the walking monk (255)

8432175453?profile=RESIZE_400xI called my sister, Rose Ann, whose husband passed away from cancer. “Jim was a fine man,” I told her, “therefore he is fine,” implying that his destination was a good one according to the laws of karma. I was impressed with the way my sister was listening. Words of comfort and assurance are what she really needed to hear.

Another sister, Pauline, had joined in on the call over speakerphone, as she had come to visit and spend some time with Rose Ann to console her. She was keen to listen, as wel

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The Bench and the Sun by Bhaktimarga Swami

8343428480?profile=RESIZE_400xLike many pedestrians I will just take a pause when I get to a park and hit one of those benches. The sunlight was coming on strong, darting towards the northeast, almost as if pointing to that seat. I accepted the invitation and plopped myself down. A great location for a sobering time. Chanting one round on my japa beads is what I got out of it.

The park was located off of Barton St. I was not alone in the sunbathing. Others did the same; caught in their own form of meditation. I wonder if God

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8314912853?profile=RESIZE_400xIt was the second Sunday night in a row that I took a walk to Isabella Street to meet Vallabha and Michaela, the great couple that worked on our film, “Rolling the Dice.” My intent on the visit, which was outside their apartment for Covid safety, was to bring them a token of appreciation in the form of cake prasadam. Also, we needed to set some schedules to fine-tune our production. It was our first film.

My day was like a live-wire of bhakti, devotional service. At 6 a.m. I chatted with Vrishab

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8310533885?profile=RESIZE_400xI committed to time in the walk-in cooler where we keep produce of fruits and veggies but also flowers and greens. The lifting, stretching and reaching, to some degree, compensated for the day’s no-walking program. The sorting out had to be done and the coolness of the fridge made me feel as if, indeed, I was outside.

By the way, the cold rain and wind of the out-of-doors was a deterrent for me. First and foremost, the cleaning and setting things up for the sake of efficiency was my impulsive se

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Towards the Light by Bhaktimarga Swami

8289448476?profile=RESIZE_400xSubuddhi is in her 80’s and it’s a little bit tough for her to get around these days. For her group studies online she requested a copy of the mystical text, Brahma Samhita. She called me and asked for a copy.

“I haven’t yet walked today so I can walk over and drop off a copy. I’d be happy to,” I said.

The sun was in the west and to get to her place at Seaton Village I would have to head west. Great! I know the neighbourhood quite well with its quiet back streets. It’s pretty much and eclectic n

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High in High Park by Bhaktimarga Swami

8281312867?profile=RESIZE_400xIt’s strange but Toronto has been my home base since 1973 and in all that time I’ve never had, or taken, the opportunity to venture into High Park. It is rated as 4.5/5 and I can testify. When you’re there you won’t feel like you’re in the city.

Walking along the pond called Grenadier is pleasant as well as the main trails and off route ones. It’s always great to be in nature, with or without company. I’m not going out to even small home events but in nature’s social-distance venues I have no pr

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A Walk in the Quiet by Bhaktimarga Swami

8272789890?profile=RESIZE_400xI made an official call on behalf of our temple to an agency. It’s not my favourite type of service but nevertheless it must be done. My legal name was in their records but not my email address. I gave them my current email address but it did not compute with what they had. They were nice to me in terms of being helpful but the mood of service stepped up when I explained the following.

“Well, at one time I may have had You see, I’m a monk who’s walked long distances, fo

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Got Into Cleaning by Bhaktimarga Swami

8268963665?profile=RESIZE_400xI got into cleaning again, tackling another corner of the kitchen. In truth, there’s too many items and too much clutter. However, it’s therapy. Cleaning anything in the temple/ashram is like cleaning the corners of your heart.

Included in the fun is being in the room with two younger, Bangladeshi devotees. One is cooking and the other cleaning the pots. I have to be careful not to be too isolated in my upstairs room. Lest it be perceived as an ivory tower. I feel the driving need to give time t

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Usually by Bhaktimarga Swami

8261482099?profile=RESIZE_400xUsually at this time of year I’m in Varadero, Cuba. I am typically at the beach, under the sun, making visitations to cities like Havana, Matanzas and St. Declaro. We hold kirtan sessions, give bhakti lessons, answer questions, walk the streets, etc. etc. I do miss the wonderful people there. I also miss the good company of another monk, a Swami from Spain. His name is Yaduananda Swami. He’s kind, cool and caring.

With everyone in the world being grounded, reminiscence becomes somewhat magnified

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Permanent by Bhaktimarga Swami

8256884052?profile=RESIZE_400xI received my permanent bridge. It was installed in my mouth and it looks great. The word “permanent” may be deceiving. The only power that I understand to be of a lasting fixture is the soul. But, you know, I wasn’t about to have a dispute with my dentist on the use of the word. He even admitted it’s good for about 20 years.

