The power of intention

radhanath_swamiSo this is really a core theme of the Bhagavad-gita. That in our words, thoughts, and especially in our actions we should be content with our intent and doing the best we can. From a spiritual prospective that is the success. If we are really doing the right thing in the right way, that is going to nourish ourselves and help others with the right purpose. That within itself is our success. The results we have no control over, but we do have control over the choices we make and the intentions that we have.

So yoga really means to make choices and to cultivate intentions and purposes that are wholesome and healthy for our well being, for the well being of the environment and for the well being of other people. And we should be grateful just for that opportunity. Just the action itself, just the motive itself is our success whatever the results may be. In that way our joy and fulfillment is transcendental to the apparent actions and reactions of this world.

In the Bhagavad-gita Arjuna was taught whether you win or lose is not important. Honor – dishonor, happiness – distress, success – failure, health – disease, life – death, all of these dualities are always playing with each other in this world, and we have some degree of control over the situation but not much. Yoga is not what the result is but your motivation in doing it and how you do it. If we are happy with that then our happiness is something very deep and circumstances and people in this world cannot meddle with it. – Radhanath Swami

Source: Radhanathswami.com

Krishna consciousness is art

10454293_10152596931969667_3180703810951558494_nKrishna consciousness is a lifestyle. It’s a choice you make every moment to hear, breath, live, sleep and eat love of God by doing meditation, Kirtans, cooking, speaking, relating to people and going about your day being an authentic person who continuously work on improving your performance ie yourself. Art comes with mastery. Art implies that there is a level of creativity in one’s sadhana and the method one has to follow.

Like a performer or an athletic, you have to work on it every day for many hours. You have to hone your skills until you master it. There’s the external activities like eating etc. but the most important skill is the mental one. You have to work on your mind like top performers in any field. You have to reflect on what you are doing. In your spiritual practice you make errors and figure out a way to improve it. Your bhajana becomes an art when you follow the strategies of the top musical performers.  You are able to perform the same actions but change it according to time, mood, people and circumstances.

What made Srila Prabhupada and Gurudeva able to attract thousands and thousands of followers and disciples? There’s a beauty in interacting with uttama-bhagavatas because they have made an art out of their bhajana which includes dealing with people and serving Krishna.

As a 37 year old mother of a three year old son, I never thought I would love Taylor Swift. That was until I got a feeling of her personality. It’s playful, funny, empathic, just lovely. Then I saw the music video of her latest song, and it just further emphasized the impression I have of her. There’s art to her music and to that music video. It’s beautiful to watch. When I come across such beauty I become an avid fan.

Taylow Swift didn’t get to that place miraculously. She has worked hard and for many years to get there. To become top performers in Krishna Consciousness we have to do the same. We have to be a part of the society, go to work and perform our business. In our spare time we meditate, perform arcana and kirtans until even our work and business interactions becomes a work of art. We, as people have to become a work of art, so much so that it attracts Krishna to us.

 

Mama mana-mandire

MAMA MANA MANDIRE
By Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.

(1)
mama mana mandire raha niśi-din
kṛṣṇa murāri śrī kṛṣṇa murāri
Please abide in the temple of my heart both day and night, O Krsna Murari, O Sri Krsna Murari!

(2)
bhakti pritī mālā candan
tumi nio he nio citta-nandan
Devotion, love, flower garlands, and sandalwood- please accept them, O Delighter of the Heart!

(3)
jīvana maraṇa tava pūja nivedan
sundara he mana-hāri
In life or in death I worship You with these offerings, Beautiful One, O Enchanter of the Heart!

(4)
eso nanda-kumār ār nanda-kumār
habe prema-pradīpe āratī tomār
Come, son of Nanda, and then, O Son of Nanda, I will offer Your arati ceremony with the lamplight of my love.

(5)
nayana jamunā jhare anibār
tomāra virahe giridhāri
The waters of the Yamuna River cascade incessantly from my eyes in your separation, O Holder of Govardhana Hill!

(6)
bandana gane tava bajūk jīvana
kṛṣṇa murāri śrī kṛṣṇa murāri
May I pass my life absorbed only in songs of Your praise, O Krsna Murari, Sri Krsna Murari!

Setting my intention

In the presence of Bhakti-devi there is firm faith, enthusiasm and determination.
Reflections on the sacred teaching II: Madhurya-kadambini

Dear Bhakti-devi,

Thank you for refusing to give me bhakti. I was not aware that I was using my desire for bhakti for sense gratification. By refusing me, you allowed me to figure out what I was doing wrong.

