The ‘Vedic Care’ Benefit at Tantris, LA -June 3rd, 2017


An artistic and enlivening afternoon, for the benefit of others

Gurudas (Roger Siegel), Aradhana (Ana Lucia Alves) and Russel Simmons will be welcoming all of you at Tantris on June, 3rd 2017 at 2pm for a exotic and colorful festival, a conversation about spirituality today and the need for a strong spiritual community where all souls are valued, welcomed and cared for.

A Vegan Feast, Exotic Yogic Art, Spiritual Sounds (Live Kirtan) with Clytie Lane Nolte, Bhardraj das and Kausaliya devi dasi, Epic Pictures, Epic Pictures, Pure Incense and Spiritual books will be available for your pleasure and enlightenment. Also a non-permanent tattoo (Mehndi – body art) will be offered.

Spiritual Seekers and transcendentalists often find themselves in financial trouble in their later days, mostly due to their lack of interest in materialistic lifestyles. The ‘Vedic Care’ [VCC a 501(c)3 Charity] main mission is to assist these personalities who have dedicated a great part of their lives to the well-being of others, sacrificing finances, family and friends to be of service. In this spirit, we’re creating spiritually enhanced care facilities and communities, were respect, love and trust are primary.

This ‘Vedic Care’ Benefit Event is to assist the fundraising of our global endevours and model facility. Please see our short promo-video here. Further details on our Model facility here.

For tickets please click here.
Or please Donate Today

For more information on the ‘Vedic Care’ activities, please go to www.VedicCare.org. Thank you.

Hosting the Event

Gurudas (Roger Siegel) – VCC Founder and Trustee

Following his heart, Roger protested injustice by joining the civil rights struggle, becoming a staff member of the Northern Student Movement’s Harlem education project. He was beaten and arrested many times for his beliefs.

He was also on the staff of The Henry Street Settlement, and other community centers. He also worked with visually impaired, mentally challenged and homeless populations.

After meeting Swami Bhaktivedanta and becoming his disciple in April, 1967 (now Gurudas) he was appointed president of the London Temple where he became friends with The Beatles, recording then “The Radha Krsna Temple” album with George Harrison; the album went straight onto the top of the charts.

He was later put in charge of the Krishna Balaram Temple project in Vrindavan. Gurudas then befriended the American ambassador, Kenneth Keating, and procured two tons of food for distribution in the Bangladesh refugee camps. This was the start of “Food for Life”.

Many people have expressed their gratitude for how Gurudas has cared for them, and now we are facilitating the Vedic Care Charitable Trust for more structured and stable care. He is also a photographer, professional counselor and certified Hypnotherapist.

www.Gurudas108.com

Aradhana devi dasi (Ana Lucia Alves)
The ‘Vedic Care’ Co-Founder, Trustee & CEO

Ana left Brazil at nineteen to explore the world and seek spiritual enlightenment. As the great granddaughter of a native Brazilian Shaman, she never could accept mainstream spiritual paths that were so limiting to her sensibilities.

She worked for many years as a top model, actress and documentary filmmaker, learned four languages and achieved great material success. While based in Paris, she studied dramatic arts, got married becaming the “Chatelaine de Miolans’, and gave birth to a baby boy, Theo.

Ana first saw the ‘Hare Krishnas’ in Munich in 1988 and years later she was introduced to the yogic philosophy of Krishna consciousness. She finally joined the movement in Manhattan after receiving Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad Gita in 2002. She accepted a Guru and became Aradhana devi dasi.

Today, Aradhana runs a film production company with her devotee husband. She is grateful for this opportunity to serve the spiritual community, helping to bring devotees together to create a health system for assisting all Vaishnavas and spiritual seekers in need.

www.ofindigo.com & www.chantingyoga.com

And

Russell Simmons
Founder of Tantris Yoga, Yogi & Entrepreneur

Born in New York City on October 4, 1957, Russell Simmons began promoting New York City musicians in his early 20s. He partnered with Rick Rubin to create Def Jam Records, and signed artists like the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Public Enemy and Run-D.M.C. He later sold his stake in Def Jam to Universal Music Group for $100 million. In addition to his music career, Simmons is an enormously successful entrepreneur and philanthropist. Lately Russell founded Trantis Yoga with its first location in Los Angeles.

www.tantris.com

Our Mission an Model Facility promo-video here.

Looking Into Elena’s Eyes

Looking Into Elena’s Eyes
May 1, 2017 | General, Mindful Caregiving, The Guest House
by Celeyce Matthews

“Elena” was very sad that morning. Her enormous watery eyes, framed by lush eyelashes stuck together with tears, stared starkly into mine as she lay sweaty and pale in her bed. I said, “You’re feeling a lot of sadness today Elena?” She responded with a simple, “Yes.” Sitting at her bedside I said, “I see your sadness. You must have a lot to be sad about. I’ve had a lot of sadness too, I understand what it’s like to feel very sad.” She perceptively responded in her slow, soft voice, “I think that in order for you to do this job you would have to understand sadness.” We sat together, our candid eyes meeting in that moment as tears ran down her face.

She continued to gaze into my eyes with the frank, unblinking stare I’ve received from many people as they approach their death in my work as a Certified Nursing Assistant at the Zen Hospice Project’s Guest House in San Francisco. As is my practice is these moments, I relaxed my body and let my heart be in my eyes but without thrusting it upon her, just being with her sadness, and with my own, in gentle presence, caring and connection. Nothing to do, nothing to fix, just being together in reality. This is not easy, not comfortable, yet it is a deeply fulfilling honor, and a kind of relief and form of nourishment to strip away all surface and just be together as human beings alive and real, sitting together on the precipice of living and dying.

