Sunday, January 25, 2009

travel journal#5.1: Chanting in Gainesville

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 5, No. 1
By Krishna-kripa das
(January 2009, part one)
Montreal, Albany, Orlando, Gainesville
(Sent from Gainesville, Florida, on 1/25/09)

Where I Am and What I Am Doing

On entering Canada I was more harassed by the border security than I was in any country I have ever visited, even Russia. They threatened to detain me overnight for coming to Canada for six days with only $30 cash, 10 British pounds, $50 in the bank and no health insurance. The experience was hard on my false ego. Fortunately the U.S. border guard on my return was lenient. I visited my mother in Albany, helping by cleaning and replenishing her fireplace, cleaning her room, and fixing her TV. I cooked many preps there and at my sister’s place, and the oatmeal with fruit and nuts, the pancakes with strawberry syrup, curd kofta balls, and cardamom milk were winners. Only my niece liked my speculation of split pea soup with spaghetti in it, though. While home I called a friend from high school I hadn’t talked to for thirty years, who now writes poetry on art, a second career. I flew from Albany to Orlando, and took a bus, for just $6.75 with an advanced purchase ticket, from there to Gainesville. When I was twenty minutes late for the bus, but still was able to get the last seat, I felt that Krishna was looking after me.

I was happy to be back to a warm climate where we can sing in public without getting sick from the cold. At University of Florida in Gainesville, a variety of people join together for the chanting. One day there were nineteen people, some initiated Hare Krishna devotees, some children of devotee parents, and some students with an interest in Krishna consciousness, both from America and from India. One time there were eleven playing some kind of musical instrument.

 

Here Adi Karta Prabhu leads singing, Pancagauda Prabhu (left) plays cymbals, Sri Rama, Mother Jaya Sita, and Bhakta Sam play the drum (left to right). Students in the background eat Krishna lunch, with their friends, and hear.

  
Adi Karta Prabhu and his wife,  Mother Rucira,
made this colorful sign to share Krishna wisdom.

Once a student eagerly invited us to “Museum Night”.

 

We played for an hour and a half in the Hahn Museum lobby,
near a statue of Lord Buddha.

One young boy accompanied his mom, who was looking around the museum. From time to time the boy watched us with curiosity. Once they both left but returned ten minutes later, the boy carrying a small one-headed drum, and the mom asking if he could play with us. We said yes.

 

 The boy played the drum happily, his smiling mother kneeling beside him, for five or ten minutes. When she was ready to go, he wanted to stay. She had to put him in his stroller, and wheel him away, carrying the drum in her other hand. I gave her a copy of “On Chanting Hare Krishna”, which she accepted. I wonder what fortunate activities the boy did in his past life to desire to participate in the devotional chanting so much!

The museum staff liked our program and said we could come every month. Other museum venues include a stage in an auditorium and the lawn outside the entrance, and we may try these to expand our audience in the future.

Srila Prabhupada Nectar

From Srila Prabhupada’s books:

The Supreme Lord spoke to the Pracetas. “Always engaging in the activities of devotional service, devotees feel ever-increasingly fresh and new in all their activities. The all-knower, the Supersoul within the heart of the devotee, makes everything increasingly fresh. This is known as the Brahman position by the advocates of the Absolute Truth. In such a liberated stage [brahma-bhuta], one is never bewildered. Nor does one lament or become unnecessarily jubilant. This is due to the brahma-bhuta situation” (SB 4.30.20).

In his purport, Srila Prabhupada writes, “A devotee is inspired by the Supersoul within the heart to advance in devotional service in a variety of ways. The devotee does not feel hackneyed or stereotyped, nor does he feel that he is in a stagnant position. In the material world, if one engages in chanting a material name, he will feel tired after chanting a few times. However, one can chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra all day and night and never feel tired. As chanting is increased, it will come out new and fresh. Srila Rupa Gosvami said that if he could somehow get millions of ears and tongues, then he could relish spiritual bliss by chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. There is really nothing uninspiring for a highly advanced devotee” (SB 4.30.20, purport)

Insight from Lectures

From Hridayananda Das Goswami’s Religions of India Course (part one, part two):

If you see God in this world, are you dragging down God or exalting matter to a position of being connected with God? The Vedic idea is everything is good because it is connected with God, although it could be misused.

Both the monist and the dualist do not like the world. Nor do they like to deal with the world. The monists say the world is illusion, and the dualists say that it is completely divorced from God. In bhakti, as an act of good will, God accepts products of the world as offerings, thus exalting them.

If we take away our issue with God being an authority figure and just see God as He is, we would be attracted.

The desire to exploit the creation of God for our own enjoyment keeps us from seeing God and the world as they are.

Do you want to fix it or throw it away? Everything can be exalted by being engaged in God’s service.

Sadhana bhakti (devotional service in practice) jump starts our devotion for God.

From Kalakantha Prabhu:

The beauty of the Bhagavatam is that pastimes and philosophy are blended so nicely. Bhagavad-gita, on the other hand, is mostly philosophy.

Bhismadeva had the same dilemma as Arjuna, but his sense of duty kept him going.

Among the mahajanas, the great authorities on religion, there are quite a variety of individuals, yet all manifest pure devotion to Krishna.

We experience that practical service is more pleasing than merely reverential appreciation, and so does the Lord.

When Arjuna asked Krishna to drive his chariot in between the armies, Krishna, the Supreme Lord, didn’t think, “Don’t you know who I am?” He liked the friendly relationship.

From Sesa Prabhu:

Blind following can take us far in devotional service, but not to the point of love of God.

Suffering is ignorance of the plan of the Lord.

Krishna enjoys saving His devotees from distress.

From Adi Karta Prabhu:

Q: Why did the married couples who were followers of Srila Prabhupada succeed in introducing Krishna consciousness to London when his guru’s renounced sannyasis had failed?
A: The time was right, their preaching spirit was strong, and Krishna was merciful to them. Without being empowered by Krishna, no one can spread Krishna consciousness.

As devotee householders we should never give up the desire that our children become devotees. Why? Because we experience life with Krishna is satisfying and life without Him is incomplete.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura describes the varnasrama social structure to be like a net underneath a tight rope walker which keeps the spiritual aspirant from falling down and getting seriously hurt.

From Jayananda Prabhu:

We may think [in a limited way], ISKCON has just a couple hundred temples, some with managerial problems, but actually Krishna consciousness is being spread all over the universe in all planets.

Sometimes we may become a little empowered and think that we are a first class devotee coming down to the second class platform to preach. Srila Prabhupada, on the other hand, when he came to America, felt unable to do anything, and prayed to Krishna to empower his words.

Initiation for me means that Krishna will not let me go away. It is a lifelong commitment. It is meant for those serious about going back to Godhead.

From an email from a friend:
“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.—Confucius

Lord Krishna says, “Even if one commits the most abominable action, if he is engaged in devotional service he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated in his determination. He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O son of Kunti, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes (Bg. 9.30-31).