Friday, 28 November 2014

Friday, November 14th, 2014

The Walking Monk Salad Dressing
Sackville, NB
I just have to share with you what I consider delicious; The Walking Monk Salad Dressing.  Creator of the recipe: Radha Krishna Dasi from Montreal.
     (Makes approximately 750ml \ 2.5 cups)
     1/2 cup yogurt
     1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes (flakes)
     3 tablespoons tamari
     3 tablespoons olive oil
     2 tablespoon lemon juice
     2 1/2 tablespoon buckwheat honey
     1 teaspoon sweet paprika
     1 teaspoon ginger powder
     1/2 teaspoon asefateda (hing)
     1/2 teaspoon black pepper
     Put all ingredients in a mason jar and shake until smooth.
I'm a sucker for salads only when not naked.  The salad will have to have some dressing.  Offer it to your deity or picture of Krishna with mantras and you'll find something divine. 
Speaking of executing a ritual, I was graced with occasions to speak at two universities about rites of passage.  Firstly, at St. Thomas University I demonstrated a puja (worship procedure) for a standard arati.  It involves incense, flame, water, towel, flower, bell, and blowing conch.  I think it was a treat for Professor Parkhill's students.
Then in Sackville, New Brunswick, the practice of kirtan was highlighted at Mount Allison University with students of Barb Clayton.  This was delectable as was the first group and as is the salad dressing.
May the Source be with you.
5 KM

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

With and Without Zoro
Fredericton, NB
With all the talk in recent years about Global Village realities where cultural distinctions merge into a corporate-intended melting pot we may wonder if unique identities even stand a chance for a place in society.  Some believe that you can never wipe out or merge distinctiveness completely; that the world will also appear to function on a unity in diversity basis in one way or another.
I found interesting that as a guest speaker to a class on Religious Studies at St. Thomas University on the path of Krishna Consciousness, Prof. Parkhill, our invitee, was embarking on a theme 'How We Other Others'.  My assumption on this topic is how and why people build walls between each other, overall the dynamics behind seeing the guy on the other side of the fence as different and passing fast judgement on him.
In any event, my presentation was done, students seemed satisfied with responses to questions and we finished with a happy kirtan.
Wade, a resident of Fredericton, was kind to take me to O'Dell Park with its windy trails through new and old growth.  He's been employed with the Ministry of Natural Resources and also with the provincial government as a speech writer for politicians.  “I'd rather chop wood and stick it in a neat pile than write those speeches”, Wade admitted to me as we walked with his lanky grayhound dog Zorro.  Wade, by the way, chants Hare Krishna on his wooden beads daily.  Today trailed and talked and at intervals identified trees like the dense hardwood tree called ironwood, the hemlock and the balsam fir which is the popular Christmas tree.
Wade and I moved on, without Zorro, to the local Hindu temple along with Nitai Rama, Sahil, and Nirmana.  All went super well.  Prof. Parkhill came and a gathering of people, origins from all over India.  We dwelt on 18:65 and 66 from the Gita, had our puja (worships) and then delighted in prasadam.  That food was extremely hot.  I wanted to get the fire hose.
May the Source be with you!
5 KM

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Blissed out in Moncton
Moncton, NB
Moncton appears to have a lively art community so far as I can see.  Not cancelling out librarians who are open minded folks plus massage therapists, earth people and so this was the genre of people who came to Kimberly's place for our kirtan in the evening. 
From the get-go , response to the maha mantra was phenomenal.  It was not just about people moving their tongue and lips.  It was about moving the whole body.  That's why I say, from the start of the mrdanga drum beat, Sahil, with his crisp tapping was able to stir up and shake up the maya or illusion within us.  Some people just didn't want to sit down on a cushion or chair.  Their conviction was to stand and then get 'carried' (physically) by the sound of drum and mantra
The last time I conducted kirtan in Moncton it occurred when I walked through the town in 2012 with my fourth cross-country trek in progress.  The venue was someone's back yard .  The space was filled with all these free spirited people, and like this evening, every single person took to moving every muscle.  It was a deja-vu experience, for sure.
At the end of our final kirtan I asked participants how they felt in one word.  Here's what they said, 'elated', 'joyful', 'open', 'carried', 'blissful', 'free'.  And the last person Sahil, himself, who felt all the descriptive words possible were already used ended up with the word 'speechless'.
May the Source be with you!
2 KM

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

On the Island

George knows the Krishnas from Centre Island in Toronto in the summertime.  Here we are, Sahil and I, at Canada’s east coast, far far from Toronto, and he knows us for our colossal festival in mid-July. 