Only in her late 50s, Elena was a powerful, complex, beautiful woman. In my months of caring for her, bathing her, feeding her, listening to her, she shared some of her process with me with great articulation, intelligence, frankness, humor, anger, biting sadness, pain and kindness. Her words and her striking eyes shared, with all who cared for her, her raw and remarkable humanity.

One morning, weeks into her time with us, she suddenly awoke with a sense of alarm, startling me and her family in the room. “Where am I?!” she called out, sitting up abruptly, her huge eyes wide open with panic. I told her she was safe in her bed at the Zen Hospice Project’s Guest House. Stricken, she loudly cried, “Am I dying?!” Everyone in the room froze, her words stinging the air. “Well,” I said slowly, “Not right this minute, but yes, your illness is taking you in that direction.” We all stood motionless, holding our breath, as we watched her take in this information. “Oh,” she said simply, and seemed to remember and accept this reality. She relaxed and lay back, and began chatting with her husband.

We repeated this experience several times as her illness progressed and affected her memory. Each time Elena waking with the panic of disorientation and forgetting in her vivid eyes, then acceptance upon being reminded of her condition, and then moving forward with living. It was incredible to watch this process of fear, discovery and acceptance lived over and over again.

One night, late into my nightshift, Elena was struggling to breathe. She was literally drowning in the fluid that had rapidly accumulated in her lungs. Again she stared at me, her eyes wild in terror as she fought to take in air; I held her hand and sat close to her. The nurse had already given her medication to dry up the excessive secretions and calm her yet it hadn’t taken effect yet – there was nothing more we could medically do at that point but wait for the medication to work. Delusional and regressing in the direness of her illness and fear, she weakly grasped at my hand and managed to gurgle wetly: “Mommy don’t leave me!” I could feel my own anguish at her distress fill my heart; it’s horrible to watch someone drowning in their own fluid and to be totally helpless.

I did not turn away. Internally, I acknowledged my own fear and horror, and quieted my body and mind, and moved closer to her, holding us both tenderly in my heart. I told her that I wasn’t going anywhere, that I’d stay right there with her. “You promise Mommy?” “Yes Love, I promise,” I reassured her. I could only be with her, let her know that I care, and that I would not leave her as we waited for the medication to take effect. I stayed with her throughout the night, her eyes clinging desperately to mine, until she finally fell asleep, breathing much more easily.

She died about 30 hours later and again I was with her. Thankfully she was peaceful at the end. In her final minutes, her enormous, expressive eyes were still open, and she continued to move them very slowly, tracking movement around her. She was clearly drifting peacefully away, and yet she was awake and seemed to be aware and observant. Again she stared right into my eyes through her very last quiet breath. It was like I was falling into those fathomless eyes as her life retreated from them to somewhere I could not go, like following a vapor trail that dissolved into nothingness. She was gone; I remained, but touched forever by her eyes, gifted by the openness of her intense and vulnerable humanity.

In life, Elena evinced a close and compassionate understanding of suffering, and a gentle, sometimes sharp, sense of humor and irony. In death, her beautiful face settled into what, to me, looked like a subtle, wry half smile – as if she was saying, “Well, THAT happened.” Witnessing her living, dying and death, Elena showed me a very real process of continually integrating reality as it happened, and facing it head on with kindness, humor and honesty. She was a great teacher that I am profoundly honored to have been with – and I can still see her extraordinary eyes.

Celeyce Matthews is Certified Nursing Assistant at Zen Hospice Project’s Guest House

Part 5 – YOU ARE NOT THIS MIND

We are devotees. We know the philosophy. And we readily repeat it. “You are not this body. You are not this mind.” But one who really understands that “I am not this mind.”, that person is on a liberated platform. On a liberated platform, and qualified to engage in devotional service.

When we say, “qualified to engage in devotional service”, one can say, “Well, I have been doing that for years.” Devotional service. There are so many kinds of devotional service. Building a temple room, cooking for the Deities, distributing the books, keeping accounts, cleaning the temple, polishing the brass, maintaining the vehicles…… there are so many ways. And then of course we have shravanam kirtanam, smaranam vsihnu.

But why did Srila Prabhupada sometimes talk about practicing Krishna consciousness on the mental platform, or about the show bottle? Why did he talk about the rubber –stamp process? What do these things have in common? What they have in common is that they all officially look like devotional service, but the one thing that is missing in all of them is love. It is not that this kind of service is not progressive. Of course it is. But ultimately, Krishna wants our love. Krishna wants our love in the present moment, moment to moment. And when we come to that point, even if only for a moment, it is in that moment that we will sense Krishna’s loving reciprocation. That is a moment of realization. In that moment we have transcended the mental platform.

brahma-bhutah prasannatma
na shocati na kankshati
samah sarveshu bhuteshu
mad-bhaktim labhate param
(Bg 18/54)

brahma-bhutah – being one with the Absolute; prasanna-atma – fully joyful; he never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.

Krishna consciousness actually begins on the liberated platform. But Krishna consciousness is so nice because in Krishna consciousness, the means and the goal are one and the same. One can be Krishna conscious in a second. Krishna consciousness is simply a matter of understanding and accepting. Krishna consciousness is simple for the simple. These are the words of Srila Prabhupada as he presents the teachings of Lord Caitanya and the disciplic succession.

