Saturday, 29 December 2018

Monday, December 24th, 2018

Thunder Bay, Ontario

The Sex Change

At the quaint Vedic Cultural Centre, a cozy group of us reflected on the story of Vishnu taking on a gender-change as Mohini Murti.  Canto Eight of the Bhagavatam relays the story of what is now a popular topic.  To allure the demons and distract them from snatching the immortal elixir called amrta,Vishnu assumed the form of a Divine female. The staunch yogi, Shiva, was also wooed by this avatar.

Additional stories of gender adjustment appear in the epic, The Mahabharat, when in the thirteenth year of the Pandava's exile, Arjuna, the warrior friend of Krishna, became a eunuch who taught dance.  We also read about Ambha, the princess, who became an effeminate male warrior by the name of Shikandi, and who ultimately posed as grandsire Bhisma's arch enemy in a role of vengeance.

The question I sometimes get asked is, "In your movement do you accept people of different orientations?"  This is mostly referring to same-sex individuals. The answer is that all persons are welcome to participate in devotional activities.  Emphasis goes to encouraging acts of devotion and reducing acts of sensuality.  May we be reminded that we are not these bodies.  We are spirits.

The discussion was brief enough, while clarifying our stance on people of various natures.  Ananda and I then went on a journey, on foot, to explore newer trails, one of which was a branch of "The Great Trail," that runs right across the country.  We also delighted in the wildlife tracks we discovered on the snow-laden forest floor. One small creature, it must have been a mole or a mouse, left mini prints and then tunnelled his way through the snow, leaving a furrow and then a tunnel.  Sweet!

May the Source be with you!
8 km


Sunday, December 23rd, 2018

Thunder Bay, Ontario

Get Over It!

He finally gets it.  Ananda, who's from Maharastra, India, and accustomed to a hot climate, came to terms with a reality.  Bravely he accepted my offer.  It's a short trek to the Vedic Centre, a mere six to seven kilometres from Prem's home.  It was the night before that he decided: "I'll go with you even though it's cold."  On top of that he has a bit of a limp which manifests after a short trek; the result of a past accident.

Well, Ananda crossed over a threshold, a barrier. "Like last night at the Marina Park I was hesitant, because of the cold, but then ten minutes into the walk (with a bay breeze off Lake Superior coming at us) I liked it.  I didn't want to go inside."

I always say, first of all, that it's purely psychological, this apprehension people have about walking, and then secondly, they are hesitant to do so in more extreme hot or cold weather conditions.  We are quite adaptable as humans.  You just have to dress for the occasion and become a hero.

Ananda and I trekked the light powdery snowfall of the morning.  We began in the dark but the snow itself, for the most part, lit the way along the creek. We conducted a morning sanga,and then again in the evening.  No walking to the Vedic Centre that second time.

In attendance were Angie and also Rich from Los Angeles.  They are good musicians and have some ties with the Sivananda society.  In came a slew of sharp students from Gujarat. Both Ananda and I took advantage of chanting, drumming and exquisite dance.  We had a blast.

In any event, I wish all people would adopt the attitude of Ananda as mentioned above.

May the Source be with you!
7 km

Saturday, December 22nd, 2018

Thunder Bay, Ontario

Meet Pete

It was such a pleasure to meet Peter, along with the few others who came to hear our discussion from the book Bhagavatam. Angie came with her daughter, Sarena. Satyam, a student at Lakehead University, sat listening with rapt attention.  We also had our local pujari(priest) by the name of Balvan Krishna, and host, Prem, there.

Peter is originally from Winnipeg and moved to the area to go to Lakehead in 1986, deciding then to stay with his wife, way out in the bush.  They come into town to the Farmer's Market to display and sell their artwork.  Today, Peter came by to see if any small icons or pictures of Shiva were for sale in the Vedic Cultural Centre, and he happened to notice us in the middle of our discussion.

We were speaking about the episode where a mother-to-be, Uttara, approached that master of mystics, Sri Krishna, out of a sense of urgency.  She sensed a fiery but subtle brahmastrahad been hurled at her child in the womb.  She cried out for help, "Pahipahimahayogin..." and Krishna came to the rescue leaving the male heir, Pariksit, in a protected condition.

Peter goes to India often, loves the place, and has picked up some of the customs.  "Namaste!" he addressed, and followed with a host of questions, both cultural and philosophical.  Just before departing, the tall goatee-bearded fella asked something unusual for a westerner.  He said, "Swamiji, can I touch your feet?" as a way to receive some blessings. 

