Free Write Journal #206


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Free Write Journal #206

July 29, 2022

Free Writes

Writings of the Great Vaisnavas

My process in compiling the Free Write Journal each day is to begin with two “rabbits.” By rabbits I mean anecdotes, taken mainly from our life at Viraha Bhavan. Readers of the Journal will be familiar with these anecdotes telling about the devotees in our ashram, the different prasadam we offer, excerpts from our out-loud readings, etc. After the two rabbits, I then post excerpts from three books I have written, and then I go on posting other subjects. Today I am announcing a change in the process. After completing the two rabbits, I will post an excerpt of a poem or writing by a great Vaisnava of the past. Today I am starting with the first half of Raghunatha dasa Gosvami’s “Manah-siksa.” When I finish that poem, I will post his long poem, “Vilapa-kusumanjali.” I will also post poems from Stavamala, a collection of poetry by Srila Rupa Gosvami. I will post his poem “Utkalika-vallari (“A Vine of Hopes”). (Sacinandana Swami gave a series of lectures on this poem at the Govardhana Retreat for 2022. He called it Rupa Gosvami’s “swan song,” and said it was his last and best composition.) And I will post other poems from Rupa Gosvami. I will also post excerpts from Srila Prabhupada’s “Description of the Autumn Season,” from the Krsna book. I hope the readers will enjoy this new variety. (The poems by Rupa and Raghunatha Gosvamis are translated by Kusakratha Prabhu.)

Our Out-Loud Reading

In our out-loud reading, we are hearing of the dealings between Lord Caitanya and Sanatana Gosvami in Jagannatha Puri. Sanatana Gosvami came to Puri by walking through the Jharikhanda Forest. Sanatana drank bad water in Jharikhanda, and he contracted a disease, which covered his body with itching sores that oozed a foul liquid. He dreaded that Lord Caitanya would touch him in this condition, so he planned to throw himself under the Jagannatha cart during Ratha-yatra and take his life. When he saw the omniscient Lord, Caitanya Mahaprabhu said to him that one could not attain Krsna by committing suicide. He told Sanatana that he had already given his body to Lord Caitanya, so how could he destroy another person’s property? The Lord insisted upon embracing Sanatana, even though the liquid from his sores smeared the body of the Lord. Sanatana was mortified by this, but Lord Caitanya felt that the aroma from Sanatana’s body was like a combination of sandalwood and musk. Sanatana confided in Jagadananda, who advised Sanatana to return to Vrndavana. When the Lord heard of this, He reprimanded Jagadananda, calling him “Jaga”, and said that Jaga was just an impudent boy, whereas Sanatana Gosvami was a learned, advanced person who could give advice even to Lord Caitanya (such as the time when Sanatana advised Lord Caitanya not to go to Vrndavana followed by big crowds). Sanatana Gosvami lamented to the Lord that He was treating Jaga with more affection than He was giving to Sanatana, to whom He just gave honors. But Lord Caitanya said He had as much affection for Sanatana as He had for Jagadananda.

Then Lord Caitanya was speaking to Haridasa and Sanatana, and He told them frankly that He considered them both as His little children, and that He didn’t consider any faults on their part. This is a sweet section in the Caitanya-caritamrta.

The Pure Pujari

Manohara was reading to us from the Bhaktivedanta purports of Caitanya-caritamrta about the concept of a pure pujari. First the pujari has to cleanse his or her body in a shower. Then the pujari has to wear clean clothes. Next the pujari cleanses the body with acamana. Then, going deeper, the pujari has to change the consciousness from material to spiritual. The pujari does this by uttering prayers such as “I am not a brahmana or a sannyasi or a vaishya, etc. I am a servant of the servant of the servant of the servant who serves the gopis of Vrndavana.” One has to give up the material conception of the body, and in a spiritualized body one is ready to perform the pure duties of a pujari to the Deity.

