Karnamrita.das's blog

Hiranya-kashipu’s Disappearance Day (Lord Nrisimhadeva’s Appearance)

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Merciful Lord Nrisimhadeva

I am only half kidding with today’s blog title, yet I am trying to make a point, as you will see. Specifically, this is the day we celebrate the devotion of Prahlad, his constant remembrance of Krishna, and Krishna’s assuming the fearsome, though ecstatic, form of Lord Nrisimhadeva to protect and glorify His pure devotee. However, we can also feel a kind of gratitude to Hiranya-kashipu, for without his demoniac nature, and trying to kill his son, we would have never heard of Prahlad, or seen the practical demonstration of the Lord’s love for his devotees. Great souls are glorified by their struggles and victory over adversity. In every great life story there must be an antagonist which allows the hero to shine. Although unimaginably powerful, Hiranya-kashipu also represents our tiny selves, or our personal rebellion against God, and—to put it nicely—those less than ideal qualities in our heart that we as devotees, or sadhakas, struggle with. Thus, in our material conditioned state, we can think of our dark side like a mini-Hiranya-kashipu, and pray that the Lord slay our “anarthas” or our unwanted conditioning, such as lust, anger, greed, enviousness, etc. We are fortune to have both good and bad examples in the scriptures, so we will know our ideal, and what we want to rise above. Everyone can be our teacher!

Simple Profound Truth

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Sitting in the quite sun room
joyfully bright after dark days
clouds, rain, even a late frost
killing leaves or plants too tender;
afternoon fading sun, trees gently sway,
thinking of our sharing time together
trying to give you a good read
wanting to attract creative energy
the “Cita” or reservoir of wisdom
akin to Jung’s collective unconscious mind.

Yet I don’t have to fabricate
extraordinary stories, events, actions
I only have to observe and remember,
praying to uncover the veiled message

Encouraging Words

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Everyone falls short, or doesn’t progress as fast as they would like, on their spiritual journey. Can we ever think we love or serve Krishna sufficiently, when even great souls consider themselves deficient in devotion? Therefore, I always feel it is essential to portray my struggles as well as successes, so that devotees will be comfortable accepting and acknowledging where they fall short—at least with a select group, or a confidential friend. If we hide behind a veneer of external practice and trying to look good, without admitting and sharing our struggles, we won’t be able to hear how other devotees have dealt with similar problems. Some devotees think they are the only one with a particular challenge or sensual weakness, but if there was more honest sharing of experiences, devotees would see that while the exact details and degree of intensity vary, most of us have many of the same issues and struggles. To make spiritual progress we must be introspective enough to understand our strengths and weakness, as well as where we are now, and what the goal is (so we can remain fixed on it). There is a time to hear and chant about Krishna, and a time to be real about our material attachments and lack of spiritual standing. We only get to steadiness and taste in bhakti through being conscious of, and retiring our anarthas, or unwanted ways of thinking and acting—and that is a long, winding road!

Spring Meditation

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Every year I’m so inspired by the feeling of spring as I watch its gradual unfolding like the stages of a lovely flower, from bud to full blown petal perfection, or a step by step, most profound, yet accessible concert, which carries one to a moving experience, difficult to convey to others. While the basics of earth, plants, flowers, trees, insects, animals, wind, sky, clouds, sun, moon, and stars are obvious, how they affect and teach me by the power of Krishna’s seasonal changes, can be challenging to express in fresh ways. This is my challenge every year as I am stirred by spring and the various natural transformations, yet because I have the desire to share something meaningful with you, making the endeavor to serve and give, I find new inspiration. This is what has come to me:

The cultivation of spiritual life is like setting different small parts of special lenses in place which enables us to view life from a new and deeper perspective. Beginning with the premise that there is a God, we are eternal souls having a relationship with Him, and that this is a purposeful universe gives us insights completely different from thinking consciousness is simply chemical, electrical reactions, and that life has no meaning. As quantum mechanics in physics has taught scientists that the act of observing something changes the phenomenon being observed, life reflects back to us according to our faith or belief about existence. This can be expressed in the words of Krishna in his Bhagavad Gita [4.11],

The Appearance Day of Lord Ramachandra (Ram navami)

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baby Ram, napping
Saturday March 31th is the appearance day of Lord Rama (in the USA, please check your local Temple for other parts of the world). Such a day for any incarnation of God is not called a “birth” day since God is ever-existing and primeval. Their “birth” in the material world is only a superficial ruse, as much as an actor exists before going on stage. Queen Kunti in her prayers in the 1st Canto of the Bhagavatam explains this: ”Being beyond the range of limited sense perception, You are the eternally irreproachable factor covered by the curtain of deluding energy. You are invisible to the foolish observer, exactly as an actor dressed as a player is not recognized.”