George works for the immigration department.  He’s interested in people.  We got to meeting and chatting with him just as we were wrapping up our little kirtan at the Victoria Park Boardwalk.  Our conversation was centred around the topic of “people” and the multicultural world in which we live, of a domain of many tribes, nations, races, and customs.  George, being of oriental origin, knows all too well how accommodating has been to accepting multiple peoples from around the world. 

The common factor is that we are not Canadian or Chinese or American, we are all humanity.  The ultimate commonality, however, is that we are all spiritual beings.  This topic, I felt, I need not address to George, he already knows.  How he delighted in seeing the name Krishna on the mantra card I gave him.  How he excitedly talked about Krishna’s food.  He was embracing the whole spiritual concept merely on the basis of his own experience.  What an awesome encounter it was to be with him. 

Sahil and I moved on to the residence of Shoba, who is always the perfect host.  At her home, we met with familiar faces that come to her place at least annually when I visit.  They are practically all professionals, some retired from the South East Asian community.  On every one of these occasions, I speak from a verse of the Gita.  “This time,” I wondered, “what can I offer them that they do not have?  Ah, yes, beads for mantra meditation.”

And so I demonstrated the use of beads.  Practically everyone went away with a set anticipating to their use and to the great aid that a set of beads can offer in the spiritual regimentation and purification of things. 

May the Source be with you!

9 KM

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Halifax, NS

Spring Back

Nature has its way of springing back after it does itself in.  A hurricaine whipped through the city of Halifax but a decade ago, flattening many of its trees.
Trees generally have the power to break the wind but sometimes the wind breaks the trees.  There is new growth, however, coming up in the mixture of the coniferous and desiduous forest.  This we clearly see as the four of us took our walk through Point Pleasant Park on a second consecutive day.
There is something to be learned from nature in this 'spring back' dynamic.  Let's say some illness forces you to be bed-ridden for a few days.  It is your strong will to be healthy again plus all the workings in your body that fight for restored health that leads you to being triumphantly cured (let's not forget the grace of God)
On the sports field one team loses the game but the team with its resilience of spirit will play the game again and not give up hope that they will score well in the future and win.
At two locations, Sahil, Nirmana, Omni and I, sat down for chanting sessions (I like Sahil's drum playing by the way).  We sat on grass and moss along along the trail at one spot and then relocated where there was more of a flow of population by the ocean side.  We were sharing, softly, our music and mantras, carefully delivering our timbre and tone of voice.
People appear to be in the park for personal calming.  Everyone in this world appears to be "going through stuff" and their reason for a stroll in the park, for the most part, is to recharge, bring on optimism and hope.
They are consciously or subconsciously trying to "spring back".  And that is why I chant everyday and walk everyday.
May the Source be with you!
12 KM

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Finally, Beyond Dullness

I like to be early enough for catching a flight to wherever my destination might be.  Two of our travelling monks, Brhat and Hayagriva, dropped me off at Toronto’s airport to see that this becomes a reality. 

There’s no customs.  It’s a domestic flight.  Screening and security checks went smooth and fast.  All went fairly well, yet something hit me that didn’t go over so well for the eyes.  The décor in the waiting areas was colourless – all drab and grey.  The brief visit to the bladder room (Americans say ‘restroom’, Canadians say ‘washroom’, some Europeans tell it like it is ‘the toilette’), meant looking at off-white and grey tiles , it was unappealing.  I suddenly had a mental vision of grim-ness over dawn when it would make an appearance for us to view the outdoors.  Being the in between season of the vibrant colours of autumn and the pretty pure whiteness of snow, we are wedged in a period of, once again, greyness.

I came out from the bladder room only to be hit by more dinginess.  Most passengers were wearing black, grey and muted browns.  People were lined up and looking as if in a funeral procession.  The only sign of life, ironically, was the red poppy on people’s lapels that honour the glorious dead, soldiers of war.

