Thursday, 29 September 2016

Monday, September 26th, 2016

Monday, September 26th, 2016
Toronto, Ontario

C.H. Came

Chaitanya Hari is staying at the InterContinental Hotel on Front Street and is here on business.  He works with Telus and is based in Vancouver.  He is a young, promising, business person and his prospects for spiritual advancement also look good.  I’ve known him since he was a kid.

I took him south on Yonge Street and then over to Front to his hotel, where he was to retire for the evening before he started business training, and ideas and strategic planning during the next day.

Being from Vancouver, he noted some differences between that city and the current one he’s in.  Each place does have its own character and personality.  But every place you go to, reveals a similarity—people are driven.  People are motivated to forge ahead on some level of progress.  Even the homeless are motivated to survive.

Both Chaitanya and I witnessed some people, a few, lying down over the vents where heat rises from the underground traffic.  Other more driven men in suits walk with a speed of expectation.  In general, there is ambition.  That is natural.

It is also natural to look at, or at least ponder, the metaphysical, and consider transcending over the physical world and the freaks of nature.  That term, “freaks of nature,” was used by our guru, Srila Prabhupada, to reflect or express the turbulent nature of existence itself.

It’s beneficial to balance our physical and spiritual needs.  Do not suppress either.

May the Source be with you!

9 km

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

Sunday, September 25th, 2016
Burlington, Ontario

The Bend at The Lake

Jagannatha Misra and I took a stroll along the northwest bend of Lake Ontario.  We have been there before, and again and again.  It’s in his very neighbourhood.  The trail, which is edged along the lake, also takes you past the historic Joseph Brant home.

Who was he?  Joseph Brant was actually a Mohawk Chief who became the leader of the Six Nations.  He was also a Christian.  He fastened a policy onto his people saying “unity and concord among themselves.”

The year that the Olympic Summer Games came through with the mighty torch, Jagannath and I were there at North Shore and Lake Shore when we accidentally bumped into the runner, not physically, but we met at the same intersection.

At the same time as the run, one of our couples from the Toronto community was giving birth to their first child at the Joseph Brant Hospital.  It was at this hospital that I was admitted after a serious foot infection, a result from getting punctured by a dead catfish on a beach in Guyana.  I was on my Guyanese cross-nation walk when this occurred.

These are memories of this trail.  It runs right up the sandy beach where you are likely to find the occasional beachcomber.  The air from the lake is invigorating—at least the many geese think so.

Walking in an area like this, with memories and history woven into it, makes it special apart from nature’s blast of invigoration.

May the Source be with you!


6 km

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

Saturday, September 24th, 2016
Markham, Ontario

Burning Food

Jai Sri is a meek and simple kind of guy.  He’s a monk residing in our ashram in Toronto.  It was his birthday today.

“What’s your age?”  I asked him.

“It’s probably 70,” he said jokingly.

That makes him the seniour-most person living on our premises.  Oh, and then there’s God Himself who outdoes us all in longevity.  In the deity form presiding in our temple, we have Krishna who stands in the three-fold bending form, with the ceremonious flute in hand.

Back to Jai Sri.  He became the reason for the ice cream cake served and honoured at the home of Ramananda Ray in Markham.  It’s rare to see the few residing monks all getting time off to gather together.  Pizza was also on the menu.

Oh yes, it was offered to become prasadam.  The Jews have their kosher, the Muslims their halal, the Christians have their communion.  The Krishna-ites have their prasadam, sanctified food.

It was time to walk off the prasadam, to burn calories and karma.

Karuna Sindhu and I took to Danforth Avenue, not only to walk, but also to visit another congregant for more food.  Holy Moses! (Excuse me.) Holy Krishna!  When does the eating end?!

The walking is indeed a justification for dealing with food at times.  Adventure too.  One fellow saw us and took his head-phones out just to tell us, “You guys, there’s a UFO circling the CN Tower.  You’ve got to see it, man.”

May the Source be with you!




