Friday, 31 October 2008

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Thursday Oct 30/ 08 - Columbus, Ohio, USA

My dear friend and godbrother, Akhilananda, drove me from Cleveland, where the previous night we participated in the weekly Wednesday gathering of devotees, to the Center of the World. I kid you not. There is a small village in Ohio named Center of the World which does not necessarily give you the feel that there is lots of action nor the attraction is a place for someone who’s looking to retire. What’s so special about the place is there is a large Correctional Services Campus here – a prison. Akhilananda has been regularly seeing an inmate Aaron, a fellow who once dated his daughter from school but who is going on his fifth year in jail. Originally from Jamaica his father and Bob Marley were close associates and when he was young Aaron used to sit on Bob’s lap in jovial playfulness.

Aaron has been corresponding with me. He has been conducting himself well in this facility and is winning the respect of others. He’s been chanting on meditative beads (japa mala) and become strict with standard principles. Practically he’s living like a monk.

In a small room adjoined to an area where inmates can meet visitors Akhilananda and I conducted a small diksha or initiation ceremony and gave him the name Arjun, after the peace warrior friend of Lord Krishna. Arjun has got these incredible leadership qualities and hence this name was given. I specifically asked him if he could be an inspiration through his good behaviour to be that good example for the people he’s sharing time with. Grateful that he has achieved a new start in his life and regretful of his past criminal deeds, I believe he will excel.

My walking today happened early in the morning up and down Cleveland’s Lorain Rd. when only the baker was in action and traffic was next to nil. The evening was spent at the Columbus centre of ISKCON. Lively chanting went on here.

8 Km

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Tues. Oct.28/08 - Burlington, Ontario

I went to a medical clinic on a road called, “Walker’s Line”. Few people walk here in this well established community which would be a marathon two days trek to Niagara falls. I made my way to the third floor to see the receptionist confirming my appointment for a medical check up and in particular to look at my blood pressure level. The cordial receptionist asked for my medical card which I produced and then asked if I had a family doctor. “I don’t have a family so I guess I don’t have a doctor.” (laughter). “I’m single, I’m a monk.”

With a smile looking at my robes she said, “ Oh pardon my ignorance!” She got curious and so did the specialists who did the reading of my pulse and blood pressure a few minutes later. They had me ride on one of these tread-mill type of cycles. I’m accustomed to walking only so this was a change for me. Our conversations were all on a happy note and being Diwali day, the day for honoring Ram’s triumphant return to his kingdom I proceeded to offer a small gift of a candle to those who medically assisted me,.

Our guru Srila Prabhupada, wrote to one of his students that one can celebrate the occasion with lamps or lights. Hence the medical office got a little taste of a happy celebratory day on the Vedic calendar.

By the way my blood pressure reads at a normal level and I attribute much of that to the regular movement of the body on foot.

5 Km

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Mon. Oct.27/08 - Toronto, Ontario

Halloween approaches and communities across North America are gearing up for an experiential ghastliness. The window displays of shops cater to the public demand of hob goblins and the like make their presence in this windy leaf tossed season. Lord Siva, the god of dissolution, keeps bhutas or ghosts as his companions demonstrating a compassion he has for such disembodied beings. It is their good fortune to be able to keep his good company if they choose to.

Most of us want nothing to do with such confused beings but as a person trying to cultivate spirituality , a level of pureness, it appears appropriate to have some feeling for ghosts who are spirits suspended in an existence they don’t want to be in. Ghosts are not myths. I have seen several occasions of people being momentarily under their influence. They usually just want a little attention. Chanting is a positive approach to dealing with them.

Going back over thirty-five years when our temple/ashram was located at 187 Gerrard St. one of our monks decided to check out the trap door to the attic. A dusty old book was discovered among other things and brought down. From that day on a subtle personality began to disturb in particular the women of our ashram on the second floor. It went on for nights on end.

In ‘96 when I was just completing my first cross country walk, my support guy was attacked by a ghost on two consecutive evenings, once in our tiny mobile home. It took some effort to pull him out of the ghost’s grasp.

When our guru, Srila Prabhupada spent some days with his students at John Lennon’s place at Tittenhurst, John’s hired hand approached Prabhupada about what to do with the ghost haunting his wife daily. Prabhupada and his followers went to the home of the worker and chanted mantras to relieve the ghost.

