Free Write Journal #152


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Free Write Journal #152

July 16, 2021

Free Writes

Prabhupada-lilamrta

Pancharatra Prabhu has sent out questionnaires to senior devotees asking their opinion about the role of Srila Prabhupada as the Founder-Acarya and the role of diksa-gurus and siksa-gurus in ISKCON. My humble opinion is that if the devotees of ISKCON would read the seven-volume unabridged Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta, they would gain much. In reducing the full Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta to a one-volume condensation, so much was lost. The nuances and sweetness of Srila Prabhupada as a person and as a saint are lost in the condensation volume. By reading the full SPL one will learn so much about Prabhupada and come to love him. This will help much in developing a loving attachment for him and not just thinking of him as an institutional figure, however much we emphasize his importance. The full seven volumes are available in a beautiful reprint done by the Mumbai BBT, in beautiful illustrated volumes and at low cost. The books are back in print after being out of print for thirty years. We cannot overestimate the importance of Prabhupada’s personal way of preaching, his purity and humility.

Bengali SPL

Janmastami dasa wrote me from Mayapur and told me a team of devotees has started translating Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta into Bengali. I was very happy to hear this. Janmastami wrote:

“There are many more bhakti practitioners in West Bengal then there were when I moved here in 1997, so having the Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta in Bengali will help spread Krsna consciousness like wildfire here and in Bangladesh!”

Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu’s Vyasa Puja

The disciples of Ravindra Svarupa have announced that his Vyasa-puja ceremony will be held on Saturday, August 14th at 11:00 A.M. It will be done via Zoom. I invite devotees to hear Ravindra Svarupa’s Vyasa-puja lecture. His lectures are always enlightening and interesting. I am going to be listening, and I invite you also to take part. On Sunday, August 8th at 5:00 P.M., Boston ISKCON will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the installation of their Radha-Gopivallabha Deities. This installation was personally performed by Srila Prabhupada. I have been asked to give a talk since I was present on this occasion and acted as the priest, performing the abhisekha while Prabhupada read from Brahma-samhita. My memories from that time are dim but I will try my best to recall that occasion and speak of early Boston pastimes.

Quick Health Report

By taking the medicine for Parkinson’s disease, I am getting gradual, tangible results. I can stand up from a sitting position more lightly, and I can balance myself while standing. I’m gaining in coordination. I still have a long way to go, but the progress is encouraging. My medical caretaker was worried that I was going down and that he personally couldn’t keep up in duties of lifting me up, etc. But now I am less of a physical burden on him. In less than two months we’ll see the doctor again, and he’ll make a reassessment and tell me what to do. I drew a picture of myself in the 1990s walking in the rain in Ireland. I’m holding an umbrella in my left hand and holding a Dictaphone speaking out loud in my right hand. I wish I could return to that condition and continue writing. Maybe Dr. Kozer’s treatments will bring me to that state.

Endoscopy

I go to the hospital today for an endoscopy. I had to fast all night and in the morning the appointment is for 8:00 A.M. They will pass a camera down into my mouth past my esophagus and into the stomach. I had one of these procedures several years ago, and they broke open a stricture that was causing coughing in the esophagus. This is a follow-up. They say this is a routine procedure and that I might feel aftereffects such as a sore throat. I don’t look forward to this procedure, but the old body needs repair and I do it for the service of Prabhupada so that I can be kept fit as long as possible.

The Best I Could Do

I received a final proofreading and editing by Krishna Bhajana and Satyasara dasi. Without their labors, the book would not be suitable for printing. It is free-writing but has coherent themes such as Time (and others). We are going to print it as a book and hope to have it ready by my Vyasa-puja 2021. The title comes from something my teachers used to write in my report card. There was a place which stated: “Excellent,” “Could Do Better,” etc. My teachers used to always check “Could Do Better” on my report card, but in this book I am honestly writing that this is the best I could do. In that respect, it is honest and humble. It was composed in the 1990s while residing in Ireland. Krishna Bhajana remarked that he thinks it will be interesting to the disciples and to other readers who are interested in my books. I hope it will reach that one heart out there, and I even aspire to please many readers. Fortunately, it will be available for my disciples to give a copy to a reading friend, and thus spread the word around.

Names in Dynasties

In our out-loud reading we are hearing some chapters that describe the succession of persons in dynasties. One one hand, it seems a little tedious: “So-and-so had a son named such-and-such, who had a son named so-and-so, who had a son named such-and-such,” etc. The whole chapter consists of just the succession of sons to different members in the dynasty. But if the devotee reads it seriously and puts his attention and interest into it, then I can follow in the same way. They shouldn’t laugh, say it is unimportant or give up and resent pronouncing the difficult Sanskrit names. I get enlivened when I hear a reading devotee remain sober while describing the genealogies. It is said that every word in the Bhagavatam is perfect and important, and so I want to put my faith and interest even in the recitation of the sons born to certain kings, etc. They are important because Srila Vyasadeva wrote them down. Our job is to hear them submissively and alertly and appreciate the genealogy. Yesterday Silavati read for about ten minutes a section made up of names appearing in the genealogy. She presented it very seriously with no hint of dismissing it as if it were too tedious or unimportant. That way I also was able to hear the list of names without boredom or wanting to dismiss it. Prabhupada didn’t think it was unimportant. He didn’t attempt to abridge it or leave it out of his translation. It’s interesting to hear the Vedic culture’s giving importance to the succession of family members. It’s like a material version of the spiritual parampara.

