Saturday, August 18, 2012


As my plane lands, I try to make sure where to put my legs- where do I stand? Of course I am no pilot, so this is figurative, but one thing this year has really brought is turbulent weather. Good turbulent weather. 
At some point in my childhood I was obsessed with religious ritual; I would go to morning mass everyday, pray my rosary reverently- everything about the whole service was sort of romantic. I studied the lives of Saints. Name a saint and I could tell you how they lived. 
By the will of providence, as I grew up, that romance ended aprubtly when I was practically forbidden to go to Church. It was a subtle forbiddance, but the result was me running away to "find myself."  What I found was the Hare Krsna movement. A romance rekindled! A slightly different mood. With God as the same goal, but awe and reverence not the main point. I was fascinated to know about different ways of approaching God. Loving service was now emphasized. Now go find others who may be spinning in their own cocoons, looking for a similar experience.

So as young monks we romantically took to Krsna's movement, putting aside every other consideration the world had to offer. We were on our way back to Godhead! Young enthusiasm, leave no prisoners, onward spiritual soldiers, march against illusion's snare. It's easy to march when you have a leader in front of you, giving you goals, cheering you on, smashing you, pushing you back to Godhead. 

Then at some point the question came, " so what do YOU want to do for Krsna? What responsibilities can you take? Which shoulder would you like to lend for leaning? Who me? Oh, I thought all you big men would stick around forever and I'll just do as you command? Me? Responsibility? Ok, I guess.

So with what tools I had I scurried along, meeting and inviting others- " leave no prisoners, onward spiritual warriors!"
Then came responsibility: feed em, make sure they're trained for battle, mentally, physically, Spiritually. And then reality hit. Mistakes were made, people were pushed too pushed, etc etc. Fights were fought for the cause of the mission, and in most cases, I wondered if anyone was even listening? So came 2012. The year when it all will end, according to some. Nah, according to others. I braced myself, " if it ends, I'll go down swinging! If it doesn't, I'll stay up swinging! But something had to end. For me. Maybe not the world, maybe not the fight, maybe not even the playful-happy-go-super-lucky me! Immature enthusiasm has to die.

So the turbulence was of my own making; all my romantic conceptions placed before me. I now have to solidify them, or let them go. The love for Krsna must increase, for if I don't mend my shaky relationship with him, I am and will always remain incapable of loving anything! Krsna is the root cause of everything. So should I push? Yes, push those who need pushing. Should I march? Yes, with those who like marching. And prisoners? Yes, leave none. But only if I work in conjunction with pushing myself, marching myself, and freeing myself from illusion. 
Leave aside immaturity. Mature through chanting, through studying the map out of here (Srila Prabhupada's books), through good association, through breaking the chains that weakens the heart.
I think I'll land here:
With the conviction that love of God is in every living entity. Deep within in each heart, under the envy, the greed, the lust, the madness, the pride, the illusion, is that covered spark who knows nothing but how to love. To Truly love Krsna. And what is my duty? To amuse, to inspire to delight, to somehow other reach deep and give what was given me- a chance to have turbulences, to solidify my desire to re love Krsna, to re meet Krsna, to again have it all be about Krsna. 
I think I'll land here. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Lessons from 2012

So far, the first 6 months of 2012 has been, what i would like to call it, a "molding by doing" 6 months. Growing in the Krsna consciousness movement, I always avoided big lessons simply by watching and observing others learn through their own lessons, how to serve Krsna. I would watch my god-siblings get chastised for spacing out, being tardy, being neglectful, or whatever it was, and would try hard not to repeat what they were chastised for. In this way I eluded chastisement by observing. Of course there were times I was also on the receiving end for something I became over confident of, or some other reason Krsna wanted me to learn something. In this way we hope to learn and advance on the spiritual path with a focus- determined focus on cutting out deeply rooted attachments to the material conception of life.
This year, the lessons has been mostly about relating to, or caring for others. When I joined the movement as a teenager, it was all about this mission to give Krsna consciousness to others, it was about the people. We woke up early, chanted, worshipped the Deity, ate, and did everything to prime ourselves for meeting people and being beacons so that through our interactions, people could awaken within themselves an interest in Krsna. As I grew, and that good old Mr. Lethargy and Mrs Complacency moved in with me, it became all about me again. And although I did the same activities, it wasn't from a perspective of "for others,". It was just routine. Or so it seemed.
So back to this year:
I got sick with hives all over my body in Vrindavan in January. Talk about purification. And up until the last week of that three week experience, I had no help from anyone; almost like the people around me were afraid they might catch whatever was happening to me. But when you're lying there for hours, you get to think. And one thing that always came to mind was what is the lesson here. Then I came to the conclusion that I was getting some purification in the dahm. True, but why? I may not know, but one lesson was, I am experiencing this so that I know what someone else is going through in case i stumble upon a new devotee in this situation.

