Sunday, 24 February 2019

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

Calgary, Alberta

Five Stops

Today I championed seven kilometres on the walking track. With me were companions Atmaram, Radha Madhava and Saci Pran. I found it advantageous to walk in socks, but to be a sport, I donned hiking boots for a photo. That was my first event of the day.  

Four more visitations of sorts were to follow, beginning with a few minutes of feel-good talk at a Fijian home, then lunch at a couple’s house where several sacred Tulasi plants grow luxuriantly indoors. The person tending to this family of plants is Sarva Mangala. It’s impressive what she does.  https://www.instagram.com/p/BuGlGzEAb-D/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=3fyg0v7p0xi3  I then did another home visit to Yogendra’s. He is a Nova Scotian-born chap, and with an El Salvadoran wife raises three little angels for kids (no sarcasm implied with the word ‘angels’).

The last venture of the day was at a downtown community hall which has two spaces: one being used for seniors who were enjoying an old-style dance (perhaps the Tennessee Waltz? My guess.), while the second room is where I delivered a message on the theme of  “Warming Up With the Walking Monk.” Somehow I was in sync with the weather pattern of the day, when all was white and bright, and melting.  I referred to the warming up as an analogy for getting closer to the self, the atma.

In the present age in which we live, most of us have turned a cold shoulder to our spiritual side. The talk today then dealt with exploring your inner self and taking the practical steps to do so.  I was pleased with the attendance and the questions.

May the Source be with you!
7 km

Monday, February 18th, 2019

Calgary, Alberta

Genesis

The walking track inside Genesis YMCA worked out just fine for us.  7.7 laps means you’ve put in one kilometre.  Okay, so if I’ve got my math right, a mere thirty-six circles will get me an hour’s worth of walking and leave me with five kilometres.  That’s BINGO for me!!  A winner, but still a minimum winner over the thirty-four to forty-two I used to accomplish.  It’s something.  Whether outdoors or indoors, it’s something.

I’m not that intimidated but the 28 below temperature outside, but I would likely be alone.  It was more important to bond with some of the prominent  members of the Radha Madhava Cultural Centre.  After all they had organized a sweet festival the day before and similarly a duplicate today.

With Family Day on in Alberta today, people had the time and interest to attend a diksha or initiation ceremony for Yogita, age nineteen, whose new name is Yugala Priti. Friends and family came to see her sit before the fire, make her vows, hear mantras and partake of that delicious Krishna food.  (Oops, it was a little hot.)

For a young person to come forward and show a solid commitment as Yugala has done, leaves others inspired to take such steps as well.  There is a senior gentleman of seventy-six who lives in the centre’s ashram.  Yes, Haresh is very enthusiastic to take vows on following what’s sometimes called “the principles of freedom.”

May the Source be with you!
5 km



Sunday, February 17th, 2019

Edmonton, Alberta

Don’t Quit a Good Thing

Madhava, age fourteen, came to the temple with his soccer uniform on.  No problem for me regarding dress code.  I’m glad he turned up for the tail-end of the program, which was in honour of Lord Nityananda’s birthday.  It was along the same theme as yesterday—take care of your physical self in order to serve others better and for a longer period of time.  So, Soccer Boy, keep up the good work!

Madhava did mention that their team had lost every game, yet he didn’t feel defeated or discouraged.  He’ll go out there and play again.  That was in Calgary.

I also met Ben who came to the Festival for Nityananda.  He explained to me his dark past—heroin and a victim of  abuse on several levels.  He has gone through re-hab and is now in a good space.  In other words, he didn’t give up.  He struggled but fought to win.  He also really enjoyed the program, the food, the chanting and my talk.

Also in the morning, I met Ella, who came to Edmonton’s version of the Festival.  I’m always concerned when a newcomer visits because they can sometimes experience culture shock, due to a certain style of worship, and the oddities that arise from traditional behaviour. Also everyone trying to help a newcomer by over-helping and sometimes not doing anything at all can be off-putting.  Well, Ella passed the test of our sometimes dysfunctional abilities in the greeting department.  She had a nice time, I’m told, And she said she’ll come back.  She won’t quit and is not a defeatist, hopefully.

By the way, Nityananda was a great spiritual luminary in 15thcentury India.

