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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: http://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!

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On Aug 21, 2010 @ 5:30 pm

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?

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On Oct 19, 2009 @ 7:15 pm

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.

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On Jun 18, 2009 @ 7:06 pm

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?

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On Jan 29, 2009 @ 3:59 am

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.

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On Jan 12, 2009 @ 11:57 pm

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.

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On Jan 10, 2009 @ 11:02 pm

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!

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On Jan 1, 2009 @ 7:14 pm

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.

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On Dec 23, 2008 @ 1:28 am

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.

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On Dec 23, 2008 @ 1:06 am

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.

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On Dec 12, 2008 @ 6:50 pm

Effective, Mature Outreach

Pranams Panduji! Though written communication like this is prone to be misunderstood being somewhat one dimensional, I appreciate the opportunity to go deeper into what Krishna consciousness is and to think deeply. Association with devotees should challenge and stimulate our hearts and minds. We have to understand as far as possible the sincerity, nature and struggles of other devotees in order to really respond and not react to what they are saying. I don’t mean to seem like a critic of your perspective. I want my life to be about support for those on the path to Krishna. You are obviously a sincere devotee working in a difficult environment and are doing what you feel you need to do in your present situation. We have to do that which is favorable for bhakti taking into consideration our conditioning.

I am a different person then you have my own way of dealing with others. I also worked in office situations and in a warehouse with less than philosophical persons for 20 years. I tried to make the best of it. I felt my best contribution would be to exude positive, peaceful friendly energy. I distributed prasad every week, though in general I kept to myself. Most people were not interested in anything spiritual or philosophical, though a few were. Like you mentioned, people in general are not that philosophical or really interested to go beyond their religious dogma. We are advised not to “preach” to the unfaithful and we have to wait for teachable moments to share even a few steps above their understanding. In any discussion I can’t help but see my own shortcomings as a bhakti practitioner, and I think how I might be guilty of whatever “fault” I may observe in others.

I sincerely believe from my philosophical study and experience working with people as a spiritual counselor and healer that life responds to us according to our mentality. Psychologically speaking we see the world not as it is, but as we are. Negative people see the work badly, and positive people have a sunny disposition. Basically I am a brahmin/sudra, with no fire in my chart. I don’t like conflict or confrontation. I don’t find it helpful for me to focus on peoples shortcomings or to make neat categorizations of friends and enemies. I look for the good and encourage that. Some people are to be avoided–no doubt—yet in an office situation that may be a real challenge. If you have to be there you have to co-exist and spiritually survive, not create conflict.

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On Nov 26, 2008 @ 3:54 pm

Hare Krishna Panduji: I think the point you are speaking about brings to light the reason I wrote the article: Considering our deep theology and high standard of spirituality, what is mature, effective outreach considerating our own spiritual standing, and the mentality of our audience?

Krishnadas Kaviraja in his Cc speaks of Jarasandha who although a strict follower of Vedic culture and varnasrama, was against Krishna, so he called him an atheist. What is the spirit of this statement? Just a show of religion doesn’t mean one is truly religious or has any spiritual standing. That is my take. My question to you is should this be the soapbox or platform that we use in speaking to the people in general? That is certainly not the approach I believe in. We can’t expect people to just accept us by divine right just because we are devotees. Only devotees will accept our assertion that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and “preaching” is a way to find them. Others will worship according to their own faith and we may respect them from a distance. At least among thoughtful and spiritually progressive people our spirituality, insights and mature perspective will be appreciated if they are present. That some people or groups will never appreciate Unity in Diversity is a given.

So much of our conversation has to be in response to our particular audience. We can speak of what is true religion and spirituality, and various applications according to the modes of nature. Certainly anyone who is blatantly against Krishna we would not consider to have spiritual standing, and if we needed to, our reasons for this could be discussed. But just calling a person an atheist if they don’t agree with our take on religion would appear fundamentalist and reactionary. Are we to be known as reasonable thoughtful people, or angry, accusing, and narrow minded religionists?

