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Viewing entries tagged with 'podcasts'

Vedic System of Self-Development

9 February 2009 | 3 Comments | Tags: , ,

I recently gave a talk at the Krishna Fest at Gaura Yoga on the "Vedic System of Self-Development". Thanks to Sivarama Swami for the inspiration for this talk.

You can view the talk synchronized with slides here.

or download the source AAC file vedic system of self-development.m4a

or download the source MP3 file vedic system of self-development.mp3

Cow Protection, Ecology and Sustainability talk at Gaura Yoga

26 November 2008 | 2 Comments | Tags: , ,

Visnumaya recently gave a talk at Gaura Yoga on cow protection, ecology and sustainability. She has posted the talk and the presentation slides on her website. Much recommended. Check it out:

"Holy Cow Protection" eco-talk at Gaura Yoga

Why do bad things happen to good people?

21 October 2008 | 80 Comments | Tags: ,

In this talk at Gaura Yoga in Wellington, New Zealand I discuss a topic that has confounded many statesmen, philosophers and theologians. Why do bad things happen to good people and why do good things happen to bad people? I give an overview of different so-called answers that people try to give to this question. I then explain how the science of Krishna consciousness gives a much more satisfying and sensible answer than any other source of knowledge. There are lots of questions in the end.

 

Click here to play audio/video

 

or download the source AAC file bad things.m4a

or download the source MP3 file bad things.mp3

or download the slides as a PDF file bad things.pdf

How to give a presentation (about Krishna consciousness)

13 September 2008 | 4 Comments | Tags: , ,

In this talk at Gaura Yoga I give some practical advice on how to give an interesting and inspirational Krishna conscious presentation.

How to give a presentation

Download the talk as an enhanced podcast (slides synced to audio) in AAC/M4A format (35 minutes). This file is playable in iTunes or on iPods.

Or, if you can't play or don't like Apple's media formats, here is the audio of the talk in MP3 format.

You can also download the slides I used as a PDF.

How to: evaluate spiritual systems

14 August 2008 | 10 Comments | Tags: , ,

There are so many different religions and spiritual systems out there. Which should you choose and why?

In this talk at the Gaura Yoga centre in Wellington, New Zealand I give some criteria by which one can judge how bona fide a spiritual system is. I conclude by explaining how well Krishna consciousness does when judged by these criteria.

Download selection of the presentation slides [24 MB].

Download just the audio of presentation [34 MB]

Download version formatted for iPod/iPhone [153 MB].

Download highest-quality version [262 MB].

Devamrita Swami: Essential Questions by Vidura

20 February 2007 | 1 Comments | Tags: ,

Questions are the natural product of affection. Complexities will inevitably be part of practicing KC in the material world. It's like trying to remain dry while immersed in water.

The pushings of senses are reactions for your sensory activity. People say life is a learning process, but what is the lesson?

What is good material advice? "Ride the waves, roll with the punches, life is not a spectator sport you have to get into it". SB gives you more important advice. Other advice is trivialized in comparison.

Notice the way Vidura asks questions. It is not just like someone shouting out a car window. Ask questions like Vidura does. Ask older devotees, no need to wait for Maitreya to come along. Glorify the current teacher.

Ask to understand the pastimes of Krishna that will stimulate our KC, do not ask idle question e.g. "How many toilets were there in Dwaraka?"

Materially you can't be the friend of everyone. You can't meet all the human population.

Why does Krishna say such strong things in BG? Shouldn't He be more positive?

Everyone living in Kali-yuga has lost their vision. You may be thoroughly experienced, but still you cannot see.

"Experience is the best teacher ... because a fool will learn no other way."

Divine knowledge can only come from the devotees. They can stop repeated birth and death.

Question: doesn't maya lead you to the devotees?
Question: I'm still not convinced, doesn't experience at least something to a fool?

That is the problem with the world's population: "I don't know what I'm doing, you don't know what you're doing, so lets have a kid" The illusory energy throws a blanket over your head and then tells you: "now make progress, create a civilization." We aren't trying to be a Spielverderber (kill-joy). We are trying to cure a severe disease. We take precautions because we want to love. Love is not a cheap thing. It requires great preparation and qualification. Material romance lasts on average 12 - 16 months. That's the best the material energy gives you. We want real eternal love, but we have to become qualified. How many of you would fall in love with someone who has no qualification? Real love grants you immunity from material miseries. Has a lover ever offered you that?

Questions:

  • BG says you can't take up KC without a storehouse of pious activities. So how can we take up KC?
  • How do our own desires move us to meet with the devotees?
  • I was treated very unfairly and excluded by the community of devotees yesterday. What will you do about it?

There is great potential for Krishna consciousness in Germany. People appreciate that there may be another possibility in life rather than the mundane. People are open and accepting. Right here there are 4 devotees here in Berlin who came to KC in New Zealand. In Melbourne Australia the personal driver of the current German Chancellor (Angela Merkel) volunteered to wash dishes in the temple. There is so much potential, so now you need to think how you can take advantage of this potential. There will always be setbacks, but the devotees qualification is that he keeps pushing forward. The future is in your hands.