Two Murtis Missing

This morning Krsna dasi took my Prabhupada murti to clean him and change his dress. So he wasn’t present when I said my gayatri mantras. I usually take darsana of him while I’m saying the guru-gayatris: “I offer my obeisances to my spiritual master. Let me try to understand my spiritual master who is always in blissful Krsna consciousness. Let me meditate upon him being enthused just as he enthuses us.” Prabhupada was returned several hours later. Krsna dasi explained to me how she was so careful in handling his arm, which had been broken in two places and is now re-glued firmly. She says she has to dress him carefully so that there is no strain on his arm when she passes his upper-dhoti piece through his arm and up his shoulder. (Baladeva is also very careful in handling Srila Prabhupada.) My Lord Caitanya murti was taken by Atindra Prabhu, who made a very generous offer to go out of his way and drive all the way to Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, where Hemagaura is going to repair the Lord and repaint Him. I don’t know how long Mahaprabhu will be away. We’ll have to wait for someone to bring Him back from Shippensburg. I miss my Lord Caitanya, who stands so gracefully on the altar.

Lament

Jayadvaita Swami wrote to me that he attended a retreat by Sacinandana Swami. He said it was enlivening. Sacinandana Swami spoke about controlling the mind. When the mind gets in a criticizing mode, he said you can switch it to feeling grateful for the many things we have. Then JS told me his own itinerary: a week in France, a week in Spain, and then on to Vrndavana. I kind of regretted that I could not do seminars or traveling preaching. But when I faced the reality of it, I realized I could no longer do those things. Most of it has to do with my physical condition. I can’t walk across the room except being supported by two men or being pushed in my wheelchair. And what if I were to travel? I just read the “Letter from the Editor” by the editor-in-chief of The Week magazine. He went on a vacation. In an airport lounge, he was surrounded by crowds of people without masks, coughing and talking. As a result of his trip, he caught a bad case of COVID and had serious symptoms of illness. I’m not looking forward to travel like that. Besides, I feel mostly incapable of lecturing anymore. I’ve forgotten all my Sanskrit, and I don’t think I can speak on a focused theme. So I am best staying here safely at Viraha Bhavan doing my Journal, and working with my wonderful book production team to reprint my out-of-print works. A whole generation of devotees haven’t seen my books because they’ve been out of print for so long. It has been especially satisfying to get out new additions of the sixteen books that I have written about Prabhupada. That’s a great achievement, and I owe it to my book production team.

Dattatreya’s Treasure Chest

Anuradha dasi contacted Dattatreya to see if he had any material from the time he was my editor and typist. When Dattatreya started looking at his old hard drives, it turns out he’s sitting on top of a treasure chest. So far he’s found missing manuscripts, books that are out of print, but he has the files for them so they don’t have to be retyped. There are also diaries that I kept while writing Prabhupada-lilamrta, and manuscripts that have to be read to find out what the contents are (!) There is also previously unpublished Every Day, Just Write material, etc. Krsna Bhajana, our press manager, is excited by this discovery. Discoveries like this save months and even years of hard work by typists, proofreaders and editors. The ultimate goal is to get all of my books back into print before I leave the planet.

Little Life

We’ve been experiencing in a heat wave, five days in a row of temperatures in the mid 90s F. (about 35° C) and no rain. This is all right for the corn because it likes the heat. But the strawberries output is finished for the season because it’s too hot. We won’t be able to offer them until the fall. The small tulasis that we’ve been raising have started wilting. We had to bring them into the shade today. This is nothing like what the devotees have to tolerate in Vrndavana, where the temperatures go up to 120° F (49° C). Our local heat wave is supposed to end tomorrow with thunderstorms and lower temperatures. These are adhidaivic miseries, miseries caused by nature under the control of the demigods. They do not have such weather in Goloka Vrndavana. The scientific authorities will give any reason for the aberrations in the weather—global warming, breakdown of the ozone, pollution from all the gas-powered cars and coal, etc.—anything but God. Prabhupada has given the simple answer that if there were widespread chanting of Hare Krsna all over the world, the natural balance would come back and the effect of Kali-yuga can be minimized for 10,000 years. Our lack of strawberries is no big thing compared to the bigger picture of miseries in the world. But I am reporting our little life, where we at least see Krsna’s hand in everything.

Companionship for Krsna Dasi

Hemamukhi dasi (a close friend of Krsna dasi’s) and Hemamukhi’s mother are here for a week to give Krsna dasi company and association. They will cook some Trinidadian meals and give us a variety from Manohara’s Italian cooking. Manohara still wants to cook a few days so that he doesn’t lose his momentum. With all the additional cooks here, the Deities will be getting nice offerings.

