We had a small gathering at Viraha Bhavan. Because of Covid-19, the devotees stayed out of the house and sat under the sycamore tree and honored a feast. I spoke to them, introducing the reading that Krsna dasi gave from the Krsna book on an amplified sound system from the house (about Radharani’s mad talking to a bumblebee). I recalled my first and favorite description of Srimati Radharani. He gave it to us in 1966. It is like a mantra capturing the essence of the meaning of Radharani. He said, “Radharani is the greatest devotee of Krsna—because She loves Him the most.”
(On Radhastami, I heard the devotees singing this song while they performed arati/offered the feast to Radha-Govinda)
(from Stavamala by Srila Rupa Gosvami).
radhe jaya jaya madhava-dayite
karunam kuru mayi karuna-bharite
O Radha! O beloved of Madhava! O You who are worshiped by all the young girls of Gokula! All glories unto You! All glories unto You!
You who dress Yourself in such a way as to increase Lord Damodara’s love and attachment to You! O Queen of Vrndavana, which is the pleasure grove of Lord Hari!
O new moon that has arisen from the ocean of King Vrsabhanu! O friend of Lalita! O You who make Visakha loyal to You due to Your wonderful qualities of friendliness, kindness, and faithfulness to Krsna!
O You who are filled with compassion! O You whose divine characteristics are described by the great sages Sanaka and Sanatana! O Radha, please be merciful to me!
Krsna and the boys were enjoying a picnic lunch on the bank of the Yamuna. They were very informally and blissfully joking and exchanging foodstuffs their mothers had given them. Lord Brahma saw this pastime, and he was astonished that Krsna was just like a cowherd boy, and that He wasn’t even clean but just playing as an equal with His friends. He actually knew that Krsna was his master, but he harbored a doubt as to how He could be playing so much just like a small village boy. So he decided to test his own mystic power against Krsna’s. While Krsna was alone searching for the lost calves, Brahma came down and kidnapped all the boys and calves. When Krsna came back to the place where they were gathered, He saw that they had all disappeared. He began to think what had possibly happened. In His omniscience, He decided it was the work of Brahmaji, and He decided what to do. He expanded Himself into each and every cowherd boy, with the same exact identity of that boy. Then He went back with the calves and boys to their homes in Vrndavana. The mothers discovered they had a very much increased affection and love for their own children. They had always kept a desire that Krsna could be their child, and now Krsna was now actually their child in the form of their sons. This mystic trick played by Krsna was unknown to anyone; even Balarama did not know about it. After almost a year, Krsna revealed the secret to Lord Balarama. After a minute of celestial time, Lord Brahma came back to the scene on earth and discovered that Krsna was playing with the same boys that he had taken away. He looked in the cave where he had put the kidnapped boys to rest in nidra-yoga sleep. Those boys were still there, but then how to account for the boys Krsna was playing with? Brahma became bewildered.
This much I heard from Bhurijana at the Govardhana Retreat. (To be continued)
I received a note from a devotee who offers me his humble obeisances for bringing his father to Krsna many years ago. It has allowed him and his partner and child to follow in his father’s footsteps—“Forever in your debt, son of Mark Stokes, Matura.” Bhaktivinoda Thakura has said that a Vaisnava is known by how many people he brings to Krsna consciousness. I cannot claim to have brought many people to Krsna consciousness, but this note of thanks brings me joy.
Prabhupada began publishing the mantras and purports in Back to Godhead before he came to the USA. Now I am listening to a series of lectures he gave in L.A. in 1970. He is speaking on the important verse where the devotee is praying to the Supreme Lord to please remove His glaring effulgence so that the devotee can see His actual form. The Isopanisad is definitely a theistic treatise and not an exposition proving that the Absolute Truth is impersonal.
fling (n.): a casual try or involvement
: a casual or brief love affair
: a period devoted to self-indulgence.
