a blade of grass

… he told me that perfection could be learned from nature. be more humble than a blade of grass; more tolerant than a tree. give respect to others freely, without expectation or motive. in such a state of mind, stripped bare of your false pretenses, call out to your Lord eternally.

i’m still working on it …


Thursdays are for Bhakti Club

Today is Thursday, which means that for most of the day my consciousness is absorbed in the Rutgers Bhakti Club, our program to share the treasure of Bhakti Yoga with students at the largest university in New Jersey. Its funny, actually, because Thursdays used to be the day that Krsangi and I offered deity seva at the temple. A few months ago, we found that it was too much and that we needed some "time off" so we asked to be excused from our seva. At the time I thought it was an arrangement for us to calm our schedule down a bit; I see now, though, that Krishna had other plans. Krsangi and I hooked up with some empowered devotee students at Rutgers who were enthusiastic to start a club... and here we are.

So now Thursdays are for Bhakti Club.

When he heard, our friend Damodar half-joked that Lord Caitanya is making sure that we serve Him one way or another. "You guys don't want to dress or feed Me anymore? Okay, then go out and do some sankirtana, instead!"

Anyway, since today is Thursday and all, I thought I'd share a piece of writing I posted up on the new Rutgers Bhakti Club blog. Hope you like it...

Clearing Your Mind

After our last Bhakti Club lab on mantra meditation (which was awesome, by the way --- many thanks to those who joined us and took the plunge), a student asked me about clearing the mind. After all, she reasoned, isn't that what meditation is supposed to be all about?

My answer: yes and no.

If by clearing the mind, we mean turning it off, emptying it out, and becoming devoid of all thought... then no. First of all, it is nearly impossible to truthfully do; we usually end up thinking awfully hard about not thinking (quick -- don't think of a purple elephant!). Secondly, it is unnatural and, well, boring. Honestly... would you rather sit still and stare at a blank wall or watch the latest episode of Lost? Because the self is hard-wired to be active (to be, to love, to serve), the mind's got to do something. Starving it now will probably just cause it to freak out later.

Bhakti Yoga teaches that the mind can be positively engaged by focusing on the sacred sounds of the mantra. The great Bhakti mystic Sri Chaitanya wrote:

Chanting the Divine Names
allows one to clear away the dust
that is covering the mirror of the mind.

This is what we mean by clearing the mind. Right now, we peer into the mirror of our minds, but there is so much dust gathered there that we can't see much of anything else. A good mirror isn't one that is empty or reflects back nothingness; a good mirror is one which is clean and allows us to see ourselves as we are.

Mantra meditation is one practice that helps us to do some badly needed spring cleaning (from the inside out) by clearing away the layers of ignorance, selfishness, and materialism that prevent us from seeing our own potential and the beauty of the creation around us.

When we can do that, we will will be able to peer into the mirror of the mind, and see -- perhaps for the first time -- the true Self.

~ V.

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