Dusmanta and Sakuntala

Dusmanta, the grandson of Kanva Muni, was wandering in the forest, hunting. He came to Kanva Muni’s ashram, and there he saw a beautiful girl who looked exactly like the goddess of fortune sitting there illuminating the entire ashram by her effulgence. King Dusmanta was attracted to Sakuntala and approached her. He asked her who her father was and learned that she was the daughter of Visvamitra and Menaka, but she had been abandoned by them in the forest when she was very young. She only knew what Kanva Muni, who had raised her, had told her about herself. King Dusmanta wanted to marry Sakuntala, and she was very receptive to his presence.As soon as she met Dusmanta Maharaja, she invited him to sit down in the cottage, and they became mutually attracted. It became apparent that they wanted to marry each other, and King Dusmanta did a gandharva sacrifice where he chanted the mantra a-u-m. Marriage by personal selection had been done in the past, and it was called gandharva marriage. Thus the marriage of Sakuntala and Dusmanta took place in that way. At first King Dusmanta attempted to abandon Sakuntala because she came from the outside and none of the citizens knew her. But a voice from the sky said that he should accept her as his lawfully married wife. When they heard the voice from the sky, all the citizens accepted the marriage of Dusmanta and Sakuntala. The king did this with happiness. Their son, the mighty Bharata, became the emperor of the world.

Nrsimha Dasi’s Coughing

Viraha Bhavan has been disturbed for two weeks by Nrsimha dasi’s constant coughing. She is from the tropical country of Guyana, and we think her disease is due to the change of the weather and the high pollen count in the air in the northern country of New York State. Lalita-kaisori has given her Ayurvedic treatment and lesson in breathing. Nrsimha is concerned that she doesn’t transmit her cough to me. She is daily cooking for me, and she wears a mask. There is some slight improvement in her condition; now she doesn’t cough so much during the day, but the coughing comes at night. We have told her that if she doesn’t get better she should go to the emergency unit and get diagnosed and treated there. But so far she has decided against that. In general she’s improving a little. If the cough doesn’t go away, we think she should go back to Guyana.

Amit

Amit, our kichari-Hindu friend from Albany, where he has many friends, came for lunch. When he comes to our ashram he fixes whatever computers are broken, and he likes to chant japa in the Deity room. He has become become a part of a growing family at Viraha Bhavan.

Book Connection

A devotee, Rasika Sindhu, wrote that he is reading Churning the Milk Ocean. I was glad to hear that he had picked out that book and was reading it with relish. Once again, one particular book I wrote has touched someone in the world, which makes me want to distribute as many books as possible and get them into the hands of devotees who will read them.

No Controversies

I received a letter from a devotee who wanted to involve me in a controversy about vaccines. I told him I don’t want to get involved in a discussion about vaccines or any other controversy. Let us peacefully coexist in Krsna consciousness.

Tai-Chi Lesson

Jayanta came to our ashram and gave Baladeva and I our first lesson in tai-chi.

Jayanta told us the history. He said that tai-chi was 400 years old, started by a Chinese man and had been passed down to disciples “in parampara.” He taught us two sitting exercises and said that I improved just by doing them for a few minutes. He told us to practice ten minutes a day or else we would forget the moves. I look forward to weekly visits, and I will try to practice the exercises I already know every day.

Book Excerpts

From A Poor Man Reads the Bhagavatam, Volume 1

pp. 124-27

“My conscious self just suggested that this was the cause of ennui. I miss him. I love him. I know he is at Krsna’s lotus feet, so I have to go there. I write this book to be close to him, even if I suffer from malaise as a disciple. I know I have faults, but I want to go to him anyway. Sometimes he seems harsh in his condemnation of the rascals, but never mind. His institution is sometimes too top-heavy or judgmental; never mind. I may be way off the mark, but I want to go to him anyway, meet with him in mind and deed, and serve him however I can.

“My hand presses down to touch these points.

“Poem bounce—it took us
16 hours to get here and to settle
in took days. Takes months
to adjust to the new body we
got from Nature Cure diet and
takes years to be a devotee,
lifetimes to get laulyam and
we may never—like Narada
or Laksmi—be allowed to
enter the rasa dance.
Then?

