Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Going Out of Business

A few days ago i read that there are now more online bloggers in America making money at it than there are firefighters. That's difficult to believe, but it shows how pervasive and popular blogging has become.

I haven't made one cent here, but that was never my purpose. I started writing this blog two years ago. I had just returned to the West after seven years of traveling and living in India. My intention was to express my impressions on being back in the West. That gradually evolved into an airing of my grievances with Iskcon, sharing my opinions and realizations on being a "devotee," and giving voice to my feelings about my state of consciousness.

Now, around 200 posts later, and several stops and restarts, i am finally closing up shop. I revealed my thoughts and my heart here. I don't wish to be repetitious and I think i've said enough. I have no agenda to push other than to encourage honesty and self expression and to expose duplicity and corruption. I am not an expert or authority on anything but i guess the summary of my advice is this: never sell yourself short. You are eternally an individual. Don't let the world make you conform. Respect your deeper self and be mindful of your relationship with God.

I will keep this blog online so that anyone who wishes to can go thru the archives. The topics are not time-sensitive. Most of them deal with issues that will remain challenges for anyone interested in spiritual life. I have tried to convey my real life experiences as they relate to the great transcendental subject matter of Krishna consciousness.

Recently i reread Siddhartha, the 1922 novel by the Nobel prize winning author, Herman Hesse. I had read this book as a teenager in school and remember being fascinated by the twists and turns of a spiritual seeker. It was an exciting fairy tale to me then. Reading it again, after 40 years of treading myself on the spiritual path, Siddhartha had a new, more authentic meaning for me. It's an exceptional read. Hesse was not a devotee but a European intellectual who was deeply interested in India and had an intuitive understanding of human nature in its quest for perfection. The book is free to read online if you're interested:

Getting out of the material world is the most zigzag of roads. It requires constant attention and adjustment, causeless divine mercy, conscious suffering, sukriti (spiritual good fortune), child-like inquisitiveness, patience, obedience to truths that are often invisible, rules that are at times apparently counter-intuitive, and goals that are always beyond our tiny efforts. This road also demands rejection of group-think, personal sacrifice, tolerance of one's karma and the karma of one's friends, the ability to pick oneself up after countless stumbling, and many other qualities.

Anyone who thinks it's easy to drive down this road and become liberated will soon learn otherwise. Anyone who thinks that blind faith to a belief system or to an institution will suffice is in for a big surprise. Anyone who abuses vaisnavas or disturbs others on the road will need to remain in the material world to become aware of their mistakes and atone for them.

For old-time bhaktas who are readers, i offer my respects, obeisances and appreciation for all your past efforts on the path, and my encouragement. As dark as the day may seem (and it seems quite dark to me), the future is brighter than any of us can imagine. The sun can be checked by dense clouds only for some time. The nite lasts only so long. The morning sun eventually dissipates the fog. We can't say when or where, but every sincere follower of Srila Prabhupada (his regular disciples and the uninitiated who follow his instructions) will surely meet him again.

All glories to our eternal spiritual father, the spiritual sun of our universe, Srila Prabhupada.

Anyone who wishes to communicate with me, can reach me at: jauvana@gmail.com

Om tat sat.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


We live in a world full of denial-- denial of death, denial of grief, denial of compassion, denial of sacrifice. We are part of a "you only live once" culture. Everyone is busy maintaining a mask of successful well-being, a pursuit of enjoyment and an artificial movie of being a well adjusted, happy personality. This bullshit culture that we have grown up with and surrounds us also filters its way into so-called vaisnava society. But that is hardly spiritual association.

The vaisnava acaryas are not afraid to write and sing about how morose they are without pure association. ami boro dukhi. "I am so miserable." kripa balo kana koro. "Give me the glance of your mercy." To acknowledge depression due to lack of association is something the great acaryas did.

My point in my last post was simply to address the enormous loss each of us experienced when we felt it necessary to give up the association of devotees. We each had good reasons for leaving, but we also have good reasons for grieving.