8 Km

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

Sun, Oct.26/08 - Burlington, Ontario

There has been restless sleep for me the last two nights. It’s not to do with jet lag but more to do with the unsettling circumstance of our god-brother’s critical condition. Fortunately Jayapataka Swami’s condition has improved as he is showing signs of being conscious. The collective prayers world-wide has proved fruitful. Let’s continue the prayer.

For the evening I was hosted in the home of a friendly doctor. Jagannatha Misra (Dr. Vikas Pandith) his wife Saci and their two sons drove me to their home from the Toronto temple ashram last night after having participated in a well- orchestrated wedding reception for a very special couple. As I have explained prior, monks are permitted to be involved in such events. Newlyweds ask for blessings and monks feel obliged to offer them.

I had taken an early stroll along the westerly lake Ontario coast in Burlington. I came upon the replica home of Thayendanegea also known as Joseph Brant (1743-1807). Known for his effort to regain land for his people. As a Mohawk chief of the Wolf Clan he had become a fearless warrior during the time of the American Revolution as a British ally. He was perhaps the most popular native of his generation. He was extremely influential for his time and built this handsome two story home where he maintained about twenty white and black servants and slaves. He was interesting, because he defended his people the famed Six Nations, knew all their languages, became adept at English and became a formal member of the freemasons and much more.

Those times were different and who are we to judge under the circumstances of the past? I admit being a bit of a history buff. The harsh circumstances under which people lived in those times can be an impetus for appreciating our great comforts of today.

The wind at this early morning hour seemed to pass here before carrying the past to another domain. The sliver of a moon set in the open sky above the water appeared like a yogi’s eye lid, half open, watching the past and present together.

8 Km

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Friday, October 24th, 2008

Fri. Oct. 24/08 - Paris, France

It was a long day, about 34 hours long, stretched out due to time zones changes while moving by aircraft in the westerly direction. There was time for thought.

I had the opportunity to visit our “older brother” Jayapataka Swami who lies in the Hinduja Hospital in Mumbai. This senior monk was struck with a serious stroke and as a custom, members of our ISKCON league all over the world are praying for his recovery. Prior to my flight back to Canada I found those few minutes to be with him alone in the intensive care unit. He was in a coma and so his faculty powers are more or less dormant. I sang mantras during that special time for him. As I finished a woman who heard the mantras asked that I come by her mother’s bed to sing for her, so I did. It was and is a great time of sobriety for so many people.

As said before there was time to think. For the past few days in Mumbai I felt grateful and honored to be a member of a committee which has taken on the responsibility to formulate a constitution for our international organization. Being that the work is sedentary and requires much technical processing, the task does not always appear to be my calling. I have managed during our get together sessions to go about our small circle and give neck and back messages while discussion and reporting goes on. At least I’ve become somewhat useful with this newly found seva or service. Service is the thing that sustains the devotional path. There are many different ways to serve but serve we must do.

7 Km

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Thurs. Oct 23, 2008 - Mumbai, India

It is in keeping with the Vaishnava Culture to accept gifts as tokens of love and appreciation even if you are a member of the renounced order who is accustomed to not accumulate “things”. The item which I received from a kind soul, a well-wisher, was a framed picture of the Supreme Monk, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Before my jaunt to the beach I became taken by the artist’s rendering of Chaitanya who is God as a monk. The piece had captured the compassion and soft-heartedness of a great luminary from the time of India’s middle ages. Chanting on beads & meditating on soft-sounding mantras while gazing at such a sublime form I could predict that it is a day’s high point although 2:30 am. In any event it is a great gift. It won’t spoil me.

To join me on the oceanfront were Ashok and Kiran. As everyday the waves of wetness with their light roaring sound vibrations seem to get my full attention. As a Great Lakes kid from North America I used to lie down by the lake’s edge under the sun usually with family, siblings and friends and listen to the transistor radio which would blare out something like “It’s My Party.” In those late teens I would give more attention to the sound of the waves. You couldn’t help it but be attentive. I would wonder what message the waves were delivering. I always considered that they were more than just liquid rhythm rolling.