Oh, and yes, there was this guy whose presence contradicted everything else.  This fellow sported a saffron-toned hoody that really stood out.  At one moment I thought to strike up a conversation and ask, “Where the heck did you find that colour that would mistake you for a Hare Krishna?”

The flight was short, under two hours.  Halifax, here I am.

A quiet couple, Sahil and Nirmana, greeted me.  We had a full day of catching up on things, food and devotion which included a chanting session at a venue on Hollis St.  True brilliance came our way when we strolled the trails at Point Pleasant Park.  It was when dusk was approaching.  The cloudy day itself became clouded by the sun’s absence.  And as it, the sun, was about to do its disappointing act, the coastal sky flaunted patches of pink.  Set as a backdrop beyond the silhouetted trees, was this spread of gorgeousness, of wondrous sky above and the glistening water of the harbor below.

I reflected on all the pictures of Krishna that my eyes have ever met.  So much colour in there.

May the Source be with you!

7 KM

Saturday, November 8th, 2014

Pickering, Ontario

Squeeze Moments

A strategy meeting, a sat sang, home program #1 and a satsang home program #2 occupied the day.
Still, I squeezed moments reading.  The quote which endeared today I wanted to share.

“Spiritual life begins with the tongue” – Srila Prabhupada

“He who is temperate in his habits of eating, sleeping, working and recreation can mitigate all material pains by practicing the yoga systems.” From Bhagavad Gita (6.17)

“Yoga exists in the world because everything is linked” – Desikaskor

“The soul is an emanation of the Divinity, a part of the soul of the world, a ray from the source of light.  It comes from without into the human body, as into a temporary abode, in goes out of it out of it anew; it wonders in the ethereal regions, it returns to visit it… it passes into other habitations, for the soul is immortal.”  -Ralph Waldo Emmerson

“Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.” – Albert Schweitzer

“Gratitude is a fruit of great cultivation; you do not find it among gross people.” – Samuel

“Contemplate solely the Name of God; fruitless are all other rituals.” –Sikh Adi Granth

“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.” – Bhagavad-gita (9.26)

May the Source be with you!

0 KM

Friday, November 7th, 2014

Toronto, Ontario


Addiction is a hard thing to deal with.  An addict is someone who’s terribly transformed over an obsession.  It indicates lack of control, lack of discipline, lack of self-worth.  Whether the addiction is drinking, drugs, sex, pornography or any other spin on being possessed, its consequences are so devastating.  It leads to break-up of family, loss of job, loss of hygiene and of good balanced health and so on.

Somehow or other we might learn something from addicts.  Although their attention is on a weakness and not on strength, nevertheless there is some attention or focus.  If it could only be redirected.  
I walked with a dear friend whom I’ve known since living in Toronto 40 years ago.  He is a sworn alcoholic but just as he has been loyal to the bottle, he’s never forgotten God and so he’s taken the bold step towards rehabilitation.  He’s getting help, lots of it, from experts in the field of recovery.
It was reassuring that he was taking the right steps, not only to do with our walking, but to curing himself.  My friend chants mantras, has reverence towards Krishna and appears determined.

I’m not an AA guru but I felt I could offer the recommendation for him to walk more, to keep the mechanism (the body) working, to take in the good air and to dream of an improved situation.  Yes, I believe that walking does allow the person do have greater stimulation of thought, ideas and dreams and hope.

May the Source be with you!

7 KM

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

Caledon, Ontario

Students – Yay!

I was asked this evening, “How are you?” and my response was, “I’m just fine because I had a chance to speak to students today.” 

Nisheeta Menon is a Catholic teacher at Robert F. Hall Secondary School, and had invited Keshava,  a coordinator at our ashram, and I, to give a presentation at their school.  We were to discuss the Hindu path, and more particularly, the higher consciousness of Krishna. 

Keshava and I drove to the precincts of Toronto and beyond.  We were gliding through, or so it seemed (he’s fast and sharp behind the wheel).  We went through rolling hills of trees, and at their base, wetlands and cornfields, and perfectly manicured lots with mansions.  Finally, we arrived at the usual square looking educational facility and then to meet the lively staff at the school’s main office. 

