Shack Notes


Shack Notes

6:30 A.M.

I just wrote a letter to a woman newly coming to Krishna consciousness. She asked questions about how to approach a spiritual master. She thought she could get initiated right away, and that there were a group of initiating gurus to choose from who lived in different zones, as it used to be. At first, I felt myself becoming condescending, but then I realized that this person is one of that extremely rare group who has the fortune to inquire into Krishna consciousness. How ridiculous and wrong of me to look down on her. I should cherish her interest and fan the spark of desire to serve Krishna. Assure her that she will be initiated in due course. Impress upon her how serious initiation is. Give her encouragement to pursue it. And don’t rattle off the philosophy, but present it as Prabhupada would have done: with personal concern for that spirit soul.

It is so dark at 7:00 A.M. I can hardly see the yellow page in front of me.

I am too sleepy and superficial to see down deeper. One who is pure can see through all the superficialities and haze, like seeing to the bottom of a clear lake. I see only the agitated surface. But I am tired of speaking only truisms and second-hand knowledge. At least let me speak of the moment and be a devotee.

I have only a few more letters to answer. Then, later today, a new batch of mail will arrive.
The tree tops are blowing, and there is a feeling of rain in the air; but it is just the preface to rain.

I will realize, at least at death, that this incoming mail is my chance to help others. In that sense, it is one of the best services I have in this life. There is no time to tell people what is on my mind. I immediately give out salutations and then respond to their points. But the letters are often official: “Congratulations,” I say, “on getting the realization that you need to improve your chanting and that this is a very important function in your life. Actually, the chanting is the most important function.”
I am trying to get rid of the falsity. Admitting it is a step forward. I really do want to be a friend, to be beside them. Krishna is the center of all, and He came to reveal that; but as we sit in the circle around His lotus feet, we can help each other stay focused on the goal of all our lives.

10:00 A.M.

It is worth it to eke out some honesty here, even if it is not elevated. But your ordinary life? Be careful you don’t claim, “Whatever I do is holy; when I enjoy, God enjoys.” We should approach everything as sacred, and that means “accepting things favorable for devotional service and rejecting those things that are unfavorable.”

The mail is here and I want to pause just five or ten minutes to sort it out. We couldn’t do a full-fledged Krishna Book reading and discussion because I have a pain in the head. This by way of explanation.

God, I love You. I don’t want physical pain, but the world is filled with it. When I get a little of my share, it can teach me a lot.

Krishna, the King, I hear Your lila, and I wish to always do so. When we do not see You—as Brahma could not see You from the shore of the milk ocean, You reveal Yourself in our hearts. I desire that. My desire is weak, but I am trying to strengthen it.

My various strategies—walks, calisthenics, occasional forays into psychology—are all my ideas for strengthening myself to become a better devotee.

O Vaisnava Thakura,
please be kind to me.
Please make me humble
like a blade of grass.
Even Lord Brahma desires this,
and what am I in comparison to him?

Why does it irritate me when others get things I don’t have? Why do I try to tear them down? What am I afraid of?

O infallible Lord, kindly excuse my offenses. I have taken birth in the mode of passion and am therefore simply foolish, presuming myself a controller independent of Your Lordship. My eyes are blinded by the darkness of ignorance…. But please consider that I am Your servant and therefore worthy of Your compassion.—Bhag. 10.14.10

Pain Song

Lie down, baby child,
you’re all right.
It’s the truth time again.
Prescribing methods, medicines will not—
Start again:
Lie down, baby child,
it’s truth time again.
Krishna is your Friend,
and you have to stop. Why? Oh, karma
and other reasons. The eye and head are
filled with roads of pain.
You never should have come here.
Now ice cream won’t help,
and your smooth flowing pen
can’t write this one away.
You can sneak out a few sentences.
But when it’s “Stop,”
then stop.

Lie down,
see the lessons unto death.
And take the time to
be with the One who never
deserts you.
lie down
and give it time
you can’t control.
But blessings abound—
don’t think they come only
when you’re up.

3:30 P.M.

The wood thrush’s song is cheerful, melodious. He is absent this afternoon. Now I hear only the sad, pathetic “whe-e-e” of the pewee. It is a one-note lamentation. The wood thrush has been cheering me on in my writing. With such full-bodied music accompanying me, how could I go wrong? If from the beginning, all I had was a pewee or crows.

Excuse the whimsy.

I have a bedroll in the shack now because I cannot work. I have a headache.

Kana, please hear my call. I am in this world seeking to be with You. You know what it is like for all of us. I am one of a flock of sheep being herded by a most kind and capable herdsman. Now he wants me to grow up, transform, and become a herder of others. At least, he wants me to become some sort of helper and not a helpless dependent. But I should not mislead anyone.

O Kana, is what I am doing a kind of misleading? You see the method in the madness, so please redeem me. Give it the magic touch.

My head is clearing. Now if I could clear my intelligence, the soul could speak. Good news of Krishna consciousness.

It is hot out here today.

I want to be lined up with Krishna and His devotees in my own unique way. I also want to help others do it in their unique ways.

A book just arrived in the mail, a best-seller called Taming Your Gremlin: A Guide to Enjoying Yourself. It is a self-help guide with good advice how to get rid of the “narrator in our head who keeps telling us who we are and interpreting our experience. Your gremlin wants you to feel bad, and he carries out this loathsome pursuit via sophisticated maneuvers . . . ” Great stuff! Sure, I want to get rid of my gremlin, Mister Carson. Please tell me how.

But as I read on, there’s quite a bit about put-downs of religion (“Her gremlin wears a ministerial collar and engages her by preaching to her from the New Testament.”). I can pick and choose through this to learn of my own gremlin, but why?

Another and yet another self-help book. These two weeks are supposed to be for me to be alone with a few valid tools-—to let go if I can and write as honestly as I can toward opening up my Krsna consciousness. I dropped the gremlin book in that box of books I will not be reading.

A humble servitor should be able—if he is liberated—to sing all day like the wood thrush. Does a wood thrush keep worrying, “Is this my false ego that makes me sing?”

If I have got the right thing and the way to the kingdom of God, why am I not happier? It is because I am stuck in the false self, the false concept of life. Can’t let go in the absolute sense. Hanging on to last vestiges.

To be as honest as possible means putting on the page what is actually happening. As Robert Lowell wrote in a poem, “Why not tell what happened?” It would be good if in these weeks I could honestly report remarkable Krishna conscious revelations, constant absorption and bliss in devotional service, getting in touch with spirit. The writing would jump off the page. But if that doesn’t happen, my commitment is to go out to the shack and at least tell the truth. Write what comes, try to be happy, and steer toward Krishna.