Then I went home to Liberia after 18 years. I spent a lot of time observing my mother and her interaction with others, trying to get a glimpse into my roots- why do I behave a certain way. Sharing Krsna consciousness was always simple for me because growing up I saw my family invite so many people in. There are five us, biologically, but umpteen of us, nurtured and cared for by my mother. There was always, and still is, 18 years later, at least 4 or 5 other people living with us, cared for equally, etc etc. So the asram atmosphere was simple, at least in my head; invite people in, care for them, and now, add Krsna. And give them knowledge so that they can become fearless in the material ocean. One statement I heard my mom say this year: "if you speak truthfully, you are protected by that truth and God."
I learned to be more grateful to people who open their houses to me, and to be clear in my communication. I come from a different country and culture, and so sometimes, although speaking English, some things said could be taken completely out of context- and used against you!

About time and dealing with people, I learned that we have limited time when introducing a new person to Krsna consciousness. For whatever time you have their attention, give them Krsna, be a medium. I'm not there to be psychologist, or fix-you-upper. No. I'm there to show the benefits of focused consciousness- to the extent that I have experienced it. To create good fortune for others, just as someone did for me 15 years ago.
I really learned through some not so good experiences not to waste time. You snooze, you loose. If someone is inspired to do some service, and they approach you, and you have a capacity or facility to help them, do it. Don't hesitate. They slip out of your hands like a castle built upon a sandy beach! *gone too soon* So I have to be sharp and learn urgency. I have seen many young enthusiastic people looking for something to do, and then fall away with the flickering mind simply because I was preoccupied with something else.
Most importantly, as this year goes on with its lessons, I am learning that Krsna is the driving force behind it all. Yes it's hard to see him in everything, and something I see him after the fact that I fell face flat into some fresh cow dung :). Deep inside, as I go through certain experiences and still keep a small spark of hope that it too shall pass, and learn available lessons, I see that Krsna is teaching me like the mother in law teaching the daughter in law by using the daughter as medium.
I must say I can't claim to be that intimate with Krsna, but I want to be; to be dedicated to his mission one hundred percent. And it will happen in due course. And yes it scares the living daylights out of me to ask such a thing, because the cutting of material consciousness isn't pretty.
But in the end, everything will be OK. And if its not OK, its not the end :) 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Be Sure, Be Specific

Imagine, (or just look around and observe) a person in the process of buying a house, a car, a computer; their main concern is the lifetime of said product: how long will it last, how much happiness will I derive from it, what are the specs? Home buyers do termite checks, fire proof test, plumbing, lead poisoning check. Computer lovers look for their requirements, Car buyers look for something as well. People want to invest in something genuine based on information they receive from the authority. Authority gives assurance and faith that the product will fulfill one's desire, and therefore one puts his faith in such authority and purchases the product. The more specific information is, the more one is at ease, or to put it another way, the more one's mind is freed from having to fill in blank spaces.

Now imagine a situation where you went to purchase something say, a car, and the dealer goes into a "don't know, not sure, selling as is, you can't take this car off the lot to test it, maybe, perhaps" rant. A smart buyer would look for something else. ( I should especially know this because I once bought an "as is" car, and after 20 hours, in New Mexico, the car, at a rest stop, rested "as was"). I just wanted something to get me on the road, and being passionate about it, the intelligence didn't kick in.

The Bhagavad gita tells that in this world there is nothing more wonderful as transcendental knowledge which is the fruit of all mysticism, and one who has such knowledge relishes that fruit in due course of time. For both materialists and spiritualists, transcendental knowledge is beneficial. For someone attracted to what the material atmosphere has to offer, Vedic literature like Bhagavad Gita As it is gives detailed information on how a person can live peacefully under certain conditions. This knowledge, when applied properly, will certainly give desired results. For the spiritualist, different stages and processes of self realization is offered, so that at every step in spiritual cultivation, one can also peacefully follow, and see tangible results.