Grief is a natural part of the process of coming to terms with a traumatic loss. In her landmark book, On Death & Dying, published in 1969, Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross researched grief associated with the dying process. The 'grief cycle' is actually a model for helping to understand and deal with all major losses--the emotional, physical and yes, spiritual traumas in our lives.

These are the five stages:
1 Denial
Denial is a conscious or unconscious refusal to accept facts, information, reality relating to the situation concerned. It's a defense mechanism.

2 Anger
Anger can manifest in different ways. People dealing with emotional upset can be angry with themselves or project it on others who they blame for their situation.

3 Bargaining
Persons in this stage of grief bargain or seek to negotiate a compromise with what they have lost or with a higher power, usually with God. Bargaining rarely provides a sustainable solution.

4 Depression
Depression is a sort of acceptance with emotional attachment. It's natural to feel sadness and regret, fear, uncertainty at a great loss. It shows that the person has at least begun to accept reality.

5 Acceptance
This final stage of the grief process indicates emotional detachment and objectivity. It brings a kind of peace and allows the person to move on to a new space, letting go of the old and embracing a new paradigm.

The grieving process is natural and like other forces of nature, unavoidable. It is when we get stuck in one phase that our situation feels intolerable. For example, if someone remains angry at Iskcon for year after year, unable to move to the next phase, that means he or she is not just angry at Iskcon but at themselves. Chronic anger is self destructive. The same for the other stages of grief. The idea is not to get stuck but to tolerate and acknowledge the different phases of grief while moving thru them to finally reach a new consciousness and corresponding worldview.

The soul "is" the world, and when we are in harmony with the soul and with Supersoul, our actions and emotions will create peace and happiness.

If you can find good association, you are very fortunate. If you cannot find it, you need to create it. There is no alternative. Association to facilitate harmony of the soul is the greatest necessity of our time.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I've had a couple of dreams recently that Hrdayananda appeared in. It's a bit unusual, since i hardly know the guy and i never liked him. I didn't serve in Iskcon with him and rarely saw him since the zonal acaraya fiasco. But there he was, in technicolor, in a couple of my recent dreams. Both times i tried to confide in him, to share with him my grief over what happened in Iskcon. I spoke to him in hushed tones from the heart. I reasoned. I cried.

Why my mind chose Hrdayananda for its catharsis i don't know. But the grief i experienced in these dreams is similar to the sadness of a marriage gone bad. When my first marriage was falling apart, i had to grieve to let go of the attachment. A strong commitment binds the heart.

For those of us who joined Iskcon as idealistic youth, it was like a marriage. As young monks with our hopes, our fears and our devotion, we married Iskcon because it was the vision of our great spiritual master. Sure most of us --if not all of us-- were totally unqualified to make such a commitment. But who knew that then?

All our karmic endeavors that followed-- our wives, our children, finances, businesses and hobbies-- were important to us but always remained subordinate in our hearts to our first big commitment, our unrequited bond to Iskcon. This tie, this great responsibility given to us, a vow and contract signed with the invisible ink of bhakti, was challenged and finally broken for most of us in the months and years following Srila Prabhupada's disappearance.

The details of how this happened i will leave to the historians and commentators. The official line is that we just "disappeared," thousands of us. But the reality is that we were humiliated, starting with being forced to obey and participate in the worship of wholly unqualified peers who sat on high seats in Srila Prabhupada's temples. Those 11 men controlled everyone. Now those men are gone. New ones have replaced them, the seats have been lowered and the externals look more democratic, but in practice, the same sore lack of genuine respect, give and take, openness and brahminical principles remain. The highly centralized control, the censorship, the sweeping corruption, the fundamentalism, party spirit and corporate mindset are all very much on display if you visit Iskcon and have the eyes to see it.

Recently i corresponded with one godbrother whom i haven't met in 25 years. I wrote:
"I think most of us, the godbrothers, are pretty depressed. We all wanted to do something wonderful for Prabhupada, but it didn't turn out the way we had hoped. That was a result of everyone's immaturity and impurities, but especially the disqualification of the leaders. Ironically, almost all of them fell down and became disgraced, but the system didn't fall with them. Instead, it became institutionalized, and it was the godbrothers who scattered and went their own ways.