Devamrita Swami: End of the Damodara-lila

17 February 2007 | 0 Comments | Tags: ,

Devotees tend to want to focus on Krishna, on the pastime of mother Yasoda binding Krishna. Now that Krishna is bound to the mortar, what happened then? Time for more mischief: I shall knock down these two Yamala Arjuna trees.

Let us go to the heavenly planets: two sons of Kuvera were engaging in material enjoyment. They were sporting with young girls in the heavenly planets. Manigriva and Nalakuvara were so arrogant and intoxicated. Drunk and enjoying with young girls, this is the essence of life. Everyone should be like this, right?

Civilized life begins with controlling the senses. So Narada Muni become transcendentally angry. Of riches, great learning, good birth and personal beauty, riches are the most degrading. Queen Kunti says: People maddened by these things can't chant the names of Krishna.

Who here is materially exhausted? Better to be poor. Now, you may become afraid of KC? "If I become serious about KC I might loose all my wealth"

The example of a mother pinching her child to wake her up to give her medicine. See only a part of the picture and you might think this is cruel. The demigods emerging from the trees began to glorify Krishna. Krishna was thinking: "I'm just a cowheard boy, why are they saying these things?" Just see the paradox of the situation: first the unlimited is bound by Mother Yasoda, then the bound person is setting others free.
You all work but always get an "Urlaub" (vacation). But the senses never give you an "Urlaub". So you take intoxication, but that doesn't solve the problem, it just makes you forget for a few hours.

Nalakuvara and Manigriva were enjoying in heaven where the sense enjoyment was 10,000 and 100,000 better than here and still they are praying to Krishna for no more material enjoyment, just pure love of God.

Questions:

  • Offering to a devotee is higher than offering to Krishna directly. Could you talk a little more about this?
  • Krishna was angry at being bound, but he also was thinking he wanted to fulfill the words of Narada Muni. Was this the same small boy Krishna or some other aspect of him?
  • Is it okay for a mother to see her child as Krishna?

Devamrita Swami: BG4.9 End of Logic and Reason

14 February 2007 | 3 Comments | Tags: , ,

Weimar is a great University city. Apply your great education to understanding Krishna. Proof of Krishna is not in logic and reason, the proof is in the scripture. But sometimes logic and reason is useful to help you understand the scripture. Logic and reason cannot stretch into completely spiritual topics. It can only take you so far.

Who has never felt attraction to anyone? All this attraction originates in Krishna. Once you understand Krishna you can understand the source of all attraction. The goal isn't to become some dry theologian. The goal is to train you to feel the natural dormant attraction to Krishna. Krishna isn't some theoretical construct, but the source of all attractiveness. He drowns the inhabitants of Vrindavan in unlimited pools of ecstasy.

Most people today think that the result of getting knowledge is increased income. Without the financial reward most students wouldn't go to school. The result of transcendental knowledge is to go to a place from which you will never return.

"All I know is that my body needs some sensuality and my crazy mind needs some intoxication. And while I'm doing that I'll study something that will hopefully make me some money."

That is life as it is lived today.

The vow to sing this particular song during the kartik month is a necessary part of bhakti. To truly appreciate the damodara-lila you have to have an understanding of the spiritual paradox. What is the use of education without understanding Krishna?

This is the highest science of pure love: the one who binds everyone through maya is bound by his devotees' pure love.
Every time Mother Yasoda tried to bind Krishna the rope was two fingers too short. But how do you bind someone who has no beginning or end? That is real knowledge. But Mother Yasoda had bhakta-nista, devotional stubbornness. She was determined to discipline her child. Krishna's determination is called sva-nista. Krishna's stubbornness is that he will always reciprocate with his devotees.

Who has been bound before? Remember the old DDR days when you were bound? You couldn't go where you want, or do what you want. One secret police informer for every three persons in the country. And what about the "ropes of affection"? How many have been bound by that? You go out looking for someone: "please bind me, please bind me". Being bound is a faulty situation. But people nowadays are gloried for being in bound:

"I don't know anything: it's great! I don't understand who I am, but 'who cares'? Knowledge to get to the root of anything: that is impossible."

Because of these contaminations we don't feel the thirst to understand Krishna.

Have you ever gazed into someone's face continually and the beauty just increased and increased? With your husband you can try. Go ahead, try it. How long can you look at his face continuously? Do you ever curse the creator: "oh, why just two eyes to look into my husband's face"? Therefore, there is not real beauty in this world.

Everyone here has just a few basic desires, but you go through so many tribulations just to satisfy them. Now think of having unlimited desires. And think of having the unlimited ability to satisfy those unlimited desire. That is God. He has the surajaya-laksmi ability.

These are some paradoxes you can meditate upon and they will bring great joy to your life. Do any of your professors at university tell you: "upon graduating with this degree you will not take another material body"? Just Professor Krishna said that.

Questions:
- You said that by understanding Krishna we will understand everything else, but I have heard Prabhupada say that we must first become conscious before becoming Krishna conscious?
- How can we love everybody, because someone might be very nasty and not fulfill the necessary requirements that I could love them?

Sankirtan and street photography

23 January 2007 | 37 Comments | Tags: ,

What do sankirtan and street photography have in common? Quite a bit actually. Techniques from one apply very much for the other.

