blogs (180)

Have Someone by Bhaktimarga Swami

5547905472?profile=RESIZE_400xAfter three zoom classes for the day, I was ready for a much needed time outdoors.  I chose, as my route, Yonge Street,  a place up for change, with towering condominiums popping up along the way—perhaps it’s a way of ‘cleaning up’ some of the unwanted elements.  Unfortunately, for about two kilometres along Yonge, from Bloor to Dundas, there is a presence of an unhealthy crop of people, often not always due to their own fault—the homeless, the drug users and other unstable types.  The building
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More Has Come by Bhaktimarga Swami

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 Recently another responsibility has landed on my lap.  Canada’s territory has been expanded to include Alaska, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming; all of this for nurturing the mission.  Leaders of ISKCON, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, have now recognized this as one zone, and, in the context of the continent (minus Mexico), this zone is called the North Zone.  This additional chunk of land, snow and people (with an altogether fairly low population)
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Near Me by Bhaktimarga Swami

5481333661?profile=RESIZE_400xSince I became a monk in the spring of ’73, I’ve made it a practice to have my japa beads (meditation beads) near me. This is how I was trained. My mentor at the time insisted, “Anything can happen at any time! It’s good that your beads can be within reach.” I was also cautioned that Lord Yamaraja, the God of death can appear at night, in your sleep, and with his agents, the Yamadutas, can drag you from your gross body preparing you for a torturous ride.

The kunti mala, the neck beads, and the w
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We Are Asleep by Bhaktimarga Swami

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“A sleeping person imagines an alternative reality for himself and, seeing himself as having various names and forms, forgets his waking identity, which is distinct from the dream. Similarly, the senses of one whose consciousness is bewildered by illusion perceive only the names and forms of material objects. Thus such a person loses his memory and cannot know You.”

-Bhag. 10.84.24-25

These two beautiful passages from the Bhagavatam were the topic of our discussion this morning as our small g
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Reflection by Bhaktimarga Swami

5446465087?profile=RESIZE_400xThe first verse of the 15th chapter from the Bhagavad-Gita reads like this: “Bhagavan spoke, it is said that there is and imperishable banyan tree that has its roots upward and its branches down and whose leaves are the Vedic hymns. One who knows this tree is the knower of the Vedas.”
 
I was always intrigued with this verse and am often in my walks reminded of this tree of knowledge by reflections seen as an ordinary tree by a pond of water or an image of a double-up upright and upside-down pos
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Around Fishing by Bhaktimarga Swami

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The place was the Weston Family Quarry Garden at the Evergreen Brickworks where two young boys were fishing for gold or catfish, whatever would go for the bait.
 
“What have you got there?  Worms?”  I asked.

“No, bread.  We already caught 3 catfish but we threw them back in the pond.  That’s what you’re supposed to do.”
 
I asked the boys if they would allow me to film them.  They declined but still we consider each other friends.
 
“They (meaning the fish) are really enthusiastic (for the bre
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Corrado and I and a new seeker, Abhijit, who works with healthcare workers, took to a walk on the shady side of the street.  Eventually we found ourselves in a tree-bound neighbourhood, but before that we noticed and increased amount of traffic noise.  Personally I was left to ask the question, “When will we ever sober up?”  More particularly I’m seeing the display of testosterone male power in the form of revving up engines.  They are noisy, loud and fast.
 
Since the global lockdown less traf
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I was inspired to walk upon the sun’s movement in the western sky.  I couldn’t see the glowing disc itself for the trees, the buildings and the time but I could perceive it through the colours it left.  It was a mix of warm colours, from reds, to pinks to an almost purple.  I wanted to gaze at it for some time but my measly mission was to walk.  And for that I must watch the sidewalk, the curbs, the traffic and the pedestrians.
 
Oh yes, you really have to be cautious about pedestrians.  And as
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Took A Chance by Bhaktimarga Swami

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I took a chance, a risk… It was starting to sprinkle. Tiny drops from the sky made polka dots on the stairs.
 
I had finished one of those live-stream presentations on Iskcon Toronto’s Facebook page on the topic of “The Art of Forgiveness,” then joined our crew for the pot-banging in support of health caretakers after which I decided to put in my allotted time for my daily trek. 

Whether those polka dots were going to stay for seconds or if they were to fill in to be a solid wetness on the con
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As a walker who prefers moving through green spaces, I can’t help noticing the plants to either side of me. For instance, I’m noticing the very invasive garlic mustard with its tiny white flowers. It’s supposed to be fairly good for the health and all agree that it gives off a spicy bite to a tossed salad. It’s also good as a pesto when prepared like basil. The problem with it is that it takes over the forest floor.