"A few godbrothers started their own missions and are doing well. There is Paramadwaiti Swami (formerly Alanath) who is a very successful guru in South America, Jagat Guru (now Narasinga Swami) in South India and Tripurari in California. I'm sure there are other godbrothers getting some results on their own. But most of us do not have the ambition or the sakti to act as gurus. This is the problem. Unless we create it, we will not find association. Unless we pay the price of being co-opted by a Hindu-corporate structure or join a personality cult. And that is a Faustian bargain."

I haven't done a survey, but the godbrothers i know and still communicate with are feeling like they lost something that they will not be able to find again and seems impossible to recreate. The hopes of their youth have been smashed. The bride of Iskcon died in their arms just after the honeymoon and transformed itself into an apparition. That is reason enough to feel depressed.

But we must digest this grief and move on. Even if we completely fail, we can be satisfied knowing that failure is the pillar of success.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Amazing Plaze

"Wandering thru this universe, can't be seen and can't be heard,
can't be understood with words, but amazing."
From "Jivatma Express" by me!

The world really is an amazing place, filled with jivas who are crisscrossing each other's destiny. So creative, so destructive, so vulnerable and dangerous, this world. The more we try to control other jivas for our own enjoyment or control, the greater the reaction. Ask George Bush. Or Bill Clinton. Or one of the former 11 zonal "acaryas."

Today i took a walk by the lake, Lake Michigan, near where i live now. I walked along the shore up to Northwestern University, the school i attended as an undergraduate (and later dropped out) 40 years ago. For a moment, i had a flashback of my consciousness from those days. I remembered my state of mind from my youth. I was swept up, like most of my peers who went on to become devotees, in an idealistic mood that our generation would change the world, make it more human, more spiritual, more just and more beautiful. Anyone over 30 was suspect. We were age racists.

But internally, when i flash back to my personal consciousness, i was walking around in a bewildered condition. I was searching but without a solid sense of what i was to look for. I was confused but way too independent minded to trust any of my professors or even the great philosophers of the past. The only godly quality i can remember was a sense of sincerity that came up when i took drugs and my mind entered an altered state. In that condition only i felt a genuine sense of humility in relation to the universe and to God, although both remained mystical and beyond my understanding. That drug-induced humility led me to prayer and prayer led me eventually to the devotees and Srila Prabhupada.

So there is a place for everything. Even drugs can lead you to God if taken in the right mood. I'm not advocating a "Jayatirtha-approach" to bhakti, but am just stating how the Intention is everything. As Prabhupada once commented when he was on Second Avenue in NYC in 1966, referring to the winos who would loiter outside his storefront temple: If when they drink wine they think this taste is God, that appreciation will lead them to Krishna.

The debate going on now on the internet about gays in Krishna consciousness should reflect the importance of intention over externals. Everyone is having sex in this world. Straights, gays and in-betweens. Even sannyasis, sorry to say, can sometimes be found in Bangkok with their arm around a Thai woman after an exhausting preaching tour. What else is new? Sex is all in all in this world, this amazing place where the jivas can't remember who they really are. So the point is, not homosex or heterosex, but the Intention to appreciate God and to engage in the process of bhakti. Sure, with intention proper behavior and actions should follow, but unless the intention is firmly fixed, no amount of posturing will do any good. "Better a sincere street sweeper than a charlatan yogi."

The "homosex" debate by devotees on the internet has brought Hrdayananda into conflict with the traditionalists in Iskcon. He recently posted an article to defend his position titled, "Never Break a Devotee." The article had some good points i thought, describing how Srila Prabhupada, while speaking with great force against politicians, scientists and clergy, when dealing with members of these professions on a personal basis, was respectful and practical. And that "Prabhupada once personally taught me that we should never "break" a devotee, that is never push a devotee to the breaking point."