May the Source be with you!
3 km


Saturday, February 16th, 2019

Edmonton, Alberta

Full Day in Edmonton

We sang a song for Heta, age ten and going on eleven on Monday.  Today was the celebration.

“Hare Krishna to you!  Hare Krishna to you!  Hare Krishna dear Heta! Happy Birthday to you!”

Heta was all smiles as we sang with feeling. She was sitting there, as we surrounded her, giving her the kind of moral support required for a young person, these days.  Family and friends seated in the clan’s suburban home was nice, but our crew of two vehicles full, made it a fifteen minute only stopover.  Heta was happy and that’s what mattered.

Our group from the Radha Madhava Cultural Centre was in between visits.  We had come from a workout (rather a walk-out session) at Meadows Community Centre. Physical exercise should always be a component in the life of a bhakti yoga practitioner.  If we want to serve others, then we must include ourselves as well.  Recreation is not a sin.

After Heta’s birthday experience, we headed straight for a healing facility at the edge of downtown.  Jagajiwan is our host for a program called “Spirit Matters.”  He’s a good host.  Currently, he’s taking massage therapy lessons and is on his way to becoming certified.  In any event, I conducted another one of those “Tales from Trails” sessions, and it was well received by a small gathering.  It is flu season and a number of people just couldn’t make it.  They had a few good laughs, especially when I mentioned about the officer who checked out Dave, my support person, who explained I’m doing this power walking for the healing of the nation.  

“Is it working?” the officer queried.

To which Dave replied, “Sure, can’t you feel it?!”

May the Source be with you!
8 km


Friday, February 15th, 2019

Edmonton, Alberta

Back at the Ed

Chandan, an economics teacher, picked me up at the airport.  He was kind. I couldn't resist asking him something about oil-rich Alberta.

"How is the province's economy?"

Chandan shook his head and said, "It'll take a couple of years before things get more stable."

The mood that ensued in our conversation was one of, "Oh well, such is the world with all of it's dualities." He added, "When the unemployment is high the education and liquor industries are on the rise, studies show."

That's an interesting observation.

Chandan had his family also as passengers in the van as we were talking.  Their two children are actually a set of twins at four years of age.  We drove to their home for a grainless meal on this ekadasi day, a day known for a fast of sorts. Every two weeks, followers of Vishnu keep our diet minimal.  There are reasons of a spiritual nature that keep this tradition alive.  This abstinence from grains and legumes has its physical benefits as well.  Digestive powers are given a relaxing break.

On the following day, we talked about the walking we're all missing, especially my craving for it.  With temperatures at -25 celsius, it wasn't too enticing, and time was also becoming a factor.  "We will go to Meadows Community Centre and hit that walking/running track," said one of the congregants at my final destination, the RG Cultural Centre. I agreed to that, and so plans are in the making for a trek and a chant for the next day. Can't wait!

May the Source be with you!
0 km


Monday, 18 February 2019

Thursday, February 14th, 2019


Saint John, New Brunswick

Strolling & Meeting

At the intersection, the light turned red.  I was standing there waiting for a green.  The red hand that was before me and the man with a coffee clutched tightly gave me some talking ammunition.  "In the culture I come from that open palm gesture means we are getting a blessing."

"If you move forward," said the tall gent who smiled, "it won't be a blessing," indicating a car could come and flatten you.  I agreed.

"The open palm would indicate 'be patient the blessings are forth coming.'"  We crossed.

"Have a good one," he said.

I meandered through the snow-ridden but now ploughed streets.  I was enjoying that older architecture that is so abounding in this historical Loyalist city.  On one street, two fellows, one with a snow shovel, were chatting, with the one instructing the other.  "Hello," one said to me.

 I returned the gesture. 

But then the instructing fellow looked back and scolded the shoveler for not doing as directed.  "Throw the snow against the building," he said, harshly.

 I thought he could have done a better job of community, given that it's Valentine's Day.  A little more love goes a long way.

After trekking through residential neighbourhoods, I came upon that Uptown park, and then commerce area.  A man and woman were stationary in conversation.  It seemed to me it was like church-talk because the woman ended the conversation with a "just keep up the faith... just keep up the faith."

