Viewing entries tagged with 'chronicle'
Last month I went on an eco-retreat with a group of young interested persons who have been coming along to the Gaura Yoga center in Wellington New Zealand. We went to Gaura Haven (New Gupta Vraja), a retreat center recently acquired by Gaura Yoga. While there we proceeded to plant a variety of organic vegetables. The idea is to slowly move towards self-sufficiency.
Here some pictures from the weekend events:
On the weekend of the 25th of October, 2008 the majority of practitioners of Krishna consciousness in New Zealand (and a few from Australia) went to a retreat center in Inglewood, NZ called Vertical Horizon. There we celebrated the Vyasa-Puja (birthday of the spiritual master) of Devamrita Swami.
It was a grand festivals. Nearly 100 devotees were present. It was expertly organized by Visnumaya and Gopal Guru. So many great activities, presentations and speeches. The spiritual food (prasadam) was over-the-top great. I also really enjoyed seeing and speaking with many, many old friends.
I took over 800 photos. You can view a selection of the best shots here:
(the images 0.8-megapixel images in the gallery are fine for viewing on screen, but not nearly detailed enough for large prints. If anyone wants to print out any of the images, please email me and I can supply the original full 14.6 megapixel images from the Pentax K20d)
I've captured and subsequently liberated a mouse that was camping out in my flat. It was there ever since I got back to my flat after the Christmas break. The mouse had been feasting on a plastic bag full of oat meal it had chewed itself into. However, removing the oat meal and supplying a bait of peanut butter (offered to Krishna) in a steel mousetrap caught me one scared little mouse. So, I took the little guy for a walk down the street and let him out into a bush. The mouse was, of course, super scared, hiding in the trap's doorway and refusing to come out for the longest time. But, after about 5 minutes of chanting at it, it finally shot out of the trap and, like a greased lightning, vaulted itself into the bush.
I attended the glorious London Rathayatra a few weeks ago. It was just great!
The Rathayatra is an age old festival that involves taking Krishna in his super-happy, happy, happy form of Jagannatha comes out for a rid on a huge cart. It has been observed in the Indian city of Puri for thousands of years. By the mercy of Srila Prabhupada it is now also held is most major cities around the world.
Now for some interesting things that happened to me throughout the day:
There was constant chanting and dancing going on. Huge kirtan parties were going wild. So many senior devotees were singing and jumping here, there and everywhere.
I got the opportunity to pull some of the carts, which was surprisingly hard work, considering the amount of people that were pulling. Krishna is heavy! I also got a quick turn at sweeping the road in front of one of the carts. Just like the King of Orissa traditionally sweeps the road for Jagannatha, the mayor of London traditionally comes out and takes a turn sweeping, as well.
As I was walking along a disheveled, homeless-looking person can and asked me for a light for his cigarette. Instead, I gave him a prasadam sweet someone had pushed into my hand a few minutes before. The guy went wild. I thought he was going to jump with joy. He started shouting, gave me a big hug and started playfully punching me in the chest. I was a bit taken aback by the sudden outburst and quickly disentangled myself from him. As I looked back he was still yelling and waving.
I met a young book distributer while walking along. He asked if I wanted to try to distribute some books myself. I hadn't done so for quite some time, but thought, what the heck, I'll give it a go. With such a huge festival going it was easy. I sold the two books he gave me within a few minutes.
Arraying at Trafalgar Square in central London there were so many people. The weather was really hot and sunny, so lots of people had come to see and enjoy. I meet so many old friends.
After queuing for about an hour for prasadam we finally got some. It was surprisingly expertly prepared, especially considering the many thousands of people that they had to feed. The menu consisted of:
- Coldslaw salad
- Coconut and potato subji
- Eggplant, curd and tomato subji
- Cashew nut rice
- Raisin halava
- Frreshly pressed juice
Our group from Manchester walked to Soho Street temple for a brief visit, aiming to depart from there back home. We got the good fortune to be there for Lord Jagannatha's return from his cart (in expensive cars). Everyone had a kirtan and helped unload the various maha-prasadam from the cars.
