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Our family photo Karnam Arcana Narayan old from BTG_zpsrq9be3re.jpgBefore I travel to Vrindavan this December I was planning to back up my storage drive for my computer—whoops, too late!!!! I shared some pictures from this drive with a friend and it seems got a worm virus in return, and as a result, all my pictures and writing, including two books I wrote, and one I am working on, were gone the next day. Some pictures are irreplaceable, though the majority are on my blog on and Facebook. Naturally I was sad and disappointed, but in my usual style, I sighed and said, “O well,” and I thought about it philosophically, and wanted to at least get a blog from it.

So here is today’s meditation from the title of today’s blog: Who are you, really? What belongs to you? What can you take with you when your body dies? There are many ways we could answer these questions depending on whether one thinks they are the body, or has experience that they are an eternal soul temporarily inhabiting a body. Even for those, like myself or likely you, who understand we are a soul, can also define ourselves by what keeps us in material existence, or elevates our consciousness.
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To me, this will be more useful, as we may rattle off that we are an eternal soul, servant of God, or Krishna—which is important as a foundation—yet, when we really, deeply, contemplate what keeps us in ignorance and what calls our spiritual progress, this can help us realize the spiritual work we have remaining in even the tiny, ordinary activities of our lives (which also reveal who we are) and why we may be feeling stuck in material consciousness. As Emerson said, "We become what we think about all day long." That sums it up!

Thus, one way I would answer these questions would be to say, that we are our attachments, our faith, what we constantly think about and take shelter of, and what we enthrone in our heart as our highest ideal or goal of life. We take with us the loving spirit and intention by which we give to Krishna, devotees, people in general, living beings, to the world and/or the selfish exploitive attitude by which we harm others or take or hold back our giving or help. Do we see the world as meant for our enjoyment or exploitation, or for loving Godly service? That determines our actions now and our future.

I’m reminded of a story I heard about Prabhupada’s dear Godbrother, Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Deva Goswami Maharaja, who Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada, called, “shastra-nipuna,” or scriptural genius. Sridhara Maharaja, who obviously had extensive knowledge of the scriptures, had a dream where all his vast knowledge was gone. All that remained was his devotional love for Krishna! That is a great teaching dream about what the purpose of scriptural knowledge is! While it's very important to learn and understand the scriptures and words of saints, that is only as good as it softens our heart and fills us with the loving devotional service attitude.
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Am I less without my writings and pictures? However useful I may think they are, I know I can’t take them with me as I leave my body behind. As I prepare for my Vrindavan residence for Ayurvedic treatment and deeper spiritual practice, I seem to be purging many non-essential aspects of my life. This loss certainly came at an appropriate time, during Kartika, when I am doing my best to be more focused on my spiritual practices, and praying to do whatever is required to live in Vrindavan and successfully stay the entire course of treatment, which has both helped many, and proved too difficult for many.

It is said that we can’t purchase a ticket to Vrindavan—the real spiritual Vrindavan, that is—though we may live there externally and not go deeply into its inner reality by experience. This inner, true Vrindavan, is what I am praying to enter, and that will only happen by the Lord’s mercy and the blessing of the devotees. Thus, I will continually ask for your prayers to Radharani, Gaura-Nitai, your gurus, and our great Acharyas to please allow me to enter the spiritual Vrindavan on this trip and be healed of my disease of materialism. Jaya Radhe Shyam!

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GOD TESTS THE SINCERITY, ARDOR FOR HIM, AND STEADINESS IN SPIRITUAL PRACTICE, FOR THOSE WHO SEEK HIS SHELTER:The predilection for sins has been given to test us, in the same manner as money, paddy, a copy of the Shrimad Bhagavatam, etc. are placed before an infant at the time of the first-rice ceremony to see what it takes according to its innate tendency. Before the thread ceremony, too, the Acharya tests the tendency of the boy to be initiated. God's cruelty is what the human intellect apprehends when it is apathetic towards God. If one takes it to be a punishment, it is to be understood that such a one is wanting in a serving temper and in attraction for God. God is the shelter for all. He sends many obstacles and inconveniences to those who wish for shelter under Him, in order to test their ardour and steadiness." [Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada]

"All around Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who is also known as Gaurahari, people began to shout the holy name of Hari. Lord Chaitanya, immersed in His usual ecstasy of love, danced in the midst of them. The body of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was naturally very beautiful. It was like molten gold dressed in saffron cloth. Indeed, He was most beautiful for being ornamented with the ecstatic symptoms, which caused His bodily hair to stand on end, tears to well up in His eyes, and His body to tremble and perspire all over. Everyone present was astonished to see Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's dancing and His bodily transformations. Whoever came did not want to return home." [Cc Madhya-lila 7.78-80]
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