Friday, July 8, 2016

Safety Check - Affected Zones

This material world is a dangerous place.  In fact, if it had a Yelp review you would be quite surprised.  Every ancient saint of every tradition had the same thing to say.  Whether it was the Buddha, Jesus, or Śrī Krishna, all stated that this material world is a place of crises.  What is the crisis? Everything is temporary.   Which means it is virtually non-existent and we are searching for truth and existence in the wrong place.
A person with an unsatisfied heart may do any damn thing for happiness/pleasure.   They may perform bad or good actions for that end game.  In return, that creates karma, or future arrangement of good and bad reactions in life.  Living millions of such lives separate from seeking the Supreme every one of us has a stockpile of good and bad reactions in our bank account.  Thus no one person can be assured safety.
With the best parents, one cannot assure the safety of their dependants, with the best boat, one cannot be assured that one may not drown, and with the best doctors and medicine, one cannot be assured freedom from death.  Thus the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam states,
samāśritā ye pada-pallava-plavaṁ
mahat-padaṁ puṇya-yaśo murāreḥ
bhavāmbudhir vatsa-padaṁ paraṁ padaṁ
padaṁ padaṁ yad vipadāṁ na teṣām

For those who have accepted the boat of the lotus feet of the Lord, who is the shelter of the cosmic manifestation and is famous as Murāri, the enemy of the Mura demon, the ocean of the material world is like the water contained in a calf’s hoof-print. Their goal is paraṁ padam, Vaikuṇṭha, the place where there are no material miseries, not the place where there is danger at every step. - Bhāg 10.14.58
However after hearing all this gloom and doom a person should not misunderstand.  The Bhāgavatam is encouraging us to taste and experience that ever-practical connection with God right now as a powerful medicine to the material ailment.  Thus those who taste this relationship are known by the ever ripening sweetness of their character.  Just as the mature chanter of the Hare Krishna Mantra experiences it as sweeter and sweeter with every step.
So let us shift our street with the mridanga beat and move to that place where every step is a dance and every word is a song. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

My path to yoga - an academic essay by Priscilla Black

“Where there is no inner freedom, there is no life.”
-Radhanath Swami, The Journey Home: Autobiography of an American Swami

Yoga- In Hinduism, a set of mental and physical exercises aimed at producing spiritual enlightenment. This is a basic definition I found on google. To me, Yoga is something completely different. Yoga aids an individual in obtaining inner freedom to embrace one's truest self. Your highest self, detaching oneself from the ego so to fully emerge as the spiritual being you are. I firmly believe that we are not these bodies but, these are our vehicles for this life. What we put into our bodies affects the way we feel not only physically but emotionally and mentally.  Why not cherish our flesh vehicles and provide the proper maintenance to keep them running smoothly?
My Journey with wellness and yoga began 2 years ago. I was a social alcoholic, recently divorced and had just moved back to my hometown in Kentucky. I had been back home for about 6 months before I became pregnant. I lost the false sense of direction I had and knew that I needed to make changes. I was smoking about a pack a day and blacking out almost every night. As soon as I became pregnant I lost everything and anyone I thought was a friend. I made a decision to move to Dallas to live with my parents so that I could concentrate on the tiny human growing inside of me. I had no aspirations of keeping the child. I knew that I would give her up for adoption but still I wanted to make sure that I was the healthiest that I could be. I wanted Her to be healthy.
I researched GMO’s and watched numerous documentaries on agriculture and farming. I was shocked and slightly terrified. ‘I have a tiny human growing inside of me. I cannot feed these chemicals to Her.’ The sense of the unknown was unsettling. Where is this food coming from? From who? Who made it? Was it humane? This is what made my decision to become vegetarian.
My yoga and food  journey begins: I had so much excess negative energy. I was angry, pregnant and alone. I was the perfect example of emotionally unstable. I was exhausted.  This negativity produced copious amounts of anxiety. I had read an article about how  She could feel anxiety in the womb, and cringe. I could not bear the thought of this.  I started going to yoga classes at the Dallas Yoga Center to try and relieve some of the tension. I fell in love with yoga. I could breathe to full lung capacity without the suffocating feeling of anxiety. It was pure bliss. The teachers were so thoughtful and kind. I felt at home here. This was where I felt grounded. I did not have the funds to be able to attend these life altering classes after my 10-Day free trial, I just went as often as I could afford. This inspired me to start my home yoga practice.

