Spring has sprung. We do not expect any more frosts. Atindra and Lalita-kaisori came by to plant flowers for the Deities in our gardens. They planted marigolds and gladiolas, and then vegetables in Trinidad-Bala’s fenced in garden plot down the street. They didn’t come in the house because of social distancing, but we waved to them through the window in merry spirits. We brought them out breakfast and lunch. They pulled many weeds. We are very grateful for their service to the Deities of Viraha Bhavan, Radha-Govinda and Gaura-Nitai. In the summer, with all the marigolds, we can have fresh garlands every day!
Now in springtime, wild lilacs are blooming and giving off a sweet scent; even sweeter than the lilacs are the lilies of the valley. Both flowers decorate the vases on our altars and lay scattered at the feet of Radha-Govinda. Outside, the azaleas are blooming, beautifying our yard. We often get complimented by our neighbors on our beautiful gardens. This is appropriate for an ashram, as we were reading in the Bhagavatam of the beautiful hermitages that Svayambhuva witnessed when he went to the ashram of Kardama Muni.
Keeping an ashram household is demanding. In the fall we had a new roof put on. It’s supposed to last twenty years. We also had our front porch, which was rotting and in need of upkeep, repaired.
Another major project this spring is to rejuvenate our gravel driveway. The weeds are overtaking the stones, and if they are not tended to, the weeds will break up the bedrock and it will all become muddy and uneven. This will make it difficult to shovel snow in the winter. We have to put down new gravel, and the present gravel has to be re-graded. When we re-grade, we’ll put down a cloth so that the weeds can’t penetrate, and then on top of that we’ll put the new gravel, which will then be rolled and compacted. This should last another five or six years. At the same time, we have to get a price for new gravel in the front of the house, which has become a muddy impasse where the car pulls up to unload groceries or parks after medical trips.
Jaya Govinda writes me from Italy that the country will be unlocked today after two months of lockdown. He is allowed to travel and is going back to work. It will be the beginning of a major marathon to make up two months’ delay with maintenance, trying to get ready for the incoming tourists expected in June. But life will be different, definitely, with social distancing rules still on.
Jaya Govinda is my sole confidential typist of correspondence. For me this means he will have less time to do all my dictated letters. We will all have to be patient with him.
My disciple Nitai in India has sent me his plan to print books in 2020. Nitai says he needs help in proofreading, and Krishna Bhajana and Jaya Govinda have come forward to offer help. Here is his list of books to be published:
Nitai is planning to distribute these books to temples in India. They will also be distributed by Ananda Kisora on his website satsvarupadasagoswami.com. In addition, they will be available online on sdglegacy.com. Nitai is an excellent example of a devotee who is dedicated and determined to distribute my books. He is fully busy with his family and his work, yet he manages to find time to do the book publishing. He is very self-motivated in service to guru.
Kardama Muni looked at his wife and felt compassion for her. By her selfless serving of her husband, she had become skinny, her hair was in matted locks, and her body dirty in ragged clothes. Even though she was a princess, she didn’t complain. She proved that she had become prideless and humble. Out of great compassion, Kardama told her, “I will now share with you all my mystic perfections, just look at them!” He said his highest achievement was love of God, and that he could share that with her. He instructed her to immerse herself in the Bindu-sarovara Lake, and there she would find a cottage with 1,o0o maidservants ready to do her bidding. The maidservants beautified the princess and restored her former loveliness. They washed her hair and entire body, applied scents and gorgeous clothing. They gave her an Ayurvedic tonic to restore her health. When she came out of the water and went before her husband, Kardama was naturally attracted to her beauty. Devahuti said to Kardama that to have union they required a separate house, something better than the simple leaf cottage hermitage. She was afraid he wouldn’t be so much inclined to have union with her in that place. Kardama, with his great mystic power, then manifested a gorgeous aerial mansion seven stories high and equipped with all amenities. There were many precious jewels in the walls which provided light even in the nighttime. There were many beds and couches for sense enjoyment. Kardama himself was amazed at the aerial mansion he produced. He asked Devahuti to join him in the mansion, and they traveled and enjoyed themselves while touring throughout the universe.
