Tuesday 30 April 2019

Sunday, April 28th, 2019

Phoenix, Mauritius

Ayurveda Man Comes Through

I could only dream of trekking today.  Pain overnight, but finally by this evening an Ayurvedic doctor, Narada, came to figure out my issues.  They were purely mechanical by nature, and the issue has much to do with how I position myself when lying in bed.

You never stop learning.  Learning is about everything.  Chapter Four of the Gita concentrates on jnanam, learning or knowledge.  Now one translation I've always thrived on—by our guru—on the subject of knowledge, is to discern the difference between matter and spirit.

It was from this chapter that I was asked to say something at the local temple's Sunday Open House.  My God! Beautiful questions came out of this talk.  Stimulating!

It was a cool day, meaning awesome!  At the theatre our group presented a matinee of, "Gods and Demons."  More energy and more innovations were inserted and again the showing of, "The Walking Monk," was presented.  Thank you Michael Oesch, for a job well done on this film.  There were quite a lot of requests by parents to enrol their kids in next year's production.

"We'll see what we can do for you as we get closer to the actual date.” ‘We’ meaning Kala, the main coordinator, and I. Good response!

sangha program at someone's home put a closure to the day before Narada got to massage and observe this person's walking body.

May the Source be with you!
0 km

Saturday, April 27th, 2019

Phoenix, Mauritius

To Another Town

Kala and I went to Belle Mare once again for one of those beach walks.  It's quiet.  Whoever may roam there has a similar intent to ours.  Get tranquil.  With beads in hand, we put an extra layer onto the experience, and I'm sure that there are others who take time to add a prayer to their day. https://www.instagram.com/p/Bwv45yrgJd1/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=1sgzzhbfpim1d

Upon returning to the home of our hosts, Amar and Priya, I took the time to put order into my smaller luggage, as we're leaving for a trip elsewhere on the island. In my perusing of things, I pulled out a hand-written list of the twenty-six qualities of a yogiin devotion.

"Jambhavan, this is one of the greatest gifts I can ever give you. These are the qualities to cultivate: goals from the Gita. Please keep this notation of things to do in life.  In fact, write it down on another piece of paper and pass it on to Sukadeva, your friend, for his initiative in starting the project."

Jambhavan appreciated the list from Chapter Sixteen on becoming divine, and he knew I was asking for a tall order, a life mission in fact, but to be honest he took my direction very literally.  I guess asking a young person to hand-write a collection of twenty-six words, in English, plus transliteration for Sanskrit, is a daunting task for a computer-age kid. He took it well.

Now it was time to leave for the Phoenix area, and the Serge Constantine Theatre. Yes, we are prepared for the play, "Gods and Demons."  It’s a darling of a drama, a community builder, and a teen confidence booster.

In addition to the drama, there was a magic show—so wonderful, some bhajans, and Michael Oesch's film, "The Walking Monk."

May the Source be with you!
5 km

Friday, April 26th, 2019

Mauritius, All Over

Scurrying Around in Pain

Gopal and Kala were kind to take me around.  It wasn't to do with walking trails.  Chest pains were strong.  I was taken to clinics for check-ups, x-rays and medicine.  The diagnosis or prognosis showed that my organs were good.  Still the pain was hard to bare.  The sitting position was easy.  Lying down was hell, especially when leaning to the right side. Hard to breathe.  Doctors were surprised as to how I was reacting.  The cause of this inconvenience is unknown.  What can I say?

After taking some pain killers and working at our  drama rehearsals, I felt some relief.  A good sleep.  I couldn't believe it.  I woke up chipper, grateful and ready to meet the sun.

As a practitioner of bhaktiyoga,I have to believe and pray.  Medicines aren't everything.  With that in mind, I will share the first of the narrator's words from our drama, "Gods and Demons," the first scene.

Vishnu!  The Lord of a Thousand Names.  Not visible to mundane eyes, yet present everywhere.  Aloof from everything, yet very much involved.  The Lord of the Heart.  From Him, the elements issue, including the cosmic waters which give rise to all living entities.

And the gods—they revere Him.  In times of great peril, they appeal for His aide.

The Vedas say, "If one could count the atoms of the universe, then one could count the attributes of Vishnu. But no one can count the atoms of the universe, nor can one count the qualities of Vishnu. Shanti (peace), shanti, shanti. Om Tat Sat!”