The gracious Nisheeta lead us to the lecture room, where soon, two groups of grade 11 students filled the seats.  Keshava and I began our talk, explaining first the literal meanings of our names.  Then, a day in the life of a monk (me), and the life of a young professional (Keshava) in the context of Krishna being in the centre of everything.  We showed visuals, offered some words of the Gita’s philosophy, and then chanted and danced, with the students, of course. 

That last bit was the highlight for them, and for us.  Questions came from their curious minds when Keshava and I alternately responded to everything about the nature of the soul, to why we are vegetarian.  The reward to our job done was fruit, cashews, smiles and appreciations from staff and students.  It made our day.  On our return journey back to our downtown ashram, I mentioned to Keshava how I dealt with my early morning fatigue while giving a class from the book, Bhagavatam.  I read verses from the book, actual words of a very motivated sage, Shukracharya.  I read them to our group of monks with a Dracula accent which met with their approval.  It perked everyone up, including myself. 

Keshava and I had a good laugh and a good day with students. 

May the Source be with you!

5 KM

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Markham, Ontario

The Danforth Walk

Heading east with Durjoy, a young Bangladeshi, we promenaded over to Danforth Avenue to reach the very lively section, Greek Town, you walk over the Don Valley Bridge, at least that’s what people call it.  Here too, I recall a tragedy of someone throwing himself, this time off the bridge, down to the valley’s base.  The young reserved chap used to visit our temple to inform us of vegetarian events going on.  I would say he gave up his life about 30 years ago, yet the memory of it lingers.  I pray his soul is rightly situated. 

I tend not to forget these incidents.  It would be a mental labyrinth of a journey to make, if possible, to venture to and try to understand the dissatisfaction one must feel before giving up one’s life. 

‘Suicide’ is something referred to by the teachers in our line of spiritual discipline.  Sometimes dubbed as ‘spiritual suicide’, the acharyas, or teachers, speak of about some renunciants who are inclined towards the soul’s merging into an absolute oneness.  Hence, losing one’s individuality.  The other part of this equation is to speak of the Divine in terms of mere energy or light.  It is an attempt to depersonalize God, to dishonor or discredit, and reduce the Absolute to an unfeeling being.  In our Vaishnava tradition of Krishna Consciousness, we very much believe in the personality of the soul and the personality of God. 

At the final destination, which I made this evening in Markham by cheating a little bit going 40 km via a car, a group of people had a sit down to a chant.  This chant was an offering to a personal God that listens, speaks, touches, tastes, and has feelings inside.  To Damodara (Krishna), we offered small diyas (flames) to God as a child, to God as one who has loving relationships with all, and especially to those who approach Him with bhakti, devotion. 

May the Source be with you!

6 KM

Friday, 7 November 2014

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Toronto, Ontario

The Bloor Walk

A drizzle did not restrict me from walking on Bloor Street West this night.  This street is always vibrant with young folks who infuse the area which is the location of the largest university in Canada.

I caught a glimpse of some people at tryouts at a dance academy.  I peeked through the window at the dance studio and it looked like guys and gals at salsa.  Somehow or other that visual helped me to see in my mind’s eye Krishna’s dalliance with the cowherd maidens, a function of His in a world far beyond Bloor.

Christmas décor and trinkets for sale are starting to creep up in window displays and shop shelves.  I’ve been a scoffer at the Yuletide event for years.  I’m fond of Jesus, but the mundane nature of Christmas in current times leaves one to wonder.  I’m reminded of the cynical comedic take on Christmas from a CD delivered to me recently, it makes me crack up to hear it.

Ekendra, the vocalist and music composer behind the piece called “Christmas Is Not On Vaishnava Calendar” actually pokes fun at Krishna culture as a fanatical Krishna monk named Yama Niyama Das Brahmachari, Ekendra’s lineup of tracks features songs like, “Simply Hell” to the likes of Jingle Bells, and “Santa Claus is Coming To Town” parallels “Yamaraja (the lord of death) Is Coming To Town”.  For more info:

It’s always therapeutic to laugh at yourself and your own community, which like any, has its own in-house quirky habits.  On my return stretch on the walk on Bloor, I reflected on how our ashram crew delighted in listening to it at the tail end of our Bhagavatam class. 