But now while capturing the image of folding water and the accompanying sound and marrying that vision to the one of Chaitanya in the picture I felt most content to merge the two. Chaitanya in his free spirit of love and wonder allowed himself to be drawn in and carried by the ocean waves. In one instance His water journey pulled him a good forty kilometers from Puri to near a famous sun temple at Konark. Chaitanya was a special mendicant, one who was loved by people and animals. He was all attractive.

It came to our attention that one of our senior monks, Jayapataka Swami, was brought by ambulance to a local hospital today. He is suffering from a serious stroke and is in a coma. Please pray!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 - Mumbai, India

In the cabinet are Wilkinson razor blades, a can of Gilette Shaving Cream, a soap container, towels of orange and white patterns and many more personal items locked behind glass. I’m speaking about memorabilia of my guru, Srila Prabhupada up for display in his personal quarters. Also for perusal one can flip through the pages of the commentaries of previous gurus (spiritual teachers) that Srila Prabhupada used in compiling his books. In November of 1977 he passed away before seeing to the completion of the marvelous project, the ISKCON temple complex.

Being that this was a team building day for us spiritual leaders a component of today’s event included a tour of Prabhupada’s quarters as was left from three decades ago. Another highlight of the day was participating in a processional walk on Juhu Beach taking the same route that our guru trekked. I had the good fortune to carry a small deity (icon) of His Divine Grace for a portion of this walk along the water front and then up the lane to the temple.

During one session of our team building one of our beloved monks, Lokanath Swami, reflected on the bygone days when we as young renounced men came together to pass our own legislation for the fledging movement for the consciousness of Krishna. He identified ourselves as exploders of emotions. Now there has been a maturation that has set in. It comes with age. He quoted saying, “An older sadhu is a better sadhu.” Sadhu means holy man.

8 Km

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008 - Mumbai, India

It’s not uncommon for there to be unrest amongst humans let alone the rest of the world. A local political figure had been charged and arrested in the city. This arrest triggered riots in Mumbai which froze business and movement of traffic in certain sectors.

While I was lunching with a good friend, an American monk, Kavichandra Swami, in the protective oasis of the ISKCON eating room he relayed the story of a riot that took place in the very grounds which we were sitting. Thirty years ago the world-wide media took notice of the triumphant temple being built – this same ISKCON Juhu temple. Even though they were young and inexperienced, journalists credited “the young American boys” for building it. I recall reading about it myself.

Apparently in the same year of its opening a dispute arose in the lobby and a subsequent riot. Kavichandra Swami was on the second floor ill with jaundice. He came out of his room to see what the commotion was about. Looking down at the courtyard he was spotted by rioters who then dashed stones at him. He dodged and went back to his room keeping himself locked inside until authorities came to settle the uprising. Kavichandra Swami tells the story in great detail but it goes to show that even in a sacred place human passions can escalate to the point of madness. Hence, this is life in the material world. There is always some attack.

On the previous day while I did a solo walk on Juhu Beach a dog rushed towards me, wrapped his jaws around the calf of my right leg. He didn’t really dig deeply. It was a quick bite and then he left. In any event be always prepared for any attack from anywhere. This is the material world.

4 Km

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Monday, October 20th, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008 - Mumbai, India

I don’t go to the beach for enjoyment. I go there for serious sadhana and in particular for chanting on my meditation beads. Our guru, Srila Prabhupada used to walk here. I am not sure if he went south-bound towards the Citizen Hotel or paced north, a right turn at former home of Sumati Morarjee, the business woman who owned Scindia Ship Co. and offered Prabhupada the free passage on an ocean liner the Jaladuta, headed for the US in 1965.

Since these sands were trampled on by a great saint we consider the beach here at Juhu to take on a sacred quality. Not all people recognize it as such. Some might consider that it’s time and the waves themselves that wear away any pure potency.

Juhu is used by early risers as a running track, for athletes it’s a playing field for cricket and for others it’s their home. Plenty of people sleep on the beach at night.

“Time and tide await for no man.” In the morning the tide is high and I avoid the oncoming wave of water but time will catch up on me because it’s something none of us can dodge.

My walking companion, Nitai Prem, and I noticed the crows up above. They are like the mind going, hither & thither. A man later on in the day asked me about the nature of the mind. I told him it’s like crows in the sky. They are always up to something, usually mischief.