Krishna tells us in Bhagavad-gita that we should abandon the fruitive demeanor. Don’t be concerned about success or failure, gain and loss, victory and defeat. Why? Because these are all symptoms of a self-centered orientation. The self-centered orientation and the devotional orientation are mutually exclusive. Therefore if we want to love Krishna, we have to abandon our self-centered orientation.

But how to do this? Let’s consider the qualities that Krishna mentions in the brahma-bhuta shloka. It is not that these qualities cause the attainment of pure devotional service. Rather, they are symptomatic. It is simple for the simple. And one can do it in a second. In all of the other branches of yoga, the means and the goal are different. But the aesthetic beauty of Krishna consciousness is that now the means and the goal are one and the same. Therefore one can become Krishna conscious in one second.

So what is the quality of bhakti-yoga that distinguishes it from all other forms of yoga? It is love. It is bhakti. To live in love is a choice. Hankering and lamentation are symptoms of the modes of passion and ignorance. But love leaves hankering and lamentation behind. Just sit with the feeling of love for a moment and notice that hankering and lamentation evaporate. This alone is a profound realization. Therefore in the beginning, bhakti-yoga is about tuning the heart.

Just as one has to tune a stringed instrument, so we have to tune our hearts. We have to tune our hearts and cultivate the ability to live on the love platform. Let us have the wondrous experience that love is self-satisfied. And therefore in one second our hankering and lamentation depart, and our love can flow to Krishna. Our devotion to Krishna is pure, because we are asking neither for relief nor for favors. And in that moment we can sense Krishna’s reciprocation. We can understand that “Krishna loves me.” One can do this today. Or one can wait for 50 years, or 50 births.

We may not be on the platform of raganuga bhakti, but we are experiencing our connection with Krishna. We are connecting with Krishna with love. Bhakti yoga. We are off the mental platform. We will think to ourselves, “Oh, this is so nice.” And we will want more. Srila Prabhupada once said that to me. He did a pantomime of a drug addict shooting up, and he said, “Krishna consciousness is like this.” That was in 1968. Some things take time. The thing about Krishna consciousness is that it’s too simple for most people. They cannot accept that it can be so simple. Srila Prabhupada would say, “Simple for the simple.”

This doesn’t mean that one won’t be forgetful. It doesn’t mean that we won’t become fruitive or frustrated, or impatient, or despondent. But the difference is that having tasted the beauty and simplicity of Krishna consciousness, we have something solid to return to. And every time we tune our hearts and focus our love on Krishna we progressively understand that this is a consistent experience. Krishna consciousness is not just a wonderful philosophy. It actually works. Krishna is just waiting for us to love Him, and immediately He reciprocates with us. It is that simple.

Then gradually we learn to carry this way of being into the arena of our daily activities. And our activities turn into devotional service. Our hankering and lamentation depart. And we realize that “I am not this mind.”

By Ishan das

Love without conditions

In memory of Hadidjah Lamas
Renowned healer & musician – 1932-2016

By Vasanta Dasa – her husband

Hadidjah moved to LA from New York in the mid-1940’s when she was just a teenager. After UCLA she went to work with Hughes Aircraft in their aeronautical engineering dept.

I met Hadidjah in 1978shortly after I moved to California. At the time she had her healing practice set up in her home off Sunset Blvd. She was one of the senior students of Ida Rolf, who developed the style of deep-tissue massage & structural integration known today as “Rolfing”.

$-27-May-Hadidjah-1

In time she became fairly well known. Her clients included Ava Gardener, Angelina Jolie, and John DeLorean. At some point she discovered a unique gift .. and that was to be able to assess a patient’s situation simply by touch. Basically she could touch you, figure out what the problem was, and fix it. No incision. No pain. No muss. No fuss. Usually within an hour session. Her patients would occasionally comment that they felt an electrical sensation from her fingers. Clients traveled from all over the country to see her.

Aside from her practice, Hadidjah was an accomplished musician in piano, recorder, and viola. Her preferred instrument was piano. She kept a Steinway Grand in her study on Bentley Ave. and played it regularly. She was also alert to health matters, ate only organic meals, and read extensively. She adored Nikola Tesla.

When we first met I was living in Palms with the New Age Caucus, an environmental action group formed by Madhudvisa, Dharmadyaksa, Damodara, Bahulasva and myself. As a demonstration project, I engineered and built a solar-assisted electric motorcycle. The solar cells we used were provided by Hadidjah’s [then] husband. This is how we first saw each other.

However, I lost track of Hadidjah when I moved to Hawaii and then later to Alachua, Florida. For over twenty years I did not know where she was or if she knew how to find me.

In 2006 when I planned to return to California, I went online and looked for her. We met again in December, 2006, just before the New Year. We then remained together for the next ten years. We traveled to northern California several times and briefly considered moving to Eureka. Her practice was still active, however, so we remained in west Los Angeles.

We had a lot of contactwith the Los Angeles Krishna Temple in Culver City (aka: New Dwarka). Hadidjah and I went to Govindas hundreds of times and also attended at least three LA Rathayatra festivals in Venice Beach.

At some point her health began to falter. She had an enlarged heart. No big surprise here since she was at least ninety percent heart and served others without question almost to a fault (in other words: people took advantage of her generosity and kindness).

