Monday, January 30, 2012

Illuminate Me

I have sat before the Gaura Nitai deities in my living room for two and a half years to chant the holy name. I strive to wake up before the sun rises (recently this is quite rare!) and place myself before the altar. I'm usually half-awake.

For the first time in years, and maybe this only happens in the winter, this morning I noted something special. I was murmuring the holy name as the sun rose, and slowly, so slowly, light from the window began to directly fall upon the golden forms of Gaura Nitai. The light was soft and gentle and illuminated Their smiles.

I sat in wonder. 

I thought of The Sunrise Song (Udilo Aruna); the Bengali song describes Lord Chaitanya as He rises at dawn to give the holy name to all.

So for a little while, I set aside my beads and brought out my deep-throated harmonium to sing. 

"To bring joy to all souls, the Holy Name has descended into this world to remove the darkness of ignorance and to shine in the sky of the heart."

Chills rolled through my body the entire time I sang. When the last note of the harmonium rung out, my body tingled. Oh holy name, I whispered in my mind, please shine in the sky of my heart. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Adventure of the Soul

I write this in a mountain town of Mexico called Uruapan. As the Winter Bus Tour draws to a close, I reflect upon the journey that 28 of us have embarked upon throughout this magnificent country.

I am quieted.

I thought that when I boarded our bus on that now-faraway December night, I would be adventuring out into familiar pyramids, waterfalls, and beaches, then exploring far-flung villages to buy gifts and lots of earrings.And of course, throw in some kirtan for spiritual fun! As in previous years, I assumed a great outward explosion or curiosity and wonder.

Instead, the journey has turned inward. The wonders I thought I would be reeling in have lost their luster to me. It´s strange.

The true jewel has become the holy name. We sing kirtan every night for sometimes hours, and I teach sometimes hundreds of people to dance. I have witnessed miracles blossom before my very eyes - people weep in kirtan and smiles of the soul blossom on faces young and old. I have spoken with several people in my limited Spanish, and the words that come from their mouths are, "I am at peace. My heart is free! This is food for my soul."

I am humbled. This is my fourth Winter Bus Tour, but I realize that I´ve never dived into this country the way I have for the past several weeks. Some days I have almost felt disppointed to realize that Mexico is not about the pyramids or the waterfalls or beaches. And actually, I have not bought a single pair of earrings (oh my!).

Mexico is about the people; people who move my heart in a way no other people on earth have - people who have never heard of Krishna but as soon as they see His picture and chant His name, they instantly fall in love. Even the woman who collects highway tolls asked our bus driver today who Krishna is (since our bus is painted with the words Krishna Culture Festival Tour). We gave her a mantra card.

I am surrounded by people who simply love God and want to know Him and joyously chant His holy name.

Maybe because the holy name is so profound, I have found myself questioning the very foundations of Krishna Consciousness. The externals of my life seem to have been stripped away. I wonder at the purpose of service, and I question every direction in life I thought I was heading into. Some days I have retreated deep inside my heart, grasping and sometimes weeping for answers.

It´s a strange life I live - a day filled with questions while the night filled with answers. 

I have found that each morning that I wake up on my swaying bunk, I wonder what the day and evening shall bring. What adventure shall the holy name usher into hundreds of lives... and into my own?

To write is to dare the soul. So write.