We are now hearing in the Third Canto, “The Renunciation of Kardama Muni.” Kardama and Devahuti conceive nine female children, and they marry them to nine qualified rishis. But Devahuti laments. She regrets that she and her husband have wasted time in sense gratification and now she knows he wants to leave for spiritual purification. She begs him to have union with her so she can have a son who can protect her and teach her Krsna consciousness. Kardama obliges her, and the Supreme Lord, Kapiladeva, appears as their son. He is the Visnu-tattva incarnation to teach sankhya-yoga, which frees one from the process of birth and death. Kardama Muni approaches Him in a solitary place and glorifies Him as the Supreme Lord born into his family. Kardama asks permission to leave home and lead the life of a wandering mendicant always thinking of Krsna within his heart. This is the Vedic process, that at 50 years of age the man leaves home and prosecutes spiritual life. But why would one leave home if God has appeared in his home as his son? This is a kind of contradictory question. But the answer is that Kardama Muni was very strict and faithful in following the varnashrama system and leaving family life at 50 years of age, even though the Supreme Lord was living in his home as his son. The Lord gives him full permission and says that He will protect and give the teachings of sankhya philosophy to Kardama’s wife Devahuti. Kardama was anxious about his wife being left alone, and he is very grateful that Kapila will stay and teach her. Kardama chose to lead the life of mauna-vrata, remaining silent in ordinary speech. He did this so people would not bother him. He wanted to concentrate always on the Lord in his heart. It is said that a fool may pass for a wise man until he starts talking, and then he is exposed as a rascal.
John Endler sent us the manuscript for the book Seeking New Land. But when I read it through and made corrections, I discovered it wasn’t the full book. I phoned John and told him. He sent me what he thought was the whole book again, but it ended short, with pages missing. On both sides (John and Baladeva), we lack persons with advanced knowledge of technology. The problem still isn’t solved. Is it a cursed venture? A test from Krsna? A tolerance test? Is it a bad alignment of the stars?
I’m eager to solve this problem and proofread the entire book so that John can enter the corrections and send the book to Lal Krsna. This happens even with high-techies like Baladeva’s nephew David. They call it a “cluster bomb.” We are still working on it, but one big difficulty is his manuscript has a different page count than ours. John’s Chapter 19 is on page 98, and ours is on page 148. The best we can figure out is that John’s manuscript is completed at 130 pages, and ours is completed at about 200 pages. Welcome to the technology of the 21st century.
Our snafu with computer technology for my book Seeking New Land was finally resolved. John Endler’s wife, Amy, solved it in a series of attempts and produced two identical manuscripts, one for me and one for John. I have now made all the corrections I want to make, and Baladeva has to insert them with the up-to-date pagination in the latest form of the manuscript. Seeking New Land is “a story.” It has lots of free-writing but a thread of a narrative of Hemanta Swami and his assistant Melodeon. They’re seeking new land in a cold climate to open a Krsna conscious preaching center. After several attempts, Hemanta finally finds a place on an island off the shore of Greenland. This is my final reading, and then it goes to Krishna Bhajana for a final proofreading before layout by Lal Krishna. After layout and design by Lal Krishna, the book goes to Krishna Kripa for a final proofreading, then it’s ready for the printer. This book is due out for Vyasa-puja in December, which we hope to actually hold after the epidemic restrictions are lifted.
“Prabhupada visited Philadelphia in 1975. At that time the temple was located in the Germantown section of the city. The devotees all crowded together on the front porch to greet Prabhupada. They stood closely together in two rows. When Prabhupada arrived, the devotees began throwing flowers, and Prabhupada walked slowly toward the crowd, carrying a cane. Suddenly a little six-year-old girl named Sarina bolted loose from the devotees and ran up to Srila Prabhupada. ‘Srila Prabhupada,’ she called, ‘I have a question! I have a question!’ She said she had trouble making garlands. She said when she put a flower on the garland, she then got mixed up and didn’t know which flower to put on next. Prabhupada looked down at her and then took a very beautiful, opulent garland from around his neck and placed it on the little girl. ‘You look at this garland and you will learn,’ he said.”
“Keep hammering away at this point—how to go from here to krsna-katha? We used to talk of a similar transition in writing topical essays for BTG. A topical essay treats a situation in the world—disease, war, politics, etc.—and presents it from the Krsna conscious viewpoint. Our essays often suffered from too much being cut into two. First we’d state the material problem and then pop! like a jack-in-the-box, out would come the Gita sloka or the sudden appearance of the harinama party with drums and karatalas. There wasn’t a sufficient transition. Writing those essays required that a devotee thoroughly consider the material problem and how Krsna consciousness could practically solve it.
“Similarly, I start to free-write and then realize it’s not rich krsna-katha, so I leap to topics I’ve read. It reminds me of Greek Tragedy’s ‘deus ex machina.’ God suddenly enters into the flow of human events via some device, and He brings the solution. Who believes it? God doesn’t appear when we clap our hands and call for Him. ‘Oh, I forgot. You are supposed to write about God. Okay—God! Krsna? Please appear here.’ It’s not like that.
“Spray in my face as I ride in the front of a motorboat across a wide river in Guyana. There is danger everywhere. This brown water is filled with crocodiles and the boat is unsteady. Such a wide river.