About three years ago Hadidjah had reached a point where she could not really care for herself. She had also stopped eating regularly. After her weight dropped to a certain point we realized that she needed 24 hour care. We then placed her in a series of nursing homes & extended care facilities until we found one closer to us in Santa Monica that we were pleased with.

So this was the state2-Festival-Cow-4 of affairs in about 2014. I had returned to Culver City and bicycling daily to Santa Monica with prasadam, garlands, and recorded music. I probably cycled over 1,500 miles in the years to follow. By Krishna’s grace I was introduced to Gurudas and Aradhana Devi of the Vedic Care Charitable Trust (VCC). This group went way out of their way to support Hadidjah’s care. I cannot say enough good things about the VCC ..these people are first-class.

Without the support of the devotees and my friends I would not have managed to do very well at all during this time. Every day was an effort: get up, cook lunch, go to Santa Monica, and try to return before rush hour traffic. Do this daily no matter what. However, with the kindness and effort of the VCC, I somehow managed. Both Aradhana & Gurudas personally visited with Hadidjah, just two of a handful of devotees to do so.

We decorated her room with LOTS of spiritual paintings and photos, with the goal that no matter where she looked she would see something transcendental.

On December 5, 2016 late in the evening Hadidjah’s heart stopped and she left this world. My trips to Santa Monica came to an end. 12 days later, on December 17, a Memorial Service was held for her in the temple under the guidance of Rabindranatha prabhu. On January 14, Hadidjah’s ashes were placed in the Yamuna River in Vrindavan by local brahmanas & Kriya Shakti devi.

I am blessed that Hadidjah and I were able to spend a little time together in this life. I never met a more qualified and generous soul. You meet someone like this once every two thousand years. Maybe. We never fought or had an argument once in the whole time we were together. And we talked about everything under the sun.

My life has become much simpler now – particularly living in a 70 ft2 cabin out in the country. The loudest noise is an occasional motorcycle going down a highway a few blocks away. Otherwise I just hear bird calls and crickets. Now I am sorting out the ‘remnants’ of the marriage. Most of all this now sits in a storage unit waiting to be sorted out and either kept or discarded.

The key remnant from Hadidjah, of course, lives in my heart. I sincerely hope she is in a better place now. I did all that I could.

Thank you,

Vasanta dasa, ACBSP

#00-1+1+1-0700+Love1ab

For information on the VCC, please visit www.VedicCare.org

The Vedic Care Model Facility

The Vedic Care Mission and Model in Tucson, Arizona

Wisdom of the elders
Energy of the young
As spring and winter dance together
In service and devotion to God

At the Vedic Care Charitable Trust, we are committed to developing a community based in Tuscon, Arizona, to take excellent care of our spiritual elders.

Civilization means caring for our elderly and facilitating service between our elderly and young.

Experience embraces curiosity
A sense of perspective greets adventure
Knowing blends with hope
Patience harmonizes with exploration

Our elders will feel valued and nurtured.
Our younger volunteers will feel empowered with purpose.

Together, in God’s service, we will care for each other, and thereby, develop our devotion.

We have six staff members ready to serve, and four beds to fill already today.

Our California Fundraising Tour begins on March 12th, 2017.
Please follow us on our “CA Tour Diaries” page @www.vediccare.org

The desert southwest (Tucson, Arizona) is the ideal location for VCC senior care, hospice care, permaculture, arts and community building because of the inspiring and world famous landscape, year round warm weather and breathtaking mountain vistas.

437 South Railroad is the ideal setting for the VCC’s launch in the desert southwest. With six beds and six full, private baths and 7,888 square ft, the home has ample space for privacy, a creative space/school, large dining hall, commercial sized kitchen and patio area large enough to host multiple patients, community members or even events. The main home is 100% solar powered.

The property includes a back lot with three separate guest homes, all of which have two bedrooms, one bath and full kitchens. This will be turned into seven-plus beds for Adult Assisted Care. We also have a forty acre farm less then two hours drive from Tucson with plenty of water. Both properties are on the market for a combined total of $1.4M, but the VCC needs only from 30% to 50% of this amount to begin its operations. For the detailed Business Plan (with three year projections) on this operation, please email us at info(at)vediccare.org. Thank you.

Patients, artists, food activists, healers and teachers will work together, building a community where devotees can find peace in their end of life transition, surrounded by caring counselors, Vedic doctors, spiritual artists and musicians.

Teachers will educate on broader global subjects to enrich the lives of the old and young. Spiritually minded food activists can grow and educate the surrounding community on sustainable, organic farming in smaller spaces. And finally, creative artists can inspire with their music, singing, sculpting and canvas work.

Please donate generously.




To receive updates, our newsletter, and to be part of this historic model facility of Love & Care, please sign up here.

GPS for Spiritual Life

R & D, Research and Development is an on-going, ever-accelerating, ever-expanding phenomena on planet earth. The motivation behind this explosion of technology is two-fold. On the one hand there is the desire for control, what is commonly called security; and on the other hand there is the desire for the production of marketable goods and services. All of this on-going frenzy of productivity is driven by the commonly held illusory conception that the maximization of proprietorship and control is the road to a life of fulfillment. And the common man, who buys into this illusion, supports this unsustainable havoc through relentless hand-over-fist consumerism.

According to NCS-R data, 1 in 3 Americans can be diagnosed with a mental disorder. How do we reconcile this widespread blanket of distress with this great tsunami of technological productivity? The answer is that peace is an inside job. As microcosmic units of an infinite reality, we are out of touch, out of alignment. That infinite reality is the ultimate center of ever-expanding concentric circles of harmony and bliss. In a futile attempt to usurp that point of reference with the vanity of self-centered ambition, we fill the pages of history with the proclamation that the entire experiment is an overwhelming failure.