I was apprehensive in the beginning, but then I felt perhaps I could connect him in some way to the pilgrimage culture, a topic we had discussed.  These feet have walked over thousands and thousands of kilometres as a pilgrim's duty.

May the Source be with you!
4 km



Monday, 24 December 2018

Friday, December 21st, 2018

Thunder Bay, Ontario

Directions to the Tabla

I made sure to be bundled up for the weather of the north, which meant any saffron robes, consisting of dhotikurta and uttaria, would be sent ahead to the destination point on Victoria Avenue.  I donned regular wear with pants, a serious coat and additional head-warming gear to address the ten-below temperature.

I was making my way to a tablaconcert (well, "concert" might be an exaggeration, rather a demo) conducted by my travelling partner, Ananda.  The sun was bright and it reflected all from the snow until I came to a trail by Confederation College.  This trail I traversed last July, but being winter it posed a new dynamic.  The creek was now frozen.  Trees blocked the sun which was on its way to hide beyond the horizon anyway.

I asked for directions from a middle-aged guy on a bike.  "Which way to VIctoria?"  

He took note of the tilakmark on my forehead, an earth-based marking that indicates this body is a temple of the soul.  He wouldn't have understood that but was kind enough to advise me.  He delivered the advice of the quickest route which, guiltily, I didn't follow.  I was up for extra adventure which I don't mind.  If lost, I get the chance to meet more people.  I like to have a quota of new encounters every day. It makes the day complete.

After a fair amount of zig-zagging on streets, I reached the Vedic Cultural Centre with the tablademo in session.  I was late, but in time to insert the mantra and dance portion.  Oh how the folks loved it, including Ananda, host Prem and myself.

May the Source be with you!
8 km

Thursday, December 20th, 2018

Toronto, Ontario

Song for a Season

I was walking along the VIctorian street
Hopin' to feel like I'm on a retreat
The ornaments were shining oh so bright
It was dark but awesome to look at the sight
The winter solstice is just around the corner
And I felt for the people alien, foreigner
Livin' in a time when you are so left out
Scrambling for fun in the moving about
Because it ain't comin' so easy, not comin' so easy
No, it ain't comin' so easy, not comin' so easy.
Life can be hollow at the time of the hallow’d
No family, few friends, no one to follow
There's not much to cheer when in search of the beer.
I took up my steps while in the thought of this fear
Got back to the temple to see at the door
The good man Raymond who made the day's score
A rough day he had and I said just one thing
"You've got everything in life it could possibly bring
The greatest gift is to have something to do
A purpose—a goal when it's not about you,
So pick up a drum, or clang the kartals
Open the mouth it sounds sweeter than bells.
I assure you it's easy
Oh yes it's easy, it's easy, so easy, oh yes it's easy.
Pick up a drum, or clang the kartals,
Open the mouth it sounds sweeter than bells."

It's so easy. 

©Bhaktimarga Swami Dec. 2018

May the Source be with you!
4 km

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

Montreal / Prescott

Fun or Fatal

Our team of three stayed at the ISKCON Centre, Montreal, overnight.  I kept myself clear of any space where incense lingered as it agitates or aggravates my sinuses at present.  I have some throat issues.  I mentioned to the head priest that it might be something for him to think about and take action on.  "We use incense in our services but we might consider cutting down.  Some Buddhist monks were found to have lung cancer because of large doses of incense.  One of our pujaris (priests) in the San Jose area was found to have cancer from the incense she used several times a day in her service and she never ever smoked cigarettes.  What is recommended is to use one instead of three sticks, and just after it is offered to the deity you can put it out."

He listened to my logic that in India incense is used in outdoor courtyard temples.  The smoke has a chance to escape.  I hope my advice takes hold because our priests are precious.

After a great morning sadhana, we headed off to the rural project called "Nandagram," in Mascouche.  They have made progress since last I came.  The main resident building has expanded in size due to the hard work of Anu Bhava and Jenke.  By spring it will all be ready for our Farmer's Conference in May.  Please give support.

On our return, we stopped by historic Prescott along the St. Lawrence for a snack.  The new owner, of a convenience shop in Sanjay, fresh out of Mumbai, recognized us as Krishna monks and inadvertently entertained the customers in queue by offering hugs after stepping away from the counter and touching our feet.  It is traditional habit that can make life bitter, fun or fatal.

