Karnamrita's blog

THE BLESSINGS OR CURSE OF A LIFE--THE SEARCH FOR MEANING AND IDENTITY

[reposted from 12-24-16
and revised 7-3-18]
Who are we really—
beyond who we settle for
without thinking too deeply
as most just blindly accept
as normal, conventional identities
that we’ve learned from others
and from our educational system
so it must be true, right?

Is it really a fact that
we’re our past sad or happy history?
What about our genes, race, ethnicity,
our skin color, occupation,
economic status, religious
institution, sect, or sanga,
state or region, political party,
conservative or liberal bend,
or our nationality or home planet—
do they accurately define us?

What about our sexual proclivity,
desires, likes and dislikes,
skeletons in our closet,

A Mixed Bag of Material and Spiritual Tendencies

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[republished and modified from 2014-05-04]
While the experience that prompted this free verse poem wasn’t planned, it was welcome, and seen as an occasion for reflection. Association with saints is desirable for developing good qualities, and yet being with our peers or people in general can also foster our personal and spiritual growth, because in their company who we are as a person is revealed and we may discover part of the spiritual work we have left to do. Anyone can be our teacher if we have the humility to be open to learn, either how to act, or how not to act.

Every day we have the opportunity to learn from life situations, which include dealing with or observing others, whether at work, running errands, attending school or college, or interacting with our family and friends. While it is essential to learn about others, in relationship to them we will learn much about ourselves since people are mirrors in which we project our ideals or see our faults. From another angle of vision, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu also considers our heart a mirror. This mirror is covered by the dust of our conventional (physical) ego and material conditioning which obscures our spiritual nature (soul). In all our dealings we can pray to remember that we are all souls having a physical experience and in this way part of the same spiritual family.

When we have made the decision to give our life to the pursuit of loving and serving Krishna, our life is forever changed. This is true in spite of our inability to walk the path in the most ideal way. To help us have a humble attitude we can remember our life before we began the spiritual quest, or that we all begin life in ignorance. We should know and remember the spiritual goal, and where we are on the map of our spiritual journey, in order to adapt the path to our unique life situation. This is why practical guidance from

Searching for Our Authentic Story—The Holy Grail of the Seekers Quest

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[Originally published on Sat, December 22, 2012 and republished here for new readers] Each person is a walking story—or many stories walking, or blending together. We could think of our combined story like a painting built of layers, upon layers of mixed colors, creating something totally new, and yet the result of what has gone before. Our current life’s narrative is informed and in response to past stories, both our foundational background of growing up, and how we have adapted that story to various stages of our development, leading up to our sense of “now.” Our current now becomes our forthcoming story and is the intersection between the past and future. This is important to consider from the spiritual perspective because our identification with our material story defines us, covering our soul, and keeps us building new stories, or looking for others more appealing.

Think of how you define yourself. Isn’t a big part “who you think you are” your personal story, or the past emotional drama that has created the lens you use to see, or sense, the world? Although our previous lives have scripted our current story (our parents and others are instruments of our karma), we have to deal with our current life’s manifestation of that past karma, and live in present. While it is true that we may have to look back to resolve certain life issues or relationships, our main focus should always be in the present, informed by our spiritual goal. This means that everyone is responsible for their present actions, regardless of karmic inherited tendencies. Otherwise we can always blame the past, cruel fate, or someone else, and be powerless to change, or move forward. Ultimately the problem and solution to all problems is within us. We can choose what story we allow to define us and what story we aspire to be part of spiritually, or everlastingly.

Being Open to Learn Through Humility: Part 2 “The Glory of Humility, and Pride Precedes a Fall”

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[Reposted from 4-24-14]
We continue exploring what could be called the “glory of humility” in this blog with an emphasis that pride precedes a fall. I find much to celebrate about someone who is modest in their attitude, yet competent, and—or—hardworking and sincere. Such a person shines in whatever they do, whether as a great leader, or street sweeper. Even though you won’t find humility or modesty listed on the qualities desired for a job applicant, this quality has always been appreciated, and even more so today since modesty seems extremely rare—even quaint, or archaic to some.

