Sunday, November 27, 2011

Moment of Liberation

For the past several week, I have experienced a sort of stillness in writing - like a book that has been sitting on the shelf and has gathered dust. So much is going on in my life, but I haven't been in the mood to formulate my thoughts into words to share with the world.

Last night, though, in the thrumming whorl of Gaura Vani's and Madhava's kirtans here at the Festival of the Holy Name, I felt the murmurings of a desire to write. I was surrounded by a beauty that begged for expression.

Undulating waves of the holy name washed all around me and through me. I felt like a rough stone in the midst of great waterfalls of the holy name, and by the constant flow the rough edges of my heart became smoother and smoother.

At one point in Gaura Vani's kirtan, I experienced every single molecule in my body rest at peace. I tilted my head upwards gently into the light, and my eyes were closed. I lifted my palms skyward. And I experienced: this is the perfection. This is the perfection.

The holy name filled something deep inside of me, a yearning that I realize I am searching for in my life; I've been searching for this for lifetimes.

I observed a sign on the wall (which I shall paraphrase):

Chant the holy name in bliss. This is liberation. - Srila Prabhupad

I felt as though for those indescribably beautiful moments, I had experienced that liberation Srila Prabhupad spoke of, even if for only a moment. I pray for those moments to become my lifetime. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Conversation with God

A week or so ago, a friend of mine recommended that I read the book Conversations with God, by Neale Donald Walsch. Basically, it's a guy who sits down one night, picks up a pen, writes down a question, and God responds through the guy's pen.

You know, a conversation.

Yes, Neale Donald Walsch had a conversation with God. If you don't believe me, go read the book yourself. All I can relate is my own experience in reading it, and for the past two weeks I feel like I've been going through life in technicolor. It's like every moment is a jewel because it has been given to me by God.

And tonight was a jewel!

For one of my college classes, I have this assignment to attend various events with high school age kids. The catch is that it must be different from my own upbringing. Nervous that the assignment deadline is approaching, I finally did some Google searches today and found a youth Bible Study in Gainesville. I decided to go tonight - hey, carpe diem!

So at around 7pm, I walked through the doors of The Rock school/ministry. I felt a little nervous yet also happy to have an excuse to dive into another world. I struck up some conversations and immediately felt at home.

The evening began with worship - a rock band played a devotional song and everyone sang along. I was surrounded by teenagers with rapt expressions on their faces, eyes closed, their palms raised to the sky.

When the song ended, the pastor got up to announce the subject of tonight's Bible Study: hearing the voice of God.

I stood there, gaping in shock. Whaaat?

He told the story of how many years ago, he couldn't sleep and he felt that God was trying to speak to him, so he sat down and wrote and wrote - four or five pages, he just wrote everything he felt God was trying to tell him. He saved those pages, and many years later he still lives that timeless wisdom, and how what he wrote has come to pass.

Just like the Walsch guy, I thought.

We broke off into groups, and I followed the 11th and 12th graders upstairs. We arranged our chairs into a circle, and the young woman leading the Bible Study group asked the first question: "Describe a moment when you think God was trying to speak to you."

The entire Bible Study, I just sat there dumbfounded. I contributed at times, but mostly I was absorbing every single word said. Some teenagers were more outspoken than others - they spoke in such a real way, that God was a part of their everyday lives, and how they listen to their intuition. I felt so deeply humbled - although I am chronologically older, I experience these young people as having such a deeper connection with God in their hearts.

There was no sacrilege here to say that one can hear the voice of God. Frankly, it was conversed about in the most chill, down-to-earth way - even encouraged. "I listen to the voice of God. God is real, God is in my heart," one girl put it so simply.

Of course, not everyone felt such a connection, which brought us to our next question: Why is it sometimes difficult to hear God's voice?

"Movies, bad music, bad habits..." some teens volunteered. "Maybe we ignore the voice of God, so our channels get clogged up... If we are an instrument, we must be properly tuned to hear the Lord's voice."

When the leader of the group asked if anyone would like to add anything, I decided to speak up. "You know, I'm actually college age and I come from a different spiritual tradition, but I would like to express how grateful I feel to be here with all of you. This has been an important experience for me for the past two weeks or so, about listening to the voice of God. I feel that God has directed me to this very room to be here with all of you tonight. Every word that you've shared I've taken it to heart, you have all been my teachers. I realize how God transcends all boundaries. God is in my heart, He is your heart. I feel humbled. So thank you!"

A boy or two began to applaud, and then everyone applauded, smiling. I grinned in surprise and did a little bow where I was sitting. "Thank you!" I said again.

What an adventure life is when every moment, every breath is infused with God... including this one! The Lord in your heart has brought you to these very words.

So what are you waiting for? Go have a conversation with God!

To write is to dare the soul. So write.