Down Prince Arthur I went, and passed by a high-rise where an acquaintance had thrown herself from her balcony some years back.  She did not survive.  When I walk on this street, in particularly past that building, I do so in the spirit of deeper contemplation on the fragility of this world. 

I also passed by Lee’s Palace, rock concert hall/dance club, I recall seeing the punk straight edge band, Shelter.  Those guys were in their prime in the 90’s and in the turn of the millennium.  I might be the first monk to have stepped into that place.  I was there to give support, of course, to their show.  The boys are good human beings, good devotees.  Still practicing Krishna Consciousness to my knowledge. 

May the Source be with you!

7 KM

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Toronto, Ontario

People Walking
I could not help but notice a potpourri of people as I stepped southbound on Yonge Street this evening.  It left impressions of people who stood out.
The first person: a young man - head protruding forward, not disabled, just bad posture.  Curved bangs for his hair reached the eyebrows He looked sad.
The second person: looking chipper, confident stride in his walk. Tall, big boned and head was swaying from side to side. His smile also went from side to side. At the same time, self-absorbed because when I nodded to him, no response.
The third person: tall fellow, bespeckled. Noticed me and said, "Yeah!"  Head was tilted. He was puffing on a cigarette. Face expressed beatitude.
The fourth person: short, bald man in his seventies (my guess), looked with utmost caution at both sides of the street for oncoming vehicles. Had a slight limp to his walk as he crossed the street.
The fifth and sixth: two towering thin chaps with hair gelled upward. Holding hands. Same sex, but are spirit souls. I am not judging them.
The seventh: a petite young woman, dark skinned in dark tight attire. Sexy demeanor. She is a spirit soul too.
The eighth: a man with large head, somewhat distorted, perhaps homeless. Made me think of Charles Laughton's rendition of both "The Hunchback of Notre of Dame". I remember the film when I was a child. His acting was damn good.
The ninth: a young student of UT from India. At peace with himself. Happy to see me. We met before at the ashram. Feeling was mutual. He took my advice to keep coming, keep chanting, keep in the good association of renunciants and devotional people. His name? Nanda Kumar.
"Like Krishna" he said of his name. We parted.  Glad to see him and all the people walking.
May the Source be with you!
7 KM

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

Miami, Florida

Water Coming

The tide was coming in.  It was ocean water being filtered through the mangrove thickets.  A small party of us took to the dry man made trail through those thickets, yet the water infiltrated and we were forced to adventurously wade through the cool liquid before we reached higher and drier ground.  The ocean tide did come unexpectedly, though a sign at the entrance of the trail gives warning that the trail will eventually become immersed. 

We took to walking over the roots of shrubs for the great escape and to higher elevation, and then to the road.  It was a fun task that also involved a baby stroller with precious contents inside.  It was an exercise of ‘Don’t Panic!’  Methodical steps had to be taken. 

Our location was the Matheson Hammock State Park, a lovely place of palm trees by the swamp, and manatees in the water. 

Oops!  Two of the boys did what you’re not supposed to do.  They shimmied their way up a coconut tree and brought back down 8 gorgeous coconuts for quenching the thirst.  Without a machete, it’s rather tough getting to access the nectar within.  Whatever was extracted was great though, it gave fuel, and spurred at least, myself, on.  We reached the park’s end, an admirable beach front which loops around creating a harbor of sorts.

No one dared to swim.  My companions are Floridians who have thin blood, and temperatures were rather low, even for a Canuck like myself.  Besides, we were tight for time.  We had to dash off for the Sunday Feast.

Guests did come to the chant and feast program.  Students from FIU turned up.  I spoke with the theme, ‘We are not these bodies, but spirits’.  We also did a viewing of ‘Gita: Concise’, our drama that we filmed in India.  It met with good response, and enhanced the topic of discussion.  All’s well that ends well at a Sunday Hare Krishna feast.

May the Source be with you!

6 KM

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

Miami, Florida
I Took Vitaliy

I took Vitaliy, who’s from Detroit, to Coconut Grove where our guru, Srila Prabhupada, had sat to deliver some lessons by the shade of three banyan trees in 1975.

