts of Vedic origin. Before speaking, I spent a few minutes viewing, reviewing, and renewing my memory on chapter 7 of the Gita. Then I came upon verse 17. Therein, Krishna speaks of the importance of knowledge acquaintance. This includes knowing your true identity. After all, “Who am I?” is a question to be answered.

It is said that when you have endeavoured, even for lifetimes, to attempt to know the truth, eventually answers do come. Then the spiritual path becomes relatively easy. It also becomes so much more second nature to serve others devotionally when you have wisdom in your DNA or in your blood as a result of background endeavours.

After I spoke, several people came forward with their curiosities. One man asked, “Is Krishna real, or is He symbolic?” Fair question.

“Yes, He is real, and He can be understood as one who lives in His own abode. He is also known as the witness in the heart, and is the essence of nature.”

The man seemed content. “Thank you”, he said.


May the Source be with you!

4 km

Saturday, August 22nd, 2015

Saturday, August 22nd, 2015
Pelee Island, Ontario

Happiest

“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy…” I always liked this musical piece and lyrics by George Gershwin. When I discovered kirtan this piece couldn’t match up to it, although Gershwin’s genius is something to very much respect.

“The livin’” came easy to us today. It was a summer outing once again with a gathering of Krishna devotees from Cleveland, Michigan, Windsor, Toronto, and Brampton. A trip to Pelee Island took the shape of a ferry ride. Once reaching this peaceful piece of land out in Lake Erie we picnicked veggie style. We then swam, hiked, held kirtan, and danced to the point of hearts jumping. It was a meeting of sweet, sweet persons coming together. As the song goes, “One of these mornin’s, you’re gonna rise up singin’”. That spirit of upliftment was amongst us.

It would not be an error to say that the highlight of all our affairs today, including consumption of the pasta and bean prep, was the chanting on the return ferry. We chose up on the deck as our spot to chant, where passengers could browse and watch, tap toes, and move the torso to the sound of Sahil’s beats on mridanga and Gaura’s voice with harmonium. People were glued for that hour long redefinition of party-time.

Yes, indeed, when we reached the mainland, docked, and made our way to the parking lot, nearby, at a patio bar, people were also listening to music. But frankly, the sound fell on my ears as mundane. It was the live rendition of “Hey Goodlookin’ What You Got Cookin’” by Hank Williams. I took a moment of glad relief, feeling spared by kirtan. I could have been one of those people sitting at the bar, lonely, hankering for a sense of belonging had I not been captured by mantra. It was one of the happiest days of my life.


May the Source be with you!

7 km

 

Friday, August 21st, 2015

Friday, August 21st, 2015
Toronto, Ontario

A Spark

Narayani had arrived. She hails from the Chicago area but joined the Krishna Consciousness Movement in Boston in 1970. Those were the early days of the Hare Krishna Movement. She could tell of events that happened then, who the people were, who came around, and she could tell it like it was yesterday. She is with us for a few days staying at the ashram. As usual, when guests come to town I like to treat them to one of my walking trails. It takes the semblance of some kind of initiation or orientation.

Yura, one of our Russian attendees, came to our mangal arati at 4:30 AM, part of our sadhana, and with him came 3 friends. He specifically mentioned to me that he wanted his friends to have an experience. We then made an outing of it. Narayani, Yura, the guests who came, and some of our ashram residents took to the Brickworks to see and walk an area that was totally neglected for decades. What was once a massive quarry, big, wide, and dry, was transformed into marvelous green space. Switchbacks have been created to allow for an easy ascension to the peak of the highest elevation point which, in Toronto, is not very high really. From there you do get a great view of the downtown cityscape. In addition, the sky with clouds and sun on the uprise was panoramic.

I believe that it really makes your day when, at its start, you appreciate what it reveals. It can even take on a nasty aspect, as in the form of a storm. But, if acknowledged as some manifestation from the Great One above, then that can spark a moment of humility and that is not a bad thing.


May the Source be with you!

4 km

 

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Thursday, August 20th, 2015
Toronto, Ontario

Beauty and Gone

It is to be highly appreciated when you go to a place, either inside or out, that improvements are made. It’s been weeks since I ventured off on foot to the Brickworks, an old brick factory. Adjoined to this facility are wetlands and vegetation growth with trails running in a meandering fashion. Trails are now widened to accommodate bikes. Another thing that’s new is that we have a statue of a fox that’s been erected on a pole reminding us of one of the common inhabitants in the area.

I came at evening time and hit those trails and then moved over to the cavernous old factory itself. I had been here once before when ukuleles had been played to the song, “Can the Circle Be Unbroken”, a popular spiritualist song by the Carter family. The crowd at the time was immersed in the song. It was like kirtan.

Tonight however, at dusk in the outdoors, a jazz band had made centre stage right near one of the factory’s facilities. Wining and dining went on and people were clad in their finest. I must say that the group of men playing the music were stellar performers. I was almost in tears to hear their beautiful music. It got to my heart and then it reminded me of something else that was beautiful. It was today that a very good spirit, Jatayu by name, passed on under peaceful circumstances. He was exceptional. He was not a soul from Cleveland but a soul from God. Here’s my poem in his honour:


Another soul fought hard the fight
 
Before he made the glorious flight

A gentle soul, Jatayu had been

Scarce are such of his calibre seen

Sensitive, warm, and for all others

Seeing all as sisters and brothers

There, for service at the feet of Prabhupada

For family, friends, community, and God

An inspiration that is now in our mind

A Vaishnava of a very special kind
 

(Jatayu passed away at around noon-time today and he was a walking partner whenever I went to Cleveland.)


May the Source be with you!

8 km

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015


Wednesday, August 19th, 2015
Bracebridge/Orillia

Statements

Our small group took a dip in Lake Couchiching in Orillia. We did some trekking back in Bracebridge where we were led to several waterfalls along the Trans Canada Trail. There really are treasures tucked away in these woodlands. A surprise awaits you around every corner.

