Saturday, January 7, 2012

Divine Creativity

Every soul is a medium of divine creativity. Nobody is independently the source of the magic. Only God is. So when somebody is presenting that magic of God, where is the reason for entertaining any envy, the experience of displeasure at the good of someone else? The individual is only a channel. God is the one who's doing it, empowering the person to do something wonderful. In fact we all share in the same fortune! Just like in an orchestra we all have our designated instruments, playing under the direction of the conductor (God). Naturally it entails that at times you have to keep quiet. But the tendency of the ego-self is to constantly shout out, "I want to play! I want to play! ME!" bypassing the fact that the sum is greater than the parts. I need to allow her to play the cello, sometimes he has to play the violin, and sure enough in time I will be called to play my flute. Then silence can become dynamic, as I'm reassured and see the bigger picture. I rest in that silence comfortably cherishing the magical beauty that is coming to live all around me, perceiving God coming through so many channels. I become overcome with joy and exhilaration, understanding that it is truly a gift to be an integrated part of the whole, to be allowed to experience the magic and wonder that is happening. Something I could never have dreamt of or realized on my own.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Guardian Angels

When it comes to people who have made a significant, positive difference in my life I think of two very special souls, my brother-in-law, Djahangir, and my high school principal, Kurt Westlund.

I remember how my brother-in-law one day took me out for a walk. He spoke to me as an equal, "Tell me, what do you think about this issue?" With a care and sincerity to allow me space, and patient attention to listen. He was the first adult in my life to treat me that way. I felt empowered. He communicated that I wasn't there to accommodate myself to him. I was free to speak my mind. I was treated with respect. For someone to care enough to take time to help a young man to come out of his shell. How invaluable it can be. What a remarkable investment!

During senior high school I served as the chairman of the students’ council. In the course of those years I had the privilege to work closely with our headmaster, Kurt Westlund. He took me under his wing and mentored me. The first encounter that comes to my mind was when I had saved money to buy a rather expensive book on the topic of education and pedagogics. I had just bought the book when I arrived at a scheduled conference. During the break Kurt saw the book and asked if he could have a look at it.

"You bought this?! How did you afford it?"

I told him I had saved money from my own weekly allowance.

"Come with me," he told me. We went over to the reception where he told his secretary to cover the expenses for the book. I was taken aback. He had seen my interest and commitment and made the choice to support and encourage it.

There were many other such acts of courtesy, care and encouragement through the years. But the last one stays with me. I had gone over to the principal's office to notify Kurt that I wouldn't make for the graduation as I was heading for Philadelphia a week earlier. "We can't leave it at that, can we?" he said and invited me out for dinner, just the two of us. And so we went together to a nice restaurant where we dined and spoke. A delightful afternoon. When we came back he presented me with a certificate. I was amazed by what I read. He had seen something in me that I then couldn't see in myself.

My deepest thanks goes to these two remarkable human beings, two guardian angels the Beloved put on my path to inspire and empower me. They affirmed and mirrored me during those stormy years of adolescence so I could begin to believe in myself. For that I'm profoundly indebted to both of them.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Gift Of Music

Music is the heartbeat of the soul. So magnificent. So beautiful. It's a reminder of what we love the most. A gift to remind us of our soul. Music sets us free. It opens hearts and enables us to appreciate life. Music is the tender stream of divine reminiscence. A soul movement, a nectar flow that nurtures the heart. Music and rhythm find their way into the secret chambers of the soul. They reflect the deepest mysteries of the heart. Music is what feelings sound like. It is the divine way to tell beautiful, poetic things to the heart. Music is intimacy. One soul communicating, one soul receiving, with the least possibility for misunderstanding. It is immediate communion. Love, joy, the inexplicable - all can be transmitted by the wonder of music. Music speaks what cannot be expressed. It heals the heart and makes it whole. It is verily the refreshment of the soul.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Solace & Renewal

Along side life's multitude of challenges there is much sweetness and beauty to offer us solace and renewal. I think of a flower's perfect elegance. The sun's life-giving warmth and brilliance. The charming song of birds. The stillness of the morning. An affectionate smile. A loving gaze. Children's laughter. An ecstatic dance. A wondrous melody. The moon's magical being. It all tells of a heart so beautiful and tender that has brought forth a reality full of captivating wonders. Overflowing with endless abundance, this divine boy is the cause of you and me, each a unique, masterful miracle. As we approach this timeless cowherd boy who by dint of his limitless joy is always engaged in ever new pastimes of love, our true passion for life breaks forth and shows itself in all its wondrous beauty.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Five Short Chapters

I: I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk; I fall in. I am lost... I am helpless. It isn't my fault. It takes me forever to find a way out.

II: I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don't see it. I fall in again. I can't believe I am in the same place, but it isn't my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.

III: I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in... it's a habit. My eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.