Halloween madness had quite significantly subsided by 5:30 am. The Atlantic Ocean was remarkably tame and there we sat placidly. There was utter stillness to the exception the sound of the odd fish surfacing and making a minor splash. It was a perfect setting for mantra meditation. It was opportune for reflection not only in the water but on the benevolence we received from above – from our guru that came before us to help us see the world from a spiritual perspective.

I had spent a good chunk of the day seeing members of our Miami community on one-on-one approach. You have here diverse demographics, and of skin tones – white, black, brown and varying shades of them.

Before tucking myself into bed I shared with a group of devotees an excerpt from the book, “By His Example”, authored by Guru Das. “After eleven years, Prabhupada continued to reiterate the idea: ‘You are not this body: you are spirit soul’. ‘We must give up these bodily designations’. ‘You can change your country but you cannot change your eternal identity’. ‘We must constantly be reminded about the Bed-rock work principle of Vedic philosophy – we are not the body’.

I wanted to thank Ekanamsa Siva for the use of his art gallery where we held a lively kirtan and a session from “Tales from Trails”.

May the Source be with you!

3 KM

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Miami Beach, Florida

Night of Distraction

I caught the tail-end of the night life in the Alachua area. By “night-life” I mean the deer, the fox, owl and others doing their nocturnal roaming. I was executing my japa, chanting and walking when I could hear the creatures or at least spot traces of them, all but for the armadillo. This fellow was clearly visible and active in someone’s front yard. I felt confident that this guy will achieve his tummy’s goals.

Now, if we fast-forward to Miami Beach street life we will see a world of creativity mixed with monk-taboo visuals. It’s the Halloween scene on Lincoln Road and the nighttime crowd responds well to the kirtan. Some of the attire is rather risqué but I found one costume out of this realm a real killer. One fellow was donning a costume that portrayed the Ebola virus. It was awesome! It is my experience that when you deliver the mantra with drums to a night crowd, they love you for the beat
you create. It makes them dance. Many of the onlookers clutch onto the words of the mantra. People are always willing to learn. That being said, there are some limitations to enlightenment when people are under the influence of liquor or drugs. This became clear when talking to one of the Polish devotees among us.  He said, “I try talking to the people about philosophy but they’re not in the

It stands to reason. There is Count Dracula, Batman and Robin, cowboys and Indians and ebola personified to distract you.

May the Source be with you!

5 KM

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Alachua, Florida

Chats While Walking

Paul Rodney Turner is dubbed as the “Food Yogi” and is the International Director for Food for Life Global. We hiked some trails together at Lake Louisa State Park. It was a rather delightful hour-long struggle through deep sand until we came to the long pine needles laid out to create a virtual unsinkable floor as a trail. Paul (also known as Priyavrata as a devotional name) gave me the previous night a complimentary copy of his excellent book, “Food Yoga”.

I particularly like a quote in his book by George Bernard Shaw on the topic of nature’s power, “Think of the fierce energy concentrated in an acorn! You bury it in the ground, and it xplodes into an oak! Bury a sheep, and nothing happens but decay”.

This statement became significant since we were walking under the canopy of trees, not necessarily
oaks but pines whereby many pine cones were strewn all around us in addition to the needles.  Paul shared with me his video on feeding the homeless when he was in Colombia. He was happy to know that I fed some rice to a sand hill crane right out of my hand the day before.

With us was his fiancée, Jagannath Priya, and Arjuna, a hip-hop bhakti DJ. I’m not quite sure how he is dubbed but he composes great music – very dancey and very conscious.

We had put in some trekking and dreamed away at the same time. It even entered the conversation during brain-storming to start a Festival of Consciousness travelling road show; something that displays and distributes healthy food by Paul, music which is Arjuna’s niche, and my passion – theatre. Other features can be utilized.

So much talent is there that can affect a change in the culture of our world.

May the Source be with you!

6 KM

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Clermont, Florida

Before The Dawn

Before the crack of dawn I heard something crackling. A brittle dead branch snapped off its tall tree hitting several other branches on its decent to the ground. I cleared it while on the road side during this early trek. Also I heard a rustling in the bushes but my flashlight was not quick enough to detect which animal. Roosters made their cry. It started with one, then another, and another coming from different directions, different farms. This was followed by the chorus of coyotes. Crickets were conspicuous by their absence.

