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WHO ARE YOU? WHAT IS REALLY YOURS? WHAT DO YOU TAKE WITH YOU WHEN YOUR BODY DIES?

Our family photo Karnam Arcana Narayan old from BTG_zpsrq9be3re.jpgBefore I travel to Vrindavan this December I was planning to back up my storage drive for my computer—whoops, too late!!!! I shared some pictures from this drive with a friend and it seems got a worm virus in return, and as a result, all my pictures and writing, including two books I wrote, and one I am working on, were gone the next day. Some pictures are irreplaceable, though the majority are on my blog on Krishna.com and Facebook. Naturally I was sad and disappointed, but in my usual style, I sighed and said, “O well,” and I thought about it philosophically, and wanted to at least get a blog from it.

So here is today’s meditation from the title of today’s blog: Who are you, really? What belongs to you? What can you take with you when your body dies? There are many ways we could answer these questions depending on whether one thinks they are the body, or has experience that they are an eternal soul temporarily inhabiting a body. Even for those, like myself or likely you, who understand we are a soul, can also define ourselves by what keeps us in material existence, or elevates our consciousness.

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.

RECOVERING FROM MATERIAL EXISTENCE

 photo Arjuna being told by Krishna_zps9wwicpdq.jpg
As I recover from the flu
I realize that my whole life
is about recovering from impositions.

Think about yourself as a soul
with no material identity or externals—
what then belongs or covers you?

The body we are so attached to—
whether we like it or not—
gradually deteriorates and turns to dust.

Our material ego fiercely defends impositions
or whatever temporary position or possessions
we define ourselves by or think "this is me.”

I am a “this or a that,” a created handle

CRAVING TO READ ABOUT KRSNA OVER THE MUNDANE

[Excerpts from two of inmate Bhakta David's letters]

Dear Mother Bhakti-lata,

Hare Kṛṣṇa! My most humble obeisances to you. Jaya Srila Prabhupada!

I am so very grateful for all the books you sent me and I wish there was more time in the day, but I try to read at least fifty pages each day from a few of them. I am learning and enjoying the process so much! I actually find that now I crave reading this Kṛṣṇa conscious material over the mundane. Still, I am but an infant and have very far to go.

SKIN DEEP--DERMATOLOGY REFLECTIONS

Dermatology office photo Dermatologist office 3_zps6usw55oq.jpg
It seems as we age
we're forced to become more
bodily conscious in terms of
keeping the body alive.

Most of our lives we're on
automatic pilot, unconscious
of the limits of physicality,
searching for happiness, a calling.

Sitting in the dermatologist lobby
surrounded by other gray haired folk,

Three Vaishnava Saints—Our Worshipable Family

Bhaktivinode Thakur
[reposted from 9-21-2010] We have had back to back to back holy days commemorating the appearance or disappearance of great saints in Gaudiya Vaishnavism. These include the appearance day of Shrila Jiva Gosvami (sort of hidden by Lord Vamanadeva’s appearance on the same day), the appearance of Bhaktivinoda Thakur, and today, the disappearance day of the “namacharya” (great teacher of the glories of the holy name) Shrila Haridas Thakur.

Though I can’t do them justice especially in the same essay, at least in this short piece the significance of these great personalities can be brought to your attention, perhaps inspiring the need for more research. So please consider this three blogs in one! Though we don’t have to all be great scholars (as was Jiva Goswami), we do need to see life philosophically by being conversant with the basics of a Krishna consciousness outlook on life. Such a perspective will bring us peace and understanding in the current time of great turmoil, violence, suffering and confusion. Even without the difficulties in the larger world situation we all go through problems and reverses that can be seen in light of the Bhakti scriptures like the Gita, Shrimad Bhagavatam and others.

The Way Out is Through

(this blog is recorded on the full page: quick time player needed)
Every year the Vaishnava group my wife and I are part of, The Grihastha (Family) Vision Team, has a Couple's Retreat at the Gita Nagari Bhakti-Yoga Farm in Port Royal, PA. In honor of this event coming up the weekend of September 14th-16th (See flyer) 2018, I thought I would repost this blog about having a balanced and successful family life: This is a follow up to my last blog which spoke about how we can become overwhelmed by, or over-attached to, family responsibilities, and be distracted us from spiritual practice. For the purposes of this blog, “over-attachment” is the key word, although in modern culture this term is practically unheard of—while at the same time “under—attachment,” or neglect of the family is also not recommended. I am speaking about a balanced approach to family life informed by keeping our spiritual goal always in mind, applying the maxim, “always remember Krishna, never forget Him.” In the first chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna teaches us how undue family attachment can cause our reluctance to serve Krishna—in this case to engage in his duty of fighting— because of his identifying his family as himself (my and ours) rather than seeing his family in relationship to his primary relationship with Krishna, or God.