“Then go at a pace, email or
snail mail it doesn’t matter.
Not time,
but guru’s grace is required.
Do you find Sat-sandarbhas dry?
Is your brain too small?
You find Ujjvala-nilamani
too ‘wet’?
What’s your speed? Bhagavad-
gita? Yeah I love it
when the Lord speaks.
Then why do we waste our
time with poets
who know only
‘With your eyes
with your eyes
with your Death full of Flowers’?
They speak of Death as the only
God they’ll know.
Why consort with them?
For rhythm and blues?
Sometimes they see people
in naked detail,
a kind of tenderness.

“Here goes—to Krsna, my Father,
to unsustainable Sanskrit names
like Niranjan, to memories
of ISKCON dualities—
Suhotra playing the twisted
sankirtana horn in Boston temple,
The Murphys’ suing and suing and
never relenting even until they
die.

“Someone asks, ‘You are
reluctant and cautious to criticize
your ISKCON while
older brothers speak out. Is it
because you are not troubled
much by it’s wrongs?’

“At the feet of the Lord—
whose feet are spiritual,
who is not a dead stone,
from whose feet the Ganges emanates,
who is a transcendental source of
all that be, janmady asya yatah
stay with His pure devotees.
I serve His one, Swami
Prabhupada. His followers
are many different characters
and quarrel and this is all a symptom
of our missing his
generalship,
loving fatherly direction,
sure hand. But he had
to leave, giving us
the Comforter (Supersoul and
himself in our hearts).
Tell it straight—the Lord’s devotees are at His feet and
that’s where you’ll get His
mercy. Suta says so.”

***

pp. 129-31

“We also have to work in this field. The preachers feel compassion and a deep sense of purpose and inner satisfaction in their preaching. We cannot know right now what the ultimate affect will be. We may not have the satisfaction to see a revolution from atheism and materialism to Krsna conscious season in our own lifetimes. Schism—politicians avoid the very word; speaking of love of God doesn’t get votes. Politicians fear theocracies and fundamentalists and give evidence that these ‘types’ breed fanatical cruelty, communal riots, and wide-scale wars. ‘You want God praised? But the God of which religion? You want more countries like Khomenei’s Iran? Do you want a world ruled from the viewpoint of North Ireland’s Ian Paisley? Christian? Muslim? Oh—Hare Krsna! Sure, sure, just what we all need, to shave our heads, dress in orange skirts, and chant all day. No meat and liquor, right? Sure. Anyway, you people are cheaters. Get lost.’

“People read Prabhupada’s purports and feel their hearts change. I saw a young man in front of me in the Krsna-Balaram Mandir. On the back of his T-shirt was the logo, ‘World Revolution Through Book Distribution.’ The small band of young devotees traveling and vans distributing Prabhupada’s books, fueled with the vision by their ISKCON leader, think that book distribution will save the world. This is what Prabhupada also says in this purport. It seems highly unlikely, but many things seemed highly unlikely when they were first introduced to the world. Communism was once just an obscure German scholar’s idea. Freud and his theories were once unknown. These things can grow and sweep into power. Everything is under the control of Providence.

“Without calculating the possibility of winning elections or popularity polls, the Lord’s devotees first believe in Krsna, second, speak krsna-katha, and third, if they share the preaching vision, work to inject Krsna consciousness into Kali-yuga’s mainstream against all odds.

“At least we should not feel foolish because we are Hare Krsnas. We shouldn’t think that we are incapable of improving the world’s situation and that therefore we should consign ourselves to living in a little room in the temple with no sphere of influence except over a few pious congregational members who happen to be mostly Indians. In the world of influence, we are not anathemas.”

***

pp. 131-32

“As I write, my companion is chanting on his beads in the next room. Why is he up at 1 AM chanting?

“Silence is a form of strength; in it we find our conviction without distraction. We have to know ourselves, see ourselves at our most Krsna conscious. We must strive every day to recover our relationship with our integrity, our previously sacrificed and disregarded uniqueness, our sacred interior self which is complete and lacks nothing. Lord Krsna also advocates this in the Bhagavad-gita. He doesn’t want us to get caught up in a life of sense gratification, even though that is the path chosen by most (‘What is night for most people is the time of awakening for the sage.’)

“Silence and solitude are part of our lives as revolutionaries, at least at a certain stage. Some never give it up. Srila Prabhupada internalized his Krsna consciousness so thoroughly that he didn’t need to hide out from the world, although he lived alone for years at Radha-Damodara temple in Vrndavana. He thrived there, felt the peace and inner meditation on Radha-Krsna’s eternal pastimes—which have nothing to do with this world and its movements and mayic suffering. He knew, however, that Krsna, his spiritual master, and the previous acaryas wanted the basic teachings of Krsna consciousness to go into the world. ‘It is the duty of leading Indians to spread this culture all over the world at this moment of need.’

