Free Write Journal #145


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Free Write Journal #145

May 28, 2021

Free Writes

July 3 Festival Update

Our July 3 meeting for disciples and friends will be held at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Pavilion in Stuyvesant Falls, New York. The address is 845 Hudson Avenue, Stuyvesant Falls, New York, 12174.

Here is the tentative schedule:

  • 10-10:45 AM Opening kirtana
  • 10:45-11:30 AM Lecture by SDG and presentation of two new books.
  • 11:30AM-1:00 PM Deity arati and kirtana
  • 1:00 PM Prasadam feast

***

IMPORTANT NOTICE TO ALL FESTIVAL ATTENDEES

The devotees who attend the July 3 meeting should all have had their first and second-anti COVID vaccines. There is time for you to do this.

If you plan to come but you don’t have the vaccinations, then you must wear a mask.

Yours in service,
SDG

Nrsimha Caturdasi

Because I have a serious medical procedure tomorrow, I confined our observation of Lord Nrsimhadeva’s Appearance Day to a family affair with no close guests. But we made a little feast for the pleasure of Nrsimhadeva. Krsna dasi and her daughter Rasesvari made a favorite menu: spinach, panir, and little hot puris. For dessert, Rasesvari baked a superexcellent, special rasmalai cake. In our group out-loud readings for breakfast and lunch, the devotees read from the chapter where Lord Nrsimha kills Hiranyakasipu and the demigods start to offer their prayers. I felt we did not neglect observing the Appearance Day of the Visnu-tattva, although it was intimate. It was also the 49th anniversary of the day Prabhupada awarded me sannyasa.

Sannyasa Anniversary

I received a letter from Haribuddhi dasa, a disciple of Hridayananda Maharaja. He congratulated me and his Gurudeva for receiving sannyasa initiation from Srila Prabhupada on this day, Lord Nrsimha’s Appearance Day (Nrsimha Caturdasi). I remember going with Hridayananda Maharaja in the immediate neighborhood of the La Cienega (Los Angeles) temple to collect guru-daksina to give to Prabhupada. We only collected a few dollars and some change. We were happy on the occasion, but a little embarrassed about our small donation. Prabhupada, however, seemed happy with us and gave us some instructions for following sannyasa. I asked him whether we should offer our food to the danda, and he laughed and said no. When he gave me my danda, he said, “Preach! Preach! Preach!” Hridayananda expressed his inclination to speak to the college students, and Prabhupada approved. Bowing down before him was not a formality, but we did it heart and soul. He was our spiritual master and could send us anywhere in the world, but he seemed content to allow us to stay in the United States and work at the colleges there, preaching to the students and the professors. We made a poster of the two of us titled “Two Goswamis Tour the Midwest.” He read that poster to his audience of devotees at Radha-Damodara, and he said it pleased him very much. He said the Vrndavana audience should also go out and preach. That was forty-nine years ago, and Hridayananda Maharaja and I are still at it, preaching to the students and seekers.

Letter from Bhurijana

Bhurijana wrote me an email:

“Your last Journal struck me as exceptional. Pankajanghri Prabhu and Jananivasa were so much the heart and soul of the Mayapur community. But the community will somehow go on, and gradually only the old-timers will remember him—and them. Time seems to have its way of crushing and whisking away all before its forward-moving path. Sad, frightening, but a good time to turn the temporary to the eternal with offerings of devotion.

“I’m nearing the end of our Giriraja Maharaja’s book. It’s powerful, long, Prabhupada-filled, personal, and truly touching. It inadvertently, although unavoidably, points to the special qualities that made Giriraja so dear to Prabhupada and so beloved to everyone. Great book. Yes, and TKG’s devotion to Prabhupada really shines out as well.”

Bhurijana on Parampara Knowledge

Lecturing on the fourth chapter of Bhagavad-gita, Bhurijana told how Krsna first taught “this ancient science of yoga” to the sun god Vivasvan, who taught it to his son Manu and he taught it to his son Iksvaku. But in the course of time, the succession was broken, and the message was lost.

Bhurijana gave the example of a children’s game they played called “Telephone.” One child would speak a message secretly to another child and tell him to pass it on intact. In this way, the message was passed through a number of children, but when it got to the end of the group, the message was entirely changed and lost. When Krsna’s message was lost, He came personally to reinstate it. He chose Arjuna to be the recipient of the knowledge in parampara because Arjuna was His devotee and friend. Anyone who repeats the message of Bhagavad-gita as Arjuna heard it is hearing authentic Bhagavad-gita from Krsna. But those who interpret it and concoct their own “message” do a disservice to the Bhagavad-gita, and their transmission is useless and harmful.

Mortality

I received a letter from my disciple in Spain, Adi Rasa dasa. He reports that his sankirtana leader, Avesarupa Prabhu, was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer, and the doctors gave him three months of life. He hasn’t stopped his service, and Adi Rasa, his longtime assistant, is with him in New Vraja Mandala, where Avesarupa is staying until the end of his life, not taking any alternative medicine. “He lived like a maharati for sankirtana. (Forty-three continuous years of book distribution.) He will die like a hero.” I am also feeling very sorry for Adi Rasa, who has been a close assistant of his sankirtana leader for many years. Adi Rasa has done the driving of the van, the cooking, cleaning the clothes, etc. They make a compatible team. Adi Rasa doesn’t say what he would do after his sankirtana leader leaves his body. I can’t think of what other service he will take up.

Book Excerpts

Bhakti-lata dasi wrote me from India expressing appreciation for the Free Write Journal because it contains selections, excerpts, from many of my books. She does not have these books in her possession, nor has she ever seen them. I wrote to her that all of my books are available in e-format and posted on SDGLegacy.com, so she can go there and read unlimitedly. There is no cost to download the books posted on SDGLegacy.com.

