The sastras state that all guests to one’s home should be treated warmly. Even if an enemy visits, he should be treated with such friendliness that he doesn’t think himself an enemy. The uninvited guest is considered particularly honorable. A guest should be offered a nice seat, sweet words, and (according to one’s capacity) sumptuous prasadam. If the host cannot arrange for a comfortable seat and ample prasadam, he should at least offer a clean mat and a glass of water. If he cannot even offer that, he should cry tears and ask the guest’s forgiveness. A householder who turns away a guest is not like a human being but like a snake living in a hole.
Prabhupada met with many, many guests, invited and uninvited. In the 1960s he had no formal secretary, and uninvited guests weren’t screened as to whether they were presentable. People would come to him with impersonal agendas or high on LSD and proclaim to Prabhupada, “I am higher than you are. I am God.” Prabhupada would try to correct these deviants with philosophical arguments. Sometimes they were so incorrigible, impolite and determined not to agree that Prabhupada had to ask them to go away. But he always offered them some prasadam.
Prabhupada met with unimportant people and with important people. In England, he asked Syamasundara to arrange visits from distinguished people—lords, scholars and high politicians and religionists. Prabhupada would always stick to the Krsna conscious siddhanta and try to convince the visitor of personalism. He was always friendly. But he would not suffer long nonsense conversations. He became sober and preached Lord Caitanya’s and Lord Krsna’s teachings to guests. Professors Joseph O’Connell and Tom Hopkins, who both taught Oriental religions, were the most friendly of the professors. (Professor Hopkins was particularly fond of prasadam and would take second and third servings.) In Germany, a Professor Durckheim visited Prabhupada for several days of meetings and went with him on morning walks. In Australia, Prabhupada spoke to a group of Franciscan seminarians and had private talks with some of the priests. They were submissive and open, and Prabhupada approved of St. Francis’s adoring God even in the objects of the material world like “Brother Sun,” “Sister Moon,” and “Sister Death.”
In India, Prabhupada had special friends like Bhagatji and Krsna dasa Babaji. He was very informal and jolly with them. But when staunch Mayavadis visited him, they would inevitably end up in heated arguments regarding the Vaisnava point of view. Prabhupada was visited by the Governor of Uttar Pradesh. At that time, Prabhupada was very ill. He could barely stand up. But he came out of his bed and gave a speech for the governor and his entourage of soldiers and assistants, and the residential devotees. In his weak condition, Prabhupada went back to bed after talking with the governor. But his disciples had prepared full prasadam for the governor and his entourage, and the guests took to their satisfaction. As part of India’s religious culture, Prabhupada was able to gain access to meetings with prime ministers. After he published his translation of Srimad-Bhagavatam First Canto, he presented it to Prime Minister Shastri, who promised to help but died before he could do anything.
Prabhupada also met with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and asked her to give special treatment to the foreign devotees so that they could stay in India with long-term visas. Indira Gandhi was in so much anxiety about security that she was distracted and admitted it to Srila Prabhupada. The prime minister of another country had recently been assassinated, and she was afraid.
Prabhupada didn’t like people wasting his time if they weren’t serious, but they somehow managed to get in to see him, and he tolerated these talks. When I was serving as Prabhupada’s secretary, I refused to let an Indian man in to see Srila Prabhupada; later he managed to get into the room anyway. Prabhupada called me in and gave me a formal reprimand for not allowing this man to come in. The man also chastised me. I was confused because I had been given orders not to let any casual visitor come in to see Srila Prabhupada unless he had a serious purpose. After this man left, I went in to Prabhupada and emotionally expressed my confusion. He said it was all right, and I shouldn’t be in anxiety. He admitted he didn’t like these people coming in and talking nonsense with him. Prabhupada had his secretary send out a letter to all the temples saying they should have prasadam ready at all times for ten people whenever they might visit. But this was not strictly carried out by the temples (except somewhat in India).