Krsna consciousness is not a fling. It is a lifelong commitment undertaken by persons who want to devote themselves to God in devotional service. Krsna consciousness is not a period devoted to self-indulgence, but a life of surrender, giving up self-interest, and acting for the pleasure of Krsna and guru.
insuperable (adj.): incapable of being surmounted, overcome, passed over or solved [insuperable difficulties]
The difficulties of the material world are insuperable. No one can overcome the stringent laws of material nature. The material world is compared to a fort (Durga). It is well fortified, and one cannot get out of the repeated cycle of birth and death. The only way to overcome the insuperable material nature is to surrender to Krsna and the pure devotees, give up one’s own attempt to lord it over, and live as a servant of Krsna and guru. Only then can the insuperable material laws be overcome.
inadvertent (adj.) 1: Not focusing the mind on a matter: INATTENTIVE
2: Unintentional [an unintentional omission]
Inattentive chanting of the maha-mantra is known as pramada (madness). It is one of the offenses in chanting the holy name. It is the root of all the other offenses. One has to control the mind and bring it back from its wandering, and fix it on hearing the syllables of the holy names. As Prabhupada said, “Just hear.” Inattentive chanting can be overcome by mental discipline and crying out to Krsna.
“As I try to take a vigorous morning walk, the peewee signals to me from overhead. I’m hearing the 1969 ‘Yoga System’ lectures by Prabhupada. He says that Krsna is in everyone’s heart, and a devotee should be compassionate to all living entities. He should give them education of their eternal relationship to Krsna. Prabhupada mentions even the cat, and says we should give it krsna-prasadam. We should not think that each living entity is Krsna the Supreme, but he is related to Krsna, and therefore we see Krsna in him. It is like seeing the father in his son.
“Prabhupada’s example of the cat is appropriate to farm life, where cats live in the barn and drink the cows’ milk and sometimes hear the holy name. As I heard the taped lecture, I passed the retired cows, who are also recipients of Prabhupada’s mercy. But I wondered about the trees, the birds, and insects.
“After that 1969 lecture, Visnujana asked Prabhupada if it was a ‘vision’ or ‘association’ by which a devotee saw all living entities as part of Krsna. ‘It is a fact,’ said Prabhupada, ‘not a vision or association.’ And he further explained that the spirit soul in the cat’s body is as good as any spirit soul, but due to misbehavior, past karma, he now lives as an unfortunate species. Thus by ‘paramatma vision,’ the effulgent spirit soul, as well as the Supreme Lord, dwells in the smallest human child, in the beasts and birds and even in the plants. A pure devotee always thinks how to give the deprived spirit souls knowledge of their relationship to Krsna.
“In this same lecture Prabhupada also spoke of determination in practicing yoga. He said that determination is a bodily consideration; celibacy makes one strong to persevere. He said that if we try for a goal and do not attain it right away we should not lose determination. This is an appropriate meditation for me, since I have been trying for almost a year now to get well, without success. He said we should be confident that we will succeed sooner or later. Or if we do not succeed, then it is Krsna’s will also. ‘Even with the best doctors and medicines,’ said Prabhupada, ‘a patient may not get well.’ If that is the case, then it is the ‘neglect’ of Krsna, Krsna’s will.
“Crying without shame,
singing like you are the best bird,
talking some mysterious three-note code,
all right peewee, don’t distract me
from hearing my master’s voice.
I’ll hear you later,
come in the afternoon when I’m down.
When I hear you just right
it gives me a hint
that even a small bird
is standing somewhere
full of life.”
“Appearance Day of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura
“This morning I rose early, and while starting to write I got an idea. I decided to move to the temple at Potomac, Maryland in order to help encourage the devotees to develop the project. Krsna Gopala’s proposal that the Potomac property be sold is partly based on sound reasoning, since the project is dispirited in many ways. But this challenge has moved me to go and protect the property rather than allow them to sell it. I’ve had to consider many different things, such as my health, where I would live at Potomac, whether the doctor would come with us, and whether I can actually endure it. But I think it’s right. So I’ve written a letter to our zonal committee asking for their blessings.
“At present, Potomac ISKCON is not a very inviting place for a manager, just some acres with mostly shanties and a bunch of dispirited devotees. Managers sometimes call working at a project like this ‘babysitting,’ but my intention is to go as a preacher, and in that sense it is a wonderful field. There are many Indians, many Americans, many devotees, and the dream of a project to be built there—a Vedic temple, guesthouse and householder facility, which will take years of success before realizing.
“Neither have I failed to reason that a main service is writing. That can also go on, perhaps in an inspired preaching role. I may give up the special sweetness of Gita-nagari nature walks and healthful privacy, but I may get in exchange something even more valuable, a better contribution by me to the movement.”
“Sitting indoors this gray day,
watching a photo of Prabhupada
with his two-day beard (looks
like he’s walking in Vrndavana)
I’m waiting for a meeting.
“A Godbrother has charged me
for not being close to him.
