Monday, December 29, 2008

The Reward of Faith

Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore, seek not to understand that thou mayest believe, but believe that thous mayest understand."- St. Augustine

Faith is something that must be put to the test, that must become an active part of our lives, applied to all the various facets of the undertakings of our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls.

Our faith must become realized and alive in such a way that it doesn't become an abstract, reaching "belief" that can be easily shot down by the likes of such modern-day "pundits" as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.

Why did Srila Prabhupada constantly describe the process of Krsna Consciousness as the "science of God" and "the science of self-realization"? Anyone with a fourth-grade education can tell you with some gusto that science and faith are mutually exclusive, so if we are practicing a scientific process of self-realization, then what is the role of faith?

Quite simply, we can understand, or try to understand, that so much of the spiritual realm beyond this material shell is incomprehensible to our mild minds and shattered senses. But we must have the faith in the descriptions of the realized acaryas that this is actually what the spiritual world is like, that this is what Krsna looks like and this is what He does.

At the same time, our process of bhakti-yoga is active and verifiable in its results in a way that can be observed by the scientific method.

By chanting the maha-mantra reguarly, by following the four regulative principles, by preaching widely and consistently, by reading Prabhupada's books, etc, we get the results that are advertised. Our lives and our existences become absorbed in the flows of auspiciousness, as mentioned in the opening verses of the 16th Chapter of the Gita. We actually become brahmanas!

This is a great point for preaching. The faith we hold, essential for any aspiring spiritualist, needs a process, a daily practice, to become mature and realized. The sankirtana process and the society of devotees with Prabhupada and Lord Caitanya as the guiding lights provide, when practiced humbly and properly, the best and most scientifically verifiable method of self-realization available today.

Prabhupada writes in his purport to S.B 3.15.33: If the members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, putting faith in Kṛṣṇa as the center, live in harmony according to the order and principles of Bhagavad-gītā, then they are living in Vaikuṇṭha, not in this material world.

It's a powerful statement, something which we have to yet to fulfill on a large scale within ISKCON. The important part is living in harmony with the order and principles of the Gita. This deepens our faith with Krsna at the center, and makes it a vibrant, ecstatic reality.

So many people want something more tangible than just the misguided and misdirected faith they are offered. Let us offer them not only the most mysterious and sublime of faiths, but also the way to see it face-to-face.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Where Are All The Half-Evolved Dinosaurs?

I don't profess to have a very proper understanding of the mechanics of the Darwinist theory of evolution, so I'm always a little wary to blindly refute it based on the little knowledge I have, and so I keep an inquisitive mindset into what exactly is valid and invalid about this theory that so many people take as absolute fact.

Here's an article that asks a simple question: Where are the fossil records of all the not-fully formed predecessors to the fully formed species that we have dug up and that we see living today?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Merely Beggars

"We are all sojourners on the path of death. Everyone has to die, therefore, in this state of life whether one is male or female, high or low, king or subject, rich or poor, learned or foolish-everyone can make this very rare human form of life successful by becoming a servant of the servant of the eternally pure, completely blissful Sri Hari. Even in this conditioned life one can become liberated. Therefore, it is overwhelmingly necessary to try..."
-Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur 12-13-36, Auditory Hall, Gaudiya Math

"We must not look at the world by being weighed down with the mentality that is oppressed with the sense of deficiency or othewise, by the poverty or otherwise, of the display of worldly erudition, rank, etc, by any particular person. This is the state of forgetfulness of our real selves.

All persons of this world are really superior to us in every way as far as this world is concerned. All those matters are not any commodities that are fit to be coveted by us. We are merely beggars with the triple-staff of renunciation devoted to the chanting of the Words of Sri Caitanya.

We have no more nor any higher desirable object than the Pleasure of serving Sri Hari-Guru-Vaisnavas"-Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, 3-18-33, Madras

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Missing Krsna, Missing Ourself

Yesterday we were speaking on our own experiences of the process of self-realization. To many, self-realization is supposed to be an all-bliss, all the time hoedown-go and check your local chain bookstore in the "new age" section if you don't believe me.

In our experiences on the devotional plane, we can actually experience actual, honest self-realization, not sugar coated by speculations, schemes, or slippery slopes. The catch is that it's not easy, and it's not something you can easily purchase.