I have also seen how gentle Prabhupada was with me when he stayed with us in Tehran for 10 days. Although he could easily understand my disqualification as his disciple, he never once threatened me or used his authority to minimize me. Rather he perfectly reciprocated with my feeble attempts to be receptive to him. But compare that example and Hrdayananda's quote of Srila Prabhupada about never breaking a devotee, to what went on in Iskcon. Even during Prabhupada's time, many devotees were abused to the point of breaking. It was "my way or the highway" with almost all Iskcon leaders.

After Prabhupada left the world, this abuse culminated in the wholesale slaughter of the faith of Prabhupada's disciples. Led by whom? Well, coincidentally, by Hrdayananda and his 10 partners who paraded themselves as the appointed successors to Srila Prabhupada. Sitting smugly on their vyasasans in Srila Prabhupada's temples in front of their godbrothers and sisters they proclaimed: "Don't break a devotee --break all of them! Divide and conquer! Carpe Diem!"

Yes, the jivas are amazing in this material world, an amazing plaze. One of these days or in a future lifetime, a strong fervent desire to get out of here will arise in my heart. At that time i will become indifferent to all that is heard or will be heard. All the material noise will subside and i will learn to listen with great greed to the eternal sound vibrations in the core of my heart. Until then, i will be wandering around this place, learning the lessons i need to reach that defining moment of realization.

Don't break a devotee. Be a devotee.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I came across the concept of "atonement" when reading one of Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavatam translations. These days, unless you are cautious and check the edition you are reading, you can't be sure if you are reading Prabhupada's words or those of an attention-deficit disordered disciple who compulsively edits his divine grace's translations and purports, to "improve" on Srila Prabhupada's transcendental ecstasies.

Well, i prefer to read the books "as they were," when Prabhupada dictated them late at nite sitting alone in his room. I prefer his language and his emotions to a neophyte's. And most of the changes are so minor they are irrelevant. What justifies altering your spiritual master's life work? Changing Prabhupada's syntax for no better reason than your own ego's satisfaction is hardly justifiable. You can be sure that if Prabhupada were physically here, these editors would be too meek to change even a comma.

The word atonement caught my eye in one of Prabhupada's translations, as we hear the term commonly used in Judeo-Christian culture and religion. It always irks me that the best words in the English language have been co-opted by western religions, thus giving them a spin that renders these words judgmental, aggressive or sectarian to my ears. So i researched the etymology of "atonement" to find its origins and various meanings.

Atonement is influenced by the Latin, adunamentum, meaning unity or reconciliation, especially between man and God. An even earlier root is onement, from an obsolete verb, one, to unite. So the concept of atonement is based on uniting with the divine by reviving one's original consciousness. At-One-Ment.

In popular usage, atonement has come to mean: to make amends for a wrong or injury; to repay or compensate for a wrongdoing or a mistake. It is closely linked to the word, expiate ("to expiate one's sins"), which in turn is connected with the word, appease, meaning to pacify or satisfy. Peace is thus directly related to piety.

Here is where Srila Prabhupada's devotional genius shines a light on the concept of atonement. He writes in SB 6.1.11, that "even though one may superficially seem pious, he will undoubtedly be prone to act impiously." (Sound familiar?) "Therefore real atonement is enlightenment in perfect knowledge, Vedanta, the Absolute Truth."

Another synonym of atonement is the verb, to propitiate. Propitiation is the act of placating and overcoming distrust, to win over and regain someone's favor by doing something that pleases them. To make them favorable to us. So atonement is not an abstract, impersonal activity, but one that is very much connected to reciprocation in a Relationship.

Atonement is an understanding and bonding between persons. That person with whom we most need to understand and bond with is Vasudeva, the knower of Vedanta, the source of everything, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If we make ourselves favorable to him, our long history of suffering will cease.

Interesting confirmation of this is that the antonym or opposite of atonement is separation. The opposite of making amends and becoming enlightened with perfect knowledge of Vasudeva is to experience the angst of existential separation: maya, illusion, ignorance, the false ego, fear, death. The root of our sense of separation is our damaged relationship with God.