Stingy nettle is also making its appearance in the foresty ravine. This wild v
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A Cure by Bhaktimarga Swami

5098860873?profile=RESIZE_400xAt the start of today’s walk I took our resident monk from Bangladesh with me to show him what is a dandelion, that brightly yellow-colored flower that Europeans brought to the New World (North America) long ago. I plucked out one of those little flowers of wonder, which some people call a weed, so Dwarkanatha, also our major cook, could see it.
 
“The flower head is delicious as a pakora. The young leaves are great in a salad,” I explained. He appreciated the gesture of education and is committ
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It was like the meeting of the brahmins, only some brahminswere not Vedic or even Hindu. Yesterday evening I was on the call with faith leaders of different backgrounds. Our subject was “Our Stronger Together Interfaith Zoom Gathering.” It was the coming together of groups from Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and Hinduism and it was accomplished by way of zoom. Kevin Moore of the United Church was the convener and we spoke about the pandemic and how to respond to it. In other words, what
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Trees Please by Bhaktimarga Swami

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Bay Street is the place where many lawyers have set up office.  That might conjure up uneasy feelings for some people who venture that way on foot.  Being that simple monk that I aspire to be, I have little to do with legal affairs and not much need to venture down this street.  It’s definitely not my first choice to come to.  The place is rather bland from an optical perspective.  Perhaps the city is trying to change that.  They’re doing it with some green.  Yes, trees please?
 
On a strip of
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For two locations - Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Scarborough, Ontario—I zoomed out messages about Mother’s Day and what a glorious day it always is when we honour “Mother.”  For both communities I began my talk about the beauty of motherhood. Mothers give us birth, feed us, nurture us, put us to sleep, protect us, and much more.  “Serve and acknowledge your mom today, if not every day.”
 
I proceeded, however, to bring up examples of “Bad Mothers” found in the Vedas.  From The Ramayana we hear
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These Days by Bhaktimarga Swami

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These days the routine is sleeping, waking, chanting, eating, class-giving, counseling, encouraging, zooming and walking.  What I consider amongst all of the above activities which stands out is the walking.  I say that because it is outdoor experience that makes it unique.

Of course it was a special and precious one hour of being on the phone with Cameron from Hamilton.  We took that time to discuss the intro of the Bhagavad-gita.  That was also a breath of fresh air.  However, it is that air
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I rarely see residents coming or going from their condos across from the castle called Casa Loma but one man did peep out of his stately place and noticed Nimai and I walking.  It was a gray-haired out-going fellow, a Jewish doctor with roots from Hungary.  He was curious.
 
“You’re Hare Krishna!  I don’t know too much about it.  You live there on Avenue Road?  Really, you live there?”  The conversation went on for quite the while and we left our new friend with an invitation when it’s all over
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Encourage by Bhaktimarga Swami

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I embrace that quote by Plato, “Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.”
 
Plato, Socrates and the host of Greek philosophers reflect so much on what echoes Vedic wisdom.  In fact they had respect for the ways and thoughts of the culture east of them.
 
Here’s a verse from the Bhagavad-gita that resonates the similar tone of Plato.  Krishna states in verse 3.26 to do with karma yoga: na buddhi-bhedaṁ janayed ajñānāṁ karma-saṅginām joṣayet sarva-karmāṇi vidvān
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Every day each and every one of us has so many wants.  For myself I want to place myself in a good position in order to chant on my meditation beads in the most attentive and effective way.  So I came up with something that is relaxing, comfortable and practical.  In a physical sense as well as mental this works for me.  I sit on a good chair with a fairly nice back support. It gets my bottoms off the cold floor plus it’s hard to sometimes make that smooth transition going up when you get older
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I was just completing my walk for the day when I received a call from one of our brahmin priests.  Like most people I’m in touch with these days, this bank employer was expressing his awe at how the world is at present and living with the doubt as to when all will normalize.  We both agreed through conversation that it will be a “different normal.”
 
I voiced my opinion that I wasn’t particularly fond of the old normal and that when we get over all of the shutdown existence there will be an adj
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What Was Real by Bhaktimarga Swami

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Karuna Sindhu and I were setting up our tent at a suburban intersection where it was fairly quiet – grassy with some trees to provide enough privacy for the night’s slumber.  It was just another one of those days, on the road, walking the country, putting in a good 40 kilometres/25 miles.  Some young boys, a half a dozen or so from the neighbourhood, heard about the Walking Monk.  They huddled around Karuna and I as we were setting up.  They were intrigued with our rugged life-style as marathon
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