Welcome: An Introduction

Sharing the insights I discover as I explore and experience the mystery that is our reality. Join me in my journey and share yours.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Journey for Japa Beads: My Visit to a Hare Krishna Temple

The quick and restless energy of anticipation danced across my consciousness as I turned into the driveway of an inauspicious yellow house set in the suburbs of East Harford. Above the doorway read "Hare Krishna". I drove down the driveway and parked in the back. The sun broke through white clouds, warming my skin and spirit as I helped my son out of the car. We noticed a generous-sized garden, earth turned over and tilled, fertile and moist; earth's womb promising to birth fruit to come. Already some vegetables could be seen that had been planted. Leaves reflecting the day's brilliance.

Since taking on the practice of mantram repetition a few months ago I have found myself diving deeper and expanding wider spiritually. There has been so much I've wished to share here on what I've experienced but I've had little opportunity to really sit down and write uninterrupted lately.

The more I practice repeating my mantram the more it rises up spontaneously throughout my day, anchoring me to the present. There are still unguarded moments, though, when I get swept up in the turbulence around me and react in ways I regret later, having allowed my emotions to drive my actions. I've been trying to come up with ways in which I can remember repeating my mantram even more. Especially at times when I feel I am at a crossroads and can choose either peace or offense as a reaction. It is my intention to sow seeds of light, of peace, of love. For my intentions to reflect the beautiful prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, "Lord, let me be an instrument of your peace; where there is hate, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon...".

I've been intrigued by mala beads lately. After reading a bit about them and watching some YouTube videos on the various philosophies behind them and their use, I decided that they were a spiritual tool worth trying out. The use of mala, or japa beads, doesn't align exactly with the teachings of Eknath Easwaran, teachings of which I have been using primarily to learn passage meditation and mantram repetition, but I figured I'd give it a go anyways.

Mala, or japa beads, or japa mala beads (seems like everyone has a different way of referring to them)  have 108 beads and are used very similarly from what I understand in the way that a rosary is used. They are designed so that the practitioner repeats 100 mantras and the 8 additional beads are to make up for potential mistakes made.   One starts at the bead to the left of a large bead, called the guru bead, which is not counted, and goes bead by bead counter clockwise, repeating their mantram with each bead either silently or outloud until they get to the end. There are different approaches on how to hold the beads while meditating but all generally agree that the index (or pointer) finger is not to come in contact with the beads at all for the index finger is associated with the ego.

There is a store I have found recently that sells them but they were quite expensive so I did a little research online and found that a shop inside a Hare Krishna temple sells them for much less. In fact, I was really impressed by the prices of all that they sold in their shop. So, I contacted the temple via email to see when it was open and set up an appointment to stop by. 

So, here I was walking up to a Hare Krishna temple with my four year old son in tow. I  wasn't sure what quite to expect but when the door opened and kind eyes greeted me I knew there was no reason to feel unease.  After removing our shoes we walked in. My host, Jiva, showed me their temple, a life sized wax statue of the founder of the Hare Krishna movement, Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada,  sat erect in the center along one side of the wall. If I hadn't already looked up some information about the Hare Krishnas that might have taken me aback a bit, having come from a Christian background I'm not used to seeing such things. Along another wall was an elaborate display of Hindu deities, colorful and ornate features almost overwhelming the senses with their elaborate designs. So much to look at and notice and take in!

We were next led into the little shop they have inside the temple. Japa mala beads hung on the wall and the shop was filled with collections of incense and other items in which devotees might find helpful in their practices...including books, lots of books! My son was a bit clingy at first but when Jiva's husband came in and showed him his IPad he was sold and sat on the floor enjoying a game with him. That gave me lots of space and time in which I could ask Jiva all kinds of questions which she graciously answered.  About japa beads, how to use them, about her beliefs, especially regarding  her concept of what and who God is. 

I have much to share about what the Hare Krishnas believe and will leave that for the next post, this is kind of an intro to what will be a series as I learn more about their beliefs. One belief that I really appreciated that Jiva expressed was the fact that everyone is worshiping the same God. No matter what religion one ascribes to, no matter what packaging one's beliefs are wrapped in, what lies at the core is all the same. I share that same belief. Another belief that really resonated deeply with me was their stance on nonviolence and the fact that the Hare Krishnas put an emphasis on vegetarianism in their practices. I have been long perplexed by the fact that so many others that meditate and seek God and express the beliefs of nonviolence still eat the flesh of other sentient beings.