We are now into the Eighth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam. Kasyapa finds his wife Aditi morose. Her sons, the demigods, have been defeated by the demons, driven out from their residences, and they are wandering incognito. Kasyapa tells her to do the payo-vrata sacrifice. In twelve days, four-armed Visnu appears before her. At first Aditi is too ecstatic to make prayers, but she calms herself and makes eloquent ones. Lord Visnu transforms Himself into Vamadeva, a dwarf-brahmacari. The various demigods offer Him presentations, including a begging bowl. Vamanadeva goes to Bali Maharaja’s arena and displays an effulgence so great that all the others are diminished. Bali offers to give Vamana charity. Vamana asks for only the land that can be measured by His three steps. Bali says, “You are just a small boy, and you are not intelligent. This is why you are asking for small charity.” Vamandeva insists He will be satisfied by this. Bali agrees, but then his spiritual master, Sukracarya, objects. He says that Vamanadeva is actually Lord Visnu, and He will take away all that Bali possesses on His plea of a little charity.
Write and Die is an autobiography from a couple of years in my life written in 2007 after finishing the Every Day, Just Write series. I was coping with headaches while writing it. Here is an excerpt:
“The spiritual warrior very recently initiated over one hundred disciples in one day. At the ceremony, he told them this would probably cause his imminent death, the taking on of so much karma in one day upon his already cancer-infested body. But he’s still alive. I was scheduled to speak to him on the phone today, but his secretary said he was too exhausted and will speak to me tomorrow. But the secretary said that Jayapataka Swami is also there, so who knows if I’ll get a chance?
“Will Swami Chips ever recover his confidence that he can play the prankster and the serious village novelist at the same time? He became so seriously immersed in the family at Houston that it put him in a different place. Can a writer be part of a great family gathering and live to tell his tale? His head and insides get jostled around in trying to please everyone, which he does successfully, but he seems to lose his identity. At any rate he returns home—and finds his tongue tied, finds himself falling off his train, rolled off the tracks.
“He finds himself unfriendly to others. Finds himself hard to like. Write and die, live and die, what was it all about? How long can it last? Where is the path back to the Army? It is dangerous to be separated from one’s regiment. In the absence of inspiration for this project, Chips has been watching the Ken Burns film ‘The Civil War,’ which Dainya, his editor, sent him in the mail. Dainya says the film is a cathartic and spiritual experience. Chips is not sure how spiritual it is, but it’s very addictive and hard to get away from once you watch it. By the time of the Civil War, bayonets were already obsolete, the men rarely got so close but rather killed each other by their gunfire. More men were killed in the Civil War than in all the previous military encounters by Americans. Yes, it is fascinating to watch, and horrible to consider. And yes, poignant and sad how Lincoln tried to keep the nation together. But Frederick Douglass, the brilliant black thinker, said the war was useless unless it was fought for liberation of the slaves.
I’m watching that, live and die. I’m watching so many innocent victims die in battle. They come from all periods of life, forced by the circumstances of the war, which in the end seems needless and yet fated by the irresistible destinies of men. In those days many people kept diaries, eloquent ones, from the heart, and the film often draws from them for resources. They are angry, pious, cynical, full of emotions, depending upon their attitude toward the war. They’re all sincere in their expression, that’s for sure. Their writing is not idle playing-around. Many of them will write and die, like the famous letter a husband wrote to his wife that he will probably not see her again but that he loved her and that if he did not come back, she should know that he was still in her life in the breeze she felt, in the air, etc. This was a letter written by a man who died in one of the very first battles, the Battle of Bull Run. He wrote to his dear one, and very soon after, died. His wife kept the letter for many years as something to live for and mourn over, and now it’s part of the National Archives, a piece of history of the Civil War.
“What impels my engine? Is it important? Let it at least be sincere, like those diaries. Let it not be a literary flare or a playful force. I think I had it right, even though it was many stabs, like the eighteen unsuccessful charges the Union Army made upon the rocky heights of Fredericksburg under the eye of Ulysses S. Grant. I think I had it right, and I just have to get confident again . . . .
“It’s false to blame it on Houston, to say you got lost in the rush there. You’ve had them all along, so just pick up your guns and pray for your leadership of innerness and truthfulness to lead your swamis and little men and women in this serious free-for-all.
“Soul brother, where are you?
Missing you, feeling blue.
How can I rejoice alone?
Are you on your Vrindavan bhajana
without me? I just want to be
happier than I am now and sometimes
even having you around doesn’t do
“I’m a lonely man, and a ‘Bedroom
Eyes’ sax just stirs it up worse in
me. I need some juice. Boom dee
boom. The blues I feel good when
I can write something that’s
going somewhere in the soul
“and taking a willing listener along.