I was listening to a podcast over at the Radiant Vista website. Craig Tanner was talking about the way he does street photography. He gives tips on how to overcome the fear of approaching people one does not know, how to stop them by being the most high-energy person on the street, how to build a rapport with them and finally how to ask to take their picture. When the transaction is complete he thanks the person and gives them a gift (the picture he just took). Sound familiar?

Listen to the complete podcast for a different angle on sankirtan (and to improve your photography skills).

Dr Philip Weeks on natural medicine

24 December 2006 | 0 Comments | Tags:

I just listened to a talk by Dr. Philip Weeks on various aspects of natural medicine. Wow, it was really interesting. (Dr. Weeks was instrumental in helping my body recover from Ulcerative Colitis / Crohn's Disease.)

He talks about how he cured blood poisoning in his own leg using echinacea. He tells the story of one of his patients who had lethal radiation poisoning and was due to die in 6 months, but was completely cured by doing an intense juice fast. He talks extensively about amalgam dental fillings (50% mercury) causing auto-immune diseases, cardiovascular problems, high cholesterol, Alzheimer's disease and general insanity. Plus, heavy metal poisoning in general.

Why can some people drink, smoke, eat junk food and still never get sick, while others are constantly getting sick from the smallest bit of unhealthy living? Philip answers this question (hint: genetical strength/resilience has a lot to do with it).

He talks about the "mandate of heaven" and how to optimize our bodily constitution and mental/emotional well-being.

Listen the audio of his talk at the Fresh Festival October 2006. Also, check out his comprehensive website.

Devamrita Swami: Disappearance of the Yadu Dynasty

23 December 2006 | 0 Comments | Tags:


Krishna is like the sun, sometimes unmanifest like the sun at night, sometimes manifest.

Krishna has a right to do whatever he wants, but we don't like that.
We want things done our way. However, Krishna does things his way and thereby creates subject matter for eternal conversation.

Story of my father educating me in the real point of life: leave some footprints in the sand when you're gone.

Where are the former leader of the DDR's (E. Honiker) footprints? Ever place has its local heroes. In Weimar they are Schiller, Goethe and Liszt, but in other parts of the world no one has ever heard of them.

Mysterious: the Lord wants to take his own Yadu dynasty away from the world. The reasons are that some of his family members where becoming too powerful, familiar and proud, less intelligent people would automatically consider someone born in that dynasty spiritually qualified and that they were so attached to him that they couldn't have handled the feelings of separation from him.

Brahmanas curse the Yadu dynasty. Maharaja Pariksit is confused as to why and asks Sukadeva Goswami.

Yadu boys play a joke on the great sages and get cursed to give birth to an iron club that will destroy the entire dynasty. They told there family members and King Ugrasena had the club ground up and thrown into the ocean. These turned into iron reeds that the Yadus used to beat each other to death.

Krishna let all this happen. He wanted to reduce the prestige of the material world. Just like the death of Jimi Hendrix caused DS to loose faith in material glory.

Understanding Krishna is the greatest career goal.

Questions:

  • Duryodana is a partial incarnation of Kali. Why does Balarama love him so much?
  • Caitanya said we should be very humble, but I often feel angry at other people's disinterest in Krishna consciousness. What is the proper attitude?
  • What happened to the larger piece of iron from the ground up club that the fish swallowed?

Devamrita Swami: Why worship someone's feet?

20 December 2006 | 1 Comments | Tags:


If you just make 10% of the population of Berlin Krishna conscious the whole country will change. Krishna can do the seemingly impossible. Don't buy into the Hare Krishna folk tales. In spite of material failure, going on and on in Krishna's service is always successful.

How long will it take to get to Leipzig? Frank-Peter is Germany's safest and most mellow driver. Driving with him is like driving on a bed of feathers.

The exclusiveness of devotional service should always be discussed. It is not sectarianism.

Real sustainable human economic development doesn't exist today, nor does sense gratification that doesn't kill you in the process, let alone religiosity, that can't deliver any genuine information about God. Everyone knows everything, except what they should know.

Why do we worship someone's feet? A speck of dust from Krishna's lotus feet can situate you beyond liberation.

Krishna forces pleasure onto the devotee. Don't worry about your own pleasure.

Who had gotten a letter from the mayor thanking you for serving Krishna? There is no support, no fame and no appreciation from materialist society.

Talk it up about serving Krishna. That is the highest position in reality! How to increase? How to serve better? Krishna appreciates this.

If you follow the so-called great people of today's society you'll go crazy. It's not that having precise spiritual knowledge in optional.

Germany has changed a lot since the 80s. The under 45s are open to everything. However, then one must understand: what is the best thing? Everyone is saying their thing is the best. Are all cars the same? Is a Mercedes as good as a Hyundai?

In the material world it's not enough to be a nice guy, you need to be
smart: you need knowledge. Bhagavatam is the topmost knowledge. See for yourself.

Questions:

  • I still cannot understand the violence of Balarama towards Romaharsana Suta. We talk so much about love and peace, so why did Balarama have to kill him.
  • How to engage our weak women's sentimentalism in devotional service?
  • Many people say this movement is not very sentimental at all, no emotion, unlike e.g. Christians.

