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Comments Posted By Karnamrita.das

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Devotees With Marriage Questions: Four things that can destroy any relationship and how to avoid them

This particular call can be accessed by dialing the above number to hear the call [ 712-432-0211 ], plus the access code [ 761698# ], and then entering for this particular discussion: 1#. At present there are only two calls saved at this number. The other call can be listened to by dialing 0#. Then each month we will continue to record the calls, and we hope to eventually have them all on our web site: www.vaisnavafamilyresources.org. We apologize if anyone tried to get on the call but couldn’t. Apparently some devotees tried but couldn’t. This is a glitch with this service that occasionally happens, and so you just have to redial the number again–perhaps a few times. Usually there isn’t a problem. In any case I just listened to the recorded call and the quality is good. It is an hour call. Hare Krishna!

Comment Posted By Karnamrita.das On 21.08.2010 @ 17:30

Finding Ourselves - Who We Are and What We Are Meant to Do

I really loved this quote and your introductory comments. Thanks Maharaja for sharing this and giving us food for thought and contemplation. Finding the value in what others have said or done outside our tradition, is the great art of “swanning” or taking the best from what is in the world. Though Prabhupada certainly pointed out was wrong with materialism, he was a master at utility, as he adopted many sayings of others that supported our spiritual life. I find this spirit of looking for what is useful in the world to support our KC and our ordinary lives is really a test of our ability to see Krishna working and helping us in every sphere. What we give energy to increases in power and expands in our consciousness. We can use our energy to focus on what is wrong with the world, or how we can help others use their lives as expressions of service to Krishna. Just like some people are always seeing the “devil” and seem to forget God by being overly critical. It seems to me to be a real art to notice what needs to be corrected in the world and within ourselves while being a positive devotee absorbed in seeing Krishna’s will and mercy. Although we can’t do everything, we can do something [for Krishna and to be helpful]! I believe Mother Teresa said that! Sounds good to me, and I pray to believe in what I can do with Krishna’s help, rather then focusing on what I can’t do, or what isn’t pleasing to me. (I used to be a master at disqualifying myself in advance and in negativity.) When O when will I be free of my selfishness and critical mentality and be truly a giver?

Comment Posted By Karnamrita.das On 19.10.2009 @ 19:15

Do you say yes when you mean no?

By the grace of Shrila Prabhupada when he was physically present, we did think that anything was possible–that we would soon take over the world, and everyone would be chanting Hare Krishna. And we did do many materially possible things with some of our “can do” attitudes. Many of us did so much more in regards to our service when Prabhupada was here, then when he disappeared from our earthly sight. Then, as one very great test of the guru, he left our physical vision, and we had to see what we really understood about spiritual life. Was it just to receive his pleased glance, or were we able to be Krishna conscious having to be more internal and practice seeing everything in relationship to his instructions? Would we understand the spirit of his instructions, and continually gain realizations that would sustain us spiritually? A lot of disciples didn’t fare too well, though the service they did will lead them again to service.

As you said enthusiasm is key, which means we have faith. Faith is a call to action, reason is only dry external thinking, and we can remain on the fence forever. So faith is really the quality of the soul, doubt the material intelligence. When we loose our faith we become suspicious of KC and devotees. Suspicion leads to suspense of our forward march toward Krishna. I wrote this piece based on my many years experience being a devotee, but not really knowing who I was in this body. I know I gained much by the surrendered service I did living in the Temple, yet the fallout when I moved out almost killed my spiritual life….and it did for some devotees. It took me many years to recover and get back on my feet spiritually….to not be so cynical and negative. So, knowing where are are spiritually and materially is one key for long range enthusiasm–another one is to be with advanced devotees who share their faith with us and inspire us by speaking Krishna katha and their spiritual experience.

It is really true that spiritual life is like a razors edge. KC is much easier than karma or jnana yoga, but it is also requires more in that we have to give our whole heart to Krishna to be successful. In the verse which speaks of how easy bhakti is, that we can offer him just a leaf, flower, water etc, he also mentions twice, with “love and devotion”. So we have to find a way to keep on keeping on in Bhakti by getting good association, so we can be faithful and enthusiastic.

