Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Sunday, December 29th, 2019

Toronto, Ontario

The Park Bench

We both sat on the park bench, trying to catch our breath, after having ascended to a higher elevation at Chorley Park.  A former Lieutenant Governor's mansion had been at this spot quite a few  decades ago, but fire hit the building, and thus it is no longer.  Gaura and I enjoyed the scene looking far to the east, and although leaves have abandoned their trees, the sumac bushes near us have held onto their reddish bobs.  It really was a nice view.  

Our minutes there lapsed, and we moved on to right next to the Rosedale United Church.  A handsome structure it is.  

"Have you ever been inside?"  Gaura asked.

"Yes.  Once when it was raining and I needed shelter."

We agreed to check it out, now that it looked like a service was going on.  "We can sit in the back pew and chant some japa," I suggested.  So we did.  

An elderly lady smiled and offered us a pamphlet, a welcome gesture.  The minister, a woman, was at the pulpit, in front of a gorgeous stained-glass portrayal of a non-crucified Christ. She was talking about sanctuary—a place of restfulness, a home, a real shelter.  Of course, she was mostly referring to the spiritual comfort that is ours to take advantage of.  

After that segment of the sermon, she encouraged all who sat there to speak to each other about their own experiences of sanctuary.  Gaura and I participated, and then, shortly thereafter, continued our walk back to our mandir, our temple.  It was my turn on the roster to speak to our crowd.  I used the theme of "sanctuary," quoting 18:66 from the Gita.  

May the Source be with you!
5 km

Saturday, December 28th, 2019

Toronto/Brampton

For the Young Ones

Today was a day for families and children.  For starters, my good friend Dr. Rakesh from London, Ontario, arranged for a blessing for his twin grandkids, Hamsaraj and Abiranjan.  They are one year old and just had their mundan, first hair-cutting ceremony yesterday.  With help from Mangal Arati, visiting from Philly, and our own Aradhana, we pulled off a kirtan chant, an arati to guru, Srila Prabhupada, and a lesson from the Gita verse, "The humble sages by virtue of true knowledge, see with equal vision, a gentle wise brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a man who eats dogs."

We also included a lesson in devotional dance, which all forty family members took part in.  And for the young twins, an application of sacred tilak reached their foreheads in the third eye region.  And to the mouth, a few drops of the sacred liquid charanamrta came to their lips with help from their parents.  Yogi and wife (sorry, can't remember all names).

The group ate scrumptious blessed food and went about their way, while I made the drive to IB (ISKCON Brampton) for their first "Spiritual Fair."  With total backing and encouragement from parents again, this community pulled off an all-kids display of the holy land of Vrindavana, India.  

They had constructed mini temples, hills from the area (including Govardhan), games to play, and information all expressed vocally while in typical Braj-style, clothes with dhotis, saris and turbans.  

These kids are real charmers.  They are sharp, articulate, cute and spiritually centred.  I would give a high rating to this fair, for sure.  I have hope for the world when I see such expertise in action.

May the Source be with you!
0 km

Friday, December 27th, 2019

Brampton, Ontario

Get to Marketing

Vidyanidhi is a qualified architect, who has been rendering some drawings for our temple/ashram's renovations.  We have begun a project in our building which should improve our facilities for resident monks and nuns, as well as increase the number of classrooms we require for seminars on bhakti, the devotional sciences.  We appreciate the number of people who have come forward to support the effort of this prominent building project.  Our goal is to complete the project by September 2022, which is to include a solarium on the flat roof above our Govinda's Restaurant to accommodate the sacred basil plant, Tulasi.

Vidyanidhi invited me to his home in Brampton for a meal with the family, so I got to know everyone better.  What was so kind of them was to pull together a beverage (and not a brew) which is a favourite of mine.  It is simply a drink of lemon, water, ginger and jaggery, a natural sweetener.  It's delicious and healthy.  I indulged.  It goes with almost any meal.  I recommend it to anyone.  I think it should be marketed.

My evening activity went in two parts: drama practice, which is coming along, and a nighttime walk into the 4 degree Celsius weather.  It was good all around, both the drink, and then the walk, both excellent for the health.  Isn't that just about everything? Good physical and health conditions, in order to execute services to Him and to all.