Devamrita Swami: Balarama kills Romaharsana Suta

17 December 2006 | 0 Comments | Tags:


Krishna is the master of masters of yoga, so any understanding of him is the highest kind of mystic yogi.

How far can you take your spiritual life living in a big city?

In the Dwarka pastimes: Krishna has just gotten rid of Shalva, Dantavakra and Vidura and ended his mission of annihilating the miscreants. Balarama was going on pilgrimage while the battle of Kuruksetra was going on. When visiting the sagas at the forest of Namasuranya he was offered respect by everyone expect Romaharsana Suta who was sitting on the vyasasana.

Lord Balarama became angry. His mission was to annihilate hypocrites.
Romaharsana was not humble, not self-controlled, and just pretending to be a great sage and therefore needed to be terminated. He killed him with a single blade of kusa grass.

The sages cry out: abscheulich (alas, alas). They request Balarama to seat Romaharsana's son in his father's place, kill the demon Bhalva and tour all the holy places as atonement.

Thereafter Balarama saw Bhima and Duryodhana fighting, told them they should give up their anger and stop trying to kill each other. They didn't and Balarama left the scene, assuming it was destiny/Krishna's arrangement.

Yesterday in Weimar someone asked me: you may have knowledge, but still act in the opposite way. How is that the topmost thing? But real knowledge is realized, it is shown in actions, like a fire that burns.
That is what Romaharsana lacked. True, real knowledge!

Each pastime of Krishna's has deeper and deeper realization within it.
Think about it and understand the two-sided reality. Everything Krishna does can fascinate you endlessly. That is being the most powerful urban mystic.

Questions:

  • Krishna normally acts to set an example to the ordinary people, but sometimes he acts immorally, like when he tells Arjuna to kill Asvatarma. Why?
  • Do you have some practical advice on how to practice Krishna consciousness in such a disturbing environment as a big city?
  • I heard you were preaching in the East before the Wall came down. Do you have any trilling stories from that time?

Devamrita Swami: Preaching of Bhagavad-Dharma

12 December 2006 | 1 Comments | Tags:


Some things degrade with time, but there is always a revival. This is a miracle: devotees openly discussing Krishna consciousness in the DDR. Freestyle spirituality is popular today. No repressive dogma! The need for a religious institution is even more alien.

Devotees are an opportunity to talk about Krishna. Then everything becomes positive. Pray for the ability to associate. Nice association of devotees will attract the lonely people of today. How? Help others to achieve their (genuine) dreams. The more you give Krishna, the more you get Krishna.

Real love requires qualification. You have to practice. Like being a student. 5 years of study just to understand something ordinary like hospitality or tourism. Dedicate your whole life for this purpose.

Questions:

  • How can we motivate people to become attracted to Krishna in one of the four ways explained in the Bhagavad-Gita?
  • I'm always wondering what is the right decision for Krishna. Like e.g. to work or not.
  • How to develop loving relationships without becoming familiar?

Devamrita Swami: Spiritual understand and knowledge

8 December 2006 | 2 Comments | Tags:


We're originally a part of Krishna, but struggling like a fly that has landed in some jelly. I was the first regional secretary for the DDR.

Weimar is famous for its culture. One thing is going on in the world:
economic development, more money, more money, more money!

In times with material "good times", people need to do it out of their intelligence. Most people tend to come because of distress, but such motivation does not last. We need to develop attraction to Krishna and his service, just like people are attracted to money making.

People are into being spiritual, but not religious. People think being religious means focusing on specific rules and real spirituality is free from all that. That kind of false religion is something that people are afraid of. However, real religion means complete, definite understanding of what is God.

There is so many so-called spirtual paths and teachers. What to do? Go party! Make money! Those become people's religion. But as soon as the goal of understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead is known, everything makes sense. That is what is unique about Krishna consciousness.

Materially what is the benefit in trying to understand anyone? It has been going on for millions of years. But that desire to understand, focused on Krishna, is real religion.

Bhagavad-Gita already assumes some basic human intelligence: not belief in God, that's easy, kindergarden-stuff. Instead, a program for your senses to understand the Supreme is given. So don't be afraid of admitting you are trying to understand Krishna.

Please remember: you can eliminate all confusion, simply by understanding that the whole point of everything is simply to understand Krishna.

Questions:

  • People know, i.e. Have knowledge of what a cigarette does to the body, but still they smoke. So how does that relate to the faith and knowledge that is talked about in the BG?
  • What is the missing link between reading Bhagavad-Gita and acting on that knowledge?
  • Isn't gaining some interest in Krishna consciousness by devotee association also just faith as ordinarily known?
  • Krishna is known to have the opulence of renunciation, but how does he display this?
  • I once saw a person with a sign: "I am God and can answer all questions". I asked him "what is my name?" and he could not answer. He said he was just God wanting to experience "ignorance". This made me think: Why did Krishna need to come as Lord Caitanya to experience his own devotees' love?
  • The yuga-dhama in this age of Kali-yuga is to chant the holy name, so what is the importance of, for example, deity worship?

Devamrita Swami: Any questions about anything?