The Hare Krishnas are most notably known for the chant they repeat and sing. In the post that will follow this one I will go into more detail  about their chant but for now I will just merely relate it:

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare

Upon leaving Jiva offered a bundle of incense that had been blessed and burnt at their alter and put it in my bag as well as packed food for us to go. I was really surprised at the food that we were given. I accepted it without reservations having read a little online that food is seen as spiritual with the Hare Krishnas. I still would like to learn more as to why.  I have to say it was delicious! And I enjoyed the fact that I could consume it without wondering if it was ethical. I burned a stick of the incense I was given early the next morning and I have to say that I have never smelled a fragrance so divine before. The scent drew me deeply into it and I felt almost as if I was smelling God Himself.

My short experience at the temple left me inspired and intrigued by what the Hare Krishnas believe and how they practice devotion. I have written about attending Quaker meetings and it's been my intention to visit other places of worship this coming year and write about these experiences on my blog.  I agree with what Ken Wilber has to say about there being truth in everyone's perspective, even if it is a little bit. I would say that the Hare Krishnas are onto something significant and are worth writing about and exploring. They seem to have a beautiful take on who and what God is and I would love to understand their beliefs more. I look forward to attending one of their gatherings, probably even more, in the near future and sharing my experience here with all of you.

Thoughts? I'd love to hear them! Please leave them in the comments section. Thank you!

Note: I use the word mantram, which is interchangeable with the word mantra for the most part. The word mantram appears in the Upanishads and it is also the word that Eknath Easwaran chooses to refer to when speaking of the sacred word (usually a holy name) that one chants and focuses on. Since I rely heavily on the teachings of Eknath Easwaran , I choose to use the word mantram. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

OM (Final poem for NaPoWriMo)

I'm not even sure what day it is in the challenge anymore. I feel like a complete poetry dropout! I figure I will give this one last chance and post a poem I wrote tonight. I give much credit to all of my fellow bloggers who have managed to keep themselves on schedule during this challenge...That was no easy feat! I look forward to reading all of your recent poetry.

Even though my participation in this challenge has been quite minimal I have gained much from this experience. The most significant fruit that has been born through taking part in this endeavor is that which has been reborn: my desire and interest in writing poetry.   I've played around with writing poetry in the past but came to the rather abrupt decision quite some time ago that there was no point in continuing. That it simply wasn't practical. And frankly, that I wasn't very good at it anyways. I've learned that that really is an erroneous conclusion. Poetry is far from irrelevant or impractical as it often seeks to express the almost inexpressible in life. It causes us to see things from different perspectives and open ourselves up to wider realities. It helps us understand ourselves, others and the world more. Few things could be more valuable than that!

This will be my last poem for the challenge. Thank you everyone who has stopped by to read and leave comments. Tomorrow my blog will resume to its more usual content and I look forward to hearing hopefully all of your thoughts regarding my next post.

~ Blessings


A thousand sighs cannot express
This helpless feeling of brokenness.
Oh Love that stings but no less equips

Give me strength to draw back anger's ships.
Hold these thoughts so very fierce,
Stay the arrow that threatens to pierce
This heart so heavy, sluggish, tired,
This soul needing to be God-inspired.
Flood my bones with joy's true flight.

Employ a thousand waves of light,
Until my parched throat no longer aches,
Until my soul no longer breaks.
Whole again as I've always stood
Now realizing what I always should.
That which is behind sorrow, behind pain,

When all dissipates even the shame,
Left naked and bare at center's core,
Is God; I am no more.
Peace is found when we are zero-
Illusions slain by love's eternal arrow.
I know then that I was never truly broken
For I am one with the first syllable ever spoken.

Thoughts? I'd love to hear them! Please leave them in the comments section. Thank you!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

NaPoWriMo: Broken Dawn

The prompt for today's challenge was to write a sonnet. I chose to write a Shakespearean sonnet which means the rhyme scheme is a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, g-g. It is supposed to be in iambic pentameter. I have to confess that mine most likely is not! Frankly, I just concentrated on the rhyming scheme and decided to see what would come about not really troubling myself over the rhythm. Now that the challenge is about midway through  I'm trying to stretch myself a bit and write about things I ordinarily don't.

