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Vidyapati dasa

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New Request [19 Jun 2008|06:33pm]
I would firstly like to thank everyone for helping me find the lecture series I was looking for by Ravindra Svarupa. I'm looking forward to my upcoming retreat so that I can spend a few days studying them.

Due to the resounding success I had in finding these lectures, Mahanila Prabhu has asked if I can help him find some special photo's of the Nrsimha-deva deity from Mayapur. He is trying to find some high quality photos where Nrsimha-deva has His metal teeth which go right around His mouth(ear to ear), like in the picture below:

Thank you!

And I apologise for using my blog to get favours from the devotees. I swear that I will one day actually post a blog on here that is worth reading...
2 tattvas| jijnasa

A request [14 Jun 2008|01:12pm]
In February last year, 2007, Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu apparently gave a seminar series on Vedic cosmology, based on the 5th Canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam, in Mayapur. At least, that's what I read on the Mayapur website when I was looking at the various lecture series that were going to take place that year.

I'm wondering if anyone has a copy of those lectures on mp3. Being a nerd, I often get asked questions about Vedic cosmology, and I'm trying to increase my understanding of it, to some degree, just so that I can deal with my own doubts and the doubts of others. I already have the Vedic cosmology dvd, from the Danavira Maharaja, and I have also read some of Sadaputa Prabhu's books on the issue.

If you have these lectures, or know where to get a copy of them, please send me an e-mail at my @gmail.com account - vidyapatidas@etc

Thank you!
1 tattva| jijnasa

This is not a journal revival. [07 Oct 2007|10:32am]
Before you start running for cover, considering the possibility that I have revived my LJ after a full year of silence...Have no fear. These last two updates are just a once off occurrence. I just wrote a few things, which I posted elsewhere, and I felt inspired to stick them up here, as I thought some people who previously paid attention to this journal may be interested to read them also.

Now, back into hiding I go.

You can't understand the illusion until you experience the reality. [07 Oct 2007|10:19am]
He’s not sure what to make of it. Now that he’s in high school, he is feeling more pressure than ever before to conform to the ways, styles and actions of his peers. He tells his parents that he needs the right shoes, he needs the right hair-cut and he needs the right taste in music. Despite fitting in with his friends’ choice of fashion, music and vocabulary, and despite the constant phone calls, text messages and MySpace messages he receives daily, he still feels more lonely, isolated and confused about his identity than any moment in his life previously. It seems like something is missing, but since he has no experience of reality he can’t distinguish truth from lies.

She’s not sure what to make of it. She spent her childhood dreaming of bringing up her own family, and watching caringly as her own children grew up and made their own marks on the world. Now, after 25 years of sacrifice her children have all but left home, and as she feels this intense and engaging life project of child-rearing entering into a stage of independent maintenance, she is finding the need to re-define her life’s purpose, mission and identity. The quietness of the house is starting to increase, as her remaining children at home spend most of their waking hours out and about, and she now has more time to allow her personal thoughts to pervade, revealing inner conflicts she had all but forgotten about. And she’s suddenly noticed that 25 years of marriage hasn’t been enough time for her husband to develop his caring side. It seems like something is missing, but since she has no experience of reality she can’t distinguish truth from lies.

He’s not sure what to make of it, as he analyses his current mortgage statement. It seems like he has been working his whole life, but no matter how hard he works the money disappears faster than he can earn it. And despite his hopes for the contrary, the consumeristic desires of his wife and children continue to expand more and more each year. Of course, he feels great happiness and pride being able to be the provider for his family’s desires, but he’s now working 70 hour weeks, and seldom has time to spend in a meaningful way with his children. In fact, that very house which necessitates his home loan, and his long hours, seems less familiar to him than the train station, where he seems to spend more of his waking hours when compared to his own lounge room. He’s starting to lose track of his original vision and plan for life. It’s starting to seem to him like something is missing, but since he has no experience of reality he can’t distinguish truth from lies.

Neither of them is sure of what to make of the situation. When they first started their relationship they could barely handle being in separation from each other for a whole weekend. They both enjoyed having their minds fully absorbed in thoughts of the other 24 hours a day. They joyfully walked hand in hand, sharing secrets, forming inside jokes and staring into each others eyes endlessly. Something has changed completely now. It’s not that they aren’t getting along any more; it’s just that that original spark is gone. Their minds, their eyes and their emotions are excited about the prospects of new opportunities for perpetual absorption which new relationships claim to offer. And because they feel this urge for change in themselves, they have decreased faith in the fidelity of the other. They used to say that they were in love; now it seems like something is missing, but since they have no experience of reality they can’t distinguish truth from lies.

She’s not quite sure what to make of it. She has spent the last 3 years of her life working hard at her degree; studying, cramming, and sacrificing. When she first left high school she was full of hope for the future in the career of her dreams, but having spent the last years studying hard to achieve that dream, she is starting to have her doubts. Can a career in this field really provide her with the satisfaction of all her hearts desires? Have these past years really been worth the effort? The doubt is overwhelming, but it is overshadowed by the fact that, despite her graduating with honors and her double major, she has yet to actually find a job in her chosen field. And the prospect of paying off her student loan before she hits 40 seems like an impossibility. As summer approaches, the bills keep coming and rent is needing attention, she is starting to feel like something is missing, but since she has no experience of reality she can’t distinguish truth from lies.

He’s not sure what to make of it. Although he put a lot of effort into his church in the past, and he really felt like he was getting closer to God, something seems to have changed. It now seems like he attends every weekend service more as a matter of ritual rather than as a heart felt offering. In fact, he doesn’t even know what he believes any more, so he is finding it hard to justify living up to a lifestyle and morality that he doesn’t completely identify with. It seems like he is being more of a ‘sinner’ by blindly following some faith and lifestyle than he would be if he just went along with his own thoughts, feelings and desires. Besides, does anyone else in his community seem like they have really dedicated their lives to loving and serving God with all their hearts, minds and souls? In fact, he’s getting a little bit sick of all the village talk, back-stabbing and gossip that goes on after each Sunday sermon. He used to be certain that religion plays some importance in his life; now it seems like something is missing, but since he has no experience of reality he can’t distinguish truth from lies.