In this process, one begins to see the best and the worst of our character and conditionings. We can see and actualize the confident, loving, humble servant we eternally arer, but at the same time, we must deal with, face-to-face, all the roadblocks and weeds that are in the way.

Self-realization doesn't mean we try to stuff away our problems with some "secret" or some fancy poses and diet-tricks. It means we face up to what we're not so that we can become who we actually are.
Prabhupada writes in the preface to the Nectar of Devotion what real self-realization must include..
"At the present moment we are inventing so many ways to utilize our propensity to love, but factually we are missing the real point: Kṛṣṇa. We are watering all parts of the tree, but missing the tree's root. We are trying to keep our body fit by all means, but we are neglecting to supply foodstuffs to the stomach. Missing Kṛṣṇa means missing one's self also. Real self-realization and realization of Kṛṣṇa go together simultaneously. For example, seeing oneself in the morning means seeing the sunrise also; without seeing the sunshine no one can see himself. Similarly, unless one has realized Kṛṣṇa there is no question of self-realization."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The real reason for the global economic downturn?

From Prabhupada's purport to Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 3 Chapter 15 Verse 21

"It is also stated here that in the Vaikuṇṭha planets the goddesses of fortune are faultless. Generally the goddess of fortune does not remain steadily in one place. Her name is Cañcalā, which means "one who is not steady." We find, therefore, that a man who is very rich may become the poorest of the poor.

Another example is Rāvaṇa. Rāvaṇa took away Lakṣmī, Sītājī, to his kingdom, and instead of being happy by the grace of Lakṣmī, his family and his kingdom were vanquished. Thus Lakṣmī in the house of Rāvaṇa is Cañcalā, or unsteady. Men of Rāvaṇa's class want Lakṣmī only, without her husband, Nārāyaṇa; therefore they become unsteady due to Lakṣmījī. Materialistic persons find fault on the part of Lakṣmī, but in Vaikuṇṭha Lakṣmījī is fixed in the service of the Lord. In spite of her being the goddess of fortune, she cannot be happy without the grace of the Lord. Even the goddess of fortune needs the Lord's grace in order to be happy, yet in the material world even Brahmā, the highest created being, seeks the favor of Lakṣmī for happiness."

Saturday, December 6, 2008


We have been reading, from the First Canto of the Bhagavatam, the heavy sauce that the saintly Vidura laid on his elder brother Dhrtarastra, as Dhrtarastra was rotting away the last moments of his life in the palace of his Pandava cousins.

The straightforward nature of Vidura's speech can certainly be disarming, if we do not take into account the deep compassion within his heart towards his elder brother and towards all living entities in general.

Can compassion and chastisement go together? As devotees, we know that Krsna's kick and His kiss are one and the same, and when an exalted devotee let's us know, in no uncertain terms, what we are doing wrong in our spiritual and material lives, then we should consider that the greatest compassionate mercy upon our poor fallen selves.

Of course, in our college outreach programs, the mode of communication must be very different. Prabhupada has warned on numerous occasions that we, as neophytes, should never be so cutting and direct in our communications with those who are newly exposed to Krsna Consciousness.

One defintion of sadhu is one who cuts, but if anything, we are only sadhus in training, still in our diapers as it were.

Prabhupada could cut directly at someone's false ego because he had no false ego, because he was directly and always absorbed in the Absolute Truth, and also as he said sometimes. because he could get away with it because he was an "old man"

So, this is the challenge we face as young preachers. We can't smash all the students who come to our programs for being "lusty drunkards" or "unabashed quasi-intellectual speculators". We can't even have these kind of judgemental mindsets towards them, or anybody, if we are going to be able to open the compassion in our heart to properly give out the reality of Krsna.

We may be frustrated by this so-called "political correctness", but it stands as a great test of our tolerance and intelligence to be able to communciate deep, profound, and challenging spiritual truths in a palatable way for the youth of America, the next generation of potential devotees.

Speaking from my own perspective, how I can chastise somebody for being addicted to sex, drugs, and rock and roll when I myself am still addicted to these things?

Going back to the essence...humility is our greatest tool, our greatest weapon. Unless and until we are free from false ego, then we don't have the potency to remove someone else's false ego in direct and surgical matters.

