Saturday, June 25, 2011

Radhanath Swami Meets President Obama


On June 13, 2011 Radhanath Swami was invited to meet with the President of the United States, Mr. Barack Obama at an event in Miami Florida. Radhanath Swami was grateful to accept the invitation on behalf of his beloved Guru, Srila Prabhupada and dedicated the meeting to his beloved Godbrother Bhakti Tirtha Swami. The President and the Swami had a beautiful, heartfelt talk for several minutes.

Radhanath Swami with President Barrack Obama

It is special that last year Radhanath Swami was invited to meet with the President of India, Ms. Pratibha Patil. We feel that the two meetings signal an auspicious spiritual connection between the United States of America and Mother India.

Radhanath Swami with President Barrack Obama


Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Humble Musings Of The Manhattan Monk 6/23/11

There is a tremendous pain within my heart at the presence of my blindness towards my real integrity. This integrity, full with substance, is not cheap; it is not to be abused. This pain reveals a great desire for freedom from this abuse, a yearning to grasp my real integrity. This pain is the key to the door of my heart. I must get over my fears and comforts and walk right through.

I get the real strong feeling that I am standing outside of the place I need to be. That place is full of the pain I need to embrace and transcend; my mother's pain, my esoteric pain at being torn asunder by the misuse of my free will, sending me plummeting away from Your love, embrace, and smile.

I hesitate constantly to enter into this space, taking baby steps, waiting for the push, praying that I don't drown when I enter that cold water.

Fear and pain are what I need to see most clearly, for when I hide by my rotten instinct, I lose access to their cathartic gifts. Just dive in, but keep the anchor set to the love of your friends and brothers, who will pull you up when you need to breathe.

Not a lofty beginning, so tentative
Apple juice, a little wine, hiding behind my mom
During a summer storm
Still the scared little boy despite all the books I've read
It's worse to be lost when you don't even know you're lost
Not too heavy, take the light of your brothers' hearts
Give what you can to heal them and take what they give you.

The momentum of their grace and your gratitude
Will get you on the path before you even know it.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Bhagavad-Gita: You Are Not Your MInd

From my good friend and fellow monk Gadadhara Pandit Dasa at the Huffington Post

Have you ever wondered about why your mind works the way it does, and how it comes up with all of its scattered, random and half-organized thoughts? Where are all of these thoughts coming from, and what's the reason they are there? Many of our thoughts originate from experiences we've had in the past, but the mind will also come up with dreamlike scenarios about events that have yet to take place in our lives.

We will find ourselves in a scenario for a future event, and we will be fully imagining the experience of what it would be like to live in that scenario. Some of these situations can be pleasant, while others are very nightmarish.

We've all had experiences where we can be eating, sleeping, walking down the street, studying, working, listening to music or even engaging in a conversation with someone else, and the mind will begin to drift away to somewhere else. We didn't consciously decide to let the mind wander, but it did. It just left us standing there talking to someone while it decided to go away for a while. This happens all the time!

This happens for prolonged durations during the dreaming state. Our dreams often seem so vivid and detailed, but they weren't our conscious creations. The mind conjures them up and gets very creative. This brings me to that statement Morpheus makes to Neo in "The Matrix":

Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?

No one willingly chooses to have a nightmare where one is chased by an animal, attacked by a murderer or falls off of a cliff. We can wake up in a sweat with our heart beating a million miles an hour. It becomes obvious that we weren't in control of our thoughts at that time, and that we are rarely ever in control of our thoughts at any time.

The Bhagavad Gita describes the tendency of the mind as follows: "For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his mind will remain the greatest enemy."

By referring to the mind as a friend or an enemy, the Gita treats the mind as if it were something different from us. Many times it can sure feel as if someone else, or even a whole group of people, is carrying on elaborate dialogues up there that have little to do with our present reality.

Many Hindu texts create a distinction between the physical body, the mind and intelligence. The mind is often compared to an impulsive child who isn't capable of making proper decisions, and the intelligence is likened to a parent that helps the mind choose the appropriate and healthy course of action.