She’s really not sure what to make of it. She used to have a very romantic view of getting older, of being the strong woman figure in her family, but as she reached the age of 79 her body, and her mind, started to fail on her, causing many carry on problems. Eventually her children decided it was best that she be put into a rest home, so that she could be cared for constantly by trained professionals. She didn’t like the idea of it at all, but to satisfy her children’s desires she relented. Now she is finding each day to be a source of embarrassment, as a stranger helps her go to the toilet, baths her and dresses her each morning, and her forgetful mind sometimes completely forgets why she’s in this place to begin with. She dreams of returning to her old life, and she often sheds tears thinking about it. At least her family does visit once a month, but they only stay for a few hours and it seems to her that they are making their appearance more as a matter of duty rather than out of real love. And as she watches her fellow residents pass away one by one, she fears the reality that her turn will come sooner than later and she will have to face death all by herself. She has so many unfulfilled desires left in her life, but time has run out. It seems like something is missing, in fact something must be missing, but since she has no experience of reality she can’t distinguish truth from lies.

You can’t understand the illusion until you have experience of the reality.

Apathy is a disease that must be destroyed from the inside-out. [07 Oct 2007|10:09am]
49% of ‘green house’ gases in New Zealand are produced by the agriculture industry,
The number one cause of water pollution is meat production,
Heart disease and cancer have been directly linked to a diet high in animal fats and protein,
World starvation could be solved if all the food grains fed to livestock were fed to humans directly,
There is a direct statistical link showing increased family violence amongst slaughterhouse workers,
Save the world, but don’t touch my diet!

The majority of ‘P’ lab raids have found young children living in these make-shift drug factories,
The number one cause of family violence and family break-ups is drug addiction,
There is no denying the fact that licit or illicit drugs permanently damage physical and mental health,
The average age at which a person begins taking intoxication is 13 but some start as young as 8,
Most people admit that their intoxication habits are an attempt to forget,
Save the world, but don’t touch my intoxication!

Teen promiscuity has been directly linked to decreased physical and mental health in adult life,
Children born our of wed-lock are statistically lower achievers at school and more likely to suffer from depression in later life,
80% of men in America admit to having cheated on their wives,
One in four women and one in eight men have been sexually assaulted at some point in their life,
50% of men admit to an addiction to pornography,
Save the world, but don’t touch my sex life!

$5.5 million is lost through gambling everyday in New Zealand,
There are 14 convictions relating to gambling addictions everyday in New Zealand,
A problem gambler can directly affect the lives of over 5 people around them,
There is statistical evidence linking gambling with increased suicide rates, drug addiction, and child negligence,
The majority of slot machines and casinos are located in low income neighbourhoods,
Save the world, but don’t touch my gaming!

There are over 1 million prescriptions for state funded anti-depressants handed out every year in New Zealand,
And 50% of adults are now expected to suffer from severe depression at some point in their lives,
Every twelve days a woman is beaten to death by her husband in New Zealand,
Mental health is expected to become the number one health problem in the world by 2012,
The average person feels less fulfilled in their lives than their counterparts 50 years ago,
Save the world, but don’t try changing my life in any way!

*the majority of the above statistics are from New Zealand newspaper articles I collected over the past year.
1 tattva| jijnasa

Vyasa-puja [28 Sep 2006|05:16pm]
Today we celebrated my Gurumaharaja's Vyasa-puja. This is my last few days in Wellington, as I'm heading back up to Auckland on Monday, so it was nice to observe the ceremony here, especially considering this is where I first got into Krsna consciousness, but I had never previous been in Wellington to celebrate Gurudeva Vyasa-puja.

Here is my offering to Gurudeva:

Dear Gurudeva,

Please accept my humble obeisances.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

On this most blessed and auspicious day, I hope for my mind to be deep in contemplation over the mysterious indebtedness that arises as a natural result of the Guru-disciple relationship.

Srila Gurudeva, it’s practically impossible for me to calculate exactly when my debt to you began. In the summer of 1998 I first met a disciple of yours, the first Hare Krishna devotee I had ever met, while walking in Whakatane township with some friends. I was full of envy and asked this devotee what it felt like to be a member of a cult. He just stared blankly at me, with my spiked up pink hair, facial peircings and dirty appearance and replied “Well…from my perspective it looks like you are the cult member.” All my friends laughed, and instantly I was filled with respect for this devotee.

The following year an aspiring disciple of yours approached the door of my parents’ house, and convinced me to give him a donation and thus I received the book Easy Journey to Other Planets. Over the following years, I frequently met your disciples in various cities in New Zealand. My brother and I spent ½ an hour talking to one disciple in Rotorua. Another gave me advice on asthma on Queen Street in Auckland. Often I would go looking for a Hare Krishna whenever I visited a city, and upon finding one I would walk past them repeatedly until they would talk to me. One day I even received a set of beads from a disciple of yours that I met on the streets of Hamilton, which lead me to start chanting Hare Krishna daily, for at least a little while. Your disciples fed me from their restaurant on many occasions. In fact, several previous associates of mine even became your very serious disciples.

Somehow, Gurumaharaja, one of my previous associates, turned surrendered soul, convinced me to take a trip to your Gaura-Yoga centre, to see a world traveling monk. With no money in my bank account, I had to beg $3 to come for the Sunday feast, and with that $3 I unknowingly placed myself into a debt of unimaginable proportions. On that night I heard you speak such obvious truths that I was ashamed to admit that I was so lost in a world of obvious illusion. We had a short discussion afterwards, during which you told me that I could only make a real change in the world if I first changed myself. From that night I felt a feeling of indebtedness to you, and in order to begin to pay it back, I tried to follow your advice faithfully, though progressing slowly.

