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Blogs

THE BLESSINGS OR CURSE OF A LIFE--THE SEARCH FOR MEANING AND IDENTITY

[reposted from 12-24-16
and revised 7-3-18]
Who are we really—
beyond who we settle for
without thinking too deeply
as most just blindly accept
as normal, conventional identities
that we’ve learned from others
and from our educational system
so it must be true, right?

Is it really a fact that
we’re our past sad or happy history?
What about our genes, race, ethnicity,
our skin color, occupation,
economic status, religious
institution, sect, or sanga,
state or region, political party,
conservative or liberal bend,
or our nationality or home planet—
do they accurately define us?

What about our sexual proclivity,
desires, likes and dislikes,
skeletons in our closet,

On Kindness

(this blog is recorded on the full page: quick time player needed)
Photobucket
[republished from 7-21-11] People we meet or know who impress us the most are those that extend us kindness and heartfelt interest. We may appreciate a person’s beauty, strength, wealth, knowledge, fame, or renunciation (qualities Krishna has in full), but if a person is not kind it stands out like a huge blemish. A lessor person who is kind and friendly appears more valuable, and greater. Of the twenty-six qualities of a devotee given in the great Gaudiya Vaishnava scripture, Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita, we find that kindness to others is the very first quality. Therefore, being a being an advanced devotee of Krishna means to be kind by nature. The six Goswamis disciples of Lord Chaitanya were “popular both to the gentle and with the ruffians”. Everyone appreciated them because of their equanimity and kindness.

Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s Appearance—The Exoteric and Esoteric Reasons

(this blog is recorded on the full page: quick time player is needed; works best with Firefox or Explorer; if you are using Google Chrome it will automatically play, so to not listen, mute your speakers.)
Chaitanya and Krishna lila photo ChaitanyalilaandKrishnalila_zps0ffbcc5f.jpg

[reposted a few times from 3-15-14] There are many ways to know a person. One can know a person by guessing what they might, or should, be like, study the person from a distance—say from the Gossip column, Internet, or Facebook— hear about them from others who may, or may not, know them, or we may directly experience the person through a loving personal relationship.

The last way is the best because if we love a person we will discover, and they will reveal to us, all their secrets. It is similar with Krishna. Even though he is both infinite and inconceivable he has the prerogative to reveal himself to those who love him purely and selflessly. In regard to Krishna, and specifically Shri Chaitanya, there is both an exoteric (apparent) as well as an esoteric (hidden) reason for his appearance.

PART ONE, THE CONFIDENTIAL, HIDDEN REASONS:

The closer we come to Krishna the more we will know about him, by his grace. And there are many ways to explain the necessity of the Lord’s various forms and energies. For example, great devotees have looked very carefully at Krishna, and discovered another person, Radha, or devotion personified, who is most dear to Krishna. There is Krishna, and his energies, all of which come from Radha.

And looking even more closely at the Divine Couple, pure devotees have found that Radha and Krishna have combined together to become one, in the person of Shri Chaitanya. Such pure souls, such as the Six Goswami’s of Vrindavan, Shri Krishnadas Kaviraja, and others, have shared their experience with us in their writings, and given us the logic of their love, referenced by the Vedic scriptures.

THE LORD'S DESIRES ARE ALWAYS FULFILLED

If we study the lila, divine activities, of Radha and Krishna as revealed in the Shrimad Bhagavatam and Chaitanya Charitamrita commented on our Gaudiya Vaishnava acharyas including Shrila Prabhupada, we will understand that there must be a Lord Chaitanya to fulfill Krishna’s unmet need. Krishna is perfect, complete, and full in himself, so when he wants to experience something, he manifests a situation and spiritual body accordingly.

A GOOD YEAR

By Bhakti-lata Dasi

When farmers have a good harvest, they say it was a good year. That’s the feeling I have at the end of each and every year; “it was a good year.” For the prison ministry, it’s always a good year! The IPM harvest is always aplenty; this is confirmed by the inmates’ wonderful testimonials and the wonderful things that happen in their lives.

Prayers to the Holy Name

[reposted from 2008-10-06]
My dear Hari Nam Prabhu:

By the grace of Shrila Prabhupada
and my shiska gurus who represent
Lord Chaitanya and Nitai,
(who have brought you in Kali-yuga)
I have been introduced to you
in the process of japa and kirtana.

With whatever humility and gratitude
I can embody, I thank you for
remaining with me over the years,
many of which were quite poor spiritually--
yet you somehow enabled me to keep chanting.

The New Prison Ministry website is LIVE!

iskconprisonministry.org

After years of dreaming of a better, more modern IPM website for the pleasure of Srila Prabhupada, today it finally manifested. I felt like crying out of joy! Kṛṣṇa helped me make this desire a reality by inspiring Svarbhanu prabhu to embrace this project as his service. I am so very grateful to him.