"In the eighteenth incarnation, the Lord appeared as King Rama. In order to perform some pleasing work for the demigods, He exhibited superhuman powers by controlling the Indian Ocean and then killing the atheist King Ravana, who was on the other side of the sea." Shrimad Bhagavatam 1.3.22

Unlike conditioned souls such as ourselves who must take birth out of karmic force and necessity, incarnations of God manifest themselves upon the earth to execute many special purposes or “lilas” (divine activities). His lila is fully recounted in the great epic, Ramayana as well as briefer accounts in other Vedic texts such as the Srimad Bhagavatam. These lilas are not myths or just stories as the mundane, faithless scholars would have us believe. They are spiritually powerful pastimes of God, meant for our welfare and the benefit of the entire universe and great devotees never tire of hearing them.

The Holy Name Carries our Life

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At our monthly “japathon”
six hour japa opportunity
sitting down with devotees
power of combined focus
like buzzing bees chanting
our primary spiritual practice
potential to go deeper
the beginning and end
recalling, calling to, Krishna;
alas! but I struggle
to rise above sluggishness
yet chanting keeps me
Krishna pushes me on.

O Guru/ Radhe, Krishna
allow me to become
a real devotee servant—
forgive me, help me:
forgive my failings/faults
help me rise higher

Finding Treasure at the Garbage Dump

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For one who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me, I am never lost, nor is he ever lost to Me." [BG 6.29-30] Surrounding the land fill, as I prepare to dispose of some waste products from our throwaway society, a small mountain range grabs my attention, displaying sensational rocky cliffs, and providing a strange contrast to my business at hand. As I put on my work gloves, before I begin my tossing, I look down in the dumpster to find an extremely stained, beat-up set of couches, once someone’s prize possession, now waiting to be squished and compacted. This has given me a dramatic commentary on the material world of impermanence and transformation! Looking up into the sky I see a beautiful sight: huge puffy white clouds gently floating by in the deep blue sky, seemly closer than at home due to this higher altitude, yet feeling more powerful and thus prominent.

No matter how many times I see clouds, I am in awe of them, and I wonder, especially today, how to share my inspired vision. Although clouds are in everyone’s experience, many wonders can be lost by narrowly focusing on our pressing needs for living, while being oblivious to the larger context of life which surrounds us. Yet to me, clouds and the wind which moves them, are really inconceivable, reminding me of the Supreme Law Maker. (Sky and clouds in an old children's song, are colored like Krishna and Balaram.) Science may be able to describe the mechanics of the wind and clouds, but certainly not how they seem so esthetically pleasing to me, or the brilliance of this system to distribute water. To top of these thoughts, higher in the sky and directly overhead, are turkey vultures, one of the largest birds I know of, enjoying their gift of flight, beckoning us all to soar in our unique contribution to the world, and for the glory of God.

Could You Know Your Soul, and, In Pursuit of God, Joyfully Embrace Problems? Part 1

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With or without spiritual life, we will experience the miseries of the material world such as disease, old age, the death of our body or a loved one, seemly untimely. Unexpected stuff happens—guaranteed! Our car is totaled, we are injured, our house burns down or is submerged in water, or someone steals our possessions. People disappoint us. Leaders act inappropriately or give up their spiritual practices. Someone who inspires us dies. Relationships go sour. Chronic diseases plague us. Money is scarce, or we may experience any number of problems—and after we have dedicated our life to becoming Krishna conscious! Such events may make us question our connection to bhakti or to Krishna and we feel discouraged or depressed, as human nature tends to blame God for our suffering. Thus, it is essential to be conversant with the scriptures and note the apparent reverses suffered by great souls, and how they go through them and depend on Krishna throughout. In fact, they are teaching us how to live in all circumstances.

Could You Know Your Soul, and, In Pursuit of God, Joyfully Embrace Problems? Part 2

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One of the original and great motivational speakers in the United States, and the father of “positive thinking,” was Rev. Norman Vincent Peale. He tells many interesting and instructive stories concerning his responses to people who approached him for help and spiritual counseling. One person in particular he recalled so poured his heart out complaining about the countless problems he seemed to always encounter, that Norman considered he needed a profound teaching example. The man expressed that if only he would be free of his nasty problems, then surely he would be happy. At a certain point, Rev. Peale told him that he knew a place where the people had no more problems, and he enquired if the man would like to visit there. The man replied with an enthusiastic “yes.”

They drove silently for 15 minutes, and pulled into a long driveway. “Here my friend,” said Norman, “is a place where the people have no more problems.”

The Spiritual Basics Must Be Mastered (And it takes a long time!)

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I
It’s the basics revisited
I write about it often
spiritual life 101—yet again
I know the theory by heart!:
“We are spiritual beings
covered by body/mind.”
Oh, it seems old news
I am such a mature devotee.

Though truth be told
realization is difficult
a long education process
of trial and error repeatedly,
naked truth of embodiment
the laboratory of life
hearing it frequently
thinking it over carefully.

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