An intelligent person is forced to recollect that an insane asylum or prison facility is not the ideal conception of residential success. It is only the most beleaguered who would broach the proposal that all that is wanting is to improve the conditions of confinement. Such is the mode of thinking of those who strive to enhance the experience of our stay within this realm temporal upheaval. All the great ambassadors have pointed the finger in the same direction: “Let us qualify ourselves for that ultimate discharge, so that once granted, we never again have to take our birth within this unfortunate context, this overwhelming whirlpool of distress.”

Therefore we are called conditioned souls. We are life itself; and there is no death. Just as for light there is no such thing as darkness; but only that light is artificially obstructed. The sun never ceases to shine. But as we are subject to the conditions of planetary revolution, we experience darkness. We are conditioned souls. Our existence is conditional, subject to the conditions of the material nature. Therefore we experience birth. Therefore we experience old age. Therefore we experience disease. And therefore we experience death. We are life itself; and these things are imposed upon us as the substance of a gross dream. We are eternal; and we experience the temporal.

These conditions are enforced. No amount of technological research can surmount this repetitious cycle. We are not placed here for our enjoyment. We are placed here for one purpose alone – our reclamation. And the distress of life is our medicine. How many millions of times we have to return to relive the excruciation of material existence; this is a matter of choice.

Just as the conditions of material life are a securely implemented prescription, so also is the path to the reclamation of our eternal existence, beyond the walls of imposition of the dream of birth and death. The dream is real; but it is temporal, with beginning and end; whereas we are eternal. Therefore we must inquire as to what is wanted from us – so that we may come to know this freedom.

Does not every one of us want to express his or her greatest potential? Does not each of us want the admiration and respect of others? Does not each of us want to dress ourselves, decorate ourselves, with clothing and all manner of certifications, all manner of accomplishments? Does not each of us dream of prestige and glory one way or another, in the form of wealth, strength, beauty, knowledge, fame, and equilibrium? Yes we do, and this is only natural. It is natural because all of these qualities comprise the essence of what we are. We are part and parcel of the greatest unlimited expanse of these attributes; but instead of recognizing them in the fullness of their Source, we have aspired for the position of center stage. And this only, is our disease. Instead of loving the Supreme Unlimited Source of the cornucopia of all existence, we have become tiny ineffectual competitors, each one aspiring to take the throne, to be king for a day.

Therefore our sense of direction needs to be turned round 180 degrees. Simply because we are eternally micro-fragments of the unlimited vastness of spiritual energy, as soon our love begins to flow towards our Source of existence, we will sense that measure of inner fulfillment that is the ever-present urge of the soul. As the hand serves the body, through the mouth, the hand is automatically nourished. As the leaf waters the root of the tree, all the leaves, fruits and flowers – are nourished. This is our relationship with reality. This is our relationship with life. This is what we are here to learn.

We are not here to become number one. We are not here to make this world a better place. We are here to learn about our life of eternal freedom from the conditions of birth and death; and to share this understanding with others. Gradually as we grow in understanding, others will be attracted.

Therefore love of Krishna, love of God is what we have been seeking at every moment of our existence, for nothing else can fill our hearts to overflowing, and nothing else can set us free from the illusion that we are these material bodies. Nothing else can put an end to the cycle of birth and death. Nothing else can earn us our rightful place in Krishna’s eternal realm. The Vedic literatures, unlike any other scriptures, provide us with detailed descriptions of life in that realm, Krishnaloka. They also provide us with detailed descriptions of the nature of our personal relationship with Krishna in that realm. All that is required of us is a desire to hear of these things.

And the process for melting the heart, so that feelings of love for Krishna can begin to surface is the chanting of the Mahamantra, the Hare Krishna mantra:

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare

Anyone can practice this chanting. There is no charge. It has been freely distributed to the whole world by Lord Caitanya and his intimate servants. Chant Hare Krishna, and read the books of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, and begin your journey back to the spiritual world, where we can all sing and dance with Krishna.

Do We Really Want An Answer?

Why do people go to Universities? Why do they engage in physical culture, such as yoga, Tai Chi, jogging, make good dietary choices? Why do people enter different fields, take up different professions, take up a trade? Why do people meditate, read self-help books, inquire into the secrets of success? Why do people become involved in political and social movements? The answer to all these questions is simple: People want to be happy and fulfilled. We all want that. That’s why we get up in the morning.

Before making a plan, as to what to do with one’s life, an intelligent person will consider the facts. As long as we are here, in this material realm of existence, all of our attempts at happiness and fulfillment by material means will be frustrated. Even if we were to achieve all our personal goals, the irrevocable process of old age, disease and death will close the account.

To some this will sound like science fiction. But to others this will make perfect sense. The Vedic literature provides us with a surprising revelation. A revelation that no school talks about, no psychiatrist or guidance counselor considers, and no social or political activist thinks about. This material world is not our real home. Somewhere along the line, we made a wrong turn.

In every city there are institutions that house those who cannot interact harmoniously. A special place is constructed to house them, feed them, and care for them. The aspiration is to facilitate their rehabilitation. During their period of confinement, a variety of unpleasant conditions are imposed on them – and they are given time to consider their lot. Welcome to the material dimension! We are here.