May the Source be with you!
5 km

Friday, 21 December 2018

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

 Cleveland / Detroit / Toronto / Montreal

Flying to Places

I left Cleveland via air with a stop-over in Detroit, and after a second flight, which landed me in Toronto, my two companions, Ananda and Jay, drove me to Montreal.  We were on the go.  But for a slight delay in Toronto—one winter tire was to replace the summer tire—we kept flying.  While the tire was being replaced I saw the opportunity to head south on Dufferin and walk into pure sunlight.

Now, when I say ‘flying’, the two drivers were actually more like pilots.  They took turns behind the wheel but their right feet were a little heavy on the pedal. 

"Guys, slow down!  We're going to die!"

Other than that the drive was pleasant on the 401, the country's busiest road.  As a monk who travels constantly I have to be innovative when it comes to engaging myself on long journeys like this.  Most motorists will have the radio on or play their favourite music.  However, those of us who follow a spiritual culture will have our preference of listening to devotional sound, or reading from a text, such as we did.  The book, Chaitanya Bhagavat, follows the life of the iconic kirtan monk, Chaitanya.  It is relishable to move in the footsteps of such a renunciant's travels.

After reaching our destination on Pie IX Boulevard in Montreal, we caught the tail end of the reading of the Bhagavad-gita.  It just so happens that today is the anniversary of when the Gitawas spoken by Sri Krishna, a message relatable to all.  How does one resolve uncertainties in life?  How do we increase our coping power?  How can we implement acceptance over apprehension?  How to clear doubt?  The Gita addresses opportunities.

May the Source be with you!
3 km

Monday, December 17th, 2018

Cleveland, Ohio

To the Prison and the Trees

Arjuna has been in prison for fifteen years and has a short time left to complete his sentence for manslaughter.  Those details are interesting and he's been doing extremely well as an inmate.  They loved him at Trumbull Correctional Institute and now he stays at a new facility where it proves the same.  He gets along with everyone.

Arjuna was not always "Arjuna."  He added that spiritual name to his family and given name which is Aaron, some eight years ago.  My friend from Salem, Ohio, is Akilananda, and he is a chaplain who introduced me to this young(er) man.  He steadily chants his mantras and works out.  

"I try to get outside (within the fence) as much as I can," he told me today.  

He's in good shape on the physical and spiritual level.  We are proud of him.  

"Krishna's looking after me."

Adios, Arjuna, and good luck with your upcoming welding career.

Michael and Paurnamasi, my hosts in Cleveland, are a fine couple, and after the trip to prison, the three of us ventured over to the Metro Parks System in Cleveland for a walk in this diverse deciduous-tree haven.  The leaves are on the forest floor leaving it easy to spot a deer, woodpecker, chickadee and various other forms of wildlife.  Rocky River is a river vein that attracts the wild wonder.  On one rock, there is inscribed a quote from John Muir.  "But in every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks."

This is absolutely true.  Thank you, Divine Couple, and thank you Akil, Kaustuba and Dhananjay. Good to meet you Jason.

May the Source be with you!
4 km



Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Sunday, December 16th, 2018

Cleveland, Ohio

Moving Around in Cleveland

Kaustubha and I walked to Olmsted Falls while morning was dark.  We were charmed by the rustic beauty of this little enclave with rushing river, covered bridge, antique shops and other shops selling stuff you don't really need.  It's a place for the rich, except for a couple of paupers like ourselves.  The place has a "Silent Night" feel to it and that's for everyone.

Now, every Sunday, followers of bhakti meet at Lakewood Young Filmakers Academy on Madison.  At exactly 11:08 a.m., I began speaking, not about film-making but of the wellness that comes from spirit-walking.  By that I mean chanting and striding along.  I told of my trekking adventures across the U.S. and Canada. Also in the quaint space, we chanted and did rock-dance.

Over in another end of town, the east end, Michael and Paurnamasi took me to the home of Krishnanandini and Tariq.  I spoke from the GIta, verse 15.14 where Krishna identifies Himself as the “fire of digestion”.  The word "fire" was significant because a fire was ignited in the fireplace from twigs gathered from the backyard.  We call this ceremony a havan and the group of people who came were there to partake in the diksha or initiation of Jake who's sixty-six.  I explained that the event is not really an initiation but more of a confirmation that the mantras he's been chanting will now be a life commitment.  Congratulations!

We followed this ritual with a wonderfully wild kirtan/chanting session.  The talk was conducted in a mood of sobriety but not without some jokes here and there.