Another point is that there are different arenas—amongst devotees, different spiritual, religious groups and people in general, and our presentation should reflect that. It is not that one size fits all, or that in the name of being uncompromising we alienate those who might be at least favorable to Krishna. I am not speaking of changing the ideals or principles, or “watering down” the standard, but of understanding our ideals in a dynamic way in order to be relevant to the times we live. Every acharya or even book distributor has to do this.

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On Nov 25, 2008 @ 8:29 pm

Why dangerous?(a big topic) My understanding of such statements is that they are really the bhava a pure devotee—that is why I mentioned Prabhodanda Saravati. Prabhupada made many such statements as well, and we have to step back from them and try to see them in context and think about how to apply them. For instance, should we drop the bomb on non-devotees? No—then the world would be finished, and that is not our mission as aspiring Madhyam devotees. Yet some devotees read such statements and think we should repeat these statement broadly and put them literally into practice. To me putting them into practice means to pray for such conviction and spiritual emotion. Just repeating the words without really understanding the spirit of Prabhupada or the Cc, will likely be fanaticism. It takes a lot of thought, study, service and humility to understand K.C., and we have to look at all the statements Prabhupada made, seeing them in the context of our tradition. Everything can be used or abused.

We have to be careful in repeating statements, and question if they reflect our spiritual conviction—not just belief but realized faith. Should we go out into the world calling everyone a non-devotee demon? Many of us did that for years, and we had a real “us and them”, “black and white” mentality, which caused many problems in lives of devotees, their families and communities.

If devotees are not inspired to appear in public as devotees, we need to understand their reasons, and not just assume it is there insincerity. I wear a dhoti at the Temple, though I don’t mind if others don’t. More important to me is our relationship and if we relate together in a devotional way. Some devotees want to enforce devotional dress as if that means a person is a sadhaka. It may or may not mean that.

I don’t wear devotional dress where I work, though people eventually learn I am a devotee. While I don’t think our preaching should be that devotees are like everyone else, they should understand that one can be a devotee in any circumstance. Our character, conviction, purity, thoughtfulness, broadmindedness, and humility should be what people notice about us. That is a tall order no doubt, yet in my experience working in the world, people notice you are different and if they like you, they are more apt to understand what you are about. If we are attracted to Krishna and bhakti, it is natural that we will share this according to our conviction and capacity.

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On Nov 18, 2008 @ 7:03 pm

Pranams Pandu Prabhu. You have brought up some interesting points. It is a little difficult to respond to you specifically, since I don’t know you or your history. This is important in any discussion, and usually is not there in these Internet discussions. There are general points of philosophy and then how we apply them to devotees in different conditions of life. You have a particular perspective you believe in that is in accord with your understanding of Prabhupada and your life at this time. I imagine you and I would have points of agreement and disagreement based on our personal history and understanding how we apply the philosophy. I am speaking in general here, but I really wish devotees would appreciate that there can be differences with regard to how we understand the application of the philosophy which can be reconciled if there is some sympathy are respect for devotees in general—the idea of unity in diversity. This point was part of the point of the article.

Regarding what you said about wearing devotional attire, I think it is much more complex then you have indicated. Personally, I am not one who believes it should be dispensed with. It would appear to be favorable for bhakti by helping us feel we are servants of Krishna. Of course dress is not everything. The dress must reflect our inner convictions, and we know too well that we devotees know how to “look good”, though our dhoti or sari doesn’t mean our heart is devotional. Our appearance can be for social acceptability more then any spiritual conviction. In my experience there can be a lot of judgment based on externals, rather then on deep relationships with each other.

When it should be worn is a matter of discussion. Certainly in a perfect world devotees would always where the devotional dress, both at the Temple and in the world. If this is our conviction then we can set the example ourselves and do our best to inspire others. It can’t be legislated, and it will not be helpful to make people feel guilty if they don’t wear it. Like anything devotees have to see the practical value for themselves and their spiritual advancement.

Our movement at least in America has black eyes and broken bones, so there may be some reluctance to be identified with it. Not everyone has to agree with us, though at least we should be respected in the society for our saintly character and broad mindedness.