Japa Trouble

A devotee wrote me that she can’t chant her rounds early in the morning because she works all night and has to sleep at brahma-muhurta. If she finishes her job by 11:00 or 12:00 at night, I suggested she could chant at that time and count it as part of her quota for the next day. But if she needs to chant her rounds early in the evening the night before the day begins, that would be hard to permit it as chanting for the following day.

125th Anniversary

I received an invitation from a devotee in Mauritius asking me to read from Prabhupada-lilamrta for an hour and a half as part of their three days leading up to Prabhupada’s Vyasa-puja in honor of his 125th birthday. I excused myself from doing it because of the timing and the fact that I have diabetes and have to keep a strict schedule. I appreciate the honor of his invitation, but it’s not possible at this time. I cannot sustain such a long out-loud reading (an hour and a half!), so I wish them well in their project.

Medical Procedure

Since I write so much about my visits to medical people, I thought I should explain why I do it. The Free Write Journal includes a record of my life on a daily basis. My readers are interested in knowing what I am doing.

Because I have a habit of choking while I drink water, I submitted to a swallowing test to determine what was wrong. At the hospital, I felt weird sitting with many people in the waiting room, all of us wearing face masks. They had me drink orange juice with barium. Then I ate from a fruit cocktail and then from a dry cracker with some neutral cream on it. All these items were tasty and easy to swallow. The nurse said I passed the swallow test—there was no suspicion of anything wrong in my swallowing their items. I will have a followup procedure called an endoscopy. They will give me anesthesia, so I don’t choke, and pass a scope down the esophagus to the stomach, taking pictures all the way. A doctor will look while the scope is going down to see if there are any aberrations.

Urology

I had an appointment with Dr. Subudhi, the urologist. The good news was that the urethra and prostate channels were open, and there was no retention in the bladder. He prescribed some Lasix medicine. The bad news is that the Lasix is a strong diuretic to take water out of the body, water which manifests mostly in swollen hands and feet. I can expect to be passing more frequently and with more urgency, which means more incontinence.

Proofreading the Journal

I’m proofreading this week’s Journal. There are a few typing mistakes, but on the whole it’s clean and interesting. Most of the book excerpts have never been seen before. They were written so long ago, and we only published about one or two hundred books because we didn’t have enough money. So they’re fresh today to the readers. Haridasa used my book Sanatorium for his students to read as part of a seminar in counseling at Radhadesh. But most of the books haven’t been read, and so their presentation in the Journal excerpts is fresh reading for the devotees. Even if they’ve read it before, it’s good if they read it again in the context of the Journal. Prabhupada has said that spiritual classics should be read again and again.

Book Excerpts

From Every Day, Just Write: Volume 3

A Sojourn in Tapo-bhumi

pp. 441-42

“Walk”

“There were many more particular impressions that my senses took in which I hope to remember at another time—the shape of the cows and bulls, details of the chipmunks, the twist to the trees.

“Toward the beginning of our walk in Ramana-reti, a row of tractors drove by one after another. Each had the word ‘Svaraj’ written on the side. Also, wherever a sadhu has written ‘Radha,’ someone has added ‘Krsna.’ The signs now say, ‘Jaya Radha-Krsna.’ I joked that the one who wrote ‘Radha’ was like the parrot who praises Radha. Now the Krsna parrot has come by and glorified his master.

“From my bed on this fourth floor of the Guesthouse, I have a good view of the end portion of the prasadam hall. It’s outdoors and covered with a metal roof supported by brick columns. It’s part of an old building that for many years wasn’t part of ISKCON property but has since been acquired. I can just hear the men singing, ‘Sarira avidya jal . . .”

“In front of that area is a path where devotees walk when they cut across between the temple and the MVT buildings. It’s interesting to see Western devotees mixing with the Vrndavana dust and with the brown-bodied Indian devotees. Sometimes you see a little kid from Sweden or America dressed in a combination of Western sports clothes and an Indian dhoti. And they mix right in with the stray dogs, chaukidars, crows, pigeons, parrots, and monkeys. The monkeys are never welcome down at the prasadam area. Sometimes I hear a yell as someone shouts to chase away a monkey that has comes too close. I’m sure the monkeys get their dinner later, after the devotees have gone.

“On the gurukula roof I see yellow dhotis hanging on the line to dry. In about twenty minutes Bhagavata dasa will be here to give me my evening’s head and neck massage, then acupressure. I relax through the pain his hard pushing at the sore points causes. Without my asking for it, Samika Rsi gave me an anesthetic aerosol called Lidocaine. You’re supposed to stick it in your nostrils and spray, and it gets rid of headaches. I’m sure Madhu will be completely against it, and I ought to be also, but believe it or not, I’m thinking to try it in case it can do anything to help with those twenty-hour headaches.”

***

pp. 443-44

“January 28, 12:20 A.M.

“I’m reading about Krsna showing Mother Yasoda the universal form. A speculation occurred to me: how could Vyasadeva write these pastimes? How did he know they happened? Lord Krsna and Vyasa collaborated to write the Bhagavatam. Vyasadeva is himself an incarnation of God, so it’s not surprising that he knew the Lord’s pastimes. After Narada coached him, Vyasadeva sat in meditation and saw the Lord with all His internal energies as well as the material energy.

“Then I thought that the act of writing down the pastimes was almost as important as the pastimes themselves. Or, you could say one reason for Krsna enacting the pastimes is that He wanted them to be recorded for the people of the future.

“Otherwise, what is the meaning of our saying that Krsna came to this earth to perform His pastimes in order to attract the living beings back to Krsnaloka? How would He attract them? He would perform His activities within the one hundred and twenty-five years He remained on earth, and then the billions of people who came after that would never hear about them—unless they were written down.

“My next thought may seem a ridiculous application of this teaching to some, but I’ll put it here anyway. It occurred to me that I’m living my life in order to write it down, and that’s not such a bad thing. My life is not a ‘pastime,’ something glorious to be remembered forever, but it’s still worth recording because I am following Prabhupada’s instructions. I drew two lessons from this: (1) I should live my life as ideally as possible so that I don’t leave a disastrous, tawdry record; (2) I should take the recording of it as important.