Soul sister, soul brother, sometimes
I need you, sometimes I need to
be alone. Always I need the Lord
so I should call to Him in one-
word bursts, silent or even aloud,
what they recommend in Unknowing.”
“Near the end of my phone call with Bhakti Tirtha Maharaja, I said that maybe this would be my last phone call. He said, ‘Well, let us see. Maybe there will be another one next week.’ And then he broke down crying. I said, ‘We’ll see if I can talk with you again.’ We spoke our hopeful chatter about communing after death, something we had some faith in. I asked him to commune with me to straighten me out my mistakes. He urged me to take better care of my disciples and to forgive others for all their wrongs. As he said it, I thought of how I’d been shortened, chopped down over the past year and a half by my big aparadha. So I’m already humbled by having to make a comeback.
“This is the first time he has spoken so definitely of the deliberate desire to leave, and even putting a timetable on it—one week. A desire to go, feeling it’s not right to stay any longer, feeling it would be a kind of showoff thing to remain. We talked about the devastation that it will bring to his disciples, the trauma that will occur, especially to his community at Gita-nagari. They will have to take it and follow his books and instructions to remain together as a community. He has certainly lectured enough to tell them they should live taking care of each other in any of the so-called ‘secondary’ ways of life, not just the ‘krsna-prema’ aspects.
“Jayapataka Maharaja was there today with him and was also saying that ISKCON had to take care of devotees’ needs in all kinds of basic ways before we could uplift them to the highest level of God consciousness. He also said (with a little irony) that at a meeting that just took place, some leaders who exactly a year ago were strongly criticizing his work were now praising it. Perhaps, he said, it was because they saw him as arrogant. Perhaps he was arrogant, or perhaps he was just so determined that they saw it that way. But now they see him as stricken down by cancer, and they praise him for his good work. Poetic justice for the almost-posthumous writer who is no longer arrogant because he’s almost dead. Time to praise him now.
“‘Phone number: 1-(717)-527-9936, Bhakti-tirtha Maharaja at Gita-nagari.’ Will I use it again? I think I will.”
This is the topic I made preparations for, gave seminars on, included typed transcripts from my talks on the subject and did research on before I actually wrote the book. Here is an excerpt from Chapter Nine, “Srila Prabhupada Is Someone Dear to Krsna.” I describe many ways in which Prabhupada is dear to Krsna, including his knowledge of one’s eternal rasa.
”Srila Prabhupada did not want his disciples to become interested in rasa before they became free of material desire and strongly fixed in devotional service to the spiritual master. He therefore set the example for all of us to follow by refraining from discussion on his or his disciples’ individual rasas.
“But he did teach me the concept of rasa. He told us that when we are in a perfect stage of devotional service, we can know our eternal relationship with Krsna. Then ‘one of the associates of Krsna becomes our ideal leader.’ But he warned, ‘This acceptance of one of the eternal associates of the Lord is not artificial. Do not therefore try it at present. It will automatically be revealed to you in proper time.’
(Letter to Satsvarupa)
“It sometimes occurred to Prabhupada’s disciples that he was that eternal resident of Vrndavana who was their ‘ideal leader.’ In a conversation about following a resident of Vrndavana, Revatinananda dasa pointed out that because Prabhupada was always in Vrndavana consciousness, his disciples were following a Vrndavana inhabitant.
“Yamuna: ‘You mention in The Teachings of Lord Caitanya that a devotee in attachment selects one of the Vrndavana inhabitants and follows in his footsteps in order to be successful in his own devotional service. Does that mean that one of our spiritual masters is an eternal representative of Vrndavana?
“Revatinanandana: ‘But you have said that you are always in Vrndavana. So we are following a Vrndavana inhabitant.’
“Prabhupada: ‘Yes.’ (laughter)
“Kesava Maharaja’s disciple Narayana Maharaja spoke about this on Srila Prabhupada’s Vyasa-puja in 1986. He said that ‘Prabhupada used to particularly chant “Sri rupa-manjari pada” when he lived near Rupa Gosvami’s Samadhi. Because Prabhupada was very fond of Rupa Gosvami, and Rupa Gosvami was definitely in the madhurya-rasa, Srila Prabhupada certainly knows the madhurya-rasa.’ (from Guru Reform Notebook, SDG, p. 3) He added that Vaisnava sannyasa is meant for concentration of gopi-bhava.”