Gnocchis by Manohara

Manohara prepared gnocchi today. It’s an Italian comfort food. It’s made of a dry variety of potato mixed with flour into a dough, which is then rolled out and cut into small chunks and then boiled. If the potatoes aren’t right, it becomes very starchy. My disciple Nanda Kisora comes from a town which they call the “gnocchi capital.” Every year they have a festival, and the mayor dresses up as a gnocchi. Manohara said there’s a saying that describes the difference between a friend and a mere acquaintance: If you haven’t sat together and eaten gnocchis with someone, then you’re an acquaintance, not real friends. Manohara’s gnocchis were just right, delicious.

A Blast at the Doctor’s Office

Baladeva gave out thirty of his chocolate chip cookies (freshly-baked). He had had business at the pulmonologist’s office. He didn’t get to see our specialist doctor, Dr. Garcia. But he dropped off cookies for her and her staff. They gladly accepted them. Later that day our house received a phone call asking for “Charles” (Baladeva’s legal name). Baladeva wasn’t there to answer the phone, but it was answered by Krsna dasi. The person calling was Dr. Garcia herself! It is very rare that a doctor calls us; that’s something done by one of their assistants. But Dr. Garcia personally called and said that she and the girls in the office “had a blast with the cookies.” Dr. Garcia has always been very enthusiastic to receive the cookies and lamented that there was none left for her son by the time she got home. Cookie distribution rocks! Just this morning Baladeva went into Lowes to buy a gallon of paint. When he was checking out, his cashier yelled over to another cashier, “This guy makes the best chocolate chip cookies you ever want to have.” Unfortunately he had no more cookies with him that day. It’s hard keeping up with the demand for prasadam.

A few days ago Baladeva made an order with the Jam Factory on the phone because they’ve moved their operation. The girl who answered recognized him and said, “Oh Bala, where have you been? We look forward to your visits,” (which really means they look forward to our giving them prasadam, which can be anything: sabji, rice, puris, anything). In return, the Jam Factory gives us a 35% discount on their jams, which is wholesale price.

A Visit to a Different Doctor

We had an 11:30 appointment with the neurologist Dr. Kozer. We arrived fifteen minutes early, and the doctor was half an hour late. They told us he was treating a “complicated” patient. When we finally got to see him, we told him there had been no progress or improvement since the last time we saw him in April. He has diagnosed me as having Parkinson’s disease and is treating me with medicines. Today he again said he would increase the dosage and give a new prescription. He’s trying to be more aggressive with it. But he’s reluctant to increase too much because of potential side effects. He asked me to stand up and walk a few steps, but I could only take one step without support, and then he asked me to sit down again. He said Parkinson’s disease progresses very slowly. It might take ten years before you get to the stages of uncontrollable shaking and not being able to do anything for yourself. I’m not even sure I agree with him that my immobility is due to Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Kozer said that he would see us in two months. Baladeva said the last time he said that, we did not get a new appointment for three and a half months. So we went to the appointment lady and got us an appointment for two months. Dr. Kozer said, “The cookies may have worked.” So it seems like the prasadam distribution did work.

Writings of the Great Vaisnavas

From Stavavali by Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami

Sri Manah-siksa: Instructions to the Mind

“1) O mind, I grasp your feet and beg you with sweet words: Please throw away all your pride and develop intense, extraordinary love for my spiritual master, Vrajabhumi, the people of Vraja, the Vaisnavas, the brahmanas, the Gayatri mantra, the holy name, and the transcendental shelter that is the youthful Couple of Vraja.

2) Mind, don’t do the pious and impious deeds described in the Vedas. Intently serve Sri Sri Radha-Krsna in Vraja. Always remember that Lord Caitanya is the son of Maharaja Nanda and
my guru is most dear to Lord Mukunda.

3) Mind, listen to me! If you desire to reside in Vraja birth after birth, and if you desire to directly serve the youthful Divine Couple, then with great love always remember and bow down before Srila Svarupa Damodara Gosvami; Srila Rupa Gosvami; his elder brother, Srila Sanatana Gosvami; and all their associates and followers.

4) O mind, give up the prostitutes of friendship with nondevotees, prostitutes who will steal the treasure of your heart. Don’t listen to the words of the tigress of impersonal liberation, which devour everyone. Give up attraction for Lord Narayana, which leads to the world of Vaikuntha. O mind, in Vraja worship Sri Sri Radha-Krsna, two Philanthropists who give away the jewel of pure love.

