Tuesday, August 28, 2012

what is love? - a vlog post

I once heard that life is not so much the answers that we get but the questions that we live in.

Today I decided to venture around the Lower East Side of Manhattan to ask the most timeless and - in my opinion - the most important question ever.

So I ask you: what is love?

[if you don't see the vlog post below, click through to here: http://youtu.be/FhdbJ1h9PIw]

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

On the Precipice

About four years ago, I ventured into an ancient, mystical village in India called Varsana. Palaces, temples, and shrines adorn the hills like so many jewels. In one particular temple, I found a stick of incense on the floor.

I tucked the incense into my journal, waiting for the special moment to let it burn. 

In my current upheaval of moving out, I came upon that stick of incense. And so just now, 2:13am on August 21st, I placed a flame to the incense and I am now watching it burn. Scrolls of smoke dance into the air. I am mesmerized and quiet. The unique fragrance brings me to faraway lands and faraway memories.  

Four years later, in four hours I shall embark once again upon a journey into the world. 

My life as I've known it has been packed away into boxes and carried away into storage. I am equipped with only a suitcase and backpack; these two bags shall contain the elements of my life until next April. 

I'm still in disbelief. 

I feel as though I'm standing on the edge of a precipice, like one of the mountains I stood upon in Varsana that overlooks a vast landscape of villages that stretch into the horizon. The breezes from up here twine around my body, the echoes of the mountains call me to jump, jump. 

Jump. Krishna is your parachute.  

Service, adventure, the holy name, and love is calling.  

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Birthday Party for God

(photo by Damodar Rati)

The clock is ticking down to midnight. I approach the glowing temple - I see hundreds of people inside all singing to the thrum of drums, and many more crowd outside on the verandah, peering in.

The time is coming! The curtains will open soon! I dash to the doors and slip inside.

I stand at the back in a pocket of space, exchanging grins with some friends. Suddenly, someone flips off the lights, which plunges the templeroom into darkness. Now all we can see is the glow that seeps around the curtains of the altar, which dimly illuminates the sea of people with upturned faces.

I can't stay at the back. No way.

I catch sight of a friend, and with a huge grin I motion my head towards the altar. "Let's go!" I say. Her eyes widen and she smiles back. I grab her hand and we weave our way through the densely packed crowds, all the way... all the way to the very heart of the templeroom.

The anticipation of hundreds of people to see the Lord washes around me like deep ocean currents.

Suddenly, three men emerge from behind the curtains and place conch shells to their lips. The sound reverberates like trumpets through the night and hundreds of voices rise in response.

Midnight has arrived. 

And when at last, at last.... at last the curtains swish open, hands rise to the sky in surrender, the entire templeroom is filled with cries of exhilaration and joy, every atom of my being seems to be ringing with awe. I raise my own arms. I feel as though a tidal wave of beauty is crashing over and around me.

I fall to the ground in obeisance. Cool marble tingles beneath my hands.

When I rise, I take in the breathtaking form of Radha and Krishna, bedecked with flowers and silks. So begins the midnight arati, the most spectacular kirtan of the year, for midnight on the 8th day of the waxing moon was the moment that Lord Krishna was born.

Just when I think I'm getting a little too overwhelmed with the sound and the heat and the crowds, I look over to see a group of women dancing with zero inhibition. Zero. So I head on over and jump in to the fantastic fray! The dancing spreads and spreads until the entire templeroom of people is dancing and singing at the top of our lungs. I experience all barriers, all judgments, all sins, all pain dissolve. We simply lose ourselves to the bliss and celebration of Krishna and His holy name.

We're throwing a birthday party for God - how can it get any better than this?

(photos by Jivana Wilhoit)

To write is to dare the soul. So write.