“One class on cultural geography. I spoke how people in the East know transmigration, whereas people in the West do not. Then a seventy-five minute class in ‘Literature of the Inner Self,’ where I discussed bhakti, nitya krsna-svarupa.
“This week three lectures already, another week of eleven or twelve. This formal intellectual teaching is suitable for me, but in this one-time class I am not able to be of much influence over students. Now we are trying to have four clubs in four different colleges. If that fails, maybe another attempt, but try to get a repeated hearing with the same group on a straightforward basis, not having to satisfy a professor who is teaching Linguistics or Family Life in Indian Villages, etc.
“Third week in Maine. Twenty-three classes in two weeks. Good, active preaching, but I’m not satisfied. Next week we start yoga clubs out of Amherst, Massachusetts area.
Returning from Maine on completion of a three-week classroom lecture tour. This week ten classes (in four days), for a total of thirty-three; we chanted in each class and sold more books. Now heading for Amherst, Mass., where I’ll help with the daily program of large-scale prasadam distribution out of the Amherst ISKCON center, and bhakti-yoga clubs in four colleges, including Yale and University of Connecticut. I hope this will be more direct and better for getting people to take to Krsna consciousness. But I have to also desire it, or how can I speak it? . . . .
“Three days at the convention, attending their meetings (tapasya) and talking with the professors. A good handful of them have come forward, and two—O’Connell and Hopkins—have agreed to head up a network of professors who can be called upon to do different things, such as testify. I can have our lawyer get in touch with them. He could call Hopkins, who could either go himself or brief some colleague in New York or elsewhere who would go. I am to supply information to the network of details on the oncoming case and our difficulties and successes in dealing with deprogramming. I’ll also send our lawyer a report on how he could call upon the services of the network.
“(In addition, we gathered a petition, maybe 100 names of other professors.)
“Now one more meeting at this convention, hearing a paper on Srila Prabhupada, and then I can go to my next engagement, which is calling Balavanta, who is heading this alert-to-war strategy. My business-as-usual activity would ordinarily take me to rejoin the combined collecting and library parties heading south. Plan was that they should manage on their own. (Me planning to rejoin them after three weeks, and in the meantime I would work the New England—New York corridor as a representative of ISKCON to seek the help of professors who would cooperate with our network.) Romapada in New York informed me that not all professors that sign something will be immediately used. Only the strong ones who will testify that ISKCON is entirely a bona-fide movement in the Vaisnava tradition. It seems I should go after Vaisnava experts, wherever they are.
“Just agreed I would go on to New York. The fight goes on to establish Krsna consciousness. We are impelled by our spiritual master’s desire, which is Krsna’s desire. Also, conversely, we are impelled by the demoniac opposition, which seeks to defame us. As they make an advance, we have to also.”
“Dear Srila Prabhupada,
“My mind is my enemy, as the brahmana of Avanti-desa concluded. I come to you for relief. Your soft saffron, your kind look upon me, your youthfulness, your mercy. You sit behind your desk and chant on your beads. This is your last room on this earth. You preached all over the world and then came here to leave for the spiritual world.
“That mind of mine, Srila Prabhupada, finds fault with Godbrothers, feels the tiredness of my body—my mind harasses me. He tells me I’m the best and then says, of course, that it’s not true. He stands alone and criticizes everyone and everything as superficial and flawed. What will we do with him? Why is he so insecure? At least I get relief when I see Radha-Syamasundara, Krsna-Balarama and Gaura-Nitai.
“In your last days, you spoke to your disciples about preaching and the basic philosophy of spirit versus matter. You spoke of Krsna’s will, which would determine whether you stayed in the world. You didn’t speak much about where you were going.
“We can speculate on that next life or we can be intent about knowing our own places in the spiritual world, but I want to follow your example and preach in this world while regularly chanting and hearing of the name and nature of the Supreme Lord and His entourage as given in the Bhagavatam and Caitanya-caritamrta.