“Why write this? Because it came, friend, don’t ask me why. This is not deus ex machina when something must appear by itself. Don’t worry so much that you’re like a tour guide who has to lead the guests through the Fisher Mansion in Detroit or the castle at Radhadesh, Belgium. Carefully, you say, ‘Yes, this museum is the work of a community of spiritually-minded people who practice bhakti-yoga who are actually quite normal. Now I’ll take you to the tower where, if the air is clear, we’ll be able to get a good view of the hills. This castle was used in World War II by the American soldiers as a hospital. Before that it was . . .’ You don’t have to be afraid that you will say something that will turn off your nondevotee guests.
“Just be yourself. I want to be a devotee, damn it. It’s not only the subject—Krsna with His devotees—but the mood. I would like to have an overflowing desire to write of Krsna, but I want it to come urgently, nonstop. I have a desire to write like that now. I’m committed to writing what comes, because that is me, honestly —but I’m not happy when the results are mostly devoid of glorification of the Lord.
“The answer is to intensify my life and consciousness. Then I will have something to write about. But I am preaching and reading to the extent I can do it feelingly. I already have material to write about. Running out into a fresh burst of activities won’t supply me with a better impetus to write. Writing is done in the notepad, but it has to come from life. Even if we say it comes from sastra, there has to be life both in the reading and the writing.
“Surrender, surrender. I’m touching on some vital areas here but don’t know if I can follow them up.
“Krsna consciousness is already here, and I just have to enter it. It’s not an artificial imposition on the mind. It’s in me. Therefore I write and uncover it. That’s why, when I’m away from writing, I soon feel distracted from my inner mood. I think if only I could write, maybe I could bring it out.”
“I prayed in a wooden pew. Votive candles were flickering. After confession (on Saturday afternoon), you went to the main altar, where there was a nice foam edge on the kneeling bench, and made directed prayers to the golden thing that holds the Eucharist. You said your prescribed penance given by the priest in confession: ten Our Fathers, twenty Hail Marys, whatever. A good way for simple minds to be ‘punished’—by a quota of prayers. I bring it up to question whether I am more advanced now.
“Doesn’t my mind wander now as it did then? A shout in the street is the same as it always was. And as you used to think of baseball games, TV, and your sister and school friends, now you hear trucks on I-80 and you are a young, old man who the young boys never recognize—especially since you’re wearing a sannyasi’s dress. But how much different is it?
“You want me to answer that?
“No, not necessarily.
“Let your prayers go up sincerely. Anyone who does so is fortunate and blessed. I’m not at the pinnacle of mystical advancement in conjugal humor. I’m a boy-man who can’t cry, whether kneeling at a grotto for the Lady of Fatima or looking at a picture of Radha and Krsna in Vraja. I’m way down in this world. That’s why I always write about how we can be Krsna conscious from here, how I can write Krsna consciousness from here. Will His mercy extend all the way down here? How the hell did I get so overpowered by the mind and the world? Do I have a guarantee that in some future life, I will cry tears as hard as I can for the Lord’s mission and not slow down when I feel bodily pain?
“As if to punctuate this mood, a crow in Pennsylvania caw-caws from the treetops.”
“My Dear Lord Krsna,
“I am writing to You an improvisation. I don’t have an essay or letter planned. But the first thing that comes to my mind is love, my desire to love You and know that You love me. The scriptures tell me that You love me. My heart tells me I love You. If I love You fully, You will take me to live with You eternally. I want to increase my love for You. Please help me to do that. There is no reason that I should not have unbounded love for You. I do not know You intimately yet. You have not granted me that right. But I already love You. Just as Rukmini-devi fell in love with You before She even met You, just by hearing about You from Narada, I already love You. She heard descriptions of Your qualities from Narada Muni and was so aroused in love for You that she boldly asked You to come and kidnap her from marriage with Sisupala. I want to ask You in the same bold way to please shower knowledge of Your love for me upon me and for me to declare my love for You. I would like you to come and kidnap me from my connection to Maya-devi, Your illusory energy, to come and take me to Your abode. I already know enough about You to have this love and ask You to take me.
“Rukmini-devi said that if You did not come and marry her, she would give up her life. I also declare that if You do not show me that You love me, I will be as good as a dead person and have nothing to live for. I ask You to open the floodgates of love of God, which are contained in the Hare Krsna mantra, so that by chanting Your names I can feel Your love for me. And then I want to reciprocate fully, chanting with a heart full of ecstasy. I don’t want to keep chanting mechanically or halfheartedly. As a baby, Your most beloved Srimati Radharani was not able to see. She had no eyesight. When She first saw You, then She gained Her eyesight, and Her heart was filled with love of You. I am like a blind baby hankering for a vision of You. I can see You in my Radha-Govinda murtis (Whom we bathed and shined just yesterday), and I want to get my full vision, just like a blind person seeing for the first time and appreciating Your appearance before me. Until I can hear Your names in the Hare Krsna mantra with full devotion, I am like a deaf man, and I do not want to remain like that. Please help me to hear You and appreciate Your presence in the sound vibration of Your names.”