30 November 2006 | 2 Comments | Tags:


Need to experience that chanting Hare Krishna solves all problems. At least one night a week come together and chant non-stop for one, two, three hours. That's a practical demonstration of the simple, powerful taste of kirtan. Real community building. Bonding. You'll be shocked at the transformation.

Any questions about anything?

  • With the emphasis on service and bonding, how do fit in private sadhana and study?
  • DS: who has read all of Caitanya Caritamrita? How can you live without having read the CC?
  • Does Krishna refer to Himself as time anywhere?
  • DS: have you read all of Bhagavad-Gita? What do you do with all your time?
  • It's an offense to preach the glories of the holy name and yet we are giving out Krishna Book to the most unqualified. How do we remain enthusiastic about doing that?
  • Can you relate some memories of Srila Prabhupada?
  • Can you relate to us how you came to Krishna consciousness?
  • We hear that the holy name is non-different from Krishna. What are some analogies that can help us realize that?
  • We see so many great personalities really relishing chanting, how do we gain that same taste?

Devamrita Swami: Prioritise Properly

27 November 2006 | 0 Comments | Tags:


Maya presents illusory sources of inspiration. Mind wastes so much time. Thoughts waste so much time, material desires, aspirations.

Nothing is more important than our KC. Pariksit knew how to prioritise properly. Maya promises satisfaction, but doesn't deliver. How can you resist promises that material nature presents? Resist such artificial sugar? You can't, because you have a weakness for it. Just like a weakness for chocolate. Without taking knowledge from the source of everything maya will always embarrass you.

There is no greater mistake you can make in life than to think something is more important than your endeavors to become Krishna conscious (as said in the 4th canto). This is a fundamental disagreement we have with modern society. You might not live for another 7 seconds, let alone 7 days, like Pariksit, so why do we have this false sense of security.

Car crash, SUV plows into the back of our Toyota corola in L.A. You can go at any moment. Otherwise there is just endless, senseless babble.

A snake bird happens when a cobra has some deep hate of someone at the end of it's life. It sprouts wings for one flight, looks for that person, bites them and dies. This is quite known to people in Mayapur.
Just because we haven't learnt about it in school doesn't mean it's not true.

Story of model policeman in a big city. Then moved to a small town of a few thousand people. Got report of gunshots. Burley guy with tatoos answers. Sneaks around the back of the house. But the guy surprises him with a magnum peacemaker monster pistol, graised him, then downed him with 3 shots to the arm and legs. Then in the house he sees the guy had killed an 8 months pregnant woman and the policeman's partner.
After seeing the scene he goes back and finishes the guy off. For executing the guy he gets sent to prison. Just at the end of his successful career.

Train ourselves to be like Pariksit. Even material upsets can increase our KC.

Questions:

  • How do we discriminate between over-planning for the future and realizing we could go at any moment? Like for, example, having a career in Krishna consciousness.
  • Tasting the emotions of KC might seem like a state that is a long way off, when doing our daily duties.
  • American deep space probe was sent to Venus greatly furthering human knowledge. How do we defeat this perception of an advanced system of knowledge?

Vedicsoc session #2.1: introduction

1 October 2006 | 47 Comments | Tags: ,

Vedicsoc has reincarnated. Yes, we just had our first session. 21 people came; with a roughly 4/1 female-to-male ratio.

We started off with some Power Yoga. I modified the class structure to avoid poses that take up a lot of space (anticipating a large initial crowd). So, no "hero sequence" for example. The room would not have been big enough. The yoga went well. People can relate to yoga.

We then moved onto chanting two Vedic mantras for 5 minutes each (not the maha-mantra). I asked for questions and feedback. That also went well. Some questions I didn't answer straight out, but promised to answer later, explaining that the answer requires some background to fully understand.

The third phase of the session was the discussion. I asked if anyone knew what the word "Yoga" actually meant. No one knew (it means "to connect", by the way). I then asked what makes a car move, proceeding to explain the nature of consciousness, the complete whole we are all a part of and the dual personal and impersonal nature of that complete consciousness. Yoga, I said, means to connect to the personal complete consciousness named "Krishna".

I proceeded to give some more background and respond to questions. My aim was to dispel doubts, fears and misconceptions. So, I explained the authorized origins of the teachings, the fact that they required no blind faith, but can be scientifically verified by entering the Vedic laboratory. I said how there was no need to stop any current (so called) religion anyone may be practicing. I also strongly encouraged people to voice doubts, concerns and questions. "Questions are good, we like questions; no force, take as much or as little as you desire" (to dispel the idea that Vedicsoc is some dangerous money-grabbing, soul-eating, loony-fanatic cult).

I was amazed how I was directly advocating Krishna consciousness to these students. I had not planned to speak so plainly. My plan was to gradually introduce the more unfamiliar notions of the Vedic knowledge, but here I was, pulling no punches (in a nice way).

I was similarly amazed at some of the questions people asked. This was one intelligent group of students. One girl asked:

"So is connecting with Krishna like having a perfect relationship?"

We finished with some prasadam cookies (which went down well) and a chance to purchase some introductory literature. 15 people bought books (Perfection of Yoga or Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers).

And that was that. See you next week.