The profound statements which I ended up sharing to our group at the Inn are worth repeating:

“The Supersoul knows everything in everyone’s heart. He knows everyone’s determination and everyone’s want.”

“What the devotee actually offers the Lord is not needed by the Lord for He is self-sufficient.”

“Not only must a brahmin be well qualified according to the requirements stated in scriptures such as Srimad Bhagavatam and Srimad Bhagavad Gita, but at the same time, he must be a devotee of Krishna.”

“Sudhama Vipra (a renowned devotee) realized that although Sri Krishna is unconquerable, He nevertheless agrees to be conquered by His devotees.”

“If by the grace of the Lord we get such opulence as material wealth, fame, power, education, and beauty, it is our duty to consider that they are all gifts of the Lord and must be used for His service, not for our sense enjoyment.”

The source is from Chapter 80 entitled, “The Brahmin Sudhama Blessed by Lord Krishna.”

 
May the Source be with you!

10 km

 

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015


Tuesday, August 18th, 2015
Bracebridge, Ontario

In Muskoka

Summer seems to be approaching its end as far as heat is concerned. It’s usually at these times that I arrange for some outings for our ashram residents. This time, Bracebridge was our destination for outdoor experiences. This meant some canoeing which we executed down the Muskoka River. Just like for anyone else, it’s important that monks and nuns have some chill-out time to. Someone may argue that our whole monastic life is chill. That’s true, but some diversity is necessary. I personally believe that some recreation must be given` paramount importance.

That being said, we did oar our way for a stretch, compliments of the Patels whose Riverside Inn is situated right at the dock of the cruiser "Lady Muskoka". Swimming, being a Vaishnava sport, became obligation number two for today. And number three was a walk along the Trans Canada Trail near High Falls.

Along with the Patels, we trekked a meagre 5 kilometres, which is nothing for this long network of pathways. When the Trans Canada Trail is completed in 2017, it will likely be the longest walkway in the world at over 23,000 kilometres in length. The millions of needles shed from spruce, pine, and cedar allow for a bouncy, spongy forest bottom. Surprising to me is the discovery of this trail which runs parallel to Highway 11. Had I known this in ’96 on my first cross-Canada trek, I would have likely avoided trekking on the highway.

We see this excursion as a pilgrimage. For our two day stay in Muskoka we had morning and evening sadhana in the Inn where people came to join us for a chant and a read.

 
May the Source be with you!

5 km

 

Monday, August 17th, 2015


Monday, August 17th, 2015
Toronto/Bracebridge

Grass!

It’s good to know that we can speak about it. Developers seem to consume it with their concrete. Fortunately, there’s some of the green stuff still remaining. Near our ashram we have a space of green just north of us – a park. Trees and grass are also kiddie-corner to our building. Then on the other side to the south of our limestone structure is a much more expansive space of green – another park. When you descend the stairs and cross the street, tucked away there is a little piece of heaven on Earth. It’s a blessing actually, wherever there is green I have the feeling that there is hope.

When I walked Ireland from Belfast in the north to the southern city of Cork, I had taken in so much of that colour. It was all pervasive but for areas of grey - the sky in multi-tones. In Ireland I was always reminded of Indra, the rain god, as much as I might contemplate Krishna. Krishna is very favourable to green and to grass. When he was young, he looked to the hill known as Govardhan as the source of grazing material for the calves He was responsible for. He’s known as Gopal, the friend of the cows and bulls. Thoughts of Krishna guiding His herd generates optimism. He must be telling us something like, “To the country we should be going.”

Well, that’s just what we did. One of our congregants by the name of Sai drove four of us ashram residents to Muskoka, north of the city, to the land of lakes, rocks, and green.

This morning when I walked through the grass picking up some dew on my shoes, I was reminded of this wonderful commodity and now that we have come to the northern region of Muskoka, the greenness offered again the most inviting coolness.

 
May the Source be with you!

3 km

 

Sunday, August 16th, 2015


Sunday, August 16th, 2015
Brampton, Ontario

A Day

I took young Jagannatha to Philosopher’s Walk

A trail that consequently leads to no dock

For to philosophize may never come to an end

Unless you have a particular dynamic friend

One who teaches the way of love,

Of service, being meek and looking above.
 

I sat in the class that spoke of dying

Then received a call of sick man in bed lying

How many days in life can we count

How much karma can a person mount

Before he moves on to the greener field

When his negative attire can be peeled?

 
I was taken to Brampton to speak about food

And the need to prepare it in a proper mood

The mode of being sensitive within

Curbing violence and reducing the sin

And showing thanks to the One who’s given

So that consciousness will then be devotionally driven.

 

May the Source be with you!

5 km

 

Monday, 17 August 2015

Saturday, August 15th, 2015


Saturday, August 15th, 2015
Toronto, Ontario

Article on Sustained Happiness

An article was forwarded to me from the Toronto Star entitled: "'Want to be Happy for Life? Get Religion, Study Suggests.' Joining a church helps keep depression at bay, especially late in life, European researchers discover."

"Sarah Pullian Bailey from The Washington Post: A new study suggests that joining a religious group could do more for someone's "sustained happiness" than other forms of social participation, such as volunteering, playing sports, or taking a class."

A study in the American journal of Epidemiology by researchers at the London School of Economics and Erasmus University Medical Centre in the Netherlands found that the secret to sustained happiness lies in participation in religion.

"The church appears to play a very important social role in keeping depression at bay and also as a coping mechanism during periods of illness in later life." Mauricio Avendano, an epidemiologist at LSE and an author of the study, said in a statement, "It is not clear to us how much this is about religion per se, or whether it may be about religion per se, or whether it may be about the sense of belonging and not being socially isolated."

Researchers looked at four areas; volunteering or working with a charity; taking educational courses; participating in religious organizations, and participating in a political or community organization.

Of the four, participating in a religious organization was the only social activity associated with sustained happiness researchers found. The study analyzed 9000 Europeans who were over the age of 50.