“I’ve got my material ready for today’s disciples meeting. First I’ll answer a written question that was handed me regarding how we can be confident as we practice Krsna consciousness. Then I’ll read a segment from Cc. Asraya and discuss how to read Prabhupada’s books. Then I’ll talk about japa, then ask Samika Rsi to tell how he met Prabhupada in 1973. He asked him how to control the mind while chanting. He can relate Prabhupada’s response. Then I’ll read from Namamrta and comment that I have faith in the process of japa, even though I haven’t yet achieved the desired result. Then we’ll chant one round together.

“After that, I’ll read some segments from Wild Garden and talk about our relationship as guru and disciple, which includes their reading my books.

“Some people say I’m not a guru. I should agree. But I have to dance. And it’s not a monkey’s dance. There’s no turning back from this basic commitment. I simply have to purify it.

“VRNDAVANA”

“Vrndavana, I’m on the surface,
scratching my skin.
I rest and read and write and work in
Room 42.
Do I never go out? Walked to
within sight of Madana-mohana Mandir and turned
back with sore feet, head fogged.
Don’t tell us.
I will.
Vrndavana is
my spiritual home. I aspire to die here.
That will be the end of
another ISKCON chapter when
Brahmananda, Satsvarupa, etc., finish up—
the class of ‘66 one by one goes
(we hope) to join with Swamiji.
And Vrndavana? Go to Krsna
and His friends if you
have the laulyam,
and that comes after
lives of sincere practice
with His full mercy.”

***

pp. 450-51

“7:30 A.M

“While reading about Gargamuni approaching Nanda Maharaja for Krsna’s name-giving ceremony this morning, I was struck by the importance of believing. This is why I depend on Prabhupada and not someone else. The most important experience for me is to overcome doubts, and Prabhupada is the one who can best do that for me.

“I need to overcome doubts. Is what I’m reading real or just a relative Indian cultural expression? When Krsna says dehino ‘smin yatha dehe, ‘The soul takes another body at death,’ is this Hindu philosophy? Why doesn’t it appear in other religions?

“My answer to this doubt is that Krsna is speaking the Absolute Truth regardless of whether it appears in other religions. How have I gained this conviction in Krsna’s words? I gained it from Srila Prabhupada’s presentation of Bhagavad-gita.

“Therefore, I need to continue to overcome whatever doubts come up in my mind. Doubts arise from bad association. Prabhupada is bringing me to Vedic culture and insisting that it’s not foreign but the truth. This is my constant need when I read, when I’m taught by my guru—to enter the reality of what he is saying. Prabhupada is convinced. No doubt other gurus are also convinced in what they say, but he is the one who convinced me. He is my spiritual master. I don’t cling to him sentimentally but because I know he can help me. If in any way I were to switch over to another, will he do a better job on this one particular thing I need—the conviction that the teachings are real? No, I don’t think anyone can improve on that. Neither am I prepared to gamble.

“I realize that people might say I’m not very adventurous. In fact, I’m not even very trusting. I should trust in the scriptures’ description of the multiplicity of gurus and not think that it’s such a fragile relationship that I’ll lose hold of it by hearing from someone else. But Prabhupada himself has not encouraged this kind of adventure. He warned us that his Godbrothers could not help us; he even said they could do us great harm. I maintain this kind of ‘childhood’ impression. I honor it. I want to please my guru, and I don’t get the impression from him that he would be happy to hear that I’m ranging wide in Vaisnava readings and approaching other members in the Sarasvati gotra. That’s just the way it is. I admit that my position may not be the same as others have adopted, and it may not be the position that will be manifested by followers of Prabhupada in succeeding generations. Right now, however, I am confident that it’s right for me. And I don’t feel it is harmful to those depending on my teachings. It’s authentic. The idea of being more adventurous as a teacher seems extremely risky.

“It occurred to me yesterday while asserting this faithfulness in Prabhupada that I’m not the only one who’s remaining faithful in ISKCON. Rather, the whole generation of ISKCON leaders, and the new devotees also, comprise a body of persons fiercely loyal to Prabhupada. It has its excesses, I admit, but it’s ISKCON’s saving factor. ISKCON does have guru-nistha. We do express it sometimes in fanatical or superficial ways, and we sometimes misuse Prabhupada’s authority in our zeal—that’s all unfortunate—but by maintaining single-minded faith in Prabhupada, we remain fixed on the Gaudiya Vaisnava siddhanta. There’s a jungle of possible misunderstandings in the name of being faithful to Prabhupada, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong to attempt it.

“My Godbrother has done me a nice service by pointing out that I should use Vrndavana for its actual purpose—to increase bhakti in my heart. I propose that my future visits to Vrndavana will be more focused on this. Even now I should salvage the few remaining days I have here to be more Vrndavana-conscious. That doesn’t mean I have to try and imitate Rupa Gosvami and live practicing severe austerities. It doesn’t even mean I have to run out and visit many places.”

***

pp. 455-57, 459

“January 29, 12:19 A.M (continued)”

“A devotee named Anantasaya came and filmed me talking about Prabhupada for Russian television. He said that eighty percent of a person’s effectiveness on TV is how he looks, fifteen percent is how he speaks, and only five percent is the actual substance of what he says. He requested that I smile as often as possible. Once the interview began, however, I couldn’t crank out any smiles. He admitted that when one talks about a serious thing, he can’t always be smiling. Ananta emphasized, however, that Russia is under the grips of an anti-cult movement pushed by the Russian Orthodox Church. The devotees want to break the image of the Hare Krsnas as fanatics.

“He said the best part of my interview was when I talked about my ‘intense intellectual life’ before becoming a devotee. He liked that I mentioned Allen Ginsberg, Franz Kafka, and Vincent Van Gogh. When we finished the interview, he discovered that his batteries had run dead for part of the interview, so we had to do it again. Again I talked about Kafka and Van Gogh, and this time laid it on even thicker. But I still couldn’t smile.