Which brings me to the most concise and compelling definition of atonement i found. It is in the Wiktionary, a new online dictionary related to the Wikipedia. There, atonement is defined as "a repair done for the sake of a damaged relationship."

So there it is: real atonement is to act in such a way as to repair our damaged (bahir mukta, misdirected) relationship with Bhagavan Sri Krishna. The process of atonement is hearing (sravanam) and chanting (kirtanam) about him, developing perfect knowledge of him (smaranam), culminating in taste (rati), spiritual emotions (bhava) and pure love (prema bhakti, complete Krishna consciousness).

Atonement is not Group Think. It is not a competition, a corporate career or ecclesiasticism, church practice.

What is called atonement in mundane circles --pious acts, rituals, austerities, vows and decrees-- is not substantial enough to move the soul out of its sleeping condition. These things only cheat the soul by keeping it attached to matter. According to Srila Prabhupada, real atonement is soul work -- the activity of the soul proper. Detachment from matter.

When the soul practices real atonement, he or she learns to act in full harmony and in perfect knowledge of God. He becomes a yogi of the highest order, a swan who swims in the peaceful lake of At-One-Ment. Diving beneath the surface of popular concerns, the soul learns to play in the tangled stems of the lotus of Sri Krishna's feet. This was the message and the example that Srila Prabhupada taught. Don't accept anything less. Om tat sat.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Red Meat Exposed

I usually write about essential spiritual and philosophical topics. Today i divert to inform you of an important new study on the effects of meat eating on health. Most readers of this blog are already vegetarians. But this new study is significant as it is the first to provide strong empiric evidence of the effects of meat eating on human life span. Red meat has been found to be a major cause of premature death.

The results of a study of 500,000 middle-aged and older Americans found that those who consumed about four ounces of red meat a day (the equivalent of about a small hamburger) were more than 30 percent more likely to die during the 10 years they were followed, mostly from heart disease and cancer but other diseases as well.

Previous research had found a link between red meat and an increased risk of heart disease and cancer, but the new study is the first large examination of the relationship between eating meat and overall risk of death.

Among women, those who ate the most red meat were 36 percent more likely to die for any reason, 20 percent more likely to die of cancer and 50 percent more likely to die of heart disease. Men who ate the most meat were 31 percent more likely to die for any reason, 22 percent more likely to die of cancer and 27 percent more likely to die of heart disease.

"The bottom line is we found an association between red meat and processed meat and an increased risk of mortality," said Rashmi Sinha of the National Cancer Institute, who led the study published yesterday in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

"The uniqueness of this study is its size and length of follow-up," said Barry M. Popkin, a professor of global nutrition at the University of North Carolina, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study. "This is a slam-dunk to say that, 'Yes, indeed, if people want to be healthy and live longer, consume less red and processed meat.' "

The American Meat Institute dismissed the findings in a statement saying that "meat products are part of a healthy, balanced diet, and studies show they actually provide a sense of satisfaction and fullness that can help with weight control. Proper body weight contributes to good health overall."

That's a pretty lame rebuttal of a scientific study which proved that the 71,000 persons who died in the course of the study were the heaviest red meat eaters in a group of half a million.

In addition to health benefits, reducing red meat in the human diet would greatly reduce water shortages, global pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and cut energy consumption. Eliminating red meat would effectively reduce the murder rate of millions and millions of cows and bulls by 100%, thus greatly improving the collective karma of all human beings on this planet.

But don't expect that to happen anytime soon. When asked what he would like to eat the first time he boarded Air Force One, the presidential airplane, Mr. Obama asked for a cheeseburger with fries.

More effective than any scientific study to change people's eating habits would be massive distribution of Krishna prasadam. That was Srila Prabhupada's prescription for the world. It was also his secret weapon for creating devotees out of red meat melechas. If a study was done, and the devotees were honest, it would be seen that none of them had a higher taste for chanting the holy names, but all of them had a taste for delicious prasadam.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pride of Prejudice

We all have our views and opinions in this world. They are based either on personal likes and dislikes, actual experiences or prejudices.