In other words, this material creation has been designed so that there will be wars, volcanoes, earthquakes, plagues, tidal waves, ethnic cleansing, racism, social injustice, political exploitation, and the like. All of our history books tell us that this is the nature of life – in this material world. Also, no one gets out alive. And we have to come back. It goes on birth after birth. We’re on a treadmill. The treadmill of birth, old age, disease and death. This is the school of hard knocks. Until we learn – we have to come back. Come back and do it again.

But what exactly comes back? In our western culture, people are comfortable saying, “I have a soul.” But the fact is, “I am a soul”. And, “I have a body”. A temporary material body. Veda tells us, “You are not this body. You are spirit soul. For the soul there is never birth or death. You are an eternal individual spiritual being.” So what comes back? That individual soul comes back, taking one body after another, after another.

This is the process of reincarnation. The eternal individual spirit soul takes birth, again and again, in a material form, a material body made of the elements of mud and water. Physical matter is not conscious. But we are. The consciousness of the soul is induced to identify with the gross body and subtle material mind as the self. Mind is our software; body our hardware. Self realization means to have the direct experience that “I am not this body. I am not this mind.” This is the beginning of freedom.

The material manifestation is an institution manifested for our rehabilitation. Nothing is happening to us; it is happening to the body. But we mistakenly experience this body as “me”. This is the ultimate in hypnotherapy. Spiritual hypnotherapy. This illusory identification with the material body is our therapy. We are eternal. But we are forced to identify with this temporal manifestation of dead matter. It only appears alive as long as we are inside it. It is like a dream; in the sense that it has a beginning and an end. We are eternal, but we are experiencing this dream as reality. But in this case, we are subtle, spiritual energy, and the dream is gross.

For every light bulb that shines in the city, there is a circuit that goes back to the powerhouse. When that circuit is closed, continuous, the bulb is illumined. It shines. When the circuit is open, broken, the bulb has no light to share. The Sanskrit word “yoga” means to link, to connect – to connect with our source, the supreme powerhouse. When the individual soul becomes a yogi, and cultivates reconnection with our source, with God, or Krishna, we become illumined with transcendental knowledge. We become “enlightened”. We have self-realization. We have the direct perception that “I am not this body.” We become filled with a spiritual bliss that transcends all material affliction.

But what is the medium of exchange? It’s not money. It’s not good works, pious activity, good karma. Not asceticism. Not intellectual gymnastics. If we want to engage in this yoga, this reconnection, we have to understand what Krishna wants from us. Most religions cultivate the notion that we can fulfill our material desires by placing our orders with God – the ultimate Amazon.com. Krishna can fulfill our material desires, of course. But if we are intelligent and want to be liberated from this nightmare of repeated birth and death, and return to the spiritual dimension of eternity, we have to understand what Krishna wants from us.

All that Krishna wants is our love. In the spiritual dimension, love is the medium of exchange. It is the current of unconditional love for Krishna, flowing uninterruptedly, from our hearts to Krishna, that frees us from all material hankering and lamentation, and enables us to effortlessly understand that “I am not this material form.”

How to awaken this love? The Vedic literature declares that in this age, the process for awakening our dormant love for God is the chanting of His Holy Name:

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare

This mantra is introduced in the Vedic literatures, not just as a mantra, but as the Maha Mantra, the “great mantra” for the awakening of love of God in our hearts. The chanting of this Maha Mantra is the prescribed yoga process for this age. There are so many so-called yogis and so many teachers introducing so many concocted ideas. But the process of chanting Hare Krishna is the only yogic process prescribed by the Vedic literatures for this age. It is free. There is no charge. It can be chanted at any time at any place. The Vedas declare that in this age, God has appeared to us in His form as transcendental sound vibration. And by chanting, one can have the direct experience of the presence of Krishna in the sound of His Holy Name.

If life gives you lemons make paneer

If life gives you lemons make paneer.

Like making swords into plowshares, or lemons becoming paneer.

Happiness and distress flow together like the changing seasons.

One definition of a lemon is something that doesn’t work, like a bad car.

Paneer is curdled milk, cheese catalyzed by the ascorbic acid contained in lemons.

So when something in your life is distressing, understand it as a learning experience, the chance to get better.

Now more than ever, people are frightened. The country is polarized between high-minded loving people and hating greedy people. The fact that this nation of sheep, the United States, can elect such a racist, hateful, lying cheater as president is predicted in this Kali Yuga; the age of quarrel.

This surrealistic scenario is still under the auspices of Lord Krishna.

We have survived bad presidents, kings, and demons before, and it will not change our daily devotional service. We have each other, our devotional family.

Bhagavad Gita, chapter 9, verse 13, helps me to gain the Vedic perspective: “O son of Pṛthā, those who are not deluded, the great souls, are under the protection of the divine nature. They are fully engaged in devotional service because they know Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, original and inexhaustible.”