Mental speculation leads to a little more mental speculation, which leads to a little more, and so forth. In such an atmosphere it is very hard to derive deep satisfaction. The mind always wants something more; maybe I should have married her instead, maybe I should have bought that instead, I'm not sure if it'll work, but try it, in theory, this is like this. While watching the news at my brothers house a few weeks ago, the news reporter when asked about a murder trial going on, and what would be the out come responded: " i don't know, but what I can say is maybe...". In this way, I realized, people are always kept on edge. Specificity does not go well in a consumer culture. If things were specific, people would take it and be satisfied. This is not a culture where satisfaction is "guaranteed, or your money back"; and in most cases, when satisfaction is not achieved, you don't get your money back because you threw the product across the room or something. Version 4 of one product comes out and in 6 months, here comes version 5; now watch as consumers abandon their previous versions and rush to various marts, at risks of stampeding over and killing employees of said marts, to fulfill a hole created by the mind- " YOU REALLY NEEEEEDDD THIS! "

So how does one spread a culture of satisfaction in an atmosphere of dissatisfaction? Do you just jump out of the race and move to pleasantville? Do you riot and destroy everything those bad bad people tricked you into? Do you Occupy Earth Street? What to do?
Well, may I suggest looking at where most of the issue started- the mind. take what you have, and from that platform be satisfied. Hear from authorities how to move forward and fulfill your desires. The thing vedic authorities do recommend is giving up the process of mental speculation. Such authorities facilitate not just a good use of your mind and intelligence, but under proper guidance one will blossom as a true individual spirit soul. Ask questions, put the answers into practice, experience the result. Whether your desires are spiritual, material, or you're just the neutral guy in the crowd, the highest authority has given such guides and instructions so that each person can walk away satisfied and assured. Perhaps* we can call it your " one stop specific know it all shop."
I am convinced that this is the heart of the matter- a need to be secure, sure, safe (that over used word), and to fulfill such needs, we have to match it with secure, sure and safe products.
Good morning :)

Sunday, October 2, 2011


For us who grew up in the west, a deep understanding of sinful activities and its reactions were never quite well explained. God hates sin, we were told, and one who sins goes to eternal damnation, never to be reinstated by divine grace- except if you accept such and such person and such and such path. This is the only way. So a person became hard-hearted very quickly and either (a), rejected the idea of someone so unforgiving, and usually for the silliest of crimes, as in the case of a kid like Aladdin who “gotta steal to live, tell you all about it when he's got the time”,or (b) became so afraid of the notion of eternal suffering that they took to religion like stink on funk; fanatically rejecting their own kinsmen if such people behaved contradictory to the laws of God.

Yes, I was in category (a), but couldn't reject God completely; funny enough, after studying his very creation, and the nature of beings. How long can you really be angry at someone? How deep was your relationship with that person anyway? So if I could eventually forgive and forget even the worst of crimes, and God couldn't then, forgive me this sin, I have a quality that God doesn't have... .

I can forgive! Regardless of the persons nationality, religious affiliation, etc etc. So then God isn't a big deal. And no need to worry about that person we so much dread. If I can forgive and God can't, or if I have a form, even though illusory as some may claim, and God is formless, or if I, by my own will can have as many children as I want, but God, that oh so great being, can only beget one, and sorry to say, we deserve eternal hell because we killed him; (well not me, but so distant relative 2000 some odd years ago), then again, I one up God in many ways. No need for God then. But people walk around daily in the material atmosphere propounding such ridiculous philosophies of sinners in the hands of an angry God, or God has no form, or we're all made of chemicals, to name a few. Hm.

Yes I am back in India, and can sit from afar and write this, but that's the point- I can sit. And think.

In the bhakti tradition, God has a different face. A face more acceptable and lovable, not just because the sages needed some being to counteract the above conceptions, but because they have experienced such a personality through deep awareness, action, and full surrender. Srila Prabhupada writes that Krsna wants us more in the spiritual world than we are willing to go back there. God turns no one away. As for relationship, we, us and God, (from now on I'll say Krsna), have a very deep and close relationship; each person on a very individual level. There's something that every being has that only he/she can give to Krsna through loving interactions. And the Spiritual realm is unlimited in space and time, where as the material world is limited, so there is room for every entity in this realm, in that realm. The bhakti scriptures gives us deep information with even deeper realizations from experienced people who have seen that realm and who live in that consciousness.

In fact the many traditions and divisions of faith are there to help a person gradually rise in consciousness from low material sense gratification to high ever increasing spiritual bliss. No one religious tradition has all the answers, rather, each tradition has codes and answers that people can accept in their time place and circumstance. For example math is math, but 2nd grade math can't be taught in the 10th grade. So Krsna is Krsna, but not every one can understand his nature fully. So according to time, place and circumstance, Krsna reveals himself differently. Look at the world, there are some people who you wouldn't just freely hang out with; perhaps because of their consciousness, or qualities, etc. Some we would lie intimately with, while others we'll never let close to our bedroom.