[Oh yeah, I recorded the session using the (horrible quality) built-in mic of my MacBook Pro. It is good enough for recording speech directly at the computer, but it is not made to record an entire room of conversation. I tried to clean the audio up as much as possible in a sound editor. It is still far from ideal. Anyway, enjoy (if you can).]

Devamrita Swami: How much Krishna consciousness do you want to bite off?

6 September 2006 | 1 Comments | Tags: ,


There is a force that makes us act in the material world, even though we do not know what we are doing, or why we are doing it. We propose a new standard of intelligence: someone who can see this temporary material energy acts is a truly brilliant scientist. Not someone who can merely create some brilliant technology.

We need to understand that we should give the best of our lives to Krishna.

So, how much Krishna consciousness do you want to bite off?

We need to overhaul our lifestyle.

Who gives the best advice? What is the "absolute"? Where do you go to get knowledge of your true identity?

Please say: "give me the Bhagavad-Gita"

Conditioned life means denying Krishna - in a variety of ways. Some people have a fear that by focusing too much on Krishna they become limited or sectarian.

Where did personalism come from? Who is the best (unlimited) person? As soon as we acknowledge someone as a person that means there is personal obligation. We have calculated that the best way we can get on with our enjoyment program is to ignore the person Krishna. We have ourselves brainwashed into thinking: "I have no time"

We must have a progressive plan how to go forward in Krishna consciousness, otherwise the material world will pull us back.

Questions:

  • But I don't have enough disciple to practice all of Krishna consciousness.
  • I see disciple as just following the teaching, not some victorian thing imposed upon us.
  • Will I appreciate Krishna consciousness if I just subject myself to it?
  • It seems like we should just read to enjoy the verse, not thinking "if I read this verse it is going to make me x,y,z". We should be attached to the result, right?
  • Will our freedom always be limited?
  • You say that real religion does not require you to believe in anything, but can be experienced in the laboratory, but then you say some faith must be there in the beginning?
  • Vivekananda said that it is very good to be born in a church, but it is very bad to die in it, because you do need some kind of system when you are at the embryonic stage until you can stand alone.
  • Perhaps she is talking about when you come to the spiritual platform from the material platform?
  • Isn't it up to you to find you path? How can you say that somebody else's path is not valid?
  • There are so many maps by so many different religions, all claiming to be valid.
  • It really winds me up when I'm told "whatever you do, it has to go to Krishna". How do I do it? Do I have to go all the way into the laboratory, since I can't talk to Krishna directly? I can also misinterpret what I hear.
  • Surely you can chant someone's glories by talking about him, not just by chanting?
  • I want to be convinced that this is the path.
  • In the Bible it says "in the beginning was the word", but the translation of the original greek is "logos" which means "conversation", like the Bhagavad-Gita's conversation between Krishna and Arjuna.
  • I think in the Indian mentality there is a lot of thinking "I can be God", but in the Christian world people don't consciously think that. Also, a Muslim is always thinking that the best position is to be a servant of God. Not how he can become God.
  • Do we not believe in Advaita? Becoming one with God does not mean wanting to be God.
  • If you become realized you are a part of the whole is that still duality? Is the thing that is left after the body decays is not the whole?
  • We need sat-sanga discussion to understand what we are reading, otherwise there will be so many misconceptions.

Swansea visit Day 3: Mega Bonanza

29 July 2006 | 1 Comments | Tags: ,

Next day in Swansea. This morning I was again (at the last minute) requested to give the Caitanya Caritamrita class. I somehow managed to speak something, but wished I had had more time to prepare.

Then, after a very light breakfast, having learnt my lesson from a few days ago, intensive yoga training. We started off with a new style of kundalini yoga that Karana Karana wanted to try out. I liked it. It involved lots of sun salutes synchronized with various mantras. I think it would be more accessible than the standard kundalini weird breathing stuff (though there was, of course, plenty of weird breathing in this set as well).

After the kundalini work-out came a full power yoga session taught by the aspiring yoga teachers. The students took turns to teach a few asanas each. Judgement: they were good. Really good! A little meek and unsure of themselves, but with a little bit more practice, Atma Yoga will soon have 10 new expert yoga teachers added to its ranks.

After the power yoga session came another power yoga session. Whew! This one was thankfully a little shorter than the last, but my body was nevertheless starting to rebel.

After the mega-yoga bonanza we had a late lunch. During lunch a devotee came up to me and asked if I wanted to give the Sunday Feast class (due to start in 15-minutes). They wanted to give their congregation a break from hearing from the usual two speakers, not to mention those usual speakers were still out on harinam and unlikely to be back in time. So I hesitantly agreed, not having a clue what I would talk about.

I decided to speak on a verse I really like: BG9.2. By popular request, here is a recording of the class (sorry about the terrible sound quality. I blame it on the cheap, piece-of-junk MP3 player that was used to make the recording. So please: never buy the cheapest electronics products, they are junk!).


(notice the new feature: this blog now has a build-in MP3 player)

After the class I served out the feast to the guests (not wanting to eat so soon after having lunch). Then, when everyone had taken, I also ate some prasadam ??¦ a short while afterwards I collapsed in a chair, exhausted both in body and in mind. Next stop: bed.

Devamrita Swami: What inspires you?