They parted, but I kept up the conversation, feeling slightly like an eavesdropper.  "That word 'faith' is powerful," I said.

"Yes, I'm a believer!" she said as she veered off in another direction.

May the Source be with you!
4 km


Wednesday, February 13th, 2019


Saint John, New Brunswick

Stranded

Due to nasty weather conditions, Nakula and I were grounded in his apartment for the entire day.  Strong winds blowing snow, and then ice pellets, made it impassible and impossible to take those legs out on the street.  Outside Nakula's place you have this inhibitive hump of glossy ice.  Anyway, enough of all this winter blues.  How do others deal with this dynamic?  Some people don't go anywhere.  Some shops did not open up.  That is a real storm.  How our northern people handled these severe challenges, I don't know.  All flights were cancelled today—all of them.  My earliest get away is Friday morning.

Fortunately at the St. John Airport, I met Anurag from Toronto.  It pays off to have friends in different places.  Anurag, now a banker, was formerly one of those little devotional spirits at the temple and sangha programs.  Kindly, he booked me a room for the night.  Thank you! God be with you!

It was Roy Flowers, 75, a local cab driver, who took us to a downtown hotel.  Roy appears to be a natural tour guide.  He said a bit about himself and mentioned he's related to the famous, "Buffalo Bill," the showman who put on all these wild western shows with horses, cowboys and Indians.

Cab drivers, I've found, are often colourful characters like Roy.  I do believe that somehow they have a connection to the Supreme.  After all, one of the most revered drivers of them all is Krishna himself, known as partha-sarati, which means the chariot driver of friend, Arjuna.  Come to think of it, Krishna may also have a bond with Buffalo Bill.  Long before Buffalo Bill hit the stage, Krishna drove on two wheels with four horses in the front.

May the Source be with you!
0 km



Tuesday, February 12th, 2019


Saint John, New Brunswick

Not Deadbeat

The Vedic warrior, Bhisma, known for his virility, heroism and saintliness, was honoured today.  On this day, his birthday, we reflect on his devotional performances which include his renunciation.  Yes, the mighty warrior was also a celibate.

Well, I went off, destined for New Brunswick, and while on the plane, sitting next to me, was a man who asked about my japa meditation beads.  Other questions followed such as: "Why the colour orange?" and, "Why did you become a Krishna monk?"  Once those initial questions received their answers, I asked him about what he does?

"I'm a Catholic priest with a parish in Rothesay."  That was my intro to Father Stan.

That was interesting.  From there we got to sharing common beliefs about the world—the drugs, alcohol, broken homes, pornography, and the lost souls that lurk.  Also, what about the evangelism?  Is there competition for the older traditions like Catholicism and the Anglicans?  And what about media and its very negative take on the church re: sexual abuse?  He and I both agreed that it's an issue—a serious one—and has taxed both of our communities.  Then he mentioned it's all over the news that a huge percentage of sports trainers are accused of sexual misconduct with young trainees.

Wow! What else about this Kali Yuga, Age of Darkness, madness?

Unfortunately media rarely speaks of religions who have helped people with their problems.  Another matter.  Much work is to be done towards rectification.

By evening, I had arrived at a wellness centre with the message, "Be upbeat, not deadbeat!"

May the Source be with you!
0 km



Monday, February 11th, 2019


Montreal, Quebec

Skates Meant Fall on Butt

At primary school, I used to express to my home-room teacher that I was not feeling well when it was Monday afternoon, and all the students would go to the arena to skate.  We kids had the freedom to shoot the puck—as in hockey—or just skid around on skates.  However, I was terrible at it.  I suppose, or I believed, that I had weak ankles.  I was this skinny thing, and I just wasn't strong in many areas of my physical body.  I could run and move like a swift wind, but those heavy, awkward skates wrapped around my feet were just too much.  I couldn't make those curves like the other guys playing hockey.  I would never become a figure skater.  I was an absolute klutz on ice.  I was, as said, hopeful as a runner, quite fair at baseball and high-jumping, but skating—an absolute failure.  I sat in the classroom, skipping out, doing homework, with my teacher up front at the desk and maybe one or two other students at their desks, perhaps also with ‘excuses’.  I was thinking: At least I'm not falling on my butt.

