Connecting Devotees Worldwide - In Service Of Srila Prabhupada
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Hare Krishna dear Devotees, please accept my humble obeisances!
All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
Can You please share Your experiences of staying in Western countries? How You are there with Your sadhana?
With Devotee association?
With Your food?
With Your japa?
Is it really difficult to practice bhakti in the west?
And what difficulties might be there?
Thank You so much!
Your servant, Maral
Hare Krishna Mataji!
All glories to respected Srila Prabhupada!
You have mentioned an interesting point which allured my heart. We have immigrated from Indian sub-continent to North America for better socio-economic living condition. Many of us amalgamated with western culture and are satisfied with the life full of sensual gratification. Young generation are on the verge of forgetting the rich Vedic culture.
On the other hand, there are some people, including my family, who got the opportunity to go to ISKCON temples and associate with devotees regularly. We live in Toronto city where three ISKCON temples are running with the mercy of Lord Krishna. In addition, the number of devotees are increasing in each of the temples. We enjoy vegetarian food and Maha Mantra Japa.
In conclusion, I would like to say if you have unalloyed love and respect to Krishna then it doesn't matter where you live. We have to work relentlessly to motivate our family members towards Krishna consciousness. Srila Prabhupada spent his glorious time of life in spreading Krishna Conscious idea to the West. From my small fund of knowledge, I feel we are fortunate to be here because now we get more opportunities than before. It is true that if someone wants to become Krishna conscious then Krishna comes forward to eliminate ignorance and darkness in his/her heart.
Thank you mataji for your thought! Hope we will hear lot from other devotees.
my humble obeisances Amal Prabhu,
Thank You so much for Your answer!
It is nice to hear that even being in Canada one is having association of Devotees and chance to attend Kirtans.
It is also nice to hear that it is easy to find vegetarian food.
You told that there You have more opportunities than in India.
Can You please write in details please!
What difficulties You had in India and what difficulties You have in west?
What about going to yatras, holy dhams?
What about kids' education? Do you give them to karmi schools?
What about clothes? Do You wear Vaishnava cloth even to Your job?
Thank You again!
Hare Krishna Bhaktin Mataji for your sincere response and inquiries. Let me answer your questions first:
(i) Opportunities and difficulties: I am from Bangladesh and used to work with a prime public office ( not mentioning name because of privacy reason) and had sufficient financial inflow. With two children and wife we were spending a so called happy life without religious practice or vegetarian food. Used to visit different temples, but could not visit regularly for time constraints and security reasons. In addition, friends and colleagues around us were not encouraging us. Instead going temple and practising rituals were seen as a kind of off-track activities in a modern society. Also social security and various different religious bodies with different opinions played prime role in keeping us away from temples.
Here in this free society you are allowed to practice any religion or visit any temple without any fear. Since there are ISKCON temples in this city, we are able to visit temples and get correct directives. We don't mind drive even long distance to attend ISKCON temples to get 'darshan' of 'Radha-Krishna, have 'prasadam' and meet devotees from different cultures and countries. The devotees of ISKCON are always welcoming, kind and helpful. We help each other in different needs. We are like one big family consisting of many good souls. Your friends and neighbours doesn't care what religion you practice. Rather they respect in different cultures and religions. We know Krishna blessed us to be in such a wonderful environment.
(ii) Visiting Holy Dhams: This is an important area we miss a lot here. However, ISKCON devotees are visiting Indian sacred places as well as different ISKCON temples in US and other countries. Actually, we go in groups to visit different religious places to attend programs like Ratha Yatra, Janmasthami etc.
(iii) Education of Children: Our children go to regular schools here because there are no special school for Vedic education. The good thing is that the children have more opportunities to visit ISKCON temples and participate in various religious discussions. My university going daughter was not willing to attend any public gathering rather spend time in a library. Once I took her to our ISKCON centre, she stopped eating non-veg foods and has been visiting ISKCON regularly as well as chanting Maha Mantra. I never force my children to choose anything, but show them both the ways either follow the Vedic path and be happy in this material life and in the spiritual life or amalgamate with the western path of sensual enjoyment and get final result of distress and sorrows in this life as well as in the spiritual life.
(iii) Clothing: We wear western conservative clothes which are professional and not flashy. Many workplaces do not allow you to wear dresses of your choice. I think this is also in case of India. Can an Indian civil servant wear a religious clothes at his/her workplace? We wear appropriate dresses while visiting temples.
I would like to add that many of my friends living in different parts of Western world including Australia and North America are Krishna conscious. One of my friend's daughter told me to set computer password to one of Krishna's name and I have been doing that. Now, I remember my Govinda every time I log on to my computer and other devices. My daughter set up my telephone ring tone to "Hare Krishna" ring tone; now every time either I receive a phone call or hear wake up alarm, I hear 'Hare Krishna' Maha Mantra . I see continuous Krishna Conscious progress in Western world despite various material enjoyment resources are within your finger tips.
I hope I have answered your questions. However, please feel free to ask me if you have more inquiries.
Please accept my humble pranam mataji.
Well said Amal prabhu
Hare Krishna Prabhu! Thank you for taking your valuable time to read my posting. I appreciate your guidance and help.
Hare Krishan Dean Prabhu!