“Physical health cannot exist independently of mental and spiritual health. Actually the physical body exists only as a corpse. The life of the body depends on the soul. Health conscious persons are often in the material mode of goodness. Sometimes in ignorance they praise the body itself or attempt to ‘love’ it. A Krsna conscious person, however, tries to take good care of the body for use in Krsna’s service.
“The value of good health is very great, maybe more so for a preacher than for one who worships in solitude (bhajananandi). Prahlada Maharaja speaks of serving while ‘stout and strong,’ and the human body is described as the ‘pillar’ of Krsna consciousness. But the body shouldn’t be catered to in an exaggerated way.
“Over the months I have tried various diets and exercises, and I went on a ten-day cleansing fast. Fasting removes bodily toxins and maybe mental toxins as well. They should be eliminated just like feces and replaced with a positive, Krsna conscious spirit.
“I yearn to regain the strength and vitality of youth. I must be healthy to do my service. If I am not healthy, I cannot even participate in the important upcoming GBC meetings in Miami and India or tackle the spiritual problems in my zone of management. Nor will I be able to write as much as I would like.
“I look upon recovering from my chronic headaches in two ways. First, I want to keep a positive attitude toward recovery and exert my will for cure and self-care. Second, I want to understand any negative attitudes I have that may contribute to the stress and anxieties that lead to the headaches.
“I used to scoff at those who advocate positive thinking and regard them as superficial. I felt the same way about the hypes of super-achievers in the business world and the cheap salvation promised by certain evangelical Christians. But now I think there is justification and a proper place for true positive thinking.
Before coming to Krsna consciousness, I was proud of my cynicism. And we should, in fact, be cynical about material life. To see the falseness of material happiness is actually intelligent. But a pure devotee is also optimistic, because he knows the soul is eternal. He knows he is part and parcel of wonderful Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and that he is working for the best welfare of others.
“While trying to cure myself, I should never stray from the Krsna conscious siddhanta. As important as physical health is, spiritual well-being is more important because if we are successful in spiritual life, we will rid ourselves of all material diseases.
“When ardent desire for Krsna’s service breaks forth,
whatever is perceived by a Krsna conscious servant,
even pigeons landing on the windowsill,
is a Krsna conscious moment.
And a devotee;s confession
is a prayer for redemption.
“With snowflakes dashing,
we left the frozen ground of Philly
and flew to chilled Miami,
for a meeting of leaders.
Will it be a conference or war?
Is the Governing Body at fault?
Are the second rank rebellious?
We want to walk together, a unified Movement
as when Prabhupada was here.
But the problems are baffling,
not to be solved in a day and a half.
Yet we are here to try.
“Early the night before,
I turned the room lights out
and put a sign on my door.
Early in the morning I’ll rise and chant,
and then enter the tumultuous arena.
Is it against my nature,
to manage others’ strife?
But Prabhupada has picked me,
‘because you do what I ask.’
Let me rise to the task.
“Why should one allow his service
to be threatened by fools or aggressors?
To fight for self-survival comes first.
But is there nothing else?
If I am loving and open
will I be exploited
in the name of love and trust?
No, we must maintain the faith
in Prabhupada’s system.
“Brisk walks on the cold beach . . .
An on-the-scene chronicler of humanness,
ancient China’s Tu Fu,
recorded sensitive truth
even while traveling on official duties
or even when his country was war-torn.
But no one asks me
to capture the Krsna conscious moment.
My duty is to serve here and now,
to give all my attention to the conference,
to help save the soul of our worldwide movement.
For this purpose we work day and night,
and we fight, and we joke.
And sometimes we look out
at the mysterious, bright ocean.
“Returning to the north,
I file my report:
‘There was progress, not just conflict;
it is hopeful, and we are meeting again
at our annual gathering in Mayapur.
Sincere devotees can differ yet resolve.
Lord Caitanya will protect us, I know,
and even amid schisms and casualties,
our onward climb will endure.’
And so may my chronicle
of big and small events.”
“For the first twenty-six years of my life I felt apart from this world. Sometimes I would think, ‘Why are there trees? Why is the sky just the way it is?’ I wasn’t satisfied with scientific explanations. ‘Why? Why am I suffering? Why are others suffering?’ Vedic knowledge from Srila Prabhupada has satisfied me. It explains as no other. And now we want others to accept this in order to be relieved of their sufferings.
