Free Write Journal #293


Free Write Journal #293

April 19, 2024


Satsvarupa dasa Goswami Maharaja
Spiritual Family Celebration
Saturday, July 6, 2024


Meeting of Disciples and friends of SDG


The Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall
845 Hudson Avenue
Stuyvesant Falls, New York 12174

There is plenty of parking near the Hall. The facility is just a few minutes’ walk from SDG’s home at 909 Albany Ave.


10:00 – 10:30 A.M.      Kirtana

10:30 – 11:00 A.M.      Presentation by Satsvarupa Maharaja

11:15 – 12:30 P.M.       Book Table

12:30 – 1:15 P.M.        Arati and kirtana

1:15 — 2:15 P.M.         Prasadam Feast


Baladeva Vidyabhusana at [email protected] or (518) 754-1108
Krsna dasi at [email protected] or (518) 822-7636

SDG: “I request as many devotees as possible to attend so we can feel the family spirit strongly. I become very satisfied when we are all gathered together.”


Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 20.124–125: “O great learned devotee, although there are many faults in this material world, there is one good opportunity—the association with devotees. Such association brings about great happiness. . . . .”

Srila Prabhupāda: “Therefore, our Society is association. If we keep good association, then we don’t touch the darkness. What is the association? There is a song, sat-saṅga chāḍi’ kainu asate vilāsa, te-kāraṇe lāgila mora karma-bandha-phāṅsa (Gaurā Pahū, verse 3). Sat-saṅga. Sat-saṅga means association with the devotees. So the one poet, Vaiṣṇava poet, is regretting that, ‘I did not keep association with the devotees, and I wanted to enjoy life with the nondevotees. Therefore I’m being entangled in the fruitive activities.’ Karma bandha phāṅsa. Entanglement.” [Conversation with David Wynne, July 9, 1973, London]

Japa Retreat Journal for 4/19/24

Japa Quotes from Tachycardia Online Journal (Part 3)

Haridasa Thakura retained his fervor for completing his japa even when the beautiful prostitute came to seduce him. His patience conquered her to become a great Vaisnava. When Mukunda Datta offended Lord Caitanya by listening to Mayavadi philosophy, the Lord say he would not see Him for millions of years. Mukunda became joyful on hearing that the day would come in the future when the Lord would accept him again. Lord Caitanya became so pleased with Mukunda Datta’s patience that He asked to see him at once. We should be confident that our chanting and hearing will accumulate like a bank balance and that the practice is never in vain. Prabhupada used to say, “Don’t be discouraged.”


Whispering japa, but rapidly. That’s how I have to do it nowadays. I remember Prahladananda Swami’s three tips on chanting: (1) hear the syllables carefully; (2) have faith you are reciprocating with the divine couple; and (3) enjoy the chanting. I enjoy the accomplishment of numerical strength and try to chant with faith and attention. Srila Prabhupada writes, “This transcendental inspiration is called brahma-maya because when one is inspired, the sound it produces exactly corresponds to the sound vibration of the Vedas. This is not the ordinary sound vibration of this material world. Therefore the sound vibration of the Hare Krsna mantra, although presented in the ordinary alphabet, should not be taken as mundane or material” (SB 4.9.4, purport). But Bhaktivinoda Thakura states that if, when chanting, one is thoughtlessly going through the motions, it is the outer covering of the mantra and not actually the transcendental sound vibration. All I know is that if your chanting is offensive, the antidote is to go on chanting. Determined chanting will bring one to the stage of nama-bhasa (shadow of the holy name) and finally to the clearing stage. Prabhupada states that we should not artificially impose the form of the Lord on our chanting meditation but that the day will come when He will spontaneously manifest.


I can’t imagine or appreciate what a great accomplishment or practice it is. Rupa Gosvami says, “I do not know how much nectar is contained in this word ‘krs-na.’ If only I had thousands of heads, then I could chant Hare Krsna.” I try to think of the qualities of the holy names and the great praises made by the acaryas for the process. Sometimes I think of Krsna. It’s beyond my comprehension. It has the potential to bring me very close to Krsna because He’s nondifferent from His names. Thus, we say Krsna dances on your tongue when you chant. You struggle at japa, but it is the most worthy effort. How wonderful are those devotees who are actually enthusiastic to chant. They have already conquered all the Vedic sacrifices and austerities.