‘As soon as Ananta left, I met with Samika Rsi. We talked about how I could sometimes take a painkiller while on a long plane trip to alleviate a headache. I won’t use them at other times.

‘Now I’m left with just a little bit of the day, but I’m disoriented—don’t know how to use my time and still have fog in the head. I can’t push myself.

“VRNDA #14”

“Vrnda, Vrnda, I can’t direct this
one to you, I’m just a fellow
who met the Swami back then.
Really, Vrnda, I could have
spent this day better, watered
Tulasi-devi and walked around
her. No, I didn’t go to my
Swami’s rooms and sit there
and write. Don’t know if I’ll
take a pill on that long plane
journey . . . And night is
coming, the parrots,
days running out
on another stay.”

“VRNDA #15”

“Vrnda, Vrnda what do you think?
Will I be able to read and chant?
Realize you and Krsna consciousness?
Earlier today was nice reading
of Radha’s love.
Now the day is going down,
I didn’t
achieve taste in japa but
I ask you, dear self, chant
another round.
Ask the Lord for
mercy to persist.”

“5:15 P.M. Free Write”

“Write what comes, fog-head
look down into the dirt yard
where devotees walk through—
brahmacari with cane
white-haired grhastha
mom and daughter

“Three men talking about what? Do they talk rasika talks or about how to make money? Are they more surrendered and engaged than I am? Look down through the screen. How agile the monkeys are! There goes my friend wearing a long white cloth wrapped around his waist, no white piece tucked up the back . . . There goes a stylish mataji. Oh, a guy is checking me out from the gurukula roof.

They’re putting up blue drapes to cover the sunlight and cold wind in the prasadam hall. Get your stainless steel thali and sit down. Servers with buckets.

“I’m not hungry, but I’ll eat something with tea and hear Srila Prabhupada in 1968 speaking about Aghasura from Krsna book.

“JAPA LOG, 5:30 P.M.

“Twenty rounds done. I can’t report that it was a great day, but I did chant some extra rounds and wanted to. That’s good. I can keep it up as long as I don’t get head pain. When all is said and done, chanting is left. It’s the first and last spiritual practice. It’s what I do.

“I actually heard the words of some mantras. If I keep on chanting, I’ll start seeing clearer how bad my chanting is. Then I can chant in that space. Chanting supplies the answer.

“Red beads are fine, thank you. Hope they last as long as I do.”

***

pp. 460-61

“January 30, 12:45 A.M”

Lectio divina. I write what’s in me. I say I am a devotee and carefully plan how to improve. I stopped him in the Samadhi Mandir and began talking, but to hear me he had to first remove his earplugs (was wearing them as an aid for concentration in japa).

“When I concentrate too much I get a headache. Same if I push too much for an extended free-write (gone are days of full one-hour exercises, summer nights and days at Stroudsburg, Shack Notes).

“Gone? Or can I return? Also, lost some faith that such a ‘slow’ process—working through effluvia of mind—is the best way to go.

“Be careful you don’t write over-careful thoughts already in your psyche. Write to surprise yourself.

“In Vrndavana a man was holy. In Vrndavana, when you come here you may become automatically Krsna conscious. To die here means to go to Krsnaloka. The monkeys will do that. Don’t envy them. Don’t hate anyone in the dhama. Don’t critique everyone. Don’t be a faultfinder. (Fruit-finder.)

“Oh, equations and geysers like ‘Old Faithful,’ American history books and road atlases, Jack’s On The Road, and Salinger’s Central Park merry-go-round,

and—yeah they are so hip and hard-edged,
gowns, lice, hell, sex, they’re so hard-edged.

“I spoke to the Russian TV devotee. Now I think he shouldn’t have chosen me since he says TV is eighty percent how you look and only five per cent what you say. Better to pick a young guy or a media-perfect girl. He said it is very important that you occasionally smile, but I didn’t. Why waste my time and his?

“This way leads to the exit. Yadu writes, ‘How can we tell people that Putana witch was thirteen miles long and that Krsna had millions of children and there were billions of people living in Dvaraka?’ I will refer him to Sadaputa Prabhu’s higher dimensions, expansions of space, and to simple faith in acintya.

From Journal and Poems, Book 1

pp. 107-8

Ahimsa

1.

“Green head, yellow beak,
brown and white shades of down;
better arrayed than any man.
Who made them so?
Why kill them?
What’s the need?
Eat corn with butter, cups of milk,
juicy melons,
soft potatoes cooked by fire—
no need to kill
the cows, the birds,
the innocent.
But you hunt, shoot,
tear out their vitals,
eat their inner parts.
Gliding backwards,
carried by the stream,
graceful on the water,
the duck rides on,
by God’s grace.
But you kill him.
And you too will ride
on the dangerous waters.

2.

“Floating downstream,
swimming deer stroke, fast-moving—
is he being carried away in panic?
Or is it sport?
routine travel?—
I thought it was a log—
a swimming deer!
If you had been here, hunter,
you would have shot him.
But try to understand:
he has a soul as good as you.”

From Japa Walks, Japa Talks

pp. 18-19

“Devi dasi also asked me a personal question. She thinks I put a lot of effort into chanting—apparently because I make a big fuss about it. ‘So I would like to ask you, what inspires you?’

“I don’t know if I can call it inspiration, but I have a drive which comes from sastra itself, that doesn’t let me forget the importance of chanting. I find chanting easy. I can’t do everything in Krsna consciousness. For example, I find it difficult to live in close association with other people, to manage their problems or their money. I also find it difficult to confront nondevotees in certain preaching situations. But chanting is easy. Even a child can chant.

“What inspires me? Lord Caitanya’s mercy inspires me. He has given us such easy access to Him through the holy names. I don’t want to turn down the opportunity, even though I don’t get immediate good results. I am inspired to put at least some effort into my chanting and remind myself of its prime importance.