If we try to do so, before we are ready, we'll just come off as Gita-beating fools, as just another religion, just another group of fundamentalists.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Discard All This Quibbling

You may have noticed two things in recent days. The election of Barack Obama, the first African-American to become the President of the United States, and nationwide protests to the passing of Proposition 8 in California of all places, which strictly defines marriage as being between a man and a women, leaving out people of same-sex relationships from this social status and benefit.

The people of America, our friends and family, find themselves once again staring into the face of the question of equality, as they attempt to define and re-define the seemingly essential part of the mission of this nation, which is to give equal rights and opportunities to every person, regardless of their race, sexual preference, or any other physical category.

Abraham Lincoln said to a group of Chicago abolitionists in 1858 that we should "Discard all this quibbling about this man and the other man, this race and that race and the other race being inferior and therefore they must be placed in an inferior position. Let us discard all these things, and unite as one people throughout this land, until we shall once more stand up declaring that all men are created equal."

Nelson Mandela wrote in his book Long Walk to Freedom that "No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."

Only the hardest heart would disagree with the sentiments behind these statements, and behind the drive and urge to create and live by these ideals, but as devotees, we can understand that unless one adds the true platform of equality, the spirit soul, to the equation, then all efforts, however sincere, may end up being eternally frustrated.

In our college programs here at the University of Pittsburgh, we are surrounded by warm-hearted students who really want to make a difference, and what we try to share with them is that the real way to change, to hope, is to rise the spiritual platform, opening one's eyes to the Absolute Truth.

We are doing this by revealing the timeless wisdom and lessons of Vedic culture passed down to us by the greatest acaryas. The ideal Vedic system, represented by daivi-varnasrama, brings to life a real system of equality for the ultimate benefit, which is the understanding and practical realization that we are the eternal, blissful servants of the Supreme Person, Krsna.

Vedic culture, properly applied, takes into account the inevitable differences in physical form and mental makeup and proplerly applies these differences in a way to put each and every individual living entity in the best position for the highest self-realization.

There were and are no such things as racism, sexism, and bigotry in properly applied Vedic cultural values. Everyone is seen as they are, as eternal spirit soul, and from their unique individual makeups are placed in the proper order and asrama that will give them the best chance to realize their true, eternal constitutional position.

In his purport to the 2nd verse of the Nectar of Instruction, Srila Prabhupada writes that the mahatma, or greatly realized spiritual personality "refers to those who are broadminded, not cripple-minded. Cripple-minded persons, always engaged in satisfying their senses, sometimes expand their activities in order to do good for others through some "ism" like nationalism, humanitarianism or altruism. They may reject personal sense gratification for the sense gratification of others, like the members of their family, community or society — either national or international. Actually all this is extended sense gratification, from personal to communal to social. This may all be very good from the material point of view, but such activities have no spiritual value. The basis of such activity is sense gratification, either personal or extended. Only when a person gratifies the senses of the Supreme Lord can he be called a mahātmā, or broadminded person."

Where our modern-day seekers of justice may be missing the point is in trying to force everyone onto artificial platforms of social and economic equality, which tries to vainly erase all differences, but diversity is essential to the human condition. Our differences cannot be erased, but only considered and applied in such a way that ignorant discrimination, based on the bodily platform, does not rear its ugly, ugly head.

It is our duty as devotees to make active these timeless principles of Vedic culture. We shouldn't go into fundamentalist mode and blindly condemn the efforts of progressive peoples worldwide to get their voice heard, and even to preserve their lives.

After all, we can admire the rare goodness in their hearts in this fragile, chaotic world. Let us unite with them in their efforts, in a respectful, active dialogue, and bring about real, spiritual equality in the here and now.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Charter For Compassion

If this hasn't come under your gaze, please check out The Charter For Compassion for a very interesting opportunity for cross-cultural networking and inspiration.

From their website...

The Charter for Compassion is a collaborative effort to build a peaceful and harmonious global community. Bringing together the voices of people from all religions, the Charter seeks to remind the world that while all faiths are not the same, they all share the core principle of compassion and the Golden Rule. The Charter will change the tenor of the conversation around religion. It will be a clarion call to the world.