“I read, therefore I experience. Therefore, I know. No longer do I know just with these eyes and skin, perceiving cold and hot, soft and hard. No longer is life made up just of the affairs of men and women, of my body and your body, of my lust and your lust, of your love-seeking and mine. That is all skin trade, mental trade. But now my knowledge extends beyond that, beyond just my guess and yours, like Huck Finn and Jim guessing together where the stars come from, ‘ . . The moon could’a laid them.” No longer just Darwin’s guess or Nietzsche’s guess; not just speculation; not just sense perception.
“I accept the Bhagavatam as the Absolute Truth, and step by step enter its complete knowledge. When I look up from the book and see birds quickly spanning over the skypatch, black specks against blue, that perception is inchoate. For its meaning, I turn back to the Bhagavatam’s pages. This reading provides the greatest vista. Emily Dickinson states, ‘There is no frigate like a book.’ But this book sails us to the Absolute, and not on wings of fancy or by imperfect construction.
“I am grateful for this early morning session with the Bhagavatam. It makes me feel firm and resolute, and as I read of the hellish punishments, I nod in agreement.
“A genuine session with Srila Prabhupada, a bhakti-yoga trance—the immortal sages in parampara and myself here and now reading, considering, noting down, getting a firmer hold on the transcendental facts. I am the Lord’s servant. Prabhupada has freed me of sinful habits. I have a duty to preach.
“Everything is firmer now. I am grateful for the reading session and I pray to go deeper, to continue this always through my short life’s duration.”
Gita-nagari sits amid wooded hills, a setting in the material mode of goodness. But at the same time it is a spiritual community because Radha-Damodara reside here. The devotees who live here are engaged in an important preaching project created by Srila Prabhupada, and they are guided by his instructions.
“I have to apply discrimination as I try to draw my attention and that of the readers into Gita-nagari. One question is whether the seasonal changes of the plants and flowers and the activities of birds and animals are themselves a subject of spiritual contemplation. I have discussed how every place and space is both Visnu, and yet at the same time is not Visnu. I have also mentioned how meditation on nature’s creatures can be a diversion and yet, if rightly done, it can be a way to realize the sastra via analogies connected to the Absolute Truth. And I have been to some degree expressing my own desire to see Krsna in the daily sights and seasonal changes of the farm where I now live in a somewhat non-participatory way.
“In the West, material nature seems less spiritually alive than in India, especially when you compare the West with holy places like Vrndavana and Mayapur. Vrndavana is so intensely associated with Krsna that devotees think at once of Krsna just by hearing the peacocks or seeing them in their Vrndavana habitat. Even creatures that are not ordinarily pleasing, like the monkeys of Vrndavana, also remind you of Krsna because of His lilas with them. Vrndavana’s natural life is so attractive to devotees that they sometimes bring peacocks to their ISKCON temples in the West, and of course the tulasi plant is well-established as a resident in all our temples. Unfortunately, I am not a resident of Vraja, but I aim to make the best of my situation here.
“But what about the opinion that the West is spiritually dead? Does that apply to this forest place, this land and sky of Gita-nagari? It sounds awful to say you live in a dead place, like living in a cemetery. Is the Western world doomed to be dead? But I think it must depend on one’s consciousness, especially for a devotee engaged at a place like Gita-nagari. His particular involvement with the land—cultivating it, thinking of how to use it to serve Krsna and to spread Krsna consciousness—this gives the land spiritual life. And the temple and its compound, no matter where on the earth they appear, are to be taken as cintamani, Vaikuntha dhama.
“‘O my evening prayer, all good unto you. O my morning bath, I bid you goodbye. O demigods and forefathers, please excuse me. I am unable to perform any more offerings for your pleasure. Now I have decided to free myself from all reactions to sins simply by remembering anywhere and everywhere the great descendant of Yadu and the great enemy of Kamsa [Lord Krsna]. I think that this is sufficient for me. So what is the use of further endeavors? (Bhag. 2.4.3—4, purport)
“This prayer has always attracted me, partly because of its humorous and feisty spirit. Prabhupada says, ‘Srila Madhavendra Puri, the grand-spiritual master of Lord Caitanya, took leave of all karma-kandiya obligations with these words.’
“Many of us had to make a sharp break with materialistic family and friends in order to come to Krsna consciousness, and Madhavendra Puri’s words assure us that sometimes such action is required.
“I also like this prayer for its boldness in giving up ritualistic religion. He is confident that devotional service to Krsna will fulfill all moral and religious obligations. The phrase, ‘Simply by remembering anywhere and everywhere the great descendent of Yadu (Krsna) . . . I think that this is sufficient for me.’—strikes me as a call to personal prayer. Let me be confident to pursue personal prayer even if moralists accuse me of being illusioned, ‘experts in Vedic activities may slander me as being misled, friends and relatives may call me frustrated, my brothers may call me a fool, the wealthy mammonites may point me out as mad, and the learned philosophers may assert that I am much too proud; still my mind does not budge an inch from the determination to serve the lotus feet of Govinda, though I be unable to do it.’