Friday, September 23rd, 2016

Friday, September 23rd, 2016
Kitchener, Ontario

Cremation Within Creation

Rush we did, in our monk van, to Kitchener, for a funeral and cremation.  Brihat was our driver, and on board was Nick, Gordon, Keith and myself.  Gangotri, an 86 year-old, caring kind of devotee, was the deceased person we attempted to revere and respect in the best way possible, in a send-off to a new realm.

To put it in more simple terms, those of us family and friends participated in the last rites for Gangotri’s soul’s journey to a better place.  The event went smoothly. As usual, soft chanting is what truly makes the program—any program—sweet.  It created an atmosphere of comfort, and kept feelings of separation subdued.  The Pillay family was pleased.

As a monk who has a considerably large base of congregations across Canada, participation in events including last rites, weddings, birthdays and samskaras (purificatory rites of passage) is a willing obligation to fulfill.

Bear in mind that there should also be time set aside for some trekking.  Along with the boys, after the cremation and a meal, we ventured off to a trail along the Grand River near Conestoga College.  What a change of terrain this area is, compared to the north, where I was one week ago.  Here, it’s a softer wilderness where apparently native folks, at least the Mohawk, flourished in the 1800’s.  They had the river—which was the source of all their needs—food, travel, water, etc.  The Creator looked kindly upon them.

May the Source be with you!

5 km



Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
Castleton, Ontario

Real Men

It is my final day with the crew of men working at the farm.  Before we pulled in the last of what we could—tomatoes, Long Island Cheese Squash, beans and basil—yanking out dead bushes and branches, we had a good walk through pretty Campbellford.  There was the Trent Canal, the river portion with gorge and plentiful cedars along the path.  Our promenade also included going over a suspension bridge and through the downtown itself.

As the five of us walked, we chanted on our beads.  We were at first rather chatty, but in the last hour we all got serious.  What a great gang!  I’m so fortunate to have their company.  Each one of them has been very real.  Even as they wait for the breakfast porridge to be set by the table, one by one they take one of the nine month old twin girls, Fil and Sukayanti’s daughters, on their lap, to comfort and play with them.

To me, these guys were being real men, having wholesome topical exchanges, working hard in the out-of-doors, enjoying meals, and discussing Krishna Consciousness.  I feel we are living the Bhagavatam; living what the ancient texts talk about.

Another farm was visited by us.  Jai Chaitanya and Rasa, along with their four kids, secured a farm of sixty acres in Castleton two years ago.  After the work at Fil’s farm, and a scrumptious meal at Jai’s, the boys agreed to two hours of moving and piling bales of hay.

The reward was going wild on the concord grapes from vines that have been there for generations.  Secondly, there was the relishing of a final swim at Little Lake to get clean and relieve the prickly sensation from the hay.  No one complained about the day.

They were real men.

May the Source be with you!

8 km

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016
Picton, Ontario

Good-bye Gangotri

Summer has come to a close, officially and also in the reality sense.  Temperatures are lowering more to the teen category (in Celsius) actually leaving a favourable climate for trekking.

Gordon and I left The Doors Guesthouse for the Trans Canada Trail, now, as we understand it, known as The Great Trail, of which we tackled four kilometres before we made a turn for the highway.

At this location, an osprey nest is situated atop a twenty-five foot (or so) post and platform, a second one we have noticed on this jaunt.

I received a call informing me that two hours before, at 4 a.m., our dear Gangotri passed away.  Born in South Africa, and now a resident of Canada (in truth we are not sure) she led a very pious life.  Gentle, peaceful, full of shanti, she is leaving behind a family, also of outstanding qualities.

We are confident that her departure is merely an entry into a larger family and a home well lit.

Param dharma is the term used in the text Bhagavad-gita, to describe the immortal world where personal cravings are done with.  Desire of an excessive nature is what apparently brings us here into the world of duality.  When our interests are redirected to the divine source, and excessiveness or selfishness is dropped, then we gain a once-and-for-all stable situation.

Our group of morning walkers and farm enthusiasts took that trip to Picton, an hour away, to visit and morally back-up new farmers from the city.  They are Dhyana Chandra and Graham, identical twins.  We scouted their fifty acres, received a tour of their house and a gracious tray of prasadam, blessed food.

May the Source be with you!