You are absolutely right prabhu that we need to go to forest or a secluded place to meditate. I appreciate your valuable time to read my posting and your important input as well as your concern.
Please accept my pranam,
Generally people don't read my answers...maybe they are different, I do not care. I meditate between 3 and 4 hours a day. I do my bakti...in my own way. And I study knowledge from various (GOOD) sources. A good line is this....wherever you go...there you are. No difference, as I can tell here. Except more people look at you oddly in western countries. There is a stigma placed on Hare Krishnas....as they call them here. But that is only because of the hippy movement years ago. It will change and those stigmas will die in time. Otherwise. I can be happy or miserable here or happy or miserable there. In the coming of the age of aquarius it will not matter where you are on earth. We are all going to be effected, rest assured in this.
Hare Krishna Dean prabhu! Thank you for your comment and wonderful picture of Vishnnu!
Hare Krishna Adam Prabhu!
I am very amazed to learn about your devotion and knowledge in the field of religion. I agree with you that we create our environment and we could be happy or unhappy irrespective of the country we live in.
Please accept my pranam.
i have done nothing. God deemed to bless me. Most of my life was spent as a curse, until i realized that it was building me up. Someone asked me about meditation, i thought it was this post, i am unsure. They had asked what to meditate on. This I do not prescribe. I will simply say the most basic function of meditation. It leads to many places, but its most basic function is stillness! At first it can be almost impossible to sit still. But now, if i meditate 1 hour a day, that one hour translates into over 24 hours of being content to do nothing more then look at a tree. Its quieting the mind and you are actually training yourself to sit still without distractions. This is the most physical manifestation and practical aspect of it. Take for instance how many times I used to watch people channel surf. uh oh, commercials, instant boredom, cant be bored so surf the channels. Human nature is based on desire. When we find a pleasurable state of mind we seek to always maintain that state of mind. And the baseline of however you normally feel without that activity/drug/whatever becomes boring comparatively. So your mind then starts making a comparison regardless of where u are or what u are doing to that "higher" better feeling state of mind. This causes a chase. Because even the most potent external sources create that state of mind temporarily. Say....drugs. 4-8 hours for an opiate. Now when your normal, everything you do, everywhere you go, your normal state of mind is always compared to that "high" state of mind. Thats addiction psychology. And its not just drugs, its human nature and goes to every aspect. Even meditation can turn into an addiction if one is not mindful that you must be non attached to non attachment as well...haha. So you are learning how to sit still, how to develop a love of god and make that stillness, that happy place, that pleasurable state of mind permanent, because it comes from within. So there is no time limit on that which is internal, and eternal of course. Thats just very basic practicality of it. The most important thing to focus on is the breath. Notice every part of the breath. Basic meditation you do not change the breathing pattern, just breath. After you have focused on the breath recite a mantra....or....the hare krishna mahamantra, perfect. The brain can generally only focus on one thing at a time. The mantra besides having energetic value will disrupt any thought loops from occurring. If they do occur and you forget your mantra your breath is your back up in which you can then refocus on the breath and restart the mantra. Eventually the mantra and the breath will disappear, sometimes along with sounds and basically everything worldly. Fancy experiences or siddhis are not the point of meditation either. Only to find God within. The mantra should be recited in your head, not outloud. Unless you are doing another method, many of which people do here. You want to be perfectly still. If your nose runs, let it run, allow it to bring you deeper into meditation. Its benefits are so numerous I won't even state more then this. Everyone gets what they personally need from it. There is no issue with doing your regular japa (i believe thats what the mantra recitation outloud is called, i could be wrong) as well as meditation. Remember, meditation is a preventative not a cure. If you are anxious don't meditate expecting instant relief like a pill would give. It adds up so that eventually you simply just dont get anxious. It takes time and one must be patient. 15 minutes twice a day is better then 8 hours once a week. Consistency is key. I also do my devotional activities, I have an alter of which I offer whatever meal I have. I do not eat gluten, dairy or meat. And I do not eat after 12pm, sometimes days depending on what I am trying to do. So you take yourself and your spirituality wherever you go. Work is no longer work, its "work practice". You use that time to learn to meditate and be fully in the present moment. So if i am lifting a box, all i am doing is lifting that box. Not looking at the clock. Not thinking about going home or if I am bored or regretting the past. When your mind is quiet you are in the moment and you can hear the inner voice, that voice of God that naturally puts you on the corrected path. I try to do right action and help where I can and I also study a lot of spirituality. So...bakti,jnana,karma and raja. And they all eventually develop whichever way you choose. If you can get bakti down, thats the hardest one for people to understand in this age. But it is the beginning and end and is that which will keep that light within you shining even when the winds of change blow about. So, as we say in Zen. Just sit!
There are also another 2 or 3 types of meditation I recommend to those who ask. But this is "zazen" or your basic Mantra meditation.
Much Love to every last one of you here, i hope I provided some sort of help.
i read Your answers Prabhu,
Please come and visit ISKCON in Florida for your vacation. There is a devotee school for children in Alachua, Florida. My apt is about a 10 minute drive to the Krishna House in Gainesville, Florida. They do a Krishna Lunch and preach to the students at the University of Florida. There is also a Temple in Alachua, Florida which is a 30 minute drive from my apt. You can stay for free at my apt for your vacation. There are a lot of wonderful Indians here in Florida who could give you lots of helpful information.