I had these flashbacks, as I walked in Montreal's downtown eastside, when I came upon a skating rink, where young boys were on ice, artfully swerving about, gliding; at play with puck and sticks. 

So where am I now?  Well, I'll likely never try skates again, but I have been walking and walking, and my flimsy weak ankles have been strengthened over time.  I'm not worried about climbing down the ice-covered snow bank in front of me, at the rink.  I guess you could say, I've somewhat conquered that past, with some help from my friend, Krishna.

May the Source be with you!
4 km


Thursday, 14 February 2019

Sunday, February 10th, 2019

Montreal, Quebec

Soft Slides on the Street

Because I'm a walker, I must do so, even today when all sidewalks are as slippery as can be.  From our  ISKCON centre in Montreal, I baby-stepped my way to Saint Catherine Street to do more of the same.  Mind you, there are some dry sections where better traction is achieved.  For the most part, it's a careful forward-moving dynamic, and I'm not the only one out and about partaking of the challenge. Other pedestrians are also focused on looking downward, watching each step, wary of a fatal slip.

However, you know, I believe that those of us who tread the trail are better off than those in cars or  chilling in front of a screen in their home.  We are feeling air and the wind in our faces.  We are meeting and greeting surya, the sun, with its warmth.  They are amiable encounters.

So a little bit of east-and-westerly soft-shoe work on Ste. Catherine's and I'm back in time to prepare for the Sunday program—the Open House.  There I found myself in the midst of well-co-ordinated dancers and chanters. Being the guest speaker I sat on the speaker's chair to deliver some words on the twenty-six attributes of a divine person.  It appeared that the community took to the message quite well.

I can say for sure that the prasadam, blessed food, was great, and well received by tongue and tummy.  The Montreal kitchen always puts out some of the best.

May the Source be with you!
5 km

Saturday, February 9th, 2019

Russell, Ontario

Shine Day

It was all like glass—every driveway; actually, it was ice glistening with the sun on it.  Snow banks were the same—sparkling, shining like anything.  That was our driving experience, visually, all the way to Russell, with Billy behind the wheel and his wife, Amala, as passenger, along with myself in the back seat, and priest, Mangala Charan, at my side.  A clear day.  Pretty!

We were set, not for a walking party but for a diksha ceremony for Mandala, a young Canadian chap who assisted me during my three segments of walking the U.S.  I guess you could say his receiving an initiation name, a fresh new set of beads for the hand to meditate with, and a new strand of beads for the neck, was all a reward for his kind services.  Mandala is without ego.  https://www.instagram.com/p/Bts_qPCA2XU/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=1eqe7rp9qvzk0

Mandala, now Mandala Ram, is also blessed with a wife. Married not so long ago, Apurvi, the lucky lady, was someone he first met in Noida, India, when Mandala and I travelled there for a production of "Krishna Is," and he was my sound man.  It's nice that we had some experiences together in areas where life is significant for him.

His mother, Kirtan, was there for the initiation, as well as "bros and sistas."  Yes, a big family of twelve siblings. Irish-Catholic-Hare-Krishna is what the McAllister family is—big and beautiful.  The ceremony was held in the Registration Building, a small armoury-resembling edifice, in the quaint downtown of this small bedroom community of Ottawa.

By the end of the evening, the sparkle, glitter and shine remained when there was some reflection of light as I opened the door to exit into that wintry wonder of magic.  Just watch your step on that shimmering ice.

May the Source be with you!
0 km

Monday, 11 February 2019

Friday, February 8th, 2019


Toronto, Ontario

Ten Years

I was going through some of my stuff and came upon an article from ten years ago in the Guyanese "Kaleteur News."  Wow!  It's my tenth anniversary since walking that country—and I just came from there. 

Here are some brief excerpts from the article:

“Thursday January 29th, 2009

Bhaktimarga Swami, better known as the “Walking Monk”, is in Guyana to be part of the Hare Krishna Movement’s seven-day festival called Padayatra – the walking festival which began on Monday and ends this Sunday.

Using drama, presentations, lectures, dances and bhajans, the movement aims to preach the message of peace, unity and national well-being.  During the festival, devotees of the movement meet at different locations on East Coast Demerara and walk a designated route.

