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Experiencing Krishna while Living in the World

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Krishna is the taste of water photo Krishnaisthetasteofwater_zps85d68b30.jpg [Originally published on July 1, 2013, though the topic is timeless, the endeavor constant]Two of the top difficult things to understand—out of many—for new readers of Bhagavad gita are the personhood of Krishna, and his Universal Form. Of course they are related, since Krishna reveals that the Universal Form comes from him, and is a manifestation of his energy as the material world. In particular this display of the Universal Form (there are others), though inspiring to show the greatness and inconceivableness of God, is also at times ghastly and fearsome, and as a form of time, “the destroyer of the worlds,” all of which may be disconcerting. While Krishna is both the creation and annihilation of everything he is also the seed of all existence, the life of all that lives, and the soul of our souls, so we have to look at the whole picture before being able to evaluate who Krishna is.

Krishna could have demonstrated his nature as the creator and maintainer by showing baby animals, lovely human children, beautiful scenes in Nature, the universe being incredibly sustained and flourishing, but specifically to get Arjuna’s attention, he wanted to encourage Arjuna in his duty of fighting by showing him that the great warriors he had to fight were already killed by Krishna’s power--in fact we all must die, our bodies that is, at our allotted time. For conditioned living beings, the Universal Form teaches us that the material world is temporary, and not really suitable for eternal souls to live, since bodies, planets, and the entire Universe are constantly changing, and will ultimately be vanquished. The point is that Krishna is present in all things and, through his energy, is everything. His greatness is all-sided and unlimited, manifested in the subatomic dimension and as the whole universe—in the micro and macro-cosmic level. For us imperfect and limited souls, he can be experienced in what we can observe. Though we can’t perceive his spiritual form, or even our own souls, we can, by the grace of the Bhagavad Gita, Shrimad Bhagavatam, and the mercy of the devotees who live by such revealed Vedic literature, “see” him, specifically in “…all opulent, beautiful and glorious creations…”[ Bg 10.41].

In what follows I will share some highlights of these manifestations of Krishna from the Bhagavad Gita, which is another version of the Universal Form, or Krishna’s material form.

An Example of What’s Wrong with Modern Medicine

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When we are sick and not getting better we may imagine going to some kind of medical professional who is knowledgeable, compassionate, and knows something about our medical history—even about us personally. Today this seems more of a fantasy we cling to, or hope to encounter if we have a lot of money to spend for the best care available.

Some months ago I visited a clinic in the next county, as this was recently given to me by my new medical insurance. During and after this experience, I had firsthand experience of is wrong with the American medical system. Let me recount:

Walking through the door to the desk, a sign informs me that I need to sign in. After doing so, I look up at the busy workers behind the counter, hoping someone will notice me. The minutes tic off and I wonder if I am invisible. Closest to me are two ladies busily engaged, one on the phone, and another on the computer. Behind them are 3 other women busy with conversation, and behind them are 2 other ladies with their back toward me, busy with data entry. No one notices me. After about 8 minutes I am checked in and told to take my seat and wait for my name to be called.

In the building directory two doctors and nine nurses are listed with various titles. In the front office I counted nine office staff and there must be more inside. I wonder what the payroll is for all these employees.

Narada’s Previous Life Demonstrates His Dependence on Krishna

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[Originally published on July 24th, 2012](The final installment of the 3 part series.) One of my favorite accounts in Shrimad Bhagavatam is Narada’s sharing of his previous life with Vyasadeva in the first Canto. This volume was all of the SB that was published when I became a devotee, and I have read it more than any other passage. Still, even with whole 12 Cantos of SB in print, I still find this story very inspiring. I like biographies anyway, and “coming to Krishna” stories are especially interesting and relevant to sadhakas (practicing devotees of Krishna). Although Narada is an eternally perfected devotee, he still has this aspect of his life as a way to teach us about the essential importance of Vaishnava blessings and association to jump start our spiritual lives. Narada embarks on the pilgrim’s journey to attain spiritual perfection, and he seems like one of us as he faces a personal tragedy which catapults him toward Krishna. We read how he depended on Krishna in all circumstances and was not independent in his endeavor to successfully meditate, but had to abide by Krishna’s timing for perfection.

True Independence Comes from Dependence on Krishna Part 2--False and Real Independence Taught by Ajamila

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[Originally published on July 14th, 2012]After setting the mood with six verses and excerpts from Shrila Prabhupada’s purports in part one, in the next two blogs, I will do my best to unpack some of those ideas through appropriate stories from the Shrimad Bhagavatam. The foundational understanding to gain the most from this, or any Krishna centered talk or writing, is that our lasting identity is spiritual—we are eternal awareness, or a particle of consciousness imbued with the serving tendency. Presently, by identifying ourselves with the material body and mind and their attachments, we are forced to serve the needs of physical survival, and are also led to fulfill our desires for enjoyment and accomplishment. By conditioning, we think fulfilling our personal desires is freedom, yet our proclivity to be attracted to specific material tastes is relative to the type of body and mind we have—not to our spiritual selves, or who we truly are. We are the perceiver or animator of the body, but have a different nature than we are currently identifying with.


Last month there were two important occurrences in my life which I feel the need to share.
First, I've managed to finish reading the whole Srimad Bhagavatam in Sanskrit, which took me 10 months (two months less than planned), with the result of a very good inner feeling, higher awareness, a sort of transformation. So if you'd want to try some longer vrata, you can try out this one. With a chapter a day it'll take 335 days. Two transliterated verse-only versions:

True Independence Comes from Dependence on Krishna

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[first published on July 8th, 2012]Since "Independence Day" in the USA was is July 4th, I gave a class about the idea of real independence from a spiritual perspective. I will share some of the points I made in this and a second blog. To begin with, material "independence" is an illusion based on our forgetfulness of our spiritual nature. Since we are tiny parts of Krishna, our normal condition is to be under a superior shelter. Therefore, we can only work under the power of His energies, either consciously through bhakti (internal superior energy), or unconsciously through the modes of material nature (separated inferior energy).