He wants to be my friend.
Do I withhold it? No,
but what can I give?
“Let’s read Bhagavatam together,
then I’ll come alive.
Let’s go out and preach together,
then I’ll come alive.
But don’t be disappointed, friend,
If I can’t give you a certain post,
or if you don’t get from me exactly what you want.
Be patient. It can’t be forced.
Friendship/love comes gradually.
“Today I spoke with the new devotees: ‘I want to help you grow up in spiritual life without calamities.’
‘Whatever strength I have comes from my spiritual master. Nowadays we are recognizing more how Srila Prabhupada is the one acarya we are all depending on. I express it more openly, but my own role is not diminished. What we need is to not be pretentious and try to insinuate that we are liberal, pure devotees. Admitting that we are depending on Srila Prabhupada, there is full scope for work as a guru.”
“In his Bhagavatam talk, Brahmananda mentioned that to please Krsna one does not have to be very poetic or literary; in fact, one does not even have to be literate. He then laughed and said that perhaps he shouldn’t be saying this in Potomac ISKCON, the home of Gita-nagari Press and the devotee who tends so much to literacy. I encouraged him and later remarked how the spiritual master of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was himself illiterate, yet he was the greatest devotee. Literacy is not needed, only devotion. I was not threatened by these remarks because I feel in my own conviction that writing is my service. Certainly literacy used in the service of Krsna is very much in our sampradaya.
“I like to produce Krsna conscious literature. I like to think that when I have to die the writing will give me a consolation: ‘Yes, I am leaving something in this world which will help others.’ Of course, I like to think my books will not be destroyed by holocaust—at least a few copies may remain—I really have a sense that books are permanency, even though other things may blow up, become captured, censored, burned. So we should spread the books out.
“It may be my karma and therefore I am trying to use a material tendency in His service, or it may be His direct will for me, that I, a jiva, serve Him in this way. I think writing books is the way for me to grow. I have not received any direction from my guides to contradict my strong tendency. It is what I can do, and it is a potent way. As Prabhupada wrote,
“‘The first duty of a person in the renounced order of life is to contribute some literary work for the benefit of the human being in order to give him realized direction towards self-realization.’ (Bhag. 2.2.5, purport)”
“I’m carrying a notebook that I’m calling ‘In favor of staying with Every Day, Just Write.’ I’ve been keeping it to encourage myself to maintain the format of Every Day, Just Write. It also contains some of the doubts I have about the format. This morning, as I completed a section of Every Day, Just Write and considered the next–which will be written in Vrndavana–a question arose:
“‘Writing is my service and my preaching. Gita-Nagari Press is publishing the books, and we will distribute them. People appreciate them. For example, Narayana-kavaca wrote to me saying that I am not trying to tell western people to become Indians. I write from a western mindset. He said I am writing literature as superb as any western art. I am delivering Krishna consciousness. I’m presenting myself ‘naked’ before my readers, and my book will have an impact on them, especially for readers in the future.
“‘I have a responsibility. I want to deliver the goods. Therefore, my question today is whether the ‘effortless’ true-to-self, true-to-today touch that I’ve developed in EJW is at all a way for me to relinquish the responsibility of trying to create literature.
“‘When I rise at midnight I give Srila Prabhupada his Dictaphone and think, “You are writing your bhaktivedanta purports. I am going to write too.” Is EJW just for me? Or am I writing my equivalent of the bhaktivedanta purports?
“‘By that I mean: is my writing worthy enough for others to read it? Will it help them in their Krsna consciousness?’”
“Dear Satsvarupa Maharaja,
“Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. I finally managed to read all of your manuscript, Resting in Mendocino. You have asked me to peer-review it. What I can see is that you are a very, very glorious fighter. You go through a period which is physically challenging, and there were some obstacles in your life. Also, your physical situation influences your ability and willingness to interact with many persons. So it does influence your overall wellbeing. Still, you are not prepared to give up. No, you are gloriously fighting to stay connected with your spiritual search, and you express this fighting against all obstacles and accepting your present state in your writings, through which you share your heart with your readers. Your writings are also your sadhana, through which you want to reach your sadhya, your spiritual goal. It is your personal way, your personal service to Prabhupada and Krsna and to the devotees.
“Glorious! That’s all I can say on that level.
