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.