It is everyone's prejudices -- preconceived opinions not based on reason, or a holistic understanding of scripture or on sober personal reflection of life experience-- that is the cause of so much grief, hostility and conflict in the world.

We see how everyone in the vaisnava world is extremely judgmental.

Quoting from any source they can-- a verse here, a letter there, a "Prabhupada said" or whatever they can dig up-- devotees do not communicate with an openness or a desire for discovery. Contrary to vaisnava behavior, which is one of inquiry and reasoning, devotees from all sides, immediately take the position of authority.

It amazes me that something as detailed as whether a particular deity can wear a peacock feather on an altar in the mandir becomes a major subject for debate and didacticism. In the manner of moral authorities, devotees have become patronizing zealots rather than seekers of an all inclusive truth. Soon the pen will turn to the sword, and Hindus will follow their fundamentalist brothers from other faiths to justify killing to enforce their prejudiced morality and judgments. Murder is already part of Iskcon history.

We are each able to learn and advance according to our own realization and abilities. There are no "stereotypes" on the path to God. There is so much diversity of feelings, impressions and expressions in this universe. If the Common point is Krishna or Allah or Khoda, bas. The details will work themselves out if the intention is pure.

We are quick to offend and slow to support one another. We express our prejudices as if they were the absolute truth. Thus we miss the actual Reality of Krishna, which is to see everything as Krishna's energy and to respect all expressions connected to Bhagavan, as attempts to glorify the Lord. Of course, nescience must also be seen for what it is and clearly understood as the shadow of Krishna: maya, illusion.

But to let our prejudices preempt the gentle manners and inquiring spirit of real vaisnavas while we masquerade as sadhus-- that is not Krishna consciousness. That is the pride of prejudice. The pride before the fall.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What are you looking for?

Truth is always painful at first. The truth to see yourself. To see how fallen you are. To see how far away from Krishna you have gone. To see how helpless you are. To see the naked truth of the material world.

But truth also sets you free. Free to be yourself, not to play a role. Free to stop trying to control others or be controlled by them. Free to be independent of family and society. Free to be a sadhu.

Freedom leads us to Krishna. Krishna gives us bliss when we meet him and even when we feel separation from him. Bliss is not cheap. Bliss is the one thing Krishna gives only to his devotees. His pure devotees.

Money, power, fame, heaven, even liberation from the material world is easy to get compared to bliss.

And devotees of Krishna do not easily accept bliss, vowing to serve him instead. Do you think that Srila Prabhupada, who agreed to receive so many headaches from his disciples and from his preaching, was always in bliss? He was in anxiety for his service. In anxiety to deliver the truth to unqualified souls. Anxiety to do everything he could to create a spiritual revolution in a short time without qualified helpers.

What about the less advanced "simulated" gurus (no names necessary)? Their bliss appears to be a show, an impression, a caricature of devotional ecstasy. They are devotees no doubt, and many of them have sacrificed much on behalf of their service. But unfortunately, most are far better actors than devotees.

Actors are looking for applause. Devotees are searching after Krishna.

What are you looking for?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Gaurabda 523

Today i read that B.V. Puri Maharaj, the 96 year old sadhu and Gaudiya vaisnava guru of his own mission, passed away last week at Visakapatnam, India. He was one of the very last of his generation who took initiation from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati and who faithfully carried on his teachings. That generation of devotees contained many great souls who were real sadhus. They may not have been exceptional managers from the material perspective, but just to see such sadhus in Vrindavan or in Mayapur was purifying and satisfying. I remember seeing Puri Maharaj there many times. I am more and more feeling the absence of such personalities in our world. Their absence is our loss.

In a world deprived of genuine sadhus, imitation sadhus prevail. In an insane world, a rational person is unwelcome.