“On another level, let me offer a little suggestion. Maybe it is a good idea to discuss with those who are close to you whether to divide your audience into two groups and then administer to them two kinds of writing. For those who are very close and near and dear to you, and who have an interest to follow you in your spiritual search and journey, you might like to give books like Resting in Mendocino, where you write very privately and intimately. For the ordinary readership, which might excel the first in numbers, you might like to write books like A Poor Man Reads the Bhagavatam, which are very easily accessible. This is just a humble suggestion meant to protect you from an uncooperative and unwilling leadership, which might expect one thing and get another thing from you.
“Anyways, after I have given this probably very limited and unintelligent advice, I will go back to my main position. You are worshipable for me and have my great admiration. I know how hard it is to go on in the midst of physical illness, which strains one’s whole wellbeing. You are doing very well in this, and your writing seems to help you. Of course, I am full of admiration.
“This is my two-cents’-worth of peer-review. Unfortunately, I am now entering a very busy phase of my life and will be traveling, so that I cannot communicate very easily in a quality way.
“There’s no need for you to answer this.
“Wishing you all the best and lots of spiritual strength (and please include me in your prayers and blessings) I am direly in need of mercy from the good-hearted Vaisnavas like your good self, since I wish to do big things and am very incompetent.
“Prabhupada was talking with an Indian guest and well-wisher. The topic turned to the publication of Back to Godhead magazine in various languages. Prabhupada was saying that the Indians would gladly read an English magazine, but Prabhupada’s guest said that it would be much more popular if they could publish in Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, and Bengali.
“‘That is not possible,’ said Prabhupada. ‘That is for you Indians to do. But you have no time. You are busy with your daughter’s marriage and you simply advise.’
“‘I am busy?’ replied the man with surprise.
“‘Yes, everyone,’ said Prabhupada. ‘Every Indian is busy with his own affairs. He’ll come and advise, that’s all. Advice is gratis. But he will not do himself.’
“The man protested, ‘No, but—’
“But Prabhupada knew better. ‘No, this is going on,’ he said. ‘I have got full experience that Indians, they will come and give some advice and go away for daughter’s marriage. That’s all.’
“‘Well,’ the man tried to hold his ground, ‘there are various types of Indians, you know.’
“‘That type,’ said Prabhupada, ‘is ninety-nine percent. You’ll advise, but you’ll never do it. This is going on.’”
“On different occasions, Prabhupada explained how the British empire had done great damage to India’s culture. Once he explained the Home Bill, which had ordered India’s gold to London. Even the Mohammedans made their expenditures within India, but the British took away India’s wealth. Then he described how the British sent Indian laborers all over the world.
“‘First of all it was conquered by Indian soldiers,’ said Prabhupada, ‘then when it was to be organized, Indian coolies, Indian laborers. Because they have got Indian men and money, so they expanded the empire. So I am doing the same business— American money and American men.’ Prabhupada laughed to think of it. ‘I am already a great politician.’
“‘Home Bill,’ quipped one of the devotees.
“‘Yes,’ said Prabhupada, ‘but I am not for home. I am for the whole world.’”
“‘Now in old age, deprived of all means of success, humbled and poor, Bhaktivinoda submits his tale of grief at the feet of the Supreme Lord.’ The word ‘humbled’ in this verse is significant. He is forced to his knees.
“It’s not a humility that he has arrived at by natural thought. He hasn’t voluntarily decided that humility is useful and should be cultured. Old age has taken away the illusion which fostered pride in false ego and possessions. This kind of humility can be as genuine as any other. We also know from the Bhagavatam verse, yasyaham anugrhnami, that it is Lord Krsna who humbles the devotee by crushing his material life. The humbled man is humble. He grieves not simply because he has lost his money, beauty, and sexual power, but because he has been pursuing an illusion of material happiness. He weeps because he has wasted his life and not worshiped the all-attractive Supreme Lord.
“This is true of me to some degree, but I can’t see it. Externally I wear saffron, carry my danda, follow the four rules, and worship Govinda by the topmost religious process, harinama sankirtana. But internally I am not a Vaisnava. I lead a subtle version of a life of illusion. I appear to be religiously successful. When I confess my wrongs, I don’t feel bad.
“I don’t even see what damage I did to myself in this lifetime before I met Srila Prabhupada. He saved me, but I’m still unredeemed in the core of my heart. I’m satisfied by the relief I’ve gained through Srila Prabhupada’s association and pleased with the respect I’ve received among devotees, that I don’t feel myself a sinner. I have a tiny intimation that things may not really be as I see them, but how can I change my vision?