5) The highwayman lust and his friends have bound me at the neck with the painful ropes of wicked deeds. O mind, please scream, ‘O Krsna! O killer of Baka! I will be killed by highwaymen! Do that and He will save me.

6) Mind, why do you burn both you and me by bathing in the trickling urine of the ass of deviousness and hypocrisy? You should delight both you and me by eternally bathing in the glistening nectarean ocean of pure love for Sri Sri Gandharva-Giridhari (Sri Sri Radha-Krsna).

7) Why should pure love touch me as long as the impudent untouchable woman of the desire for fame dances in my heart? O mind, always serve the leader of those who are dear to the Lord. He will at once kick the untouchable out and allow the pure love to enter in.

8) So He will mercifully break the wickedness of rascal me, so He will give me the splendid nectar of transcendental love, and so He will engage me in Sri Radha’s service, O mind, … with words choked with emotion, worship Lord Giridhari here in Vraja.

9) Mind, meditate on the moon of Vraja forest, as the Lord of my Queen, the queen of Vraja forest, as His mistress, Lalita as their peerless friend, Visakha as the guru who teaches them many things, and Radha-kunda and Govardhana Hill as two places the mere sight of which gives charming transcendental love.

10) Mind, worship Lord Hari’s beloved Radha, who with the splendor of Her beauty makes Rati, Gauri, and Lila burn with envy, who, with the power of Her good fortune defeats Saci, Laksmi, and Satyabhama, and who, with Her ability to control Krsna completely, eclipses Candravali and the other pious young girls in Vraja.

11) Mind, in order to attain the direct service of the Lovers, Sri Sri Radha-Giridhari, who are surrounded by Their friends, every day you must drink, with Rupa Gosvami, the five nectars of worshiping Them, chanting Their names, meditating on Them, hearing about Them, and bowing down before Them, and every day you must worship Govardhana Hill.

12) A person who stays with the devotees, follows Srila Rupa Gosvami, and with a sweet voice sings aloud these eleven excellent instructions to the mind, which grant all spiritual benedictions, will attain the matchless jewel of direct service to Sri Sri Radha-Krsna in the forest of Gokula.”

(the end)

Book Excerpts

From Srila Prabhupada Smaranam: Photographs 1966-1977

pp.47-48

“This looks like the early painting done by a first initiate, Hari dasa (Harvey Cohen), which was placed in the picture window of the Matchless Gifts storefront. Hari dasa gave Prabhupada permission to stay in his artist’s loft in the Bowery with a roommate, and then Harvey went to California. But he gave this painting which he had done to Prabhupada, who used it in a new storefront at 26 Second Avenue. Some passersby took the young persons with long hair as women or transvestites. But they were naturally critical and thought the long-haired young dancers were strange. (They didn’t stop to think that if Lord Jesus raised his arms and danced he would look much like the men in this sankirtana party.) Some passersby were intrigued, couldn’t figure it out, but liked the occult aura. After a few weeks of operation, Prabhupada had people inside the storefront up on their feet and dancing like the figures in the painting. Then the painting made more sense and became an invitation to come on in and join the sankirtana song and dance.

“The picture shows Lord Caitanya in a yellow dhoti, Lord Nityananda in a bluish dhoti, Advaita Acarya in a full white beard and white dhoti, Gadadhara, with arms upraised, in reddish dhoti, and Srivasa Acarya with shaved head and hands in pranams. Perhaps Haridasa Thakura is playing the mrdanga. There are other dancers and players in the background. While a little strange for the Lower East Side hippies, it is certainly perceivable as a group of mind-expanding, ecstatic nonconformists, Lord Caitanya’s sankirtana party, first appearing on Second Avenue in an otherwise bare window front under a big sign, ‘Matchless Gifts.’”

***

pp.49-50

“This picture was taken there, in Swamiji’s room at 26 Second Avenue. It shows him lifting up an unusual-looking book. By the binding and size you can tell it is not one of his Srimad-Bhagavatams from India. Perhaps it is one of the books containing the acaryas’ commentaries which Prabhupada used in his writing work. The book is so large that a few sentimental devotees said, ‘Prabhupada is here demonstrating divine powers of weightlifting.’ The claim is absurd. The book is not that heavy, and before his stroke in 1967, Prabhupada was quite strong. He used to chant kirtana loudly for three hours every Sunday in Tompkins Square Park. Even after his illness, when he recovered in India, he began touring the world widely and giving many lectures and private talks. He slept only a few hours daily and rose at 1:00 A.M. to write. He sometimes became ill from his strain, but he never claimed he was working under miraculous powers. He was very humble about that.

