What’s Amazing? Everything! Really? YES!
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Part of the downside, or the disease even, of being an adult in the modern industrialized world, is to lose the amazement and curiosity of a child, becoming almost oblivious to our surroundings in the name of time management, progress, or efficiency. We become jaded by familiarity or thinking we understand things. We also live in a world of overstimulation, and infatuation with newness and change. Our modern gadgets seem to save us time, but then they force us, and we are expected, to move faster and do more, in less time. Many people can’t sit still and “smell the roses,” finding it necessary to multitask even when on vacation, or accompanying their small children to the playground. What used to be part of life’s simple pleasures, like taking a walk in the park, or just quietly sitting, seem like a luxury or waste of time.
I have been blessed with a life which isn’t hurried and is surrounded by the beauty of the countryside. I only have to go out a few times a week, and can be focused on my spiritual practices, service, and self-improvement. We have lived in rural North Carolina for ten years, and I have gradually noticed a change in me. I have slowed down and am more in tune with my environment than I was when I lived in Baltimore and was busy with work and the fast pace of modernity. This is part of the reason that I can write and consider so many topics. As it is said, 50% of life is just showing up. To me, part of showing up, is to slow down, or be present enough, to observe our surroundings—or as Ramdas said many years ago, “Be here now,” or we could refer to this as mindfulness.
For almost a year now I walk to the Krishna Road Temple at around 6:45 PM for a Bhagavad Gita reading group. This time of year it is dark, and although I carry a flashlight, I generally don’t use it. I have found that I can see the street in the darkness from the light in the distance and the few houses on the road. Then I can notice the moon and stars and be more focused on my surroundings. In a bright city, it would be difficult to be so aware of the natural world. In my appreciation of my evening walk to and from the Temple, I considered how amazing my surroundings are. In fact, I have been thinking of all the things in my life that are truly amazing, but which in the past I took for granted. After reading my list I hope you will take some time to think of, and perhaps write down, the amazing things in your life—or that could be if you gave them their due. I would go so far as to say that everything is amazing, but we have become so used to our life and its surroundings, that they seem common place.
Wow, the stars are amazing; the moon; the changing sky; the waves at the ocean.
The sky looks different every day, and I am amazed at the different kinds of clouds and how esthetically pleasing they are—and some sunrises and sunsets are breathtaking in their display of colors and shades of light and dark.
Nature is amazing in its variegatedness. Who can really understand even foot of earth and the complex laws of the ecosystem? Every living being has their assigned duty to make Nature function—how the compost piles transforms, and how the crows and vultures come to consume dead bodies? The changing seasons; the feel of the awakening in spring. The smell of fall, and the sound falling leaves---O, and the sound of the moving leaves in the wind. The feeling of cold on my face in the winter, and the invigorating feeling of cold water in a morning shower. The owls calling at night. What nature will produce in terms of fruit, nuts, vegetables and flowers! O, the wonder of picking figs, blueberries, kale, asparagus, sweet potatoes, and unlimited flowers of all variety.
And trees, especially old growth trees, like wise old sages wanting to give counsel and inspiration.
Our property, which is a hilly four acres, but seems much larger than flat land.
The creek at the bottom of our parcel, where I often sit to feel more connected to Krishna’s nature, and where I find inspiration to write. Each step down to my chair is full of amazing sights and smells.
Radha Gopinatha (our home Deities) are amazingly beautiful and came to us in a special way by the power of my wife’s devotion. And in fact, all our Deities, which include many Shilas (or sacred stones) that have come to me---and the mercy of all Deities. I worshipped many throughout the world, and I can say, they have been supremely merciful and kind to me. When I first left the temple, I thought I was through with Deity worship, but they, obviously, weren’t through with me, and I am grateful….and then I married, “Archana-siddhi,” which means the perfection of Deity worship. How amazing Is that? And my wife, for those who know her, is a wise and loving person and devotee. I count my lucky stars! Amazing grace.
And speaking of amazing grace. How I came to Krishna, that is amazing, as is the story of anyone who becomes a devotee--or is born one and then has to really choose to make it their own! And meeting Prabhupada and his disciples, and then my primary shiksha or instructing guru, who has given me new life….Amazing! And how I have remained a devotee and kept chanting through the dark nights of my soul—through doubts and delusion. And in spite of my less than stellar devotion, Shri Chaitanya and Nitai remain in my life, giving me many devotee friends and associates. O, and the mercy of the holy name in japa and kirtan. Such nectar along with the amazing Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavat, Chaitanya Charitamrita, and the many devotional scriptures and books.
Our move to North Carolina was an amazing story…how it all fell into place…and then how I designed our home. Everything, really, is amazing! So much of a good life and happiness are the labels we give things by being an appreciator, looking for the good even in reverses or difficulties. Our attitude and what we focus on changes our life. I am not speaking of just “Pollyanna,” but what I want to keep in my heart. I have my scars, pain, and sad stories, and I was bitter for a time--more than I would like to admit. Then I discovered that I could be better than bitter, and I could smile on a “normal” day, and look for the positive in the face of adversity. It is a funny thing, we tend to find what we are looking for—the good, the bad, or the ugly (or beautiful)! Adding Krishna makes everything good and amazing! That is the real truth.
This blog is continued in the following comment.