“I’ve got that broader outlook too, rendering this cultural variety of Srimad-Bhagavatam, the offshoot weed known as A Poor Man. I pray, but hardly dare to expose it even to myself, that I’d love my work to become influential. Yet we fear it too because we know popularity creates the greatest strain on integrity. Therefore, we leave the fulfillment of that dream up to Krsna, whether we will see our work spread. We should plant the seeds and grow a hardy devotional plant. That will appeal to the hearts of honest people. Make it true. We can’t—I can’t—do both things at once—make it true and popularize it by active propaganda. Others may come and together we may do it—the League of Devotees, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.

“I tap into what gives me the most energy and the best results. That seems realistic. Why work at that which turns me off and leaves me a dissatisfied member? Rather, I write a book, now a long book, and pray my work and I will be accepted. Even within a religious movement, one might be disregarded, seen as a fringe character. Or his preaching may spread in a quiet way. So be it. I’ve got to write and produce in the quiet of flowing time.”

***

pp. 132-134

“I made another list this morning:

(1) How to become popular. Why I don’t care for this.
(2) Preserving integrity at all costs.
(3) Wooden desks I’ve known. Joy of writing at a desk.
(4) Fears, phobias.
(5) Body not in control.
(6) Peaceful hours. Sound of surf as heard from a solitary house.
(7) Reality of gundas attacking remote temples and sadhus at Govardhana and other places.
(8) Too many people around—a hassle.
(9) Claiming people’s time and attention through the books I write.
(10) Avid student of Bhagavatam texts and learned devotees’ commentaries.
(11) Fading light of old age.
(12) Being useful.
(13) The body, the soul.
(14) Birds. Fading eyesight.
(15) Brahma-muhurta worship and the sun’s first slanting rays. Sun ball on the horizon.
(16) One God above all—awareness it can’t be accepted by all people in the form of Lord Krsna.
(17) Finding your own unique view even if it is in little personal things. Be true to self—actual experience.
(18) Your comforts.
(19) Precious days are given to you by God. You worship first, never mind if others do not. Introduce it to yourself—for example, chant Hare Krishna mantra heart and soul.”

***

pp. 136-37

“If we become
potent and influential, where
would we lead the world?
Krsna may think we would
not bring it to His feet.
Get over the hurdle, open the road.

“You don’t shave every day.
Who cares?
You’re no sadhu
with your old slippers.
You can’t write Bhagavatam
purports
’cause you don’t explain each
Sanskrit word. That’s the way
they do it.

“So you don’t lie, so what, who cares?
You like to write, you
are afraid of mice, who
gives a damn for you?

“Oh, I love you still the
same. Come to my home,
my arms, you beamish
boy.
Oh rapturous day,
we’ve got another chance.
Reprieve.

“Listen, the Bhagavat is calling—the person and the book. Our spiritual master wants us to be happy. My volume of Bhagavatam is mine to read. I can even write in the margin if I care to. What does it say? That fools and asses deride Krsna. Those who praise Him can bring peace to the world, and they work hard for it.”

***

pp. 150-52

“Tell us of Uttamasloka even
while the mice make noise and
run in and out under the
door. Let them do their thing—
Do you think Maharaja Pariksit or the
sages at Naimisaranya were disturbed if
a mouse ran by?
‘What if it were a lion?’

“Uttamasloka lifted the earth
on His snout, Govardhana
on His left pinkie. He spoke
As befits in Bhagavad-gita. A
friend of Prabhupada’s said to him,
‘I like Krsna of the battlefield
of Kuruksetra, but not Krsna
of Vrndavana.’ Srila Prabhupada replied,
‘That’s all right. If you are not so fortunate
as to like Krsna in Vrndavana, then
go to Arjuna-Krsna. That’s
also Krsna.’ But hear from
Him. Tat srnu.
Krsna says He’s the taste in water.
He grants fearlessness to narayana-para.
I . . . I don’t know Sanskrit
but my Guru Maharaja
has told me about Krsna.

“Murray gave up Lucky
Strike cigarettes after 20 years he wrote
and sent me a card by Chagall of Moses
Giving 10 Commandments, cultural item
no doubt. Goodbye forever. If I
see any old pals, I’ll tell them, ‘Hare Krsna Hare Krsna,
Krsna Krsna Hare Hare.
Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare.’
Reichean Ph.D. is Harry Lewis. I got some smart
Jewish friends, you bet.
Harry Krsna Smith. Guarino joined that
cult. Heard his Irish mom rejected
him. Good for her. Cabbage
and potatoes.
God and the strength of my good right arm.
Mom, I bless you.’

“Steer to the sages at Naimisaranya. They were eager to hear. Mundane stories are static. We get tired and can’t read Ulysses or the Brothers Karamazov endlessly. Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita, yes. They discuss uttama-sloka.”