“When a man in India asked Prabhupada to explain the rasa dance, Prabhupada said he was unable to do it, even though he had written it elaborately in Krsna book. Another man challenged Prabhupada to prove he had the realization of sama-darsanam (as stated in Bhagavad-gita), the ability to see Krsna in the heart of every living entity. Prabhupada told the man he had no such power. But then he told him the power that he did have. He said he had been able to make Vaisnavas of thousands of young people who had formerly been drunkards and drug addicts. He was able to see Krsna in their hearts and administer the medicine of chanting and hearing which converted them from meat-eating mlecchas to refined Vaisnavas and brahmanas. The man was very impressed and left the room repeating to himself, “He sees Krsna in everyone’s heart.” So this was the miraculous ability that Prabhupada readily admitted he possessed. He said he had it, however, only by his one hundred percent following of his spiritual master, and he strictly followed the path chalked out by Lord Caitanya. We should not look to Prabhupada’s lifting a heavy book to prove he is a maha-bhagavata but to his amazing powers to change sinful persons into servants of Krsna and humanity, from hippies to happies.”

From Prabhupada Nectar

pp.90-91

“Chapter 2, #17

“Srila Prabhupada managed to encourage every one of his disciples. He made them feel they had worth, that he loved them, and he showed that he knew their particular problems.

“Some were problem cases who could not work well with others, and some were always unsteady. One devotee with problems once came before Srila Prabhupada and pleaded for some relief.

“‘Srila Prabhupada, I would like to apologize for being so fallen and wretched. I never seem to be able to do anything right. I try to give some advice to people, but it’s no use, because even if I think I’m right, they tell me I’m wrong. I just want your forgiveness because I’m so confused.’

“Srila Prabhupada replied, ‘They criticized Lord Caitanya and Krsna.’

The dejected devotee was astounded to hear this, but he thought maybe Prabhupada did not understand what he meant.

“‘Srila Prabhupada, I am not trying to criticize Lord Caitanya and Krsna. I’m just trying to apologize. I’m sorry that I’m so fallen, that I’m not better than I am.’

Prabhupada repeated, ‘They criticized Lord Caitanya and Krsna. Even when Lord Krsna was here, they did not accept. Only a few hundred people accepted that He was God. Everyone else was criticizing. And when Lord Caitanya was here, they even threw a pot at Lord Nityananda. They did not like to accept Him. So what to speak of you and I?’

“The dejected disciple then became overwhelmed to understand that Srila Prabhupada had indeed understood him, understood him better than he knew himself.

“‘Then what is to be done?’ asked the disciple. ‘Just go on trying?’

“‘Yes,’ said Srila Prabhupada.

(Nara-Narayana, interview)”

***

pp.180-81

Chapter 3, #16

“Under Krsna’s protection, Srila Prabhupada lived in the material world in a simple way and was never corrupted or tainted by it. He often appeared to be like an innocent young boy. He once asked his disciples Nandarani and Dayananda if they could adopt him as their son as a strategy to get permanent residency in the U.S.A. If we consider innocent to mean ‘not guilty,’ then Srila Prabhupada was certainly innocent of any material entanglement. Unlike most people, he lived in the world without implication by karmic reaction.

“Prabhupada also felt compassion for the innocent creatures of this world, like the cows, bulls, and calves, and also the women. He saw how women are victimized by others, although they themselves are innocent. Prabhupada felt that as they could easily be corrupted, they should rather be protected. He also referred to all his devotees as innocent boys and girls.

“Prabhupada once used this phrase, ‘innocent boys,’ during a public lecture in Tompkins Square Park. Allen Ginsberg was present with some of his friends, and he laughed sarcastically at Prabhupada’s remark. Ginsberg was so decadent that the concept of ‘innocent boys’ was something beyond him. For a person like Ginsberg, ‘innocent boy’ often implies victims for one’s sense gratification. Prabhupada’s disciples, however, were innocent of sinful life by chanting Hare Krsna under Prabhupada’s protection. Therefore, it is not impossible that innocence can prevail in this world. When one becomes a devotee, he can remain innocent of further guilt and sinfulness, and he will not be corrupted.