“Also, chanting appeals to me in an aesthetic sense. Maybe I was a monk in my last life—at least I aspired to be a man of prayer. It’s so beautiful—Prabhupada and the acaryas have given us the chance to take up our beads in hand and to repeat again and again the japa of the holy name. Similarly, the congregational singing of kirtana appeals to me. It’s so disarming and wonderful of Krsna to think of such a process! This chanting movement is such a nice movement, and it’s so easily introduced. Therefore, although I don’t get the results I hanker for, whenever I think of chanting, it always appeals to me. It’s always available to me and easy enough to keep trying. No matter how many times I fail, I never think of abandoning the attempt. I am always ready to try again.”

From Pada-yatra

pp. 150-51

“One reason I like the idea of my brother becoming a recognized scholar is that it gives him a respectable identity aside from his existence in the Hare Krsna movement. For me, I have no such hopes in the academic sphere, but still I seek to be more than a typical sannyasi with typical things to say and who is told by other typical devotees to do typical things.

“Oh? You should be so lucky as to be told what to do by Krsna’s representative, even if he is typical. You are just a cela free to do their bidding. I’ve heard that’s the royal road to freedom. What need have you of other identities?

“The bhakti creeper grows with watering. It cannot take shelter in the material world. It grows until it approaches the Viraja River, then crosses to the spiritual sky, the Vaikunthas, and on to Goloka Vrndavana. There the living entities are all cinmaya-rasa. They love Krsna in one of the five flavors.

“If we can only think of Goloka even while in this world, then what other concern can possibly touch us?

“It’s not so easy. Our meditation is often broken by the other concerns because we care about them. It is possible, without imitation, to chant the holy name. I was trying—crying—this morning, calling out the Hare Krsna mantra. But to no avail. They didn’t seem to get beyond the windowpane. I mean, they did not live on in me as prayer or as consciously willing to be with Krsna. I was just counting my quota. I have no choice but to report that here because I am a faithful transcriber. As if by reporting it, it will signal the hope for change.”

From The Wild Garden

pp. 44-45

“Vrndavana”

“When I notice a frog on my pillow, I am startled and my heart jumps. Is this fear? Such a lively emotion! Can’t you transform it into Krsna consciousness?

“As I write, a monkey jumps on our roof. Action! Adrenaline flows. I wish Baladeva or Madhu were here to chase him away. He’s up on the particle beams over my head. I rap the stick sharply on the cement and he responds but then reconsiders. He jumps back a foot or so and then decides to go about his business regardless of my stick. The friendly sparrows are also up there with their light-footed hops. But the monkey is like a Saranagati bear—go away! I’m not going make a big effort to search him out and chase him. It’s not worth it. I came up here to write.

“Srila Prabhupada writes in his Tenth Canto purports that sometimes people find the Vrndavana monkeys to be a nuisance, but Krsna distributed butter to them, showing us that all food is God’s mercy and everyone is entitled to a share. I’m not so generous, and I don’t regard the monkeys as the ‘celebrated monkeys of Vrndavana’ who take butter from Krsna’s hand.

“The sun is orange only for a little while. It’s beautiful. Then it rises higher and turns to a hot white-yellow. You can watch the transformation moment by moment.

“‘O Sri Vrndavana, may your splendid handsomeness, which is increased by the two rivaling handsomenesses of the youthful transcendental forms of Sri Sri Radha and Krsna, who are . . . enjoying a festival of passionate amorous pastimes, arouse spiritual desires within me.” (Vrndavana-mahimamrta, Sataka 12.79)

“(The sun is blazing now and the neighbor has increased the tempo of his prayers—his tongue is almost tripping over the Sanskrit as he ends each line in ‘aha.’)

“Prabodhananda Sarasvati states that his heart doesn’t consider anything except Vrndavana to be real or important. He also says his desires are difficult to fulfill, but he prays to the dust of Vrndavana to fulfill his wish to do direct service for Radha and Krsna. That’s my goal too. But it’s so far away that I can’t claim it as part of my heart. I don’t dream of it. I don’t tremble with joy because of it. I don’t feel miserable when the vision is removed from my attention. I don’t jump to my feet when I see it again, as I do when the monkey (or the frog) reappears in the pathway of my eyes. I’m pathetic.

“You ask for the moon but then don’t show ambition to attain it. They laugh. Yet Prabodhananda Sarasvati has written his prayers for people like me. We can ask for what we don’t deserve and depend on Vrndavana to be merciful. But to make a prayer like his is not as easy as it seems. It appears to be a list of disqualifications and a statement of hope that Vrndavana will be liberal and overlook everything. It only works when we have faith in the power of Vrndavana. I pray for that.”

From Prabhupada Meditations, Volume 4

pp. 425-27

“Prabhupada Is Not Ordinary”

“The sastras warn us not to think of the spiritual master as an ordinary man. That is very hard for the nondevotees to comprehend. They think the spiritual master is an ordinary person because they see him growing old or they see him show anger. They misjudge him in many ways. They have no idea what is ordinary and what is extraordinary. It takes spiritual vision to appreciate the pure devotee, but the sastras tell us the truth.

“The sastras list certain qualifications of a spiritual master, yet even among those who possess these qualifications, Srila Prabhupada is extraordinary. What is it about him that makes him extraordinary? Or, we can ask, ‘There appear to be some ordinary things about Prabhupada, so what is it about Prabhupada that makes these things extraordinary?’

“Dr. Harvey Cox said, ‘Prabhupada is one in a million.’ He founded the Hare Krsna movement, which continues to grow and establish roots in countries all over the world. It was seen as a near impossible task by other Vaisnava sannyasis, to fulfill Lord Caitanya’s prediction that His name would be known in every town and village of the world. Prabhupada fulfilled the Lord’s prediction. He must be an extraordinary person, someone fully empowered by Krsna, to possess so much pure devotion and determination.