“I am not so bold, but I wish I were. I’m afraid I might be wrong about prayer as a priority. But I don’t want to be afraid. I am definitely afraid to be criticized, called a ‘babaji,’ thought eccentric, deviant, and so on. But I wish that like Madhavendra Puri I could say, ‘I do not mind.’ I am cautious because I am not Madhavendra Puri, I’m a tiny soul, prone to being misled, becoming proud, illusioned, and a fool. Nevertheless, I’m attracted to think of the lotus feet of Prabhupada and Krsna and to converse with them. I can’t do it, but I try. And sometimes I think of this bold spirited prayer where Madhavendra Puri blithely bids goodbye to all rituals, and without caring for criticism, keeps his mind unbudging at the lotus feet of Govinda, ‘though I am unable to do it.’”
“In Verse Seven of Manah-siksa, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami says, ‘My dear Brother Mind! The despicable desire for material honor and distinction is compared to a shameless and lowborn prostitute who eats dogmeat—yet she is flagrantly dancing in my heart. How then can the pristine love of pure devotion to Krsna ever find a place in my heart?”
“Bhaktivinoda Thakura comments in Sri Bhajana Darpana, ‘All other unwanted desires may be eradicated, but the hankering for honor and distinction is extremely difficult to uproot.’
“If one cannot rid his heart of this kind of hypocrisy, then there is no question of a devotee attaining pure love of Krsna. And yet that is exactly what Raghunatha dasa Gosvami desires, as he expresses in Verse Eight of Manah-siksa. He pleads with his mind, ‘Please reside in Vraja and earnestly worship Lord Krsna, the Lifter of Govardhana Hill, fervently praying to Him to please Him.’
“The key to release from the desire for honor and all the other deceits is to make humble prayers. Bhaktivinoda Thakura states, ‘A humble plea indicates a mood of sincere surrender and and devotion, particularly when a devotee feels that he is the most wretched person, without any shelter to protect him.
“The Thakura further states, ‘. . . If that same unfortunate soul realizes that his true position is to feel himself humbler than even a straw in the street, and therefore develops the intelligence to respect others according to their positions, simultaneously taking complete shelter of the holy names of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then certainly he will receive the mercy of Lord Krsna, and concomitantly the grace of the saintly personalities.’ (Manah-siksa, p. 35)”
“As brahmacari, Jayapataka had praised Prabhupada’s books as ambrosia. In this letter, Prabhupada humbly replies that his books are ambrosial, but not because of his own inventiveness. He then explains that his books are ambrosial because the parampara is ambrosial, and he describes himself as being but the carrier of the ambrosial message. Such a carrier may consider himself to be but a faithful peon or messenger (and he might even be considered so by others). Yet this nice messenger is carrying the ambrosia of the words of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and this is the greatest service. As Arjuna says to Krsna, ‘I am never satiated in hearing about You, because the more I hear, the more I want to taste the nectar of Your words.’ (Bhagavad-gita 10.18) However, if one tries to himself be the source of ambrosia, then that is false ego. Prabhupada always remained a faithful carrier of the nectar of Krsna, and that is his great gift to all of us. This makes him millions of times greater than one who tries to be the source of the nectar by himself.
“Prabhupada carried all of his nectarean instructions especially for the devotees. As he states in one of his purports, ‘Bhagavad-gita should be explained to persons who are ready to accept Krsna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is a subject matter for the devotees only and not for philosophical speculators.’ (Bg. 18.68 purport) Authors write books and articles with specific audiences in mind; commercial artists, for example, always pander to the public taste in order to make more money. Prabhupada wrote his books specifically for his disciples, or ‘students.’ They are books written by the Founder-Acarya and the spiritual master of ISKCON for his disciples or followers. Although it is a fact that Prabhupada’s books make followers of nondevotees, only after becoming a devotee can one receive the ambrosia that is in these books.”
“To say ‘I tried hard—I almost made it’ is not perfection. If you chant with offenses, then your chanting will be offensive. Still, that doesn’t mean that you stop the chanting or stop the preaching. We should be encouraged just by our trying even though imperfect. Just go on. Maybe we won’t attain Krsna for some time by our devotional service, but we have to keep trying—being satisfied by the japa and the nectar we obtain by that trying. The higher stage of chanting is love, and at that point there is no more trying. It is spontaneous.
