Monday Morning Greetings 2017 #1 – Happy Birthday, Monday Morning Greetings!

January 2nd, 2017

I began Monday Morning Greetings on this same day, the first Monday in January, exactly one year ago, and in this exact same place, my residence in Śrīdhām Māyāpur, the home of Jagadīśa and Jugala. It began when Jugala expressed how much she liked my journals and then inquired why I hadn’t written any in over five years. I couldn’t think of a good reason. I immediately began this journal, now named Monday Morning Greetings, neatly on the first Monday of January last year.

I have now completed fifty-two Monday Morning Greetings that I will compile into a book. I have also decided to accept the personal challenge to continue this series for another year beginning with this entry, Monday Morning Greetings 2017 #1.

Yes, it’s a challenge to write them. Most of the initial posts were ideas I had swimming around my head for some time. I thus questioned whether I would be able to come up with enough fresh ideas to continue throughout the year when that beginning source of inspiration ran dry.

There was also the challenge of keeping the writing to the standard of clarity and force that I was demanding before each journal was to be posted. Satsvarūpa dāsa Goswāmī once told me, and I don’t know if it was his own realization or he was quoting a famous writer or artist[1], that writing is “inspiration, perspiration, inspiration”.

Unless you have something to say, some inspiration, there is really nothing to write, no matter how expert in word craft one is. And only with hard work, perspiration, will your original realization be manifest in a way in which others can experience your initial realization, or inspiration.

So, in some ways continuing Monday Morning Greetings was daunting, but by remaining steady a dynamic process of writing unfolded, a process that gave me confidence that I would be able to mine realizations, confront the initial blank page, draft the initial scrambled thoughts on the subject, and eventually every week craft that inspiration in another form – the completed written work.

I now very much enjoy watching that process manifest from my initial realization into something that can inspire my audience. And just as a side note, I want to thank the many readers who have communicated that appreciation to me. It inspires me to write. Now I will share the process.

Inspiration

I generally don’t have a specific idea of what I will write until I finish the piece I am working on, but what I do have is a frame of reference to see God in the world based on śāstra,[2] a context that I can immediately activate to find new sources of inspiration. That framework not only helps me to more and more see the world based on what I have gleaned from the sacred texts, but it also confirms those realizations in a way that brings them alive and inspires me to write about them.

For example, on the way to Māyāpur I stayed the night in Delhi at the home of a very pious Indian family who, among other things, consciously dedicates themselves to karma yoga and a life according to the Gītā. I was very impressed. I saw in them certain Gītā principles personified in a way that deepened my own understanding of them and instilled in me a desire to share what I saw in a future post.

Writing thus forces me to regularly engage with śāstra to keep spiritual thoughts in the front of my consciousness. It is the foundation of my process of writing.

Another important part of my process of gaining inspiration is lots of chanting, especially after I have completed a post. Chanting is for love of Godhead, but an important result is ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanaṁ, the mind becomes clear. It is only in that clarity of mind that I can see the world lucidly enough to become spiritually inspired by it.

Chanting is the basis of my life, but it is also now an essential element for my process of writing.

Perspiration

After the day begins my time is mixed with other responsibilities and I find it difficult to focus on writing. I am also not the type of pure brāhmaṇa that can concentrate for long periods on intellectual work. In fact, in my youth my absorption was sports and the only two books I ever remembering reading and liking was Animal Farm by George Orwell and The Mouse That Roared. [3] Since writing Monday Morning Greetings I thus have had no choice but to rise many hours before sunrise for at least thirty minutes to an hour for writing, where in abject solitude my concentration is very focused.

Thus rising early and writing daily in full focus is very much a part of my writing process where I can overcome the sometimes seemingly insurmountable obstacles to clarity and focus that a next paragraph often poses.

So that’s how Monday Morning Greetings is born and hopefully I can continue this sevā for the pleasure of Śrīla Prabhupāda and my audience.

And to my readers, I remain indebted to you. There are two types of service to a Vaiṣṇava. One is physical service and the other is hearing. In ways hearing is the best service because it engages the person one serves also in service, the service of kīrtan, or glorifying the Lord.

So again thank you and I wish all the best for you and your families from Śrīdhām Māyāpur at the beginning of the New Year and on the birthday of Monday Morning Greetings.

[1] I know Thomas Edison is famous for saying that success is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration, but I remember the phrase I was told as “inspiration, perspiration, inspiration”.

[2] Sacred texts.

[3] I only remember now that I enjoyed the book, but don’t even remember what it was about or who the author was.

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