As far as the quote you gave. To apply it literally is dangerous.

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On Nov 18, 2008 @ 6:12 pm

Akruranatha Prabhu, you are the consummate churner of topics here in Dandavats loka. It would be hard to imagine it without your comments and thoughts. I experienced the type of outreach you are speaking about personally in the company of BSDM and others as well. People become touched by the purity and sincerity of devotees, and in their conviction for Bhakti, yet respect and knowledge of other paths. The books are essential, yet those who live the books are as important, if not more so.

I think a lot of people today are not really interested in joining an institution, but in a way of life and thinking. That is what modern Buddhism is doing–it is packaging in consideration of the needs of the people and social climate. Many of us have experienced so much nectar through our spiritual practices, so we want to share whatever taste we have and who we have become spiritually.

I don’t know if we can be too patient unless it is just fear that people may not take up the process if we spell everything out. We have to be tuned into where people are at and their particular needs. Then if we are insightful we will know how much to push or hold back. Although I know many devotees who travel to Poland for “favorable” preaching I think America is very favorable and ripe, though we have to be ready to adopt new strategies. I don’t know if it is realistic at this time to be going after main stream America. Rather we can see the success of alternative spirituality and the segment of population which is receptive.

Anyway I am not a big preacher by any means. I have my little New Age corner and I see how receptive they can be. There needs to be devotees in every occupational sector who know the language of that group and can tailor make the KC presentation accordingly. Every group has their own lingo and filters and those devotees in that culture can speak in such a way to attract those people—and find the devotees there. The form is only as useful as it delivers the substance, so we might rethink everything if necessary.

As I said it is all about relationships and how much we care about people and minister to them and their needs. In my various occupations I have found that if people like one as a person, they are much more apt to be curious about one’s beliefs, and think it must be a pretty good path. Our good character gives credibility to our path, not just a great talk.

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On Nov 14, 2008 @ 8:19 pm

Pranams Akurantha. I wasn’t really speaking of living in the ashram vs not—from my personal experience I think it is very valuable for a number of reasons. For one, getting in the habit of rising early and have a fixed program of sadhana, as well as serving without any fruitive mentality. Although personally I don’t have a problem with paying householder devotees for responsible important service, the experience of how to live by serving without any other consideration is invaluable. There is no material impediment to devotional service so certainly in any condition one can serve and be purified. Never the less I still recommend new devotees to experience living in an ashram for a weekend or for some time to feel immersed in the cultivation of bhakti.

I was speaking more of how we reach out to people to introduce them to K.C.,or how we present things and handle the differences on the street or in a class. In my “old days” memory book, we preached an all or nothing presentation that motivated hippies and others burnt out with the world. Those types are still there, but there are many today who need to be reached in a different, more gradual way. I agree that they need to have an experience to really know what we are offering, yet the question for me is how we should present K.C. considering the social climate, and the past mistakes we have made, that will enable them to be able to embrace the process. We have to be the example of knowledgeable, thoughtful, introspective and reasonable people. It is more than reason of course, we are meant to share our experience. People may not agree with our logic, but ones experience is powerful, and not dogmatic. We joined Prabhupad more because of who he was, then what scripture he was quoting from.

This is not watering down, but showing that although people should see we are sincere, dedicated, and convinced , we are aware of the virtues of different paths or conceptions, though from our study bhakti makes the most sense to us and our acharyas. When we point out the differences, we do so in a way that is not all condemnation and seems reasonable. Prabhupada’s comments on the various world philosophies and religious (Dialectic Spiritualism)is very instructive. He didn’t just condemn them, but if he saw truth or something useful he would acknowledge it, mining the nectar from poison, or utility is the principle.

