A Lotus in the Redwoods


(this blog is recorded on the full page: quick time player needed)
Mt. Tam looks at Bay Area
[Some persons caught up in the counter-culture of the late '60's and '70's felt that all materiel prospects were void and society's status quo, miserable stagnation. Thus, as if in a life and death battle, they intensely felt compelled to search out meaning and happiness on the spiritual quest, appearing as their only hope. This free verse poem, inspired by the months I spent in the redwood forest in Muir Woods in Marin County (near San Francisco, California), condenses the background feelings of my spiritual search that culminated in Krishna bhakti and continues to unfold to this day, some 45 years later. While my mood is currently much softer than that expressed in this poem, the power of my original spiritual search still gives me energy and reminds me of what is required to make radical life changes for a higher purpose. I was so determined to find the real purpose of my life and to make sense of what appeared to be a mad, pointless, world, that I was willing to forgo everything else to be successful on that pilgrim's journey. Unfortunately I don't have the same level of focused and powerful determination that I had in my youth, though I'm inspired to remember the feeling and dynamism of that time of new beginnings. Fortunately, I still have momentum from the scent of the lotus flow I discovered in the redwoods. I continue walking up the bhakti mountain, step by step, guided by spiritual adepts. There is no question of returning the way I came, from the "Valley of the Shadow of Death," as that road is closed to me, due to some unimaginable good fortune.]

Pensive on a mountain top
looking through modern civilization
almost covered by smog
adrift in a sea of uncertainty
atomic threats and toxic chemicals

no charted course appeals
provided answers are shallow
all paths appear pointless
unlimited choices dull the brain
walking among the living dead
complacency dressed as a virtue
the status quo bewilders me
worldly recommendations disappoint
sensual thoughts and desires frustrate
dogs chase their tail repeatedly
smashed dreams and vain hopes.
Lotus--on the water, but not in it
In the midst of random chaos
where calamities surround me
indifference threatens my survival
out of my bleeding heart
a lotus in the redwood forest
revealing a divine purpose
now covered by madness
Nature’s order reveals The Law
a reason for doing and being
beyond the fast track to dying
yet death impels the wise
on the path of lasting Truth
the Secret of joyous living
awakening the mystic journey
finding meaning in misery
leading to the soul’s home.
Impish but lovely Krishna
Hidden force guides me
a script long ago decided
the spiritual path emerges
when all other doors close
Krishna’s holy name empowers
ten thousand lasers drill
cracking miles of concrete illusion
causing the soul to shine
blessed by gurus and sages
forced to surrender, then choosing
going forward or lost again
staying in Krishna’s embrace
He carries my lacks
preserves my progress
everything serves the goal
the quest of Divine love.
Radha Krishna with sun and sky

Feelings and mind states

Although I have written extensively in my blogs and in my bio here about how I came to Krishna, I have never really analyzed my emotions and reflections on society that prompted me (as mixed with my previous spiritual practice)to take up the path of bhakti. A call for a more detailed explanation prompted this poem. In some ways, for many of us who came to Prabhupada, it seems all other options were taken away, and taking up bhakti appeared as the only choice--on a gut level and/or logically. Although it is often explained away from the sociological or psychological perspective, it was practical example of the Bhagavad Gita's sixth chapter which describes the fate of the unsuccessful transcendentalist.

"Arjuna said: O Krsna, what is the destination of the unsuccessful transcendentalist, who in the beginning takes to the process of self-realization with faith but who later desists due to worldly-mindedness and thus does not attain perfection in mysticism? O mighty-armed Krsna, does not such a man, who is bewildered from the path of transcendence, fall away from both spiritual and material success and perish like a riven cloud, with no position in any sphere? This is my doubt, O Krsna, and I ask You to dispel it completely. But for You, no one is to be found who can destroy this doubt.

"The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Son of Prtha, a transcendentalist engaged in auspicious activities does not meet with destruction either in this world or in the spiritual world; one who does good, My friend, is never overcome by evil. The unsuccessful yogi, after many, many years of enjoyment on the planets of the pious living entities, is born into a family of righteous people, or into a family of rich aristocracy. Or [if unsuccessful after long practice of yoga] he takes his birth in a family of transcendentalists who are surely great in wisdom. Certainly, such a birth is rare in this world. On taking such a birth, he revives the divine consciousness of his previous life, and he again tries to make further progress in order to achieve complete success, O son of Kuru.

"By virtue of the divine consciousness of his previous life, he automatically becomes attracted to the yogic principles -- even without seeking them. Such an inquisitive transcendentalist stands always above the ritualistic principles of the scriptures.And when the yogi engages himself with sincere endeavor in making further progress, being washed of all contaminations, then ultimately, achieving perfection after many, many births of practice, he attains the supreme goal." Bg 6.37-45 I especially call your attention to the first sentence of the last paragraph: "he automatically becomes attracted to the yogic principles -- even without seeking them." That in a nutshell is what happened to me and many others. Hare Krishna!