Over the next months this site will be open for the world to contribute to Charter for Compassion. Using innovative group decision-making software, people of all faiths, from all across the globe, will contribute their words and stories on a website designed specifically for the Charter. A Council of Sages, made up of religious thinkers and leaders, will craft the world’s words into the final version of the Charter. The document will not only speak to the core ideas of compassion but will also address the actions all segments of society can take to bring these ideas into the world more fully. The Charter for Compassion will then be signed by religious leaders of all faiths at a large launch event, followed by a series of other events to publicize and promote the Charter around the world.

The Charter for Compassion will not be a new organization. There are hundreds of existing organizations around the world already working tirelessly in the name of compassion and interfaith dialogue. Our goal is to highlight these groups in effort to raise the profile of their work.

The Charter will show that the voice of negativity and violence so often associated with religion is the minority and that the voice of compassion is the majority. Through the participation of the grassroots, people around the world will expect more out of religious leaders and one another. In doing so, the Charter will shift conceptions of religion for all people.

Please contribute your enlightened and devoted words if you get the chance.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Truth Is Out There?

Hello, my name is Chris, and I'm a recovering conspiracy theorist.

With your help, maybe, just maybe, I can return to a world free of cynicism, paranoia, and outlandish, highly speculative fairy tales. I'm serious!

I guess I'm not exactly rolling with the popular tide here, as this article from the Las Vegas Sun details.

I find my experience as an bumbling, stumbling, highly conditioned aspiring devotee to have at least a few positive side-effects that my old habits and mental misconceptions can't quite cover up. One of these positive side effects is that I am finding my personality far more grounded and practical.

The strong sense of satisfaction I find in trying to practice a Krsna Conscious life means I'm no longer waiting for the world to end so that all my mundane problems will be solved.

To be honest, I'm not quite jumping right over to the other side of the fence, proudly singing the "Star Spangled Banner", "Kumbaya" and "Purple Haze" and saying everything is dynamite...the facts do remain...there's a lot of evidential discrepancies to the official account of 9/11, plenty of sane and sound people have seen UFOs and have had encounters with their occupants, the Federal Reserve isn't exactly accountable to "We The People", and you can even taste the fluoride in the tap water, but...

...our duty as devotees of the sankirtana mission of Lord Caitanya, in my humble estimation, is to acknowledge the truths and un-truths, the info and disinfo, as yet another virulent symptom of the Kali-Yuga, but we shouldn't become so absorbed that we become cynical in our outlook on life and in our presentation of Krishna Consciousness.

Hollow-eyed cynicism doesn't make anything attractive, least of all our own spiritual message of eternity, knowledge, and bliss.

This is my whole "funda" (fundamental knowledge) realization at the moment on this topic. Cynicism is death to my spiritual aspirations, and the only way to cure this disease is to loosen the ties that bind me to fanciful and darkly horrific ideas that are the very model of "mental speculation".

Again, this is not to say there is not validity to what lies behind the veil of our mass-media, government-funded outlook on the world. Vedic history makes it very clear that demonic influences have infiltrated and influenced this lonely Planet Earth, and are doing so now in many dynamic, subtle ways.

And when I say subtle, I mean that I don't quite think George Bush, the Queen, and Tony Blair are literally evil reptilian beings in disguise.

But if you find yourself worrying a bit too much about the coming global changes of 2012, or whether Obama is actually legit or not, or whether one of the Rockefeller kids will call in a stock-market collapse, I say step outside, take a deep breath, call out "Gauranga", and remember that, in the Holy Name, we actually have a more powerful weapon than microwave guns or nuclear warheads.

We're working on the level of the soul, where by raising people's awareness of their own spiritual nature, we move very far beyond any temporary political half-truths and speculations. We must each do our humble and patient part without getting too entangled in the various vagaries of this world.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Ten Signs of Intellectual Honesty

It's common sense wrapped up with brahminical wisdom wrapped up with a little good'ol get-ahead-in-your-business acumen.

It's The Ten Signs Of Intellectual Honesty!

Use them freely, use them for the Lord!

Click here to check them out

Friday, November 7, 2008

It's Time To Kick Out The Jams!

One week ago the world tour of Lord Caitanya's Sankirtana (Ananda Vidya on guitar and vocals, Pat on mrdanga and vocals, Tess on kartals and vocals, Mauricio on violin, Jason on grand piano, and Chris on electric bass) began in the Front Room Coffeehouse at the Baker Center on the campus of Ohio University.