The soul, the Supersoul, brahman, or the spiritual energy all around us, is eternal but that is not the same case for any dental office. The theme is “teeth” and such a cli

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Zooms by Bhaktimarga Swami

8253788257?profile=RESIZE_400xYogendra, The priest for the event, was all set up with his kund, a sacrificial apparatus for a fire ceremony in his home in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Etienne had his array of musical instruments—harmonium, mrdunga drum and hand cymbals—at his place in Moncton, New Brunswick, the next providence over. He was poised to play along with his daughter, Kunti. It was 11 a.m. Eastern Standard Time in Toronto, where I sat in our temple on Avenue Road, prepared to be on the same Zoom network as them for de

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8248011463?profile=RESIZE_400xI’ve been wanting to get in a bit more exercise for my upper body. Although walking for me is rather a routine, and it is great for the overall physical self, I have been feeling the need to strengthen the arms and shoulders. Lo and behold my wishes became fulfilled. The pots in the kitchen had started to pile up and there aren’t too many extra bodies around due to the Covid virus forcing restrictions on helpers coming in.

I looked at the pile of love, perhaps the way we should lovingly glance a

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Excited by Bhaktimarga Swami

8240023475?profile=RESIZE_400xI think it’s just one of the best things the city has done—created a beautiful, slick but cozy dynamic on Bloor Street. The street is known for its expensive shops at the platinum strip, from Sherhbourne to the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum). It’s a stretch where people just move, never loitering, never stopping to say “Hello!” It is tainted with corporate culture, more so than a leisurely space of realisation.

So what’s different now?

They have these net-looking curved benches that light up at nigh

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Cooking for God by Bhaktimarga Swami

8236671073?profile=RESIZE_584xI took my hand at the culinary craft today, cooking the noon offering. I have this great privilege being on the Monday schedule now. I feel blessed.

It’s been a long time since doing this seva (service). I love it.

Cooking brown rice, dahl soup, two veggie preps, chappatis, popadams, halava and, am I missing something? It was so exhilarating. You really have to be sharp when every item is over the flame simultaneously. I like the creativity of it all. It is quite the balancing act but, with Kris

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The Month of Damodara by Bhaktimarga Swami

8253750686?profile=RESIZE_400xWe have been honoring the month of Damodara, Krishna who acts as a child in all frivolity. The following is a rhyming translation by Kalakanta for the song, “Damodarastaka”.

After you steal butter, Your earrings dance and shine.

As you flee Your mother in Gokula pastimes.

Though you are all blissful, all knowing, ever-new

Greatest of controllers, Your mother controls You.

She shows You the stick and she binds You by the waist.

You shutter and sob and Your necklace of pearls shakes.

As You ru

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The Snow Came by Bhaktimarga Swami

8216966687?profile=RESIZE_584xReal snow covered rooftops, car tops, tree branches, roads and everything else. It was white, wet and wonderful. However, it left a slush dynamic; somewhat unfavourable for driving and walking. It was pretty though, as it descended, prettier than Hollywood snow.

I was not discouraged from taking that stroll to The Pits. After all it was late—10 p.m.—who would be out at this hour? Well, there were a few pedestrians. One homeless person recognized me. I was in my snow clothes, so how could he? It

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The Origin of MANtra by Bhaktimarga Swami

8213999654?profile=RESIZE_400xIt was somewhere near Oakland in California

Where people drive everything from a Harley to a Porsche

Anuttama and I were ambling on our humble feet

As traffic whizzed by like a roaring missile fleet

We got to talking about an absolute need

We had this idea that manifest like a seed

A retreat for conscious men who will open up

Get drunk on nectar brimming to the top of the cup

The bonding, we thought, would be most valuable

A feeling that would rub most palpable

There was a very good reason t

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It Makes A Difference by Bhaktimarga Swami

8210188084?profile=RESIZE_400xThe first day of the MANtra Retreat was a smashing success. Anuttama is just the best host. Tomorrow will be most exciting—a good speaker from the UK, Bhuta Bhavana, who raises the topic of empowerment. Check it out, 10 AM. Register if you haven’t, gentlemen.

At noon today one of my good friends from Vaughn came over and accepted two garlands for his Ganesh deity. He was proudly letting me know that he lost 35 lbs due to diet change and walking 10 kilometres per day.

I later came upon a tall fel

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Barry Brown by Bhaktimarga Swami

8206484688?profile=RESIZE_400xThe following poem is in honour of my dear friend, Baladev, AKA Barry Brown. We traveled as monks in a small party through the United States, experiencing what most people haven’t gone through.

Baladeva / Barry Brown

I know you never knelt at a church’s pew

You were Jewish, then Vaishnava, now a “Hin-jew”

As monks in travel we looked at the bible

Viewed the Old Testament exploring the tribal

On that same motel floor you wrestled with Giri

You lost—he won, leaving you feeling weary

On behalf o

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Meeting the Snow by Bhaktimarga Swami

8200951094?profile=RESIZE_400xAfter a day of chanting, discussion, calls, a class, a nap, a reading and some eating (broccoli stalks), I went out to meet the snow. It was a powdery type, drifting and blowing.

I was not the only one out during that night hour. Others, with their leashed dogs, had also come out, away from the mantelpiece, to perhaps greet winter. It has not become the intense sensation of weather just yet. Most likely the white will disappear in three days.

I was, however, the only one with japa beads as my le

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