May the Source be with you!
4 km

Thursday, December 26th, 2019

Toronto, Ontario

I See in Your Body

From the script, "The Gita," wherein Krishna reveals His Cosmic Form, Arjuna observes:

 ARJUNA: I see in your body hundreds of thousands of divine and multicoloured forms.  I see creatures of the water, creatures of the air and creatures of the land.  I see various demigods.  I see Brahma sitting on a lotus flower.  I see Shiva who rides on his bull.  I see divine serpents. 

I see in your body many, many arms, bellies, mouths and eyes expanded everywhere without limit.  I see your glaring effulgence spreading everywhere like blazing fire.  The sun, the moon, are your eyes. The host of demigods are entering into you.  They are afraid.  They are praying!  SWASTI! SWASTI! SWASTI!

Your incredible form is creating fear in the hearts of all.

I see Duryodhana.  I see Bhisma.  I see Drona.  And other chief soldiers rushing into your terrible jaws, their heads smashed between your fearful teeth.  I see you devouring people from all sides.

Oh Lord of Lords.  Please tell me who you really are?

KRISHNA: I am time, destroyer of the worlds.  I have come to annihilate the wrong.  With the exception of you, the Pandavas, all soldiers on both sides will be slain.

Arise!  Prepare for duty.  Your enemies are already put to death by my arrangement.  Be an instrument in the fight.

The above is recited while our actors play it out in our upcoming drama, "The Gita," on January 1st.

May the Source be with you!
0 km

Wednesday, December 25th, 2019

Mississauga/Toronto

More Depth

Dharma just had his birthday, and to celebrate, Rajasuya conducted an agnihotra, a mild version of a fire sacrifice.  Actually, this time he gave training to Surabhi, his wife, and so the ceremony went on in what you might say was a Vedic version of honouring Christmas.  That was in Mississauga.

Back in Toronto, I had a chat with Billy, and I asked him his feelings about the Christmas season.  It can be joyful for some.  For others—a time of depression.  He suggested that we try to deepen our feelings of devotion before trying to go up or out.  https://www.instagram.com/p/B6iE7H3AsVC/?igshid=1cbdg6763p988

I then asked him for a favour.  "Maybe you can make this a Christmas gift."

"Sure," he said.

"Drive me to a spot about seven kilometres from my home base, here at the temple, and I'll walk back."

"I can do that; I'm going to North York," he said with an eagerness to execute.  

At that moment, Durjoy, whose birthday was today (he turned twenty-eight) passed by.  He came over specifically to find me and to go for a birthday walk.  Durjoy also climbed into Billy's car, and drove with us to Glengrove and Yonge, where Billy left us to amble along, going in a gradual downhill fashion.

I would say that Durjoy and I were dipping and deepening that hour and a half by walking and chanting.  The rule was: as little talk as possible.  We completed our mission.  It was good because less chat can mean more depth.

May the Source be with you!
7 km

Thursday, 26 December 2019

Tuesday, December 24th, 2019

Etobicoke, Ontario

Coming to the Silent

Jaya and I had a Christmas (Krishnas) Eve dinner at Victor's place.  He made a typical Romanian salad.  Nupura, his friend, assembled a nice soup of rice, lentils and Italian spices.  The bread was a French olive bread.  Quite yummy!  Subtly-cooked brussel sprouts and broccoli added to the greens.  And Nupura offered the grande finale of the meal with a sweet potato halavah.

This meal, this kindness, made our day.  Lest we forget the kirtan which followed.  Victor's Persian cat just couldn't make heads or tails of our drumming, clanging and singing.  What is this?

Victor showed us his partial rock collection—stone specimens from Romania, Egypt and Italy.  They are stunning.  The amethyst I could recognize.  I guess you could say that Victor is a ‘rocker’.  Also a ‘rocker’ in the sense that he is taking the spiritual path more seriously than most others.  His friends don't understand why a cool guy would forsake booze and weed for God.

I recently cast him in our play, “The Gita" because he has the semblance of a fair-looking ksatriya (warrior).  I think he'll do well in that role, or service.

