Today when I spoke with Kiriti Mataji on the phone she shared with me her appreciation for my blogging effort. Kiriti was actively looking for a house in the Gita Nagari area when a great opportunity came on the market in Emmaus. So, it is Emmaus for her and her family (for now). A few other devotees have expressed a positive response to this blog and that really encourages me. Advaita Prabhu said he appreciated it because it is more up to date than the Gita Nagari Website.
I appreciate the blog because it helps me locate Krishna within my day to day life. It helps me actually take a passing thought and make it my meditation for the day or even the week. The blog slows me down. The blog allows me to edit my life while it is going on, “Okay, this really isn’t that important of an event in my day. Okay, this seems kind of big and anxiety producing but it is really just insignificant, mundane and, if I let this take over my mind, will only bind me more to this material existence. Okay, this is it, this is where Krishna is in my day.”
Often I think of something Advaita Prabhu would say. “You will find what you are looking for.” The blog helps me look for Krishna.
Today I found Krishna in my garden.
We have wonderful gardens planted around our property. Around 30 sq. ft. of peonies all about to come into a bloom of rani red (if you’ve never gone sari shopping, that translates into hot pink), hundreds of daffodils big and small, lillies, camelias, columbine, periwinkle, lilacs, wild flowers, concord grapes, apple and pear trees, two kinds of quince and maple trees a couple of hundred years old. Even our weeds are beautiful, with violets speckling our lawn.
As flowers come into bloom, I feel guilty leaving them on their stem selfishly enjoying their color, curvature and fragrance. Unfortunately, there is a part of me which resists cutting them for Krishna. For some reason, despite the bounty of our yard, I don’t want to cut “too many” at one time. This is my miserly nature.
We picked the flowers today while I was on the phone. Normally I do not like to do Krishna’s service while talking on the phone, but I have no excuse except to say that I did it.
Dhanurdhara Swami tells a wonderful story of attending M. Yamuna’s cooking class in Vrindavan a few years ago. She said that talking on the phone or just plain prajalpa while cooking is an offense comparable to innatentive chanting. And Prabhupada never did that. There is a real potency in this story. Not only the content but hearing the standard of Srila Prabhupada transmitted through M. Yamuna and then again by Dhanurdhara Swami. Well, to not follow this…one doesn’t have a leg to stand on.
The real meditation came when the kids and I took the flowers to the kitchen to arrange the vase. I am an awful vase maker. In Vrindavan, on Radhastami, I was once asked by Krishna Balama’s pujari to make a set of vases. When I told him I was finished he looked at the vases as if I had put the flowers in upside down. Then he set about dismantling my arrangements. So, I definitely don’t have an artistic flair for floral arrangement. Yet, being at Gita Nagari, I am not too worried that the vases will be met with any creative disapproval.
The flowers we picked were very colorful and fragrant, some flowering branches and the first peonies of the year. There were wild flowers from the brush area and lilies my husband transplanted from our house in North Carolina. Venumadhava helped put some of the smaller cuttings into the vase.
While arranging the flowers I was thinking how wonderful this service to Srila Prabhupada is. Prabhupada is so merciful, he lets a muci mother and her two muci children do some seva. I’ve never felt so much appreciation and reciprocation from someone I never actually met in person.
uktas tatha bhavyata eva sadbhih
kintu prabhur yah priya eva tasya
vande guroh sri caranaravindam
“The spiritual master is to be honored as much as the Supreme Lord, because he is the most confidential servitor of the Lord. This is acknowledged in all revealed scriptures and followed by all authorities. Therefore I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master, who is a bona fide representative of Sri Hari(Krsna).”
There are so many rules in Deity worship (which we are all about to learn more of when Nrsringha Kavaca Prabhu comes Thursday) but these same rules are not there to approach the Spiritua Master. In this way, the Guru is more merciful than Krishna.
I remember when my Guru took away my name. After some time of being in spiritual limbo, I humbled myself and apologized to him for all my offenses. His reply to me was that I should go before Srila Prabhupada and beg forgiveness, since the grandfather is more merciful than the father. Despite my lack of faith, I did this. I went into the temple room and begged Prabhupada’s Murti.
Dhanurdhara Swami has encouraged us to look at our pasts and contemplate whether or not, given the opportunity to do it all over again, we would do things the same way. Of course, most of us have experienced difficulties and regrets. But can we understand how our life events have led us to where we are now spiritually? I think of this often. My past is so horrible yet today is settled, content and spiritually conducive. Sure, in some ways if I could change 1997 thru 2001, I would. But would I be here, at Gita Nagari, married to a very kind and sincere soul?
Without my offenses, without the unending mercy and kindness of my Guru, would I have ever developed any faith and attachment to Srila Prabhupada’s Murti? Would I ever have kneeled before him with folded hands begging him to help me right my wrongs? Of course I always wish things went differently for myself. I am probably more in tama guna than in raja guna (although my body is always moving things forward my mind is constantly backpedaling). At the same time, without all the setbacks I’ve experienced, I don’t think I would have very much to measure my spiritual life against.
Which naturally leads my mind to the topic of japa. Another late nite spent chanting japa means another missed morning spent chanting japa. I am thinking about my japa as one thinks about going on a diet. Every day I say that tomorrow I will begin rising early to chant my japa and every nite I go to bed grateful that I got my rounds completed, albeit at an hour that compromises any chance of early rising the next day. Right now my japa diet is very malnourished. Lots of empty calories, japa snacking throughout the day, but I am not really thinking about what is coming out of my mouth.