From Entering the Life of Prayer

pp. 97-98

“I have probably repeated the same things, but here again on another walk up on the hill at Gita-nagari woods, I am asking the Lord and Prabhupada to please let me see the falsity of my position: how I am apart from being Your eternal servant, the things I have done wrong as a devotee and before becoming a devotee. Let me feel the wrongs and take my actual position, which is not that of an advanced devotee, big guru, pure soul, humble soul, etc., but a very fallen soul who needs the Lord desperately and who loves the Lord very much as a child loves a father. That is hidden. I don’t feel that love, I don’t feel that need, I don’t feel that wrong. This is what prayer is for—to bring out those feelings of love, of need, of repentance, and to pray to enter them. So as long as these are far from me, I just walk around and chant and write and pray, but I am like a person licking the outside of the bottle of honey.

“As Amala-bhakta said, it is as though I were iced. There is a big frozen block of ice around the heart, and nothing can be done. So I pray in this way, my Lord, although I cannot cry, although I cannot love, although I don’t deserve it. (Because if I discover Your love, I might spoil it with self-love.) I don’t deserve yet Your flowing love. Still, I beg for it. As Bhaktivinoda Thakura says, ‘You are the most intelligent person, and You can find a way to make all this possible, my Lord.’ I have this inner condition: my life is being wasted, although everything looks nice, and I am living away in my cabin and reading books and seeing people. It looks nice, but this is what’s wrong: there is no inner life. Please help me.”

From Songs from Stuyvesant Falls

pp. 5-6

5:10 A.M.

“Krsnadasa Kaviraja tells a final
extraordinary incident about Haridasa Thakura
wherein he asks us to hear about it without putting
forth dry arguments for the incident which is beyond
material reasoning, and one must believe in it with faith.

“One day Haridasa was sitting in his cave reciting the holy name very loudly. At that time a woman appeared in the courtyard. She was no common prostitute but a kind of celestial goddess and the beauty of her body was so bright that it tinged the entire place with a yellow hue. The scent of her body perfumed all directions. She told Haridasa that he was beautiful and qualified and she desired union with him.

“Haridasa was immovable for he was deeply determined. He told her he had taken a vow to chant a large number of names and only when he was finished could he do what she desired. At his invitation, the woman sat and heard his chanting. In the morning she went away. For three nights she came and heard his chanting and then she revealed herself to him. She said she was the illusory energy of the Supreme Lord and she had come to test him. She asked that Haridasa please instruct her

about the ecstasy of chanting the Hare Krsna
mantra. She said that she had formerly
received the name of Lord Rama
from Lord Siva, but she begged for the name
of Krsna. Haridasa instructed her and
Maya left with great pleasure.

“I heard the pastime with faith, and it enhanced my
japa to think
of Haridasa avoiding
the allurements of Mayadevi.
I chanted in peace and thought if Maya tempted this
tiny
jiva I would be able to
withstand her by following
in the footsteps of Haridasa
Thakura, and go on chanting.

“The poem-song is offered to Radharani. When I
perform arati to Her I address Her as the hladini-sakti
of the Lord. I say Krsna will never enjoy a woman of
the material world.

“He enjoys with His own pleasure potency, and there is
no tinge
of sense gratification. I admit
I don’t have entrance to these
love affairs. But I like reading
Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Bhajana-rahasya where he
advocates that one should aspire
to be a gopi-manjari and take birth
as a cowherd girl in Vraja and
marry a cowherdsman. But one
doesn’t enjoy with one’s husband.
One makes a parakiya relationship
with Krsna. In the case of the
manjaris, they don’t want a direct relationship with Krsna.
Even if He tries to force Himself
on them, they cry ‘Go away!
This body belongs to Radharani!’
They please Krsna by making
arrangements for rendezvous with Radhika. I enjoy
my private arati to Radha and Krsna and express
these manjari aspirations
because all the Gaudiya acaryas are in
that mood, and I think that there is nothing wrong in
praying that way in the morning.
It is done with musical kirtana with
my musician friends and we
do it with rhythm in mind in love
of Radha-Syama.”

***

pp. 24-25

“I rose at midnight each
day and tried to write
throwing off pretension.
Sometimes I bash myself and sometimes I express
trust
that I am doing the right thing.

“I’ve only chanted eight rounds, but I paused to write
the
poem. Raghunatha’s relationship with the Lord is very
dear to me. I am glad
I could write
a little summary and then
tell you of my progress
with the autobiography.
The poem is a song for
Lord Caitanya and His circle of
devotees. They worshiped the
holy names with tumultuous kirtanas at the Ratha-
yatras and
in the temple. It was
His method for delivering
love of Godhead in the
age of Kali. I hear music which I dovetail as kirtana for
the Lord.

“It is my way of celebrating
melody in service to Krsna.
He is lenient and accepts
it in the realm of
harinama sankirtana
knowing it is my desire.
Radha and Krsna are the objects of my love, and I
sing for Their pleasure. I beg Them to accept
the humble offering
in the right motivation
as praise of Their union and gratefulness for Their
darsana
to this unworthy soul.”