Jaya and I returned to our home, the temple ashram, and I suddenly realized I hadn't yet moved my legs in what we call ‘walking’.  So I went for an embarrassingly short walk.  (I was to participate in a conference-call with India).  

While out, I noticed how mystically quiet the streets were becoming.  Oh, yes, it's Christmas.  "Silent night!  Holy night!  All is calm.  All is bright!"

May the Source be with you!
2 km


Monday, December 23rd, 2019

Toronto, Ontario

My Driver and My Driving

My driver from yesterday is doing really well in his devotional life, in the aspect that he is a good driver.

Sometimes I'm asked if I drive, and my answer is, "I used to.  I did so much service for the mission by way of running errands with some vehicles."  I wasn't always so lucky with driving, though.  I don't want to say I had a bad reputation as a reckless driver like John Lennon, but by some circumstance, I found myself in the throes of a few accidents, one involving a train.  That I'll explain in greater detail in my forthcoming book.

At some point in my life as a monk, on a mission, I let my driver’s license expire so that I could highlight walking. 

For walking today, I hit the neighbourhood streets including the back alleyways.  It was so nice, and temperatures were up at ten degrees Celsius.  At junctures, I could not avoid traffic.  Those convenient monsters are always something to look out for.  Such is life.  One does have to turn one's head in at least two directions before making a move forward.  Caution is always a watch world in the mind of a walker when motorists are involved.

After a mere three kilometres, duty, and not nature, was calling.  Drama practice.  Our Toronto crew was all set for drama practice.  We are getting ready and set for our take in English on the play, The Gita.  Always fun.  Always disciplined.  Always learning! 

May the Source be with you!
3 km

Sunday, December 22nd, 2019

Scarborough/Milton

I Left for Yonge

I left for Yonge at 8:00 a.m., and walked a small piece of this longest street in the world.  You can check it out with Guinness.  It's just under 1900 kilometres long, or 1,178 miles in distance, taking you to Rainy River, where on the other side of the waterway you have Minnesota in the U.S.A.

Yes, I walked a chunk of it on foot.  Beautiful day.  I was en route to Scarborough to be the Sunday Open House speaker, when a driver picked me up near Eglinton.  He was quite the far-out guy. 

As we drove along, he pointed to the grocery store in his neighbourhood.  "I was on cocaine and I used to steal my food from there."

"What happened?"

"They finally caught me and asked, "Why are you doing this?"

"Then what?"  

He explained that it gave him a reality check.  "I stopped doing it from then on."

We arrived at our destination. Got inside. Spoke. Sang. Ate.  I persuaded attendees to sponsor Bhagavad-gitas—160 hard-bound books for hospitals, prisons and hotel/motels.

We drove to Milton and arrived early.  Santa was charming the kids at Grace Church in the downtown.  We had time to kill so we walked through the historic town.  

The driver talked more about himself. "I dance to kirtan in my apartment, which has no furniture, and the guy below me bangs on the ceiling,” he said, with a wholesome pride.

"You're interesting," I said.  

The driver danced at Milton's Open House.  We managed to get 111 Gitas sponsored.  A good day!

May the Source be with you!
7 km



Wednesday, 25 December 2019

Saturday, December 21st, 2019

Toronto, Ontario

I Burst Out

I burst out the door eager for that winter air.  I had been inside all day dealing with ‘inside’ things.  It was 7:00 p.m., and I headed for Bloor Street, but the ‘inside’ was now ‘outside’ following me around.  I mean to say, that when walking, if you have a cell phone with you, you're still carrying an office with you.  It was a meaningful dialogue, with Rajasuya educating me on all the crime that occurs around the e-world.  I experience it, and with all my naïveté, I become a victim like so many other users.

Anyway, we ended our conversation, closing down my office for a more freeing walk, while appreciating the lesson.  I made my way west to Christie and back, and while passing by "Lee's Palace," a place of music, out came a young man, who noticed me, and asked, "Are you the Walking Monk?"

So I answered him, "I'm a monk and I'm walking."

"I know Emma," he said.

"Oh, from Edmonton?"

And he said, "Yes!"