“I try to skip over remorse and go straight to the nectar of remembering Krsna’s pastimes. Who wants to dwell in the cesspool of bad thoughts and self-recrimination? Rise up!
“. . . Bhaktivinode Thakura is knocking at the door of our self-esteem, so we prefer to admire his songs from a distance. We don’t want to get too involved. We’re positive thinkers. We only want to hear nectar. If requested, we are willing to go through a few songs of theoretical grief, but don’t expect us, full-grown men and women, to get down on our knees and cry. No sir, we don’t grovel, never.”
“We heard cowherd boy pastimes. Krsna shows Balarama how all of Vrndavana worships Him, trees bending down to offer their fruits. Krsna made perfect imitations of the bird songs. He vigorously imitated the dancing of the peacocks and made the boys laugh. Then He ran after the little animals, mimicking them in their fear of ferocious animals. Sometimes they took a break and rested in a nice spot. Balarama lay down with a boy’s legs as His pillow, and Krsna massaged His feet.
“We are not excluded; we are always invited. It is those ‘demoniac’ voices in the head that tell us, ‘You are too dirty to enter here—go away!’ Prabhupada doesn’t say that! And other voices say, ‘Don’t you have something better to do, Prabhu, than read Krsna book in the middle of a busy day?’ O voices, begone! We are hearing of the singing of the bees.”
“Moonlight in darkness, still not cold. End of September, France. I am trying bit by bit to go forward to understand that prayers are our whole life. It’s talking, reciting, addressing yourself to Krsna and Prabhupada throughout the day. It cannot be done, however, in a hypocritical way, or with an intention to put down other activities.
“I have been thinking how to arrange my life so I can cultivate inner life in prayer. At first it seemed to me that I should have as much complete solitude as possible. I do owe a debt to solitude and want to continue it, but I see now that it is not the end in itself. Rather, it is an ideal way to build up the resolution and practices of prayer, which might be neglected due to other services. However, one should want to come out of solitude to serve other devotees directly, sharing our realizations with them, etc.
“Furthermore, a life of prayer is sustained by being humiliated, by being dependent, and by realizing it. In choosing a life conducive to prayer, a position of humiliation (and realization of that position) is good. I was thinking to combine things by living in a quieter temple so that I could have some privacy for these things: reading and chanting and praying, but being regularly with the devotees and serving them. I was thinking of a particular temple where there would be humiliation for me in the right sense: having no big position, having to endure different sufferings and penances there, remaining cheerful through these things. Learning how to offer them to Krsna and realizing that the humble position is best.
“While thinking of an ideal situation for prayer, and also realistically assessing myself as a not-fully-surrendered soul, I will not pretentiously place myself into what might be an even better situation for prayer—with more active service and contribution, and therefore more desperation—because I have to act at my level.”
“Prabhupada states that prayers don’t go in vain, and so in faith we should ask for the spiritual wellbeing of all devotees, that they may become strong and pure. It is not wrong to think of particular devotees by name such as friends, or even those we don’t get along with. And we can pray that the Lord inspire the nondevotees to take to Krsna consciousness.
“Prabhupada himself prayed for us, as he states in a Vyasa-puja lecture:
“‘I am a sannyasi, you know. I came here empty-handed. So you are providing me. What can I do for you? I shall simply pray to Krsna.’ (Hamburg, September 5, 1969)
“During the same visit to Hamburg, Prabhupada asked a disciple to pray for him. When Sivananda said, ‘I don’t think it would work,’ Prabhupada encouraged him, ‘Yes, you are a Vaisnava.’
“So prayer is also for others. Even when we pray for ourselves, it is so that we may become fit devotees to help others in Krsna consciousness.
“Personal prayer goes hand-in-hand with sastric prayer. It is not a remote, unimportant practice, but includes and enters into all aspects of spiritual life.
“Lets not think of vandanam as an insignificant practice. In one purport Prabhupada declares that unless one talks prayerfully with God, his religion is merely theoretical.”
“Isa dasa called. He has sixty speaking engagements for me in Maine beginning on September 7th! That means academic preaching. Introducing them to the Gita. If you speak to a so-called educated audience who do not know the Gita, you have to start with the beginning verses, 2.11 and 2.12, and tell them the nature of the self as transmigrating after the death of the body.