***

pp. 70-71

“Yesterday Hurricane Irene came to
New York. Heavy tropical rains fell for twenty-four
hours flooding the roads and felling big trees.
We were warned to stay
indoors. My dentist phoned
and canceled my appointment
for today. Nevertheless
Bala cooked a big
feast for Nitai-priya’s
wedding and everyone was pleased with him
and Baladeva
from Trinidad washed
the pots from the cooking.
I posted my website
reading as usual.
The windstorm did not stop my worship of Radha-
Govinda. It’s quiet now, and I perform the puja in my
room. Pink roses are in their vases, and Hanuman has
marigolds in his brass dish. The music makes it jolly.

“The daily worship is a solid
foundation of my sadhana along
with peaceful, rapid chanting of
the japa. I am satisfied that
I am performing a good example
in austerities and celebrating
praise of the Divine Couple.

“The word-poem verbalizes my silent acts and leaves a
record of them for
likeminded readers who
want to know I’m
faithfully at my post
honoring Radha-Govinda.”

From The Wild Garden

pp. 10-11

“Vrndavana

Field Notes:

“Govardhana Hill—almost purple in the sunlight; the tree are green this time of year. Rocks jut out like square chunks, reddish-yellow, stained black and other shades by the weather. We are on the inner path around Govardhana, a sand road. It is Purnima, a day when many Vrajavasis circumambulate on the outer, hardtop path.

“My mood is all-Western, but my simple essence (spirit soul) has been directed here by my spiritual master. My American-born Godbrothers guide me. They are more acclimated to India. Before we start walking, we sit under a tree and read. Govardhana is the tilaka marking of Vraja. It is the place of Govinda’s pastimes. ‘Please accept unhappy me and grant me residence near you. . . . Don’t consider if I am acceptable. . . .’ (Raghunatha dasa Gosvami).

“As we hear about the residents of Gokula, today’s residents walk by. The children here are beautiful and exotic-looking. Srila Prabhupada brought me to this place to hear of Krsna’s pastimes. I know to control myself, and not commit offenses.

“When you walk around Govardhana, your sense of self becomes small or lost. You just keep watching the man ahead. When he bows down at a sacred place, you do too. I am usually self-conscious about it, and that makes it hard to pray while I lie prostrated in the sand. But I keep up the pace, walking on my tender soles over the foot-worn earth and chanting Hare Krsna. Days like this do something for the soul.

“‘This is Aniyora, where the huge form of Krsna manifested as Govardhana Hill and ate all the offerings cooked by the devotees.’ Krsna kept saying, ‘More! Give Me more!’ The people offered more capatis, more rice, more vegetables, but He demanded, ‘More!’ Then they offered Him a tulasi leaf, and He was satisfied.”

***

pp. 42-43

It Snowed All Day

“5:01 A.M.

“It snowed all day, but the
asphalt roads are dry;
Only the lawns and roofs
are covered in white. How
charming, but we wait restlessly
for warm spring.

“We wait for the season where
we don’t have to wear big
coats and double pants,
and we can walk in Saci’s
backyard grass instead of the
dangerous car road.

“But winter bangs on us as if
he’ll never leave. It’s like
the manifestations of my japa.
I wait until I can chant
with priti, with love
for the holy names.

“Today I chanted fast and furious with no
pausing or sleepiness, completed my sixteen
in two hours. But
something was lacking.
Lord, when will You allow
me to enter the sacred land
of suddha-nama, saying
Radha and Krsna and Hare
with divine tenderness?
It seems like it will never
come. I wait as I
wait for spring
and soft breezes and flowers
to enter the world.
It’s up to me, isn’t it?

“But if a drop of Your
mercy would fall
then everything would
be complete.”

***

pp. 63-64

“Chasing Krsna”

“4:42 A.M.

“Chasing Krsna through the
early hours, racing the mantras
to the quota on time. Counting
is important, numerical strength,
to reach sixteen before 4 A.M.
Refreshed and completed before
Narayana comes up.

“These are rare moments to
share with minimum
talk. Just being together
fulfills the heart.

“As he fills Their cups with
water, you watch from your
chair and the feeling is
fulfilled.
Lord Caitanya told Rupa
not to associate with
nondevotees and I don’t.
I keep my friendships with
the Vaisnavas.
In my arati to Radha-Govinda
I face Radharani as I hope to at
death, with plain reality
of wanting to go to Her, the
best devotee of Krsna because
She loves Him the most.
And I look to Govinda with
confidence
that He’s the Cowherd
Boy in charge of the universes.
My faith is simple and steadfast.

“I look forward to the
minutes when Saci reads
to me at breakfast from
the Krsna book. He’s defeating
the Mayavadi arguments about
the rope and the snake
saying the Vaisnavas are
right when they say the
universe is temporary but
not false because it
comes from the Absolute Truth.
I like my rounded life
and pray to be able to
write a personal episode
from my experience
in the ISKCON ranks.

“There was never a
dull moment, and I
just have to face them
unafraid and remember
a time when I was
on the spot.”