7 Km

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

Saturday, October 18th, 2008 - Mumbai, Indian

A young monk (brahmachari) from Nepal offered to take me to Juhu Beach. There we found hundreds upon hundreds of people taking to the beat of the feet on the sands of Juhu. Waves from the Arabian Sea fold gently over the large bay expanse . There were ample greetings from walkers when they cast their eyes on our robes. They are familiar with us.

The hospitality is beyond compare at Iskcon’s Juhu, atleast for us visiting global facilitators or leaders. It’s not just the fact that most of us are monks, that attention or respect is commanded but whether we like it or not most of us are the elders. In India elders are given a reverential place in people’s hearts.

I pray that secularism will not put a deep hole in the culture of India as some values are currently eroding. I think of the image of a model, male or female, on the cover of a Parisian, poster or magazine and it speaks tons about fashion but about “me”. There is no room for “us”.
Family and communities are challenged the world over by the secular “me-ism”. It’s time to love again the people around you and love yourself less.

7 Km

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

Thursday, October 16th, 2008 - Gujarat, India

It was a stopover in Paris with Air France that gave me time to reflect “I’m going to India” and although I maintained some reservations about the place (mainly it’s the lack of efficiency, cleanliness, orderliness) the land of Dharma has this magnetic pull. I guess it’s the sweetness of the people that makes it so attractive. There is a calm about them and a patience that offers us westerners a learning lesson. And it’s those smiles that are easy to conjure up and eases the abrasive nature of westerners. Our Guru, Srila Prabhupada, taught us about acquiring a relationship with God. Rasas or relationships although fleeting and temporary in this world often have strong bearings on our lives. If in “this world” relationships are wholesome and full then it is with greater ease that we can execute our obligations in this world while cultivating our “other worldly” relationships with the Supreme.

What I see and experience with visits to India is that relationships are highly valued and more grounded than in the west. It’s not perfect in India but it’s ahead of the west in the department of people bonding.

As our aircraft soars above the state of Gujarat, based on the geo-vision screen in front of me, I mentioned to the sikh gentleman next to me that we are on top of Gujarat. The Punjabi man said,”yes, Gujaratis are busy but quiet people – at peace with themselves.”

I couldn’t disagree. “They all seem to be fond of Krishna,” I thought.

(A few footsteps at the airport).

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008 - Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

I am mentally preparing myself for a trip to India departing on Thursday. It is understood to be a particularly spiritually progressive time, the month of Kartik. Travelling to the place of origin of spiritual culture always generates a spurt of enthusiasm for me, but as I trek speedily west on Dundas St towards Mississauga I am hit by a feeling of ambivalence. This is a bright time to be here in the west. The weather is perfect, colours of trees are brilliant and many festivals of spiritual significance are honoured. In the west just as much as they are in the land of dharma, India. The journey to Mumbai means sitting down at meetings. Meetings - long ones – especially are not my cup of tea but it is a service – a service to the mission. The best part of meetings is to be in the company of other peers, Krishna monks. It is “stilling the legs” under a long table that is a chore for me.

To Johnny Belinko, a local yoga teacher, whom I seem to bump into mysteriously almost everywhere in Toronto, I pace along beside him explaining about the importance of Kartik. After 2 blocks worth while delineating on this glorious month, it became known to him that on this full lunar day it is indeed an enriching time. When I finally reached my destination point after 10 km on foot and 13 on wheels at the Iskcon Mississauga center, servicing that area and to its north , Brampton - my talk was meant to drive home the point “ God is a person”.

Recently a chap I met on the street handed me a button with a label “ I`m a person first. “ Similarly God is energy, power, a force, what have you, but ultimately (or initially) God is a person first. In the month of Kartik people in India reflect on God not only as a person but as a child at play.

11 Km

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Monday, October 13th, 2008

Mon. Oct. 13/08 - Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

The chanting session today was comprised of the following, On mrdunga drum was Nitai Ram, our head monk in Halifax, kartalas (hand cymbals) was Praharana, a super secretary of a woman from Toronto, the harmonium playing was executed by Vrnda, another exceptional spiritual leader who’s Winnipeg and back up singers and smilers from Vancouver were Jaya Govinda and Damodara Gopal. I had the honour to lead the chanting held in the local Unitarian church engaging a room full of enthusiastic chanters and dancers.