The report also found that joining political or community organizations loses its benefits over time. In fact, the short-term benefits from those social connections often lead to depressive symptoms later on, researchers say...

 
May the Source be with you!

6 km

 

Friday, August 14th, 2015


Friday, August 14th, 2015
Hastings, Ontario

Going Up the Country

Fil and Sukayanti are an admirable couple. They are sticking their necks out, in a certain way, for the benefit of others. Recently they acquired a piece of property, fifty-six acres in the rolling hills and farmland of the above-mentioned area of the province. The reason why I say "benefit" is because they are leading the way to a benevolent lifestyle of wholesomeness. They are following the directions of guru.

It was our guru, Srila Prabhupada, who encouraged country living; the simple life, the closer-to-nature-and-God existence. Since their acquisition of this nice property with its sizeable four bedroom country home at the road's edge, Fil and Sukayanti have been working extremely hard at establishing themselves. They are not country bumpkins. They both came from the city and they are trying their hand at the usual farmer's tools.

Fil has successfully seeded, raised, and harvested zucchini and squash. Carrots are coming up, so is kale, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, and other goodies in the veg category. There is no alternative to the organic approach they are taking.

When I, along with a group of comrades, stepped into their red-brick home past two massive blue spruces gorgeously towering in the front yard, I felt like I was back home. Even the interior walls were of that wood panelling that was so common in the 60's. Our brunch comprised of Sukayanti's home-made bread and hummus and Fil's kale and cucumbers. Dessert was a walk to the back fields through the barn and sheds. We were enthused by the good air and the Trent River across the road.

"Simple living, high thinking," is the unspoken motto of the place. Yes, they have got it right. It's time to go back to nature, back to simplicity. At least we can consider this a favourable situation for a young couple planning a family. Oh, and I believe its no secret that twins are on the way.

Congratulations! This is Vedic Culture put into action. An agrarian, God-centric life is what is wanted.

I wish Fil and Sukayanti the very best.

 
May the Source be with you!

5 km

 

Thursday, August 13th, 2015


Thursday, August 13th, 2015
Toronto, Ontario

Where's the Gratitude?

Of all places you go to for renewing your health insurance card the venue is in the basement of the Canadian Tire store. Convenient for me as its a fifteen minute walk from the ashram. With some luck I was the first in the line up. I arrived early at 8:30 AM. The office didn't open until 9 AM.

One woman came after me, then two gentlemen. Need I call them gentlemen? They were whining about the opening hour not being publicized well enough. They too came early but under the assumption that their services would be accommodated at 8 AM. Well, they were bitching. They were cranky.

Good God (Krishna)" I thought, "when will they start counting their blessings? Where's the gratitude?" In so many countries of the world you don't have free medical assistance. There was no fee for renewing the health card which in Ontario is referred to as an OHIP card (Ontario Health Insurance Plan). "Spoiled brats!" I felt like saying. I know that I must have compassion.

On a happier note, when the barrier rope was finally released for those of us to get serviced, I was directed to go to counter 4. There a young woman accepted my ID. She noted that I was born in Chatham, Ontario and expressed how she and her family are from that area.

"What a remarkable historically-rich district that is!" I said. I told of Chief Tecumseh, a foremost warrior-hero who was in the area. His fault was fighting for his indigenous people. I also told her how Chatham was a major hub for the Underground Railway and of the nearby location of a black reverend Josiah Henson who looked after slaves coming up from the States in the 1800's. This account is given in the book 'Uncle Tom's Cabin', the hottest selling novel of the 19th century. This book, according to Lincoln, sparked the Civil War in America. The young woman at the counter expressed slight embarrassment for not knowing about 'her area.'

The exchange was great and it put me in a more positive frame of mind just as much as I found it a blessing to be ahead of the game by being first in line. I feel blessed to not be a slave in line to be whipped by some terrible selfish master.

Thank you Krishna. You are great!

May the Source be with you! Bless me to always express gratitude.

4 km

 

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015


Wednesday, August 12th, 2015
Toronto, Ontario

My Arms Did the Walking


My arms did the walking today

To do some sorting and throwing away.

There were polyesters and cottons

There were tuques and mittens

Coats, pants, and shirts

Dresses, blouses, and skirts

There were shoes and hats

Masks of dogs and cats

A plastic rat called "Phoofy"

Faces quite creepy and even goofy

I combed through with less ease

Through fake flowers and trees

And many metres of cloth

I began to move like a sloth

There were dhotis and sarees

And cloth of sequins and jarees

Attire for warriors of glory

And dress that tells a Vedic story

I rummaged through make-up

To trash and do a shake-up

I came upon earrings and beads

And things for gorgeous needs

There were lights to check

For the stage, not for the deck

I had bags and bags to fill

Of rags and rags resembling a hill

Behind this all I found rat pooh

Not as much as found in a zoo

Oh, well, the mode is to clean

Let's be good and hygiene

I had helpers to move props up

Before lunch and after sup

We're moving our theatre stuff

To the belfry, that's cool enough

It's my passion, besides walking

When actors on a stage are talking

Conveying a message of the spirit

Just watch and then hear it.

 

May the Source be with you!

0 km

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015


Tuesday, August 11th, 2015
Toronto, Ontario

Nights Are Perfect
 
Nights are perfect with moderate temperatures. A welcoming breeze heightens the pleasure even more. I was in this Rosedale neighbourhood before. The stately homes were not yet fully built when I first tread here. It was called "the last of Rosedale residences", meaning all land in this prestigious area was already consumed by developers. No sod was laid.

Now I came back twenty years later. The homes are completed. The assorted trees are yet to exceed the height of the homes. Within the next five years - oh yes - they will.

It's marvellous to observe man's and nature's doings. The change is entertaining. There's awesomeness to it all.

At 7:30 AM and later at 6:30 PM in one corner of our temple ashram discussions were held. The morning session was conducted by our humble self. We spoke from Canto Nine of the Bhagavatam, about the struggle between Nimi and Vasistha and their cursing and counter-cursing. It was an exchange between guru and disciples. In other words, it was not a situation of peaceful communication but of misunderstanding with ego as its foundation. It's not what you would expect from teacher and student relations, yet, this is the way of the world. It gets messy and very removed from exchanges of pleasantries at times.