Srila Gurudeva, somehow or other you dragged me from such a position of embarrassing suffering. One is automatically placed in an embarrassing position when they think they are the body, and I was so deep in such a position that I am now completely ashamed thinking about the situation, and thus I feel immensely indebted to you. And through your constant guidance, you have repeatedly given me the opportunity to begin to pay back my debt.

Srila Gurudeva, you placed me in the association of serious devotees, so that I could engage in serious devotional service to begin to pay back my debt to you. But, mysteriously, the happiness I felt by engaging in devotional service, in the association of devotees, only served to increase my feelings of indebtedness. Then, under your guidance, I began to try to distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books. It is clear that this is a service very dear to you, and I thought that perhaps by serving you in this way I might just be able to repay my debt to you. But Srila Gurudeva, the mystery is that the total opposite seems to be happening!

While in Auckland I met a boy named Jonathon, who had just returned to New Zealand from a student exchange experience in Denmark. While passing through the LA Airport, heading to Denmark, he ran into a disciple of yours who sold him a book. He read that book several times, and thus decided to become vegetarian. On the way back through the LA Airport he again met that same disciple of yours, receiving this time the Journey of Self Discovery. When I met him, he decided to buy a Science of Self Realisation. I sent you an e-mail about this story some time ago, for your pleasure, and as an attempt to pay off some of my debt.

But Srila Gurudeva, that story hasn’t ended, and thus my debt has only increased again! Recently, I have made a brief visit to Wellington. On the first Krishna Fest celebration I attended while here I had a boy come up to me, asking if I remembered him. He said I had met him a year and a half ago in Auckland. Since I had met him, he had met many other disciples of yours, and bought many more books to continue his collection, which he reads regularly. He has made himself familiar with a number of your disciples at your Gaura-Yoga Centre, he has started chanting a little bit, and seems enthusiastic to continue his associating with your disciples. As we talked I asked where he got his first book, and as he explained his story more, I realized who it was I was talking to. It was that same Jonathon who I wrote to you about over a year ago.

Srila Gurudeva, somehow or other, while trying to repay my debt to you, I have found myself to be an insignificant link in your chain of mercy which is working to pull conditioned souls out of the embarrassing ocean of material existence, out of the dark ocean of misery that is bodily identification. And as a result of being in this position I feel such happiness that it seems like my debt to you has just increased a thousand fold again!

Gurudeva, I don’t know what kind of trick you have played on me, but I don’t see any way out of this situation, for the only currency which you will ever accept for repayment of my debt only seems to increase my indebtedness to you more and more. But unlike my materialistic friends of yesteryear, who upon finding themselves in debt are feeling incredible pangs of stress and anxiety, for myself the thought of serving you for the rest of my life in order repay this great debt only serves to fill me with such a feeling of happiness and satisfaction that I am actually praying to you today that this debt will only increase a thousand-fold, year after year after year.

Your eternally indebted servant,
Vidyapati dasa
1 tattva| jijnasa

[17 Aug 2006|07:56pm]
I've had a busy time since arriving in Wellington. I'm certain that the only way I've been able to keep functioning is solely by the mercy of the devotees here.

On Tuesday I went to see Dr. Dan, who is primary reason I am in Wellington. He did a few tests, said that in some areas it looks like the treatment he gave me last time I visited had been fairly successful. He did a few other tests, one that somehow measures energy, and he said that I seemed to have 1/2 the amount of energy that I should have, which I kinda of agreed with. Then, he hooked me up to some machine, which measured...something, i'm not really sure... I don't realy know exactly what he was doing...but my Gurudeva said that in terms of my health I have to use whatever saw is available to cut the wood, so I'm just gonna surrender to Dr. Dan and see what happens. He practices heaps of different alternative medical systems. He has put me on some homeopathic stuff, which he says will help me with my revolutionary tendencies. He thinks that this might be part of my health problems. We'll see what happens.

Tuesday night we read Krsna book together, and sang some bhajana's, to prepare ourselves for the next day.

Wednesday, of course, was Janmastami. I woke up at 2:30, with a bit of a sore tummy, but full of energy. I got up, along with boddhi, my new room mate extraordinaire, and chanted as much as I could before the morning programme started. It was supposed to start at 4:30, but Mahavana was rather sick, so we just stuck to the regular 7am programme. After I finished my first set of 16 rounds for the day, Mother Khadiravana, Mahavana's wife, asked if I could give bhagavatam class as Mahavana couldn't. So, although I had planed on chanting more, I surrendered, and went to prepare for a class. There were about 13 devotees who showed up at the asrama in the morning. It was nice to see them all, especially Martin who was a very dear friend of mine, but who had a momentary break in his practice of Krsna consciousness. As soon as I finished that class, which was about an hour long, I was asked again by Mother Khadiravana if I would also be able to fill in for Mahavana Prabhu at the Janmastami celebrations, as he was supposed to give class there as well. That was abit more of a surrender. It meant spending much of the day going through the class Mahavana had prepared, getting my head around it, and working my way through the powerpoint he had set up for it. The result was that I didn't get to chant as much as I had hoped to that day. I have yet to actually fulfill my desire to chant 64 rounds on Janmastami. Perhaps next year I'll be able to do that.

I had a surprising amount of energy for the whole day. I think it may have been a result of the one treatment that Dr. Dan gave me. As a result I managed to fast the whole day, till midnight, only taking a small plate to break fast. It was a great festival. Festival days are the mothers of devotion. I tried my hardest to be prayerful all day. My constant prayer was based on a verse in the sixth canto of the Bhagavatam, spoken by Ajamila. It's one I meditate on often. The first line is my favourite "I am such a sinful person." Humility is a good way to start a prayer.