January 1, 3:44 A.M.

Early-morning japa. How did it go? It was standard, nothing extraordinary or nothing disastrous. Did you chant at a whisper or in your mind or out loud? I’m afraid I chanted in my mind again. I felt it was too strenuous to do more. But I moved my lips and heard the syllables. Was it strong or weak? It was not so weak. It was consistent. I heard the Hare Krsna mantras in my mind. Did you pay attention to the syllables? Yes, I did. Did you have special spiritual thoughts? No, I did not. I mainly concentrated on the forms of the words. Did you have emotions? No high emotions, but the continual chanting of the mantras. Did you dwell on any Krsna conscious philosophy? No, I did not. Just the exercise of hearing and chanting. Any prolonged mental distractions? No, I did not think of other things, only the chanting. Did you bear down? Yes, I bore down and kept the mantras flowing. Was there sleepiness? A little bit. Did you enjoy it? Yes, I enjoyed the progress of the mantras up to eight rounds. Is this what you plan to do in Vrndavana? I am not sure of my schedule in Vrndavana. But I plan to rise early, before 2:00 A.M., and chant like this by myself.


Yes, I plan to do it in Vrndavana. Was it a pleasant experience? Yes, it always is. Will you chant tomorrow? Of course, without question, every day of my life, as long as I am not sick. Are you ready to do the balance of your sixteen rounds? Yes, I feel fit. I may have to take a little nap first to regain my strength, but I will chant at the beach and finish my quota. Do you look forward to the evening rounds? Yes, I do. They have become an established part of my routine. What’s the difference between the early morning and the afternoon? The afternoon is more relaxed. I chant on my tulasi beads, passing them through my fingers. I chant from 5:00 to 6:30 P.M. and do not concentrate on getting a lot of rounds done. I just spend the hours chanting at an audible whisper.


January 2, 3:26 A.M.

The early-morning japa session went on time. I began at 2:25 A.M. and ended at 3:26 A.M. I’ve been chanting eight rounds. I heard a tape of Dravida reciting from the Bhagavad-gita about action, reaction and forbidden action. I didn’t think much about it during japa, but it was good to hear scripture before I began. I chanted barely audibly but kept my mind attentive to the words and syllables. I would prefer to chant more loudly, but I don’t feel the strength. I have a foundation of faith in reciprocation with Radha and Krsna. It is not in the forefront of my mind, like meditating on their pastimes. But I don’t take it as a cheap thing to chant out loud or to chant audibly to Krsna. I certainly feel some faith, or I wouldn’t do it. I enjoyed the session, moving from block to block. My eyes grew a little heavy after four rounds, but that didn’t stop me from going forth. I was not actually sleepy. My speed was a bit uneven. One round was even under six minutes, but some were seven and a half. I’m not sure why this is so, but it doesn’t bother me much, as long as the rounds get done in order. The japa session was timely and executed with determination. I was praying to Krsna no doubt.


The temperature was down to 34 degrees, the lowest it’s been this fall, for our 5:30 visit to the beach. But it was not windy. At any rate, it seems we have enough warm clothing to allow us to endure it, even when it gets colder. The japa walk was pleasant, as was sitting in the car. We exchanged few words in conversation but chanted constantly. ….We are attracted to the ideal environment for japa, despite inclement weather.


The Lord is pleased by many varieties so even while there was a technical discussion on how loud chanting was better than japa, there was an exception, that if a person loves to chant japa, the Lord will be pleased by it. Japa seems to be my best hope in hari-nama and so it is so important. I have worked my way up from subpar to quota. In Japa Reform Notebook, I referred to being situated in the ‘vast intermediate zone.’ Please Lord, lift me up. Let the words of Dr. Nitai-Gaura be true, that I do have original desire and determination to chant the holy name and that is what pulled me up to par and that is the Lord’s mercy. Please bless me to retain and increase that natural desire and let me go higher to attentive and ecstatic absorption. Anything is possible by Krishna’s grace in cooperation with the behavior of the determined bhakta.”