We continued talking, and then I, and he, continued walking our own ways, happy to have met, and for me, relishing the ‘small world’ in which we live, and also feeling liberated by not having that phone stuck to my ear.  

He might have ignored me had he seen me busy doing something.  I cannot think of anything more important than seeing faces and noticing walking paces, then connecting with some of what you observe.  You should avoid cars, but you should not avoid people. 

May the Source be with you!
7 km

Friday, December 20th, 2019

Toronto, Ontario

A Piece of Himself

Nirakula comes to visit us every six months, along with her husband, Vaisesika, to encourage the sharing of wisdom.  It is significant at this time of year in December, when the ‘giving spirit’ is the strongest.  Classes are lined up, beginning with today, to express the joy of giving.  Some devotees from different cities have come to hear how to best achieve the act of giving.

It was today, before I went for a five kilometre walk, that I received a call from a bhakti follower from Canada, who is visiting in India, and, in particular, Govardhan, where a good number of pilgrims walk to circle around the iconic hill.  He explained how it was nice but not without a challenge.  The story had to do with giving.  

"We were walking in one area where the monkeys surrounded us.  They were aggressive, and I couldn't find a stick.  So I found a rock and threatened them because they were pulling my wife's saree... I realized at some point that I had picked up a gift from the hill itself.  The rock had the features of a shila.  (Shilas are revered in some places in India and they are characteristic of certain fine features.)  I felt blessed."

The pilgrim-caller asked what he should do with this special stone and I suggested he bring it back to Canada, to bless his small shrine at home.  It would adorn the shrine, and he could then adore the stone.  God had given a little piece of Himself.

While walking on the Danforth, I dwelt on the story of the monkeys, the saree and the stone.  I could imagine the scenario.  I was wondering if monkeys would be intimidated by a snowball if they tugged at my dhoti robe.

May the Source be with you!
5 km


Thursday, December 19th, 2019

Toronto, Ontario

Walking the Quiet Streets

Last evening, a small group of us met with the Honourable Raymond Cho, MPP and the Ontario Minister of Seniors and Accessibility, at the home of a Mr. Vijay Sharma.  I offered him a copy of the children's book, The Walking Monk, written by Anna Milagrits and illustrated by Olena Yanko, for his grandchildren whom he will visit in Houston tomorrow.  https://samhitapress.com/shop/138/

Nice person!  He travels.  So do I.  It's good to be back though.  The air is fresh.  Lots of real prana in the air—life force.  The snowfall came down today like magic crystals.  It certainly was pulling me out of the building.  I just made sure that my walking course was going to be off the busy Christmas grid, as I stuck to serene streets in a residential area.

I sometimes do wonder if there is peace within these dwellings.  It is hard to perceive what goes on within these walls.  At a time of the year which proclaims calmness, the opposing element could actually be the reality.  There’s a lot of financial strain put on people who are shoppers.

Oh, how I hated Christmas.  Not Jesus.  It is all this commercial humbug that is rather irritating.  The superficiality of it all, was for me at age twenty, a catalyst for searching deeper into life's actual purpose.  I met my monks and my existence changed thereafter.

I wish people could capture the essence of Christmas, which is love, and not be enamoured by all the externals.  Renounce the expensive paraphernalia as gifts.  Spare yourself the anxiety of debt.  Make the change.

May the Source be with you!
4 km




Saturday, 21 December 2019

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019

Toronto, Ontario

Drugs N Stuff

They lingered on my mind, the people we met at the airport in Varadero, as Yadu Swami, Prana and I sat waiting at Gate 3.  There were quite a few of them, mostly Canadians, nonchalantly walking toward us, curious as to who we were.  One of them, a guy of forty-six (looking like thirty) couldn't hold back his inquisitiveness.

"So you guys are...?"  

I explained our identity and some of our values— liquor and drugs are taboo for us.

"Oh, I don't do any of those things," he said, which probably explains his youthfulness.  "I had a friend who drowned because he was on drugs at fourteen.  Then another friend, drunk on booze, hit a rock-face.  His car blew up in flames.  Only his hands were left on the steering wheel.  These two instances discouraged me from taking toxics."