From ISKCON in the 1970s: Diaries

pp. 206-7

“I often tell others how wonderful it is to rise very early as recommended in the scriptures. But first, I have to get up from my own bed and wash my face. And I have to come out of dreams. Those dreams have lasted most of the night, and they’re not what I want. Once I’m conscious, my dreams seem ridiculous. They leave me groggy, and so I come to the Bhagavatam under the lamplight, squinting like an owl who’s accustomed to the dark. Moths are attracted to this light, and a bug crawls on the back of my neck. But these things can be overcome. I’ll try again to hear of Sri Krsna, the origin of all the Visnus, who appeared in the dynasty of the Yadus. Let me read Prabhupada.

“The going is a bit rough at first, because the material seems quite technical, regarding catur-vyuha the four first expansions of Krsna. But then this sentence, ‘Although Sukadeva Gosvami was the greatest muni, he could describe Krsna only partially, for no one can describe Krsna fully.’ That fit my mood, to hear that there’s much, much more to Krsna than we can ever understand.

“My imperfect reading is intruded with doubts—‘Is this the scripture of the Hindus?’ ‘How can it be the only book worth reading?’ ‘How can I attain conviction?’ Then I come upon this: ‘Everyone within this material world . . . beginning from Brahma down to the insignificant ant, is full of material desires for sense enjoyment
. . . but when thus engaged one cannot fully understand the value of krsna-katha (Bhag. 10.1.4, purport). This explains why I doubt; I’m somewhere between Lord Brahma and the ants.

“We have to hear from a pure devotee whose only motive for reciting the Srimad Bhagavatam is to serve the Lord. He is giving the right medicine for the conditioned soul (bhavausadha). But then, ‘The Krsna consciousness movement is trying to train qualified preachers to recite Srimad Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita throughout the entire world.’ Srila Prabhupada doesn’t want me to stay resting at his feet but to tell others (‘recite’) that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

“The plan to step again into the river of Srimad Bhagavatam is glorious, but it’s beset with difficulties. When we go to bathe in a sacred river, there is often a pebbly bottom or turtles and other rude awakenings or distractions. Every day is not the same. Some mornings are more sublime. But be pleased, spirit soul, that you are off the bed of dreams and here at the river. For an old sot like you, it’s a treat to be singing Sanskrit under the lamplight. In today’s purport, I find a verse from ‘Dasavatara-stotra’ and happily croak the sloka of Lord Buddha: ‘Kesava dhrta-buddha-sarira jaya jagadisa hare.’

“I like it so much I try it several times, using the same tune as Prabhupada.

“When you wake, your doubts wake also, and your physical complaints wake—so would you prefer to sleep? No, I prefer Srimad Bhagavatam. I’m not a spider or a moth who’s only attracted to the lamp or to the flesh. I aspire to be one of those preachers Srila Prabhupada wants us to be all over the world, delivering Srimad Bhagavatam. I can do that if I work within ISKCON, reading from his books in the Srimad Bhagavatam class.

“Since merely talking about Krsna is so pleasing, we can simply imagine how pleasing it is to be rendering service to Krsna. Thank you, Srila Prabhupada, for appearing as the essential teacher and pure devotee. I understand that Srimad-Bhagavatam is powerful medicine and will counteract sense gratification, which pushes us into bhava-roga, the cycle of birth and death. I’m taking the medicine, by your grace.”

From Prabhupada Appreciation

pp. 118-19

“Avoiding Offenses to Prabhupada

“ . . . The scriptures declare that the spiritual master is not an ordinary man. This conclusion should restrain us from faultfinding. In the Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 1.45, Krsnadasa Kaviraja states that the spiritual master is nondifferent from Krsna, because in the form of the spiritual master, Krsna guides the devotees. Prabhupada writes, ‘A spiritual master always represents himself as the humblest servitor of the Personality of Godhead, but the disciple must look upon him as the manifested representation of Godhead.’ And in the next purport, ‘To envy such an acarya is to envy the Personality of Godhead Himself. This will produce an effect subversive to transcendental realization.’

“The spiritual master gives transcendental knowledge and leads his disciples on the path of enlightenment. He should not be criticized. According to the Bhagavatam, one who criticizes and envies the spiritual master is compared to the elephant who bathes in the river and then pours dust on himself again. The devotional service of such a person becomes dry and useless, and he quickly gives it up.

“Neither is it enough to avoid offenses to the spiritual master as if remaining neutral. A disciple should actively seek his pleasure; otherwise he runs the risk of displeasing him by his complacency and in attention. Yasya prasadad bhagavat prasado:

“‘By the mercy of the spiritual master one receives the benediction of Krsna. Without the grace of the spiritual master, one cannot make any advancement. Therefore I should always remember and praise my spiritual master.’