From Churning the Milk Ocean

pp. 162-65

Lord Of Stories, I am Flower-bearing Spring

(Spring is singing in the Esso stations and around the grapevines tortured where they grow, twisted around the trellises. Spring is Krsna’s favorite season:

“ … of seasons I am flower-bearing spring.” Prabhupada writes,

“Of course spring is a season universally liked because it is neither too hot nor too cold, and the flowers and trees blossom and flourish. In spring there are also many ceremonies commemorating Krsna’s pastimes; therefore this is considered to be the most joyful of all seasons, and it is the representative of the Supreme Lord, Krsna.” (Bg. 10.35, purport)

There are ceremonies in the spring. Gaura-Purnima comes during the thaw, and the crocuses and snowdrops appear. Lord Ramacandra appears in the spring. Do you remember the Rama-navami in 1967 when we chanted at some Peace Be-In in the park behind the 42nd Street library with devotees from several cities, singing with drum and karatalas all day, then down to 26 Second Avenue for potatoes, breaking the fast, and talking about Swamiji, who was on the West Coast? It was neither too hot nor too cold, and we were filled with plans for spreading Krsna consciousness and making spiritual advancement.

Srlla Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura appeared in spring. Prabhupada wrote,

“Adore adore ye all,
The happy day,
Blessed than heaven,
Sweeter than May,
When he appeared at Puri
The holy place,
My lord and master,
His Divine Grace.”

And spring brings out the harinama parties again out of the frozen cities.

This story I am telling wanted it to be spring, but didn’t want to squeeze it in. I can’t squeeze it in, and I can’t squeeze out a story, either. That brings up other stories. I remember one spring how three new bhaktas left the Boston temple together to seek out women or love or just to hitchhike. They’d been devotees all through the winter months, controlling their senses and minds indoors, but now it was full-blown spring and they were called to go out and find what they could, not to be contained or tamed in a wooden temple chanting on beads and reading spiritual books.

You think you can get away with murder. “You’ll be chastised, young man,” my friend Murray said to me on the telephone after reading the manuscript of my latest autobiographical novella Sagittarius. One of the characters in the book was Murray, and I described him as an unemployed poet living off his wife’s earnings as a schoolteacher. You’ll be chastised, young man, for turning life into literature and thinking you can get away with it unpunished. Your raw baked potato stories will fail. They’ll throw the potatoes back at you. They’ll say this stuff is not from the heart. You don’t know how to write deeply enough. When you write, “I think,” you should do it in your closet.

That’s what’s good about the writing sessions. There’s less pretense. I don’t feel sorry for these stories that aren’t audacious enough. They’re not even up to the skits Uncle Jim used to direct and we cousins played in. He burnt a cork and painted our faces black. Someone wore only a towel. Someone else wore an adult’s hat. We had funny lines to say or sing. Then Dutch Hess or Uncle Mickey combed their hair in the front like Hitler’s and stood on a chair to imitate der Führer making a speech. Uncle Mickey imitated hula dancers or strip teasers. “Mickey! Mickey!” They knew he was wild and asked him, as the day grew old and the room smoke-filled, after the meal and the after-meal tangerines had all been peeled and discarded, after the walnuts were nothing but shells—“Mickey, do something funny! Stand on the table and dance! Do an imitation, a mockery, of someone who usually mocks you! Get it out of your system!”

Those Guarino gatherings and children’s skits and Uncle Mickey routines were wilder than anything I can come up with today. Such a thin trickle now, and ashamed and hiding, so literary and starved.

But this is my story, so don’t knock it. I have no teeth, I’m wearing an old linty knit cap, I’m a fifty-four-year-old celibate, alone in this house. It’s spring, and I want to be as alone as any monk praying in solitude.

This story wants to capture spring, but it can’t. I’m in Italy where spring means motorbikes and girls and ice cream and late nights. Better to let it go and seek the eternal primavera in the pages of the sastra.

Spring breathes attachment, sex desire, longing in the mode of passion—so for us, April means travel. We speed by the flowers on the highway. You can’t be attached to the world if you want to get out of it. The spring rasa dance—Balarama’s spring and Krsna’s spring. The gopis respond to the flute song, flowers gushing everywhere. Here, we see the Italian version of the lilac. The American lilac is more delicate—a lighter blue bloom. I saw it last sitting on a doorstep and chanting Hare Krsna.