During the festival I was asked by Bhakta Sam to speak to a friend of his, who was a philosophy student, going for his masters degree. It was a huge auterity talking to him, it was so dry. I'm not into philosophy that doesn't have practical application...whats the point? In life I want happiness and success that completely fulfills the deepest desires of my heart, not some process of disecting and analysing arguments for not real purpose other than to enjoy some mental pleasure temporarily.

We broke fast, and got home about 2 am I think. As the following day was Prabhupada's appearance day, I was asked to help cook the feast, which meant waking up at quarter to five...not alot of sleep. It also meant that I missed out on the whole celebration, as I was in the kitchen. I didn't get to read out my offering either. But the feast was good. I finished my rounds at about 6 pm or something like that.

Because I didn't get to read out my offering, I decided to place it on here, so that I can prove that I actually did write one...though it is a fact, I didn't put much effort into it at all. I was too busy preparing classes yesterday to do it.


Dear Srila Prabhupada,

Please accept my humble obeisances.
All glories to your lotus feet.

Srila Prabhupada, in your most wonderful book, KRSNA, you explain so perfectly what makes Krsna so special. You explain that all of Krsna's activities, from the very moment of His birth are entirely unparralleled. They are completely beyond compare.

Srila Prabhupada, making an analysis of your life, it appears that in many ways, so many of your activities are also unparralleled. Your coming to the west, with the intense desire to serve the instructions of your Gurumaharaja is completely unparralleled. There is no one in the history of the world who endeavoured in this way with so much determination, and faith in the words of their guru. In this way you are unparralleld. Your ability to make thousands and thousands of first class devotees out of so many degraded personalities, turning hippies into happies, is completely unparralleled. You possess an amazing ability to explain the highest spiritual truths, the highest concepts of love of Godhead, in such a way that people from any background are able to grasp the concepts you explain. This is unparralleled. Not only that, but you formulated the perfect progamme of devotional engagement perfectly suited to the nature of passionate westerners. This is totally unparralleled. This is your unparralleled position as founder/acarya extraordinaire.

Srila Prabhupada, I am such a sinful person, but somehow or other, I have now gotten this most wonderful opportunity, by your grace. On this most auspicious day, I beg for your special mercy so that I can completely control my mind, life and senses, and always engage in devotional service, so that I may not fall again into the deep darkness and ignorance of material life. Please grant me this determination, so that my life will be successful.

Please help me to fully appreciate the complete perfection that you have given the whole world through your unparralleled books. I beg today for the eagerness to dedicate my life to your books, and their distribution. At least in some way or another may I always be in direct contact with the distribution of your books, and may I take every opportunity to encourage everyone I meet to take your books seriously in their lives. May I always be a servant of your ISKCON, which is the greatest shelter available in this dark period of the world.

your aspiring servant,
Vidyapati dasa

In the windy city [14 Aug 2006|06:44pm]
I am now officially in Wellington. Indra greeted me by sending a rainy, windy day, typical of Wellington.

On Sunday, I took my last trip for a few months to Aucklands Radha-Giridhari Mandira, for deity greeting, guru-puja and Bhagavatam class. Although I had gotten up late that morning, as a result of a late night the previous night, and a tuff final day of teachers training studies, I was asked by Abhay-caran Prabhu to give the Bhagavatam class. The verse was awesome, it dealt with the effects of time, and inevitable death. Death can really come at any second, but when we are nearer the fag end of life, when death is emminent, our bodies are so useless that it is so difficult to make the proper preparations to die.

Anyway, in my class I talked about my experience in nursing training, as I did part of a nursing course. I did my practical experience in a rest home, looking after an 83 year old man, with one leg, named Jack. That experience really changed my outlook on life. I decided firmly then that I didn't want my life to end up like that. I didn't, and don't, want to end up an old man, laying in bed all day, crying out of intense desire to engage in activities that my body is just no longer able to carry out. Every day I saw Jack he would cry for at least half the day, lamenting that he couldn't be with his family, that he couldn't go fishing, or stay at his batch in Whangamata. It was really heart breaking to watch.

Anyway, the thought of death has been heavy on my since the class. Really, what guarantee do we have that we won't die today, or during the night? Death is certain, actually, it's gonna hit you some time. It's not something you can think of entirely as being an event of the future, it could happen on your walk down the street, or on your flight down to Wellington.

Of course I didn't die on my way to Wellington, but I did spend most of the flight chanting, contemplating the reality that I am not ready to die successfully yet. Death is certainly coming some day, and I have a heck of a lot of work to be down before I can face that obstacle with determination. But if I can stick, with faith and conviction, to the instructions of my Gurumaharaja, then I have nothing to fear whatsoever. If I can remain (become) free from whimsical mindsets and activities, then perhaps I have a chance at perfection in this life. Otherwise, if I do stick to a whimsical attitude, Krsna makes the results clear "na sa siddhim avapnoti, na sukham na param gatim", no attainment of perfection, nor happiness nor the supreme destination.

note to self: you have to write an offering to Srila Prabhupada before Thursday...

Balarama's Appearance Day [09 Aug 2006|05:55pm]
I took a few photos of our day. I'm not a very brave cameraman, so I didn't get any photos' of the abhiseka, as I didn't want to stand in front of everyone.



One of the kirtana's of the day.

Trivikrama leads it up.

Krsna Book reading outside Tulasi-devi's house, in the memorial garden.

Ramadas deep meditation on Balarama's pastimes.

Bhakti Matt reading. He's just moved up a few weeks ago, just taking to brahmacarya, and already everything he has is orange!