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On Nov 13, 2008 @ 1:04 am

The Importance of Friendship and Association

Certainly the general subject of immature renunciation is there in many places. In the first Canto of the Bhagavatam Prabhupada describes the inferior position of one who takes sannyas merely due to the frustration of married life—in other words, without a higher calling. I would say that to formally accept the sannyas order (especially at a young age) one must be called to that. As far as renunciation for everyone, most of us know the Gita verse in the second chapter where Krishna speaks of experiencing a higher taste (2.59) in order to be fixed in renunciation of sense enjoyment. Or in the 3rd chapter vs 6 where he goes so far to say that if we make a show of renunciation while still absorbed in thinking of sense enjoyment, then we are a pretender or hypocrite.

My main reference for “immature renunciation” is my own life, and also observing in the early days of the movement so many of my contemporaries. Interestingly, our immaturity and actually naivete served us in some ways. If I had to accept initiation today and vow to follow the four principles, I don’t know if I could. Prabhupada and all the great teachers simplify the deep, esoteric philosophy of KC, and make it seem self evident and easy, so we can take it up with enthusiasm. Eventually we discover how difficult it really is, and how inconceivable so many things are. By then it is too late to go back, and we are on again on the path of Bhakti. Some devotees have noted that “preaching and siddhanta” are not always the same. Yet if the goal is to bring people to Krishna, then the end justifies the means.

In my experience it really takes a long time to really understand oneself in the body. I didn’t really realize this was important until I had been a devotee for 12 years and was 32. It would have helped to know this earlier and had role models to demonstrate it. Anyway, everything happens for a reason, and that was my path. Never-the-less I am rather intensely passionate about the topic of being real and acting according to ones’ nature, and I do my to speak and write about it. There is certainly “emergency devotional service” where we may act in ways we might not ordinarily for the service of Shri Guru and Gauranga. Yet most of us can’t major in that as many of us did for years under the shakti of Prabhupada during his physical manifestation. I know I received a lot of spiritual blessings during those wild times, though it later took many years to situate myself in my ashrama and work.

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On Oct 16, 2008 @ 3:06 pm

Thank you all for your insightful comments. Like many topics this is indeed a deep one, with many perspectives and facets.

One thing I would like to add is how rare such really close friends are—the kind you both share your inner life with, or who will be there for us, and we for them. Perhaps it depends on one’s personality and how social one is. I also think it is easier for women to have more friends, being in general more relationship oriented then men.

Personally I have so many devotees I know and like and even who I have had a good friendship before we moved away from one another, yet my really close friends are very few. This is not a lamentation, but my observation. I see many reasons for this in my life. First I am a bit reclusive, and although I work at a store where I meet many people, my time at home is solitary. For many of us–especially in the West–our spouse is our best friend–the person who knows us the best, and who we can confide in.

And for others? As I think Thoreau said, “If you want a friend, be a friend”, so having close friendships take time and energy, and quality time spent together in work or service. This is not so easy in today’s busy world with more then a few devotees. We tend to make time for what is important to us.

I think it is a common understanding that we have to make other times to come together besides the Temple programs, which, as important as they are, are often not a time to really connect with other devotees. How do we have more “fellowship” with each other, for new people or even older devotees in the life of devotion?I remember reading years ago something by Rohini-nandana of England who spoke of a guest who told him that he thought the KC philosophy was a great one, but he didn’t see any real fellowship between the devotees—meaning personal dealings and close friendships. I think many of us know what he was referring to.

So we have the type of association where we dive deep into the nectar of the KC philosophy and lila of the Lord, and we have the type of association where we share who we are on the path, the human being type issues we may be working on, and our fears, problems, desires, dreams, and highest aspirations. Both are very essential for meaningful friendships, though we may not have both sides with everyone. We want to share Krishna with our dear friend, and also our humanity, or who we are in this body. If we can, I would say that is a very special friend!

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On Oct 14, 2008 @ 8:38 pm

Remaining a Devotee Despite Obstacles and Trials

Hi Akruranath! It is always a pleasure you read your thoughtful comments. There must be enough for a good size book!