In our same peaceful corner of the temple ashram, twelve hours later, my former Mother Superior, Laxmimoni, who has come to town, delivered a message about happiness and how our modern world has embraced gadgets and equated that to joyful relations. "Virtual reality" she said a few times. In this world we take it all to be real when in fact it is not. It is temporary and it offers a pretense of satisfaction.

 
May the Source be with you!

5 km

 

Monday, August 10th, 2015


Monday, August 10th, 2015
Toronto, Ontario

Fresh Rain / Clear Mind

There had been a fresh rain that cleared the air and made what's green greener. It was evening. It was quiet. A chubby raccoon clutched onto the base of a tree. I got close. He began to climb, holding onto the bark with his human-like hands moving up to hoist the 'chub' of his body. His feet were also grasped onto the bark. I meant fear for him, otherwise he wouldn't go anywhere.

My only fear is traffic when I am walking about. Even responsible motorists are to be feared because of their speed.

I had graced my torso with my Terry Fox t-shirt. He's an inspiration. He would be 57 by now, with his birthday just having passed by in July. People will remember him for his heroic run on one real leg, the other artificial. People remember him as a youth - a mature one.

There's been much travel for me this summer. I can now express with some sigh of relief that I will remain in one place for a few days. It's a matter of getting caught up on things or obligations which are tough to fulfill while in motion.

The Chariot Fests of the northern hemisphere are slowly winding down, except for a few. Miami informs me that they are anticipating one for November. The space of time before us makes way for other-to-come events like the Balaram Fest and Janmasthami, Krishna's Birth. There is some relief-time but no lax-time. Festivals keep percolating on the calendar for a bhakti yogi. Bhakti yogis stay alive on the basis of festivities meant for the soul. Just some breaks in between help a bit. Clear the way! Clear the mind!

 
May the Source be with you!

6 km

 

Friday, 14 August 2015

Sunday, August 9th, 2015


Sunday, August 9th, 2015
Vancouver, British Columbia

Get Started

It can't get much smoother, operation-wise, when it came to the stage. I became the MC once again at the Chariot Fest at Stanley Park. Artists, whether they be singers, musicians, dancers, or actors, came punctually. It could not have been better.

The procession portion of the event has its usual glitches with sound volume or lack of it which happens when the vocalist gets beyond the range of the speaker situated on the chariot in motion. There is always the accidental jabbing of elbows or incidental people stepping on your shoes. All that stuff can be forgiven. The procession itself is an act of service and of joy.

In fact, when you think about it, service in a devotional context is usually destined to derive joy. You approve every action in a detached mode and are neutrally disposed. Devotional action (bhakti) is incomparable to mundane functioning.

If we make reference to the Bhagavad-gita in the sections on "action", we will appreciate the superiority of devotional actions over all other endeavours.

Chapter 12 is particularly clear for establishing devotion and those actions which are affiliated to the pure path. This segment of the Gita offers concessions for those who stagger on the path of purity. It presents options and offers hope to those who find the bar is too high to reach and therefore such candidates can begin the process on a comfortable level.

This is the compassion of God. There are different gradations of people based on varying realizations so you will find that not all folks will jump into the pool of selflessness. At the same time it's good to get something in motion.

 
May the Source be with you!

8 km

 

Saturday, August 8th, 2015


Saturday, August 8th, 2015
Vancouver, British Columbia

 Yogendra Came

Yogendra came up with his family from Calgary as weekend pilgrims. On our early morning walk he told me of the Native Studies he'll be taking next month. I brought to his attention the lyrics of a song by Buffy Sainte-Marie, a native of the Cree Nation from Saskatchewan. I mentioned to Yogendra that I was listening to this kind of music just before enlisting myself as a monk. The name of the song is "My Country 'Tis of Thy People You're Dying." It's remarkable to listen to.

"Now that your big eyes have finally opened
Now that you're wondering how must they feel
Meaning them that you've chased across America's movie screens
Now that you're wondering "how can it be real?"
That the ones you've called colourful, noble and proud
In your school propaganda
They starve in their splendour?
You've asked for my comment I simply will render

My country 'tis of thy people you're dying.

Now that the longhouses breed superstition
You force us to send our toddlers away
To your schools where they're taught to despise their traditions.
Forbid them their languages, then further say
That American history really began
When Columbus set sail out of Europe, then stress
That the nation of leeches that conquered this land
Are the biggest and bravest and boldest and best.
And yet where in your history books is the tale
Of the genocide basic to this country's birth,
Of the preachers who lied, how the Bill of Rights failed,
How a nation of patriots returned to their earth?
And where will it tell of the Liberty Bell
As it rang with a thud on a tinsel of mud
And of brave Uncle Sam in Alaska this year?

My country 'tis of thy people you're dying

Hear how the bargain was made for the West:
With her shivering children in zero degrees,
Blankets for your land, so the treaties attest,
Oh well, blankets for land is a bargain indeed,
And the blankets were those Uncle Sam had collected
From smallpox-diseased dying soldiers that day.
And the tribes were wiped out and the history books censored,
A hundred years of your statesmen have felt it's better this way.
And yet a few of the conquered have somehow survived,
Their blood runs the redder though genes have paled.
From the Grand Canyon's caverns to craven sad hills
The wounded, the losers, the robbed sing their tale.
From Los Angeles County to upstate New York
The white nation fattens while others grow lean;
Oh the tricked and evicted they know what I mean.

My country 'tis of thy people you're dying.

The past it just crumbled, the future just threatens;
Our life blood shut up in your chemical tanks.
And now here you come, bill of sale in your hands
And surprise in your eyes that we're lacking in thanks
For the blessings of civilization you've brought us,
The lessons you've taught us, the ruin you've wrought us
Oh see what our trust in America's brought us.