Atul-krsna Prabhu relishing every moment of Lord Balarama's extraordinary usage of kusa grass to remove Romaharsana from the vyasasana. He is in town heading up the teachers training courses we are doing.
3 tattvas| jijnasa

Teachers Training [06 Aug 2006|01:05pm]
For the last week I have been attending a course on Teacher's Training, run by the VTE, which is based in Mayapura. Atul-Krsna Prabhu teaches this course, as well as Bhakt-Sastri, Bhakti-Vaibhava, and Bhakti-Sastri Teachers Training courses. Tomorrow we start a week of Bhakti-Sastri Teachers Training.

This week past has been very insightful. We have learned alot about class structure, and basic teaching techniques. Alot of the theory we went over is pretty awesome. One thing that I think has become clear to me through this course is that the Loft styled preaching would benefit from adding more structure to it's approach of educating people about Krsna consciousness.

One thing I've noticed in the past is that alot of successful religious/spiritual/other groups utilise the system of courses in their teaching. For example, in many Christian churches there is the Alpha course, a structure 10 week course which ends in a weekend away. When facilitated properly this course works well. When I was a teenager I was actually a facilitator for a youth Alpha course at an Anglican church. People generally feel like they are going somewhere when you offer them a structured course, as opposed to just running constant 'first-timer' classes to people everytime they show up at your door. They come each week, and learn something new, which builds on what they learned previously. For some reason this seems to be lacking in a lot of Hare Krsna centre. I don't know why.

The other thing that hit me about this course is that it emphasises the need for aims/needs driven education, as opposed to content driven. This is something else that I seem to fall into easily. It's easy to ignore the actual needs of the people you are giving a class to, and just focus on the content...but it's highly ineffective.

At the same time as being inlivening, this course is also exhausting. I have hardly been able to do much else at all, aside from attend the course. In just over a week I will be heading down to Wellington for my health focused period. It will probably be needed after this course.
1 tattva| jijnasa

The results... [31 Jul 2006|03:34pm]
So, after that little one week test, I've decided to discontinue using my blog as a sadhana record sheet. The main reason is because I found it hard to analyse it in the format that it was in. Instead, what I'm going to do is just draw-up a suitable sadhana spreadsheet for myself, print that out and use that for a personal record. That way I can easily see when I am slacking off in some area. We have a semi-version of this as it is, in part of our sankirtana score sheet, but I want a more elaborate personal version, including similar headings that I used recently in my blog sadhana records.

Anyway, I am pretty much totally busy for the next two weeks until I move to Wellington...in fact I haven't got much more then a spare second at the moment...

What a day... [30 Jul 2006|10:15am]
Saturday was very busy, therefore I didn't manage to review my Friday before now...and now my memory is affecting the reviewing process. Material energy means forgetfullness...

Rose: 3:40 am
Sloka: 1/2 Gita verses recited
Japa: Not so bad. All in one sitting. Took 1 hour 50 minutes.
Morning Programme: Not attended, as I cook breakfast on Friday morning
Reading:2 hours
Exercise: 1/2 of yoga
Seva: Breakfast cook, kitchen clean, cleaned toilet, 3 hours of book distribution, preaching programme at the Loft (lead kirtana, gave class along with Balagopala, preached at the tables to the guests).
Rest: 10 pm

Rose: 5:30 am
Slokas: 1/2 Gita verses recited
Japa: nice, having spent much of previous night encouraging people to improve their japa.
Morning Programme: Not attended, busy chanting
Reading: 1 hour...
Exercise: none
Seva: 3 hours of book distribution, home programme at one contacts house (Indian family, involved kirtana, Ramadas gave the class, and then prasadam. Took about 3 hours all up.), had a discussion with Khela-tirtha about Krsna conscious philosophy for two hours before resting.
Rest: 9 pm

[28 Jul 2006|01:43pm]
Thursday in review:

Rose: 4am

Japa: Inattentive. All chanted before 7am. Mind mostly focused on financial matters. (Imagine how much more of a distraction it would be if my financial worries involved a wife and children...full respect to anyone who can chant attentively with such serious responsibilities)

Sloka's: Recited all Gita slokas.

Morning Programme: Attended in full. Lead Guru-vandanam

Reading: 2 1/2 hours. Again, one hour of Bhagavad-gita, 1/2 of Nectar of Devotion and one hour of Krsna book. Finally getting a small taste for Krsna book.

Seva: 3 hours of book distribution. Cooked dinner. Managed accounts and drew up an analysis to see if we can actually afford for four of us to do this teachers training course. I think we will make it. Adjusted book acounts.

Exercise: 1/2 of yoga.

Rest: 8:20 pm

Reflections: If I can keep my mind focused on simple, humble service, perhaps I'll make some good progress in this life.
The pride issue is constantly present. I need to work on that. It always causes problems in terms of devotee relations.

[27 Jul 2006|02:19pm]
Wednesday, 26 July, 2006
Rose: 4am

Japa: All sixteen, in one sitting, before 7am. While I was attentive occasionally, over all I think this sessions fits into 'good idea' japa, where my mind just went wild thinking through aspects of philosophy, and how to present it properly. I think this was a result of putting in the extra time before bed studying to give Bhagavatam class. I must have re-written my whole class three times over in my mind during japa. This seems like a regular occurance on days that I have to give classes, especially if it's morning classes. I don't really know what the solution is. It's not like I can not prepare for them...because even then just knowing what the verse and purport are I seem to think about them. I guess I could do what Ravindra-svarupa Prabhu suggests. Sometimes you just have to trick the mind. He tells his mind "Look, I know you can focus clearly now on these points, but if you would just focus on the Holy Name now you would be ensured that throughout the rest of the day you will be clear from unneccesary thoughts anyway, and be just as focused as now. And being in that state of consciousness you could just think through all this same stuff. So for now, just listen." Maybe I'll try that next time.

Sloka's recited: All Bhagavad-Gita sloka's recited for memories sake.