I asked him what he does.

"I grow whee..." 

I said I couldn't get the last word. "Wheat?"

"No, weed!"

"Can you explain?"

"I grow marijuana for the government—for medicinal purposes."

Then he got me thinking,  If I ever do one of those big walks again—if I can build up my old knees—perhaps I could walk with a cause like Anti-Booze and Drugs.  It would be a secular approach, of course, in terms of raising awareness.  Anyway, just a thought.

Once I returned back to Toronto, my godbrother, Gaura, sang a meaningful song from ‘Canned Heat’.

May the Source be with you!
0 km

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Varadero, Cuba

Adios Amigos

Varadero is the launching pad from which we were hoisted up in the air, to go to our respective countries: Spain (for Yadunandan) and Canada (Prana and myself).  We made sure the local Vaishnavas in Cuba were equipped until our next visit with their devotional and other needs.  A mrdunga drum is now theirs, three telephones, a laptop computer, beads and bead bags, ghee, books, and some financial backing—all generous donations from Vancouver to Brampton, Toronto, Montreal, and of course, Spain.

We also left the devotees some messages of encouragement, and the theme of working together.  Empowering them was also our obligation, so the swami from Spain and I gave them some engagement, responsibilities, or services, if you will, to keep all devotionally occupied. There are the services of treasury, communications, group interfacing, festival coordination, sanghas, the farm coordination, and visitor coordination.  On top of this, we offered our prayers of goodwill in a mutual way.  They wished us a great flight, and we wished them a fantastic next year.  The year 2020 is just around the corner.

Remember Y2K and the apparent disaster predicted at the turn of the millennia?  That was just like yesterday, when the joke was on most everyone.  https://www.instagram.com/p/B6NSl8DA0F1/?igshid=12830i3rapy5t

The people of Cuba are sweet and curious about higher consciousness—very responsive.  And their love for music, song, dance—all components of a bhakti experience—makes for good ingredients.  We will see what the future holds.

May the Source be with you!
2 km

Monday, December 16th, 2019

Havana, Cuba

Havana's Birthday

Havana is in a celebratory mood.  It turned 500 this year.  It achieved its name from a native chief who was prominent at the time of the Spanish newcomers.  But while the party is on with the city in various ways, Yadunandan Swami, Prana Gauranga and I are having our own good time with such things as kirtan, classes, eating, and of course, some walking. 

Today at the Malecon I met a very animated local—Lester, by name.

"Buddha?" he asked.

"No, Krishna!" I replied.

"Oh, I know.  I have read about him.  You people go ching...ching…ching?  And as he said this he mimed the clashing of two sweet cymbals.  

But I insisted, "No!" We go ching, ching, ching...ching, ching, ching."

"Why you have this?"  he asked pointing to the tilak on my forehead, and I responded that the marking represents the concept that the body is the temple of God."  Questions. Answers. We parted.

After our walk, we directed our meditations to a great Vaishnava yogi.  His name is Bhaktisiddhanta, and he is our guru's guru.  We noted many things about what he said.  Here's one quote.  “Do not give up devotional service, even if there are innumerable dangers, countless insults and endless harassment."

Quite staunch isn't it?

Back we went to the resort, after offering goodbyes to our Havana crew.  In Varadero, we sat in the lounge trying to catch up on e-mails, while people would just come up to us, one after the other—some  from Israel, Holland, Canada—and there was that piano player in the lounge who fully remembered us from the previous year, when she accompanied the mahamantra in front of a big crowd.

May the Source be with you!
6 km

Sunday, December 15th, 2019

 Havana, Cuba

Different Approaches

It was a wedding in the woods.  Michael and Odelas had been wed by state law.  Papers were signed and documents filled out, but the couple were desirous of a ceremony that would have a Vedic touch, so Yadunandan Swami and I agreed to perform something that would involve the blessing by a couple of swamis, and be executed in a beautiful setting, midst papayas, guava and avocados.  The place was serene, clean and green.  