My country 'tis of thy people you're dying.

Now that the pride of the sires receives charity,
Now that we're harmless and safe behind laws,
Now that my life's to be known as your heritage,
Now that even the graves have been robbed,
Now that our own chosen way is a novelty
Hands on our hearts we salute you your victory,
Choke on your blue white and scarlet hypocrisy
Pitying the blindness that you've never seen
That the eagles of war whose wings lent you glory
They were never no more than carrion crows,
Pushed the wrens from their nest, stole their eggs, changed their story;
The mockingbird sings it, it's all that he knows.
"Ah what can I do?" say a powerless few
With a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye
Can't you see that their poverty's profiting you.

My country 'tis of thy people you're dying."

This stuff written and sung by Ms Ste-Marie should be thought about.

 
May the Source be with you!

5 km

 

Friday, August 7th, 2015


Friday, August 7th, 2015
Burnaby, British Columbia

Finish It Up

Here's an excerpt which I read at 5 a.m. at "ISKCON of Western Canada" to a group of eager bhaktas, devotees. It's taken from the book "The Perfection of Yoga" by our guru, Srila Prabhupada.

"By virtue of the divine consciousness of his previous life, he automatically becomes attracted to the yogic principles - even without seeking them." (Bg. 6.44). In the material world we have experience that we do not carry our assests from one life to another. I may have millions of dollars in the bank, but as soon as my body is finished it is also finished. At death, the bank balance does not go with me; it remains in the bank to be enjoyed by somebody else. This is not the case with spiritual culture. Even if one enacts a very small amount on the spiritual platform, he takes that with him to his next life, and he picks up again from that point.

When one picks up this knowledge that was interrupted, he should know that he should now finish the balance and complete the yogic process. One should not take the chance of finishing up the process in another birth but should resolve to finish it in this life. We should be determined in this way. "Somehow or other in my last life I did not finish my spiritual cultivation. Now Krishna has given me another opportunity, so let me finish it up in this life."
 
This is a message, bold and beautiful. It's precious!

 
May the Source be with you!

6 km

 

 

 

Thursday, August 6th, 2015


Thursday, August 6th, 2015
Burnaby, British Columbia

The Kid In You

It was a real pleasant surprise when someone pointed out to Toshan and I the tucked away, hidden trail to the river. I've been coming to this suburb of Vancouver for years for regular visits. On each visit I avoid the Fraser River on my walks because there is just too many big highways, roadways, and industrial parks obstructing the way before you get to the riverside.

Toshan is my good friend who accompanied me during the discovery of this walkway. When we were both in our younger years we had travelled as brahmacari monks throughout Ontario, much like the Mormons when they are on their two year mission. We went through a host of adventures together, including getting stuck in a fire on the third floor of a hotel! You can say we go way back. I stayed on in the celibate role and took sannyasa. He has been married twice since those early days and has also established himself in a career with the national forces. (I say this because sometimes people wonder what happens to those who play the monk's role for a while).

There isn't a name to the trail that we could see. (Lack of signage I guess). Clearly there is one lane and in some stretches a paved way. It's like the best kept secret. It follows a creek for a distance and is also edged by black-berry bushes in spots. It's secluded and it also runs along the backside of a few warehouses. It's just under 2 km long.

This new passge-way made my heart leap for joy. I always wanted access to the Fraser without hindrance. Well, the truth is that one obstruction is Marine Way. Other than that we are scott-free. You know, sometimes doing these walks in the exploratory mode brings out the kid in you.

Most important is that here I have a new venue for japa meditation. Others can benefit as well. I'll point out the location gladly.

 
May the Source be with you!

6 km

 

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015
Toronto, Ontario

What We're Missing

The thing that people really miss out on is the daily opportunity to sing and dance. Just switching on the radio to hear your favourite station while in traffic or being wired up to listen to your chosen genre of sound may pacify or please but it cannot substitute for your own participation - your own use of voice and body.

This became so clear to me when our group of seven (sounds like the impressionist artists) devotees of Krishna made our way westbound and back on Bloor St. And we were observing the response of people; yeah, they wanna get involved. As we momentarily pass by an eating place, the sound of our kirtan, drums and voice, carries inside. It turns heads and it works facial muscles - exploding smiles. It causes arms to fling in the air and sometimes the whole body gets up and going. I'm sometimes reminded of the old song "Dancing in the Street" by Martha and the Vandellas.
 
At Christie Pitts Park we took to the grass near the hoola-hoopers. A guitarist came over to play. It looked like it made his day and on our return journey back to the ashram, one local woman came our way to stride along with us. When we got near her building, she insisted we choose the other side of the street in order for her to remain with us for as long as possible. We paraded right to her doorstep. Now, our neighbourhood is quite upper-class. It's rare for our neighbours to show such spontaneity.

This is my point, that the buzz that folks need in life on a regular basis, even on a Wednesday evening, can do so much to raise the quality of life. Credit goes to the sound. Not just any but a sound imported from another world. That's why we chant mantras. It does more than excite the ears and the body. It targets the soul.

 
May the Source be with you!

6 km

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015


Tuesday, August 4th, 2015
Madrid/Toronto

Spain Wrap Up

It was a blessing to once again move through the windy, swervy streets of Madrid in the morning. Now I could actually see much more. What a plus it is to have pedestrian cobblestone streets without the botheration of machines whizzing by every few seconds. I consider it a second blessing for receiving a gift, a pair of sandals, that have the perfect fit. This is something I didn't ask for but something I needed. The former pair of shoes, I now leave behind, was also a gift. Not to be ungrateful but the purchase of footwear to the right size is critical, otherwise the shoes have a negative effect on your physiological self. It's a special pleasure to be on the right trail with the right fitting gear.

At one square that we came to, vehicles restricted, one of our boys wanted to sit and question me on his ashram status. Okay! So he opened up and wanted some advice on whether it was wise to go the full-on brahmacari (monk) way or wait it out. He had been living with a woman some time back.

"Am I ready?" he asked.