Spiritual dependence is the true reality and secret for peace, happiness, and fulfillment. Real independence comes from total dependence on Krishna by seeing Him as the Supreme Source of everything in our lives and the world. Krishna is the supreme proprietor, enjoyer, and dear-most friend of all. I explain these points through six verses from the Gita with some of Prabhupada’s purports and then I ran out of my allotted words, so I will give practical examples by sharing spiritual narrations from the Shrimad Bhagavatam in my next blog. I then end with some prayers from Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakur that speak of how to practice seeing Krishna as our supreme maintainer and protector.

Date with Destiny--Saved from Death--Enlightened by a Deer

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 photo 11055331_10205628611428053_2405937437644898940_o_zpso1lbxysi.jpg[Reposting from yesterday a fictional retelling of an event I just experienced] Thursday is shopping and errand day when I travel a radius of about 20 miles to purchase some organic vegetables, dump garbage, occasionally give away stuff at the Goodwill, and take care whatever else needs to done in nearby, exciting Sandy Ridge—like go to the bank or post office. As I was driving away from the bank, I thought that this had been a normal day for me. Rising at 4:30 AM, I began by reading some of Yamuna Devi’s biography and then Shrimad Bhagavatam. As often happens, time seems to shoot by and I have to rush to take my shower and prepare to wake the Deities, and begin my japa, or personal chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra on beads.

By 6AM I was chanting. My wife joins me between 6 and 7. This morning I was happy to have almost finished my quota of “rounds” on my beads by 8 AM. At that time I begin the breakfast offering as part of my worship, and then bathe my Shilas, or sacred stone manifestations of Krishna. At slightly after 9, my wife and I honor the Lord’s prasadam or the food which has been prepared for our Deity’s pleasure, though according to our necessity and diet, while we get some morning sun on our deck. Then more reading, finishing my chanting, emails, making a few posts, and it is time to leave for my outing. Today I had to leave earlier than usual since the store I buy the organic produce at was closing early.

On the open road the sun was brightly shining with those beautiful, white puffy clouds, gently moving across the sky that inspire me so much. Another typical hot summer day. I was thinking about the fact that while I pray to be free from my anarthas or unwanted mentalities or attachments, sometimes my mind would like to have them. We have so many parts of our conditioned identity. While ideally we remain in our best or core self in the mood of goodness, sometimes our parts take a primary voice and role in our life and we may do, or at least think about doing, what isn’t helpful for our spiritual progress, even degrading.

As I was lamenting this fact in myself, I heard a loud thud, and saw a deer to my right that was obviously the cause of the sound, being hit by my car.

Radhika Raman's Mayapur Seminar on Jiva Goswami's Sat Sandarbhas

Die Before Dying—Move Before Moving: Parts 1 & 2

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Part 1

Devotee: “Hey! Haribol! How are you? I noticed that you haven’t written any new blogs on in quite a while. What have you been up to?”

Karnamrita: “I am good, thanks. Krishna is very kind! For the last two months I have taken a full time job, so I have been recycling, or reposting, my older blogs, which don’t usually don’t get read.”

D: Really, I thought you were retired?”

K: “I wouldn’t consider myself “retired” or tired, but it’s true that I haven’t worked a regular job in many years. My focus has been on my spiritual practices and writing. However, my new “job” over the last two months has been preparing our house for selling. In other words I have been repairing, painting, cleaning, getting rid of stuff, organizing or straightening what we have kept, making our house spiritually neutral, and doing a great deal of landscaping and gardening. While the lion’s share of the work is done thanks to my hiring a devotee neighbor, there are still many small actions that I continue to complete on a daily basis.”

D: “Organizing and getting rid of things. Hmmmm…that is really difficult for me. What was that like for you?”
Lighten your load photo Letting go_zpsoukiow6s.jpg
K: “You are a person like me in this regard. Listen, when we first began taking down our devotional pictures and deciding which ones to keep or give away, along with filling up bags of unnecessary accumulated stuff— to either give to charity or throw away—I actually felt like I was dying.

Devotee: “How so? Sounds intense!”

Karnamrita: “It was very intense, and it revealed much about me, and the spiritual work I have left to do!

Being Run Over by Time or Keeping our Head Amidst the Tempest

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Uncontrollable time
[Republished from November 11, 2012]
Two weeks have passed since my last blog. During this time, I have reflected on the illusive, uncontrollable (though we try to use it) nature of time, of which life, as we known it, is inextricably intertwined. Hopefully we will be drawn to question the force of natural laws on us, and think of their purpose, and controller—the Law Maker. We have our individual life’s timing for significant or insignificant events—sometimes lethargy or stagnation—and then the larger field of our immediate surroundings, our country, and the whole planet, all of which can influence our decisions and how we go about things. We may feel like we are in a stagnant pool, going nowhere fast, or being diminished daily, while at other times we seem to be swept away by events much larger than ourselves or our family concerns. For Gaudiya Vaishnavas, the chaos that may surround and seem to threaten us, points to the lasting spiritual peace within, and the love of the soul for Krishna which enlivens us. Thus the blessing of upheaval or problems can be a motivation for spiritual practice. Life in the material world is always uncertain and changing, like unstable shifting sand, and still we try to avoid, or find shelter from this truth. Firm ground is the soul and its relationship to God.

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