A mind that isn't given proper attention and is allowed to run wild can cause havoc in our lives. The uncontrolled mind is the sole source of fear, stress and anger in our lives. We've all had the experience of recalling instances where others might have physically, financially or emotionally hurt us. Even though we tell ourselves that "it's over and that there's no need to continue to remember such instances," we find that the mind forcibly brings these thoughts back to the forefront of our consciousness.

The Gita explains that we can either become liberated with the help of our mind or completely degrade our consciousness. Believe it or not, the choice is ours. It may be possible to avoid unpleasant situations, uncomfortable places or unfriendly people, but the mind isn't something we can escape.

The mind lives within us and controls our thoughts, emotions and actions. We go to sleep with it every night and we wake up with it every morning. If we're going to spend that much time with someone, doesn't it make sense to develop a friendship with that individual? The question arises: How do you develop a friendship with someone that you can't see or touch or really even talk to?

First of all, we have to acknowledge that we have a mind and not that we are the mind. Second, we need to be able to admit that we have very little control over the mind's activities. Thirdly, we need to know that we're never going to have complete control over the mind.

Of course, we're not talking about controlling the mind in some forceful, unnatural way. What we want to accomplish is a harmonious relationship between the mind, intelligence and the soul, so that these different components of our being can be on the same page more often. This will lead to a happier and more peaceful existence. This, of course, requires training and practice. Nothing worth achieving ever comes easy.

During the mantra meditation session that I lead at Columbia, I encourage participants to incorporate a regulated practice of meditation into their daily lives. After all, we make time to clothe and feed the body, so why not take time to feed and nourish the mind? Even a short regiment of 10-15 minutes a day will gradually reduce the hurricane-like winds in the mind and grant the mind greater levels of focus and steadiness, which is something we can all use a bit more of.

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Humble Musings Of The Manhattan Monk 6/19/11

I have a confession.

I am a unrecognizable fallen soul

I am lost, bereft of the embrace and the company of my Beloved. My whole being is saturated with this forgetfulness, yet by the mercy of a few powerfully kind soul, I am a getting a glimmer of what I should know, of who I should be. Rays of truth pour into my heart-space challenging me to come home.

Part of my great work is learning to call out to You from the depths of my heart, in every Name I chant. My distant voice aches. I long to see You again, but I am so broken, so disconnected. Even writing these words has no juice.

I have to build the house of my heart again to live with You there.

"The Prison Of My Own Isolation"

I rot and dwell in the prison of my own isolation, but I find myself kicking at the iron bars, demanding my liberation. No longer do I want my heart to be locked up in this cold cell, where it cannot taste a warm embrace.

No longer do I want to sit alone in my castle. What good are the gifts I keep there, if you can't taste their splendor as well? Why am I so selfish? To solve that riddle means confronting the pain of the lie of my whole existence. I hate that pain. I hate its searing obviousness, and in my castle I keep all this at bay. I live in a fairy-tale that no one wants to read.

I am so high up in the tower of this castle that your suffering heart is inconceivable to me. Para-dukha-dukhi is a foreign language to me, as abstract as string theory. My compassion s distant and amorphous, entirely theoretical, without the force of action, touching nobody and no one. I cannot walk the walk. I can barely even talk the talk. Cut off, floating up near the clouds of my mind, in the turbulent airs without meaning and substance.

Rays of truth poke into my heart, challenging me to come home.

Where do I find this truth? In the simplest gesture of care. In giving up my time, my selfish pursuits, to open my voice in the gestures of honest-to-God communication, my eyes in the expressions of affection. I can find my heart in your heart. I earn the affection of your heart by giving what little of the simplicity of love that I have.

Get out of my head. Get into the ground of my being. Get into the heart.

You are knocking at the door of the prison of my isolation. For once, I am willing to answer, to bring you in and offer you a cup of tea. You want my pain, to know it and to help me transcend it. I pray simply for the courage to peel away these layers of pain around my heart-space, to free me. I need your help.