Such a question is personal and individual, of course. I generally encourage every young male, or female, to tread the waters of celibacy but more important is bhakti, devotion. Celibacy is a good experience and it prepares one for responsibility on the next level, should one choose to partner-up with someone. I also would like to add a message which I recall I read on a billboard when I walked through Manitoba country three summers ago. The line, a message for teens especially, was, "Save Sex For Marriage." To me it's an old school value but one that works when applied.

During my flight back to Canada I had some quality time reading "Love, Medicine and Music, the flip-side of the Sixties - Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll" by Roger Siegel aka Gurudas. I'm lovin' it. Yes, life in the 60s before our guru (Srila Prabhupada) came was very experimental.


May the Source be with you!

5 km

Monday, August 3rd, 2015


Monday, August 3rd, 2015
Madrid, Spain

Being in Madrid

Mantri Ram is one of the monks stationed at our centre in Madrid. He was kind enough to take myself and two guests from Sweden on a sort of pilgrimage to some significant sights which grab tourists' attention. There is the famous Cathedral, De la Almudena, the Egyptian Templo Debod, the statue of fiction character, Don Quixote, the Plaza Calle Montera and Calle Fuencarral. It was night-time but that was good because that's when all the people are out.

I had taken my japa, chanting a little more seriously than normal and with a notch higher in volume. One of the young women in mini-skirt and heels and lavish make-up - a prostitute - picked up on the mantra as we passed by. She then mimicked what I was doing. I guess she gets some spiritual benefit from that.

I basically felt myself lucky (fortunate) to be trekking through these hot spots. I had completed a two-hour talk to our Iskcon community about the benefits of spirit walking or pilgrimage. Who in the world would know better about such an opportunity than the people of Spain. It is here that the reputed trail of the Camino de Santiago runs through. What I heard from members who were listening to the talk and expressing themselves, that a good number of them walked that Camino.

Shirley Maclane has written about it. And, from what I can remember as I was passing by a movie theatre in Toronto about three years ago, Martin Sheen starred in a film "The Way" all to do with a true story how some people's lives had changed for the better from the walk.

My only other major impression, apart from 'walk' talks, fine buildings and beautiful people in the form of Krishna devotees, was seeing a Cuban family I've known shine in Madrid. Janardan is working on his PhD but he and his wife have plans to move back to their beloved Cuba after he receives his degree. They made him the president of the Iskcon centre here in Madrid.

May the Source be with you!
 
5 km

 

Sunday, August 2nd, 2015


Sunday, August 2nd, 2015
Tenerife, Spain

Preparation: Parade

To prepare for any event, for any endeavour, practitioners of bhakti-yoga engage in some sadhana. Essential to seeing that sadhana is done, they look to the earlier morning hours to connect to the Divine What this entails is some mantra meditation, some reflection on guru and God, and some contemplation of words of wisdom.

Our small group of bhaktas (devotees) achieved these sadhana components at the beach for the last full day of our stay in Tenerife. The big event for tonight was the Chariot Fest and the sadhana exists for being psychological prepared. The public would come. And they did, including the mayor and other staff members of the city council at Playa de las Americas.

Devotees were optimistic. So was the crowd. Maybe the public was curious. My own critical mind observed a could-be-better performance of kirtan. The event was late by about an hour. The food, a spiced-flavoured rice, was starting to turn. It was a large endeavour for a virtual handful of people. Our drama, "The Witness" was bumped to the last few minutes of the stage presentation. We finished our drama by 12:30 am. What was left by that time was a meagre attendance.

And had I that one extra day for practice our drama troopers could have worked to a more polished presentation. It's no one's fault. My hat goes off to Patita Pavan and Julan Yatra, two people who organized with all their heart a huge undertaking. And additionally I have to say the chariot and the deities looked stunning.

Finally, the dis-assembly of the chariot was completed by 6 am, about the time of our daily morning beach sadhana which didn't happen. By the time of my rising at 8 am, my mind reverted back to our discussion of the morning before. The qualities of the Supreme are unlimited and I got to thinking that while Divine Intelligence has fathomless traits, the small gods (us) are limited.


May the Source be with you!

5 km

 

Saturday, August 1st, 2015


Saturday, August 1st, 2015
Tenerife, Spain

Get the Language Down

There are these teaser clouds, dark and foreboding looking, that suspend themselves and cling on to the mountain tips. I say “teaser” because, while they look as if to deposit some much needed moisture, they end up just hanging there. Eventually they disperse, being blown over by currents of air. At least one feels a protection from the sun.

Many folks are here on vacation. The signs of it are everywhere. Beach towels hang over balcony rails. Eating and partying carry on for some until 7 am. Luggage wheels drag over interlocked tiles making that rattling sound to indicate the coming and going of hotel visitors.

For our little impromtu drama group, we stayed put for hours in the local Hindu Temple rehearsing on their stage. It was tiring but rewarding. We got something accomplished. It poses a challenge to do the directing with my English parlance to Hispanic speaking folks. My Spanish is poor but to accommodate the actors and the audience-to-come we are working with a translated script in the Spanish medium.

For communication, language is so important. So I found it interesting that one of our attendees at our morning beach sadhana is from the neighbouring island La Gomera where a common whistling communication goes on. It is actually a language called Silbo and is designed to send messages from one mountain to the next.

Now all we need to achieve is a good communication with God and that medium is called mantra. Let us do so with a heart.

 
May the Source be with you!

4km

Friday, July 31st 2015,


Friday, July 31st 2015,
Tenerife, Spain

Roundish Moon

I woke to the gorgeous view of a roundish blue moon reflecting on the Atlantic's still waters. The window from our room at Hotel Playa Real reveals nature's opulence. Though my roommate Hridaya Gauranga from Germany informed me that we are in the desert portion of the island Tenerife, there is an obvious richness here. I even allowed myself to get pleasantly lost in the barrage of evening displays- caf├ęs, shops and bars - located on endless pathways by the ocean.

