needs your help. This project is maintained by donations, which have been reduced during the pandemic. Kindly consider supporting this very important service project. Click here to contribute.


 photo Know yourself_zpsy1masgez.jpg
FEAST OR FAMINE FOR MANY FACILITIES OR PREFERRED ACTIONS: These days I am in somewhat of a famine, or at least some restriction, in terms of writing, which I consider so central to my life lived in the pursuit of being a giver. This makes me sad, but also brings introspection on the way my life works--a very recommended and helpful practice!

Our lives have their demands which require our attention to properly deal with them. This seems to be just the nature of material reality even for spiritual practitioners in bhakti. Though the ideal of followers of Shri Chaitanya is to be fully absorbed in seva (loving devotional actions), still, we can't completely escape material necessities that require payment and thus bring certain ebbs and flows in our life aspirations. We could also describe these ebbs and flows, or ups and downs, as cycles of life.

This is certainly no big revelation, but for me, at certain times, it is more painfully evident (during the ebbs) then during those inspiring flow states when everything seems divinely ordered and empowered. As always, in addition to just sharing, my intention is for you to think over your own life and how this might apply to you. We can ask ourselves when reading or listening to a talk, "How can I use this," and try to find at least one good point to put into practice. Such openness will help us notice the useful and practical in what others miss due to focusing on the faults of the presentation. This is the meaning of the saying that we get more of, or notice, what we focus on, and how so much of a successful life comes from our attitude and faith. The Gita teaches us that we are our faith, for without faith, we can't do anything, remaining on the doubting fence of the intellect!
Gita Study photo Bhagavad Gita reading group finish all 18 chapters Jan 15th 2014_zpsygzpt28r.jpg
I had a period of about 4 months during which I traveled to Tijuana twice and visited many devotee communities when the flow of being able to share by speaking and interacting personally with devotees was at an all time high for me. Although it might not be realistic, that is how I would like to live, at least most of the time. This is why being able to speak to varied audiences is so important--it forces me to go more deeply into what I understand is the essence of who I am and what my contribution is in this lifetime. As I often say when I speak: speaking puts me on the line to walk my talk.

For me, the best aspect of difficulties or unexpected setbacks is that I become naturally reflective about life in both its shortcomings and assets. I see how much help I require to be able to do anything, especially in sharing essential and helpful wisdom and being able to exemplify it, which means embodying my words with heart and soul, or being empowered.
Changing bodies photo Changing Bodies_zpsgmikf4v0.jpg
When I travel for shopping or due to some special requirement I can't miss the material miseries of the people I observe or interact with. I keep thinking of everyone I meet as this beautiful effulgent soul, and feeling sad for what we all settle for in the material world. How embarrassing!

Bad karmic appearances or restrictions are more evident and in my face, and yet, those more rare good karma types are also at a disadvantage to the degree that their relative material happiness prevents them from divine discontent. Everyone is attached to their body and mind and how they see the world accordingly, and truly whether this is good or bad from the spiritual perspective depends on whether the natural course of their lives awakens the necessity for understanding their soul and its relationship to God.
Keeping a sense of humor photo DSC00769_zpseudmf3fz.jpg
My quest is to be able to help the process of spiritual awakening in others by the person I have become by spiritual practice and grace, sharing that personally or through writing. I know the power of saintly association as it has changed my life, and while I know I have helped many people in the past, I aspire to increase that on a day to day basis--to be the change I want to see. That is my desire and constant prayer, even as I view those less than ideal parts of me, conditioned to think I am an enjoyer and master of all I survey. I have very high ideals which perhaps shouldn't be shared, but that's what I do.

I am in the shower of purification, and every day is an opportunity to progress in the life of the soul, or in giving completely out of pure love for God, which include his energies, and all his parts, the souls in countless life forms. In my best moments, I am fixed on that goal--the other times, well I'm sure you know what I'm talking about, as everyone on a spiritual path is endeavoring to rise up for good. This is my spiritual work.
 photo Karnam and Hanuman 2_zpskaz6ribj.jpg
Forced to Wake Up or Fade Away

Although I love spiritual philosophy today,
inspiring me to keep my faith and practice,
I'm actually a simple, accepting type person,
as for most of my life I didn't think much--
rather I responded to life's prompts and pushes
doing my best to avoid conflicts and stresses
taking the provided choices easily accessible
until my life collided with the '60's upheaval.

Then by force I had to face existential questions
of identity, purpose, meaning, life and death,
an unintended consequence of getting high
which seemed a way to escape myself and choices
an easy path of least resistance and avoidance
which unexpectedly thrust me out of my body
revealing the necessity of spiritual search
to understand my real transcendent self.

Whereas before life was superficial and tolerable,
now I found lessons and teachers surrounded me
my life shaken to the core, a stranger in a strange land,
a new identity confronted me, searching with new eyes,
seeing old views differently, looking for lost treasure,
unable to live the ordinary life of biological urges
or education merely to fulfill the offered status quo
only to mate, have offspring, become old and die.

I began reading the world's mystical wisdom--
from China, India, the Middle East, South America,
& closer to home, Thoreau, Emerson, Whitman
helping me naturally contemplate deeper questions
attracting me to become a wise, sober sage or yogi
not satisfied being merely a consumer of goods
who saw the natural world as foreign and “wild,”
but no, I was a child of Nature, a child of the Universe.

I concluded I had to be a monk in some tradition
propelling me to search the different spiritual orders
Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Yogic, or eclectic on my own,
then meeting devotees chanting Harinam in Berkeley
being attracted, inexplicably by reason or experience
visiting the temple, feeling goosebumps, a dejavu
reading BTG and Prabhupada's Gita, feeling overwhelmed
renouncing, shaving up, “monkified” by the holy name.

Fast forward 45 years to meet cancer on Nov. 2015
remembering how facing death began my divine search
discovering a way to live spiritually and make progress
but then gradually becoming complacent & “religious,”
now brought to my knees, forced again to intensify
reading how Maharaja Pariksit was blessed to face death
with the Shrimad Bhagavatam being the solution to dying
praying to follow him, I must be an example and share that.
Leap of faith photo A leap of faith_zpsmjvrkoan.jpgSpeaking my necessity photo Karnam speaks at Pranadas_zps0pjbvroo.jpg