“More and more skeptics think the self is either not to be known or not relevant, and they deal only with external phenomena and behavior. From the Vedic point of view, however, the self as the transcendental knower of the body can be known by a different process—yoga.
“When the spirit soul is realized, there is no question of his nonexistence. Without self-identity there is no knowledge; without knowledge, no happiness.
“Aside from theoretical, logical speculation that there is no self or that the self is not important—people live for sense gratification in a temporary form of life. Knowledge of the eternal self gives us freedom from the sufferings and temporary nature of life.
“People do have a sense of self, but it is a bodily concept: black, white, etc. We think the body is the self.
“Where in the body is the life-principle? Is it the blood? But blood put into a dead man won’t revive him. Or is it the air? A bellows arrangement can’t produce a living person. Is it the heart? No, substitute a pump for a living being and you can’t have life. (The small achievements of science only manipulate the parts of the body in one who is already alive. They do not create life. That is promised ‘in the future.’)
“The nature of life is not open to material investigation. Definite positive knowledge of the self and God is given, and the nature of spirit and matter. The epistemology is also available: how Vedic knowledge is received, nondogmatic but based on the authority of sruti, sabda-brahma.”
“11:56 A.M., August 1, 1996
“Expression of doing the same thing over; dissatisfactions; writer’s block; no subject (writing sessions a form to address this).
“You look back or don’t. Main thing is to practice writing and believe that it will lead to better writing. It’s your service, like Gopi Manjari dasi going on the altar each morning to serve, awake, dress, etc. Radha-Madhava. You get bored, it’s mechanical, you don’t even have faith. All those things occur, but you go on anyway.
“SP said the good disciple sees himself always as faulty. If he thinks he’s first-class, then he’s not a good disciple. Room for improvement. And SP reprimands him. It is good for him.
“I wanted quiet to write in. Not a performance. How will it help you to enter the Lord’s abode? You go past other lokas. There is Devi-dhama (material world), Mahesa-dhama (Siva’s), and Hari-dhama, and topmost Vaikuntha is the center of the whorl, Goloka Vrndavana. Make this in the planetarium. They are studying it and the orbits and it does doesn’t coincide with the observations of modern astronomers who calculate and look with giant telescopes and calculate and theorize.
These things were important to Srila Prabhupada to remove the stigma that KC was myth.
Woke in a strong dream. That is the not real you. Here you are in your room with your writing sessions going on in Wicklow. In one dream we were getting up, inmates of a ship or some place.
“One man was a captain in the Marines. Wrote a book. ‘A military’ he is not. That life is also injustice, Wolff wanted to say. Found myself desiring to look at books of confessions, but haven’t asked for them yet. Most likely you’d put all them aside. What you really want is excellent modern writing. Confession? Maybe. But usually it’s just an autobiography.
“He knows the way
I’ve run out of tricks
time to confess you don’t
know what will please the
Lord, have chosen this way
or has it chosen you, where
you write in practice.
“Run and run, like running monks she wrote about, who vowed to run into the mountains and they would rather die than quit. When it’s not fun you still write. When you don’t know what to say, when before your eyes it’s not coming out KC…
“The left hand has no work to do but pretends to help holding the page. But when you type then it also works.
“Don’t want to draw pictures either, it takes time away from the flow of words. Yesterday I went at midnight for only a half-hour. So, tonight you are tempted to do the same. I said, ‘Give me forty-five.’
“It will look good in print
Krsna will be pleased if you
offer to Him your acts.
“Oh, I could read a little Therese, but she’s so foreign. I need Krsna bhakti, so I’ll read of Gaudiya Vaisnava saints. People, devotees, places, the land, Vrndavana, Mayapur, he told us in his books. And my book was as interesting to him apparently. Then our relationship diminishes in vitality because there’s nothing really to say. . .That’s not true; I can have a friendship with a person who doesn’t read each and every book I publish, as long as he approves of me being a writer and acknowledges it’s a good service that helps people, including the ‘personal’ writing. What can you expect?
“‘Here brother, here’s a five-hundred-page book that I wrote.’ It’s intimidating.
“‘When did you join?’ ‘Oh, I was interested back in ’74. I got initiated by SP in ’77. And second initiation by so-and-so who fell down, but I am not going to get reinitiated.’ There are many in that category.
“Krsna goes to Mathura. The gopis are sad. Read it again. And what the Lord taught in Cc. Oh, I am so familiar with it. Also, the terrain of your mind is no surprise to me.