Morning Programme: Attended in full. Even lead Gurvastakam, Nrsmha Prayers and gave class.

Reading: 2 1/2 hours. 1 hour of Bhagavad-Gita, 1/2 of Nectar of Devotion, 1 hour of Krsna Book. Fairly good quality and attentiveness.

Seva: 2 hours of book distribution. Still very tired. Managemental/accounting things done. Vacuumed, and cleaned the toilet. Had a meeting about the upcoming teacher training course and how we will be able to afford it.

Exercise: 1/2 hour of yoga. I hope I can continue to have the energy to do this daily.

Rest: 8:30 pm.

-I have noticed that since starting this regular sadhana record keeping, using my blog, I have actually reflected more often during the day on how to improve my over all sadhana. Previously I would often think of things to write in my blog, and now all of those thoughts are based around improving sadhana. I think if nothing else, this little exercise is successful simply because of that one point.
-I have tried to learn from the other day, to always beg Krishna for help before approaching a devotee to talk or ask questions. In some cases yesterday I remembered. Today, however, I made a comment on a question in Bhagavatam class, which though not wrong, seemed to me to be an expression of my pride. I realised then that I hadn't begged for Krishna to help me properly associate with devotees. I hope that one day I can be constantly mindful of the fact that I need devotee association to make my life successful, and I also need Krishna's mercy to keep devotee association.

[26 Jul 2006|02:34pm]
Tuesday, 25 July, 2006
Rose - 4:15

Japa - All sixteen rounds in one sitting. As I said yesterday, they were rather distracted at the end specifically, though better then the previous day.

Sloka recitation - All Bhagavad-Gita sloka's that I know were recited. 3/4 were done before I started my rounds.

Reading - 3 hours. 40 min of Bhagavad-Gita, 50 minutes of Nectar of Devotion, 1 1/2 hours of Krishna Book. Total nectar.

Seva - 2 hours of book distribution, very difficult on the body, still recovering. Kitchen cleaning was down morning and evening. I also spent a couple hours preparing for Bhagavatam class, which I gave this morning. I didn't have much energy at all, so reading and studying made up most of my days engagements.

Rest - 8 pm. I pushed myself too much last week, and considering I have just been sick for the last two months straight, I still have a bit of recovery work to do before getting back to a normal pattern of sleeping I think.

Other stuff - I need to try and use what energy I do have in a more regulated and planned way. Part of the reason I wanted to start keeping a regular record of my saddhana is so that I can start to plan my days saddhana better. That way I can control the mind and senses easier. If you know exactly what you are doing, and when, it's easier to tell the mind to shut up when it starts to present it's own confused desires.

I need to work more on begging Krishna for help when it comes to associating with devotees. I noticed a couple of situations yesterday where I tried to ask a question, or inquire about something, and did so in a way that came out challenging, even though I didn't really mean it that way. Even little offenses like that can affect attentiveness in japa. The best attitude is to develop a mood of constant prayerfulness, because without the mercy of Krsna we can't do anything right! I know for a fact that if I just rely on my own skills, especially when dealing with devotees, I will always just make offenses, and screw up big time.

Action plan - Make a more concrete day to day plan for all activities. I think this will heap give my mind more free space to develop a mood of constant prayerfulness, and also to control the mind and senses in general. Uncontrolled mind and senses leads to distracted japa, which leads to devotee offenses, which leads to inattentive and dry japa.

[25 Jul 2006|03:22pm]
Monday, I didn't start my rounds until about 7:30 or so, as I didn't manage to get out of bed until about 7 am. The weekend really wore me out. What I find especially tiring is giving Sunday feast classes. A Sunday feast class is one hour (well...one hour when Balagopala and myself speak, we always go over time...) of focused talking to a group of 50 or more people. So, combining the fact that I pushed myself too much over the last week, and then gave the Sunday feast class, along with Balagopala, the result was that I was totally exhausted on Monday. And that, for me, meant sloppy rounds. I don't even know if I heard the Holy Name once during my whole two hours of chanting. What I think compounded the problem was the fact that I had only done a combined total of 1 hour and five minutes reading over the whole weekend. A lack of serious sadhana always effects my rounds. But I did chant all 16 rounds without physical interruption, in other words without stopping to do anything else. That is always important.

The fact that I had a late night on Friday night also meant a late morning on Saturday, so my time was crunched, thus my reading just didn't happen. And on Sunday Balagopala and myself had to use practically every spare moment to put the finishing touches on our class, and to practice it. Giving a 'tag-team' Sunday feast class takes alot of preparation. You can't just totally wing it. Anyway, enough excuses.

So, my japa was sloppy. I didn't manage to get in my sloka recitation at all, which I normally do before my rounds, starting from the moment I get out of bed. Nor did I attend any part of the morning programme. I did manage to just get my two hours reading in. I found that I was attentive to the majority of my reading, and noticed some very interesting things. I read mostly from Krishna Book (1h 20min) and Nectar of Devotion (40min), as these are the two books that I plan to focus my reading on for the next few months, as I have totally neglected them previously. I am finding that my taste for these books is slowly growing.

In terms of my service yesterday, I didn't manage to do all the cleaning I wanted to do, or had planned, mainly because I was too exhausted. I just couldn't get the energy together to do it at all. I did my weekly accounting things, and cleaned the downstairs toilet. I also had a meeting with Balagopala to go over our class from Sunday and decide what was good and what wasn't so good. We both agreed that one joke I told was a little below the belt.