8 km



Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
Hastings, Ontario

At the Civic Centre

Hastings has a civic centre which is located on the top of a hill at Albert and Hwy 45.  Being situated on the lower level of the library makes it a central place people know about.  This became the venue for our presentation, “Tales from Trails.”  With this presentation, I basically took the attendees—over fifty in number—for a walk across the country, mentally.

Attendees were attentive.  What a marvelous group of mature people they were.  Should I expect anything else?  We are looking at thoughtful, mindful folks.

Skye was the real hero for the event, in my opinion.  She secured the venue, called friends to come, did additional promotion and was the brains behind the set up.  She’s a networker, practical and conscientious.

Fil came with his produce, for sale and for talking about.  “Beyond Organic” is his slogan.  He met people also in his field, among them organic farmers, bakers, and professionals. Down to earth people indeed.

Tony, from the Norwood Holistic Centre, arrived and began the kirtan, which engaged people in singing and clapping.

Kirtan (the person) brought her home-made wraps as refreshments, enjoyed by all.

The line of credits to a successful program goes on.  Perhaps the most curious of questions that arose was, “What type of shoes do you use for the long-haul walking?”

Answer, kyboots, Swiss technology and Italian-made.

May the Source be with you!

7 km




Monday, September 19th, 2016

Monday, September 19th, 2016
Hastings, Ontario

Beans and Things

Brhat and Nick took to tomato harvest.  Keith and Gordon went at rewinding the water-line and hose system, and I got at the bean gathering.  As I was about to start picking, Gordon told a joke.

“You know why you can never keep a secret on the farm?”

“No, I don’t know.”

“Because the corn has ears, the potatoes have eyes and the beanstalk.”

“Very funny, Gordon.  On that note, I’ll start gathering the beans.”

There is a fervent push now to get crops in.  Everything is a race against time, before the first frost hits.

In regard to frost, I encouraged Gordon to try the wild grapes as we were trekking the Trans Canada Trail before gardening.  He took a clump and put them in his mouth.  Generally after the first frost, the grapes are sweet, but even at this stage, before the light freeze, those grapes were nice—tart but nice.

After the laborious morning of farm-related tasks, lunch was to aspire for.  Succulent it was.  Then, most deserving, came the swim.  I remember a limestone quarry in the area with pristine water.  Our crew’s eyes widened, at the discovery, and soon their bodies wettened.

While outdoor farm-life goes on, there is a constant contemplation over people I know.  Gangotri is a devotee who is in her old age, dying.  Another friend, Yamala, has a dad who was in a serious auto accident.  Prayers and thoughts are being sent.

May the Source be with you!

7 km



Sunday, September 18th, 2016

Sunday, September 18th, 2016
Hastings, Ontario

Gordon hails from Red Lake, Ontario where eagles galore, are there, out to soar.  He stays in a tiny cabin in the wilderness near Wawa.  He’s a real drifter, but does his drifting via bicycle.  He caught onto the Trans Canada Trail (TCT), but lost it somewhere along the way.  This does indeed happen.  My last trip across Canada took me through Oxford, Nova Scotia on the TCT.  Suddenly, it just came to an end.  I looked for confirmation on this and indeed locals told me the same.  So where do you pick up this trail then, which is supposed to go from coast to coast?

No answer!

So, I’m lost.  And that’s the reality of the TCT.  It lacks good signage.  Next year, it will be called The Great Trail, I’m told.  Many sections of trails will be linked to form and finalize it, in preparation for Canada’s 150th birthday.

Let’s see what The Walking Monk makes of it.  I still have the youthful passion to explore.  I want to know what hidden secrets lie along this and other paths.  Each new route brings an essential treasure, which is Krishna in nature’s form.

Some people are enthralled by what new arrivals are on display and up on sale at the shopping mall.  For me, the adventure lies in the trail, the forest and the field.  There is no match or comparison in this regard.

May the Source be with you!

12 km



Saturday, September 17th, 2016

Saturday, September 17th, 2016
Hastings, Ontario

Chill at the Farm

Back I am into farmland and the countryside, and with two extra men—Gordon and Keith.  That makes five of us—Brihat, Nick, Gordon, Keith and myself.  We are here for a final week to assist in harvest, barn clean-up, yard clean-up, canning goods and whatever else necessity dictates.  We leave the dictating to the Supreme, while we, His servants, are the instruments.

