Saturday, May 30, 2015

Gems

For the Kirtan Connection course that I teach, we have a private blog where students write a post every week and comment on their fellow students' posts. This week our topic was kirtan etiquette and pride. I just finished commenting on every post.

I feel like I've just emerged from a washing machine. I feel cleansed inside and out, as if I have received instructions from my spiritual master on the art of leading and participating in kirtan. I am humbled by the innate wisdom of each and every student.

In this course, we have a woman who received spiritual initiation in 1979 and is now returning to the Krishna conscious movement.

A spunky thirteen-year-old and a powerful thirty-two-year-old gurukuli.

A professional modern dancer who has visited the Bhakti Center only once before, and participated in kirtan possibly four times.

A lady who is dedicated to Krishna Consciousness and is a registered member of a Native American tribe. She comes down from Boston every week and shares her beautiful culture with us.

Two sincere and inspired yoginis - one who teaches and practices at The Bhakti Center and the other one who has traveled to India with Raghunath.

A soft-hearted woman dedicated to truth and serving Krishna.

I am in awe by the beauty of each student, so grateful to be serving each one. I believe that they are probably teaching me way more about kirtan than I will ever teach them. Thank you, Srila Prabhupad, for granting me the association of these beautiful people. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Certain Uncertainty

[Serenity Series for May]

It just hit me today: Soon I will be living out of a suitcase for two or three months.

Soon I will move out of my room here in Brooklyn. Not exactly sure where I'm moving to.

For at least the next year, my living situation will be temporary, as I'm not married.

Somehow I'm moving into a space in life where I simply just don't know what's going to happen. I just don't know! I'm standing on this high board, my toes hanging over the edge, gazing down at this rich blue, deep, and impenetrable water of my future.

In this suspended space, I had this glimpse today of simple peace: it is what it is. Somehow this is how my life is unfolding. I believe that I have done my best the past several years to follow my heart's calling, guided by intelligence. I have followed my dreams and followed my love, and I have discovered dreams that have transmogrified and a love that has blossomed.

Standing out here on this high board, I could feel sick and nervous and aggrieved. I could. And in my lifetime, I HAVE felt all of those things when I've stood on this similar high board dozens of times. Or, I could just accept the reality of my life. The reality is that I'm going to be okay. I'm not going to die. I got this. I'm not going to go hungry or homeless. I'm going to be okay.

I'm going to be okay.

The fact is that I have dived off of dozens of high boards and survived. I've even enjoyed the ride (sometimes!). The fact is that for the rest of my life I will continue to be perched upon the edge of a high board countless more times. A friend recently told me of a rule for being an adult: "Accept that there will always be uncertainty."

Word.

But one thing is certain: soon I'll jump, jump out into oblivion.

And then I'll land in the water and swim on!


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Birthday of a Great Soul

Dear Indradyumna Swami,

Please accept my respects. All glories to our beloved Srila Prabhupad.

This morning I tuned in to the Alachua radio and got to hear you speak so beautifully on Srimad Bhagavatam. When I meditate upon your mood of service and love to your spiritual master, Srila Prabhupad, I am amazed that I have gotten to associate with you. I experience you as having such a magnanimous personality, so willing to give your time and heart and life to Krishna and the devotees. You're willing to fly across the world to keep a promise to attend a young lady's wedding, and you'll respond to a Facebook message that requests your blessings for young writers to write for Krishna. When you speak, those who listen are moved to tears and laughter and to the deepest parts of their souls.

I am blessed to consider you my shiksha guru, and I place your love and instructions upon my head. Thank you for being a part of my life. I pray that I may follow in your footsteps and serve my spiritual master with the faith, dedication, and enthusiasm that you live by.

Happy Birthday :)

Sincerely and with love and respect,

Bhakti lata dasi


Friday, May 15, 2015

Whats in a Name?

Flashback Friday: September 23rd, 2001 (age 14)

I haven't realized it before, but I'm actually named after it: Bhakti - transcendental service to Krishna... this is perfect happiness. To give and give and give and receive nothing in return. At least materially. Just to give is a magnanimous gift to my own being. To have clothes on my back, to honor prasadam... and to constantly serve Krishna is ultimate.

Anyway, I have recently stopped chanting my japa and performing a mini-morning program. I know this is all temporary, the way I have been acting, but it's not good. I must pray to Chaitanya for mercy and continue my routine of preparing and honoring prasad, chanting two rounds of japa (more, if time allows), play the mridanga with some morning prayers, and then read on spirituality, the scriptures, Krishna's pastimes... anything! I MUST keep going if I don't want to get swallowed up by maya. So, with this contract to myself, this vow to my soul, I will continue these trascendental habits. Haribol! 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Waking Up to My Will

Serenity Series: March

"I've wanted to be a high school English teacher since I was 12."

I've been reciting this line for the past decade or so. This aspiration has driven my endeavors in university, travel, and then ultimately to graduate school. I've recited this line in application essays, interviews, blog posts, and Facebook statuses.

Last fall, I dove into a month-long interview process to work as a teacher assistant at a reputable charter school network. I did my best and surrendered the result to Krishna. Bam - I got my dream position. The principal and I agreed to try it out, see how things went. I was amazed and excited, thrilled to be so directly working and on the path of my lifelong aspiration.

My first days at the school were fascinating, and I was invigorated, inspired. Yes, yes!! This is what I want!

A couple weeks in, I began to feel conflicted. Many times I would come home and cry. Dread. My experienced was summed up in that word. I dreaded checking my work e-mail, I dreaded getting out of bed on days that I worked, I dreaded being at work.

True, I was very rarely engaged in work that related directly to teaching English and to working with students in meaningful ways. I often felt awkward, out of place.

During one particular meeting with the principal of my school, I was suddenly hit with the words: "I'm not meant to be a teacher. Not in this capacity."

That night I got down on my knees and sobbed and prayed to Krishna. Where do I go from here? What does this all mean?

Strangely enough, in the following days I felt lighter. I felt free. I felt as though I had finally broken free of a lifelong expectation that I had had of myself. Free of my history, free of that line that I had been reciting for over a decade in essays and interviews.

I shared with my supervisor my intention to leave the school, and she was understanding. I gave my notice of resignation to the principal, and she was kind and gave her blessings for me to continue on my way. So did all of the other teachers and staff in the building. My last day of work I experienced love and good will from everyone, including students.

I have felt deeply free the past couple weeks. I feel as though the world is open now, wide open. If I decide to work in a circus as a flame thrower, lovely! If I decide to pursue architecture, awesome!

If I decide to be a high school English teacher, wonderful!

Now I know that whatever I do pursue it is because I am using the God given free will of my heart and I would choose to say, "I've wanted to be a high school English teacher since this very moment." 

To write is to dare the soul. So write.