Yoga became my comfort blanket. I practiced every day and used the calmness that it brought my heart to console my mind. Through all of this, I still had excess energy that needed to be expressed. Like a puss-filled cyst on the back of your neck. You can’t see it but, you can feel it pulsating and needing to be released.  I tried meditation but my mind would freefall  into the darkness of my thoughts. I had to stay positive at all costs. I had to stay emotionally healthy for Her. I needed to be happy because She deserved it. I researched ‘Hindu Temple Dallas’. I had never been one to seek God for help but at this point, I needed it.  Kalachandji’s was the first result. Unbeknownst to me, this is where I would find my happiness.
“Where there is faith, fear cannot exist.”

I decided to attend a Wednesday program. I remember being nervous. Wondering, if anyone could sense my anxious energy. I was told that there was going to be kirtan. “What is Kirtan?” Kirtan is the chanting of the holy names of God. So I chanted. ‘Hare Krishna Hare Krishna. Krishna Krishna Hare Hare. Hare Rama Hare Rama. Rama Rama Hare Hare.’ Everyone in the room was so happy and blissful. So at peace. This felt right. I could sense that She was happy. After kirtan was a lecture. This lecture was about Bhakti Yoga. Bhakti yoga, like any other form of yoga, is a path to self-realization, to having an experience of oneness with everything. This is what I was longing for. This is what my soul needed. I took notes and listened more intently than I ever have. I learned this lifestyle of non-violence and self-realization and love.  After this night at Kalachandji’s, I never left.

Fast forward to present, I gave birth to a healthy and beautiful baby girl. She is now 1 year and 4 months old and has an amazing beautiful family that loves Her. I have been vegan for 1 year and vegetarian for 1 year prior. I have not been sick in over a year.  I practice yoga every day and love what it has brought to my life. It has brought me stability from within. I have aspirations of becoming a yoga instructor after I become a plant-based chef. I cook every Wednesday for the program at the temple and love it! This is where I found my passion for vegan/vegetarian cooking. I have learned so much but now I want to learn more. I love knowing where my food comes from and how it is made. I make food with love and care because I believe that it is transferred to the food. I want to consume positivity.  Something that is untainted by GMO’s and other chemicals that destroy our bodies.

Through yoga, in whatever form, you attain self-realization. The food you eat feeds your spirit and your physical body. I want to learn more so I may teach others how to love themselves by eating well and being well.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

"What does God look like?" asked Todd Burpo, father of Colton who had an NDE

The famous best-selling Christian book and movie Heaven Is For Real describes the experiences of Todd Burpo's son, Colton, who had a NDE (Near Death Experience).  Therein the young boy describes the spiritual world, the kingdom of God and also the instructions that he had been told by the divine personality, Jesus.

However when asked specifically about God the father, by his own father, the boy exclaimed something extraordinary.

“What does God look like?” I said. “God the Holy Spirit?”
Colton furrowed his brow. “Hmm, that’s kind of a hard one . . . he’s kind of blue.”      - Heaven Is For Real, Todd Burpo, pg 68                        

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

15 foot Cake Mountain for Govardhan Puja Maha Festival in Dallas

Due to the extensive help from a large body of devotees here in Dallas the Govardhan Puja festival has been exceedingly grand this year.  Here is a video of the cake mountain preparations.
Bhaktin Brittany decided to spend the night on Saturday so that she could work the whole evening Saturday and Sunday in preparation.  She is was amazing a real trooper.  She has a wonderful service mood.  Both my wife and her slept just for a few hours and spend both days just working hard.

We also had Anamsha and her husband Caitanya Nitai put in many hours of help

Govinda Kakkad, who just left for Govardhan Puja in Vrindavan also was very instrumental in the organization.  His mother, Kunjesvari, picking up on the inspiration of her Guru Maharaja, His Holiness Giriraj Swami, also help a lot.

Last year HH Giriraj Swami attend the festival and was very much enlivened.  He shared some very encouraging words, saying that, 'Anyone who helps to put on this Govardhan Puja festival will go Back to Godhead.'  In the mood bringing joy to exalted devotees such as Giriraj Swami, everyone strived to out do the grand scene of the previous year.  There were many beautiful lamps hanging from the trees

Here meet some the Brijbasi residents

Even Indra showed up to offer his prayers of forgiveness with Surabhi and Airavata

Here you see Nanda holding on to a worried Mother Yaśodā and whose left stands Balarāma.

and of course we have the most divinely beautiful, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī

On top of the Carob cake mountain are some Brahma bulls and other animals

Govardhan was also decorated with a beautiful Kusum Sarovar and many kunds.  In fact all the temples and kunds are mapped out on this hill.

Many others helped such as Dr. Murlidhar Govinda Prabhu, Shilpa, Madhurya Sindhu Dd, & Vrinda Priya.

Some other big helpers include ArjunKrishna Prabhu, Adishakti, Chitravasini, Madhava Vrajanatha Prabhu, and Bhakta Steve.