Bhaktimarga Swami is the movement’s special guest for the festival.  He is a follower of the millenary Vedic tradition from India, and has already covered various areas of the country.  Today, he will be walking from the Demerara Harbour Bridge to Parika.  The Swami, 55, said he was attracted to this lifestyle and enrolled as a monk (of the order of “Swamis”) in the Hare Krishna movement back in 1973 when it was hip to be radical, daring and different…

On his walk in Guyana, he said the response from Guyanese has been good…  “People are so quick to wave a hand and make the address ‘Ram Ram’ or ‘Sita Ram’ or ‘Haribol,’” he said.  He particularly noted that Afro-Guyanese express these terms as do Hindus…

His walks are aimed at promoting meditation, pilgrimage and “the walking culture.”  The walk begins each day at 04:00 or 05:00 h and he goes on for about nine hours everyday.  He carries with him a sack holding his meditation beads, and often chants and talks to the Creator along the way.”

May the Source be with you!



Thursday, February 7th, 2019


Trinidad to Toronto

Moving Along

From the land of sand flies to the land of ice pellets, I go.  Yes, it's a "Trini thing," a term used by Hamsa Rupa, one of the new initiates from yesterday.  Bugs are rampant in Trinidad and other tropical places.  All places have their pluses and minuses.  We must note the pluses and build from there.

Now it was reported there was an ice storm in Toronto.  Good, in one way.  No biting bugs can survive in that.

One speed bump I had to undergo at the airport was to go through customs for a special inspection.  I think it's been three decades since that happened.  Mind you, I have nothing really to worry about.  The officer, a woman, who pulled  me to the side, appeared to have never met a walking monk, let alone a renunciate.  I answered her questions.

"I'm a monk who attends walking fests, like the ones I participated in, in Guyana and Trinidad.  I have pictures," I said, as I showed her those from my phone.  "Yes, I always wear these clothes (robes) except in a snow storm—then it's pants."  She laughed.  "I'm on a pension and get no salary.  I travel the world, sometimes on foot: Canada, four times and the U.S. once."

This was all new for her, hearing the sacred sound Krishna, so I saw it as an opportunity.  "I live in a monastery/ashram with a dozen other monks.  We have a fantastic restaurant downtown.  Please come."

I will miss the Caribbean vaishnavas.  Among them is Pateet, short for Patita Pavana, a former drummer who can make any funky sound with breath and hands.

Until next year.  Haribol!

May the Source be with you!
4 km


Wednesday, February 6th, 2019


Longdenville, Trinidad

Bhakti Yoga Is Growing

Sometimes you just have to stay inside.  There's a part of me that doesn't want to sweat early in the morning, dodging pot holes and puddles, what to speak of canines.

I was determined to stick it out mostly indoors with the AC on while doing some pacing in the sizeable-enough temple.  Much chanting had to be done.  An initiation for fifteen new candidates was to take place, and in preparation for this, the guru (me) chants on their newly acquired beads.  I grouped these folks together and talked about commitment to vegetarianism and other regulations promised.  Just minutes before the ceremony, I raised the question to them, giving them another opportunity: "Are you ready for this?  You are in a position where you can change your mind."

But no one responded.  For months these candidates gave serious thought to the self-discipline coupled with the joy of singing mantras.  Personally, I was impressed with their resolution.  May they spiritually prosper.  Their new names are Narayana, Visvakarma, Satva-guna, Hari Kirtan, Rasamrta, Sadhavi, Prsni, Tulasi Priya, Mahatma, Madhavi, Ranchor, Devamrta, Mantra Murti, Urvasi and Hansarupa.  A seasoned bhakti-yogi, Lilaraj, accepted her second initiation.

The ceremony was actually a fire sacrifice.  People are awed by fire.  Always have been. Kirtan followed.  Carnival is about to begin.  It attracts thousands from around the world with its costumes, music and such.  I consider our party superior.

May the Source be with you!
2 km




Saturday, 9 February 2019

Tuesday, February 5th, 2019

Longdenville, Trinidad

Across the Street

Across the street from our temple is a neighbourhood called Cashew Gardens.  Well, on such an early trek as five of us took today, scouting each little side street in this hood, it was hard to find cashew trees.  Dogs, we got to know—practically every last one.  Most are chained or behind a fence, thank God.