May the Source be with you!
7 km


Saturday, December 15th, 2018

Columbus, Ohio

Having A Focus

I flew to Columbus and was then driven to a community hall in Dublin for an appreciation banquet dinner.  Prema Vilas—Prema means "love" so I refer to him as "Mr. Love"—organized the event and asked that I speak about the value of community.  From the spiritual perspective, I did.

"The basis of common unity, as the name implies, is to have a common goal.  Let us picture a very young Krishna who has been playing and herding in the pasture grounds of Gokula.  It's lunch time and He sits in the middle of the circle of His friends.  They enjoy looking at Him eat, talk and joke.  He is the whorl of the lotus and they, the boys, are the petals.  The petals have a centre on which they are hooked.  Krishna was popular with these boys, the gopas, and also with the girls, the gopis, as well as the adults of the village.  The point is we must have a central focus for there to be a strong community."

I was so happy to be in a room of what I consider a strong community for Columbus.  They are raising funds for a seven-million-dollar temple facility.  I was also glad to see my godbrother and godsisters, Yadhavacharya, Kamagiri, Krsnanandini and Malati.

There is a lot of material out there that delineates the concept of strong community.  It is good material but I believe it misses on one thing and that is the spiritual component in life.  Life is like an empty shell when the spirit is absent.

Michael, Paurnamasi and I then drove through rain-driven madness all the way to Cleveland.  It was Day 2 for no walking.

May the Source be with you!
0 km / mi

Friday, December 14th, 2018

Etobicoke, Ontario

Despite

Despite the mild weather of today and the willingness to experience the +3°C, destiny had it that I was to be temple-bound all day long.  For me the high point of the day entailed the morning discussions at the Bhagavatamclass led by Hara Kumar on yogis who took to spontaneous combustion.  Examples of people who passed on in their life by invoking the fire from within are Sati, the wife of Shiva, as well as King Dhritarastra, who was blind from birth and who decided to terminate with his Queen, Gandhari.  These fascinating stories are found in the books of Prabhupada.

How the topic came about was from the tale of Muchakund who burned to ashes with his laser eyes the barbarian, Kalyavana.

Another high point was having a frank talk with someone who felt the weight of depression.  Somehow my counselling bore fruit.  Spirits were raised.  Hope appeared to be restored.  It was such a good feeling when the session was over.

One anxiety for me was missing the visit by Vaisesika, a highly-powered devotee of bhakti, who was scheduled to come to Toronto for a sankirtanfest.  My schedule was set a while back and so I would not be able to take advantage of his stay, which involves very enlightening classes.

The final high point was a visit to a household located near the Toronto Airport.  Every Friday six families come together for a study of the Gita.  Discussions opened up regarding science and how it plays out to our advantage or to our detriment.  It was a fun debate.

It was a full day except for missing out on walking.

May the Source be with you!
0 km

Thursday, December 13th, 2018

Oshawa / Castleton

Water, Marsh, Trail

I consider myself to be in good hands—God's—when trekking a trail.  East of Toronto, just south of Oshawa proper, I was able to explore the Waterfront Trail and Oshawa Second Marsh.  It is a winding trail fit for pedestrians and cyclists.  At this time of year, you can expect solitude if that's what you want. I do.  There are plenty of people-needs to tend to as a Hare Krishna monk, so an hour of shanti, peace, is better than a prescription drug; better than an Ayurveda healing procedure.  Walking tops it all.

My first steps began right at the open lake, Lake Ontario.  

"This is a lake?" asked my support person, Ananda, from India.  "Is it sweet water?"

"Yes, sir.  It's an incredible massive lake which offers a harsh breeze."  

Ananda drove ahead as I went east into a more break-from-the-wind area of marsh, ancient trees and once again shanti, all on the Waterfront Trail.

At 2:10 p.m., it was time to move onward to Prince Edward Township and to Cold Shelter Valley Road.  There, on the farm, we met Jai and Rasa, and their family—which also refers to the shaggy ones in the barnyard.  My purpose in visiting them was to discuss the spring farm conference for Vaishnavas.  I wanted to drum up some interest for this noble but rural lifestyle, something encouraged by our guru, Prabhupada.

Ananda and I had the opportunity to feed goats, cows, and bulls.  When I saw their eagerness, I felt that this zeal, when applied to spiritual life, can bring success.   https://www.instagram.com/p/BrXrWZmAo3_/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=mquncsudggdq

May the Source be with you!
5 km



Wednesday, December 12th, 2018

Toronto, Ontario

Walking In Appreciation

Around the fence barriers of the under-construction park I went.  I'm happy when taxes go to public space improvement, even though at this season—winter—sitting at a park bench for any length of time is unfavourable.  I felt comfortable knowing that in the season ahead this green space will be enjoyed.  I'll be back on foot just for that.  Oh, by the way, the park I'm talking about is Queen's Park, where the provincial legislative building is located.