“But not that the best chanter of the names of Krsna has developed his chanting like some great weightlifter. ‘Oh, he is a very famous chanter. He tried day after day for many years, and now he has perfected his chanting. He can control his mind!’ I remember talking to one professor practicing Buddhist meditation. He was explaining how to keep all different thoughts out of the mind. When some thought enters like an intruder, then with great prowess you push it out; when another thought enters, you push that thought out. In this way you meditate—very strenuously. We may think, ‘Now I’m avoiding the first offense, now I’m avoiding the second offense, now I’m avoiding all ten offenses —I’m awake, I’m attentive,’ etc. But we are not like the juggler who puts another spinning plate on top, then another, then another, and then he is perfect. In other words, the holy name is Krsna, who when fully pleased appears on the tongue of an ideal chanter. He is not created by the chanter. Ultimately only loving service pleases Him, and that is done by linking with one who is already known to Krsna.
“Of course, Krsna knows everyone, but in terms of devotional service it is different. I may say I have been a big rascal and now I am letting out a great crying of love, ‘O Krsna! O Krsna! Krsna!’ He’ll say, ‘Oh? Who is this with all these protestations of love for Me? Who is this upstart?’ But if He is informed by one of His intimate associates like Radharani, ‘This person chanting is actually a very good devotee. I recommend him,’ then He will say, ‘Oh, then all right.’ He won’t take you without a recommendation; this is mercy.”
“July 27, 1996
“Why I left Pada Yatra, what I hope to achieve in Writing Sessions.
“Conceive the world. Hold on before you write (you were going to write the words: ‘as a doughnut’). Consider the gravity of the situation. You are a soul in a body. Do you not accept that? Everyone has some religion. This is yours. Religion is not entirely based on experience. It is the other world, power beyond you – divine. Okay, many religions exist and some have none of the features of the standard religion – no God, no soul, no scripture. But SP says that’s no religion, bogus. I follow the sanatana dharma, and for us we don’t depend merely on the experience of our senses and mind.
“Live with that. Know that you don’t know, you don’t experience it readily. But you can open the doors of your perception by reading, hearing sastra. (Yes, Huxley, the doors are opened not by mescaline – as your experience will tell us!)
“Krsna consciousness and me
“my stomach is in an indigestive state from the 5 P.M. snack of sandesa and just-picked raspberries and a half of a banana. Something didn’t go right. Still struggling with it. Poor intestine and stomach.
“This is the nonperformance school if I can attain it, where you don’t worry how it comes out. You have confidence that writing is good for you. Confidence that a byproduct is natural, but you are not primarily concerned with it. ‘Books are the obvious fruit of your writing, but the heartbeat is generated by the moving pen.’
“Some friends are with me, wish me well. A box of typewriter cartridges left at the door by a delivery person. This one is by pen.
“I want to tell you where I am and what I am doing. I could have a ‘too private’ or ‘forbidden’ notebook if it should come to that. Or put it right here and not record it later. Pages get put into the fire. The whole question of what gets edited, gets published, which I often talk of with Kdd and Madhu. He says he has his opinion, wants me to be the final one to decide and to feel strongly, ‘This is what I want to say’ before I actually publish.
“This is my message for the world, I should feel strongly. Otherwise, just because I wrote it isn’t enough reason to share it, he says. But I say anything you write has some right to live.
“Who likes to kill off his sentences because, ‘It’s not my message?’
“Message is sastra. The guru is one.
“As you grow old try to give up finding fault. And pride. The weeds are always growing. I am tending my garden.
“I lower the shade before 7 P.M. so I can rest and rise by midnight.
“Hare Krishna mantras.
“I left the Pada Yatra so I could come here to write. I thought I could – write better? I left the PY and came to write what comes, hope to drift to some important concerns. Invite yourself to do so.
“Your body concerns of the moment, that indigestion. One doesn’t want to take strong medicines to remove symptoms (Tums) yet one has a strong desire to be free from discomfort.
“I started to say something but lost track. That’s proof of what I seek to do in writing sessions. Pursue tracks of concern. If they slip away, return to them when they open again. We used to say, when forgetting something, ‘If it’s important it will come back to me.’ Then a few moments later, ‘Oh! Now I remember what I wanted to say.’
proud false mental speculation
but need conviction of heart, a way to express oneself.
Feeling that you are doing something to help yourself improve in KC.
“I left the PY to come and write. PY occupies us with chanting and walking and this is a group, with socializing, exchanging, with other people, realities of preaching, the world we walk through, etc. And literary PY means performance concerns. So, I left the PY to spend time in writing. It’s not that I’m unemployed or ‘just practicing’ in the sense of doing something unimportant.
“Oh, it’s important
because I’m a big man?
An author of a secret way?
you tease me, okay but
you know what I mean
Don’t work against me to destroy this purpose and intention.