Part of humility is also being authentic and honest in our life—or in our conditioned identity, work, and family, etc., neither vainly proud, nor full of self-loathing. Being authentic means being a balanced human being with a good understanding of one’s nature and a feeling of dependence on God. Unfortunately with the decline of good families and spiritual values many children are raised with glaring deficiencies and poor attitudes that as adults they try to over compensate for. I speak from experience.

With television, magazines, and frenzied social media all hungry for sensational stories, coupled with a busy population awash in (mis)information and infinite entertainment distractions, a “sound bite culture” has been created without much depth, but with much money invested in promoting it. Fame, though still rare, may be easily conferred on someone for insignificant reasons, and is often pursued for its own sake, rather than given, unsought, as an acknowledgement for special skills or good qualities.

On the other hand, persons who do have the advantages of beauty, wealth, social position, or acting or athletic ability, can be full of pride, conceit, boasting, or unwarranted audaciousness. Those in the limelight have special responsibilities because, as the Gita teaches us

Being Open to Learn Through Humility: Part 1

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[reposted from 04-02-2014]
I had the good fortune Sunday to spend time with a devotee friend and neighbor, along with her two visiting daughters—one out of college and looking for work, the other, soon to finish high school and already accepted at a college of her choice. I love to share my experiences and what I have found is valuable with others—anyone who is interested to hear and discuss—but especially to devotee young adults and teens. In my life growing up, and later as a devotee, I suffered for want of wise elder guidance, and basically had to wing it by trail and err.

Though my life has worked out well in many ways, I feel I could have had more skills to help others and be further along spiritually had I had help. Admittedly, we all have our personal journey and ways we are given to learn our own lessons (even with guidance) through personal experience and trying various endeavors. Never the less, I know that having supportive, kind, and experienced mentors can make one’s path more fruitful, one’s decisions better informed—if one is willing to listen. Remembering my own lack of guidance I feel inspired to share what I have learned in life, both my mistakes and successes. This is one reason I write, and in this case, enjoyed speaking to our guests.

I found the young ladies to be very open-hearted and humble. This caused me to think about the importance of humility on our lives. I have written a fair bit about this, as has my wife, but today I am looking at humility as a means of being open and grateful, and how there is real, and shadow humility. I shared with my two young friends that my behavior as a young devotee appeared to many to be humble, or unassuming, and I was willing to do almost anything. However, as I learned in my thirties, my so-called “humble” attitude was more a result of being beaten down by agents of the material energy as well as feeling bad about myself than arising from any spiritual understanding.

Lord Nrisimhadeva's Appearance Day, and the day before, Celebrating the Life of Jayananda

Lord Nrisimhadeva’s divine appearance day celebration is certainly one of my favorite occasions, and I am sure I am not alone in this. Our Christian friends are fond of quoting the Bible that “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” [John 3.16] and we could also say that God so loved his pure devotee in the world that he personally descended to give him all protection.

To this day devotees feel protected by this form of Krishna and pray to him to slay their “anarthas” or unwanted habits of thinking and acting, just as the Lord slayed Hiryanakashipu, the tormentor of his devotee, Shri Prahlad. While Gaudiya Vaishnavas can agree to having great faith in one’s particular agent of Divinity or conception of God—even thinking their path and face of God is the best—Vedic scriptures point to a more inclusive God that reciprocates according to one’s faith, and doesn’t condone fanaticism or war in the name of faith. There is only one God, though like a gem with many facets, the one God has unlimited expansions. “As they surrender to me, I proportionally reciprocate with them.” [Bhagavad Gita 4.11]

The “one path” to be celebrated would be pure devotion and not merely the externals of worship or which name of God one favors which, unfortunately, religionists fight over. How God reciprocates with those who worship him is expressed in many different forms in the religious world and to different degrees of purity. This is to be celebrated as the mercy of the Lord and the types of devotion that exist.

Remembering my Youthful Fear of Non-existence

NUMBER ONE. I am going to reprint a series from 2010 during late April till May 20th, when I spent time with my mom. [What follows after this introduction is from 4-03-10] She lay in hospital bed in a hospice, basically waiting to die, though she didn't really understand that, and kept asking when she was going home. When both one's parents have left the world in biological death, and moved on to another life, that is a kind of initiation.