Hope you enjoy it. I'd love your thoughts. Thank you!


Broken Dawn

Broken dawn bursts through my window

Like an unwelcome guest she saunters in

Weaving secrets that are hers to sew

She feels no need to be forgiven.

Painting in my mind's eye a picture grim

And it's not even after seven o'clock

Something about her light making the shadows more dim 

As if she's been adorning the Reeper's dark frock. 

Searing my retinas Light casts her dark spell,

In my heart I can hear echoing Death's hollow knell.

NaPoWriMo: Every Moment

Here's my try at day 14. I give much credit to those in this challenge that have been able to keep up. I am trying to use the prompts when I can but lately I've just been writing what comes to me.  I'm looking forward to reading what others have come up with today. If you are participating in the challenge feel free to leave the link to today's poem in the comments section.

                                                         (Picture taken on Easter of one of my
                                                                          favorite trees outside of my childhood home.)

Every Moment

Every moment of every day
Eternity breathes out
Reality at play.

Shifting illusions fill the senses
Egos hard at work
building high fences.

We look at each other and seem world's apart
If only we'd light compassion's fire
Realizing we all have the same heart.

To look within another soul as if through a mirror
Self reflecting self births a revelation
That could not be any clearer.

I'd love your thoughts! Thank you!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Poetry Challenge: Day 12

I am extraordinarily behind in the poetry challenge. The last few days have swept me up in a steady current of obligations leaving me weary and uninspired to write at day's end. I just took a jog this morning though and thoughts came flooding upon me while I spent time in the middle of the woods on a beautiful morning here in Connecticut.

I wrote down what came to me in the form of a crude and rather unfinished poem but figured I'd use it to  start back up in the poetry challenge today. Even though I'm disappointed my posts have not been too regular I don't want to give up. As I tell my children, when you fall you just have to shake the dust from your pants and keep moving on. So here's today's try at a poem. I'd like to try to edit and revise it at some point but if I waited to do that I probably wouldn't post anything today! So here it is. :

Every moment unfolds
 the death and resurrection of Spirit.
We need look no further
to find Heaven
Then in This
Falcon swoops across the trail,
Spreading wings open wide
swallowing the Kosmos in her simple embrace,
tiny hairs on feathers ruffled by eternity's breath.
Water drops like transluscent pearls down the jagged walls
of cliffs, dissolving in oneness with Earth so yielding.
I long to lay down
and merge as one with ground and sky
Where reality blossoms revealing
love transcendent.
Where joy springs up as light.
Where buddhas are born.

Thoughts? I'd love to hear them! Please leave them in the comments section!
(And yes...I really did see a falcon this morning! She was beautiful!)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

NaPoWriMo (Day 7)

I'm really enjoying this poetry challenge and encourage everyone to check out some of the other poetry being created by bloggers taking part in it. I'm being exposed to forms of poetry I never knew existed! It's fun trying out various forms and stretching my creativity more than I usually do.

Ever have a dog that barks at everything and won't stop? That pretty much sums up the character of our border collie Olive. She barks at everything! Someone walking across the street, a leaf falling on the ground, a bird fluttering from branch to branch.  She's also loving, loyal, playful and sweet. Yesterday, however,  her barking overshadowed all other positive traits she might possess.  During my moments of frustration, when my head felt as if it were about to shatter and my ears bruised, I decided to try to express what I was feeling in a poem.

Can you relate?

I'd love your thoughts in the comments section. Thank you!!

                                                               Our beloved dog Olive


My mantram is buried beneath shards of membrane

hacked from consciousness and heaped in no

particular pattern.

A labyrinth of thoughts and emotions

twisted and mired into one abstract painting

reflect the high pitched sound waves hurled

through the air from the vocal chords of my border

collie to my violated eardrums.

I wish my dog would stop barking!!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Poetry Challenge: Time (Haiku)

I decided to try something different and skip the prompt for today.  I've read some haiku's written by other participants and wanted to try writing my own.  I'd love your thoughts!

                                                                 Courtesy of: Google Images


Time twisting, turning;

unfolding blossoms brown and

brittle, death's first kiss.