“One should not see the spiritual master as an ordinary man. This is not only the proper etiquette prescribed in the Vedas, it is reality. The spiritual master is never ordinary, even if he appears to be growing older or seems to forget a Sanskrit verse. The disciple should never doubt his spiritual master because of these things. Prabhupada explained that his perfection was that he was always preaching and was fully engaged in Krsna consciousness. The guru is not the Supersoul who knows all things, but he has an intimate relationship with the Supersoul. Srila Prabhupada was always dedicated to Krsna’s mission. He produced amazing tangible results. He is extremely dear to Krsna. All his displays of anger or illness or humanness are transcendental. They are meant to bring us closer to him in loving exchange.

“The spiritual master lives in the internal energy. He always desires to talk about Krsna and glorify Krsna, and to engage himself and others in Krsna’s service. To be in his presence is intense and purifying, and this can be difficult for a neophyte to take. Therefore, when he acts in apparently ‘ordinary’ ways, it relieves his neophyte disciples and enables the beginning devotees to feel intimacy with the exalted pure devotee. When the ordinary devotee can do simple things like heat water for the guru’s bath or cook him his favorite sweets, his affection is aroused. Therefore, Srila Prabhupada occasionally used to engage his disciples in conversations and activities just to bring them closer to him. He used the same psychology an adult uses when he plays on the level of a child. It is a way to gain their trust and affection.

“Ultimately, nothing is ordinary or mundane when sanctioned by the pure devotee and engaged in Krsna’s service. Therefore, whenever we think of Prabhupada as ordinary, meaning mundane or conditioned like other karmic-bound souls in the world, we commit Vaisnava aparadha.”

From From Imperfection, Purity Will Come About: Writing Sessions While Reading Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Saranagati

pp. 36-37

“‘I find no strength to go on, and thus I spend my days lamenting. My only desire now is for Your lotus feet, O Lord of the meek and humble (dina-jana-natha).’ The verses are progressing, growing more religious. This is a new mood, more hopeful than his previous lament.

“He asks the Lord to show him mercy by giving him the association of devotees, ‘For by tasting the pleasure of hearing Your pastimes, I shall give up all evils.’ The same truth is found in the scriptures.

Nasta-prayesu, by hearing the Bhagavatam from the bhagavatas, almost all the dirty things within the heart are removed and devotional service to Uttamasloka is awakened. Srnvatam- sva-katha krsnah punya-sravana-kirtanah. Hearing about Krsna is pious activity. When we do it, Krsna personally cleans our hearts.

“‘One hope in an otherwise lamentable life: ‘to spend day and night in Your divine abode, singing Your holy name. Your tiny servant, Bhaktivinode, begs a place in the delightfully cooling shade of Your feet.’

“How could a sinner be so presumptuous? One minute he says he has no good qualities and is sunk in the defeat of worldly existence, and the next he’s praying to attain the blissful param-dhama. Doesn’t he know only a rare soul attains Goloka? Even good devotees have to return to the material world to continue the path of perfection.

“Yes, he knows, but he cannot help but hope. His soul is moved by spiritual desire. We could say that such a hope is beyond him, that he is not entitled to it, but what is the harm if a blind man prays to see? If he calls to Krsna and guru to be lifted to their feet, what is the harm? Dinanatha can do anything.

This is the asa-bandha described in The Nectar of Devotion. It is hope against hope, a symptom of bhava. Who is so cruel as to deny a dying man this hope? Neither can we take it away from him if we try.”

From Qualities of Sri Krsna

pp. 36-37

“11. Highly Learned, 12. Highly Intelligent, 13. Genius”

“If one is The Supreme Personality of Godhead does not receive education from any source. He is eternally all-knowing, ‘the self-sufficient philosopher.’ But in His pastimes in this world, He appears within human society, accepts a mother and father, grows up, and receives an education. When Krsna went to Mathura, Vasudeva and Devaki sent both Krsna and Balarama to the gurukula of Sandipani Muni, where They mastered all departments of knowledge.

“Krsna and Balarama were extraordinary students, and within sixty-four days, They had learned all the arts and sciences required in human society.

“‘During daytime They took lessons on a subject from the teacher, and by nightfall, after having heard from the teacher, They were expert in that department of knowledge.” (Krsna, Chap. 44, p. 358)

“When Their education was complete, They offered to reward Their teacher anything he desired. Knowing Krsna and Balarama’s power, Sandipani Muni asked Them to return his dead son to him. Sri Krsna and Balarama retrieved the soul from Yamaraja’s kingdom and satisfied Their teacher and his wife.

“Sandipani Muni blessed Them: ‘. . . Whatever You speak will remain as eternally fresh as the instruction of the Vedas. Your teachings will not only be honored within this universe or in this millennium, but in all places and ages, and will remain increasingly new and important.’ Srila Prabhupada states that due to this benediction from His teacher, Lord Krsna’s Bhagavad-gita is ever-fresh and renowned throughout the universes.

“During His manifested pastimes on earth, Lord Krsna continued to show His proficiency as highly learned. On the occasion of a sacrificial ceremony performed by Krsna’s father, Vasudeva, Krsna spoke to an assembly of respected sages and ascetics.

“’When the supreme authority, Lord Krsna, was thus speaking with great gravity, all the sages and ascetics remained in dead silence. They became amazed upon hearing Him speak the absolute philosophy of life in such a concise way. . . . All those who heard considered the speech of Lord Krsna for some time, and they concluded that Lord Krsna was actually the Supreme Personality of Godhead playing the role of an ordinary human being . . . He was assuming this pastime . . . simply to teach the people in general how they should live for perfection of the human mission.’ (Krsna, Chap. 83, p. 715)

“Srila Rupa Gosvami’s definition of highly learned includes ‘highly educated’ and ‘acting on moral principles.’ This is different than the modern standard of academic education, where a ‘brilliant’ teacher is not discredited for his sinful habits. Krsna’s dealings, however, are always full of kindness and morality. ‘Because Krsna is all-good, His dealings with everyone are always good.’ (NOD, Chap. 21, p. 163)

Sri Krsna is also highly intelligent. Rupa Gosvami defines highly intelligent as possessing sharp memory and fine discretion. Lord Krsna showed His discretion in numerous situations, particularly as a ksatriya dealing with politics, ethics, and inimical persons. For example, He led the untouchable king, Kalayavana, into Mucukunda’s cave where he was burnt to ashes.