A small but appreciative crowd were treated to spirited renditions of the Panca-Tattva prayers, the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, "Jaya Radha Madhava", and "Radhe Radhe Jaya Jaya Madhava Dayite".

It was a warm evening of sharing the Holy Names, and we hope to continue it again in the future, perhaps with a full light and laser show and maybe even a rock opera! We can only dream...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

All The Kids Love Lord Jagannatha!

Lord Jagannatha made His annual appearance amongst the teeming hordes of one of the biggest block parties around, The Athens (OH) Halloween Bash!

Yours truly had the honors of wearing The Big Guy this year, and it was, for the most part, a friendly experience. The Lord of The Universe gave many blessings, brought about many inexplicable expressions of heightened confusion, and even fought off a Jedi flashing a lightsaber, proving that it is indeed Jagannatha who controls The Force.

Here's the pics...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Obama-a-Rama!...or Obama or Rama?

I sit here in the Ohio University's opulent computer lab eagerly awaiting the Great American Political Yajna...Election Day!

It's a day of somewhat heightened consciousness, where people of all colors, shapes, and sizes can lift themselves up out of their mundane lives, and feel that they are part of something bigger and higher.

Now you may say or think...Chris, you're in maya! I won't belabor that point, but whether or not I have an interest in a very historical, multi-racial, multi-gender crossroads of cultural conflict that is this year's election won't shatter my devotional sentiments, nor will it shatter yours.

I'll be the first to admit that I still have a great curiosity in the human condition on this Planet Earth. I'm certainly not a pure devotee, and even the pure devotee doesn't shut himself off from the practical realities of the world.

Prabhupada would often show interest in the various machinations of world politics from the futility of world war to the complexities of Indira Gandhi's "emergency rule" but he would always enlighten the situation to prove his eternal point that Vedic culture is the superior way of life.

Actually, if I voted (and I'm not going to vote...I haven't voted since the last presidential election in 2004, and I'm not even sure where I'm registered), I would, in all honesty, write in Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu for the honor.

Even more so, the realization I'm having is that Barack Obama, if elected, will not be the first black president. Krsna is the first black president! He is the Original Black President and source of all black presidents to follow.

Now, I've gone through many different political phases, from liberal/socialist/green all the way into the deep, dark recesses of "conspiracy theory."

I'm just now coming up from those recesses and excesses now (which I'll write about in further detail soon), but since, once again, I'm not a pure devotee, or even a very fixed-up devotee, this whole shebang of electoral eccentricity still tickles my funny bone. Color me detached but unable to look away!

Still, let's make no bones about it. Neither McCain or even Obama come even close to fitting the bill of the pure Vedic leader, and we shouldn't be so naive to expect that coming from the political spheres of the modern world.

Prabhupada clearly states this is his purport to S.B 1.16.22: The word kṣatra-bandhu refers to the so-called administrators or persons promoted to the post of the administrator without proper training by culture and tradition. Nowadays they are promoted to such exalted posts by the votes of the people who are themselves fallen in the rules and regulations of life. How can such people select a proper man when they are themselves fallen in the standard of life? Therefore, by the influence of the age of Kali, everywhere, politically, socially or religiously, everything is topsy-turvy, and therefore for the sane man it is all regrettable.

In Obama's defense, it struck me watching one of the debates that he described sexuality as being "sacred." I got the feeling that it wasn't just something he said, but something he meant. I dare say it was even impressive to hear and experience.

It's natural that we wanted to be protected by those who lead us, and indeed it's the natural propensity and duty of the leader to protect us. Prabhupada again points this out in his purport to S.B 1.9.27: The kings were trained systematically to become munificent and not merely be tax collectors. They were trained to perform different sacrifices only for the prosperity of the subjects. To lead the prajās to the attainment of salvation was a great duty of the king. The father, the spiritual master and the king are not to become irresponsible in the matter of leading their subjects to the path of ultimate liberation from birth, death, diseases and old age. When these primary duties are properly discharged, there is no need of government of the people, by the people.

The essence of Obama's support, which historically crosses so many different boundaries of race, class, and age, is that people feel he will be able to protect them, care for them, and nurture their various social needs.

Of course, whether he'll actually be able to provide this protection in the idealistic way his supporters expect is another question entirely, and is unlikely considering the current economic and social chaos around the globe.

