Sunday, February 21, 2010

Searching for the Lesson

I am searching. Like a lost wanderer searches through the dark, thick jungle for the path back to civilization, I search to find the key to be grateful.

As I search, I realize that I forget about all the blessings that have been bestowed upon me. They represent essential tools like a map, compass and water that assure me of my safe return back to my path. But due to that forgetfulness my meditation focuses on the disturbances. These disturbances are like pebbles, rocks and thick vines that trip me up in my quest and personify forms of annoyance, anger and self-pity.

But how can I brush past these disturbances and focus on the quest? How can I go deeper? The mercy comes in different forms. Even a lost wanderer receives help if they sincerely seek it. My help came in the form of sound vibration.

For the past few weeks I've been listening to one lecture over and over again. I don't listen to any other lecture except for this one and I highly recommend it. It's given by HH Radhanatha Swami and is entitled: "Accept Reversals Gratefully Without Getting Disturbed."

As Maharaja so beautifully elaborates, "One of our diseases that we come into spiritual life with is that we expect things to go our way. More or less we all expect like this. But the problem is if Krsna gave you what you wanted, you probably wouldn’t grow much at all because bhakti is not about getting, bhakti is about seeking shelter."

And THAT is the lesson I search for. That is my path. The lesson that Krsna is giving me what I need so that I can grow. Most of us in our spiritual journeys are lucky to have well-wishers who will chastise us when we most need it. They will tell us things "as it is" whether we like to hear it or not. In fact, there's a name for them: guru. :) Whether siksa or diska, that is what a guru does; they cut away at the illusion that blinds us. Oftentimes that cutting can be painful but if we have faith that they have our best interest at heart, it only increases our love for them.

Similarly this is what Krsna is trying to do. He is trying to elevate us. Instead of just letting me wander back to the path, he wants to bring me home. He is not willing to let me settle for fleeting happiness and instead wants me to experience lasting eternal bliss.

But in order to access that route which Krsna has planned out for me, that path which may be different from the one I have in mind, I need to look inside and access the gratitude that is lying dormant. It will allow me to see him in ever situation and turn to him in my time of need. It will cement the already existing bond that is already there of servant and master.

All I need to do is allow myself to feel the shelter that is already there.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Moments We Let Go Of

For awhile now I've been reflecting a lot on gratitude. What does it actually mean? How can we live a life of gratitude?

I had a small glimpse of how I could start to begin to lead a life of gratitude yesterday. Monday is the day that somehow, due to the mercy of Sri Sri Radha Manohara and their devotees, I am getting the great privilege of dressing Them. I gone to Ottawa to visit my parents for the weekend and arrived back late on Sunday just in time to catch the 8pm aarti and grab some of the delicious Sunday feast.

Knowing that I had to get up for mangala aarti the next morning, I set the alarm for 3:30am. It was with a combined sense of grogginess and enthusiasm that I woke up. After getting ready, I headed for the temple and straight to the pujari room to start preparing the clothes and jewelry. To my surprise I saw that they had already been prepared. Instantaneously I knew; the head pujari, having not seen me the night before and being so dedicated and loving, might have thought that I would not come to dress on Monday morning.

After mangala aarti I quickly caught up with her and was overwhelmed by her humility and sweetness. She flashed me a quick grin and said, "You're here. Great. No problem then, go right on ahead. In fact, it will be easier since everything is laid out for you." My heart just melted. Here is a devotee who has dedicated no less than 20 years of steady service of dressing their Lordships. She didn't have to get up early but due to her dedication she had just to make sure Their Lordships would be taken care of. Instantly I had to counter with, "No, please. You got up. If it's ok, I'll dress tomorrow. You please go ahead." After a sweet exchange, she went to dress them and I contentedly went to chant my gayatri and japa.

Upon finishing my gayatri one of the temple presidents came up to me and inquired, "Aren't you supposed to be dressing today?" I was actually overwhelmed at his thoughtfulness. I quickly explained the situation and told him I would be dressing the next day instead. Smiling, he went back to his japa.

Ordinarily, these are just some matter of fact exchanges that could happen to anyone. But I realized something- they aren't ordinary. In fact, these are the moments that we let go of and by letting them go, we also let go of our gratitude for those who care, spiritually nourish and support us. Every moment is an opportunity for us to realize this and although it takes an active effort, the more we recognize them, the more we feel sheltered and protected by Krsna.

Krsna always gives help. We just don't recognize it, but as the saying goes, "Where attention goes, energy flows." One thing I know. It is only by Krsna's energy, through his infinite mercy, that he allowed me to get a small glimpse of how sweet gratitude feels.