May the Source be with you!
0 km

Thursday, April 25th, 2019

Centre de Flacq, Mauritius

Wake Up

I woke up with low energy.  Instead of lower back issues, which I've been confronted with in the past, my right side went quite stiff.  A nice guy by the name of Gopal, took me to another end of the island to see an expert massage therapist, then to a doctor for medicine.  Pray for me that healing will happen in a pronto manner.

I did go for an extended sleep.  Time ran short for any walking.

My friend, Sri Niketan, from Europe, is 70.  He has knee challenges, something we have in common.  I cannot make this a complaining session.  I must be grateful for the services I have.  I'm glad to be alive and happy to have a good friend in Sri Niketan, a man of the first generation after our benevolent guru, Prabhupada, came to the western world.  Those of us who fit into that category are becoming rare collector's items.

"Hello Love," is the loud caption on Balaram's T-shirt.  He is helping me as narrator for our play, "Gods and Demons."  He's got a good voice and is learning how to project and articulate.  This is definitely a succession plan, getting the younger generation to gain experience.

Like me, Balaram took up fine arts as his major; the only difference is, I dismissed the classroom and entered a monastery.  It was so radical of me but I was determined to go spiritual.  It was the only thing that made me happy and made much sense.  I needed dimension in my life, and I believe I've achieved it.  Mind you there is a journey of self-control yet to tread.

May the Source be with you!
0 km

Wednesday, April 24th, 2019

Centre de Flacq, Mauritius

From Milk to Saltwater Oceans

Kala and I started off in the ‘sark’ with a walk in the quaint downtown.  We moved in stride and then ‘crunch’ came the sound and sensation.  

Wait a minute, I know that sound, I thought, so I confessed to Kala that I just cracked the shell of one of those huge snails.  

We briefly talked about whether this slow-but-sure mover was going to make it through.  No municipal lights were there to reveal his actual identity.  Will he be reincarnated?  Hard to say, but one thing is for certain, life is fragile.

At 8:00 a.m., I gave a class at the local Krishan Balaram temple.  Based on Sankhya philosophy, Kapila addresses the dual nature of the world.  It is precious.  The physical energy, prakriti, we take so much interest in, but we give so little credit to the essential factor behind it.  We call that power: Bhagavan.

In the evening the local youth, teens and beyond, gathered for an exploration of Bhagavanin the form of Vishnu.  It is such a lively story involving the churning of the cosmic milk ocean.  This story will be enacted this weekend on Saturday and Sunday, and will also feature the documentary by Michael Oesch, "The Walking Monk."

Anyway, we are in the phase of practice, and everyone's just having a good time together.  That spirit extended itself in the form of a second stroll at Belle Mare, a sandy beach and ocean.  A few of us went for a dip in the calm waters at 11: p.m.  No one else was there, with the exception of the moon and millions of stars.

May the Source be with you!
5 km

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

Durban / Mauritius

Never Ever

Never ever have I seen or heard such forceful rain. It was an all-nighter, and penetrated, somehow, through windows and doors, leaving us with a threat of flights being cancelled to various destinations, ours being Mauritius.  When finally we did arrive and having survived the consistent pounding of water, Sukadeva, 19, and I experienced another hiccup. Our itinerary said we leave today, while the computer at the airport wicket read that we were on for tomorrow. Yikes!

However, Krishna came through on this one, like all challenges.  Adjustments were made and we ended up on the same flight as Jambhavan at 7:00 a.m. Over the Indian Ocean we went, losing two hours of time, and we landed at the Mauritian Airport to be greeted by a chanting, welcoming party with flower garlands, smiles and a bowl of mini slabs of baked potatoes with pizza topping.

As is done annually, Kale and a companion, Dhananjaya, drove us to Amara's home, there to meet over twenty teens and older, for a preparation on this weekend's Shakti Show, and our drama, "Gods and Demons."  I'm resorting to the three of us who flew over, to provide direction to this fun play. We started rehearsals, not losing a beat, and also got serious about the casting.

It's a nice group but they are shy and stiff. What to do?  I’ve been in this spot before, and am determined to loosen up the troupe.  Unfortunately, time did not allow for footsteps other than what we achieved in three airports.  We'll be okay!