At juncture highway 237 I turned a right towards Gainesville anticipating a pick up from Ananta Sesha. The road’s shoulder was practically nil so with oncoming traffic I stepped into the land of wet grass. Seeds of this clung on into the hundreds. And as I plucked them from my robes I felt no encumbrance because with each flick of seed I uttered a mantra. The modus operandi is to transcendentalize every action.

Eventually Ananta came and drove me to the Gainesville Krishna House for conducting a Q and A session on the philosophy of Bhagavat Dharma. Questions were meaningful, not robotic inquiries or lacking in substance or relevance. They had depth. And their responses, in terms of effectiveness, lies in the ears and reason of the listeners. It’s not for me to say.

The other book end to the day was a presentation of Tales from Trails followed by an offering of ghee-drenched cotton sticks in homage of Damodara, Krishna as a child. At this Bhakti Center in Clermont a good crowd really took to song and dance.

May the Source be with you!

10 KM

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

Alachua, Florida

To Choose

3 miles or 5 kilometres is what it takes to get on foot to the local temple. 3 miles or 5 kilometres is the same distance it takes to return. The return or my accommodation place is at the home of Ananta Sesa and Vaishnavi, a south Indian couple and two sons, who very well look after me.

I had delivered the Bhagavatam class before my return. And the topic was about the choices we make in life. There is a tremendous amount of freedom experienced by all of us in this world of choice. When trained how to see the world in its proper perspective bearing in mind our true identity as a spirit that can mingle in the atmosphere of the three energies (modes) then good decisions can be made on the basis of knowing.

The three energies are satva (thoughtfulness), rajas (passion) and tamas (darkness). When our perspective on life is clouded by tamas (darkness), when everything is clouded with respect to goals, it is difficult to make objective decisions. You are too subjective to see the good choice you have.

The text which I spoke from referenced from Canto 10 and although the topic about Krishna and Princess Rukmini was clearly from another world, they mutually chose each other as spiritual lovers. The choice was vast. But nothing was as organic as the natural attraction they had for each other. When it came time to pick and choose for tying the knot a letter was written by her, sent to Krishna by a brahman priest about the mutual fondness and so, as a natural consequence, an elopement took place.

On another not it is with full congratulations that I appreciate the choice made by two people and the community to move ahead in their devotional life. Scott became Shasvata and Nirmala became initiated as Namamrita.

May the Source be with you!

11 KM

Monday, October 27th, 2014

Alachua, Florida

It Dawned on Me

It dawned on me.  There are two things that I like to have near me, at least two.

A road under my feet and a microphone at my mouth.

I get a charge out of the sand at the side road enroute to the Krishna Balaram temple.  It’s a faint worth doing with the softness underneath.  I was on my way to this particular destination when I dwelt on the prospect of saying a few things, perhaps anecdotes, about the guru on the anniversary of his passing.  By lunar calculations, Srila Prabhupada passed on this day back in 1977.  I was slotted to say a few words, not many, because I was at the head of a queue (being the guest) while others were anxious to say something too.

I did get the mic, by the way, but I ended up over-extending myself.  There is always much to say in appreciation of the person who’s done so much to improve your life.  When I think about the multiple benefits one word comes to mind that I’ve achieved and which I’m grateful towards.  The word would be “confidence.”

When I was in my last year in my teens and I met the monks that represented him (our guru) I was a jittering, nervous person.  I was shaking like a leaf but I knew if I spent enough time with them I might evolve as a stout tree trunk, ready to accept a challenging world.

The world that I knew before and after taking up the simplicity of a monastic are really two different universes. I’m grateful to be where I am but anticipating greater gains of spiritual maturity.  It is necessary to penetrate deeper into the realms of bhakti.  More focus and concentration is required.  As one martial artist, an acquaintance, put it, “It’s better to dig deep one hole instead of jumping to numerous shallow holes.”

May the Source be with you!

5 KM

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

Toronto, Ontario

Re-define the Celebration

I believe it’s not only leaders of the Abrahamic faiths (Christians, Jews, and Muslims) that get busy on week-end days. I think it holds true for most monks, swamis, and brahmanas too.  People make an extra effort by way of convenience on those days to push the spiritual button and engage their communities more so than on other days.

