Thursday, 28 September 2017

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

Toronto, Ontario

From Chasing Rhinos

After an evening walk through Belfour Park, I sat down to the excellent book, Chasing Rhinos With the Swami.  Here’s an excerpt when the first monks from America arrived in London after meeting with the Beatles.

“We had gone to the BBC-TV studios in London to videotape a pantomime of Radha Krishna Temple singing the Hare Krishna mantra, lip syncing the words to our record.  Top of the Pops broadcast every Thursday night for thirty minutes and, with twelve million viewers, it was the most watched show in Britain.  We didn’t have a TV set but on the very night Prabhupada arrived in England, the Radha Krishna Temple appeared on Top of the Pops as the third of seven acts.  On the same show were Crosby, Stills and Nash doing “Marrakesh Express’ and Bobby Gentry doing, ‘I’ll Never Fall In Love Again,’  George (Harrison) contacted the show and told us later that it was one of the highlights of his life to be sitting at home and watching the Krishnas on Top of the Pops.  He got a kick out of converting a gang of outlandish looking monks into rock stars.

Early the next morning, September 12, Prabhupada dives into his new surroundings.  Walking the magnificent grounds, through prized rhododendron thickets still in bloom, he points his cane at flowers and trees and things around us and makes flowing philosophical statements like, “Just see all these statues of so-called famous men.  Now they are covered with weeds, and no one remembers their names.”  The donkey, John keeps in a meadow, also became a topic for Prabhupada’s wise and often hilarious comments.”

May the Source be with you!

4 km

Monday, September 25th, 2017

Toronto, Ontario

What People Said!

I have written before about people’s interesting reactions to the robes I wear when out in public, walking along the street.  Early this morning, I received some new responses.

It started with a man, quite intoxicated, on Bloor Street.  “Hey, are you with the circus?”

Then on Yonge Street, which becomes rajasically (passionately) vibrant, especially on a sticky, hot evening like tonight, when just about everyone’s out and about, “Oh monkeeeey!” said the woman and then apologetically retracted, “I mean monk.”  There’s a question of whether or not she’d had a few.

I do take pride in wearing my monastic clothes.  From all that I’ve read, our guru, Srila Prabhupada, held a fearless countenance as he walked the streets of New York.  He carried himself like “an aristocrat.”  Hayagriva, his first student, had said that of him after their first meeting.  I believe Prabhupada wanted us (his students) to dress smartly and not necessarily like an avadhuta, one who is uncaring about attire and behavior, yet renounced.

As I walk on Yonge, I have to keep in mind, upon recalling my early years on the street in a dhoti (lower garment), that if you walk over a subway vent, when the train underneath goes by, the hot wind suddenly shoots up.  It can be embarrassing when clad in a dhoti.

The finishing steps of my early night walk on Yonge were met with nods from several people.  One young fellow in T-shirt and shorts looked at my clothes from afar and as he got closer said, “Yah wanna trade suits?  I like it.”

May the Source be with you!
7 km

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

Fort Erie, Ontario

Back to Kilometres

One good friend of mine, or shall I say, someone I know who’s a good friend to many, lives on the Canadian side of the border near the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie.  His name is Murali Krsna, aka Mark Griffis, and he has his home situated right on Lake Erie.  I looked him up and popped in for a visit, before proceeding on to Toronto.

The boys and I shared some time, prasadam and a swim with Murali and his life partner, Pundarik.  Murali wasn’t aware of my U.S. walk, what to speak of my completing it.  Now he is, and the congratulations came.  The swim was a thanks and this walking body of mine found it welcoming.

I credit Murali for being a walking companion back in ’96 when he and his son, Tyler, and friend, Malcolm, took to walking with me along the Niagara River.  It was a long walk.  I managed to make it an 82 kilometre day on that celebratory one called Radhastami, in honour of the consort of Krishna and ‘ultimate’ Goddess.  There’s always a need for cheerleaders and walking buddies can make the best ones.

This final drive from Niagara to Toronto actually marked the official finish of the U.S. walking project.  It was a sweet gesture that the homebase community arranged two fabulous cakes after my talk from verse 2.16 of the Gita.  The ingredients were sugar and spice and everything nice, and the icing was creamy, with a dark outline of the U.S. of A. and footsteps in carob running across the nation from east to west.

I believe the entire community caught a piece of the action—that is, a piece of one of the cakes.  The author of the masterpiece was Systyna.

Thank you all.

“Om Tat Sat.  Thanks an awful lot!”  As Murali would say.

May the Source be with you!
6 km

Monday, 25 September 2017

Saturday, September 23rd, 2017

Moundsville, West Virginia

So Much So Little

It was my first time attending a retreat of the Bhaktivedanta Medical Association (BMA) held this year at the location of the New Vrndavana country ashram.  When I was invited as a special guest, I was flattered.  I have no medical background and, thus, what qualifies me, really, for being at such an event?

In a certain amount of words, organizer Prasanatma from Omaha, expressed that leading a kirtan, giving a class from the Bhagavatam and participating in the discussions offers a healing dynamic.  He was just a gentleman for saying so.

What was discussed?  A number of relevant topics came up such as how to balance work, family and community with one’s spiritual sadhana (practices) and not “burn out,” which is a common theme nowadays at major world conferences.  “This is a reality,” expressed Prasanatma.  Surprising?  Or maybe not?  People are sick in greater numbers, more than can be imagined, and doctors as well as nurses are few.  Medical people are in super-high demand.  It puts a strain on them.

The attendees who came from places like Chicago, Detroit, Tulsa, New York, Columbus, Miami—I’m sure I'm missing a few—were just wonderful folks, very mature and brahminical.

The venue was the new yoga structure located by the lake where you have situated these towering figures of Chaitanya and Nityananda.  Yes, here we are in the gorgeous hills of West Virginia.  I and the boys were given Cabin #7 by that placid lake.  This atmosphere, and the fact that we didn’t drive for two days, truly gave us the rest we needed.  Too bad, but I got so little walking in.

May the Source be with you!

0 miles