From Truthfulness, the Last Leg of Religion

pp. 92-93


The truth hurts. I don’t want the devotees thinking the worst of me when they see me. And when I see them I don’t want to think harshly like a fault-finder.

The sastras state there is always a mixture of good and bad in this world and so one should neither praise nor criticize. Especially one should not criticize. A devotee like Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami, however, didn’t want to hear even “the truth” of the devotees’ discrepancies. He was like a bee who went for the honey. He said he simply knew that the devotees were engaged in Krsna’s service. His mood seems preferable to one who says, “Have you noticed how all the devotees in this movement are on the lowest platform? Just see how they overeat!”

We can be truthful but at the same time forgiving. Forgiveness is the wealth of brahmanas.

When the elder gopis lodged complaints to Mother Yasoda she heard the “faults” of her son Krsna, but she never decreased in her unlimited affection for Him. She said, “If Krsna’s ornaments create a light by which He steals the yogurt, then I will take away His ornaments.” But the gopis said, “Never mind that. He and Balarama have Their own natural effulgence.” Mother Yasoda then said, “So protect your yogurt in a high place, and then Krsna cannot steal it.” Mother Yasoda was obliging to her friends and she did not argue against their reports of her son’s mischievous nature—His alleged pinching of children, His pouring water in their ears, His urinating on the floors, and so on. But even while hearing about Krsna’s misbehavior, her heart filled with love and her breastmilk flowed. The complaining gopis said, “Look at Krsna now. He is sitting there as if He is an innocent boy. Just see His face!” The gopis implied that Lord Krsna was acting sweet but was actually deceitful. Mother Yasoda couldn’t help but smile at His beauty, even while they complained.

Lord Krsna is unique. We are supposed to discipline our children or disciples if they behave dishonestly. Don’t give them the impression that it is all right to cheat. One aunt who was lenient toward her nephew’s stealing later had her own ear bitten off by that boy when he grew up and was about to be killed for his crimes. He said, “Your leniency led me to this!” So we should be honest and see the faults in our friends and relatives, but continue to guide them with love.

Q: In Kali-yuga if you intend to do the right thing, that’s counted as truth, even if you don’t actually do it. And if you think wrong but don’t do it physically, it’s not held against you. So why do you emphasize the inner state of an act?

A: There is a concession in Kali-yuga, but the mind is so strong that if you think of cheating, soon you’ll will to cheat and feel like a cheater. Then you will actually do it. The concession is an aid to right behavior for weak persons; it is not to be taken as normal behavior that one can think evil thoughts but say, “It’s okay, I’m not doing it.”

Especially worship and service must go beyond the mechanical acts. It has to be done from the heart and with thought. Maharaja Bharata fell down by thinking of his deer, even while the sage continued to perform his rituals. Prabhupada writes:

Even though he was engaged in worshiping the Deity, his mind was restless due to his inordinate affection. While trying to meditate, he would simply think of the deer, wondering where it had gone. In other words, if one’s mind is distracted from worship, a mere show of worship will not be of any benefit. (emphasis added)

Bhag. 5.8.14

In their essay, “What is Matter and What is Life?” Doctors Thoudam Singh and Richard Thompson give evidence of the intellectual dishonesty of many scientists who attempt to prove that life has evolved from chemicals. Dr. Thompson states that while the scientists themselves, in their more technical works, admit that their “origin of life theories” are filled with problems and inconsistencies, they make a presentation to the public as if these theories were perfect and should be completely accepted. Dr. Thompson concludes, “One could appreciate their efforts more if the findings were presented more honestly.”

Intellectual honesty should also be applied to our practice of devotional life. Then we can consistently present to the world that while Krsna consciousness is perfect and complete, and contains the Absolute Truth for everyone, yet it requires very thorough practice in order to achieve the desired states. There is no profit in making false claims about our own advancement in the name of advertising Krsna consciousness. Perfection exists in the Supreme Lord and in the chain of liberated devotees whose lives and works are testimony to real achievement. Perfection has also been delineated in the scientific texts and scriptures. For ourselves, we can honestly say, “I want to serve those who have seen the truth.” When we make an honest though imperfect effort, “those who are thoroughly honest” will appreciate it. Prabhupada states, “This simplicity of acceptance of the Lord’s authority is more effective than showy, insincere religious fervor” (Bhag. 1.8.20, purport).