In the writings of our guru, Prabhupada, we learn that pious kings in Vedic times would arrange for green space, trees, lakes and wells for drinking, in their grandiose cities.  Architecture was made of beautiful craftsmanship—pleasing to the eyes.  I had the good fortune to visit Kuruksetra where ancient artifacts are on display from ruins from the city Dwarka, in India. Dwarka was under siege by nature's way. A tidal wave came to envelope the fortress established by Krishna Himself.  The disaster is explained in the epic Mahabharat.

I have expressed, in the past, of my disappointment with modern architecture.  The drab, squarish nature of many of today's structures often does little to bring pleasure to the eyes.  They seem like heaps of greed.

The edifice south of Queen's Park is a handsome looking building made of a type of red stone.  The legislative decision-making that goes on inside may not always be so appealing, but the exterior is something expressing optimism and hope.  It's nicely looked after.

My walking is over for the day.  It is night.

May the Source be with you!
5 km


Friday, 14 December 2018

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

Toronto, Ontario

The Ultimate Positive

It was awesome seeing snow move upward instead of the reverse.  From Pape and Danforth I stepped west and onto the bridge that is set over the Don Valley, and I guess gusts of wind took the descending snow in the direction that challenges gravity.  I wondered if anyone else noticed.  Pedestrians, like myself, faced a mild rawness from winter wind, but I sensed from their faces that reaching their night destination was all that mattered. How the snow blew wasn't important.

There is a rush.  It's Christmas!  Hanukkah! Perhaps other holidays.  In our tradition, Gita Jayanti is honoured on the 18th but that hasn't, as of yet, received the hype it deserves.  In any event, people are in a hustle, a bustle and sometimes a tussle at this time of year, and I always feel that a soft snow's landing makes much of the city's-traffic noise mute.  To a large extent, sounds are subdued.  Silent night!

One thing, for sure, is the average person walking the street is full in thought, as am I.  What the subjects of our thoughts are is what counts.  For instance, in the Gita it is stated, in Chapter 8, Verses 5 and 6, that whatever you are filled with in thought determines your destiny.  In particular, Verse 5 speaks of the preferential contemplation on Krishna, and that it is to His existence that we strive and hopefully arrive, due to a meditation on Him.  https://www.instagram.com/p/BrSSjtVgbGw/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=3zw8srnhcwhd

This is definitely something to work on.  The mind is a vessel that is never empty.  It must be filled with the ultimate positive.

May the Source be with you!
5 km



Monday, December 10th, 2018

Toronto, Ontario

40 Steps to Healthy



Sent my way to make my heart smile was the following article, filed under “restore your faith, walk more drive less.”

“Bhaktimarga Swami (otherwise known as ‘the walking monk’) is a Canadian man who so far has walked around 20,000 miles during treks across Canada, Guyana, Israel, Mauritius, Ireland, Fiji and Trinidad. Wearing out four pairs of Crocs on each walk, he walks for around 8 hours a day, always facing the traffic, and making friends along the way.  Now in his 60s, he covers around 30km daily, and says the main danger is coyotes rather than humans (though he has been propositioned a few times by female drivers). He chants as he walks (especially at night) to let the animals know he is coming! 

The Walking Monk belongs to a religion called Hare Krishna.  This is a branch of the Hindu religion, started by Sri Chaitanya of Bengal back in the 16th century.  He believed that chanting the names of God was so powerful, that monks should chant in the street to benefit all.  The Walking Monk does indeed chant for several hours a day, as he goes walkabout. 

Hare Krishna monks always bless their vegetarian food, as they believe that your emotions are infused into the food.  So a lentil stew, made by an angry monk, is as bad as a meat pie! 

He has also had his brushes with the law. Some people have reported the Walking Monk on his travels, believing with his orange robes, that he is an escaped convict.  And one person even reported him as a ‘moving traffic cone!’ If you are wondering why Buddhist and Hare Krishna monks wear orange robes, it’s a tradition that dates back hundreds of years, simply because saffron dye was readily available in Southeast Asia (Tibetan monks tend to wear maroon robes). 

Why he walks:

To inspire a greener way of life, to promote pilgrimage & connection to the Divine through nature, to honour our teachers…and to make lots of friends!”

Thank you, author!