“As the independent Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna sometimes acts transcendental to worldly morality, although usually He behaves in such a way that ordinary people can follow. Therefore, we have to use our discretion, and take guidance from superior Vaisnavas, to know when Krsna’s behavior is to be followed and when He is demonstrating that He is the Supreme Controller and not to be imitated.

“In explaining the spiritual nature of Krsna’s dancing with other men’s wives, Sukadeva Gosvami reminds us that Lord Ksnna is the Supreme Soul and the gopis are all His internal, spiritual potencies. When Maharaja Pariksit doubted the morality of Krsna’s rasa dance, Sukadeva Gosvami explained how the Supreme Lord’s activities are beyond our capacity to perform or to judge:

“‘O King, the Supreme Lord is inexhaustible and immeasurable, and He is untouched by the material modes because He is their controller. His personal appearance in this world is meant for bestowing the highest benefit on humanity.’ (Bhag. 10.29.14)

“Krsna is a genius who can refute any opposition with newer and newer arguments. Rupa Gosvami illustrates how Krsna did this in the clever but playful replies He gave in a conversation with Srimati Radharani. All glories to Sri Krsna’s genius, which gladdens Srimati Radhika’s heart!”

From My Dear Lord Krsna: A Book of Prayers

pp. 187-88

“My dear Lord Krsna . . .

“I am writing to You to thank You for all that You have done for me. You have given me the human form of life and put me in contact with Srila Prabhupada, a pure devotee spiritual master. By Your grace, he accepted me as a disciple and initiated me into the Hare Krsna mantra. He gave me second initiation into the Gayatri mantras, and he awarded me sannyasa, the renounced order of life. He has given me much service unto You in the Krsna consciousness movement. He has planted the bhakti-lata-bija—the seed of devotional service to You—in my heart.

“You have let me live considerably long so far, with many opportunities to serve You. You have given me life and tolerable health. You have always given me a place to live and food to eat. I’ve had to endure some oppression in serving in ISKCON, but You have always given me the resources to tolerate it and the attitude to see the bright side and remain loyal to ISKCON. I have had to deal with some difficult persons, but You have enabled me to survive my relationships with them without intolerable stress. You have given me strength in difficult times.

“You have forgiven me my trespasses, as I have forgiven those who trespassed against me.

“You have given me a growing taste for chanting the Hare Krsna mantra. You have enabled me to write many books in Your service, and You have given me appreciative readers.

“You have allowed me to travel to Mayapur and Vrndavana and live there, although I have encountered difficulties, and You will give me more chances to visit the holy dhamas.

“You have given me knowledge of You, appreciation of Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, and Caitanya-caritamrta, and the ability to grasp the knowledge in these books. And You have given me faith in You and Your pure devotees. I am especially grateful for the faith I have in You as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. I love to hear accounts of Your lila and descriptions of knowledge about You—scientific knowledge of the Vedic literature.

“I thank You for implanting hope in me that some day I will go back to Godhead and live with You with a spiritual form in eternity, bliss and knowledge. I repeat: I thank You for giving me Srila Prabhupada as my spiritual master, because he is the hope that I can go back to Godhead. It will be by his mercy, by his recommendation to You.

“I thank You for my friends who serve me and whom I try to serve.

I thank You for being the most beautiful person in existence, and I thank You for loving Srimati Radharani, who is also the most beautiful person in existence.

“I thank You for being kind to me in my imperfectness. Please always let gratitude pour from me to You for all the wonderful things You are and all the wonderful things You do for me and for all living entities.”

From From Copper to Touchstone: Favorite Selections from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta

p. 166

“AN AUTHOR CANNOT BE A SENTIMENTALIST”

“In his purport to Adi 9.4, Prabhupada writes, ‘A sentimentalist who has no Vaisnava qualifications cannot produce transcendental writings.’ He speaks about the nondevotees who depict Krsna’s pastimes out of sense gratification. We can include in that category those who may be favorable to Krsna, but due to their sentimental attitude, cannot understand the essence of His pastimes and therefore wrongly depict them.

“The dictionary defines ‘sentimentalist’ as someone ‘having or showing delicate or tender feelings.’ The second and more commonly used meaning states, ‘When these delicate or tender feelings are excessive, superficial, or presented in a maudlin or mawkish way.’ A further definition: ‘Acting more on emotion than on practical reason.’

“When we apply those definitions to Krsna consciousness, we think of a sentimentalist as someone who tries to glorify Krsna, but because he does not understand the siddhanta, he depicts Krsna according to his own whim. Such glorification is tainted with the material viewpoint, and thus a sentimentalist cannot be a transcendental writer.”

From Reading Reform: Srila Prabhupada’s Plan for the Daily Reading of His Books

p. 78

“Questions and Answers”

“Q. The impersonalists study the Bhagavad-gita very carefully, yet they still misinterpret it and miss the conclusion. Would you say that as long as we are conditioned, we will in some way misinterpret the pure message?

“A. Someone asked Prabhupada how the impersonalist can say that Krsna is not God when Krsna says so clearly in the Bhagavad-gita that He is. Prabhupada answered that the impersonalists know that Krsna is God, but out of rascaldom they say otherwise. They deliberately attack the Personality of Godhead by saying that He is void or without personality. That is their nefarious business.