29 April 2006 | 0 Comments | Tags:

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Place: Cardiff Soul Centre, Wales, United Kingdom
Time: 63 min.

Summary:
Devamrita Swami asks a group of people at the Soul Centre: "what inspires you?". Most answer that they are inspired by "Krishna". One person says he is inspired by "the general spiritual potential in everyone". A lively discussion results.

Devamrita Swami: Understanding Everything

25 April 2006 | 33 Comments | Tags:

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Verse: BG 7.1
Place: Candidasa??(TM)s flat, Manchester, United Kingdom
Time: 70 min.

Summary:
We can??(TM)t understand everything because the maya energy is bewildering us and our senses are imperfect. However, by taking knowledge from the supreme source we can understand everything.

Questions:

  • What about those who don??(TM)t get the operunity to access this knowledge?
  • Isn??(TM)t spirituality in everyone anyway? Why accept this process?
  • So whatever Krishna says you have to accept without question, right?
  • But Krishna knows everything that we are going to do, how do we have any independent choice? Krishna knows that Arjuna is going to fight and is simultaneously trying to illicit his surrender. How is there free will?
  • Is there a point at which we can understand Krishna completely?
  • Is there a capacity, so some people can understand Krishna more than others?
  • Will the mahabharata happen again in the next yuga cycle?
  • Will the BG will be the same in the next cycle?
  • Are people??(TM)s souls continous throughout the cycles?
  • Since Krishna is outside of time and the souls merge into him between universal annialiations, is it possible to be reborn in a time previous to the current time?
  • Doesn??(TM)t it get to a point were we have to accept things with blind faith?
  • Can you convey knowledge and realiation in such a way that people that aren??(TM)t following the process can understand?
  • When we reach the highest destination we will have a form, right. So what will we look like?
  • In paintings we see that Krishna likes a certain type of clothes, but those are just the clothes of ancient India.
  • But there surely was a time when people didn??(TM)t dress like that? This is just a small part of the cycle.
  • BG does give a complete picture, but my questions are always about details and I can never get detailed answers?
  • So, if I did not take part in any chanting, there is no way that someone could impart the message to me?
  • Can you explain something to me without me having to realize it myself?
  • How far do you feel you??(TM)ve gotten?
  • Don??(TM)t you get to a point in KC when you understand the way everything works, but you say it??(TM)s infinite.
  • I read that a grihastra can be as good as a sannyasi, is that right?
  • How long have you been practicing?

Devamrita Swami: what to do in life

21 December 2005 | 4 Comments | Tags:

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Verse: BG 5.21-22
Place: ISKCON Leipzig, Germany
Time: 44 min.

Summary:
This is a very provocative verse. Krishna rejects all false pleasure. Shouldn??(TM)t there be a balance between both false and real pleasure? Physiologists say that repression can be damaging to the psyche.

No! Would you make a balance with real and counterfeit money? A yogi has better things to do than enjoy false pleasure. And, by the way, psychologist is the profession with the highest suicide rate.

Detachment requires training. We must know what is good, what is bad and get a taste of the real, unlimited pleasure obtainable by concentrating on the Supreme. Such spiritual pleasure is far, far higher than the highest material pleasure (sex life). It is worth the small inconvenience necessary to obtain it. Material pleasure simply traps us.

Questions:

  • What is the role of intuition when choosing a guru?
  • How to employ the material elements for the atma-tattva?
  • Why do you wear a watch? Time does not play a role for Krishna! You??(TM)re under the same material stress and time pressure as everyone else. Isn??(TM)t that a contradiction?
  • What does it mean to serve Krishna?
  • But Krishna talks of two yogas: jnana and bhakti?

Devamrita Swami: finding your own path

16 December 2005 | 2 Comments | Tags:

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Place: ISKCON Leipzig, Germany
Time: 19 min.

Summary:
Why struggle so hard for material enjoyment which is temporary in nature? Erich Honecker, for example, thought that the Berlin wall would be there 100 years from now. 6 months later: both he??(TM)s gone and the wall is gone.

There is an attitude of: "just be as happy as you can, focus on the pleasure and don??(TM)t be negative, just follow your heart and intuition". French existentialist philosopher Albert Camus said: "Don??(TM)t try to lead me, don??(TM)t try to follow me, just walk with me through the chaos".

However, in any practical situation no one actually does that. For example, when going on a walk in forest we make a plan, take a map and follow the official path established by forest rangers.

Krishna consciousness is the authorized way. The Vedic literature is the torchlight of knowledge that allows us to see the whole picture of what is going on, instead of stumbling blindly in the darkness of ignorance.

Devamrita Swami: why understand the creation according to the Bhagavatam?

13 December 2005 | 4 Comments | Tags:

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Verse: SB 2.10.1
Place: ISKCON Berlin, Germany
Time: 59 min.

Summary:
There is always change. The body changes, the government changes (Devamrita Swami tells some stories of preaching in the DDR, former East Germany) and people become bewildered.

Srimad Bhagavatam however allows us to conquer the darkness of ignorance, the conception that the world is here for our enjoyment, and understand that all energy has an owner who (at least) likes be acknowledged. Devotion can come later. Devotees as devoted as Mother Yasoda can even conquer Krishna.