So where does sin fit in? Sin means action that keep us away from understanding our deeper relationship with Krsna. I once saw a sticker which read; “we are not punished for our sins, but by them.” So who's the one doing the punishing? The very person engaged in the sinful act. As you sow, so shall you reap. We are so much blinded by the senses that we see no deeper than the mind; if it feels good, do it. So we go on doing what feels good; the example of the camel chewing thorny twigs applies here. The camel loves thorny branches, and so he eats as much as possible, but as he chews, the thorn cuts his tongue and he bleeds. The taste of that blood mixed with twig then seems ever so delicious for him.

So we forget that the reason we inhabit different forms is due to activities in the past that didn't foster desires for deeper self realization, and if we perform similar activities now, self realization will be very difficult work. Each sensual activity creates the need to do more sensual activities. Sin 101.

Self realization begins when a person asks the simple, but sublime question. “why am I suffering?”

So to wrap up here, from my hideaway in India, real knowledge begins with proper understanding of the self, the supreme self, and our relationship. And acting under the influence of ignorance is the greatest sin, because it keeps us apart from that most amazing personality, Krsna, who is ever inviting us to come and associate with him, tend the cows, play in the dust of Vrindavan, swim in the Yamuna, etc etc. So give Aladdin his bread, he needs it to live, read that book, Bahgavad Gita as it is, and try to apply the knowledge in your life. Until next time....

Sunday, June 26, 2011

From a Love of God Perspective.. free write.

On Farming and stuff...

I overhear and sometimes take part in discussions on the need of developing farm communities so that we can be well sustained in times to come. Mostly the energy in such conversations become tense because most of us don't feel ready to move into that sort of space and change our lifestyles. It takes a lot of work. There's often complaint of it not being practical, or not matching one's nature, or too complicated.
Over the last few weeks, as I prepare a seminar on making new devotees, this topic pops up many times. The reason is not just to feed people and give them a nice place to stay in the country away from the cities, but more on the question of quality. Quality breeds quality. The vedic purpose for samskaras is to produce quality people; quality living, and quality development of one's dormant relationship with Krsna. Regardless of how hard it may be, the quality work we put into something will ensure a quality result.
Evert parent wants the best for their child, and for that, they insure them, send them to carefully picked schools, scrutinize their association, worry about them, etc etc. Love is something that forces a person to act on a quality platform. I've even heard that Mother Yashoda has a special breed of cows that are fed special grass for producing the best milk which will be churned into butter for Krsna. So if we think of Krsna as our child, and we want to give him the best, knowing well that giving Krsna the best in any situation will mean, ultimately, the best for us, then we should consider farming and cow protection a means for giving the best to Krsna. This requires contemplation; and contemplation on service to Krsna means contemplation on Krsna. So from a love of God perspective we should have farms. We can learn from those who have proper farms, regardless if they happen to be devotees or not. When we begin to express our care for Krsna in this way, I think we can develop deep affection for Krsna, which also means for Krsna's devotees. Would I rather give Krsna, my son in the form of the deity, fresh milk from the cow, or milk bought from the store; tomatoes, potatoes or whatever fruits and vegetables bought with harmful chemicals sprayed on them, or one picked from the garden? And as far as hard work is concerned, would I rather work hard for eternal purposes, or for temporary needs? Remember, Krsna lives in a village, not in a sky scraper town. Wouldn't it be nice if we can prepare ourselves for life there, by practicing here? OK, you live in the city, and according to your psycho-physical nature you cannot live on a farm; I suggest supporting a farm, or those who wish to develop one. After all isn't it a duty thing for those who hold houses? And you can come on weekends to the beautiful farm, get your vegetables, get a peace of mind from the city, and show the example for those who have similar aspirations.
Not an essay, just a few thoughts in my mind put on paper.

One more thing before I go... Our Spiritual Master asked for it. Isn't it said somewhere, someplace, in some verse, that by satisfying the Spiritual Master, one satisfies Krsna? And who does it benefit? Us. No one but us. So basically we are becoming lackadaisical in our own self realization and growth.  

Oh Oh Oh.. and...

It doesn't have to be some huge thing. Start simple, start small. But start.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Yes, PULL!

That is the feeling I got after I woke up from this evening's nap. I am about to drive a few ungodly hours to the divine ISV (Iskcon Silicon Valley, or Iskcon Sankirtan Village, as I prefer to call it) and get the association of the great souls who live there. Krsna reminds me through that "pull" from within, that the reason for visiting holy places is not to just see the place, but to hear from the sadhus who live there, associate with them, aspire to BE like them; less one still remains a cow or an ass.