I think it is important to share our struggles and difficulties and how we have overcome them or deal with them. The scriptures have the lives of the saints, yet we need to have books of our personal difficulties and how we have dealt with them. We are all a work in progress, in the shower scrubbing away the impurities though sadhana and praying for mercy. Most things at the beginning stages are about balance until we are pure souls who can’t live without Krishna or pure bhakti (as in Lord Chaitanya’s prayer or those of the great acharyas like Thakur Bhaktivinode and others.) We don’t want to lax or complacent, but not depressed at our shortcomings. We should push our selves at times, sometimes going beyond what we thought we could, yet knowing our long term base line, or requirements. We want to become stronger, but not break. That takes maturity and good company.

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On Aug 20, 2008 @ 7:47 pm

Memorial for Sudama

Hare Krishna Omkara Devi! Respectful Pranams to you and your service. Jai Prabhupada! Jai Shri Guru and Gauranga.

Your description of taking care of Sudama Prabhu brought tears to my eyes! Very moving. Your selfless service is inspiring and I know what you spoke of was only the tip of the iceberg of what you did. Yes, I know you considered it mercy as it indeed is to help any devotee pass on in a helpful, Krishna conscious way. Yet still, to take your time and give it to help a dying devotee, is a real act of love, and sacrifice. Thank you so much for sharing this!

I served with Sudama when we went to Hawaii in 1974 to reopen the Temple there when it was closed, and we restarted the worship of the Panca-tattva. I was with him on there on the North Shore, then on Alaluoa Loop Temple where Prabhupada visited, which was just before Ambarish donated the facility where the Temple is currently. Then we went to Maui with a traveling bus, and on to the big Island farm. We had many blissful times together. He was a superior to me, and I cooked and did Deity seva. It was surprising at the time when he gave up his sannyas. When I saw him 10 years later in L.A. he was a shadow of his former ecstatic glory.

I had seen this negative transformation early on, yet it is always a loud reminder of how a life without KC looks! I know he lamented all that which is purifying, like my old friend Buddhimanta Prabhu who had a similar fall, and a similar glorious death. It is often not easy to be a devotee one’s whole life, yet some, even after a serious fall are redeemed, and again take to the path forced by impending death. Though we shouldn’t expect to be miraculously saved without our life long KC endeavor, it can happen by the mercy of Prabhupada and Lord Chaitanya. We certainly can pray for those who have strayed, and try to help them by our positive example, and sometimes helping them die. We don’t want to have to lament at death that we misused the potential our guru has mercifully given us.

I lament now that devotees don’t pull together as well in life as they do in death. We put aside our differences when someone is dying. We chant and pray for them and wish them a glorious death and new spiritual life, though normally we may not appreciate them if they think differently then we do. Anyway, at least we know how to die together. We can learn many lessons from a devotee’s life and death, and be inspired to serve as best we can and be kind to each other.

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On Aug 11, 2008 @ 3:52 am

Little Wild Flowers

Bhakti-tirtha Swami has four wonderful principles for dealing with devotees:

1) Treat each person with the bhakti and care as if the success or failure of your own spiritual life depends on this. Do not take into concern how they treat you. The manner in which you treat people is the same way you are treating Guru and Krishna.

2) Anytime that there is a problem in a relationship, you should see it as your fault. Even if others are to blame, you will only add to the problem by considering them to be at fault.

3) You should treat every person with whom you come in contact with the same care as the person you love the most.

4) As we associate with others in our spiritual communities, we should do so in a mood that these are the people I am living with and they will probably be the people that I will leave this body with.

These are ideals and their application may seem very lofty, yet in my opinion we have to strive for them without thinking it an impossible goal and not make any endeavor. As Prabhupada said, “Impossible is word in a fool’s dictionary.” We have to be “possibility thinkers” and look for the nectar and not the sore.

I am the first to admit how difficult this can be with some, yet we can affirm that, “With Krishna’s help, all things are possible”. Everything begins from subtle to gross, so if have desire to have better relationships with difficult devotees Krishna will help us, or give us enough distance from someone that we can see the positive and possible. The most important thing is to change our own self, heart, attitude, and angle of vision. Often that can change a relationship. We are all in the shower of purification—a work in progress, and we need the blessings of devotees for success in our grand goal of loving Krishna.