Purport: “In this verse the description of the mahātmā is clearly given. The first sign of the mahātmā is that he is already situated in the divine nature. He is not under the control of material nature. And how is this effected? That is explained in the Seventh Chapter: one who surrenders unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, at once becomes freed from the control of material nature. That is the qualification. One can become free from the control of material nature as soon as he surrenders his soul to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is the preliminary formula. Being marginal potency, as soon as the living entity is freed from the control of material nature, he is put under the guidance of the spiritual nature. The guidance of the spiritual nature is called daivī prakṛti, divine nature. So when one is promoted in that way—by surrendering to the Supreme Personality of Godhead—one attains to the stage of great soul, mahātmā. The mahātmā does not divert his attention to anything outside Kṛṣṇa, because he knows perfectly well that Kṛṣṇa is the original Supreme Person, the cause of all causes. There is no doubt about it. Such a mahātmā, or great soul, develops through association with other mahātmās, pure devotees. Pure devotees are not even attracted by Kṛṣṇa’s other features, such as the four-armed Mahā-Viṣṇu. They are simply attracted by the two-armed form of Kṛṣṇa. They are not attracted to other features of Kṛṣṇa, nor are they concerned with any form of a demigod or of a human being. They meditate only upon Kṛṣṇa in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. They are always engaged in the unswerving service of the Lord in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.”

Therefore, we have the choice to love, and not hate. And to propagate spiritual peace, encouraging growth in the future. Do not be afraid.

Bhagavad Gita, chapter 4, verse 7, states: “Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself.”

In the next verse (BG 4.8), Kṛṣṇa says: “To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, millennium after millennium.”

Prabhupada came to save us, and others. We can carry on with our daily devotional seva – with Radha Krishna in the center – in our homes, in our temples, on our farms, in our countries, and on our planets.

Bhagavad Gita, chapter 9, verse 26, says: “If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water, I will accept it.”

And so, if life gives us lemons we can still be kind to ourselves and to each other, and give our Krishna conscious, positive alternative to everyone.

Gurudas

Part 4 -The Essence of Bhakti Yoga

I was initiated in 1968.  I’ve been doing sadhana for some 46 years now.  But Krishna consciousness isn’t a caste system.  As it says in the Bible, some of the first may be last.

Over the years I’ve always found that whenever I engage in our Krishna conscious practices, there is always some degree of liberation. Anxieties evaporate, and I begin to feel mildly blissful.  But I always wondered:  “Will I ever arrive at a sense of loving reciprocation with Krishna in this lifetime?”

Most of the devotees I’ve talked to seem to hold the conviction that if we just  maintain our vows, engage in our sadhana and do some practical service, then one day, by grace, love of Krishna will dawn in our hearts.  I’m convinced that this isn’t quite enough.

A robot can be programmed to perform all of the activities that we engage in.  They can chant the Holy Name.  They can do puja, recite slokas, prepare Deity offerings, clean the temple, even distribute Krishna conscious literature.  So what’s the difference?  The difference is that a devotee does these activities with love for Krishna alive in his heart.

That’s why Srila Prabhupada used to speak about the “rubber stamp”.  He was telling us that all these authorized activities can be officially regarded as devotional service.  However, without saturating these activities with love, we are rubber-stamping them as devotional service.  Certainly there will be some benefit, some progress, some purification.  But if we actually want to enjoy a sense of loving reciprocation with Krishna, we have to perform these activities with love in our hearts.  We have to come to that point.  Srila Prabhupada writes:  “Even a leaf, a flower, a bit of fruit, or a little water……will be accepted if offered with love……..God accepts only the love with which things are offered to Him.”  (Bg. 9/2 purport).

So love for Krishna is not something that will mysteriously dawn in our hearts.  Love for Krishna is something that we have to bring to the table.  And this is where many aspiring devotees draw a blank.  “But I have no love for Krishna!”, they say.  For so many years, this was my mood too. Then gradually I began to understand. We all have the ability to cultivate the quality of love in our hearts.  We know the philosophy of Krishna consciousness; but without love it won’t come to life within us.  Our Krishna consciousness will remain on the “mental platform”.  Therefore I humbly repeat:  we have to purposefully apply ourselves to this cultivation of love within our hearts.

Our way of feeling is largely a matter of habit.  Glad, sad, mad, scared.  When our buttons are pushed, these old programs, old recordings, play out over and over again.  But we have a choice.  We have the ability to cultivate the feeling of love in our hearts.  And when we do, our whole view of life changes.  When there’s love in our hearts, that love will effortlessly brighten every interaction, every activity we engage in.  This is the mode of goodness.
Most importantly,  Srila Prabhupada encourages us, Krishna consciousness is simply a matter of “transferring the account”, transferring our loving propensity to Krishna.  But without love in our hearts, where is the question of transferring the account? Therefore this is the first essential.  Unless and until we can make love an on-demand faculty in our own hearts, a faculty that we can draw upon at will – how can we purposefully begin to transfer the account to Krishna?

We’re not talking about raganuga bhakti.  We’re talking about the simple ability to cultivate the practice of directing our love towards Krishna, here and now, so that we can begin to have a sense of Krishna’s loving reciprocation.  A living sense of connection with Krishna.  As much as we love Krishna, to that degree will we sense His love for us.  That’s Krishna’s promise.  We can directly experience this.  And when we do, we’ll want more.  Then we’re on our way.

I was once alone with Srila Prabhupada in his room; he pushed up his sleeve and did a pantomime of injecting drugs into his forearm.  “You have seen this?”,  Srila Prabhupada asked me.  “Yes”, I nodded.  “Krishna consciousness is like that.”  Srila Prabhupada said with a smile. In other words we’ll want more.  But first we have to have a taste of Krishna’s loving reciprocation.

The first requirement is the ability to carry love in our hearts, so that we can offer that love to Krishna.  Then whether we are washing a dish, sweeping a floor, walking, driving, chanting………patrum pushpam phalam toyam,  and, yat karoshi yad asnashi  (Bg. 9/26-27), it can be done with a feeling of love for Krishna.