The special treat, concerning today, was a visit to the beach.  It's where my friend, Agnidev, and I went.  There were caves to explore—or perhaps not to explore.  You don't know when sedimentary rock will cave-in from above.  The water was simply a pool for pleasure, and a place to bond and chill.  The turn-out for the swim, the food, and the Bhagavatam class on the sand was phenomenal.

The evening brought additional joy at the home of Radhe Shyam and Kamalaksha.  Their house-event drew two-hundred people whom we engaged in song, dance, and listening to the lila of the Lord, or what I call, LOL. ;o)

Going to these two locations involved traveling quite some distance, unlike the walk across the street to Cashew Gardens.  You know, most people are unaware of the treasures that lie nearby.  From your very own home, apartment or room, there may be a street or pathway relatively close, beckoning to be walked on.  If some places are more dubious than others, and Trinidad is known for crime, then have some companions with you or, like I said recently to a group in Round Rock, Texas, "Start a japa walking club.  You'll get both physical and spiritual enrichment."

May the Source be with you!
5 km



Monday, February 4th, 2019

Freeport, Trinidad

Another Country

My stay in Guyana is over.  Prabhupadev, the manager of the Nimai Pandit Study Centre, arranged for a group of young men plus himself to accompany me to the airport. From there the group would go for fun at "Splash," some water event. These men, after all, deserved it. Basically they did all the work in organizing the Padayatra over the last weekend. It was intense. They were happily engaged, which is the formula to combat the over-stimulating and yet wearisome world that is now recognized as a chronic problem for the i generation (iGen).

God bless them!

Now, I'm in Trinidad, and was greeted by Umapati from our centre in Longdenville. On our drive to there, Umapati told of when my dear god-brother and colleague from Canada, Sridhara Swami (now  passed away) walked to the temple, came face-to-face with a dog and challenged him. He took a firm stand and shouted, "HUT!" something our guru did with aggressive dogs in India. Well this didn't work for Sridhara when on his visit to Guyana. The dog lunged forward and left him with a deep bite.

I know from walking in Trinidad that there's a plentiful supply of three things: oil, cars and dogs. All are some of my pet peeves; nevertheless, the people are sweet.

We experienced this with their response to Trinidad's version of Padayatra. A member of Parliament, Mr.  Singh, came for the opening ceremony. The  people at their homes responded favourably, and so did the many dogs.

May the Source be with you!
4 km



Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Sunday, February 3rd, 2019

Plaisance, Guyana

Sunday Chant-Walk

Today was the last of a four-day Padayatra,and this morning's final time period took us to Plaisance, through residential areas and a marketplace.  It was a mere three-kilometre stretch, but then we moved rather slowly, with a vehicle—a flatbed truck—in front to carry water, and a speaker to amplify the sound of our kirtan.  Next in line was the kirtan itself, comprised mostly of young men and women.  Then finally in the procession was a smartly built, rope-pulled cart which sheltered the murtis,or images, of Chaitanya and Nityananda. That was it.  Rather modest, but powerful, because our presence in Guyana is known through this walking festival.

Acknowledgement of Krishna monks is also known in Guyana for the annual Rathayatra, also a walking festival of sorts.  And finally, we are quite visible to the public through television broadcasts.

As we paraded along, while singing together, we passed at least a half-dozen churches, in addition to a mosque.  Some Christian services were in session—a marked difference from gatherings at pubs with Saturday-night-thumping music a few hours earlier.

Our walking party culminated at the ISKCON Centre near the University of Guyana.  There we engaged in more chanting.  I gave a class on twenty-six qualities of a virtuous human, followed by a diksha, initiation ceremony, for a farming couple.  Their names are Damodar-lila and Radha-lila.  They specialize in growing those long exotic beans which are delicious when cooked nicely.

I had a room full of young teens to twenty-year olds. We chatted about their issues. They were a great bunch.

May the Source be with you!
4 km

Saturday, February 2nd, 2019

Foulis, Guyana

Pleasure But Plastic

We began our walking festival at a big yellow house.  The procession was colourful.  I could pretty much guarantee that this padayatra was the only outdoor spiritual event in the country on this day.  People responded quite favourably with the wave of a hand or just an address: "Haribol!"  Yes there is a real worth to the island and its people, but there's one thing I find intolerable—the garbage.