Niti-sastras; Sayings of Canakya Pandita and Hitopadesa

pp. 18-20


Be lenient with a son for the first five years. For the next ten years, be very strict. When the son reaches the age of sixteen, treat him like a friend.


It appears that Srila Prabhupada, in training his spiritual sons and daughters, mixed the three kinds of relationships described in this sloka. He also differed in his dealings with various individuals.

When we met Srila Prabhupada in 1966, we didn’t know who he was. We didn’t know anything about the qualifications of a spiritual master or of the duties of a disciple. Srila Prabhupada knew this and did not assert his authority or assume a fatherly role. Gradually, however, he won our love and respect.

In the summer of 1966, Prabhupada gave a lecture in which he spoke of a “kindergarten of spiritual life.” He encouraged us to dovetail our inclinations in service to Krsna. In bhakti-yoga, he said, one controls the senses not by stopping their activity, but by engaging them in Krsna’s service. He said it would cause not even a pinch of difficulty for the practitioner and would bring him to the highest stage of “dovetailing the individual consciousness with the supreme consciousness.”‘ These early days were characterized by Prabhupada’s lenience with his disciples.

Prabhupada’s own father was lenient with him as he was growing up. Gour Mohan De did not like to restrict his son, but always gave in to his demands. Prabhupada loved his father as a pure devotee and a most affectionate well-wisher.

Mother Yasoda also allowed Krsna to do as He liked, unless it threatened His safety. “My dear Krsna, why have You eaten earth in a solitary place? Just see, all Your friends, including Balarama, are complaining against You. . . . All right, if You have actually not taken any clay, then just open Your mouth. I shall see.”

It appears that even the Supreme Lord subjected Himself to the strict discipline His parents meted out. The Caitanya-caritamrta informs us that “Jagannatha Misra, seeing the mischievous acts of his son, gave Him lessons in morality after rebuking Him greatly.” Later, a brahmana appeared to him in a dream and told him that he had committed a mistake in rebuking the Personality of Godhead. Jagannatha Misra replied, “This boy may be a demigod, a mystic yogi or a great saintly person. It doesn’t matter what He is, for I think He is only my son. It is the duty of a father to educate his son in both religion and morality. If I do not give Him this education, how will He know of it? Even if my son is not a common man but Narayana, still it is the duty of the father to instruct his son.”‘

One thing Srila Prabhupada did not approve of was discipline without love. Neither did he believe in “using the stick.” He told the teachers in the gurukulas that they could show a stick, but never use it.

After the kindergarten days on the Lower East Side, Srila Prabhupada gradually became stricter with his disciples. He began to strongly reprimand us, using criticism and sarcasm as teaching tools. I feared his sarcasm—his words could cut me to the heart—but I knew he never spoke out of egotism. He ruled us out of love, and we were afraid to displease him. We followed him because we wanted to. Therefore, he was able to convey a reprimand even without words, with a frown or a disappointed look. Even now, after his disappearance, I sometimes see Srila Prabhupada in dreams. If he looks disappointed with me, I feel moved to rectify my ways. Why did Srila Prabhupada show us his displeasure? To train us. We didn’t doubt the appropriateness of his reprimands.

In his Transcendental Diary, Hari Sauri Prabhu outlines the three stages of Prabhupada’s anger. When Prabhupada was mildly angry, he would speak sarcastic words. If his anger was greater, his lower lip would tremble. If a disciple committed a great offense, Prabhupada would not speak to the offending disciple. These reactions were spontaneous. They weren’t calculated techniques to control disciples.

Prabhupada also never held a grudge against his disciples. He could forgive and forget. Lord Caitanya was sometimes very heavy in His punishment of certain devotees. For example, He banished Junior Haridasa and threatened to banish Mukunda from His personal association. All of Lord Caitanya’s devotees loved Him more than life itself. To be banished from the Lord’s association was worse than death. Srila Prabhupada never banished any disciple. He reprimanded them, expressed anger or disappointment, but he was always willing to welcome a rectified devotee back into his grace.