But whatever his faults, political and personal, I do admire his moral character, but somebody get this guy one of Prabhupada's books stat!

In the meantime, I'll watch the results with interest, knowing that in a very practical way to the lives we lead as devotees, involved with and trying to enlighten the people of America and beyond, the results do matter.

We can remain personally abstract from the whole process, but I think we should at least understand who and what is going on (without too many conspiracy overtones!) so that, like Prabhupada, we can show the limits of the whole electoral, political game, and show how Krsna Consciousness goes well beyond those limits, into the realm of the heart, the realm of the eternal.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

We Prefer the Celebration...

Recently I have also been reading Reluctant Saint: The Life of Francis of Assisi by Daniel Spoto, which is a very inspiring and intimate look into the incredibly austere and devoted life of one of the greatest Catholic saints.

I would like to share with you a list of devotions from Francis's writings-more specifically from a early draft of a Rule for the Franciscan Order that he wrote in 1220-1221.

I hope you find these warming to your heart and soul, and that it help you to realize more and more the universality of love of God.

*God is the absolute good and must have priority in our lives.
*Our lives themselves manifest the praise of God.
*We give thanks for the beauty of the world.
*We long to believe fully in the triune God, Who created, redeemed and will finally act in love to save us forever.
*We want to love God because He has first loved us.
*Doing penance means constantly turning to God.
*We are poor because God alone is rich, and everything good belongs to Him. Therefore, we need not be concerned about ourselves, our honor, our earthly goals. We can abandon ourselves and leave ourselves open to Him Who gives us everything. He is not unfeeling or indifferent, but He constantly draws near to us, speaks to us, saves us.
*For all those reasons, we are also concerned for the well-being and salvation of all mankind.
*We prefer the celebration and the living out of faith rather than disputing about it-hence we go among unbelievers and preach to others mostly by example.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Limey X-Files

I must profess an honest interest, dating from my very childhood, when I used to go straight to the very beginning of the Dewey Decimal System in my local library to find books on Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, the Bermuda Triangle, and best of all...UFO's

(After all, where the hell do you put books on these subjects within the Dewey Decimals? They exist in this weird unclassifiable zone, still considered as "pseudo-science")

And to this day, I'm still looking up at the night sky, waiting for something weird and flashing to float by. My neophyte devotional aspirations haven't dulled my wonder with this subject (although I'm sure as heck rolling my eyes more and more often whenever 9/11 or 2012 comes up).

In honor of his life and recent passing, I finally dove in to the book Alien Identities by HG Sadaputa Prabhu (Dr. Richard Thompson), and it has been one of the most sober and straightforward examinations of this most unwieldy subject that I have ever read.

Sadaputa's approach is based on examples and experiences drawn from the Vedic scriptures, which share some parallels with modern-day UFO experiences, such as Salva's monstrous, shape-shifting airplane or Duryodhana's abduction by the Davanas when he had decided to fast to death in the Mahabharata.

For the great acaryas and personalities of Vedic culture, it's a given that other advanced life forms exist in the universe and engage in communications and relationships with inhabitants of Planet Earth.

If we have faith in the numerous Vedic accounts of interactions between earthly humans and not-so earthly humans (and many other various life forms), then this can shed light on what may be happening now in regards to the modern-day UFO phenomenon.

In an encouraging sign towards more disclosure on this phenomenon, the British National Archives last week released a large number of declassified and spectacular reports of UFO encounters from the last fifty years. Click here to read an article on the Archives release, and click here to delve into the newly released files.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Springs of Spiritual Life

The need for a rich inner life is one of the essential lessons given us to by our dear acaryas. The Goswamis were so absorbed in their heart-filled meditation upon Radha and Krsna that they often forgot to eat and sleep.

Srila Prabhupada would sacrifice the good night's sleep we take for granted in order to translate Srimad-Bhagavatam and Caitanya-Caritamrta in the early morning hours, deeply absorbed in what he called his "personal ecstasies."

In our own individual lives, and in the whole of our society of devotees, there is an acute need, as HH Sacinandana Swami says, to focus upon our vertical relationship with Krsna, to revive the loving relationship within our heart to the Supreme Person, the very source of the most intimate feelings of pleasure and belonging.

This is not to recommend cheap dramatics, like the sahajiyas, but we need to cultivate the tender, tiny devotional creeper in our heart by constant personal meditation upon Krsna's name, fame, pastimes, and qualities.

