Thursday, July 31, 2014

Repacking Suitcases

I've been living out of a suitcase for the past 5 months. Actually, other than a couple months at my parent's house, I've been living out of suitcase for the past 2 years.

When I was at my parent's house in Hawaii, I finally had all my stuff under one roof, in one room! Unbelievable. Eventually though, life called me back to New York and I needed to pack everything up into boxes again. I packed my two suitcases expertly to accommodate all kinds of situations and seasons - from winter job interviews to summer festivals. All of it - two suitcases.

I got sick of my clothes within two months.

It has now been five months and I literally daydream about my clothes packed away in boxes at my parent's. I dream about buying new clothes. I admit that I have even written out Wish Lists. All I can think about lately is what I want to buy, buy, buy.

I am finally moving into my own room for the next year. So this morning I upturned all my clothes onto my bed to repack everything to move. I began to feel this growing sense of awe - so many clothes. So many shirts, pants, skirts... I look at my Wish List and realize that everything I want to buy is what I already have in my suitcase.

And yet I have this insatiable need for something new, something different, something fresh.

And if I have that "something," then I will be happy and content.

I have only to look at my beautiful and variegated selection of clothing all folded neatly back into my suitcase for me to realize that it's me that is not seeing the gifts that have been given to me. It is me that sees a lack. I have everything I need. I have actually everything I want. I have been blessed a thousand times over, a thousand.

I guess every once in awhile we need to repack the suitcases of our hearts to realize just how much is in there.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


    (photo by

I walk past the gutters
littered with trash
and the walls scrawled
with shapeless letters.
Music with no melody,
only beats and mutters,
blares from speakers.
Lined, unsmiling faces
and crossed arms
greet me on the platform.
The train arrives with
a blast and the rhythmic
The doors open with a hiss.
The floor rumbles beneath me,
we pass building
after building
scarified with
and more graffiti
that all looks the
same same same.
Graffiti scratches surround me
on the window and seat,
on the walls.
A man across the aisle
misses his stop, curses loudly.

I arrive at the Bhakti Center for a festival
by the City.
Drained by the way
and I
graffiti our lives
with chitter and chatter
and curses.

I'm on the schedule to
sing kirtan in 15 minutes.
I heave a sigh and
head to the templeroom.
I am washed with the scent
of incense and
the holy name.
I thought that I had needed
to sleep
but after a half an hour
of singing
I just want to stay here
right here
in front of God
for the next seven days
and graffiti my heart
with the holy name.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Pleading My Case

Last year in Mayapur...

The cold seeped into my fingers. I stitched away at the delicate needlework on the piece of cloth I was embroidering with beads. Other Mayapur Academy students were bent over looms, huddled in their sweaters.

Keshavi Mataji came around to clusters of students. She gathered several of us and said, "So, you are now going to write. You are having a conversation with Lord Chaitanya. You want to go back to the spiritual world, but He is skeptical. So have a conversation where you convince Him that you want to go back." Keshavi Mataji handed us lined pieces of paper, then moved on to the next cluster of students.

I stared at the blank sheet of paper, then went back to my needlework. How would I ever convince someone that I wanted to go back to the spiritual world when really I didn't care about going back? What was the big deal, anyway? Why can't we just live and love here? The spiritual world doesn't only have to exist when I die.

Time was ticking. Finally, I set aside my needlework and picked up a pen. I wrote the following conversation:

Me: You came for me, Mahaprabhu!
Lord Chaitanya: Yes. I only want to know how and why you want to come with me.
Me: This world... this place is not my home.
Chaitanya: You often forget that.
Me: I am realizing that the only place I can give love with no fear, with all my heart, is with You.
Chaitanya: Nice words. How about showing them?
Me: I have been on this path to You my whole life, Mahaprabhu. Lifetimes, actually.
Chaitanya: This qualifies you to come back to the spiritual world?
Me: No. I have no qualification.
Chaitanya: Then tell me how you can come with Me.
Me: Because You love me unconditionally, especially because I have no qualification.
Chaitanya: You're tugging at my mercy, Bhakti lata.
Me: Exactly. I am an impudent beggar. I have no right to beg, to be hanging onto the hem of Your dhoti.
Chaitanya: Indeed.
Me: I am demanding the highest gift, even though I have no right to demand. But I am lost without You. I beg You take me home.
Chaitanya: You don't need to beg, my dear Bhakti lata dasi.
Me: Really?
Chaitanya: I have wanted you to come home with Me for thousands of lifetimes. I just wanted to hear from YOU.
      Come [holds out hand], let's go home.


When I recited this conversation out at the end of class to my fellow students, my voice broke at the end. A hush had fallen over everyone during these readings, and a hush fell over my own heart.

Take me home. Please. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Morning in Mayapur

From a journal entry awhile ago...

Wow. I am so in love with Mayapur. The deities here emanate love. They emanate sweetness and magnanimity. Every single person that I meet is a true Vaishnava - an example of kindness, sweetness, patience, tolerance, and of paka principles.

I chanted japa in the temple this morning, I was a little out of it. But slowly, slowly, I warmed up. Some men sat down to sing the most heartachingly beautiful bhajans, and I let my mind absorb in that poetry of music. The music soothed my mind - so much that I didn't want to leave, just stay in the templeroom with the curtains closed. I felt such shelter from the world in the templeroom. No plans, no drama, no one to meet, no one to talk to... just chanting and receiving darshan of the Lord. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Tell Me Something About Krishna...

Over a year ago, I received a random text message from my friend Balaram:

"Tell me something about Krishna." 

I was taken aback. How often do I get asked that kind of question?? I wanted to just write back, "Um, He's God." But I took some time to deeply reflect, and then I sent him back a meditation.

Over the past year, Balaram and I have taken turns in writing the random text message: Tell me something about Krishna. Usually Balaram will ask me, and it always catches me off guard. Sometimes we share something silly, sometimes something profound.

Some time ago, I asked Balaram to tell me something about Krishna. Several weeks later, he finally responded.

"Krishna is in the rare moments when I truly connect with a person who is also in the pursuit of simultaneously living and understanding what it means to be alive.

That's one thing I can say about Krishna."

I can't help but feel that if you, dear reader, are in the pursuit of living and understanding what it means to be alive, then Krishna is alive and present in this very moment, as you read the words off this screen. I am honored to be in your association. Thank you.

It's your turn: tell me something about Krishna. Or better yet: tell the world something about Krishna.

To write is to dare the soul. So write.