(By studying and preaching I can forget the petty concerns of my anxious mind. The mind will be engaged in higher topics.) You want this, Srila Prabhupada. There is no good reason for faultfinding or the constant lamentation over superficiality. Simply go to Krsna’s name, fame, qualities, and pastimes. Simply preach on the order of the spiritual master.
“The double bed is low. I remember crowding around it during your last hours. Srila Prabhupada said we have to die like human beings, like Bhismadeva. Think of Krsna at the end. Either serve actively as long as we can and retire at the very end or keep going until the last breath.
“Where will we go? We may not know. But we will go.”
These excerpts from spontaneous practice were done in September 1994 on retreat in Kenmare, Ireland.
“I’m here now hunched against notepad. God is Syamasundara in the heart. I went to the rasika guru, and now do not. Seeking reprieve in Mayapur, land of generous gaura–lila. I do declare, the TLC is a formidable book, and so is Caitanya-bhagavata. Read, read and repeat what you heard. But unless it comes through to your imagination and creative self and loving self, it’s just not real.”
“See me trying Lord,
give me Your mercy.
Your Holy Name alone
contains all love and
truth, renders all benedictions
upon the living beings
but unfortunate as I am
I have no taste for them.
“End this one (Writing Session). I feel more resolute than when I started it. I’ll do more tonight. Give me, give me, give me, give me some Hare Krsna food for spirit and ink on page.
“The rage of
peace in Killarney
peace in the house
let us live to praise Thee
out of conditioned life, it’s all
we have now, right Saraswati?”
“Sadness in writing. But sometimes in happiness and satisfaction. It’s connected to my state of Krsna consciousness. I want to love the Supreme Lord but cannot to my full satisfaction. May He see this attempt and be kind to me. I have no alternative . . . . Can’t speak the truth as much as I want or praise Lord Krsna in the writing or act for Him . . .
“This pen moves it along. As soon as you see you’re doing a little nicely, you get embarrassed and want to stop. Great. Be aware of that and don’t stop. Keep praising, write better. If you see some favor upon your effort, you needn’t get puffed up with your own prowess. It’s Krsna who is doing the nice thing. His kindness can flood you. You have to be ready for that and not think you are the center and should or shouldn’t feel transcendental happiness.
“You are the instrument to serve the Lord. Now it’s the beginning of your day. I hope I can read well and then walk with Bhagavad-gita prayer . . . . One thing after another. The retreat is packed with Krsna conscious activities.”
“That feeling of sadness when you rise and know you will come here to write.”
“Enough pens, enough pages. Now it’s only a question of whether I have enough life of Krsna consciousness to express my gratitude, as in a little Writing in Gratitude. No sea scene for a Krsna conscious monk at the writing table; he’s not me, he’s a person, though, and he’s in bliss as he writes at the table at an angle. She will draw it and it will come out nice, I’m sure.
“In Kenmare, M. came by. Keep your eyes on the Krsna consciousness in front of you. I have not done wrong in my choice to worship Govinda, bhaja Govinda. But you haven’t done enough or deeply enough.”
“Take the part of Lord Brahma if you want. Our van is near the maximum limit of weight. After this, we go one more drive to France through Italy, and that is the end of our European tour this year. You need your travel assistant, or you cannot carry out this work. You always want time to write like this and enter a process for editing and possible use. You are part of the process. This way . . . . Let us have faith. Don’t quit it. It’s not something invented by secular writing teachers. The gift comes from God, and people tap into it and use for their own purposes and define it in their own ways. You understand according to Krsna consciousness. Intelligence comes from Krsna, and so you write with that in mind.”
“Shadows. Don’t mind even if a rodent comes. Don’t be revolted to the point of panic. You have read some books. Trauma from your mother. Impressions in an old . . . . I can read and write too. This early morning moves along. Sit with chadar on legs. Chant your japa.
“This writing is to leave a message, this so-and-so month was up to you. I found something and then left it in books that are for people to read even after you’re gone. But a soul should be concerned for his whereabouts in the next world.
“Kama sankalpa varjita.
“Get free of jinx and material attachments. You are grateful to devotees who assist you, but that also should not be material dependence. Be ready to do without it. Be ready to not just get meals served on time. Headaches too may come.
“You live in a complacent way. I must purify this act. Keep cleaning surfaces with a wet, clean rag. Clean your body also with water and soap. Medicine. The pen gets clogged, but you keep going.