I don’t know how to remove this weed from my bhajana, but I now understand where to begin. I have to set my intention whenever I do something. So from now on I will make this prayer everytime I try to do something: “Dear God, please let my reading/gayatri/japa/etc. help me widen my understanding/knowledge, and let it help me in develop my relation to Radha-Krishna.”

I now understand that I have to develop this quality of intention in my bhajana. Thank you for refusing me, and please continue to refuse me as long it helps me deepen my bhajana. This was a very instructive lesson, and I like it.

Haridasi

A-ha moment: My offence

Exposed gnarly roots in Fall River Park

I have been wondering where my enthusiasm have gone, why it’s so difficult to get it. As I was reading reflections on Madhurya-Kadambini, it started to dawn on me.

Bhakti generates bhakti. Bhakti is self-manifest. It’s not something I can force forward. If I want enthusiasm, I have to fake it until I make it. But that was not the a-ha moment.

There have been times where I have been chanting, and it has felt like I would die if I stopped chanting. To not chant is like death. As I have contemplated this mood in my chanting, it slowly have waned away and then I desperatly try to hold on to it, but then it just dissipates even more quickly. Then I try to trace back my steps, what was I thinking that generated this experience and try to recreate it. It never works.

The a-ha moment was when I realized what the source of my inability to create this enthusiasm, this spiritual experience. My bhakti dissipates because I want to enjoy it. My search for enthusiasm is solely because I want to enjoy the spiritual feelings I get. My bhajana is self-motivated. I’m not motivated to do bhajana because of service to my Gurudeva – I’m motivated because I want the spiritual feelings that are generated by my actions.

I tried to figure out which offense this is, but I didn’t find it. And now I have to figure out how to remove this enjoyment as motivation. But this motivation runs deep, I have no idea how to start up-rooting this one. I have to transfer enjoyment to service.

Easy peacy right? Yeah… that’s done in a day…

Will I ever?

It’s Kartik now. It’s nine years last time I was there and I have been to Vrindavin three times. The last time I left Vrindavin, I was happy to leave. I felt relief to finally get home again.You see, the pollution got to me. The huge number of people, the austerities, the dust, pollution, the intensity.

The moment I got the feeling, I knew it was offensive and I was unable to do anything about it. I was unable to repent it. I knew that it will be a long time until I will be allowed back to Vrindavin.

If I will ever be allowed back, it will be with a completely different consciousness and appreciation. I will have to sincerely repent that feeling, and I will have to have a desire for that special Vrindavin Experience.

I wonder when that will be.

Enthusiasm

I’ve moved to a place where I have no friends, and I have no connection to – except the family of my son (which was one of the reasons for moving there). This leaves me pretty lonely, except I’m not really lonely. I’m not sure what to make of it – in one part it’s really good to be alone. In another way I wish I had a best friend which I could share my heart with.

asat sanga tyaga – ei vaisnava acara
‘stri-sangi’ – eka asadhu krsnabhakta’ara

It is the policy of a Vaishnava to reject mundane association such as those who are overly attached to women and people averse to Krishna bhakti. (Cc. Madhya 22.87)

This right there is the problem (well, I wish the word women would have been replaced with person of desire or something). I don’t have much mundane or any, association besides lectures and books. I find most of my mundane friendships to be shallow. There is no sharing of hearts, there is no display of vulnerability, people who care how I’m *actually* doing and dare to ask the corresponding questions. There isn’t even room for start asking those questions. I don’t know if I have lost taste for friendships or it’s the “wrong” type of friendships.

For me – going deep into relationships is what makes me happy. I thrive for those difficult questions and things to resolve. I have only one way to get this desire resolved now – and that is to go within myself and do it. My main source of association is myself, my son, books and TV.

I wanted this – I wanted things to quiet down and to get a stable life. Well, I’ve gotten more than I have bargained for. Is God testing me – to see how much I will try to work on our relationship? I’m failing. I have no enthusiasm. I want to study and read, but reading is easy. Learning enough to be able to talk about it requires that I take it up a notch.

I remember some precious few days where I was filled with enthusiasm. Where I couldn’t wait to get home from work, put my son to bed so I could spend more time studying the Vedas. Now I have the time – but no enthusiasm like I once experienced.