“Srila Prabhupada trained his devotees to be shrewd so that they would not become corrupted by the material world. They could retain their innocence and still be well aware of the dangers of maya. They could then be prepared to deal with those dangers. As Prabhupada traveled and preached in cities all over the world, he saw and heard more and more of the horrors of Kali-yuga, yet he always remained innocent of the atrocities. He worked to save mankind and to convert the viciously guilty into saintly human beings.”

***

pp.357-58

“LITTLE DROPS OF NECTAR

#10 Prabhupada is Considerate

“Prabhupada once arrived in New York, and as usual hundreds of devotees had gathered at the temple to meet him. As Prabhupada stepped out of his car, the devotees exploded in a tumultuous kirtana. As he walked to the doorway of the 55th Street temple, hundreds of devotees followed close behind, chanting Hare Krsna and ‘Jaya Prabhupada.’

“A young mother carrying her baby followed immediately behind Prabhupada as he passed through the glass doors that led to the temple’s lobby. The lobby was also filled with ecstatic chanting devotees. Seeing the young mother behind him, Prabhupada stopped and held the glass door open for her. Even with hundreds of people worshiping him, Prabhupada took the time to show proper etiquette to someone else.”

***

pp.380-81.

“#26 PRABHUPADA SAID

“‘So there is no question that one activity is more important than another or that Deity worship is more important than sankirtana. But one individual may be able to perform one activity more satisfactorily than another, so to him that activity will be more important. But in general we cannot say that any of the nine processes is more important than the others, except that if hearing, chanting, and remembering are there, that is the most vital consideration for the general class of men in this age. Service to the Deities, as you are asking me, begins whenever you remember Them and offer all your services by remembering Them at the same time. All activities, words, everything should be offered as service to the Deities, and this offering with remembering will gradually increase as you practice it.’ (Letter of June 16, 1976)”

From The Story of My Life, Volume 2

pp.329-30

“‘Last night, just before Madhu went off for music practice, I asked to talk with him. He sat on the floor, I sat in the chair and looked out the window toward the meadows and the forest. After going over a few schedule formalities, I told him that I intended to spend the extra time staying in one place and reading Srimad-Bhagavatam and writing. This was nothing new to him, but for me there is something confidential that I hadn’t mentioned to him yet. It’s perhaps the hopes that I’m again going to try to enter a reading state, like ‘samadhi.’ As I spoke, my doubt came out about whether this is actually preaching. I had just read Prabhupada’s statement that a devotee should take risks. I said if I respond to this call to preach, it’s not that I could just do something completely radical and different. For me it would mean getting in the van and driving around Europe visiting temples. Would that really be so much more effective preaching than staying in one place and reading Srimad-Bhagavatam (and writing what can be turned later into books, and writing letters)?’

“COMMENT: The above section was me making a reality check whether it was right to try to enter a state of samadhi in reading and writing. But I wasn’t torn about it. I was conclusive. I thought it was preaching. It was the most effective thing I could do.”

From Daily Compositions: An Every Day, Just Write Retrospective

pp.182-83

“I painted there early this morning instead
of writing or reading or attending mangala-aroti.
I painted two of Prabhupada and I liked them.
I did one of two animals wild and
Samsara dava,“ it said over their heads.
And one of something else—a man with
lots of rough sand mixture in his eyes
looking to the left, a little like Prabhupada
but not done in reverence.
Anyway, you don’t have to talk of paintings, right? They
speak for themselves.
But I have nothing to say. Daffodils,
Syama, I ask him does he have a letter?
No, not yet. He’s only been living
in his new situation he says. We talk of
Silavati‘s success in the theater. He said she plays a very
tough character and she’s
getting exhausted by it—the play has been
extended until Easter.
And you? You paint I know, but what else?
You feel sick often, but what else? Can you
tell us of some preaching mission or of
Vrndavana or your soul or Therese of
Lisieux’s soul? A poem? Can you give
us some food? Anything deeper.
I say and say no, just this
while you are watching, I gave this