It wasn’t only Srila Prabhupada’s disciples who received his reprimand, but he sometimes spoke scathingly to guests. Once, Dr. Patel was walking with Prabhupada on Juhu Beach. Pra-bhupada often criticized India’s heroes on those walks, and in this one exchange, Dr. Patel exclaimed, “You are so hard!” Prabhupada replied, “Yes, I must be hard.” Dr. Patel said, “Not only hard, you are harsh and hard!” Prabhupada answered, “I must be!”

From The Best Use of a Bad Bargain

pp. 114-15

Harping on something here: I won’t take orders.
Well, are you lazy?
I need to work in truth. It’s
not easy. I wait
for Kṛṣṇa to reveal to me
and to give me the strength
to carry out His will in my life.
Palm trees clack
and the Lord reveals Himself to
pure devotees. Doubters
get their doubts assured.
I drink coconut water
after offering it to my Lord.
The day is not hot, and
I lie 20–30 minutes in
the cold tub bath while a
gruff attendant,
who speaks only a few words
of English, stands outside
the bathroom listening
to the cricket match.

I feel uncomfortably cool, but slowly
sprinkle water on my chest as
they instructed me.
I wait and ask Kṛṣṇa
for direction.

4:28 P.M.

Low points in day:

  1. Feeling I don’t want to write or that my writing is an indulgence to which I am addicted. I can’t clear this up.
  2. A lack of taste in chanting, which means I can hardly push myself to chant an extra round.
  3. Wondering what we are doing here. Feeling irritated by all the little annoyances here and that making me want to know why we are going to spend so much time here.
  4. Lack of attraction—finding fault with everything—mind in that state.

I didn’t count as low points admitting that I have no one to turn to. As a high point I wanted to ask someone to guide me. Then I realized it would have to be Śrīla Prabhupāda in separation. I also liked the “secret” thought that during the day of health regime, my mind may give me access to deeper things about myself and Kṛṣṇa. Be awake for it.


I jump, startled, when someone knocks on my door or makes a sudden noise outside.

That short “boy” (as the doctor refers to him) whom I call gruff, has a soft side. He looked at the altar and was curious about Prabhupāda. Twice he said it was, “Very nice,” and now in that gruff way he said, “Plate, plate.” He picked up the picture of the Six Gosvāmīs and naively asked if I was one of them.

No, I said, they are the Six Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana. He couldn’t understand that; very little English. He picked up the picture of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, mostly to examine the plastic picture frame. Perhaps he has never seen one before. He asked if I was from America. Yes. I told him that the man in cottage #2 is Irish. No comprehend. Ireland, I said. No comprehend. He furrows his brow and repeats the word, “Ire-land,” but with no recognition of the name.

I said, “Ireland is near England.”

Oh … he says with a deep respect, “England.”

Mother England.


Drink your water, kiddies. They have given me six quart bottles, but I’m not drinking them down as fast as they expect me to. When they bring in a new bottle, I accept it, but stash the old ones in corners or in the closet.

Gruff-soft asked me, “How long?”

I told him we were staying a month. He repeated, “A month.” Seems like a long time to both of us. To him it means he brings me the bathtub every day for a month and collects my plate. After he left, I picked up the picture of the Six Gosvāmīs to see what he may have found. None of them wear eyeglasses or look the least like me. Our ISKCON painter has made them rather European looking, so perhaps that’s what he saw. Was I Sanātana in his eyes? Gopāla Bhaṭṭa? If I spoke Hindi I could have said, “See this dirt they stand on? I’m not worthy of even a grain of sand in the land where they walked and did their bhajana.”


High points and low points—some are hard to distinguish. As I write, I hear violins from a TV drama. Prabhupāda has had his drink for enough time now. Go take the cup away and give him back his beads. He’ll look at you. He’s the friendly Gauḍīya ācārya in this room.


There are four security guards in blue uniforms and berets, some with two stars on their epaulets. They stand around in a little sentry box and keep a record of timings and happenings. They give an air of protection to the place, which also has high walls with barbed wire on top. We inmates walk back and forth on the sandy path, and some of us chant while we can.


It will get darker later; I still have time to read. Gradually, as I learn the routine here, I may do better bhajana and not be so weak and tired from near-fasting and the left-over jet-lag.