Guests were there representing Siddha Yoga (Michael's a member), the Self-realization Fellowship, Sai Baba, and the International Society for Krishna consciousness (Michael is also a member). As main speaker and co-coordinator, I welcomed all, saying, "We can do some things together."  Even with as  little as we knew, both of us swamis pulled it off.  The couple were felis(happy).  All the supporters engaged in kirtan.  We even got the women to ululate, and they did it well.  Kichari, a curried meal, was cooked on the spot, and had that ‘foresty’ flavour. 

The ritual was completed.  And it was satvic.  Attendees understood that language.  Satvic means passive, peaceful, thoughtful.  We used flowers, fruits, grains, ghee and even popcorn.  Yes, I saw at least one kernel pop, a test of success. 

Now in the morning on our walk, our group, moving along the Boulevard Paseo, spotted the remains of a Santeria ritual.  Three headless chickens lay under a street.  Nanda Tanuja, the host for our stay, mentioned he had recently saw a pig's head positioned on a pot in the same area.  Apparently curses are done, and then counter-curses involving bad and good spirits.  These are definitely different approaches to religious rites.  https://www.instagram.com/p/B6J4J7ug8cQ/?igshid=s1o9g6xc9ee8

May the Source be with you!
2 km



Saturday, December 14th, 2019

Havana, Cuba

Re-Connections

Our group of morning walkers met a runner—well, actually, he kind of danced or pranced around us—just as we were making an about-face at the Malecon sea wall.  His name is Steve.  "Some people call me Dr. Steve," he remarked in his most jolly way.  "I'm from D.C.—Washington—and I teach yoga."  

By them, we had all came to a stand-still.  He told us he was expecting a group from the U.S. to join him that day for yoga and healing sessions.  We introduced ourselves, mostly as Cubans, and three of us from Canada.  It's rare to meet an American in Cuba.

"Listen," said Steve, "I apologize for our president.  I didn't vote for him, and please just take it as a joke if someone says Toronto will be the 51st state."  

We discussed more but we had to walk, and he had to run.  I'm hoping to connect with Dr. Steve when I go to D.C. in January.  It's always good to build our relationships.

Speaking of which, after Yadunandan Swami, with assistant, Prana Gauranga, conducted three classes at ISECRE, an institution for religious sciences, and I, presented a sadhana program for our local devotees, I led another one of those Nine Devotions Workshops.  This program is an almost  sure winner for being a feel-good, relations-building experience.

We were happy to see a local person by the name of Laksminath, who had not been active with us for about four years.  It sometimes happens that a practitioner steps out of practice for a time, but then experiences a spurt of enthusiasm for reconnecting.

Basically, I've come to Cuba to have my own reconnection, and to instill the same in others.


May the Source be with you!
6 km


Friday, December 13th, 2019

Havana, Cuba

Countries

Most people who come to Havana make their way to the Malecon, a lengthy sea wall.  A hurricane two years ago, did serious damage to the wall, but it looks to me like great repairs have been undertaken.

A group of us ventured our way there on foot, and even sat on the sea wall once we reached it, to catch up on some ‘sound’ meditation.  The boulevard, which led us there, seemed to have an abundance of curious pedestrians.  It was not our intention to do a tremendous amount of outreach, but to concentrate more on providing lessons and company for the fairly isolated Krishna followers.  

One particular visit was to the Indian Ambassador, the Honourable Madhu Sethi.  It was great to chat with her.  Our dominant topic of discussion was the social disparity in the world and particularly, the change of attitude in the younger generation. 

"Even in India," she said with concern.  It was her observation, as it has been mine, that the East is turning to the West, and the West—to the East.  

Now, what about the Cubans?  Well, frankly, they seem to like Indian culture.  That is what M. Sethi is seeing; everything from the music, and the food,  to the philosophy.  I concurred and said, "Everyone has more or less a little piece of India in their DNA."

The two countries, India and Cuba, get along fabulously, and so does Canada seem to have some kind of courtship going on with Cuba.  The place does have its own resilience, despite less facility.

May the Source be with you!
4 km



Thursday, December 12th, 2019

Varadero/Havana

The Moon...

The moon was at his most full.  He kept an eye on the Atlantic's beach and on us.  