“As you can invoke attachment to Krsna by association with the pure devotee spiritual master, you can also is extinguish that attachment by offenses at his lotus feet. According to the Nectar of Devotion, attachment to Krsna, whether shadow or para, can be nullified by offenses. A serious offense will destroy one’s spiritual creeper almost to nil; less serious offenses will cause one’s attachment to become second- or third-class.”

Writing Sessions

From Dublin Pieces (June 1996)

#2

“This envious person in the Dublin preaching center. I hear of someone going to see their spiritual master and think something ill of him. This is called envy and fault-finding. Go your way, toothless. Sag your way forward, unable to be compassionate to preach to young people, or bold to organize the preaching.

“Still, I am what I am. I can’t pretend. Can’t make a hokum speech (at least hokum for me) that sticks in my throat. Give me a chance. ‘Read one hour a day,’ he says. ‘This is not optional.’ The advice to read is good. But not optional? Oh, but your own spiritual master used to say things like that, surrender, easy . . .

“On this trip down from Northern Ireland it was daisy time. (Last trip it was hawthorn blossoms.) Big white daisies with yellow centers bunched on the roadsides and fields. Early morning and M. passed everyone up, taking advantage of the powerful surge of the American motor in our Ford van. Only one person in the Hare Krsna center in Dublin. ‘The others are advertising for a festival,’ he says. He gave me a garland. They say we will stay in someone’s flat in town and come here in the morning to give classes. What’s the SB verse I must speak on. ‘It is not optional.’

“Gulls cry. Go in twenty minutes now to the office where I tell them I have lived in the USA all my life.

“Yeah, I was the kid. Somehow escaped the worst corruption but did self-abuse just as my whole generation did. Lived in the attic bedroom provided by my Mom and Dad, who are both almost dead now. I am – I grew up in the 1950s. ‘Earth Angel’ was the hit song for months, and ‘My Babe’ by Little Walter was another hit, with Alan Freed’s ‘Listeners.’ Bums on WOR Radio, Channel 9 TV. Grew up, grew up. I could tell you so much trivia, you’d be sick to hear it.

“‘Read for an hour, it is not optional.’ He’s right, but I don’t do it. I’ll get some time in before this day is out. I already read for twenty minutes in Cc.

“On the ride down here, I drowsed. Everyone has hay fever in our little group, especially M. He has long, gray hair now. We’ve got four days in the city to get everything done before we leave. We are hopeful. I’ll be writing here in pieces. I don’t know how much I’ll take off in flight. Stream of dreams or unconscious images when I arrived here. I wanted to express them but fell asleep under the blanket in the bed provided by Bhakta Vince. That stuff may have been interesting. Could provide a handle on why I am who I am. The thing is that the swami whose letter to a bhaktin I read, said that one hour reading is not optional – that swami would most likely not approve of Dublin Pieces. Now I have to not worry about that. He’s got his way to be Krsna conscious and I have mine, and we both want to be please Krsna and Srila Prabhupada. Posters of Srila Prabhupada provided by the Centennial group. Nice color photos. One quotes him, ‘By distributing these books, you are doing a great service for Krsna,’ and shows him with hands in pranamas, close up in the LA temple, soft, light, flower garland. Another photo shows him lecturing – I think at ‘Family Dog Auditorium,’ San Francisco Ratha-yatra – and the quote: ‘Always remember Krsna and never forget Him.’

“At 7:00 A.M., people crossing streets. It looks like a different town. The swami who visited here said it is a very good place for preaching because people are open and the Hare Krsna movement is popular. He advised the bhaktin to join full-time. He credited himself with convincing another bhakta to join in 1994. So, we are all pitching in together, and we should appreciate each other and overlook the minor discrepancies. I saw a poem by C. Milosz appreciating Allen Ginsberg, who is such a different poet than Milosz. He said he forgave A.G. for his excesses. Why can’t I be like that? And if ‘they’ don’t like me and put me down, don’t be depressed by that.

Dubs, Dublin’s
Bookmakers
Mad Ass
Bleeding Horse Cavern.

“Second story bookstore with a big photo cutout of James Joyce wearing an eyepatch. Come up and get misled one way or another. Hare Krsna is popular. Why not live here and preach to people? Or get a house and acres in Counties Cavan or Leitrim. It’s cheap there. Write most of the time. Take a daily walk with a blackthorn stick, but come to cities to preach and they can bring people out to meet you. You and your disciples. Why not? Hey!”

(June 24, 1996, 9:00 A.M.)

 

<<< Free Write Journal #151

Free Write Journal #153 >>>


Forgetting the Audience

Writing Sessions at Castlegregory, Ireland, 1993Start slowly, start fastly, offer your obeisances to your spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. You just drew his picture with your pencils. He appears carved out of wood…

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Last Days of the Year

I found I had hit a stride in my search for theme in writing, then began to feel the structure limiting me. After all, I had given myself precious time to write full-time; I wanted to enter the experience as fully as possible. For me, this means free-writing—writing sessions with no predetermined shape, theme, or topic…

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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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