Archive for October, 2008

Karttika Journal | October 22, 2008

October 22nd, 2008

October 22, 2008
Vrindavana

Today I tagged along with Indradyumna Swami and BB Govinda Swami on their daily morning jaunt around Vrindavana at 4:00 AM. It's quite dark. While passing the Yamuna I heard sounds of joy to my left. The sounds were coming from a group of twenty or thirty pilgrims bathing in the early morning darkness. “It is austere!” I thought. I recalled the discussion from the previous day: the satisfaction of mind that comes from doing one's duty despite inconvenience.

Karttika Journal | Austerity

October 20th, 2008

October 20, 2008
Sri Govardhana

Austerity

According to the Bhagavad-gita, one of the symptoms of austerity in the mode of goodness is satisfaction of the mind (prasadamanah). It seems contradictory. How can something pleasing, such as satisfaction of the mind, be an austerity?

Austerity means to tolerate the pushing of the mind and senses for a higher cause. Satisfaction of the mind means attaining the feeling of happiness that comes in goodness when we act for purification. Austerity in the mode of goodness thus means to accept the mental satisfaction that naturally comes from doing what’s right despite the pushing of the impulses of the mind to satisfy those desires. In other words, it is difficult to sacrifice our drive and restlessness even for mental satisfaction.

As an example, one devotee discussed a life changing and extended obligation he had to undertake to become the personal care giver of a chronically ill relative that had no other means of help. He described how difficult it was to perform that arduous duty, but how purifying and satisfying it was for his consciousness.

Conclusion: We should be satisfied with the positive transformations of the mind in goodness that come from righteousness in lieu of the temporary happiness that comes from the fulfillment of lower modes.

Karttika Journal | Cooperation

October 19th, 2008

October 19, 2008
Sri Govardhana

Cooperation

Karttika means Vaisnava-sanga every night. It’s a thoughtful group; we read for two hours, first from Bhagavad-gita and then Caitanya-caritamrita. We patiently hear and if something needs clarification we consider it from different angles to elicit a clearer meaning.

One concept discussed today was cooperation. Cooperation, it was concluded, is difficult in the mode of passion as a symptom of passion is attachment. One attached to the results of one’s activities will resist accepting ideas that supplant or threaten those attachments. Cooperation is thus possible in the mode of goodness where one is detached and can enter discussions without prejudice. In such a sanga the will of God can manifest without resistance.

Karittka Journal – Japa Thoughts

October 14th, 2008

October 13, 2008
Sri Govardhana

My book, Japa Meditations: Contemplations on the Holy Name, is coming out by the end of the month. It describes over seven years of Karttika “Japa Thoughts”. This year I wasn't planning to focus on another journal for Karttika. “How many ‘Japa Thoughts’ could I come up with?” I thought. Today I got an encouraging request to be updated on my stay in Govardhana. I thus reconsidered my decision. I concluded that if the journal serves as an impetus to others in spiritual life, then I should continue it as a service to the devotees.

 

October 14, 2008
Sri Govardhana

Japa Thought I

Today I visited a friend, a serous sadhaka, who is here in Govardhana for Karttika. He shared his sincere objective for this month “to chant with affection.” He asked my opinion. I offered my humble realization:

“Affection comes from the experience of mercy. Mercy requires humility. If we want to chant with affection we have to beg the acaryas for help and experience their mercy.”

He then shared with me Maha-nidhi Swami's advice to him:

“The Gosvamis wrote astakams (prayers in eight verses) exactly for this reason. They didn't just write them for others. The astakams always end with a benediction that one will get devotion if they were chanted sincerely. Their actual method was to chant these astakams and pay full obeisances with each stanza, imbibing the meaning of the prayer and begging for mercy. That's substantiated in the sixth verse of the Sri Sad-gosvami-astakam where it is described that the Gosvamis ‘were engaged in chanting the holy names of the Lord and bowing down in a scheduled measurement.’ So this was their method for developing affection for nama bhajan.”