Japa Workshop Day One.
I have just had the privilege to attend day one of the japa workshop here in Dallas and it is wonderful. There is so much could be said but I would just like to focus on one element, the mood. Upon arriving at the program it was immediately noticeable the loving mood that was present amongst the devotees. Mahatma Prabhu and others very intelligently arranged everything that somehow it produced a very loving mood amongst the devotees.
In my view the primary challenge for the Krishna consciousness movement is to both preserve and understand the essence or spirit of the teachings, and to be dynamic in our outreach. The understanding I have gained from reading Prabhupada and other Gaudiya teachers is that being a devotee means being a compassionate, introspective, thoughtful, and broadminded person, looking for the good in all, while sharing the truth of Krishna in a way that is accessible and practicable to our audience.
Today's world has increased the number
of ways in which people can divide themselves,
separate groups of country, region, religion,
race, ethnicity, gender, likes or dislikes,
sports teams or types of games--all false for the soul!
That small-faced girl lost on the beach was me. I remembered writing the paragraph when I was eleven. I was looking out my bedroom window in the early morning. The sun filled a deep blue sky, unusual for Washington State, yet I was filled with sadness, and tears welled up in my eyes. I felt so alone, as if I didn't belong in this world. I wanted someone to help me through my despair.
By Arcana-siddhi Devi Dasi
"If death led to a better life, would suicide be a shortcut?"
Bhagavatam comes to mind extolling
virtuous questions & answers for Krishna
since life runs on questions & answers--
even in birds, bees, or beasts
though few realize the effect.
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.
Friendships are about giving and receiving, like a dance where first one person leads, then the other, and sometimes it seems like an invisible partner is directing us. Other than a saint who makes no distinctions between people, seeing everyone as a soul, there is some calculation in who we choose for a friend. We see or feel something in them, some quality, attractiveness, that causes us to want to be with them. We are charmed, fascinated, or at least interested to know more, and have their company. We may see some quality in them we would like to have, or they or we may be in need and we are drawn to help them or be helped by them in some way.
Like a baby learning to walk
by repeatedly falling, though relentless
to keep trying; undaunted by failure,
determined to succeed, knowing we will stand,
we must humbly, yet confidently approach Krishna.
After reading Navasi's blog on Pain, I thought of my own psychology, which would appear to be the opposite. I don't do well in suffering and pain. Having grown up in an emotionally and physically abusive environment, I was bent on avoiding upsetting anyone, which to me equaled pain. My psychology helped me become a devotee (which it was meant to do!). I thought after looking at the misery and pain of "normal" material life, that there must be something more to life than this. And indeed there is. Chant and be happy, and sometimes chant and be sad how far we might seem away from Krishna---though it is a life so much better than materialism--and in perfection we will chant and in ecstasy feel separated from our beloved Krishna.
Here are a few important terms we can keep remembering as we think about our chanting: One is that we don't want to have "courtesy japa" which means only officially chanting like some external religious ritual, and not endeavoring to improve beyond going through the motions. This idea is explained by a statement by Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvatis Thakur that chanting must not be lip deep, but heart deep. We have to study all about the holy name, and to begin to see the holy name as a person----Nam Prabhu---the Holy name is Radha and Krishna, though the Name is considered even more merciful!