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On Aug 3, 2008 @ 12:45 am

Sajjanasraya Prabhu! I loved your article and I hope you will write more. Your theme is one that many of us expose as the real solution to problems amongst devotees and for there to be flourishing Krishna conscious communities. Sacinandana Swami on his website (http://www.saranagati.net/index.php?S=3&Article=513) has a fabulous discussion on “The Community of Care” that speaks of how we need to be ideal ladies and gentlemen and really care for each other in every way. He speaks of a conversation he had with Radhanatha Maharaja and his success in Chopatty. ”

Making devotees” is not easy, but is easier than caring for them once they have come to Krishna. It seems to me that we have to stress being good, descent people, as a foundation of understanding the spiritual basics that we are not the body(which has turned out to be a very high thing), and are eternal servants of Krishna. Prabhupada said that being Krishna conscious means being conscious in general of all we do. He was the ideal example of that.

We have also heard that “example is better than precept” which means in effect that we have to “walk our talk” if our words are to have power and effect. In counseling there is the concept of “intent” and “impact”. Though we may have good intentions, our impact on others may be just the opposite. Therefore, we have to always consider the impact of our words on others.

Krishna consciousness is all about our relationship with others—-certainly with Krishna, yet also with devotees. We may not like all devotees from the material perspective, yet we need to have no ill will toward them or anyone else for that matter, extending them our well wishing and prayers for their highest good. If we can’t get along with devotees or people in general, we will not make much spiritual advancement (offending devotees as well as ordinary people are both offenses to the holy name according to Bhaktivinode Thakur). People are like mirrors that reflect back our attitudes and prejudices, so we have to consider their feedback, perspectives and sensitivities. Common courtesy goes a long way in making friends and keeping devotees.

I will share ways in which HH Bhakti-tirtha Swami recommends we deal with each other in the following comments as I am out of room here.

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On Aug 3, 2008 @ 12:29 am

Road Kill Revelation

I know that in the assembly of learned devotees there is no new “revelations” here. However, my blogs are my not so humble attempt to share my journey with you. Whatever I notice in life that I find useful I try to share. One of the points of this blog is to remind us all that within every experience or thing that we observe, there is a lesson. Depending on our consciousness we will be able to receive different levels of messages. The materialist will be just grossed out by roadkill or ignore it, while a transcendentalist will question if there is anything to learn from this. “What does this mean?”, rather than walking aimlessly through life. And at different stages of our devotional life we will notice things that we didn’t before—that have been right in front of us for years.

Although it is said that the human body (compared to other species) is a good boat for crossing the material ocean, it is very gross and inferior to the soul. Both sides are there to remember. We can be grateful for the facilities of a human body, while taking reminders from life (or death) about its’ shortcomings, and becoming convinced that the real solution to life’s problems is spiritual attainment by absorbing ourself in service (seva) to Krishna and his holy name.

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On May 1, 2008 @ 12:31 pm

Give to Live

One aspect of preaching or “sharing” our realizations for Grihasthas is to be expert in a particular field, speak it’s language well, and use that as a way to present KC to our “peers”. Devotees should be in all walks of life and speak within that particular “culture”.

As a devotee who was an active “energy healer” for many years I am very comfortable in this crowd and the New Age people as well. I know how to speak that language and relate KC to those people. In the past devotees haven’t always appreciate my use of language to express our philosophy. In fact, 10 years or so ago, after giving a class in Alachua, some devotees complained that I was expressing “New Age” ideas. There are actually many overlapping points and some useful perspectives if we shift through it. In any case, I think I do a better job these days in my classes, though some devotees can only relate to our philosophy if it is presented with a particular language and emphasis.

As devotees, if we want to be understood and respected, we had better communicate our interest and respect for other persons and their views. We can respectfully disagree of course, yet we have to look for points of agreement. I have found, especially in newer devotees a tendency to focus primarily on our differences, and sometimes even smashing a persons perspective, as if they were realized devotees. So much of preaching centers around having good relationships with others and being good examples. If people like us as persons, they will naturally want to know what we believe, and possibly want to take up KC practices so they can become like us.