Comment Posted By Karnamrita.das On 18.06.2009 @ 19:06

May our Souls come Together to Sing and Dance

Atmanandaji! Pranams! Not many venture to the poetry section, what to speak of leaving a comment. So thanks for leaving your mark. Ah if only I were an expert in rasa tattva, or the glories of the holy name. Of course we read even the great souls think themselves unqualified for elaborating on the glories of the holy name. I can at least share what I have heard.

The glories of the holy name are unlimited, though they are truly appreciated according to a person’s realization. Those of us who are sadhakas accept on faith the glories of the holy name we hear from scripture and from our guru and other advanced Vaishnavas. We have various levels of realization.

There are verses glorifying the effect of the holy name to eradicate sin, yet that is considered only a secondary effect. The real effect of the holy name it to awaken our normal spiritual position of prema. As in Shiksastakam it is described as the nectar for which we are always hankering for.

However, generally in order to attain prema we need to become freed from sin. Lord Chaitanya inquires from Haridas Thakur about how the Yavanas who are full of sinful desires and actions such as killing cows and Vedic culture can be delivered. Haridas Thakur replies that the merciful holy name will deliver them even if meant to indicate something else or when the syllables are separated. He gives the example of a person being killed by a boar who cries out “Ha-Ram” or alas, or Ajamila who was calling his son–both were delivered by namabhasa or the reflection of the holy name. Even a faint light of the holy name can eradicate sin. The trees and creepers can also be benefited if they hear the holy name. Echoes are considered their responsive chanting. Lord Chaitanya has appeared in the Age of Kali to mercifully deliver us through the holy names of Radha and Krishna, or the Maha-mantra.

In the life of Lord Chaitanya we see the real effect of pure chanting. After spiritual initiation he became a God intoxicated person. Although he thought he had become mad from chanting Hare Krishna due to his ecstatic symptoms such as dancing, laughing and crying, his spiritual master confirmed the real benefit of pure chanting was to develop loving ecstasy for Krishna. Compared to love of Godhead, the four material goals of the Vedas seem like straw or a drop of water compared to the ocean. Carried away with love, one become spiritually greedy for the Lord’s lotus feet. When will we obtain this state?

Comment Posted By Karnamrita.das On 29.01.2009 @ 03:59

My Place of Birth: Nostalgia, Lessons, or Dread?

Hari Bol Pusta Krishna Prabhu! My wife and I just finished the Prabhupada Memories DVD with you on it and we were impressed with your gentleness, humor, intelligence and broadminded perspective. It is also evident in your comments here. Thanks for sharing yours on this topic.

I know to some extend my good fortune in meeting Prabhupada and his continual presence in my life though his murti, instructions and especially through his disciples. Prabhupada’s disciples have always been the principle way that Prabhupada’s mercy has come to me. As I age it is more and more evident that material enjoyment offers us no lasting shelter. Desires remain, while our ability to “enjoy” them diminishes. There is nothing like direct experience for most of us.

I certainly know that I am not unique in my past distress. Although we hear in the Gita of 4 types of persons who come to Krishna, it seems most of us were very distressed–even burnt out, and were desperately seeking relief. Those of us who were more fortunate also had enough sukriti to keep us going when our suffering wore off and we had to have a positive foundation–certainly not full blown ruci–but enough to have a positive rather than primarily negative impetus to come to Krishna–and stay with him.

The reason I thought it would be interesting to bring up the topic of our past conditioning is that I found personally that the material reasons which almost forced me to search out another alternative to materialism and come to Krishna were the very things I later had to deal with in order to make spiritual progress. I sort of thought I could flush my past and that it was over. By Prabhupada’s sakti and my being focused on his mission I was able to put a lot on hold, and then he left our vision. That is, in my understanding, one of the tests of the guru, for when he leaves it will be revealed how much we actually understood his instructions–whether we will be more into the form or substance of the teachings. Many of the quarrels and differences between devotees are really concerning the form or details which are meant to facilitate the real essence for being realized. That is certainly true in the larger religious world.

So how important is our past conditioning? That depends on how it might be causing an impediment for our sadhana. I don’t know if it is possible to be completely materially balanced, though it seems to help us be less extreme. And the main question is how much we are attached to Krsna.