The diaspora of devotees, those who became disgusted by or who were chased away from Iskcon, are now scattered around the world by their karma. Everyone is suffering. Most are silent, some are talking, others have made new alliances. But there is no magic bullet, no solution, no redemption for anyone who is competing or placing their hopes in the material world. Maya is in charge here, and she creates endless problems for the jivas in this world. Even if someone is charismatic and empowered to influence others towards good or evil, he cannot liberate others or even himself. daivi hy esa gunamayi.

Srila Prabhupada confirms this when he explains that "a man bound by the hands and feet cannot free himself-- he must be helped by a person who is unbound. Because the bound cannot help the bound, the rescuer must be liberated." This is the problem. Unless sadhus are real, they cannot liberate anyone, even themselves. Those who merely pretend to be sadhus still want to control others. They create more problems than they solve.

Prabhupada then quotes Lord Siva: mukti-pradata sarvesam visnur eva na samsayah. "There is no doubt that Visnu is the deliverer of liberation for everyone."

Friend and enemy, lover and hater, member of this institution or that-- all positions are relative in this world. Even my own body and mind are very often uncooperative and unenthusiastic for my spiritual life. Passion pushes me in the wrong direction. Inertia is a powerful force that keeps me down. Nothing seems to move me towards Krishna. Yet, the wonderful thing is that sraddha--transcendental faith-- is not dependent on any of this. No external or internal obstacle, no actor in this world, not even the powerful mind, can check faith. Bhakti is independent like Krishna. This is the secret gift we have received by divine mercy. And it is within the garden of this faith that we must cultivate our hopes and prayers so that one day they will bear fruit.

We cannot expect an easy path. Things may get worse before getting better. "Those favored by God find their paths set by thorns." This quote is attributed to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati and should give us hope. When we see thorns or when we step on them, we should think that the roses of God are not too far away. We should learn to search out the roses rather than curse at the thorns. Perhaps even see the thorns as our guides....siksa gurus, friends of ours who have come to lead us to the soft rose petals of ruci and bhava.

In any case, the thorns are on our path and this path is our way home. Whether we are walking in loneliness or in the company of many, we must each walk this path with our own faith. There is no alternative for us.

I wish you success today, Gaura Purnima, and on your journey during this new year of Gaurabda 523.

Gaura Hari...Gauracandra...Gaurasundar ki jaya!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Exchanges on the Path

I am not thinking about this blog or planning anything, but when relevant thoughts or exchanges come up, i will post them here. I have email exchanges with a few friends and this one just happened. As they say, "if the shoe fits...wear it."

Since i did not ask this godbrother's permission to post his words, he will remain anonymous (although he is one of the regular readers of this blog, and if he has an objection, i will hear from him.)

From a godbrother:

"But we have to face it that the majority (including devotees) is, well, alpa medhasha – less intelligent. I am not claiming that I am super intelligent but I think that I can safely say that I am somewhat thoughtful. For myself I have resolved that in spite of advanced age and the days flying by I still have to practice to be patient. So, for now, I am concentrating on Shaastra – reading, translating, and publishing. I just feel safe that way. But even for that I really have to discipline myself, especially the initial inertia. I still visit the SUN almost every day, but find myself skipping a lot of contributions as I look at the names of the contributors. A lot of it is just a modern form of Prajalpa.

"Your recent blog entry regarding puppets gave me another confirmation as to how make the best use of the valuable time. 'Some of the best atheists are the clergymen and commissioners of the churches and temples of this world.' Something similar went through my mind during my last visit to the Mayapur festival and on my now rare visits to Dandavats.com."

And part of my response to him via email:

Everyone hears what they want to hear. In reality the spiritual path is the most wide, all-inclusive, truly non-sectarian, the only truly personal path. But it is not experienced like this for most neophyte devotees because they are confronted by materially tinged interpretations of higher reality from their peers. i think that is why Jesus said that the spiritual path is the most narrow one. Because if you really want to walk on it, you need to disregard conventional wisdom and politically motivated approaches, including those of your spiritual peers. You need to let go of anything that conflicts with your own higher understanding. So it is a sign of your progress that you have a sense of higher understanding and this is what guides you. Progress must follow if you act on your understanding, despite the cost.