Thomas Merton, Trappist monk and one of the most influential Catholic writers of the 20th Century, specialized in the contemplative life of inner meditation upon God.

In an article on his various moods of hermeticism, we can ponder some of his statements on the inner life and how it relates universally to our devotional lives.

"Not all men are called to be hermits, but all men need enough silence and solitude in their lives to enable the deep inner voice of their own true self to be heard at least occasionally. ... For he cannot go on happily for long, unless he is in contact with the springs of spiritual life which are hidden in the depths of this own true soul."

The "springs of spiritual life" are the very source of the strength we need in carrying on Prabhupada's mission.

No matter the quality and quantity of our external duties and services, we must find time to bathe in these streams of nectar. If we don't, we succumb to the waves of material nature in the forms of politics, duplicity, lust, anger, and greed.

You will never find interior solitude unless you make some conscious effort to deliver yourself from the desires and the cares and the attachments of an existence in time and in the world.

This sounds pretty familiar, right? The less we attach to the external factors in our lives, the more time and focus we'll have on our real business, which is to revive our dormant love and affection for Krsna, the very love and affection which is the only way to disentangle ourselves from the false banyan tree of the material world, to return to the real tree of the eternal spiritual world.

Note that the word 'alienation' is used by non-existentialists to support the fictions of collective life. For them the 'alienated' man is the one who is not at peace in the general myth. He is the non-conformist; the oddball who does not agree with everybody else and who disturbs the pleasant sense of collective rightness. For the existentialist, the alienated man is the one who, though 'adjusted' to society, is alienated from himself. The inner life of the mass man, alienated and leveled in the existential sense, is a dull collective routine of popular fantasies maintained in existence by the collective dreams that goes on , without interruption, in the mass media.

In relation to the deep compassionate practice of the spreading of the Holy Name, it is our duty as devotees to alleviate the inner void of the "mass man", by filling it with the real truth, the deep, boundless bliss of Krsna consciousness.

We live in a "fast food" culture, so we can dovetail this propensity by giving as many souls as we can the quickest and easiest way to self-realization: the sacred sound of the Holy Name.

Merton and other examples like Francis of Assisi showed by their living example the proper mix of deep internal prayer and realization with active and bold preaching of God's living word and glory. Of course, there is also our Prabhupada.

The purely hermetic life is not for us as devotees, at least not until we have reached advanced stages of age and advancement. Without our inspired outreach of the Holy Name, we are not pleasing Prabhupada, but without developing our own inner attachment to the Holy Name, we will not have the strength and ability to please Prabhupada by this outreach.

All the deep contemplation we require in our spiritual existence is condensed in the sound of the Holy Name. There's no need to remove ourselves from society. All our heart and souls craves is there if we can just listen deeply to the sound of the Holy Name.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Now that they have been Master Cleansed, Soma, Balarama, and Jason are enjoying like anything!
Apples, little pieces of toast, orange God! It's like they are tasting for the very first time!
Balarama even forgot how to chew, but he is making up for lost time.

These pictures may make you hungry...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

...that binds your belly

namas te ’stu damne sphurad-dipti-dhamne
tvadiyodarayatha visvasya dhamne
namo radhikayai tvadiya-priyayai
namo ‘nanta-lilaya devaya tubhyam

I bow down to the bright rope that binds your belly,
within which the cosmos is completely contained.
To your beloved Radha I bow yet again,
and to you the hero who plays wonderfully.

Here's some pics of our very sweet Kartik program here in Athens last night...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Take Prasad!

It's the Blog of the Year, the BEST! Blog of the Year.
See Them Eat! an artistic production of Sabjimata of Jams and Kebobs fame
Click here to see our pics we offered from last Friday's Starving Artists Lunch here in Athens, Ohio.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

See Them Fast! See Them Handstand!

While I continue to eat (after all, one does not stop eating on the spiritual platform. In fact eating gets better), here in Athens Soma, Balarama, and Jason are smack dab in the middle of the Master Cleanse fast.

This means nothing but lemonade and limeade touched with maple syrup and cayenne pepper for ten days, and a lot of pooping! It's potent!

Don't try this at home!

Mixing the magic all up!



All this doesn't stop Balarama from rocking the handstands...