***

No canvases, no people, no clear empty
stomach of appetite. No love burning for
the personal God, no yearning for Him, no
capacity to read as a student in Bhagavatam.
But no rancor, no demanding wasting
meetings. No angry faces. Left out of
the action, where I want to be.
No shame? No adventure? Would you
like to walk a dozen yards to the shed
and turn the heat and light on and write
whatever comes, no fear of failure?
No women, no men, just a snack
in the kitchen. No fear of this neighborhood.
No extra language you have to learn beyond
your American.
No deep awareness of your coming end
when it’s too late to look for a poem,
when writing doesn’t matter anymore
because you did all you could
in your up time (one of six signs
of life—giving off by-products)
dwindling and death.
Is tomorrow Ekadasi? We don’t have a
new calendar yet. Do you believe in
ESP, ghosts, telepathy and that?
I believe anything is possible but I
Don’t like to think of evil or scary
things. Like things this way simple and
spiritual is pure we can’t know it
until we get a spiritual body.
March 11, alone, look out the window
for someone who may come to give me
canvases so I can paint. Meantime
I can write and read and feel
Hare Krsna silent mantras.”

From Passing Places, Eternal Truths: Travel Writings 1988-1996

pp.50-51

“We have to risk and suffer to help others. I try to avoid danger, and therefore I don’t go to countries like Croatia and Serbia. I prefer to travel on the Autostrade. I ask for medical exemption, for concessions for senior devotees, to be treated gently. I’m a writer. Don’t intrude on my privacy because in solitude I’m preparing a nice message for the people—so don’t strain me or subject me to the wear and tear of socializing. Yeah, yeah.

“The Beatles sang, ‘She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah.’ I’m a devotee, I’m an angel, a special writer, a jewel of ISKCON, yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve got bad ankle, bad headache, good purpose in prose and poem, and as for why my eye goes flitting around the room, well . . .

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

“It’s important to be vigilant, cautious. Srila Prabhupdda says that in the purport to today’s verse. Maharaja Bharata was somehow not vigilant, so affection for a deer ruined his worship of the Supreme. Be vigilant. Therefore I joke about my lack of pure Krsna consciousness.”

From Meditations and Poems

pp.4-5

“MEDITATIONS

Writing as Self-Sacrifice

“‘ . . . The free-writing has led me to the point where I don’t write for others, don’t write a book or essay, but write only for myself—the immediate and most important images and experiences. Sometimes it comes out as a kind of book—a different and new genre of book. It’s like a diary, but not a diary per se. It’s free-writing, but directed. It has chapters—a beginning, middle, and end (based on a set duration of time, usually four weeks)—but the writer feels free at any moment to depart from his theme and write what counts for him right then. It works well (as art, as Krsna conscious reading) when there’s urgency to it.

“‘Sometimes it’s nonsense, and I welcome that as a sign I am letting down barriers and pretensions. Such a demanding, yet welcoming, easy art form. A friendly art for real people. I fear it, yet I love its truth and intimacy. I fear it may stray outside the Krsna conscious canon. But I am already straying every hour and every minute in my consciousness. The writing is only catching some of it and holding it up for my attention and that of others: ‘Look, this is how we actually live. We claim we are devotees, but this is what passes through our minds.’

“‘Krsna, Krsna. I want to surrender. I want to evolve my writing so the total person in honesty desires to write only about Radha and Krsna, has no choice but to live in Vraja (at least in the mind), and with his whole self, constantly and not casually, he writes only about Krsna because that’s who he is. I want to reach that state.

“‘By this career I seem to say I am willing to die in an imperfect state, and my writing is a kind of self-sacrifice to readers and to the art of self-expression. I can say that. But I can also say that I will die in an imperfect state, not due to the fault in this writing process, but due to false ego, aparadhas, and lack of surrender.

“‘The writing tracks and records whatever I am.

“‘But doesn’t this writing also contribute to what you are?

“‘Yes, therefore I am praying and singing in a writer’s parikrama, or saying what it’s like in Vrndavana.’

(Forgetting the Audience 1993)”

From My Dear Lord Krsna: A Book of Prayers

pp.252-53

“My dear Lord Krsna . . . .

“I want to go on petitioning You and praising You always.

“I just read some of Lord Brahma’s prayers to You in Vrndavana. Some of the elements in the commentary are relevant to my prayers to You. Brahma’s prayers have evoked Your mercy, and he has achieved the priceless treasure of humility. ‘Thus he considers himself unworthy to stay near the Vrajavasis very long. Fearing he might commit more offenses, he requests permission to return to his home.’ (Brhad-bhagavatamrta 2.7.105, commentary) I realize that I have been unfit to make prayers to the Vrajavasis, as I have been doing, and that I might be committing offenses. Anticipating that Krsna might ask Brahma to stay in Vrndavana and make more prayers, Brahma and Krsna both realize that Brahma is unfit in his present body to delineate the glories of the Vrajavasis. Once again, if the lord of the universe is not fit to praise the life of Vraja, why should I dare?