It was my freedom time. The air was cool in the evening. Daytime was too hot and for my own obligatory services (drama practice) during the day, certain needs and people power were lacking. We prefer to work in air conditioned spaces. Yes, things are great here in Tenerife but a little laid back. It was annoying at times but as usual when practicing for a play we had our laughter times and light times to compensate for any shortcomings.

Patita Pavana, a Spanish-by-birth devotee of Krishna, had invited me for a second time to contribute to his festival on Sunday. Another chariot festival for me.

It was his idea that before we got serious with activity we head for the beach. There we enjoyed sadhana and a swim. Since it is a marked calendar day known as guru-purnima, one's guru (or gurus) are remembered. I spoke from the Gita 4.34. The topic was the relevance of having a guru. Several members of the community came. I mentioned about the good fortune of having a guru in your life. “Every whale in the ocean has a mother and a father but a human on the earth can have mother, father plus a guru and Krishna

That’s 4 people.

I’m grateful to have the fab four in my life. I wouldn’t exchange it for the world. I don’t believe I could have a better life. As long as I can walk, as long as I can talk, for Krishna’s sake, I’ll be where I want to be.

Now when the moon is full it can have a strong bearing of mental influence on the world but we can just take its appearance as a cue to chant an extra few mantras for protection's sake.

 
May the Source be with you!

9 km

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Thursday, July 30th, 2015


Thursday, July 30th, 2015
Dublin, Ireland

Industrial Walk
 
My morning walk entailed a brief stroll through an industrial park near the hotel where I slept. To stay at Carlton was compliments of Air Canada due to their delayed flight.

It’s a little hard to appreciate the immediate surroundings of an airport in an industrial area but, so be it. At least I have a place to walk, to move my limbs and swing my arms. There was a sidewalk, some greenery, yellow flowers and roses to break up the concrete look.

Once reaching the airport for the flight to Tenerife, I asked for assistance regarding the new booking and a boarding card. A friendly chap brought me to the appropriate line up counter at Air Lingus. I asked the fellow the meaning of Air Lingus. I assumed it was Gaelic. As if the question had been asked before he came back with a quick response, “An air fleet”. Then I was curious about the logo. “A shamrock” he said, “it’s basically a weed."

I then introduced myself as a dedicated vegetarian and a cook and that I might one day consider cooking the clover leaves mixed with delicious potatoes to assume a curry-like flavour. He was fascinated by the idea and added that people used to eat clover. The gentleman had to leave for his usual post but I wanted to ask him, "Did people eat clover in the war time when they were desperate or was it before spuds became a staple in Ireland?" Anyways, I was left in a void and my opportune moment for enlightenment was unfulfilled.

I received my boarding pass and sat down after going through security and then pondered more about the concept of “weed”. The word appears to be a verbal notion that’s imposed on a culture that has little basis of truth. To a vegetarian, an animal is a weed to one's palate. It all depends on the criteria with which you value something. Take for example the burdock plant. It isn’t pretty. It’s given a bad wrap. If it grows in your yard or garden you probably want to root it out. But your opinion will change once you know of it’s invaluable medicinal properties as an incredible cleanser. Actually we are all weeds until we are educated, informed and enlightened.

I had eventually made it to Tenerife where I was greeted by loving devotees. Hmmmmm! What is a devotee? Someone who looks at the weed within and works to remove it.

 
May the Source be with you!
 
4km

 

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015


Wednesday, July 29th, 2015
Dublin, Ireland
 
Could Not Relish
 
I could not relish the activity of a walk through the trails of green Ireland today. The flight from Toronto, delayed by 3 hours, caused a number of passengers to miss connections. I was one of them. And so, in a way, we were held hostage in the Dublin airport. If pacing could have been done, I would have been happy. But for the sake of making new flight arrangements, I, along with others, stood in a 3 hour plus snail-pace waiting line. This was partly a brain-frying session and partly a patience-exercise. At the counter only one person did all the re-booking and that was done manually. I was wondering why in this technological world that we live in, can’t we now exercise smoother operations. That’s the material world for you.

I was really impressed with a couple in front of me for two reasons. Number one: they were extremely patient. At one enlightened moment the woman decided to dial on the phone the airline that brought us this far. She was then informed that you can just re-book over the phone and get it done in 2 minutes. Because they were just on the verge of being at the counter for assistance, they decided to go for the personal service route. Not for a second did they demonstrate disgust, at least externally, over their 3 hour 40 minute wait.

Number two: the second reason for feeling a connection with the couple had to do with a happy coincidence that, exactly one week ago, the couple spotted our two youth ministry buses parked in their neighbourhood in Winnipeg. I was there. We were preparing for our devotional show just outside the Westminster United Church. The couple spotted our boys on the bus wondering what was going on? So I then explained to the couple the nature of our show. At that venue we conducted bharatanatyam dance, drama, and chanting of mantras. We were attempting to spread some good will and higher consciousness. All this came out after the long wait when we were being shuttled to a Hotel, a stopover, before our new flight timings. And it was a case of “small world”, isn’t it.

We will look out for each other the next time I’m in their neighbourhood.

 
May the Source be with you!

0 km

 

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015


Tuesday, July 28th, 2015
Toronto, Ontario

Didn’t Miss
 
I missed the whole anticipated frenzy, madness and congestion that the Pan-Am games were predicted to bring to the city. Actually I wasn’t present during the time of the games, I was not in the city at all. And that’s the reason for my missing out. Residents of Toronto who did stay experienced a quiet scenario. Hotel owners, restaurant owners, cab drivers and all those people who normally benefit in their pockets from big events encountered a sleepy time.

Why?

Organizers for the Pan-Am games had a backfire because of their big campaign discouraging locals from driving or just getting in the way. And that was after a 2.5 billion dollar expenditure. This was apparently a big mistake and disappointment. Ticket sales to the games were down. People payed heed to the warning that traffic would be so jammed. The end result was that people stayed away. One person I spoke to said, "the city became a ghost town." Or at least peaceful.