“The Greeks, Romans, Epicureans, philosophers. I am cut loose, limiting myself to explanations of Vedic knowledge, regarding how to please the Supreme Lord by simple acts of devotion.
“Unassuming but to the purpose,
drive your writing car to the
place you want to be, get
on the ferry queue to the
place—where finally you will go
and never return. If you think of Krsna,
‘they’ will allow you
to go to Him.
Every person is responsible for this.”
“Cluster on the word ‘Krsna.’ He’s the Supreme. That’s the philosophy. There’s no one as great as He. I believe it, although it’s not empirical. The proof is sastra. There must be a Supreme, though that’s also logical sense.
“This is taught by Srila Prabhupada. Krsna says He’s tribhanga, and He taught the devotees how to paint Him in that three-fold bending form. ‘Krsna, save me!’, the pure devotee prays.
“He is the God of all gods. The atheists say He is just a Hindu god. We’ll call them mudha, ass, rascal, less intelligent.
“The theists accept that Krsna is God. They use other names to describe the Supreme. But in Vrndavana, He is known as Krsna. He is the King of all rasas. He is God.
“The name ‘Krsna’ means one who stops birth and death. It means ‘all-attractive.’ Krsna is the Holy Name.
“Krsna is not alone. He is with Radha.”
avenues of doubt,
timid look I say
Krsna, my Lord
this riveter is going to
take a midday break
and go on listening to the Word.”
“I am not in touch with the soaring current. A trickle of blood passes through veins and arteries in the head. It’s delicate flow, and it forms a pulse. The self-motivated heart pumps in a mysterious way. Srila Prabhupada said we don’t know how our body is working. Krsna is behind it. He works through the material energy. He is working, I am simply acting in a very limited way. Moreover, I can feel further limits due to dwindling, and old-age malfunctions. Loss of supple movements. When I get up from a sitting position now, I do it slowly. And as I said, this present writing session ought to go slow so as not to turn a flickering in the head—the warning. You’re operating on borrowed time.”
“Hear faith, wisdom and sadness, and moments of nature and human junction expressed in songs and poems of swans and geese flying in autumn, going south, hear, hear, they’re trumpeting, if you can, the ducks and geese go south. And if you stay on your farm in North America, dig in for another winter. Or in my case, the international travel and return to U.S.A. in early January, and then get out and visit here and there in the cold, and then go to the Caribbean and keep moving while you can. Your pen, too. I am ready and will be ready to give various classes. Wait for the Lord in the heart to tell me, “Now this next.”
“Que sera sera. You write poems to prepare for the possibility that you might have to write them when thrown in a trap. Some writing teacher advises you to write when you feel trapped, a good exercise to see how it can free you. I write as much as possible, so whatever the resistance may be, I’ll go on writing, and seek clarity and firmness by the writing session process.”
“No confession in church, no church. I sit at the desk and write. I read and read again. Please look at Srimad-Bhagavatam. It was good this morning, regarding any kind of absorption in the Personality of Godhead, whether in enmity or servitude or Vrndavana love. Just think of Him somehow.”
“Petty officer Myles. Report for duty. Write a hack story for the newspaper and Navy TV. No, thanks. I got out. Krsna got me through so many bad things, and I have some mental scars but basically safe and sound. Now in gratified remaining years, please write in gratitude, express your love in that way. This is an important point.”
“Headache prevented me from writing here at midnight. I don’t have calm, perfect truth to say but feel the attempt to write is part of my service.
“‘Contemplative illumination, or any means of elevating one’s soul, should not be hoarded in one’s own mind. It must be recorded, written down, and made available to others for the sake of love and the common good of all.’ So says the starets to the pilgrim in The Way of a Pilgrim.
“I write down my attempts and doubts and failures and foolishness, all committed on the path of bhakti, may Prabhupada accept me.
“So, I’ve been thinking of solitude, without the mystique. I mean it’s now a part of my life; I do it, take retreats, want to be alone, want the day to myself and I spread it in works I can share. So the specific thought is whether to return to this remote house for four weeks in December or the more social setting in Wicklow. But Wicklow also means almost all day to myself, walks alone, time to write, etc. It means only one day a week, for one-and-a-half hours, I give a lecture. And of course, I see the men from time to time, but that’s not so hard. It doesn’t have to break my meditation.
