Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Wisdom of a Stranger

I sit on the porch of the Krishna House in Gainesville, reading. I look up from my book to the quiet street and see a man walk by. Something about his face speaks of such sadness, such... sorrow. I feel this urge in me to somehow walk out to him and hand him a plate of sanctified food, prasadam. Or ask him a question.


But he keeps walking by, and I feel very shy. How silly! Who am I to run out and start bombarding some stranger with food and questions?

He starts to disappear around a corner.

But a voice murmurs to me in my heart: When will this moment come again?

I put aside my book and dash off the porch, running towards the man. I call out, "Excuse me! Excuse me!"

The man turns, surprised to see a girl running towards him. "Yes?" he says gruffly.

When I reach him I say, "May I ask you a question?"

"Is this about parking?"

I take in his uniform, which I realize is a polo shirt which has embroidered on its front Parking Attendant. "Oh, no, this isn't about parking," I say.

"Then what? What's your question?"

I take in a deep breath. I look him in the eyes and say, "May I ask you what you feel is the purpose of your life?"

He furrows his eyebrows. "I need to work,"


"Yes, I need to go to work, I don't have time for this,"

"So you feel the purpose of your life is to work," I clarify for him.

"No," he says sardonically, "The purpose of my life is to be happy and make others happy,"

My eyes light up in wonder.

The man finishes, "Now if you'll excuse me I need to pay my rent,"

I fold my palms to him, smiling. "Thank you for your answer," And we part ways. I head back to the porch, reveling in the moment.

This parking attendant, who is a complete stranger to me, knows the purpose of his life. Just like that. The answer is clean and clear. His soul knows. I realize that we all know. The purpose of our lives is at the tip of each of our tongues. No need to force or debate or convince.

As the parking attendant put it so eloquently, "Be happy and make others happy."

Be happy and serve.

Something is amiss in this equation, though. I return to my spot on the porch to ponder. In my experience of this man, he was miserable. He knew and could speak the purpose of his life, and yet I did not experience him as aligned with his words.

I realize that to the degree that we're not aligned with our purpose, we cover it over with work. To the degree that we are not connected with the source of true happiness - God, Krishna - then we cover it over with work, work, work. Pleasure. Distractions.

I offer my respects to the man I met in the street today. He has taught me the simplicity of knowing the purpose of my life, and the lifelong adventure and challenge to align my knowing with my being.

And if I see this man again, the parking attendant, I think I shall go out and offer him a plate of prasadam.

(I feel moved to mention that this post is very much inspired by the Satvatove 3 course that I participated in this past weekend, which is facilitated by Dhira Govinda dasa (David Wolf) and Malini dasi (Marie Glasheen). I thank them for their guidance and compassion.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Seed of Devotion.

I've loved the name of my blog since I created it over five years ago. Not only is it easy to spell, easy to pronounce, and sounds nice, the significance is beautiful and personal - this title is my name (Bhakti lata bij) translated from the ancient Sanskrit language.

Over the years in a natural evolution, I began to focus and share solely my realizations about my spiritual journey on Seed of Devotion.

Then, a couple weeks ago, I began to feel trapped by the name of this blog.

You could say I have felt trapped by my own name.

Bhakti - "Devotion".

I've been going through a period of rebelliousness and questions on my spiritual path - it's uncomfortable and painful, believe me. And every time I came to post on this blog, I felt physically nauseous at the thought of forcing myself to write something "devotional". What's more, I felt sick at the thought that people may think I'm so devotional (gag) because after all, that's the name of this blog.

Seed of Devotion, right?

So in all honesty, I created my sister blog and writing experiment, 30 Day X-ray, as my way of breaking free of the bounds I've created for myself. The premise of 30 Day X-ray is to write every single day for 30 days, an "x-ray" of my life, so to speak. I wanted to give myself the freedom to write about anything I chose, from umbrellas to romance to God.

Day 23 into my experiment and I just have to laugh.

Seriously, I've been chuckling for the past couple days.

All that I really want to write about on 30 Day X-ray is my spiritual journey.

[snort] Some rebellion.

Ultimately, spirituality is about being real, man. Just be REAL. Be HONEST. After all, isn't authenticity the seed of devotion?

So whether on 30 Day X-ray or on Seed of Devotion, I give myself permission to write about umbrellas and romance and God. After all, devotion to God is at my very essence, that is the nature of my soul. And your soul, too. There's no escaping bhakti.

Thank God.

To write is to dare the soul. So write.