“In the mood of a conditioned soul, Lord Caitanya writes, ‘My dear Lord, You put all Your energies in Your holy name, but unfortunately I commit offenses in chanting, and therefore I cannot taste the sweetness.’ In a similar way, a devotee may think, ‘I know that Prabhupada worked tirelessly to give us these books and that Krsna is on every page, but I cannot appreciate them.’ Such a devotee accepts Krsna as God, but because of his conditioning, he fails to appreciate Krsna’s books. Such a mixed devotee may not be able to act as an expert transparent via medium for relaying the message of the books, but this does not mean he misinterprets them. Only by intentionally acting in a very devious way does one misinterpret Prabhupada’s books.”

Writing Sessions

From June Bug (1996)

“May 31st

“Queens apartment

“Answered the last batch of mail, but I wasn’t up to any early morning writing or reading in Srila Prabhupada’s books. Think as you travel, how you may shape this June book or let it flow in a shape provided by time and events. We are not the doers. Material energy works, or Krsna works (in the case of His devotees). You may also do something. You may pray for mercy and guidance. Especially as you get swallowed up in the mouth of the whale (time, death, where do we go next?).

“Write and be alive in Krsna consciousness one way or another today.

***

“We’re going on that Concorde flight. That’s because we purchased round-trip British Airways tickets in Bombay and since they wouldn’t sign our tickets from NYC to Dublin over to Aer Lingus, they gave us the royal treatment, so-called: Concorde to London and from there, Aer Lingus to Dublin. Embarrassing to ride in our khadi cloth and beggars’ demeanor in such a high-speed luxury airship? I don’t think so. Just accept it and don’t mind what others may think.

“‘Today is the last day of May’ (said the counter lady to the people next to us).

“‘It’s hard to believe,’ the elderly woman replied.

“You will be in England and then Ireland . . . you have a chance to write there. Pray to Krsna even if it hurts. Ask Him to help you advance in spiritual life. See your lack of advancement.

“The British Airways man cannot print out our boarding passes from London to Dublin. He said, ‘You’ll have to check again in London.’ But Madhu is pressing him to do it, to find a way, to make the machine work.

“Onboard. They say it’s only some three hours plus. I expect to feel a difference in take-off. It’s much like any jet interior, but seats are only two across. Porthole windows are smaller. Concorde magazine twice uses the word “discrete” (their spelling) to describe the interior decoration in the cabin and the quality of services in the waiting lounge. I like discreet.

“Last look at the World Trade building.

“When will you return?” asked Hari-kirtana, who drove us to the airport. (Twice the speed of sound! Altitude: 57,000 feet.)

“‘Next spring.’

In the unlikely event . . .

The Queen of England rode in one of these things at least three times.

He demonstrates the life jackets just in case…

“3:30 P.M. British time.

“Flying at 1,340 mph, I’d like to use the restroom, but the aisles are blocked with food service. M. is filling out documents for my entry into Ireland and my application for residence there. I may have to show them when passing through immigration in London. The application says I’m a ‘religious writer’ and Manu dasa, ‘Director of ISKCON Dublin,’ is inviting me to go there to reside and pursue my religious writing career. I am single. I am known as both Satsvarupa dasa Goswami and as Stephen Guarino. We are applying for a one-year residency. If I don’t get it, I don’t care. I could always return to the U.S. and live in someone’s house or apartment and write there. But Madhu has his new van, and we think it’s better for independence to wander around the E.E.C. countries.

“Anyway, I hope it goes well. Real question is what to write. I don’t think I can write all of June just on this theme that I want to reside in Ireland, etc. But that’s an interesting starter.”

***

“4:05 P.M.

“M. is talking to two ladies in the row behind us. Piercing hard laughter. He’s telling them religion is the same. He writes to his mother about prayer. Now, she says that a few years ago she lost a child in an accident. Since then, she has been inquiring why it happened; no one has been able to give her an answer. I can’t hear it all, but Madhu starts out, ‘As to why it happened . . .’

“I hope he’ll turn back here soon and complete my residency form. British Airways has handed us a most silly gift, a chrome bottle opener with ‘Concorde’ written on it.

“My head is hurting again.

“London

“Waiting for the plane to Dublin. On the plane those friendly people approached us. As we walked to this gate, two older men called out, ‘Hare Krsna,’ and insisted on shaking our hands, saying, ‘Hare Krsnas are good people.’ Now, in this beer-drinking lounge an Irish woman approached us with a drink in her hand. She said she’s an actress (around 45-50 years old), Amanda, and is returning from a two-week pilgrimage walk over the Pyrenees on the theme of multiple sclerosis. M. remarks that we meet no such friendly people in the U.S.A. Here they are attracted to our robes and religious demeanor.

“Got papers ready to show Immigration and Customs in Dublin. It could capture one’s imagination – getting residency in Ireland as a writer. The reason we are doing it is so that we can import the van with no big taxes. Also, so I can travel in the E.E.C. as a U.S. citizen. But it plays on the imagination: if I have Irish residency, maybe I should actually reside there. Not likely. Wander in the van.

“Taking medication three times today and still I have not subdued the headache. The theme of their walk was, ‘Irish 1996 Multiple Sclerosis.’ So, what’s my theme?”

 

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Daily Compositions

This volume is comprised of three parts: prose meditations, free-writes, and poems each of which will be discussed in turn. As an introduction, a brief essay by the author, On Genre, has also been included to provide contextual coordinates for the writing which follows…

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Meditations & Poems

A comprehensive retrospective of poetic achievement and prose meditations, using a new trajectory described as “free-writing”. This volume will offer to readers an experience of the creativity versatility which is a hallmark of this author’s writing.

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Kaleidoscope

Stream of consciousness poetry that moves with the shifting shapes and colors characteristic of a kaleidoscope itself around the themes of authenticity. This is a book will transport you to the far reaches of the author’s heart and soul in daring ways and will move you to experience your own inner kaleidoscope.
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Seeking New Land

A narrative poem. challenging and profound, about the journey of an itinerant monk who pursues new means of self-expression.The reader is invited to discover his or her own spiritual pilgrimage within these pages as the author pushes every literary boundary to boldly create something wholly new and inspiring.

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