Month of Kartika—Pure Devotion on Sale for Less

(this blog is recorded on the full page: quick time player needed)
Yashoda tries to bind Krishna
[Reposted from 10-11-2011]One of the recommendations for advancing in devotional service is the observance of Kartika Vrata (special devotional practices) especially in Vrindavana, India, or at some holy place, but anywhere that we worship Krishna during the Vedic month of Kartika, or Damodara, which corresponds to October-November. It began yesterday on the full moon and continues to the following full moon. As the next month of Margashirsha represents Krishna, [Bg 10.35] this month represents Shri Radha, who is the feminine compassionate aspect of Krishna. Shri Radha is considered the best devotee of Krishna, and she is both Deity and ideal of devotion for Gaudiya Vaishnavas.

We try to please Radha, and our gurus who represent her, to obtain the favor of Krishna, which means engaging in His devotional service eternally. Our aim is not so much to obtain Krishna, but love of Krishna, or prema, because wherever prema exists, Krishna lives! Thus by the grace of the Divine Couple, Shri Radha and Krishna, Radha’s month is considered like a special sale, where the ordinarily very difficult ideal of pure devotion, becomes easily available for a small price. Ours is truly a path of mercy, though as much as possible we also follow the recommendations in the scriptures for our daily spiritual practices.

When Devotees Leave Krishna

(this blog is recorded on the full blog page: quick time player is needed; works best with Firefox or Explorer; if you are using Google Chrome it will automatically play, so if you don't want to listen, mute your speakers.)
Fighting with Krishna photo Against Krishna_zpswi8zogbf.jpg[originally posted on 1-08-15]
Sometimes we experience great surprise and intense sadness at the unexpected departure from the bhakti path of a devotee we may have been inspired by or respected. Or even if the devotee struggled to follow the basic devotional practices and disciplines, we can still be unnerved when they leave, and then denounce and attack what is still our faith, reinterpreting their stay in an ashram in terms of cultic manipulation and brainwashing. “What really happened?” me may wonder, and how could I have helped prevent this? Sometimes in the aftermath of such a sudden departure, some devotees worry and wonder if it could happen to them, as it brings up their own doubts. This scenario recently happened in a circle of devotees I know, and it caused me to reflect on what it takes to stay on the path, and the various reasons people leave.

When I was a new devotee I experienced one of my friends leave the temple. I didn’t see him again for three weeks until he came to the Sunday feast. Though I recognized him, I was startled to see his expression. He looked like a shadow of his former self when he had a bright faced countenance. Now he had a dark gloomy appearance and seemed unfocused and dazed. I wondered what had brought this about, as if he had just entered a self-created prison.

GREAT LIFE REVERSES CAN REVEAL GOD'S GRACE AND SHOW WHAT WE MOST NEED, WHAT WE CHERISH, GREATLY VALUE, AND OUR HIDDEN STRENGTHS

 photo DSCN0801_zpsfsuw1r9u.jpg [Originally published, 3-28-16 at the beginning of my cancer healing journey]
HOW CAN WE USE OUR SORROW, PAIN OR GREAT LIFE REVERSES TO INVOKE GOD'S GRACE THAT IS HIDDEN BEHIND IT: To be human is to experience pain, betrayal, disappointment, and various kinds of suffering. We may ask, "Why me?" To which I would reply, "Why not you?" We all have our litany lists of wrongs done to us or to those we love. What do we do with this list?

One natural tendency is that we would rather avoid pain than to experience happiness, so in the face of pain, violence, or loss, we tend to either repress it or be angry or resentful about it. I have experienced both of these reactions to life situations. Unfortunately, such reactions are only helpful in the short term, but do little to help us grow as a person, and self-improvement, and ultimately spiritual awakening are, to me, the purpose of life. Otherwise, we have a pointless dog eat dog world, with death being the end of everything.

Could there be some benefit, even great benefit in these experiences? Some will be angry just at my asking this question, and yet, if we don't ask it, we can remain ever in reaction to the past, and keep playing it out in relationship to others.

We also find that even what everyone else thinks is good fortune or an ideal situation can be interpreted by the person in the middle of it as a terrible or awful experience. So while we have all heard this before, the simple yet powerful truth is that our attitude is really what gives meaning to the events of our lives or a statement we hear. This means that we can change our feelings about an experience by changing the meaning we give it, or by using it as a way to improve our lives.

IF NOT NOW, WHEN?

 photo RSCN3935_zpskv4ldrn5.jpg
[reposted from Jan 28, 2017]
There is no perfect time or place,
so if we wait, we will never accomplish,
or sing the song which vibrates our heart
meant to nourish every cell in our body.

To breathe out, one only has to breathe in,
but we can’t hold our breath forever;
so begin today while you are still breathing
because there are no tomorrows or could-bes.

Only a string of nows, do-days giving potential
at least one step of progress on the miles ahead
though even a step back can help us go forward

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