It was Canada’s Thanks-giving and so there is no more appropriate way to express gratitude than by mantra power. The level of responsiveness to the chanters here in Thunder Bay is quite phenomenal. Additional drummers on Djembe Dave and Hero, local guys also contributed to jay and felt a major reciprocation.

It is most evident to me that the prediction and effort by luminary Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Father of the Holy name, is coming to pass.

11 Km

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

Sat. Oct. 11/08 - Lake Shebandowan, Ontario, Canada

There was an early morning rain, so I managed to find the option of walking around the pool table in the quiet games room while chanting on my beads. The location is a resort facility on a gorgeous lake called Shebandowan. When the early sunlight appears so do the golden autumn deciduous trees appear blending with their cousins the green coniferous trees. Once our meetings commenced the participants could not help but peer out the expansive window. On their own individually to capture that natural beauty.

I admit that our discussions were stimulating, however, the event itself was sedentary. So by 8pm it was time to explore that freshness of nature and do a favour to my antsy legs that tolerated stillness all day. Headed eastbound on highway 11 on this isolated stretch where an automobile may pass by only every 10 minutes or so I noticed a small dot of light in the distance. The sun had descended after an almost complete day of cloud so the tiny light stood pronounced. It was set low on the side of the highway. When I came near I heard a movement, “Who is it?”, I said in a curious tone. There was no answer. Faintly I saw an image and then there was movement again. It was an elderly man holding a flashlight and sitting on the side of the road. He explained he was resting and had been walking all the way from the last city, Thunder Bay and had another 100 kms to go to get to a village Emo, a native reserve. Since I could not see him well through the dark I could understand that he was Indigenous when he said he was ojicree. He decided to get up to proceed walking so I helped him get up. He complained about a sore leg. He adjusted his hearing aid so we could continue talking. He spoke and expressed his dismay at domestic life as we set westbound together.

“I was living with my wife but she is addicted to drugs, I’m stressed and so I’m seeing my brother.” He asked about me and my lifestyle so I explained and then had to leave to make my way back to my cabin. As I saw him go we bid our good-byes. I was very concerned for him although knowing he has lived the tough life. Off he went down the highway with mean wilderness on both sides of this quiet road. The rain started coming down. Krishna, please take care of the sweet elder man.

5 Km

Friday, October 10th, 2008

Fri., Oct.10/08 - Lake Shebandowan, Ontario, Canada

On my flight to Thunder Bay the fellow sitting next to me expressed interest in my garb and what it stood for.

“I’m a monk who has roots coming from an ancient culture from India.”

The young man is employed as an analyst for the government (dealing with stats and such) mentioned he was raised Catholic but wasn’t sure about the concept of afterlife. “No one has ever proven it! Even Jesus, I think he could be a myth.”

To the best of my ability I offered this thought, “each and everyone of us have the urge to enjoy permanently. We don’t want to die. That essential and innate inner drive “to exist eternally” never dissipates. It’s the principal that leads us on to believe that there is such a thing as an undying spark of life called the atma or the soul. After the body sheds….

“As far as Jesus is concerned whether you want to believe in whether he roamed the earth at one time or not we can well appreciate his universal messages of truth, “Love your neighbour as yourself”, is a healthy directive, someone spoke it. “Personally I accept him as one of my gurus.”

My new friend found that interesting and proceeded to put headphones on, listening to his favorite music I imagined.

The walking today was comprised of almost nothing. I’m here to assist in the co-ordination of an AGM - Annual General Meetings, for our small group of about 20 people consisting of monks and family folks who have assumed spiritual leadership.

1 Km

Friday, 10 October 2008

Monday, October 6th, 2008

Mon. Oct.6/08 - Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Yesterday some of us on the pilgrimage anlysed or defined what an automobile is. Some of our definitions were, “anxiety-on-wheels”, “shiny coffin”, lazy box”, and “Karma dioxide”. I for one have never had a great affinity for the automobile. It has complicated the lives of all of us. Just the insurance on a car alone is enough to shatter the heart.