Comment Posted By Karnamrita.das On 12.01.2009 @ 23:57

Kesava Krsna Prabhu: The experience of returning to S.F after 25 years and the whole topic of our past brings up so many points and questions to me. As you mentioned it would be artificial to block out all those past experiences that in many ways have shaped us, yet for me and perhaps many other devotees, our first years living as a celibate we did exactly that. For me it was the intensity of emotional pain I had experienced that impelled me to flush my past–it was at least the of the material reasons for wanting to search for something beyond the offered possibilities of modern society. Years later I discovered I had a lot of resentment and anger concerning my youth, though at the time I had no idea I had any connection to my past. In a few short years I would be out of here. Not quite that easy!

There is still a controversy amongst certain devotees about the helpfulness of counseling for devotees—they just are plain against it. I have some bias toward the help of therapy since that is my wife’s profession and with my own experiences. We would not question that pure chanting and sadhana is sufficient to retire anarthas–which is how I would label emotional childhood baggage. I know devotees who have overcome worse childhoods then I had through intense japa and prayer etc, while I also know older devotees who were rather stuck, and plagued by their conditioning who have been helped by therapy. It could be argued that they just should have focused more on their japa and the bhakti process, instead of go “outside” of our tradition. We will never know, though we do know that through a devotee therapist they were able to see clearly their patterns and work to change their thinking and behavior. This is why I posted the question whether dealing with negative childhood experiences is necessary.

Another interesting topic is that a person born in a holy dhama may look down on Westerners for their birth, and feel proud and superior just by skin type or place of birth. Another example is our children who are very “good karma” kids by body type, good looks, intelligence, musical and creative ability etc, yet who may not have any intense reason to be sadhakas–they can be satisfied to be religious. Of course we never know when a devotees spiritual life will take off. We are hopeful that some day our kids will soar. It would seem that any situation can be either favorable or unfavorable for bhakti depending on the attitude of the devotee.

Comment Posted By Karnamrita.das On 10.01.2009 @ 23:02

From Credit Crunches to Prasadam Lunches

This was a fabulous piece Praghosa. I think you should be doing more writing and I less–but for better or worse, I am compelled. It reminds me when I spoke to a devotee ex-professional musician who told me that the most talented musicians in his opinion never made it big. So thanks for sharing your intelligent and witty writing and I hope to read more.

Real and false economics is a fascinating topic. The whole modern system is based on greed and faith. Greed fuels the drive to earn money, and faith in the system enables people to believe in the virtual modern wealth system of electronic and paper “wealth”. The rise and fall of the stock market and what determines today’s illusory wealth is not easy to really comprehend. Even economists don’t agree with each other. I guess because it is based on “maya” or that which is not—not based on real wealth like land, grains, gold, etc–no one can really get a handle on it. Like the will of the wisp!

Never the less, unless we are living on self sufficient farm communities our Temples are still effected by the prosperity or poverty of our members as donations or fund raising pays the bills and the service of the Deities. Nothing motivates like misery or scarcity, so we can hope and pray that the downturn in the world economy enables us to realize that Krishna is our only shelter and maintainer, and devotees are true friends. Money is a funny thing for sure. When the devotee in a community all have money, they don’t have to work together or share resources, but when times are touch there is more impetus for cooperation. Of course that negative impetus has its limits.

We need to want to work and serve together and have true respect and love for each other. I live in a rural community where the devotees are all neighbors though we mostly don’t hang with each other. If we had to work together and really appreciated the benefit spiritually of each devotee, that would change. Shared economics and spiritual practices builds community. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, there needs to be a manifested sadhu whom everyone respects to settle differences. We can’t really speak of Varnasrama or Vedic without this point. We all read and consult Prabhupada’s books, but few will agree how to interpret them. In affect there many Prabhupada’s in our community!

Comment Posted By Karnamrita.das On 01.01.2009 @ 19:14

I Don’t Get No Respect

The study of how culture and language affect the consciousness of the people is not only fascinating, but important for devotees to try to understand—especially since we are a world wide movement. Perhaps it is an academic field in its own right. If not it should be.

I feel fortunate to have traveled and lived in many countries of the world to experience first hand different ways people deal with each other and life in general. Of course that doesn’t mean I am free from my conditioning, just more conscious of it then I was growing up. Not only do we have “global” cultural influences in our particular country, but we also have specific influences in a region, city and most importantly with our family and friends. All these filters have an affect on how we understand K.C and apply it. Then we have our particular personality type as well, giving yet another shade to these influences.