Therefore we have to seriously contemplate the understanding that this is the meaning of Krishna  consciousness – serving Krishna with love.   As we engage in loving devotional service, Krishna reveals Himself to us.  And as Krishna reveals Himself, our love continues to grow.  This is the most confidential part of Krishna conscious knowledge.

tesam satata-yuktanam
bhajatam prita purvakam
dadami buddhi-yogam tam
vena mam upayanti te

“To those who are constantly devoted and worship Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to me.”  (Bg.  10/10).

Anyone can do this.  The only question is:  When will I begin?

By Ishan das

Part 3 – The Most Confidential Knowledge

If we are thinking that by mechanically doing our sadhana, and rubber-stamping our practical activities as devotional service, one day we will be blessed with love of God, love for Krishna, this is a mistake.

In Krishna consciousness the means and the goal are one and the same.  The goal is love for Krishna; and the means is loving Krishna.  A devotee asked Srila Prabhupada, “How do we love Krishna?” Srila Prabhupada answered, “By loving Him.”  Every now and then, we hear on Srila Prabhupada’s recorded talks wherein he urges us, coaxes us, to chant, “with love”.

The title of chapter 9 of Bhagavad-gita is: The Most Confidential Knowledge. The whole Bhagavad-gita is filled with knowledge. We are not this body. We are eternal spirit soul. Our existence is conditioned by the laws of material nature.  Under the jurisdiction of the wheel of karma, we have been revolving in the cycle of birth and death.  Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is the proprietor of everything and the supreme controller. We are seated as though on a machine made of material energy and Krishna, as the Supersoul  in our hearts is the actual “doer” of our activities.  The modes of material nature are explained in detail.

But in chapter 9, Krishna explains the most confidential knowledge. Krishna says to Arjuna, “Because you are never envious of My position as the Supreme Lord,  I will share this most secret wisdom with you. What I am going to tell you is the supreme secret of all secrets.  This knowledge is the king of  education, raja vidya.  There is no knowledge purer than this, because it is not about anything material.  It is about our eternal relationship. And anyone who takes this knowledge to heart, will experience direct perception of their eternal spiritual nature and  be eternally engaged in the joyful activities of the soul in My abode.”

Why is this knowledge so secret, so confidential? It is because Krishna is a person. He is the Supreme Person. But He also has feelings; and His message is very intimate. This  conversation is only for lovers. Krishna is feelingly explaining to Arjuna that all of his bewilderment, anxiety and distress can be instantly dispelled if he will simply open his heart to Krishna, with love.
“Always think of Me with  love in your heart.  Bow down to Me and worship Me. And I promise you that you will come to Me.”  Bg 9/34.  Krishna is approaching us in this same way, inviting us to love Him.  In return He will take away all of our sinful reactions and situate us under the shelter of His divine internal devotional energy.

We have to understand that we hold the key to eternal blissful life in our own hands. No amount of material wealth can purchase our eternal freedom from the relentless grip of samsaric existence. And yet we hold the key.  Therefore this key is the greatest wealth.  But we have to agree to spend it in order to purchase this freedom.

A man who has a great fortune, but refuses to spend any of it is known as a miser. The word for miser in Sanskrit is kripana.  Arjuna uses this word.  It is interesting to note that Arjuna, although appearing to be in maya, diagnoses his problem with an understanding of the solution: karpanya-dosopahata-svabhavah  Bg 2/7

“I am confused about my duty and have lost all equilibrium because  I am afflicted by the characteristic of miserly weakness.”
What is this miserly weakness? What is this wealth that we have that we are refusing to spend?  We have this great fortune  within our  hearts.  It is the ability to love and to give our love to Krishna.   But we are refusing to spend it.  We are refusing to purchase our eternal freedom. Like Arjuna, we are afflicted by this miserly weakness.

In his purport to the second verse of the ninth chapter of Bhagavad-gita, Srila Prabhupada writes: “God accepts only the love with which things are offered to Him.” And Krishna Himself declares that He cannot be known by any other means: bhaktya mam abhijanati   Bg 18/55

Krishna consciousness is not a mechanical process.  We cannot know Krishna through jnana or through karma.  But we can purchase Krishna with our love.  It is only love that gives life to our sadhana.  Love of God is given to us by grace.  But that grace is purchased by love.  Therefore Krishna says: “To those who are constantly devoted and worship Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.”  Bg  10/10.

In the purport to this verse Srila Prabhupada writes:  “The qualification is that a person always engage himself in Krishna consciousness and with love and devotion render all kinds of services. He should perform some sort of work for Krishna, and that work should be with love.”  In Krishna consciousness the means and that the goal are one and the same. The goal is love of Krishna; and the means is love of Krishna.

Therefore we have to overcome this miserly weakness of heart and come to the point of love. We have to cultivate the ability to live in love, and to direct our love to Krishna. This is the meaning of Krishna consciousness.  First we have to become convinced that love is our ticket for advancement in devotional life. Then we have to effort with all our strength to bring this faculty into focus.  If we try with all sincerity to feel love for Krishna, Krishna will help us.  If we really try to summon up feelings of love for Krishna within our hearts, on a daily basis, we can make more advancement in a week or a month than we can through decades of mechanical sadhana. This is the most confidential knowledge. This is Krishna’s loving invitation to us as aspiring devotees:  “Worship Me with love, and I will give you the understanding by which you can come to Me.”

By Ishan das