But the self-centered
stuff doesn’t go away.
Was I better in my youth
(age 26)? Always see yourself
as the one who surrenders,
the one who is happy,
who works for the Swami.
I think I was pretty good,
surrendered and yet
I got married, something
I’d never do nowadays,
And …


I am in my last days. Maybe I have to be content to just preserve decency and that’s all I’ll achieve. Or maybe (one daydream) I am meant for some last burst of better attainment. I hope so.

From Last Days of the Year

pp. 148-50

Dear Lord Krsna, I have an extra factor of which these writers are not aware, although it’s the most important one. It is that I want to please the Supreme by what I do. I don’t want to waste my human form of life, which should be used to serve You and thus revive my original nature. There is more than staring into the void and stepping into “wild mind.” There is devotional mind, there is standing before God with the mind in the heart, meditating on the lotus feet of Krsna and serving His pure devotees. What about that? How does that fit in with “the unconscious”? How does that fit in with writing what I want, these notes during the last days of the year?

Ah, now that’s a nice fire. Stay with it while it lasts. Where was I? I was alone, looking at the sheep in the distance, and the green, marshy fields. Now every day, whether it’s raining or not, the ground is puddly, pocked with the imprints of sheep feet and cow prints, tractor tires and my own patient tramp.

The mind coming back to the Name, then going off again. Where is my heart? Don’t I know? They say it’s where my feelings are. The real question is, “Where are my feelings for Krsna?” Take them and focus on them, O mind, but you fly off and think about this or that—how you will be in New York in a week and what you will say to the devotees, or what you will write in that letter. Or feeling other things.

Fire is better than a TV show, but similar in some ways—a heating abstraction, with enough glow and movement to draw the mind. I turn away from it and look out the window. How different that is—the hill and the blue-stained sheep. The fire is at hand and draws me in, the other view draws me out. Here I am, in the middle of it, a jiva in a body. I read again Narada’s speech to the two demigods, Nalakuvera and Manigrlva. To whom does the body belong? You can say a slave’s body belongs to his master, or it belongs to the earth where it returns at death.

Or there are also claimants—one’s father or employer,
for example. Before settling on which claimant actually
owns the body, we act as if it is our own. We commit
sins in order to please the body; we indulge in illicit sex
and animal killing. It’s better to be poor and not able
to satisfy bodily demands. Narada speaks about poverty
and its advantages. Think about it. When he was
finished, Narada cursed them to become trees and to
stand in the yard where Krsna would see them one
hundred celestial years later. Good fortune for the two

There is a gap between what I actually write and the time when I can later see it for what it is. I can’t see it at the time because my inner critics and censors are too busy jabbering. Better I be kinder to myself. If the mind wants to report what Narada said, that’s fine. I have nothing else to do but record it.

From Radio Shows, Volume 2

Prabhupada singing:

hare krsna hare krsna, krsna krsna hare hare
hare rama hare rama, rama rama hare hare

A man sitting alone in a corner of a room in a house on a hill in Italy, talking, broadcasting, beams going out to whoever wants to listen. It’s such a nice time of day, four-thirty in the morning right now, mangala-arati time. I already held my mangala-arati, singing to Prabhupada murti. It’s a sacred time. We should use it not for sleeping, but sastric study or krsna-katha.

When I think of word images at this time of day, this phrase comes to mind: “Don’t become contaminated by secular life.” Yes, we can become secular—that is, forget Krsna—if we spend too much time in the material world. Write and speak and breathe Krsna consciousness and then give it to the secular city as preaching.

We who live in ISKCON live in our own world, that’s for sure. Each of us lives in his or her own world even within ISKCON. I don’t know if that’s absolutely true of everyone in the world. Maybe some people don’t look at their world, or don’t want their world, or live in a television- variety-show version of the world, or are so much slaves to their jobs that they belong to the company. Some would say they’re lucky. At least they belong somewhere besides to themselves. Some people would define that as responsible. Those kinds of people often call devotees escapists.

I’m not an escapist, really. I’m just saying that we each have our own world of consciousness, and through that consciousness, we live in the body we have been given life after life. The soul is carried by the subtle body from existence to existence, and where we go is determined by that world we live in now, that private world of thought and desire. Thought and desire arise partly from what we take into our private world—those newspapers we read, those novels, or the words of sastra. We might consider it responsible to read newspapers and to be dutiful workers, but what good does it do us in the end? We are eventually thrown off and shuffled into a completely foreign world, perhaps related to but different than the world we perceive now. That foreign world too is just another little world, and from that world we will again be shuffled off to another and another even more foreign existence. Each of those existences can be traced back to the present. People think we live in a macrocosm, but actually, reality is microcosmic.