I am pulled from within to BE a devotee of Krsna, and not just go through the emotional joy ride of the "look" of a devotee. You know, that feeling one gets when the dhottis fits just right today, and the chaddar hangs quite well, even as you're dancing in kirtan bliss. I guess it can be applied to saris too, but I wouldn't know much about that in this life time. I did wear a sari for a play, it was worn as a dhotti, and felt quit nice and flowy..... (ok, back to the pull)

When there is proper hearing in the association of devotees, and especially a point that is made again and again, there just must, at least for me I'll speak, be contemplation. Contemplation must be followed by a resolve, a desire to act! This is where one's romantic love story turns into ________ (insert your super hero of choice) and one is faced with wild adventures.

The journey within is far more action packed than the hour, or four, depending on if you watched the extended version, of your Lord of the Rings, Harry Porter, or Temple of Doom. That person who looks so effulgent outside is now faced with the dark road inside. Envy, pride, madness, you name it, they're there to greet you! And the king of the castle, that eternal enemy known as Dr. Evil, wrong screenplay, that eternal enemy known as LUST, is there hiding in the very fabric of your existence. When you thought your had him down by tight sadhana, he popped up in the form of the desire from profit, fame and distinction. So day by day you fight. You dicide that " I want to go back to Krsna, and serve him." Serve him? I guess so. So my lofty idea of wanting to be a cowherd boy or a gopi, or Father Yasoda has to be based on service? PHEW... pause....

Yes, the person I am most envious of and most lusty towards is that person named Krsna, that spy who loves me, that guy who unlike my most beloved wife, son, daughter, friend or whoever, will do anything for me. He'll even sit there with me in the bathroom during my cleaning moments. Actually without his help I wouldn't know what to clean, or where to clean. He even accompanies the worm in that cleansed substance that was just dropped off at the pool; I mean seriously, has your other half fulfilled that part in the "for better or worse" clause?

So why am I envious of such a person? Because I want to be like him, equal to him, I want to BE him. And all I seem to do over the years, or lifetimes, is to make blunders and show how I'll never be him, because he is One without a Second.

So with humility and a resolution to free myself from all this dust accumulated for years on end, I decide to go with the pull, to be a devotee, and not just look like one. To sing for Krsna's pleasure, and not to hear myself thinking that I am singing so nicely. To give Krsna to others and step out of the way, less I contiminate them with my own god project, which wouldn't work anyways since they're on a god project journey of their own.

To finish this rambling, we have embarked on this journey back to sanity, and when Krsna comes in, everyone else, even that lust guy, has to pack up and leave. They all become squatters, and Krsna needs the whole heart, all four chambers, to himself..and you. But like before, he is always there with us at every step. He carries what we lack, and preserves what we have, and he knows how deep we really want to go. He'll take us no further if we don't want it.

This is Krsna. Wonderful Krsna.

"O son of Maharaja Nanda (Krsna), I am Your eternal servitor, yet somehow or other I have fallen into the ocean of birth and death. Please pick me up from this ocean of death and place me as one of the atoms at Your lotus feet."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


cetasā sarva-karmāṇi

mayi sannyasya mat-paraḥ

buddhi-yogam upāśritya

mac-cittaḥ satataḿ bhava

In all activities just depend upon Me and work always under My protection. In such devotional service, be fully conscious of Me. (Bhagavad-Gita 18:57)

Blessings come in disguise, in situations where one might wonder what the h3ll am I doing here, of whats the purpose of all this. I came to a conclusion in my young life that I would like to be a part of a deeper change; a healing change. What's been done's been done, can't change it, but with proper consciousness and action, the future can manifest wonderful things.

As spiritual beings we are part of a greater whole who has a massive plan for reclaiming our love for him. I've learned to bow my head and say ok a lot lately, as bullets from the material energy fly my way. Tapping into spiritual vibrations means tapping into something bigger, beyond our control and surrender means to sit back and let the driver drive. Easier to write, talk about or think about; when the actual event occurs, theory must be forced into action. Thats the fun part. Sometimes you win, sometimes you fail, sometimes you're meant to just not do anything.

I meet people along the way on my trip and have interactions with them, then I leave hoping they were somehow impacted positively. Whatever my actions are, represent that greater whole- I'm an employee now, so to speak, using my facilities to connect others.

Like Arjuna, when Krsna asks him to just be an instrument in the fight and win glory, since all the warriors had already been put to death by Krsna's time factor. So thats what we are; instruments marching in a common band. Marching back to home.

just some thoughts for the day...