Lest we not forget Prema Sindhu seated next to Bhismadeva Prabhu, who took most of the photos.  You can see the album here.  Prema Sindhu Prabhu helped tremendously for festival as he does every year.  

Also we had Ananda Lila and her decorating team arrange a cool scene in the temple room above Śrīla Prabhupāda.

For the festival there was a very entertaining and engaging drama parikrama tour led by the students of TKG Academy under the direction of Mother Gopi Gita.  Each student group had a skit and lovely details of the different major pilgrimage spots on the hill.

I do want to save the best for last! Mother Laxmipriya and her daughter GopiKrishna and other helpers baked all of the 51 carob cakes that it took to make the hill.  That includes the 10 plus gallons of frosting.   

We will bid you farewell with two sweet videos of the Sweet Hill, Govardhan.  Please forgive us if we forgot your name for recognition.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Texas Faith 137: Will a presidential candidate’s religion sway your vote?

Dallas Morning News,
Each two weeks we will post a question to a panel of about two dozen clergy, laity and theologians, all of whom are based in Texas or are from Texas. They will chime in with their responses to the question of the week. And you, readers, will be able to respond to their answers through the comment box.

So many people are running for president this year that it’s hard to get your voice heard unless you do something outrageous. Donald Trump got the party started by suggesting that the U.S. deport every unauthorized immigrant, then let the “good ones” back.
Republican Ben Carson amped up the insanity with his comment that a Muslim shouldn’t be president, and he reportedly raised more than $500,000 after making that remark. Carson has since backtracked, saying that he could support a Muslim if he or she would swear to uphold the Constitution over Shariah law. (Carson, by the way, is a Seventh Day Adventist, a denomination that has faced criticism from people who believe it’s a cult.)
How important to you is the religion of a presidential candidate?
The Constitution states that no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any government office. Are you more likely to vote for someone who is the same religion or denomination as you? Or is a presidential candidate’s faith a secondary issue or no issue at all to you?

NITYANANDA CHANDRA DAS, minister of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), Dallas 

Religious affiliation is unimportant in relation to how spiritually enlightened an individual may be. A highly spiritually enlightened individual may be found in any bona fide tradition, whereas a spiritual ignoramus may be found steeped in religious belief and ritual. However, religion and metaphysics should not be outside of the political dialogue. One’s metaphysical outlook informs and drives one’s decisions. For example, President George W. Bush stated after being out of office, that his campaign in the Middle East was motivated by his religious convictions. He even used the word crusade.

By nature, if a politician must not speak about his religious beliefs then he/she must be in that sense, dishonest rather than giving a full view of his political outlook.

To see all responses of the TEXAS Faith panel click here.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Even the lion cannot kill unrestrictedly

Śrīla Prabhupāda explains how the tiger or lion, although a killing machine, is restricted by Mother Nature in killing. So similarly even though this dentist desires to kill, his ability is now being restricted.

Here is the quote

Just like a tiger. He is also enjoying. He is thinking, "I am very strong. I have got so power, so much jaws and nails. I can jump over any animal and immediately kill him." He is pleased in that position, but, you know, the tiger or the lion, they are so unfortunate that they do not get daily food, in spite of becoming so strong. Because prakrti-jan gunan, he is under the influence of the material nature. He... The tiger may be very powerful, but he remains always hungry. Very powerful. Because the other animals, they know that in that corner of the forest there is tiger, nobody goes there. Where he can get food? Hardly chance, by chance he gets one animal and jumps over it. This is called prakrti-jan gunan. He thought, "By becoming tiger I shall be very much proud of enjoying," but prakrti says, "No, sir, you cannot get even daily food. That is not possible." Therefore prakrteh kriyamanani gunaih karmani sarva... [Bg. 3.27].

Here the so-called tiger, so-called big men... Just like in America the president is a big man. But now he is put into such a condition that he is full of anxiety. At any moment he may be kicked out. This is the position. You cannot be happy either as President Nixon or tiger or cats and dogs or human being or Lord Brahma. That is not possible. That is not possible. You must be full of anxieties because this is unnatural life. (life in the material realm)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Radhika Raman's Mayapur Seminar on Jiva Goswami's Sat Sandarbhas

Lately I have been listening to an amazing and philosophical seminar of His Grace Radhika Raman Prabhu.  For those who do not know Radhika Ramana Prabhu is a wonderful Vaishnava scholar who did  home school at the Boise temple.  He started college at 13, valedictorian at 17 of Boise State and a PhD in theology from Oxford by 22.  He is now a very young tenured professor in Utah.  Please check out the series!