Oh, how we have become so dependant on machinery! Urban living and being wired up go hand in hand. As I walked a 15 kilometer stretch on Leslie St. and York Mills streets today I calculated that 70-80% of the youths that passed me on the road were wired-up on an I-pod. When I walked in the ravine amidst nature with trees and stream next to me no pedestrians there used an I-pod. It seems we have created a world of concrete and noise that we chose to block out. I wonder sometimes when will these monsters that we have created ever come to an end? Perhaps never, But at least we might consider utilizing gidgets and gadgets only when absolutely necessary.

With the current economical plummeting going on in America and subsequent other countries we may be forced to reduce and down scale our use of energy. It will not be a bad thing necessarily.

The day was a typical Indian summer day with warm sun rays and splashes of autumn red’s all around. I couldn’t help feeling something for motorists jammed in traffic while I’m moving steadily without stoppage.

15 Km

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

Sun. Oct. 5/08 - Mississauga , Ontario, Canada

It was my 56th birthday today to celebrate I wanted to have a marathon of walkers take stride from one pilgrimage site to the next. So from the ashram on Avenue rd. a dozen of us adventurists paced our way on a 30km pilgrimage to Mississauga at our west-end centre for Krishna Consciousness. As we trekked along our party started to swell until we reached our destination for a program which initiated with a foot bathing. Because of the nature of the day this birthday boy could justify the cleansing and cleaning of the feet. With eater which is actually a tradition carried out by hosts in India to honor a sadhu (renounced pilgrim)

Now if you were to talk to any of the companion pilgrims of today about how they felt from the experience of the 30km walk they would exclaim to you as they did me, with words like “freeing”, “Liberating”, “Bonding” . We took only one juice break but several elimination breaks. It was a blast all the way along. This type of activity walking through some part of earth space is picking up some momentum amongst communities.

To those of you who are convinced that a car culture can bring ultimate satisfaction I would sing the chorus to the song, ”Dream, dream, dream, dream, dream, dream”.

30 Km

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

Sat. Oct.4/08 - Vaughn, Ontario, Canada

It is very easy for me to be antsy, to have itchy feet and to want to get out of the inside and meet the air. After several hours of administrative work and some cleaning I slipped on those shoes and burst open the doors to encounter a better oxygen flow. And being Saturday an exhilarating flow of people. Cities like Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto, and one of my favorites, New York cater to a vivacious flow of moving people on foot. I am definitely not a hermit type. I could easily handle a sole wilderness trip but cabin fever would quickly kick in and I would have to be a part of the human herd again.

After a glorious two hour walking addicts experience I was accommodated into a vehicle with fellow monks, including dear friend and visitor, Bhakti Raghava Swami to be transported to a large Punjabi gathering for chanting, dancing, and feasting. Sitting next to me and introduced to the community was Tiger Ali Singh, a world renowned wrestling master who especially made inroads particularly in Japan. He really enjoyed chanting and addressed the large crowd appreciating the family spirit. The event was a total vegetarian program.

Two of our monks from India who reside in our ashram (monastery) really get a charge out of these events. They love Saturday night. Even the ashram can appear like a cabin. They love to burst open the doors as if exploding, hop in a van and get driven to a facility where people talk, laugh, sing, dance, and not touch one drop of alcohol or eat animal dead body parts. Monks experience the real “Saturday Night Fever”

9 Km

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

Friday, Oct.3/08 - Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

“Honest Ed’s” is a large bargain store in a downtown Toronto established by Ed Mirvish, an entrepreneur of sorts who came to Canada as an immigrant years back. And like so many people who came from overseas rather penniless his rags-to –riches story reflects the history of those who made mega contributions to the nation’s culture and economy starting with virtually nothing. Ambition and hope drove him to a level of success.

As I made an early morning trek up Bloor St. in Honest Ed’s direction and back to the temple, my residence. I contemplated on our guru’s story. Srila Prabhupada came to America with a mere nine dollars in his pocket in 65, an hours easy spend in Boston at that time. Within a short span of ten years he built up an empire that embraces a counter-culture experience. As a genuine monk he claimed to own nothing of it personally. As he taught us that all provisions, properties and other assets all belong to God. The force driving him was the interest to revitalize the human race and offer the option to live by universal truths, a concept so buried under by impersonal consumerism. He was very much at the cutting edge of “New Age” concepts. He was successful at what he did.