May the Source be with you!
0 km

Monday, April 22nd, 2019

Durban, South Africa

Fun Under No Sun

The temple in Durban has a rather elaborate book display, which on its own merit demonstrates the great wisdom presented on Vedic culture.   https://www.instagram.com/p/Bwnt-fwAD3H/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=xis41sh4hyn8 I took personal note of this as I was preparing to leave for, of all things, a picnic with the volunteer actors whom I worked with.  We drove to an old quarry where a benevolent owner had turned the place into a fun outdoor park with trails and obstacle courses.  We took advantage of the trail to a waterfall.   https://www.instagram.com/p/BwqPgjlACZB/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=m70n03cgeduy Over lunch I read from the Krishnabook and engaged the listeners in charades on one story about Aghasura. Great fun!  https://www.instagram.com/p/BwlX9mVgzMT/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=7cqrqeifocc4

Today was also a last crack at the Bhakti Cloud tent for more as Dance Master.  That was terminated by two hours leading kirtan on the final Chariot journey; the first time happened Friday.  The djembeaccompaniment made all the difference.  This drum transcends the rain which was the actual weather condition.

The downpour came especially as we were completing two kilometres of weaving through the streets with all three chariots. They looked spiffy with lights glowing in the dark.  The actual luminaries for me were the hundreds of chanters making a difference on this final day of the Easter Weekend.

While I'm having the time of my life, and others as well in this more or less tiny spot on the globe, I am personally troubled by the news of the recent bombings in Sri Lanka.  What cowards would do such horrendous things?  I pray for the loss of the lives of the innocent. There are events going on in the world that make me sick.

May the Source be with you!
7 km

Thursday 25 April 2019

Sunday, April 21st, 2019

Durban, South Africa

Much Rain Much Fun

The Chariot Festival wasn't a total  disaster despite ongoing rain.  Sufficient tents for shelter offered a space for bhakti.  In fact in the Bhakti Cloud tent, it was like a live wire as usual.  Billed as Dance Master, at 3:30 p.m. people were curious for my session of a half hour.  I engaged people in using a part of the body so underused when it comes to dance.  We started with a clapping session over the djembe, then introduced the maha-mantra.  I then encouraged rhythmic walking. 

Can you walk as if you were a model going down the catwalk?  How would you walk to the beat as a corporate going to the office?  How may a homeless person walk?  With a slow stride?  People volunteered to try "the different strokes for different folks."

I was also asked to give a talk on "The Secret to Spiritual Advancement."  Now this may come across, subject wise, as a secret in itself.  Is the answer to this puzzle private, personal, or confidential?  Is eating holy food, prasadam, the key to success in devotion?  Some people believe so.  What about the philosophy?  Is reading sastra, and its application, what binds us to devotion?  We've also heard that chanting resolves all.  But really, there is something more to consider.  I'll be silent about it and resort to the Gita's chapter on the opulence of the Absolute: "Of secret things I am silence."  If there is one single item that breaks this silence and helps us to advance in spirituality, then I would say it is sangha, good devotional company, because if you have that then you will have the Name, the wisdom and the prasadam.

May the Source be with you!
5 km

Saturday, April 20th, 2019

Durban, South Africa

Back to Home Affairs

The Minister of Home Affairs for South Africa, spent two hours with us at the Festival of Chariots.  Honourable Siyabonga Cwele and I bonded in a certain kind of way, as he was the person who saw to it I could enter South Africa.  The day I landed at the airport, I was rejected for a relatively full passport, about which Cwele told a handful of us, "I travel a lot and have a full book where officials manage to stamp somewhere."

In any event I was three feet away from the plane departing with boarding pass in hand, luggage in the plane, when a call came to the officials with me.  It was Cwele on the other line saying that my passport was valid and that I was not a criminal.  The result of that call meant cancellation of that flight.  Thank him.  Thank God.

While His Honour spoke to us, he also expressed that he and his department were "here to serve and not to be served."  He's a real gentleman.

After the time spent with him and Durban's deputy-mayor, Fawzia Peer, I led another one of those sweat-bound Bhakti Cloud dances.  Finally, our performance of, "Grandsire," was staged for the pleasure of all.  The sky had begun to spit water on the festival goers, and this rain encouraged our tent to fill up quickly.  Usually it is not a problem.  Organizers say the dramas are the biggest draw to the event.  That is so gratifying to hear.  https://www.instagram.com/p/BwfZwMylu_g/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=1k1yhh1f2vix8

From the applause and ovation of the audience, we could see the story rendered of Bhishma was loved.  The only missing link in today was walking.  Before leaving for the site, I was determined to get in at least one kilometre.  So I did.    https://www.instagram.com/p/BwfcFXOFTUU/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=1vk1q0a68lky7

May the Source be with you!
1 km