I want that enthusiasm back. How did I get it in the first place?

How much japa is enough?

measure_progressWhen asking for diksa, all practitioners are asked the same questions; “Do you chant 16 rounds and follow the four principles (no meat, no gambling, no intoxication, no illicit sex)?”. Is 16 rounds enough for a practitioner to  achieve krishna consciousness, or is it kindergarten level of japa?

The word science implies that there is a method to achieving our siddha-deha, and 16 rounds following the four principles is integral in this method. Vaidhi-bhakti must be the method, though I must admit that it’s not clear to me exactly what it is. As a practitioner it’s certainly easy to find faults in ones practices and there is no shortage of things one is supposed to do, behave, think.

I don’t chant 16 rounds anymore. I have actually gone years without chanting, though I’m more steady now than I have ever been. I would even say the quality of my chanting is better now than when I chanted 16 rounds. I refuse to lock myself to chanting a specific number of rounds. Why? Because my consciousness becomes: “I just have to finish these 16 rounds, so I can go back to my sense gratification.”

A really simple hearted devotee has no duplicity. At any moment, even in the dead of night he is ready to render service to Guru. If a devotee says, “I am very tired now, Maharaja. I had no sleep. I cannot do this service. Please excuse me”. That disciple is not ready to serve. This is duplicity.
Gour Govinda Maharaja, Bhubaneswar 1992.

Whatever I chant now, is because I want to. It’s not about finishing chanting anymore, I chant to pay my respect to Hari-Nama. I chant to improve my chanting. I chant, to chant. Though, I need to measure progress. If this truly is a scientific method, then certainly I should be able to measure progress somehow.

But how is progress measured? I’ve started to write down the number of rounds I chant every day with some notes on the side if necessary. I’m not sure if this even qualify, but at least it’s something.

How much chanting is needed?

How do you measure progress?

 

Start of a new beginning

FiskI’m going to be fine. After spending many nights unable to sleep because I was full of anxiety and fear, everything is good. Norway has good social benefits, especially if you are a single mom. All of my applications has been approved, I’ve done the math and I will be financially fine, even as unemployed. Which really took a heavy burden off my shoulders, and I’m now so, so relaxed. I’ve been so, so relaxed, happy and grateful. I’m so, so grateful and I thank God every day for the blessings he has given me. I’ve been blessed, really.

After getting my finances in order, there suddenly was nothing left to worry about. I was finished moving, my son is doing fine and everything is good. There really was nothing left to deal with. These past years have been the hands down the toughest years I have been through, and suddenly there was… nothing except peace. I am unemployed and had all the time I could ever dream of available to me, and nothing that needed to be dealt with or resolved. I had finished and cleaned up all the baggage.

Which left me with so much feelings. I’m so happy I’m bursting with happiness. I’m so free that it’s wonderful. I’m so totally uncomfortable with this freedom that’s bursting within me. I’m going through so much emotion now that I’m bursting and having trouble breathing. I’m breathing like I have been doing heavy exercise, but all I did was taking a shower and feeling everything. I’m so deeply uncomfortable with all the feelings I have. It’s like I’m having panic attacks except I’m so completely happy, grateful, deeply uncomfortable and unhappy about it at the same time. I feel everything so deeply.

There is room for it now – to feel everything. I love every moment of it at the same time that it’s so uncomfortable. So I do what I have always done – I eat my way through my feelings using chips and chocolate – in big amounts. Because that’s what I have always done. I eat my feelings away and now I feel more than I have done for a long, long time.

I feel so incomplete, and I feel how my eating is holding me back. I feel how my eating stops me from moving forward. I feel how I should only eat prasada and I feel how this is a big stumbling block to me now. I feel that if I could make this shift, then I will progress really quickly.

But this is a change I don’t know how to do – because if I did I would already do it. I don’t like cooking much. I like carrots, onions, mushrooms, lentils, garlic and all the other stuff I’m supposed to refrain from. I have a real hard time learning and trying recipes that are acceptable to offer. Chips and chocolate, store bought pizza is easy. I know how to make kitcheri, but I’m unable to live off only that. I like eating real, good food, but I’m unable to make it. Everybody else seem to be good at just throwing something together and it will be good. I’m not – I throw something together and it might be eatable. I don’t know how to make this change and I’m feeling it – deeply.

It feels like I’m cleansing with feelings. My feelings are cleansing me. There’s so much feelings.