The afternoon and beyond portion of the day was spent in Kitchener. Our in-house yoga teaching monk, Devadatta drove me, a devotee tattoo artist and his wife, a former fitness guru/model for an evening at the home of a couple. Instead of delivering a monk’s talk I read from the book “Krishna” at which time I left “fill in the blanks” sections. It was a very interactive session and a way to hold the attendees interest in the story which highlighted the battle with serpent Kaliya.

8 Km

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Tuesday, October 1st, 2008

Tues. Oct. 1/08 - Alberta to Ontario

In the park in the dark a light object had bounced around in front of me. It was a hare, a large rabbit, showing the sign of the season’s change with his new white coat. Other rabbits I spotted this week strutted about in their brown furs but with each transitional day the coming snow camouflage shows itself in a more pronounced way.

As the darkness dissipated to show the morning sun and after locating my seat 6F on a Westjet flight back home, rich brown colours of agrarian patches revealed themselves below. By the time our aircraft reached Saskatchewan, when I looked out again I would see fresh harvested fields and then a white spill in a designated spot. Ah yes! That’s the salt mill. I walked there twice, in 96’ and 2003. The nearby lake and highway looking miniature triggered in me a road-lust from the past. I admit to liking the ground better than being thousands of feet up in the air.

An hour later or so colours disappeared. A layer of cloud blocked the sun’s rays from above and below another layer of cotton mass engulfed the space. Before long deep greens became visible and dashes of maple red along with blocks of buildings in greys and rust tones. As we descended into the Toronto airport and hit the gripping runway I felt thankful to have the eyes to be entertained by diverse displays of colour. Thank-you creator.

3.5 Km

Monday, September 30th, 2008

Mon. Sept. 30/08 - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

It was interesting to watch people walk or jog by at lunch hour at Calgary’s downtown leisure spot at Prince’s Island within the Bow River. The bridge to the island reads that Jaiupr, the famous “pink city” of India, is twinned with Calgary in Canada. More of a dozen or so of us chant enthusiasts sat ourselves on the grass to provide a sattvic entertainment for business passers-by. As the harmonium pumped out it’s drone sounds, drums thumped and soft symbals rang, people were either indifferent, smiled, nodded waved, thumped up or offered pranam (hands reverentially placed together ).

In the evening at the home of my Calgary hosts a sizeable number of people came to enjoy a real feast, chanting and discussion (in that order). Our chosen theme was “War on False Ego” and how to implement practically acts of humility. A key point was that it is sometimes felt that devotional service is executed only within the realm of a religious setting such as your temple, church, mosque etc. but no, all beings are in essence spirit and so for our own sake acts of humility or kindness must reach beyond designated space.

8 Km

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

Sun. Sept. 28/08 – Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta, Canada

I delivered a talk at each of the two cities (300 Km apart from each other, or one week’s walking distance) in oil rich Alberta. At the Radha Govinda Cultural Centre in Edmonton, the message there was derived from the Bhagavad-gita 4:31 centering on “without sacrifice there cannot be happiness either in this life or the next.” In the early morning my god-brother, Revati Prannath, and I had walked along the Saskatchewan River, and this river, an excellent type of waterway, was the route taken by French Voyageurs, as they were called. In the 1600’s they paddled and portaged all the way from Montreal, a far stretch from the east, taking life-risking journeys back and forth, in order to experience adventure and also to achieve means of happy livelihood through the fur trade. Now, I could label these travelers as “demons” for all their fur trapping casualties But I must admit, I admire their bravery and tenacity or their sense of sacrifice dealing with the unknown wilderness.

Such determination of purpose led me on to speak about the mood of our dear guru, Srila Prabhupada, who with incredible conviction left hi comfortable facility in Vrindavan, India and took up hardship to spread the message of Krishna.

At the Radha Govinda Cultural Centre in Calgary the topic could have been, “Get out of your Hole.”, hole referring to one’s comfort zone, the apartment or the house. Our guru addressed some of his monastic contemporaries and said that they should not be content to sit in temples, ring bells, and eat some nice Kichari (a rice and lentil mix). He urged them to take up a sacrifice get out and do something for people and assist them in overcoming the vicious cycle of birth and death.

Over the weekend American actor Paul Newman passed away. Having an affinity for good acting I appreciated his work but I also honour him for being a fine philanthropist and a good family man.

6 Km