It really doesn’t matter which time of the week one reserves for the spirit, or what time of day, or special observances at certain times of the year, as long as you do something.

Today, Sunday, the temple packaged a festival of Diwali (a common celebration as a New Year), Anna-kuta, a festival of food to honor Krishna’s Govardhan Hill and the Kartik month, a focus on baby Krishna—all combined.

To accomplish the good time that comes out of the event, the kitchen was a busy bee-hive, as was the altar, the temple room itself and living quarters with extra overnight guests staying over.  Oh I forgot the office.  Frankly, that’s where I spend a good amount of time.  It’s a meeting place, really and it’s hard to get out of that box for a stretch or a walk.

I managed after the fun of the fest to reacquaint myself with quiet only to walk through a modern-day version of an old Celtic celebration by mere displays of Halloween’s orange and black.  Yes, residents go all out to exhibit massive inflatable black cats, ghosts, zombies, headless horsemen and everything ghoulish.

“Where are the good ol’ fashion pumpkins? You know, the jack-o-lanterns?” I asked within.  In one sense the whole affair appears a weird twist to the eve of All Saints Day.  People seem to get a chill and a charge out of anything scary.

One thing I’ll keep in mind is what our guru, Srila Prabhupada, once said about people not having a sufficient scare or fear of maya the illusion of the world.  Rather we flirt with temptation and dance with delusion.  To be honest, it’s time for all to re-define our weekend and big-time fun.

May the Source be with you!

3 KM

Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Mississauga, Ontario

Out and A Boot

Michael and partner, Saskia, came to have lunch with me.  Michael and I have been friends since we found each other via internet.  He’s a follower of God.  He also likes the road and walked the expanse of it across Canada.  That’s what we have in common. 

I listened to the time he was in Grand Forks, British Columbia, as he walked through.  I hope he doesn’t mind me saying it.  When a guy asked him where he was from, he said he was from Toronto.

“So how’d you get here?”

“I walked.”

“You walked all the way from T.O.?” said the guy in disbelief (we’re probably looking at 3 – 4 thousand kilometres.   He alerted his friends.  They came over and shouted, “Boot!  Boot!  Boot…”  The town’s custom is that you drink beer from a boot.  So Michael did that.  Actually, he ended up drinking two boots worth, and that pretty much finished his walking for the day.  We had a good laugh as Michael told his story.

Michael went through a lot of personal transformations during that walk.  He helps people currently with addictions and is moving on with producing a documentary of the wisdom you learn from the road.

Michael and Saskia are a great couple.  We parted when I was whisked away for a program where a family was honouring their new house.  A homa (fire ceremony) was held and conducted by priests.  I spoke from The Gita to a full house.  We chanted and then feasted.  In the process, I felt as if I landed in my stomach boot-loads of coconut water.  I was definitely in the mood to walk after that, especially to burn off the calories of the curries. 

May the Source be with you!

6 KM

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Thornhill, Ontario

Clicked Away

I clicked away with camera (on my phone) to capture what I’m seeing.  Posterity has it’s place when you fall in love with your trails.  Mud Creek was my path.  The people who are also on the path were glowing as much as the leaves were. 

The leaves!  Yes, they are on top of you, they are under you and they are all around you because it’s autumn. 

The other day I was talking ot one of our congregants, The Leafs, the hockey team.  His sons are fans of the players.  Whether the team loses the game or not, the boys are faithful. 

In Sanskrit the word for faith is called shradha.  It means, as our guru put it, “Trust in something sublime”.  It would make sense that the power behind the creation, including a hockey team, would be the most sublime entity of all.  In fact, I would say there should never be a disconnect between creation and its Creator.  That would be the greatest illusion to even think about separating them. 

So here I am shooting away, registering great scenery and appreciation of what’s there.  This venture repeated itself in the evening.  Two monks, Brihat, Hayagriva, and I took to a woodsy trail in a Thornhill forest before conducting a 9 Devotions Workshop.  The group we engaged was a Russian community.  Very receptive they are, and very responsive.  Here again, the folks were aglow, but in devotional practices because the workshop is very much hands on and heart touching. 

A quote from Vladimir Borisov, “Some people listen with their stomach, some through their knowledge, and some with their mind.  Very few listen with their heart.” 

May the Source be with you!
8 KM