Let's get into our beach routine, I thought, before the crowds arrive.  My personal mission at the beach was to get more of the water-rich minerals over my body, and secondly, to help Yadunandan Swami overcome a fear of water.  The bay we were targeting was full of clear water, and the waves coming in were a non-issue.  The water was as calm as a yogi's mind.  

Yadunandan, Prana and I then embarked on a journey, via taxi, to Havana.  We met some of the young men of the Krishna community.  They are progressing in their Krishna Consciousness.  We, altogether, both young and old, engaged in a kirtan at Nanda Tanuja's apartment, followed by a walk to the John Lennon Park.  

It seemed like the whole city of Havana was at that park in honour of Mr. Lennon.  "Imagine." Perhaps the "Revolution" was on.  People there were curious about us—a group of monks and lay members sitting on the grass, or in the gazebo, having chats.  And, my goodness, just about everyone who goes there takes photos of themselves sitting next to a sculpture of Lennon on a park bench.  

I guess one of the real highlights of the day was back at the Varadero beach.  We spotted an Hispanic ‘beacher’ sitting in a lotus position on the sand.  I would say he was about thirty, with some moderate tattoos on his arms.  He was silent.  Eyes closed.  Taking in the sun.  Then Prana pulled out of this backpack, a BBT book, Meditacion Y Superconciencia.  A light tap on the meditator’s shoulder awakened him, and much to his surprise and delight, he received a gift.  Grateful? Yes!

May the Source be with you!
7 km



Wednesday, December 11th, 2019

Varadero, Cuba

It's a Sin Not to Go to the Beach

As soon as our shoes hit the sand, we kicked them off and went our barefoot way.  Then we met the water, and in our store-bought trunks went the distance to the sandbar where it was shallow.

Yadunendan Swami, Prana Gauranga, and myself sat in the lotus position, with the water at chest level, and began chanting the various aspects of our morning sadhana.  The guruvastakam, the guru vandanam, and, of course, the maha mantra

The public beach-goers, many of them Russian, thought our presentation different.  Prana's kartals (sweet hand symbols) provided a unique flavour.  "My experience tells me that fish don't like the high pitch sound of those, " I told Prana.  I'm not sure what they do for sharks. 

The beaches were filled up and the sun now touched us with oncoming intensity.  My companions went off for monk duties while I stuck to a walking regimen, which was different that day, because of the sand below me and the salty water next to me. 

I walked by numerous tourists, many with families, and I thought about whether I had any personal regret to saying "no" to married life, kids and so on.  The answer is a resounding, "No!"  I'm happy and grounded in my lifestyle.  I love it.  I must see these people as brothers and sisters.  I keep forgetting I'm older than most.  That makes me like a parent or grandparent to some of them.  I believe that's the direction we all should be going.  We are a universal family and we should remain harmonious in all our  endeavours. 


May the Source be with you!
5 km

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

Toronto, Ontario

Treat of Treats

Okay! So wrapping up things prior to a flight—this time to Varadero, Cuba—can be fun.  I make sure not to leave packing to the last minute because the avalanche of e-mails, phone calls and personal private needs from others is always an inevitable fact. "Attention!  Attention!" is the subliminal mantra.  So I tend to matters in the most time-snappy manner,, in those last three hours.

In some way, I can juggle last minute agendas better than long drawn-out meetings, even if they are of a spiritual nature.  I am most alert when active, and most wasted when not.

To my good fortune, I have Prana Gauranga, a young monk from Montreal, to accompany me.  He helps with Spanish/English translation, even though French is his first language.  We will meet another monk, Yadunandan Swami, from Spain.  We anticipate the company of eager devotees of Krishna in this special country.  There will be a wedding in the woods, and an initiation of a young candidate, also in the woods (called the Finca) where beautiful organic veggies are grown by the devotees.

This is now a yearly trip, and the want for some sun rays is very much sought after, by a couple of Canuck monks.  I'm particularly enthused about water (the ocean) before diving into the carbon-sooted streets of Havana.  Yes, the traffic's exhaust is not the most welcome experience.  However, it is the spark of interest in the hearts of our bhakti-yoga friends, that yearly is the treat of all treats.

May the Source be with you!
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