Vedic culture is big on detachment and renunciation, but this has to understood properly and maturely through the eyes of devotion. In the early days of the Krishna movement, it was primarily composed of young single devotees with few married ones, and was strongly influenced by a culture that frowned on married life and all that went with it. Thus families and children suffered due to our immaturity and lack of mature elder guidance. Many individuals went into marriage feeling fallen into the “deep, dark well” of family life, being afraid to be kind and affectionate—so they wouldn’t get too attached—and were practically dooming themselves for failure. A more positive view of marriage and family has gradually evolved, though much work remains to be done to prepare the current generation of "grihasthas", or spiritually minded married couples.

THE MIRACLE OF FORGIVENESS and THE MIRACLE OF A SMILE AND HAPPINESS

Lovely and Stuning Radha Gopinatha photo DSCN5159_zpshdxezxav.jpg
[reposted from 9-7-16] THE MIRACLE OF FORGIVENESS: Much has been written in spiritually themed literature, Vedic scriptures and Prabhupada's translations, and personal growth/self-help books about forgiveness. As a young person and devotee I had no idea how important forgiveness could be. It was only after years of introspection and prayer that I personally understood how important it was for me to forgive important persons in my life and myself.

The topic came up in my reading of the last few days, and I wanted to share some of my thoughts about it. I have done much work with forgiveness—with my parents, for how I was raised, and for myself, for my many personal failings and what I should or should not have done. I looked at all my significant relationships in as much honesty as possible, and also considered that I may have some anger toward Krishna, and my guru, Shrila Prabhupada.

I did find some anger toward Prabhupada and I had a long talk with him to uncover it, and let it go. I have written somewhere about my, in contemporary terms, gestalt type conversation with him. Whatever it may be called, to me it was a very real talk before the Prabhupada murti in Berkeley almost 40 years ago. Before him, I shared and examined my anger and doubts, and I received a simple though compellingly powerful answer to my angst with his physical disappearance.

Krishna's birthday or Janmastami has past----should you care?

On this day, Shri Janmastami 2018, I thought I would repost my very first blog (with a few updates from 9-11-07) on Krishna.com from 11 years ago, as today is a busy day for me on this auspicious day of celebration of the Lord's appearance in the world,and in a personal way, the Lord's appearance in our lives! May today, or whenever you read this, be a blessed, spiritually surcharged day. For many Hindu's and all Vaishnavas Janmastami is one of the most important holy days. The "birth" of the unborn Godhead, who also appears in multi-incarnations to serve his different purposes. According the dictionary Krishna is a "Hindu" god, an incarnation of Vishnu. So should that be the end of it? Is it merely a Hindu concern? If I am Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, agnostic or atheistic, etc., does Krishna or his "birthday" anniversary have no importance to me?

Shri Baladeva Purnima

[Reprinted from August 5th, 2009] Today, Saturday August 25th, is the auspicious celebration of the appearance day of Lord Balarama or Baladeva. As Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Balarama is similarly understood. He is the first expansion of Krishna from which many other expansions emanate, such as the 3 Vishnus and Lord Ananta-sesha. The "tattva" or truth of Balarama is very deep and I will only touch on a little of the ocean of who he is philosophically to give you a taste. In a spontaneous blog such as this I just write about what comes up for me as I think on the subject. In the spirit of "he who hesitates is lost" or "if it is auspicious do it immediately", I wanted to offer something for you now, because if I don't it won't happen, as I am just getting ready to chant my iapa and then worship my Shilas, or sacred stone manifestations of the Lord.

When I grew up there was a science fiction movie, "The Blob" which was some kind of monster which came to the earth from outer space, with a form something like a huge slug though with an undefined shape....so God is not some nebulous form or non-form, he is the supreme consciousness who desires to enjoy himself in various ways. Although God is one--and from one perspective everything is God--he also expanses himself into different aspects to enjoy rasa or enjoyment. Balarama is known affectionately as "Douji" or the elder brother of Krishna, and he has a relationship with him to serve as a friend and parent, or the combined relationships of "sakhya" and "vatsalya". So Krishna and Balarama are identical from the view of being the Supreme Truth, yet Lord Balarama considers himself a servant of Krishna in the above ways and also expanses himself into Krishna's paraphernalia like Krishna's clothes, Brahmin's thread, shoes and all the dhamas or holy places, etc.

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