Anyway, the real test of yesterday's splayed out sadhana, as always, is the next days rounds. I noticed this morning that although my rounds were better then yesterday (still not great) and I was attentive more often, my final few rounds were distracted. And not just distracted, but they were distracted by something I had read yesterday on the internet. So, the associated realisation is that if something effects ones rounds, and it actually has nothing to do with the service given by ones Guru, then it should be avoided at all costs. We can't make up services for ourselves, nor put our attention into things which are totally unrelated to our services. If we understand that our morning japa is the most important thing in our life, we can get a proper perspective on every situation, and then better judge how much mental energy to put into something. So, my meditation today is Bhagavad-Gita 16.23 "One who discards scriptural injunctions, and acts according to his own whims attains neither perfection, nor happiness, nor the supreme destination."

Time for a change... [24 Jul 2006|12:13pm]
I have decided to radically change my usage of this journal. What I'm going to do now is use this as a general sadhana record, as well as including my realisations for the day. Part of the benefit of doing this online is that I open myself up to external positive criticism and support. If you can see that I'm getting slack, you can correct me on it. Anyway, I'm just going to experiment with it for a while, see if I can keep it up and see if it actually does have positive influence on my overall sadhana.

This weekend was kind of a blow-out in terms of my sadhana, so I'm gonna start tomorrow analysing todays' sadhana etc.
1 tattva| jijnasa

Real Success [17 Jul 2006|12:30pm]
I've got a busy day today, which is the start of what is likely going to be a busy week. Mondays are always busy days for me, partly because of the fact that I ussually end up getting up later than usual, as a result of the late night Sunday feast endeavours.

I'm relishing the Sunday feasts more and more each week. It's totally amazing watching people as they get their first taste of Krsna consciousness. Every week it's the same thing, after the class the second kirtana starts, and Balagopala introduces the 'Swami Step' dance, and everyone follows, with enthusiasm. Then, as the kirtana moves on, everyone starts moving, it's like they can't help it even if they tried. I've watched people try to not dance, but their toes just start tapping to the mrdanga, and they can't help but sing along. Then, the kirtana picks up, and as soon as the mrdanga and karatalas step up to the double time beat, everyone in the entire room practically goes wild, jumping and twirling. When I am sitting down playing karatala's with the bhajana band, I get a perfect view every time. We skip into double time, and I can look and see everyone's feet leaving the ground. It's actually totall amazing, mainly because the majority of people dancing have never in their lives had any contact with Krsna consciousness prior to their coming to the Loft for Krsna Fest, yet still they dance with the greatest joy and enthusiasm, and they are always left feeling completely satisfied after, a feeling rarely achieved in this world.

And then, we move on to the feast. Everyone raves about the feasts at the Loft. My Gurudeva demands that we present 'knock-out prasadam' to the guests. It has to leave a lasting impression, it has to be better than anything else on offer anywhere else in the city. Actually that's not hard, but it does mean the cooks have to be creative.

And after chanting, listening to a lecture, dancing enthusiastically, and letting the tongue taste Krsna prasada for likely the first time in their lives, everyone is totally blissful and purified, and they start to ask questions about the philosophy. Last night I sat at a table with three German tourists, one New Zealander and one Indian. I couldn't believe just how receptive the Germans were to Krsna conscious philosophy. Actually, there were a total of 6 Germans present last night. Two of them were the most enthusiastic dancers of the night. The three I talked to were the most inquisitive Loft guests I've sat with for ages. They were talking to one devotee breifly, and somehow started talking about the four regulative principles. Because the Mataji they were talking to is very new, she couldn't remember all the principles, so they asked me about them. Anyway, that lead to a conversation about meat eating, gambling, illicit sex and intoxication. At first I was a little apprehensive about it, as I generally don't tell people all the things that they should stop doing when I first meet them. Prabhupada would always first give people the positives before the negatives. "Chant Hare Krsna, associate with devotees, read Bhagavad-gita" things like that. But as the conversation carried on, I realised these were the most receptive people I've talked to for ages. After explaining to them that real love is impossible in a relationship with sexual activity is carried out without restriction, they all agreed. When I told them that we are not these bodies, and that identifying with these bodies will only ever lead to disatisfaction, and that because of the intense material pleasure that sex life provides it automatically forces one to identify with the body, therefore leading to more and more suffering, they were all nodding in agreement. One said "I never thought about that before, but it's totally true!"

There must be something very special going on in Germany at the moment. All six Germans present last night were totally amazing, and totally ready for Krsna consciousness. And it was a random selection, none of them knew eachother before coming to this country, they weren't from the same group of friends, or sub-culture, they were just a random selection of Germans. The classic example is that you can judge a pot of rice by checking just one grain, so if these six Germans are anything to go by, Germany is prime to recieve the science of Krsna consciousness in a big way.

Also, Ravi and his wife Bhavani were both at the Loft last night. They are a nice couple from India. I've had a few heavy conversations with them in the past, and they seem to have thus become very attached to me. They gave me a cell phone on Gaura Purnima this year. They heard last week that I would be moving soon. When Ravi asked about my moving last night his eyes started to water. I told him I would miss him too. And I will. The first night I met him, I convinced him to start chanting Hare Krsna, and he bought some beads for himself. He always has questions to ask about Krsna consciousness. I look forward to seeing him again when I return.

I've set my moving date for the 25th of July. I have to give the Sunday feast class next week with Balagopala, and I will need a day to recover before heading down to Wellington. I have yet to book my flight, but I'll do that later today. I'm looking forward to the chance to work on myself while in Wellington, to try and re-align my desires with those of my Gurudeva, and to try and get more serious about book distribution and preaching in general. I hope I can fulfill my plans in this regard.