IV: I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.

V: I walk down another street.

by Portia Nelson

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Unexpected Kindness

I remember taking a walk during a lovely spring afternoon, somewhat gripping with my mind, not feeling completely grounded. As I was walking I approached a courtyard where children were playing, the parents sitting nearby on a bench. As I passed one of the small boys he just turned around and gave me a hug, and then went back to playing again. I wasn't expecting that! My heart was so touched by the simplicity of that child's tender heart. He opened my heart. I felt centered again, all mental reservations and doubts having melted away. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Titanic Struggle

Once very long ago, the story goes, a hermit had a vision in his desert monastery. He saw a vast ocean. On one of its shores a monk was standing. The monk leaped high into the air, and with bright wings soared effortlessly across the great body of water to a heavenly land on the other side.

As the hermit wondered over this strange revelation, he saw a second monk approach the shore. This monk spread his wings. But his flight did not go so smoothly. Though the monk finally arrived at the other shore, he had all he could do to keep from falling into the lashing waves. 

Finally, a third monk appeared. This smallest and frailest of the three monks, he soared into the air like the others, but his wings were weak, and he fell into the roaring waters over and over, practically drowning each time. Only with the most heroic efforts and titanic struggles did he eventually arrive, half dead and thoroughly drenched, on the other shore. 

After much pondering the hermit went to his spiritual guide and asked the meaning of this vision.

His guide interpreted it in this way: "The first monk you saw was the believer who aspires to fly to heaven in our own time - now, when religion and good people are everywhere, and when reaching heaven is a simple matter.

"The next monk stands for those who wish to reach heaven in the years to come. Their journey will be far more difficult.

"Finally, the third monk is the believer who makes spiritual efforts in the very distant future, when religion and righteousness have almost vanished from the earth. During this dark time it will be difficult beyond imagination to find one's way to the other shore.

"So rejoice that you live in our blessed time," the spiritual director concluded. "But remember this - remember this above all: the third monk's efforts are worth far, far more than those of all the rest."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Prabhupada Dreams

During my years of devotional cultivation I've had a number of encounters with Srila Prabhupada during dreams where I have received some key instructions. Amongs these three are especially dear and important to me.

In my first encounter I found myself in a large auditorium amongst others anticipating Srila Prabhupada’s arrival. Prabhupada was supposed to lecture that evening. The vyasasana had been prepared and many chairs set out. Finally Srila Prabhupada arrived. He walked in accompanied by a number of disciples, but before going to the vyasasana he came up to me and handed me a copy of the Bhagavad-gita.
Study this!” he instructed me.

He then walked up to his seat, sat down, took up his karatalas and started chanting Jaya Radha Madhava. That’s where my dream broke.

My second encounter was so vivid that while dreaming I actually thought it was real. I remember thinking,
I've got to go grab my dictaphone so I can record Srila Prabhupada!

The place was the hallway of the second floor of the yellow office building at our temple in Korsnäs Gård, where I was living at the time. I was coming up the stairs and that's when I noticed Srila Prabhupada was chanting in the corridor. I was so pleased to see him! I thought to myself,

Srila Prabhupada is alive! How wonderful! We only thought he died 1977.”

I felt like a child, happy, excited and secure in the presence of his grand-father. But even though I was thrilled to see Prabhupada, my heart was somewhat heavy with the state of affairs in our movement. 

I respectfully approached Srila Prabhupada and payed my obeisance. I started walking by his side telling him about the problems I was seeing in our society and how sorry I felt. Prabhupada suddenly stopped and turned around to me. In a serious and concerned tone he said,

Work on yourself!

As he said 'yourself' he pointed to me with his forefinger sticking out of his beadbag.

No more questions.

I proceeded to make arrangements for Prabhupada’s meal, and that’s when the dream came to an end.

I had another encounter with Srila Prabhupada during a time I was preoccupied preparing a comprehensive introductory presentation on the Enneagram. I found myself in the presence of Srila Prabhupada while he was deeply immersed in chanting japa. The depth of his ecstatic absorption in the Holy Name impressed and strongly impacted upon me. I thought,

"Wow, so that's how japa can be."

Srila Prabhupada then stopped chanting and began reciting a verse from the Bhagavad-gita to me,
"Always chanting My glories, endeavoring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion." (9.14)
I walk a fine line as I in some measure apply myself to understand and fascilitate the art of psychological healing and social integration in the service of spiritual development and cooperation in the mission of Srila Prabhupada. Though crucial this line of effort should not overshadow the service of the Holy Name and the Bhagavata. I felt Srila Prabhupada was impressing this point upon me.

I find the continued care and loving guidance of Srila Prabhupada as an invaluable source of confidence, integrity and joyful gratitude in my life. All glories to His Divine Grace. May his merciful glance be always upon us.