I left PY (or I’m still on it in a different way)
to enhance the writing. PY was writing certainly. And I left for writing.
“By the discipline of the writing schedule I entered PY. Now the discipline is underway thirteen days. I can keep to it four times daily. So, use it in this way. Better than PY? More personal? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s the way I’ve chosen to continue.
“Sri Krsna smaranam, they repeat in their mantra, they surrender to Krsna. The sentiment is good. We chant thirty-two syllables of HKM. That’s what our acaryas gave us, BVT, BSS, SP and it’s in the scriptures that should be good enough for you.
“You look at the clock perhaps too much. Writing under discipline, as with your japa. To fulfill the quota. There I did it.
“That’s only the surface.
“Concern to write what comes. If it’s a deep sastric or personal concern, you think: ‘That’s good writing.’ But any step is a bridge and is good.
“Bridge – a walking metaphor.
“I’m here alone under the desk lamp rays. The good lamp he gave me in south Italy some years ago. How long will the bulb last? Can we get another? Write despite discomforts (indigestion and runny nose). Despite limited time.
“Limited access, limited brain.
“Krsna. What would you write if you could? Oh, I guess I’d feel Krsna coming through me and write ecstatically and it would be immediately useful and astounding to devotees. They would say, ‘This is better quality than anything you have written before.’ Everyone would be impressed with the KC and in a personal way. I’d be exonerated. Give him fulltime to write his way, the directors would say.
“I’d make a million dollars. The nondevotee world would take note – ‘Another Thomas Merton’ and buy my books. Fame. Influence. Used to further the KC movement.
“Is that what you’d want?
“I think it’s something closer to home. Results such as those you mentioned would be up to Krsna, recognition of how you wrote.
“I pray to Him not, ‘Please empower me to write influentially and knock people over,’ but ‘Please let me serve You by writing.’
“It’s in the words or the act of writing.
“Lord Caitanya is teaching Sanatana about God. His many expansions. He appears as Brahman, Paramatma and originally as Bhagavan. Now, LC will teach the tadatma, tad ekatma and evesa(?) – I never managed to memorize this section and lately I don’t even bother about that. But I read it as important, more proof that SP is substantial and covers all the ground of Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy.
“M. went all day to Belfast. I suppose he returned after I took rest, but so far, I haven’t heard any sound of his presence downstairs, such as coughing or clearing his throat. All day yesterday the fax machine was turned off. You get used to receiving messages that way and when it’s turned off you think, ‘Oh, I’m cut off.’ As if you need such a thing.
“They used to write a letter and if they were lucky (in China) it might get delivered in seven months.
“This opening WS (Writing Session) has not been for word play. The pens are getting stuck. I write the first WS of the day in pen and three with typewriter. This one comes more from the arm, body.
“Mozart, people of the world,
Hesse spoke of little else,
this one and that. The goal is KC among us. LC and LK.
“The pastimes of Lord Caitanya are like condensed milk and the pastimes of Lord Krsna are like camphor added. Mix them and you get a great preparation, as given in Cc.
“Take it and be happy and wise. You’ll get dizzy, it’s so nice.
“The fruits of love of God intoxicate. LC invites us to pick and eat and distribute.
“Chant and dance and feel happy. Tell others about this happiness. That used to be the mood of the young Hare Krishna movement. It was ecstatic. Now it is less so? Not in the same way, naïve, smaller family, no bitter schisms and SP with us.
“Dance and chant and take prasadam, he’d say.
“Then came, ‘Distribute books.’ We went less out for hari-nama. The summer in Boston on the Commons. Being a devotee under stress because of the nondevotee world. But you were serving SP and you felt the sacrifice as meaningful and complete.
“Your persona was to be a devotee, disciple and please him. Report to him. No other guru was required.
“Yes, writing by the clock it’s soon 1 A.M. which means I better stop. The Shaeffer pens are really failing me. There is no ideal pen it seems. They skip. The customer is not satisfied. All three pens are failing when I reach the bottom of the page. Maybe it’s only the angle or the cheap paper. I don’t know. I wish it were better.
“Hare Krsna, this is the first WS. We are underway. I will have to repeat myself. But don’t feel frustrated that it doesn’t turn out a certain way. Don’t merely go through the motions. Try also just to write. Your prayer, even when not writing, will help.
“It’s a wish to express yourself totally in the writing act and discover new areas of KC
and serve and please
and serve and be in touch with the Lord
not that I drift away from guru and Krsna by writing. But come closer through this act. See you later. One more minute to say I love you.
“Snow White bids goodbye as the dwarfs exit, and Dopey comes back in through the window to say goodbye to her a second time. They all love her and they are like her children in the myth. I have real life. Leave door under guru’s care.
“(45 minutes, Wicklow, approximately 10 handwritten pages)”