Anyway, I have to vacuum the asrama, get in my 2 hours of reading, meet with Balagopala to plan the class for next week, and have an asrama meeting...and then clean up the kitchen, re-do the roster to make room for our new resident, Bhakta Matt...and probably another 30 things I can't remember at the moment...
1 tattva| jijnasa

Pride...again... [12 Jul 2006|01:05pm]
I was catching a bus home from Sankirtana today. Well...it wasn't exactly sankirtana, as I'm still incredibly exhausted from all these illnesses I've had lately, but I tried my best. At the moment I still have a nasty cough which is keeping me awake at night. Anyway, I went to the bus stop to catch a bus, thinking that I would have to catch one to New Market, and another home from there, or something like that, something expensive. But just then I saw the 011 bus, which from memory goes right past our house. I ran to get on, and I asked the driver if I was right, if he did actually go down Mountain View Drive. He replied with a straight "Nope!". I asked him where it was that his bus went, and he replied with an angry "Ponsonby!". So, I was a little concerned, and I asked where it went on the way to Ponsonby. He got kind of upset about that question, and just sat there, ignoring me.

Anyway, I got on the bus anyway, and paid for 4 sections. I realised that this man wasn't trying to be mean actually, but I could see that he was really a simple character, and actually he didn't know personally where it was exactly that he was driving, what streets he was taking, he just knew where to turn, and when to stop. And because there was pride in his attitude he wasn't willing to admit that actually he didn't really know the names of the street he was taking, he just knew how to get there, and the fact that I was challenging his intelligence upset him abit.

It is surprising just how much humility it takes just to say the words "I don't know." I had to do it twice today, and both times it took me alot of endeavour just to get those words out of my mouth. I gave class this morning, my first time in a while, without preparing, which is rare for me. Afterwards Vamsidhari Prabhu asked a question about how to explain the concept of parampara to a philosophy student. I just couldn't think of a good answer at the time, and ussually I would just bluff my way through it, but I actually replied "I don't really know at the moment." Then, on the way out on sankirtana Balagopala asked me the meaning of a word, 'myopic'. Usually I take great pride in giving words meanings and definitions, but I actually didn't know the meaning of the word, and without speculating I had to say "I don't know". And at first, both times I had to say this, I actually felt my pride take a bit of beating. It was actually tuff.

I'm getting sick of having to battle with pride practically 24 hour's a day. I hope that one day I can actually bust through this anartha and get into real Vaisnava humility.
2 tattvas| jijnasa

Sraddha to Prema [11 Jul 2006|01:46pm]
For some reason, over my devotional life, I have really shyed away from giving much time to the Nectar of Devotion, and Krsna Book. So, my plan is to at least spend the four months of Caturymasya (and likely the rest of this year) making an extra effort to study these two books, and really develop a taste for reading them. The fact that the asrama in Wellington is about to start an indepth Bhakti-sastri study of the Nectar of Devotion is certainly going to help along with this.

For the last few months or so I have really been thinking about the scientific explanation of the stages of sadhana-bhakti given by Rupa Goswami in the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (of which the Nectar of Devotion is a study guide). Rupa Goswami lays out the different stages concisely, so that we don't make any mistakes, and so that we can use his statement like a road map, we will always know where we are in the process if we are attentive. By knowing what lays ahead we can make a plan for our lives, we can make long term goals and see how, throughout our lives, we actually can stand a good chance of becoming Krsna conscious. It's actually important to do that, because it keeps us fixed in the right direction, determined to try our hardest. If we know where we are, and where we want to go, and what we need to do to get there, it is much easier to stay determined.

Anyway, looking at my life in the light of Rupa Goswami's directions to prema has increased my determination. One interesting thing I've noticed lately is that I have started feeling life to be like a marathon race. I don't know if anyone ever had to run a marathon, or a cross country run. I've never done a proper marathon, not one of those extended ones that you see on TV. But I do remember once taking part in a high school organised cross country run. I think it was a 3 hour run through the hills of Ohope Beach in New Zealand's Bay of Plenty. The thing about this run was that once you started, you really had to finish it if you were going to end up somewhere. I mean, you can't just stop halfway through the bush and give up. Even if you give up, you have to put in alot of effort just to get somewhere worthwile. You have to either walk all the way back, or all the way forward. And actually, if you did give up and just leave, not finishing, then you were bound to get a detention anyway, if not worse. For some strange reason I was determined to at least finish the race, regardless of the fact that I was the most unfit kid in the school. This is strange because I ussually just didn't even go to school on these kinds of days. I ran (walked quickly) up and down hills, through streams, over logs. Finally I made it back to the school, finishing 3rd to last...

The endeavour through the stages of Krsna consciousness can kind of be like that, except with a much better goal at the end. We have to put in the hard yards to make it. And if we do decide to just give up, we really have to put in the hard yards to get back into materialistic ways of living, and then we most certainly and seriously suffer the consequences.

Actually, it's sometimes described by my Gurudeva that the stage of anartha-nivritti alone is the mother of all battles. We've started on this path, this fact alone is glorious, as stated by Krsna in the Bhagavad-gita (2.40), and if we keep going we are guaranteed the most glorious prize giving ceremony ever. But it means determination, and struggling through tough situations. And we do have a time limit, in a sense, this one life-time. I personally don't want to risk not making it. Certainly we can restart where we left off in our next life, but that doesn't give that much insurance. For example, Bilvamangala Thakura attained the stage of Bhava in his previous life, but still he ended up very much attached to a prostitute, so much so that he actually went through some of the worst conditions possible for her association. He suffered so much because of his lusty desires that he decided to pluck out his eyes with a pin to solve the problem. Sure we can quickly reach our previous attained spiritual qualities, but not without the suffering of material distress and not even with any certain guarantee that we won't make the same mistakes next time.

I have an incredibly long way to go yet, since I'm struggling enough to keep to the platform of bhajana-kriya, carrying out devotional service...but I know that with enthusiasm, determination and patience I can make it through. By the strength of Srila Prabhupada's books, Gurudeva's instructions, devotee association and the Holy Name, it's very much possible to make it through the mother of all battles and actually really revive ones love for Krsna in this on lifetime. Anyway, please wait for me at the finishing line. I promise I'll make it there, sometime.

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