"Loosing" one's parents (were they ever really "ours?") will obviously mean different things for everyone, but for me, it has been an initiation into a realization, that is more real than the important theory in scripture, namely, that we come into this world with only our karma and any spiritual merit we have, and then leave everything we have worked so hard to accumulate, either in hard material assets or our reputation, and how we are remembered.What we keep is what we have given, or owe for taking, and any spiritual progress we have made. Equally as importantly is our own opinion of our life--do we have unfinished business or unresolved issues including anger or resentment, and, as is often said in those having had a near death experience who underwent a panoramic life review, we are questioned in "How much have I given, how much have I loved, how much have a learned?" Everything else is only a backdrop to our spiritual progress.

Or as personal growth teachers often share, it is not what we have accumulated, how much money we have made, or any number of external signs of success or prosperity, but who we have become in the process in terms of our character, gratitude and generosity. Personally, though I agree with that assessment, I just add the superlative importance of how much we have progressed in loving God, and making spiritual progress from our conditioned exploitive ego, to the serving ego of the soul--that trumps everything.

I am on a plane heading to see my Mom in Palm Springs California in the US who is gravely ill. For the next few days or week I will be sharing my reflections and thoughts.

There is a strong power in being clear about our intentions. In my case my intention is to be a support for my Mom through our natural love from our long relationship at a very difficult time for her. I have to remember my purpose is to extend her compassion, kindness. I need have no other agenda--as much as we have hurt one another through misunderstanding--and be there for her by communicating love, consideration and the mood of service, while within I will pray for her speedy departure from her current miseries, and ideally to have some sort of spiritual awakening.

The Currents of Life, Part 1 and 2

The Currents of Life, Part 1 and 2 (reposted from FB on April 16th, 2013)
Part 1: Have you noticed the invisible currents of life? My experience currently, and upon reflection on past events, is that sometimes it is apparent that I seem to be swept along, lifted up as it were, beyond my will into the air of destiny, on some already decided course, which it is best if I accept, and not fight. I have come to see that our free will and power of choice though very small, can be applied, at least, to the attempt to be as present and introspective as possible.

Thus, I feel it is an important practice to develop the wherewithal to be as aware as possible, like a third-party witness, doing our best to accept what is beyond our control, with the hope to learn. Through “mistakes” or trials by fire, learning and growth are essential outcomes, regardless of external results. Furthermore, as an aside to the main topic here, as an aspiring devotee of Krishna, I know now to also add—or look for—Krishna to help me be present in the moment, by chanting the holy name, or remembering his form, pastimes, or instructions. This is “the life” for those on the path of bhakti.

I am applying this truth, which could be seen as awareness of destiny, or synchronicity, first to a recent, seemingly ordinary event, when I was volunteered, as is done in Facebook groups, to be part of an attempted reunion of Prabhupada disciples, and secondly to the events of my past life, which practically forced me to take up the path of bhakti. A few weeks ago I was implored upon visiting this FB site to share my devotional history. Fair enough, and yet, when I began attempting this, the scope of the writing took on a life of its own, as I have found is often the case, turning into more of a detailed autobiography.

LAST NIGHT THE GRIM REAPER CAME FOR ME

(reposted from 4-14-16)
I saw the grim reaper in my dream,
feeling no fear, I was curious to see him.
Coming near, he pointed his bony, pale hand toward me.
His other palm raised in blessing pose
where it was written, the number 65—my age!
Then with both hands, he pointed to the sky, and shrugged.

Meditation on Seeing Krishna in All Things

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[reposted from 4-10-2010 and included in my book, "The Yoga of Expression"]
Part one: The Metaphysic of Simultaneous, Inconceivable, Oneness, yet Difference

“In my unmanifested form
I pervade the Universe,
though I’m present everywhere
I am also apart from all.” [Bg 9.4]
In the broadest sense
Krishna is everything--
with more knowledge and focus
we learn about His energies.

Within the One Energy
there is spiritual variety
as Krishna is like the sun
his energies, the sunshine.
Here is Chaitanya’s metaphysic
of simultaneous, inconceivable
Oneness yet difference
all-pervading, yet a person.

Yes, the water IS Krishna—
yet NOT Krishna
as we don’t worship water
independently from him.

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