“Besides, the meditation is on writing, reading Srimad-Bhagavatam, chanting to hear—and these are not such that the Wicklow scene disturbs me. There is some difference when you are way out there with no one to disturb you. Let me at least take part of it while we are here and not live in the future. These headaches, this, come every day. Limit my time spent in the activities of sravanam kirtanam.
“Writing is hard
reading is hard
chanting is hard
“Each of them I love, but to gain ‘mastery’ is not possible in any of them. To surrender to them, believe in them, practice in them . . . At least I see these are the goals of my life, to attain proficiency at these. Then your other main activity, to lecture, comes more or less automatically.
“Cold and hot, hot and cold. Water poured on the body.
“This house can’t be heated very well, whereas in Wicklow it would be more comfortable, although even there it’s not like an American house in the winter.”
“Krsna will reveal Himself, I like hearing Him, His words, and plan to go out this morning for more. Keep this one up until later, after 5:00. Chant more, go down and read out loud with the men.
“O angels, O guides, I am grateful. My choices themselves are good ones, whether to chant here or chant there, whether to share with the Wicklow devotees or go alone a little more. Either way. Mayapur or Vrndavana.
“Prabhupada, please guide me. Supersoul, give me the intelligence to lovingly serve my spiritual master. I may not understand things so well. Now we devotees are keeping our inner lives secret, so they say. At least mine is recorded, but I won’t blab it either.”
“Heaven, heaven. Indra is there. He comes down for his misbehavior. But you don’t presume to judge him. He is much greater than you. You are a pipsqueak who can’t even control your mind when you chant Hare Krsna.
“I’m not putting you down, but just don’t presume to be a spiritual giant. That’s ridiculous. You are a fallen neophyte. You are lucky to have met His Divine Grace; lucky too that you serve as a writer. But that doesn’t make you a saint. So, write on.”
“He wrote as fast as he could as much as he could. Left it. Went out to play. Went out like a light. Pitched a tent in the stars. Saw clouds on the hills and recorded it, wrote it down. Said, “Here is my japa walk, please note it.” Fingering the red beads, why chant on any others? These were given to me by my spiritual master.”
“Oh, see the good qualities of the Vaisnavas. Get the knowledge from the books they write, the mercy of their looks. Take heed of their warnings. Love and serve them. Inquire from them.”
“I have no secret but spend my time giving japa the best shot and reading his books. What I learn I will continue for the rest of my life. I will therefore always stay ‘on retreat’ or keep an inner life wherever I may be. Time in the day for good practices of these three: chant, read and write. Something you write may be shared.”
“Tell us a story. Produce a drama or poem or song the devotees will love. Entertain them. Produce another work they would like to read. This is another kind of pressure—on the writer: ‘You can’t go on just writing to yourself to keep yourself immediately psyched up to get through one day. That’s not preaching through writing.’
“Well, it is telling the story of the struggling sadhaka. It can help others who face similar situations.”
“I am writing this way and living this way, and it is a sort of accomplishment. Please accept, self, and offer it to Prabhupada. He sees my strong tendency, at this time in my life, to take advantage of wood shedding for improving myself. The credentials of a preacher are that he is well-behaved and is attached to chanting Hare Krsna, and he knows the philosophy of Krsna consciousness. ‘He knows’ means he doesn’t doubt, he is deeply convinced and personally dependent on Krsna.”
“Here I am, the man in the room. Who was at mangala arati? Here is what I feel about it at this stage of my life. Why do I want to get out of it so quickly? What’s the problem?
“Would this be done in a series of writing sessions or something more structured? Director of that. I don’t know. Maybe it could all be done in the freedom of writing session, where you are not attached to that one message yet you keep it in mind in the freedom of writing session where you are not attached to that. Or it could be a separate ‘timed book’ kind of adventure, but they tend to get a little ‘literary’ or forced, don’t they, if you continue them for too long.
So, for now I say do writing sessions, two a day, even while in the temple, and keep addressing yourself, ‘How do I feel about temple life? How is this preaching? Is it better preaching than retreats? How do these yin and yang elements work in your life, temple and retreat?’”
(September 27, 1994