Monday Morning Greetings 2023 #29 – The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men and Other Thoughts

July 17th, 2023

The best laid plans of mice and men[1]


I am writing this from the Five Towns Inn in Lawrence, Long Island, New York. My flight today to India to observe Puruṣottama Māsa[2] in Govardhana was cancelled. I will try again tomorrow. My trip naturally started with slight anxiety as it always does. That is how my mind works when having to travel by plane, especially a long trip. It’s a saṁskāra, an impression, probably from a previous life, that, for no good reason, makes me react somewhat worrisomely when travelling. As soon as I get in the car to the airport, I begin to anxiously pat my different pockets to see if I forgot my wallet, passport, or something else. I then envision the horror of not finding a space for my carry-on, and other silly thoughts. Anyway, this time I resolved to be mindful—that I am not the controller, that what happens is Krishna’s will, and therefore I should be peaceful in any situation in life, what to speak of travelling. It kind of worked, at least within the limits of my realization. I became mindful to catch my mind before it followed its whims. Instead, I turned towards my faith to see every twist of fate, no matter what that may be, as just a different opportunity for service. Off now to the airport for the second time to catch a flight to Śrī Vrindavan, if Śrī Krishna so desires.


Praise and the death of my devotion


It wasn’t easy to finish my post last week as I was leading the upstate Bhakti Immersion retreat last weekend. As I had to finish writing it between breaks, when my last post, “Praise and the Death of Devotion”, was done, I wasn’t sure of its quality. Therefore, I read it to my friend Jayanta das during dinner for feedback, as he is educated, literary, and frank. “That was incredible. It’s one of the best…” I heard enough to know what he was saying was about, but because of the noise in the dining room, I didn’t hear him fully. I instinctively leaned forward and perked my ears to hear more. I looked up, Jayanta was chuckling. Rascal! He caught me. He did, however, honestly like the post.


I like Mormons


Despite the objective of the modern media to dis anything religious, from the show Unorthodox[3] to the Broadway musical The Book of Mormon,[4] I am usually impressed when I meet the young religious in the post-modern age.[5] In the JFK lounge waiting for my flight, a young, handsome, clean-cut young man came up to me politely: “Excuse me sir, can I ask you some questions? I am going to India with my friend, and we are inquisitive about your religion.” He went on to explain that he was a Mormon, had just came back from his two-year mission to Brazil, attended the Holī festival at Spanish Fork ISKCON, and was curious to learn more about the world. We chatted. I was impressed with him. He was highly moral, emotionally balanced, humble, and innocent, but with a strong mind, which is the ability to control and express emotions. His friend was a beautiful young lady, his age, whom I later met. When I asked if she was his girlfriend, he said matter of factly, “No, just a friend.” His voice was earnest. Now that’s impressive, traveling with a beautiful lady alone and not melting in passion. Who are these people? The main take away from meeting Jacob and Reagan was that growing up with an intact family that instills values within a greater community that supports those values produces evolved souls, especially compared to the general youth in America, who seem so confused about their mission in life and the values they should emulate. Jacob and Reagan will visit me in Vrindavan. They asked me to teach them meditation. I will keep you posted.


Destiny is the language of God


Arrived in Vrindavan for five weeks. I will return again shortly in mid-September. It’s humid now, and anyone I know that assists or befriends me is gone. I thought for a second, “What the hell am I doing here now!” My trip, however, was not whimsical. I thought deeply about it and consulted my mentors, and destiny is also the language or indication of God’s will. God talks or instructs one by how one’s life unfolds? I wake up early, and except for chanting and some writing I have no external obligations during the day. That certainly was not my plan, but it’s Krishna’s, so I am grateful. My service seems to be mostly sedentary sādhu life, so why not Vrindavan? I love it here—Vrindavan in the rainy season—bare chested, barefooted, pleasant cold showers, and a solitary life dedicated to begging the holy name for service and for more direction for the next phase of my life.


SDG (Satsvarūpa dāsa Goswami) July Festival


Every year I try to go to this simple and sweet festival honoring Śrīla Satsvarūpa Mahārāja in July. He is nearing eight-four years of age, so his age and physical condition affords him the energy to sit for only a half hour of kirtan followed by another half hour reading from some of his new books. Even though he was not lecturing, but reading, the voice in his writing is strong and engaging. He read from his book about making the best use of a bad bargain. The bad bargain being the old age and disease that plague him, and the best use of it is his ability to still serve, mostly the opportunity to write, despite that. Afterwards, I was able to go to where he was sitting just to exchange some pleasantries and honor him. He told me he reads Monday Morning Greetings every week and that it was a mix of high philosophy and my personal life. I sensed he liked the second objective better as it’s more his style of writing. Somehow, this week’s post is just a simple recount of my travels and consequent arrival in the Dhāma. Nothing exceptionally deep here, so let me end with some food for thought that came to me today. It’s still quite simple:


For the six months I usually reside here, there a huge influx of international pilgrims that I try to serve. I love it, but with that life comes all my upādhis, material designations—guru, preacher, leader, and so on. Now here I am, just another anonymous resident of Vraja. It’s a sweet and simple life. I have even been able to rest my active mind and fertile brain to just bask in the simplicity and sweetness of Vraja, called mādhurya. “Enjoy it when it lasts,” I tell myself, because I am sure, by the grace of Śrī Śrī Guru and Gauranga, challenges will be thrown my way that will require a depth of realization to digest. They may even provide some good stuff to write about, but for now I just hope you have enjoyed “The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men and Other Thoughts”, the more personal and simple style of my writing.


Stayed tuned. See you next week from Govardhana!


[1] Of Mice and Men is a book by the famous American author John Steinbeck. The title of the book is from Scottish poet, Robert Burns’ poem “To a Mouse” — “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft agley”, translated into English, “The best laid plans of mice and men / Often go awry”. This also serves as one of the themes of the book: destiny being superior to our will.

[2] https://iskcondesiretree.com/page/Purusottama-adhika-masa

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unorthodox_(miniseries)

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Book_of_Mormon_(musical)

[5] Every religion has its faults and scandals. Those bad parts can be highlighted by the media to create a narrative. I often find a dichotomy between the media narrative and what I’ve found when meeting people of faith personally. I found this documentary quite interesting in that regard: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUDFpt6lcew


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