As far as the games were concerned there were lots of wins for America and Canada. They really came out on top. Being a spiritualist of sorts, I’m left to wonder at all of this. That so much energy goes into games; expend the same amount of energy or even a percentage of that time and resources on character development and human skills and then we can see the human race starting to fly. I say this and I’m sure you might agree that the science of virtue building is really lacking.

Sports is not necessarily a bad endeavour but we must find a place for the finer elements in life and seek that kind of WIN.

 
May the Source be with you!

0km

 

Monday, July 27th, 2015


Monday, July 27th, 2015
Toronto, Ontario

Heatwave/Go to the lake

A heatwave has come and is here to stay for some time according to weather forecasters. To address it, I told Nick, “I want to go to the lake. Do you want to come?”

“Sure! How?” said Nick.

“We can ride the subway together. Take the lead, please. You know your way around better than I. Let’s go to the Beaches and the boardwalk where Shrila Prabhupada (our Guru) walked in ’75.” Nick was excited.

For someone who rarely “rides the rocket" (as people here say about the transit system), I found it rather novel and adventurous. Usually I like to walk to places and forgo paying for the “rocket” but today, well, the Beaches are a distance away. From Yonge Street Subway to Queen Street streetcar we went. Then we promenaded to the Beaches and then onto that 2.5 km boardwalk. At the end of the boardwalk we dawned swimming trunks and dipped into what seemed like icy waters. The swim was a 2 minute affair but it was worth it. It did the job. Back home onto sand and into devotional attire.

We then made the return journey to the ashram and all the while chanted on our beads. It always pays off to be out there for some exposure. At one subway stop while waiting for the train a young woman approached me, “Hi, remember me? I am Rakesh Bandhari’s daughter.”

Of course I remembered. Her dad flew in his private plane to the town where I was walking in 1996. Rakesh brought his young daughter with him to take a few steps together through the Victorian settlement of Brockville. That was a nice gesture. I felt so supported on that cool autumn day having these 2 companions with me.

I failed to catch the name of the now grown young female adult. Both of us were caught in the joy of collective reminiscence. It was sweet and it was an opportunity to exchange “Hare Krishna’s”.

Readers, please be out there and wear devotional clothing if possible. People will spot you. It excites the soul and they will come to you and question or comment.

 
May the Source be with you!

6km

Monday, 10 August 2015

Sunday, July 26th, 2015


Sunday, July 26th, 2015
Calgary, Alberta

A Rewrite

I had been unhappy with my writing of the Gita portion of our drama, ‘Krishna Is’. I came up with a rewrite, so here it is:

Krishna is the deliverer of divine wisdom.

(Arjun observes army then collapses)

ARJUN:

Seeing those before me causes me to shiver.

To lift my bow is as though I had never.

Hairs stand on end, mind is reeling.

I’m confused; it’s new, this kind of feeling.

(To Krishna)

I just cannot fight.

There’s something here that is not right.

KRISHNA:

Arjun, you’ve lost your sense of duty.

A man of defense renounced a warrior’s beauty?

For the wise, there’s a different point of view –

Of eternity – no birth, no death- known by few.

Consider the world, which is full of duality.

Good and bad, is its only reality.

The major point is to not lament.

“The soul is forever”, that is my comment.

Moving through bodies from young to old.

From old to young, this circle does unfold.

ARJUN:

What is the force that compels one to do wrong?

If you could please include this in your song.

KRISHNA:

It is desire, born of passion – then wrath

That keeps us covered and obscures the path.

Perform your yoga, and your sacrifice

For the Creator, and then all will be nice.

ARJUN:

Yoga can be tried for controlling the mind,

But the mind is an instrument of a different kind.

I’m fine if asked to harness the wind,

But the mind cannot be anchored or pinned.

KRISHNA:

Begin the process; take it easy and slow.

In the end, there’s freedom; the soul will then glow.

ARJUN:

You are my teacher, mentor and guide.

It was no mistake to have you on my side.

I have come to consider about You there is more.

It’s Your cosmic form that I wish to explore.

KRISHNA:

The form is manifest when we have the eyes,

Otherwise there’s a tendency to despise.

I reveal it to those whose devotion is clear,

When friendship is firm I then come quite near.

It is surrender through service that is so sweet.

It is surrender that is illusion’s defeat.

ARJUN:

Oh Krishna, my doubt is now gone

I believe the fight should definitely go on.

KRISHNA:

Arjun, my song is old, but alive.

You have your free will, but now let Me drive.
 

May the Source be with you!

6 km

 

Saturday, July 25th, 2015


Saturday, July 25th, 2015
Calgary, Alberta
 
Goodbye ‘Til Then
 
I calculated that it has been about a 6,500 km distance travelled by our two buses in 12 days. That’s also a lot of miles. If it wasn’t for a three day break in Toronto and if the buses had kept rolling then you could call it an ultra marathon. Nevertheless, it’s been a long journey. A good one. No insomnia of a serious nature. That’s victory.

Here we are, in Calgary, poised for procession on hip 8th Avenue. The chanting begins after the usual smash of the coconuts to the ground by sponsors of the event.

8th Avenue is basically a pedestrian zone and it ends up in the park next to the Armoury. This would be the place for our cultural presentation. It was to be a parting performance. I would be staying in Calgary for an extra day while the two buses move on to the States and Yellowstone National Park.

Once we reached the park after a good hard pull of the chariot, I sat through a great pantomime presented by the Edmonton players. Then after a meal I began scurrying about readying everyone for the bus segment of the stage program.

“Where’s Sita? She does the makeup. Where’s everyone? Where’s the cast? Have they got their costumes on yet? We don’t want to be late.” These are the mantras milling through my mind. It’s become a fairly regular thing to say it out loud or in the mind during this intensive week.

Before I bid my goodbyes to the bus crew, I felt a creeping pounding to the heart because I developed a bond with these young people. Be they in their late teens or early 20’s, I really do see saintliness in them. I feel we are really like a family.

 
May the Source be with you!

5 km