“Still, pancakes are new and cereal is new, and hot milk sweetened and sunrise. Be in your body growing. Death is new, comes only once in each lifetime and you have no memory of previous ones. If it’s novelty you want, take death, or go live on the street, keep actually changing your situation, experiment with religions like Ramakrishna did, and so we say to be everyone’s servant is no one’s servant. But you’ll be maya’s plaything.
“So, I stay consistent. The sameness is a virtue. And within it you can experience many new things. Krsna Krsna. There is no way out of this.
“With A Poor Man Reads the Bhagavatam there was always a new verse, right? But I felt I was insisting the reader read it. (You don’t do the same with a Writing Session?) And I was not so interested my answers to the SB topics.
“You mean you think it’s just another ISKCON SB presentation of philosophy and then tacked onto it is free-writing?
“Yeah, I think that. I think it ran well for as long as it did, but for now it has stopped. We’ll see later when it’s published.
“Next ideas can be timed books, etc. that come out. Gita-nagari Press has coming out: Gentle Power, Touchstone, Churning (a big one), You Can’t Leave Boston, Spiritualized Dictionary, Travel Diaries, September Catchall – that’s seven right there, and also you have enough for another Radio Shows, another of My Letters From Srila Prabhupada, and we’re talking now of another selection book like Wild Garden, and I’m doing poetry for a 1997 volume. So, I don’t need to write for making books to print.
“Letters, fetters, fritter, fret and wink. I’ll get out of this yet. Forgive everyone, he writes with wisdom. I admit to a lack of wisdom. To being only a fellow who writes what the sastras say and who listens faithfully to his master. Say there is no doubt that we take a next life, and the goal is Krsnaloka because it says so in his books, these ancient authorized books upheld in the living tradition (parampara) carried up to today by Lord Caitanya’s followers. Bhaktivinoda Thakura brought it into the modern age by his books and then Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati ambitiously preached and Srila Prabhupada, lawbooks for mankind.
“Lay off the drawings for a while. Maybe a different approach will come where I seek something – not just for new news’ sake but to feel alive. If by drawing the same thing you can feel alive, that’s fine.
“Yes, this one is tough. Went nowhere at all. Mind not at rest and can’t go deep. Natalie Goldberg workshop: ‘Write about food that you like.’ Okay, I like to eat cereal when it’s got honey and milk in it. I eat a full bowl with some fruits. But many things are always the same and don’t interest me so much. That’s true for everyone, I think. You write in a diary. Say,
I must find strength to face
the sameness for no reason
except you have to go on
so, value the courage to do it.
Wherever I turn I find that I’m grateful,
unwilling to go further.
“I’m feeling fortunate for what I have, yet quietly aware it is very much falling short.
“Do you ‘need new challenges?’ Or you already have the challenge of filling out your vocation as it is?
“‘There is a certain place,’ the storyteller began, ‘where a man grew carrots that were green.’ Or, it’s just a realistic story of ordinary life.
“That’s the way it is. He lost his wife (three times) and the wife wants custody of his kids. He’s got nothing now, so he seeks another wife, but he’s crippled (Andre Dubus). At least he’s got his brain and writes stories.
“‘Oh, listen, listen.’
“You’ve got nothing to say? This is getting like ‘Waiting for Godot,’ admission that aside from strife and enjoyments we’ve got nothing. I don’t believe that, but when I write KC notes to what I read it’s not the same. Why not feed yourself a little now? You don’t have to write this more than five minutes, then take at least ten minutes to read in Cc. before you do japa.
“There was once a bottle, a cork, a life and past lives he can’t remember. The dissatisfaction expressed in going alone, seeking in nondevotee books, not reading so much even in SP, not being able to settle on a form or structure which is after all, a kind of game to give shape to the thoughts you have. Krsna Krsna, I pick the excerpts from SP’s lectures.
“When someone writes you a letter then you have a very definite topic to respond to. But that’s always very private, your reply as well as their letter is just between the two of you. I want material I can write on for publishing if it comes out okay.
“The letters you wrote in Dear Sky. I’ve got a kind of writing block that I’m working out here in the Writing Sessions. Yeah, it may be serving this purpose.
“Spoiled kid who doesn’t like the food his mother is serving him.
“Loses excitement in life.
