Friday, September 30, 2011

A Freewrite Poem for my Spiritual Master

Thank you

I would be stumbling
in the jungles of my mind
searching for love
My soul would be weeping
every day
Thank you for giving me
a reason to live
a way to die
at peace
I would be so lost
so lost
searching for love
in all the wrong places
sinking in quicksand
I would be trying
to capture the moon
in a mirror
I would be clawing at my face
searching for beauty
I would be so lost
so lost
seeking guidance
in a broken compass
I am weeping
knowing that your love
gives me strength
to live
I am humbled
by your love.

Thank you. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Beauty of Fragility

Today I have felt like spun glass that keeps getting cracked. My body feels frail because I'm getting sick, my computer is probably headed to the grave, schoolwork is crashing into my life in an avalanche, and I'm tired and woozy and disoriented.

You know, one of those fragile days.

Krishna Lunch is a program I like to go to on school days - I get to sing kirtan and then be with devotees in the chaotic whirl of school. And of course, the prasadam.

But today I didn't want to go - I didn't want to talk to anyone. I just wanted to be my spun glass little self and silently get through the day. You know, survive.

But the desire for good food drove me to Krishna Lunch anyway.

Man, does prasadam work wonders. After I ate, it was all quiet so I decided to sing, if just for a little while. The melody that came to me, unbidden, quieted my heart. I closed my eyes and forgot I was on campus, forgot I was getting sick, forgot about my computer, forgot about schoolwork, forgot about everything. All that existed was the gentle sun shining on my face and the holy name.

When I finished singing, I said to Anthony, "You know, this is a special melody,"

"How so?" he replied.

"There is a song that one sings when someone leaves this world, it's a song of separation and grief. I sang this maha-mantra kirtan in the melody of that song."

"Oh really? I didn't know you could sing Hare Krishna when someone died," a girl commented.

"Oh yes, you can sing and chant Hare Krishna at any time, in any place. It is the most beautiful thing one could do. And when I was singing this kirtan just now, I was meditating that we are all destined to die. So how do I utilize this moment and every moment? To not waste away my life? I just want to chant. I just want God."

I write this only a half an hour later in the library, wondering why I've taken time to narrate this simple experience. Maybe because when I am closest to my frustration with the world is when I feel closest to my realization that I need God.

I need God.

That is the beauty of fragility.

My Eyes So Soft

Don't surrender your loneliness
So quickly.
Let it cut more deep.

Let it ferment and season you
As few human
Or even divine ingredients can.

Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice
So tender,

My need of God

- Hafiz

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Bus Tour Dive

In the sultry Dallas night, a crew of people craned their necks up to a figure standing upon a ledge. She was staring out into the abyss.

"You can do it!" someone shouted out.

"We're all looking for an experience, aren't we?" I murmured to my friend Vrinda. "We don't want someone to tell us how it feels to jump off a cliff. We want to experience it for ourselves."

"True, true," she murmured back.

"It's all about the fall, man, that insane feeling in your gut when you're falling into nothingness."

With that, the girl leaned forward and fell head-first to the ground; the bungee cord pulled her back with a violent bounce. Cheers flew into the night like little victory flags.

"What about you, Bhakti? You gonna jump?" Gopal asked me.

"Nah. I have no desire."


"It's too short. It's all about the fall, and this fall is too short. But I'm totally down for skydiving!"

I remember that night so clearly on the Bus Tour, maybe because the Tour itself was reaching its final days, and I was reflecting upon our travels. We had traversed from the majestic beaches of Mexico to the freezing snows of Mount Rainier; a chilly Rathaytra in San Francisco to the sunswept parade down Venice Beach; whitewater rafting in Colorado to bungee-jumping in Texas...

And yet although every day we would wake up to a new destination and a new festival, somehow the ultimate adventure lay amongst us 45 people.

One night we would all lay awake and make up "ghetto" names for each other, and another night we'd tell blonde jokes over homemade pizza.  Some days we would play dadhi banda on the beach from sunup to sundown, and other days we would chant japa together all morning in silence. Some days we would sew marigold garlands until our fingers were dyed orange, and other days we would dance the night away in downtown Vancouver to the beat of the mridanga.

The Bus Tour is all about the people, the people, the people.

I have traveled around the world on my own and also with thousands of people, and I must say that there is nothing quite like the Bus Tour. Nobody can really tell you about the Bus Tour. You just have to experience it for yourself.

You just have to jump.

Trust me, the Bus Tour is not a bungee jump. It's a sky dive.

To write is to dare the soul. So write.