The creation is supreme exhibition of artistry. It is so expertly arranged that it looks like no one is behind it. It is like an expert manager who sets things into motion without people noticing it was actually him. Things generally progress from subtle to gross. It is like that in management, male/female relationships and many other things.

Don??(TM)t get caught up in all the changes, attacks of material nature and material desires. Srimad Bhagavatam gives both knowledge and detachment.

Questions:

  • How is it that if we stop practicing Krishna consciousness in this life we can continue from where we left off in the next life?
  • How to convince someone that God didn??(TM)t give them this world for their enjoyment?
  • My understanding is that you should only have a relationship to Krishna, not anybody else, is that right?

Devamrita Swami: Jihad versus McWorld consciousness

9 December 2005 | 53 Comments | Tags:

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Place: Nienburg, Germany
Time: 69 min.

Summary:
Jihad consciousness is the traditional, village culture, not necessarily exclusive to Islam. It is any group of people that value their cultural uniqueness and ethnicity. These kinds of people want to fight the ongoing globalization by any means.

McWorld consciousness is the global consumer culture. Global brands, global food, global pop-stars, global morality (make up your own religion and do whatever feels right). These people look down on the primitive tribespeople. The McWorld is ruled by big business. It is good business if everyone wants the same food. Big Macs can then be mass produced in large quantities for large profits.

Both types of consciousness are merely polished animal life. They are in what is known as ??oesilpa jnana??. Higher than that is ??oebrahma vidya??, or knowledge of a spiritual reality beyond the bodily identification. However, that is just the beginning, the kindergarten, of spiritual knowledge. Higher than that is knowledge of ??oeparamatma??, the Supersoul. The peak of knowledge is knowledge of ??oebhagavan??, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This level includes all the lower levels.

Questions:

  • How can this absolute knowledge manifest in our daily lives?
  • In the Bhagavad-Gita it says that a householder must perform his duty? What is this duty?
  • How can be become perfect if our karma is in the way?
  • When following the spiritual path there are often so many obstacles, impediments and unfortunate circumstances that one gets confused. I have so many problems with my children that I can no longer believe in God.
  • Is it possible to enlighten the Jihad and McWorld people with real spiritual knowledge?

Devamrita Swami: Krishna is full of paradoxes

7 December 2005 | 3 Comments | Tags:

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Verse: Damodarastaka prayers, verse #2
Place: Dortmund, Germany
Time: 48 min.

Summary:
Krishna is the most beautiful little cowheard boy. He is also the Supreme Lord. He is full of paradoxes: here is God and he is hungry, attention seeking, wanting to be fed, stealing butter, fearfully running away, being caught and bound up by his mother. Only in Vrindavana, where no one thinks of Krishna as God, can such intimate pastimes take place. Brahma and Siva can??(TM)t relate with Krishna in such ways. Our goal in the month of Kartika should be to understand this Krishna.

Questions:

  • Was Krishna really afraid, or was he just putting on a show?
  • Isn??(TM)t it impossible to understand Krishna?

Devamrita Swami: the highest thing

4 December 2005 | 1 Comments | Tags:

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Verse: SB 4.29.36-37
Place: Goloka Dhama, Abentheuer, Germany
Time: 56 min.

Summary:
Material happiness is altogether miserable and blinds one to the real goal of life. This should be our mission statement. Of course, we??(TM)re not kill-joys who look down all happiness. A devotee is meant to be jolly. At the same time there should not be spiritual hedonism.

Prabhupada set the standard: there was a controversy in Los Angeles where devotees where only reading certain intimate sections of Prabhupada??(TM)s books. Prabhupada was furious when he found out.

The highest level of spiritual life is not to become a rasika, but to sacrifice for preaching. This is the actual mood of the gopis in Vrindavana. The highest level of Krishna consciousness: love in separation.

The austerity of leadership is the greatest sacrifice. Co-operating with other leaders is especially difficult. More difficult than controlling sex desire. This is why Prabhupada established the GBC. It is radically different from the traditional matha system of one person being the acharya. ISKCON however is bigger than any one person.

Devamrita Swami: Questions & Answers

1 December 2005 | 0 Comments | Tags:

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Place: Goloka Dhama, Abentheuer, Germany
Time: 38 min.

Questions:

  • The king and householder Maharaja Rantideva didn??(TM)t teach spiritual knowledge directly, so how can we learn from him?
  • How will someone learn from the reactions to their bad deeds in past lives if they can??(TM)t remember them?
  • How can we possibly offend Krishna? Who are we to be able to offend God?
  • How to be so compassionate that we accept other??(TM)s suffering?
  • Was Citraketu??(TM)s insulting Lord Siva and being cursed by Parvati Krishna??(TM)s arrangement?
  • When and how do we get the mercy of the devotee?
  • What is the nature of ??oerealization???
  • How can we change our tactics to better connect with present-day people?
  • How do we understand the Bhagavad-Gita where Krishna says that he who explains him to the devotee is most dear?
  • Krishna is self-satisfied and has only created this material world for our sake, but he arranged for Jaya and Vijaya??(TM)s falldown so he could have a good fight. Isn??(TM)t that some selfish desire on his part?