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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


[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.


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.


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 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 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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THE CHALLENGE AND OPPORTUNITY TO CHANGE! TURNING OUR SHADOW SIDE INTO AN INSTRUMENT FOR GRACE AND EMPOWERMENT: I should mention as a prelude to this blog that while I am a follower of the basic processes given by Shrila Prabhupada and our Gaudiya Vaishnava acharyas regarding the practice of sadhana bhakti--and am in that sense traditional or conservative--in regards to the stage of "anartha-nivritti," or retiring our unwanted habits of thinking and acting, I am rather eclectic, and to some unconventional. However, please don't let that scare you away! There is a method to my madness.

I follow the maxim that whatever can assist us in bhakti can be accepted from whatever source, and as Prabhupada taught, "Judge by the results." In addition to the shastra or scriptural evidence is our own experience, and so I share that here. My reasoning is based on my own experience as a sadhaka (bhakti practitioner) coming from a rather violent alcoholic family, and from working with others from difficult families, which today is more the norm than the exception. This is important because it presents special problems or challenges to the ability of devotees to give their full attention and heart to chanting and other bhakti practices. The recommendation for going through anartha-nivritti given by Shrila Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakur, in his Madhurya Kadambini, is by sadhu sanga (associating with saints advanced in the path of bhakti) and pure chanting.

Not taking away from the importance of these practices, and trying my best to follow them, and encourage others to follow them, it is obvious to me, as well as my wife who is a trained therapist, that many devotees need additional supportive help to be able to take advantage of those core practices. That is a long discussion I have spoken of frequently in my blogs, but I thought I should mention this before going into a description of my current study. Not everyone will agree with me, but I have to share with you what my wife and I have found useful and empowering for devotees who we work with, and in our own lives.


Invisible, though, constant change photo TA0465_zps3849ee53.jpg
I have written so much about writing because it has helped me greatly in my development as a person and devotee. The process of writing forces me to think and reflect, an activity that doesn’t come easily for me. I rarely took time to think or ponder the deeper questions of life—or my life—growing up, and didn’t begin in earnest till my existential crisis between 18 and 19. Then, after taking up the life of bhakti at 19 ½ I went back to my old pattern of not thinking or reflecting about myself. This continued until I was forced to reevaluate my life and move out on my own at 33, which began my examining my life, trying to understand myself and healing from my past.

At that time, I began journal writing which was a process of self-discovery and beginning to find my passion (even as mine is very gentle and understated). I still have those journals which I continued for over 20 years, and I continue to keep one for helping me think on certain subjects. Writing a blog on 11 years ago brought my writing to another level, and while I don’t consider my writing very well crafted, it has improved greatly over the years

Writing for a blog forces me to think, so even if no one reads what I write, it is good for me. What is of primary interest is growth on the human and spiritual level and how those two aspects of a sadhaka’s (spiritual practitioner in bhakti) intersect. My wife and I joked last night that our household “news” was that we had to run the dishwasher—so that type of maintenance I don’t share unless it has implications for growth, or has created some kind of challenge or given me some insights.

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