Devotees here inform me that there is no recycling program in the whole country except for transmigration of the soul. Seriously, it is a real agitator to see the neglect.  The plastic and glass is in abundance.  "It was worse five years ago," said one of the members of padayatra. "When drains got so clogged and flooding began because of it, the government finally stepped up."

Another tragic element that's coming around on the horizon is the drilling of oil.  Guyana apparently is now known to be sitting on top of, or near, one of the largest oil deposits in the world.  Usually wherever mining takes place, there is prosperity for a time, and then often the economy goes for a nose-dive.

Despite all negativity, our program went well.  I had helped their local drama group, from Berbice, to tweak areas of their production, "Ajamila."  More time was needed.  They performed well.  At the end of what was called the pandal program, the whole assembly of people were dancing up a storm, especially the younger set.  They did much of the work, regarding set-up and take-down.

Except for the trash, I really like it here. Oh, and the number of cars is increasing, which is not good news for a walker, or anyone for that matter.  https://iskconnews.org/iskcon-to-open-first-ever-temple-in-guyanese-capital,5568/

May the Source be with you!
4 km


Friday, February 1st, 2019

Mahaica, Guyana

Food and Bliss

One of the senior bhakti-yogis in Guyana is Paramatma, and he took me generously to his farm which he personally tends to.  It's a paradise.  Kerela (aka bittermelon), avocado, soursap, lauki (bottlegourd), grapefruit, oranges, string and long beans, pigeon peas, cassava, corn, papaya—you name it—he's got it all in the tropical line.  He then treated me to a meal prepared by his good wife.  OMG!

"This country is rich.  You can grow anything, almost anything, here," he said proudly.

After landing, I had been in the country for only a few short hour and participated in the padayatra festival on foot through the village of Mahaica, before indulging in Paramatma's harvest of organic foodstuffs.  All was good.

For the final segment of the fest today, the stage was complete with our young men and women chanting, and the more seasoned pastors and pandits speaking or preaching up a storm.  I was called on by the master of ceremonies, Saci Suta, a sishya or student of mine.  After three preachers said their bit on the theme of "Spiritual Solutions to Physical Problems," I opted for doing something different which included some yoga stretches and voice exercises, before mantras and jokes. The whole idea was to be interactive, expressive and inclusive.  The biggest challenge was to get folks from the back and corner of the seating areas to fill up the space.  Well, it worked.  The seats got fully occupied and before you knew it, the audience participated in a more complete way.  This was the mercy of God, of course.   https://www.instagram.com/p/BtZAIsWgJpt/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=1rz8df0rsu4su

May the Source be with you!
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Thursday, January 31st, 2019

Toronto / Port of Spain

Getting Up There

I'm off to Guyana, with a stop-over in Trinidad. Unfortunately, I'm not on foot, walking, rather my feet are placed under Seat 24E on Caribbean Airlines.  Next to me, occupying the window seat, is forty-two-year-old Naveen Deodat, an actual employee of the Toronto Airport.  He has a few days off.  It's holiday time for him.  He was surprised to see me.

"Have I seen you before? On YouTube?  Maybe giving a talk?" he asked.

"It's possible.  I'm—"

"The Walking Monk.  I knew I'd seen you.  This is a pleasure.  It was meant to be.  It's not an accident...."

Naveen and I hit it off quite well.  He mentioned that years ago Sri Chinmoy visited his home.  He has a copy of Bhagavad-gita:As It Is, and has gone through it.  Talking about spirituality with Naveen was no problem.  He's single, and at one point asked what is the prerequisite for becoming a sannyasi—a monk.

My answer:  "A certain amount of dedication.  Study of the sastra (scripture) is required, in addition to doing japa meditation for two hours each day.  Some principles are to be abided by: no meat, no substance abuse, sex only with one partner, no gambling...and share what you know.... There are also first and second initiations. A third one means you are taking sannyasa after being on a waiting list for some time...."

He assumed sannyasa was a high position, and as we were talking, we were soaring high—10,000 feet in altitude, 15,000 and at least to 25,000 in the jet stream. I thought, Wow!  Of course humans are supposed to reach zenith levels—in consciousness.

May the Source be with you!
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