That’s why the first question with which people begin spiritual life is, “Ke ami? Who am I?” Who are we and where do we belong? In which world? Do I belong to this world as it is perceived through the senses of this body, or do I belong to the previous existence that led me into this one? Microcosmic worlds, tiny souls in tiny bodies, simultaneously worlds unto ourselves and yet powerless rulers within those worlds.

The sastras say that we belong in the infinite spiritual world with Krsna. We talk about secularism and we know that the danger for someone trying to remember the truth in association with secular thinkers is that those thinkers are so far from the truth, yet so convinced of their opinions, that it can become bewildering. They write religiously about politics, for example. They stress the injustice of rich versus poor. They witness it, comment on it, give the situation flesh and bones, but what can it possibly mean in the face of eternity? It’s a little world with a temporary reality that seems as if it’s the all-in-all.
Devotees, therefore, should be witnesses for the truth. In that way, they live in their own worlds. We may not be prophets, but we want to bear witness to the greatness of the attempt to contact Krsna at the mangala-arati hour.


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Essays Volume 1: A Handbook for Krishna Consciousness

This collection of Satsvarūpa dāsa Goswami’s writings is comprised of essays that were originally published in Back to Godhead magazine between 1966 and 1978, and compiled in 1979 by Gita Nagari Press as the volume A Handbook for Kṛṣṇa Consciousness.

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Essays Volume 2: Notes From the Editor: Back to Godhead 1978–1989

This second volume of Satsvarūpa dāsa Goswami’s Back to Godhead essays encompasses the last 11 years of his 20-year tenure as Editor-in-Chief of Back to Godhead magazine. The essays in this book consist mostly of SDG’s ‘Notes from the Editor’ column, which was typically featured towards the end of each issue starting in 1978 and running until Mahārāja retired from his duties as editor in 1989.

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Essays Volume 3: Lessons from the Road

This collection of Satsvarupa dasa Goswami’s writings is comprised of essays that were originally published in Back to Godhead magazine between 1991 and 2002, picking up where Volume 2 leaves off. The volume is supplemented by essays about devotional service from issues of Satsvarupa dasa Goswami’s magazine, Among Friends, published in the 1990s.

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The Journals of Satsvarupa dasa Goswami, Volume 1: Worshiping with the Pen

“This is a different kind of book, written in my old age, observing Kṛṣṇa consciousness and assessing myself. I believe it fits under the category of ‘Literature in pursuance of the Vedic version.’ It is autobiography, from a Western-raised man, who has been transformed into a devotee of Kṛṣṇa by Śrīla Prabhupāda.”

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The Best I Could Do

I want to study this evolution of my art, my writing. I want to see what changed from the book In Search of the Grand Metaphor to the next book, The Last Days of the Year.

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Songs of a Hare Krishna Man

It’s world enlightenment day
And devotees are giving out books
By milk of kindness, read one page
And your life can become perfect.

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Calling Out to Srila Prabhupada: Poems and Prayers

O Prabhupāda, whose purports are wonderfully clear, having been gathered from what was taught by the previous ācāryas and made all new; O Prabhupāda, who is always sober to expose the material illusion and blissful in knowledge of Kṛṣṇa, may we carefully read your Bhaktivedanta purports.

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Here is Srila Prabhupada

I use free-writing in my devotional service as part of my sādhana. It is a way for me to enter those realms of myself where only honesty matters; free-writing enables me to reach deeper levels of realization by my repeated attempt to “tell the truth quickly.” Free-writing takes me past polished prose. It takes me past literary effect. It takes me past the need to present something and allows me to just get down and say it. From the viewpoint of a writer, this dropping of all pretense is desirable.

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Geaglum Free Write

This edition of Satsvarūpa dāsa Goswami’s 1996 timed book, Geaglum Free Write Diary, is published as part of a legacy project to restore Satsvarūpa Mahārāja’s writings to ‘in print’ status and make them globally available for current and future readers.

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