May the Source be with you!
5 km

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Sunday, December 9th, 2018

Fallowfield / Ottawa

Off the Train

The conductor announced, "Fallowfield is next. Fallowfield coming up!"  https://www.instagram.com/p/BrPtD7YANuj/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=gky6f1phbw3u

That registered with me, however, I had been caught up in reading, absorbed in the stories of monk Chaitanya.  Oops!  The train stopped.  This is where I get off.  I was swift on my feet and de-trained like anything.  There at the station was Surinder to pick me up for a short drive to his home for lunch, before heading to the Ottawa ISKCON Centre on 212 Somerset Street.

Actually, I was quite absorbed in reading about the demeanour of someone by the name of Ramachandra Puri.  He was a monk whom everyone despised.  He excelled in fault-finding, which is never good for anyone in spiritual life.  You could call him a fanatic.  It was humourous though, going over his nit-picking habits, finding faults in other monks over petty matters.

This is material for a new play! I thought.

Anyway, I made it to the kirtan,and delivered a class from 10.10 of the Gita.  The subject of the message was "Be A Giver."  The essential principle here is to recognize God in the heart giving us the intelligence to make the right devotional decisions.

It was great meeting a young guy who is a student at Ottawa U.  He explained he'd been dancing on the dark side of the moon with alcohol, but: "That's behind me," he proudly said. 

I expressed that we have to start giving to ourselves.

No walking today.  Time constraints.  Woe is me!

May the Source be with you!
0 km

Saturday, December 8th, 2018

Mississauga / Markham

Six Refreshing K's

I managed a refreshing six kilometres of walking from Yonge and Lawrence to the ashram. At the major juncture of Eglinton, I and a host of pedestrians waiting at the stop light, looked on in shock. And horror  at an older person with a walker crossing the street on the red.  Traffic was approaching but he managed to walk through out of the courtesy of the motorists who saw what was going on.  He was dangerously in his own world.

My walk was another nighttime walk, after conducting a house program in Markham.  There were quite a few new people there experiencing kirtanfor the first time.  They were quite eager to hear of my walking pastimes, so I obliged them. That request came in earlier on in Mississauga when I attended a program of a similar nature at a household there. For them, I told of wildlife attacks and threats from bears, birds and wasps.

My companion for that program was Dwarkanath, a Toronto monk from Bangladesh, who just lost his mum to cancer.  It's a little tough for him.  He wasn't there at the cremation as it took place in Kolkata. He's a good soul and I'm sure so was she, bless her heart.

I'm trying to encourage him to take walks just as I do.  He's still struggling with the weather challenge of Canada.  "The air is fresh here and you can get some prana, good air power, from the experience," I explained.  "Be a warrior."  Bravery is what I was alluding to.

Overall, it was a fulfilling day.  One last event was the Kid's GitaContest held in Toronto's ISKCON Centre.  The young children recited verses from the Gitafrom memory.  Impressive!

May the Source be with you!
6 km


Friday, December 7th, 2018

Richmond Hill / North York

Three Things

Monks have obligations.  When someone in the community perishes, a monk participates in the send-off.  Krishna Sharma, I'm guessing, was ninety.  She resided in our ashram in the ’80s.  I learned a few things from her in the kitchen.  She could make a fantastic green banana subji.  Her English wasn't totally terrific but we loved her attempt at it.  Instead of saying "spaghetti," she would come up with "subghetti."  We loved her. She was a real giver.

My experience is that family and friends at a crematorium are unsure of proceedings at the last rites, so I become a natural co-ordinator for her funeral—an emcee, you might say.  We highlighted chanting.  God bless her soul.

A second obligation executed today was a visit to the Caledon farm owned by Vishal and Yasomati.  The couple have come up with innovation, especially in regard to the by-products of bull and cow.  Their milk, dung and urine have miraculous properties, some which will even tackle cancer.  We relished their butternut squash soup, very organic, very local—in fact, from the farm. Monks visit farmers.

A final obligation was to stop by at the home of a family.  A second family joined.  To get there I actually walked from Yonge and Steeles to Yonge and Sheppard, a perfect five kilometres.  A couple, Bully and Amala, hosted a few of us for a kale and chilli supper.  Renunciant people visit homes to try and inspire. This is a young couple  and they are artists in music.  Upstairs hangs a fine painting by Amogha Pandit on their wall. It portrays monk, Chaitanya, dancing with associates.  Monks are meant to appreciate devotional artwork when rendered.

May the Source be with you!
5 km