“Oh, everything is the same. In the last two minutes you make your prayers. It’s not a joke, you have to be reborn. Can you think of Bhagavad-gita? Is it not real and interesting to you? I want to hear the Lord’s words. I am a bored case at the end of the century; fin de siècle used to be a time (end of the 19th century) when people were bored and decadent, jaded.
“That jaded sickness.
“‘Give me an aperitif.’
“‘Let’s travel somewhere.’
“But whatever they do, they have to face the self. So read SP, and you struggle as you would in any other endeavor, but the rewards are much greater—entrance to Krsna’s domain and association as His eternal servant.
“(45 minutes, nine handwritten pages, August 1, 1996.)”
“(This is not a strict writing session but something I did with a fifteen minute interruption in the middle of it.)
“You’d like to write nice things, of course. You pray for one nice project after another. In Vrndavana you wanted a long-term project and got one that gave you quite a few months of steady work. Now you are doing the Writing Sessions. So, be satisfied that you are back into the ‘loving arms that you come to illogically and incoherently.’ Or come to it any way you want.
“We wanted to be sensible. There are enemies and they are listening, and they can put it on the internet. They can publish your secret writings. The confidentiality is an illusion. Don’t say anything unless you wanted it published, or if it’s so confidential, then don’t get it typed. Don’t even read it. (But I want to communicate.)
“Expressed myself in the Writing Sessions earlier today and said I don’t feel much excitement for anything. Everything is the same, etc. Reading the scriptures and writing too. That kind of patch can come, and so you record just as you record any other emotion. One after another. You write and chant, things pass through you. You’ve got the quiet time now, but that doesn’t mean you are always in bliss and all of your thoughts are first-class. It is what it is.
“Certainly, it’s a peaceful time here but that doesn’t mean I can write a book like Paradise Lost or the best work of SDG. I think it would be better right now to look at Wild Garden and Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones.
“(Taking a break here to do that reading.)
“Does a Writing Session follow rules? What if I don’t write the way she says you are supposed to? Can I still count it as a Writing Session? Not really, I suppose. Then you could turn this more into a diary where you write whenever you get a chance. Maybe both full sessions and little diary entries.
“Continue to practice.” I will be going out soon. It’s easy to think of things to do instead of writing. I jump from one of them to another. Everything becomes an escape from writing but that’s okay too if you really don’t want to write. Come back to it when you are ready. Composting. Writing down the things you do and the things you are.
“It is August here but cool as it has been ever since we arrived in June. Don’t expect a warm summer in Ireland. Don’t expect much of anything, just accept what comes. The black keys, the pen for handwriting that I gave up. Oh, you are looking for something, but you have no resources right now. Hare Krsna, don’t give up.
“Don’t give up. That’s the only thing you must learn and hold onto, whether it’s japa or this writing. Don’t give it up. You ask, ‘But what is the value of it?’ Maybe there is no value but don’t give up.
“Barbara McDonald was the name of the first girl I took out on a date. I really didn’t like her. I was twelve or thirteen years old and so was she. You were supposed to take a girl out for this date of a hayride. She was from a poorer family than ours. I was surprised to see where she was living, not a nice house. Even before that, I danced at a square-dance in the town next to ours (can’t remember the name of the town now) with Alice Erickson. Gosh, I still remember the names. She was stouter than me. At least we danced. Those square-dances. It was a success, I did it. I recall it now.
“You should keep trying to write this, memories and confessions, digging up things, the process of writing, the love of writing and taking to KC. Why don’t you read Augustine’s Confessions?
“I guess I could, but I didn’t like it when I tried before. It seemed to be so much rhetoric. He addresses the whole thing to God. I wouldn’t presume to do that. I talk out loud to myself. That seems more realistic. Sometimes I may rise to the occasion and speak to God. But you could look at Augustine’s book, since it’s such a classic.
“Lord, when I die, I want to remember You. I see, however, that I don’t have a taste for it the way I have a taste for raspberries and blackberries and milk and honey. But Lord Caitanya’s pastimes are like sweet rice, and Lord Krsna’s lilas are the like the addition of camphor. Also, the Srimad-Bhagavatam is nectarean juice made sweeter by Sukadeva Goswami. These are the metaphors, and they are true. Lord, I could address a book to You, but what’s the use? I’m a fool.
“I should finish this soon and get myself out for a little walk. Sift through the compost, make entries, get in shape so when it’s your turn the thrilling thing you want to write will pass through you powerfully and honestly. Well said.
“(Three typed pages, starting at 4 A.M. with a break in the middle.)”