So it is no wonder that even a basic though not easily practiced teaching like humility, tolerance, respect and honor need to be thought of deeply and looked at culturally. How does all the conditioning I mentioned impact our application of developing these qualities or offering them to others.

In the beginning or on the surface everything seems simple enough, though in time, at least for many of us, we see the necessity to be extremely thoughtful about how to actually apply the teachings in our particular culture–or how our particular culture impedes them.

The Christians have hundreds of books unpacking the Bible. We need to do the same thing with our tradition.

Comment Posted By Karnamrita.das On 23.12.2008 @ 01:28

Hare Krishna Akruranatha! You are prolific and I appreciate the time and thought you put into your comments. My wife wrote a BTG article tittled, “Humble and Feeling Good” in an attempt to counteract statements by her clients such as: “Maybe it’s good that I feel bad about myself because that will help me develop humility.” Devotees sometimes think that feeling bad about oneself is a prerequisite for humility. Some of the other points of that article have application here such as:
1)Humility and a healthy self-esteem are compatible on the path of spiritual progress.
2) There is confusion that comes from trying to equate feelings that come from our pure ego with feelings that come from our material, or false, ego.
3) Artificially trying to feel lower than the straw in the street can lead to self-loathing and despondency.
4) Aside from confusing humility with low self-esteem, devotees sometimes correlate the concept of high self-esteem with pride and self-absorption. But it is actually the contrary.
5) People who exhibit high self-esteem also exemplify a more humble attitude toward others. They show a willingness to admit and correct mistakes, whereas persons with low self-esteem are often defensive and feel a need to prove they are right.
6) Thinking oneself to be great is pride, not high self-esteem. A person with high self-esteem exhibits humility.
7) The perfection of self-esteem is seen in persons completely free from false ego, where humility is a product of their spiritual realization.
8) Persons steeped in the mode of ignorance are happy and feel good about themselves when their senses are pleased.
9) Persons immersed in the mode of passion are happy and feel good about themselves when others value and validate their accomplishments. In these lower modes, our sense of self fluctuates constantly.
10) Persons in the mode of goodness are happy and feel good about themselves when they act in knowledge, adhering to their ethical codes and values. They are less reactive to external stimuli so their self-esteem depends more on their inner life. Thus they have more control over how they feel.
11) As people move into pure goodness, they realize themselves to be instruments of the Lord. They no longer identify themselves as the doer of their activities.

I liked the point you both brought up about how respect for others comes from our own self respect. We are valuable as part of Krishna.

Comment Posted By Karnamrita.das On 23.12.2008 @ 01:06

After some time when I re-read my posts, besides wondering how I could have possibly missed this typo or grammatical error, I always think of different points. I also hear from others perspectives I never considered. My intention in bringing up the topic of respect is that I see the value to having an attitude of respect and honor toward people in general and of course for devotees. It seems that so many disputes arise from not believing in the integrity of another person and assuming the worst, rather then taking the time to really understand a different point of view.

The other side of the coin to respecting others, is to not be so easily disrespected. This point was brought up to me in discussion on this topic on Krishna.com. Here is in part what a devotees said to me:
_________________________________________________________________________
Which brings me to the point that people have very different ideas about what constitutes “respect”.

For example, there are Christians who feel disrespected if one is not a Christian and doesn’t show an interest to become a Christian.
There are people who feel disrespected if one doesn’t agree with them.
There are people who feel disrespected if one corrects their notions about oneself. (i.e. I say “X”, they claim I said “Y”. If I correct them and say I said “X”, they say or imply I am being disrespectful, that I am calling them a liar or that I am doubting their intelligence, or that I am just picking a fight. This phenomenon becomes especially poignant in online communication where all references are written, easy to look up.)
There are people who feel disrespected if one doesn’t put oneself down in their presence.
There are people who think respect and liking are the same.

Personally, I have the experience and impression that no matter what I will do or say, someone is always going to feel disrespected by it.
__________________________________________________________________________

In this article I was focusing on having an attitude of respect as a way for better relationships and dealings with people in our lives. After reading this devotees’ experience I also appreciated that part of being respectful is not negatively reacting to people , or being so defensive or easily offended. Although advised in Shikshastakam to respect others while not wanting it ourselves, it is not so easy to do. I think it is helpful to discuss the difficulties we have in applying these principles.

Comment Posted By Karnamrita.das On 12.12.2008 @ 18:50


 


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