My personal belief is that fanaticism is the great enemy of the world, and is very unattractive in devotees. We can be convinced that KC or our KC group is the best FOR US yet generous and accommodating with others. New Agers or in fact many people will not take us very seriously if they think we “have” to convert everyone to “save” them, or if they think that we believe that only we are right. There are way to many religions like that already! Some of these religions have to make others wrong for them to be right.

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On Feb 22, 2008 @ 6:37 am

Hari Bol Akruranathaji! Thanks for your well-wishing. I am really a novice at writing, yet I love the craft, and I put my heart and soul into it. It is my pleasure to be able to serve the devotees through what I feel called to do. My prayer to be able to inspire and assist the devotees on their progressive dance to the Lord of their hearts!

I have been very busy the last 6 weeks working at a devotee friends New Age store 6 days a week while they are in India. I actually love the work as I connect with many sincere seekers. While working there I have the opportunity to really think about and apply myself as a giver to help the spiritual progress of others as well as to help them find balance and peace of mind in their life. So many people who come there are disenfranchised from the mainstream religions and are looking to find a place to feel connected to some aspect of Divinity. I do my best to be a light and guide so they can feel spiritually connected.

I will share some of my experiences there in later blogs.

your friend in service,

KAd

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On Feb 19, 2008 @ 5:15 am

Milk Does a Brain Good, But where is the evidence?

Many of the Vegans are compassionate people who have good points we should also consider. Another questions for all of us is: Do the health benefits of drinking commercial milk outweigh the fact that this milk is full of pesticides and antibiotics and supports the eventual slaughter of the cows that give the milk. Organic milk is better, but the cows are still slaughtered. Balabhadra of ISCOWP could answer your question.

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On Feb 18, 2008 @ 4:02 am

Which Brahma are you?

Hare Krishna Chaitanya Chadrodaya: Pranams.

It is always good to know devotees are reading what I have written and are thinking about it. I appreciate your taking the time to respond with your observations. Time is a precious commodity!!

I am quite familiar with the Christian tradition, having studied it a great deal since becoming a devotee. I am in the habit of quoting from many different traditions, as I learned from Prabhupada and many of my Godbrothers. My preaching field is often the New Age crowd, and I find knowing the parralles between the various religions very helpful in being understood—even though it may sometimes be a bit of a stretch.

You didn’t really explain what in my quote from the Bible you didn’t find approprite, though perhaps you were referring to how I have presented the lila since you have labored to quote it. I understand that it is important for all of us to find lessons in the lila that we can apply in our lives, and that is what I did by relating what Brahma might have been going through. There is a saying in the New Age world that people don’t see the world as it is, but as they are. Or as Prabhupada said, “atmavan manyate jagat”. So I have knowingly done that. Not that I have rewritten the lila, but I have found something there I drew out which has been helpful to me.

Certainly Brahma is way beyond our understanding, yet in relation to Krishna’s earthly lila he becomes forgetful of Krishna’s position, and bewildered (something the Madhavas don’t accept). Therefore I have thought of Brahma in a way in which I could relate so I can see the importance of humility, knowing that in relation to Krishna we all are insignificant. I wasn’t in the mood of minimizing such a great devotee and demigod. I was just trying to go deeper into the meaning, and granted, that is not that deep.

While I agree that many of the current followers of Christ are less that ideal from our Gaudiya perspective, that is also true of many of us. The majority of people in any group are kanisthas, and according to Bhaktivinode Thakur, the commentaries of the Gosvamis are mainly for them (most of us). The superlative devotees whom I assume you are referring to live and teach the ideal and they are far above the kanisthas. We try to follow and honor them even though we may fall far short, and not always deal with each other very well.

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On Jan 17, 2008 @ 4:13 am

As usual, after I write something I think of more things to be brought out. This is true even after I have waited some time before posting. It is the nature of the subject matter of Krishna consciousness, that we can never fully and completely discuss any part of Krishna’s incomparable, inconceivable nature, or our deep philosophy. We always fall short and more can always be said. Never-the-less we want to endeavor to our best capasity to glorify Krishna and his pure devotees for our own purification, and as service to our Gurus and the all the Vaishnavas.