Fil and Sukayanti are the proprietors of Govardhan Farms, on Friendly Acres Road, where we converged with a host of other folks, mostly from the city, for an Open House.  “Open Barn” would be the more appropriate nomenclature.  All attendees were made aware of operations on the farm—this included Suzanne Atkinson, journalist for the weekly publication “Ontario Farmer.”  She found it unique to learn Fil and Sukayanti’s approach to agriculture, which includes a sanctuary for cows, bulls (and cats I imagine), in addition to cultivating good quality, organic food, or what Fil refers to as “Beyond Organic.”  Generally, Suzanne reports on cash crops/cattle raising dynamics.  This is different for her.

The visit to Govardhan Farms is always full of educational and physical workout opportunities, time to bond with people, animals, and the earth.  Chilling-out is also a component.  Young Nimai is 3.  He loves the barn and the hay.  Lemonade with mint and cookies—home-made—gave it that down-home feel.  Just after lunch, we had a look at YouTube on New Walkers Popadums.

May the Source be with you!

4 km 

Friday, September 16th, 2016

Friday, September 16th, 2016
Niagara Falls, Ontario

At the Falls

I spoke to the Nama Ruchi monks before we began to do some kirtan, public chanting. Out of respect for the famous falls itself, and the people who have come to view the awesome waters rushing down, I said, “Take a few minutes to appreciate it, and perhaps see it as a spark of Krishna’s splendour.”  I told them that I see it as God in liquid form.

Once photos were taken and time spent to absorb this great wonder of the world, we set out on the streets where pedestrians were in motion.  Naturally, people are anticipating something unique when they arrive at this tourist destination, and they are coming from all over the world.

At the Hard Rock CafĂ©, from the stage, a musician, a guitarist, welcomed us in.  He heard our vocalist playing the accordion and asked, “What key?”  He took the note and played along with our mantra.  The customers seemed to enjoy the sound from their tables and beer.  I found it interesting that it was an older crowd.  Everyone deserves a chance to chant and, if boldness will allow, to dance.

Out of all the people we encountered, perhaps the most enthusiastic for singing and jigging were a couple of oriental elderly men who took the prize.  They were jolly good in their gyrating.  They wouldn’t stop.  They were so excited.

There is a following of devotees in Niagara Falls, and it was lined up for us that we would lunch with time.  A lot of output goes into pleasing the crowds.  I’m starting to see how these men, the Nama Ruchi group, are on a roadshow of sorts, and constantly on the move.  Their next stop is Chicago.  It’s a twelve hour bus ride for them.  Their visit to the Falls and Canada was just too short.

May the Source be with you!

4 km

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

Thursday, September 15th, 2016
Toronto, Ontario

Ruchi Group in Town

The Nama Ruchi group is in town.  World travelers, they are.  Four of their members were kind enough to honour my request from last year.  We are looking at a foursome—young, healthy, strong, enthusiastic monks whose mandate is to give a taste (ruchi) of the name (Krishna’s).

The timing is perfect for their arrival to the city, because we are in the midst of the TIFF, The Toronto International Film Festival.  To my understanding, the public is drawn to venues of new film releases.  Secondly, many renowned and upcoming actors make their appearances.  The Nama Ruchi group and some local devotees, including my humble self, drove to hip Kensington Market, and from there, on foot, processioned our way through the entertainment district on King Street and its adjoining roads.

People were lined up like crazy at the film venues, down and around the block.  They were anticipating to see “the stars.”  As we chanted along these queues, I witnessed some glum-to-grave looking faces light up at the sight and sound of us; the sound being sweet and melodic with a reggae kick.

I really felt like saying to some of these fans, “You came to see the stars, but you may be barking up the wrong tree.  The stars are in the sky and they are accompanied by a fairly full moon.  Your high rises are blocking out reality.”  In any event, the public came to be entertained and perhaps we could be considered the opening act.

May the Source be with you!

6 km