Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Crying For Krishna

About a month later, I'm finally sitting down to write about my experience in Germany. What's that? Japa retreat? You're kidding, right? Oh, I haven't forgotten, but I'm not sure if I'll be sitting down for that one any time soon. Anyway...

One morning, eating breakfast in the Novotel in Aachen, I noticed a little boy one or two years old. He had just suffered a childhood trauma of some description. I'm unsure of the exact nature of the incident, and at the time I got the general impression that he wasn't quite sure either. By the time he had found his way to his mother's lap - all the while crying 'Mama! Mama!' in steady, insistent sob-tones - he seemed to have forgotten what the original source of his distress had been. Not that this dissuaded him in any way from rather vocally taking shelter of his mother's love.

I thought of how much his steady, repetitive 'Mama! Mama!' sounded like a mantra, and I was immediately reminded of how Srila Prabhupada has instructed us to chant Hare Krishna like a child crying for its mother. I also realized how there was something about this boy's crying that was faintly comforting to me, and I think, to him as well. Though he kept crying, and showed no sign of stopping, I felt that he didn't have a care in the world, but was in some way taking pleasure in both the crying, and in his mother's eager reciprocation - satiated by her desire to alleviate his distress.

The boy's apparent detachment may seem odd, but it seemed rather palpable to me at the time, and it reminded me of the nature of our own material strife. If we can follow this example, and take pleasure in crying out the Lord's Holy Name in the same way, the Lord will eagerly reciprocate. Any distress we may have had will then disappear without a trace. Nonetheless, we will continue chanting with the same urgency, feeling the bliss of mutual reciprocation with the Lord of our heart.

Our material distress is completely inconsequential, after all. Just as the pleasures of the body - and the world it inhabits - are illusory, so too are the distresses. The greatest thing the devotee has to fear in this material world is that he may at any time fall into illusion and forget Krishna. But if we are sitting at the Lord's lotus feet, crying out His Holy Names with relish, then what chance does maya have to enter our consciousness?


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

It's Kali-Yuga, Baby!

The last few days have been a little disheartening. If there was any doubt, Kali-Yuga is rapidly advancing: cheating and hypocrisy rule the hearts of men, and we are all casualties, Mother Bhumi included.

It seems that a few people still think that rocknroll can save the world. I read an article in Rolling Stone about the 24-hour worldwide Live-Aid style "benefit concert" that Gore is hoping will save us all from global warming. To be fair, Gore and co. say that they are making every effort to minimize the impact that organizing and executing such a colossal event will have on the environment, but I think it's fairly obvious that the cost will greatly outweigh the benefit.

On Sunday we had two very special guests at the East Hartford temple: B.B. Govinda Swami and Indradyumna Maharaja. The kirtans were deep and beautiful and full of spiritual potency, as were the words of these two venerable sadhus. I wish I could say that the entire evening was a festival of blissed out chanting, dancing, and feasting on the Holy Names, but there was some serious business involved as well. As I'm sure you are all aware by now our brothers and sisters in Kazakhstan have not been faring well of late. Less than a week ago another twelve devotee homes were unlawfully destroyed by local government officials. The rest of the community, including the farmhouses that are giving shelter to some 30 cows, and of course the temple and Deities, may be destroyed at any time. In spite of worldwide outcries from human rights advocates, ambassadors, and politicians including Great Britain's own Tony Blair, the Kazakh government appears to have no intention of changing their present course. B.B. Govinda Swami and others made impassioned pleas for support, and we obliged in whatever ways we could, but I have to say that the whole thing left me feeling pretty close to hopeless.

And a few more cheerful and uplifting stories have passed my way in the last day or so as well...

There's this one about an area of the Pacific Ocean twice the size of Texas that's filled with plastic waste of various descriptions - a sort of floating garbage heap. Then there's this one about some rather shocking behavior in Sri Vrindavana Dhama.

And last but not least, it turns out that the Dalai Lama is not quite the beacon of peace and compassion that everyone seems to think. Read this open letter on Kurma Dasa's blog, and don't miss the accompanying article linked at the bottom of the entry. Apparently, even "His Holiness" is a "meat-eating Buddhist". I would do my part to spread this information around, but I'm afraid that most people would take it as "permission" rather than the dissapointing evidence of hypocrisy that it is.
a-brahma-bhuvanal lokah
punar avartino 'rjuna
mam upetya tu kaunteya
punar janma na vidyate

From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again. (BG 8.16)

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

More Vacation Pics

This one's legit.

I just returned from a few days auf Deutschland. My pop is working in Berlin this summer, so the family all met up for some time together. We spent about a year living in a little town called Julich when I was eight years old, so part of the trip was revisiting old turf, and the rest was castles and cathedrals and the like. Somehow I managed to drag everyone to ISKCON Koln (Their Lordships, Sri Sri Gaura Nitai above) and for an afternoon jaunt to Radhadesh. I even managed to make it to the Sunday feast in Koln.

I should know better than to promise future posts at this point, but I did have one nice experience that I'm planning to share. Right now I think I'm going to have to succumb to the wear and tear of travel fatigue, though. Bis morgen?