“But the commentary then takes the Sanskrit words sarva-drk in another way, meaning, ‘one who makes everyone see, who gives all living entities the ability to see.’ By this meaning, Brahma only prayed as inspired by You, the Lord of his heart. ‘Whatever Brahma said, therefore, is not to his own credit or blame. Any credit deserved by these prayers belongs to the Lord, who inspired them, and if there is anything wrong with the prayers, their puppet-like speaker should not be blamed.’ Reading this gives me relief and makes me feel that it is all right to praise You and the Vrajavasis, because I am only saying what You make me or allow me to say.”

From Obstacles on the Path of Devotional Service

pp.11-12

“Krsna consciousness is not merely an intellectual position, or a political party. It is a state of grace and enlightenment which drives away all ignorance. It is stated in the Krsna book that ‘the appearance of Krsna in the world vanquishes all speculative iconography.’ People may wonder and doubt about the identity of God, but when He actually appears, then all the doubts go away. Similarly, when Krsna appears in your heart and in your life, when you are overflowing with transcendental realization and happiness, then there is no room for doubts. At this stage, you do not have to be a good debater or logician (although such may be used in Krsna’s service).

Krsna appears in the heart by His own grace, but He can be attracted by practices of Krsna consciousness and by contact with a pure devotee.”

Writing Sessions

From Karttika Moon
 “PART THREE
Every Day, Just Write
Volume 49: Karttika in Exile
(Ireland, October 23 – November 22, 1999)

(Continued)

“In a shed a little man
came. He got solace from
his pen.
He was halfway done
no, three-quarters done
and that’s not reversible –
you can eat as you
like.
No one ever came back.
In the dream you were
sort of on the way to
liberation, but still bound
by attractions.
Ah, I salute you as we
drive on the Delhi-Vrndavana road,
it is sacred but we don’t
have plans where to stay
or leave the body.

***

Don’t you ever stop out of fear
you can always keep going and
find a Krsna conscious way
to stumble on.
Better in its way than
Hughes’ portrait of Ariel
because it’s Krsna the
Swami gave us.
Murray smiled when I told
him, ‘I’m helping the Swami.’
And that’s how it is.
I am not a big man
I’m ducking so I don’t get
hit.
I don’t know what I am
saying but I’m trying to
serve him. Tonight
I’ll light my candle
alone.

***

There, there you have
a place in the Mayapur scheme,
the sudras,
the singers,
clay-makers, smiling children…
cynics beware.
Loom of colored cloths/worship
the Deity, bow down,
this is sacred spittle each
body is made of such
atrocities of hacking
children’s arms
they did in crazy countries.
I am maddened
quieted on the day of our
master’s leaving this world.

2

He is teaching us to worship
in the Vedic Planetarium
or anywhere.
By maha-mantra, Wilt the Stilt is dead
at 63. Gunther Grass got a Nobel
Prize. And Timor
and India the Hindu
National Party
and New York Yankees
win again.

3

He’s talking his own language
and the mustached director
may not chant his rounds
and I may not attend the
temple mangala-aratis so
who is to be forgiven and
excused? Who will please
Srila Prabhupada? The cathedral
must be built.
Get interested. Go on the net.
Y2K and beyond. Make me a pancake.
Lay me down to rest
best. Ambulance for villagers
of Navadvipa.

4

Look out that river is
changing
here is my sister Madeleine and
my brother Madhu and I’m
alone in a shed
be careful you
don’t slip on
wet leaves out there
frightening the black and white
cat.
Is this preaching too?
To look with fresh eyes?
He said there is no joy in
the world unless
you please the Lord
and that’s the joy.
So, I believe the planet
planetarium temple will be
so tall and I’ll be so
small in a book-
asrama anyone can
live with me.
Moles, not souls
we’re humble, eh? In this
world of suffer.”

 

<< Free Write Journal #205

Free Write Journal #207 >>


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…

Read more »

 

 

 

 


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…

Read more »

 

 

 

 


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.
Read more »

 

 

 

 


A narrative poem. challenging and profound, about the journey of an itinerant monk who pursues new means of self-Seeking New Land

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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