We then walked back to Hyde Park, where the procession had begun, climb aboard our mini-bus and departed for a long journey back to Manchester.
My body was totally exhausted. I could hardly walk anymore. Still, in spite of being very tired and suffering from hay-fever throughout the day, the Rathayatra was a day of perfect happiness.
Check out the huge number of pictures I took.
Sorry for any hiccups that might have occurred today during the transition. If you tried to send me email that didn't go through, then please resend. All should be working now, but if you spot any bugs, please let me know.
My reasons for switching were mainly surpasshosting's backup policy. I lost 2 weeks worth of content when their hard drive crashed. A backup only every two weeks is totally unacceptable. This new host is very highly regarded, from the reviews I've read. They also give me more space and bandwidth than I would have had with surpass hosting. Finally, they aren't located in (soon to be wiped off the face of the Earth due to hurricanes) Florida, but are in nice quiet state of Utah.
One "interesting" thing happened to me on my way back from the WWW conference:
I took a late train from Edinburgh to Manchester. I arrived at Manchester at about 11pm on a Friday night. Lots of students were out and about "enjoying" the kali-yuga delights. I was walking down the road from the train station, wondering if I should take a taxi, or walk home when ...
Suddenly, out of no-where, three Mercedes police SUVs appear. They stop in the middle of the road, blocking all the traffic. Within two seconds several police officers in full body armor pile out of the cars, draw their pistols, move in on a group of students, scream at one student to "drop it!" and have the guy in an arm-lock, pinned to the floor.
It happened so fast I didn't have time to react.
It seems one geeky looking teenage student had been brandishing a gun to get some respect (unusual in the UK, since even the police here do not carry firearms - expect, of course, for the Armed Response Units, such as the one that I happened to witness in action). The guy certainly suffered the consequences.
All that made me desire less and less to stay in the UK. Manchester: crime city.
I know Jiu Jitsu.
Back when I was at undergraduate University I really wanted to learn a martial art. I'm not a warrior-type (ksatriya), but I fantasized about being physically powerful. I enthusiastically read up about all kinds of different styles, comparing their advantages and disadvantages, analyzing which was the most powerful, deciding on which to practice. In the end, I concluded that Jiu Jitsu (literally: soft technique) was the best (most lethal) and joined the local university club. I practiced it for four years.
The training involved various throwing, locking and grappling techniques (with a little bit of punching and kicking). For example: I recall nine different ways how to break someone??(TM)s arm, six different ways to break their neck, that kind of thing.
Gradings were intense affairs designed to mimic the high-stress situation of a real life-or-death struggle. Students would first be tired out by physically exhausting technique demonstrations and then put into a situation where they would have to defend against a continuous stream of attackers.
I gradually learnt to be fearless, to keep my cool no matter what the situation and to just keep going, regardless of any pain or exhaustion. Always keep on fighting! Never give up!
Advanced material artists have some realization that they are not the body. Once the body and mind have sufficiently learnt the techniques, they can run on auto-pilot. Fighting becomes automatic. It is a state of meditation. We are not the doer, the outcome is outside of our control; all we have to do is continue trying to execute our duty (note BG 2.47).
Indeed, the samurai warriors of ancient Japan understood this. They knew their fate was pre-determined. They did not care whether they lived or died. They were completely detached.
The way of the warrior (Bushido) teaches this kind of detachment. However, it offers no positive alternative. Once you??(TM)re detached from the body and mind, then what do you do?
The training was gradually taking its toll on my body: continuously bumps, bruises, strained muscles, sore joints, etc. Additionally, as I practiced more and more Krishna consciousness I gradually lost interest in mastering the physical body. There was (and still is) much more pleasure and satisfaction to be had from mantra meditation. It offers attachment to Krishna, while simultaneously detaching me from the body and mind. That is real knowledge!
Nevertheless, I??(TM)m happy I practiced Jiu Jitsu while I did. I??(TM)m pretty rusty now, of course, but certainly more confident and able to hold my own in a fight. I also understand more than ever before that I??(TM)m not the body and not the mind. The soul is where it's at.