I was thinking further about what is called in some circles, “The Law of Contrast”. In the above post I could have mentioned the benefit of remembering Prabhupada or any of the superlative devotees in our line, all the way up to the residents of Braja. Regardless of our advancement, what are we in comparison to them?

The down side of comparison is if we become neurotic about out tiny position. We may feel so diminished in face of pure devotion, that we feel discouraged at how far we are from the goal. We may even feel like giving up the goal thinking it too far off. Two sides of the false ego are either thinking of our self as more advanced than we are, or thinking that we are too fallen to receive mercy. We may imitate the realized humbleness of the pure devotees. True humility is an impetus for service, not materially depressing or debilitating.

We should be humbled by the Krishna consciousness of the great devotees, yet inspired that we too can become advanced by following in their footsteps. Although we have been given our sadhana or spiritual practices, ultimately we are only successful by mercy. It is said in the Chaitanya Bhagavat that Lord Chaitanya gave the mercy of KC to those who asked for it, and Nitai to those who didn’t. So we should always keep alive the great hope that we can be blessed by awakening our dormant KC. It is only a matter of time—-Krishna’s time!

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On Jan 14, 2008 @ 1:25 pm

Subjective Reality in Relationships

I agree that semantics are important, and I appreciate the words you give as an alternative. At the same time I believe word understandings depend on the context or the arena we are focused on. In one sense we can agree that “reality” means the truth of the way things are. However, I feel that putting “subjective” before reality qualifies reality to be seen in a more relative way. Obviously you take exception to that, and we may not come to an agreement. Such is the nature of discussions. It is good to have them to seek further clarification, yet we still have our “subjective reality” or bias regarding the meaning of reality or the understanding of any word.

In popular culture there is an expression that, “Perception is reality”. Now it is easy to dismiss this idea as “new age”, and totally false. But that depends on your context. My question in encountering any popular expression is, “is there any truth in this”. For me and many people “perception is reality” means personal reality not ultimate reality(though there are some that see them as the same.) Again you may not agree by your definition of reality, that there is “personal reality”, yet I think with discussion the meaning should be clear.

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On May 1, 2008 @ 2:30 pm

Kesava Krsna Prabhu! Pranams! Nice to hear from you again.

Whether we use “subjective reality” or some other term couples have to understand that everyone sees differently and has their own bias. Studies have shown that in successful marriages many conflicts are not solved but managed!!(as you suggested) Another golden rule in marriage is that both persons have to truly appreciate the qualities of their spouse, respect their views, and yes—shall we dare say it– love the other person in the best sense of the word. Real love on the earth plane comes after the infatuation when we have to chose to be loving. (Love is as love does.) We are not competitors in a marriage but partners who are helping each other in the service of Shri Guru and Gauranga and Nitai!

Yeah we don’t need “abstract theoretical concepts” but good examples from successful marriages. The problem is that devotees don’t often talk about their marriage problems and can be rather isolated. I read something by Rohininandana a long time ago, where he told of a guest who was visiting the London Temple who told him: “You have a great philosophy, but no fellowship”. There is some truth to that in my experience. We have to create structures where devotee couples can support each other and learn useful marital skills like how to emphatically listen, communicate and deal with conflict.

To help in this regard the Grihastha Vision Team (www.vaisnavafamiltyresources.org) has created a Grihastha course for teaching healthy marriage skills and is trying to find devotee mentors in every Temple to be the first line of defense for marital problems. There is a great need for these classes and for mentors and the work has barely begun. We are limited by our manpower and lack of funds.

There needs to be elders who are active in every community who can serve like surrogate Parents or Grandparents to offer their experience and wisdom. This is very evident when my wife and I do premarital counseling, as we are old enough to be their parents and feel we are sharing not only concrete skills but our own experience.

» Posted By Karnamrita.das On Jan 3, 2008 @ 1:33 am

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