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BYC.Newsletter.Issue.1 (Jan-Feb.2015) (2)-page-001 BYC.Newsletter.Issue.1 (Jan-Feb.2015) (2)-page-002

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Extract from a lecture given by HH Lokanath Swami:

“One devotee was explaining when I was a bhakta, I remember this example from that time, he was Achyutananda Swami. He said, “Okay, take off in an airplane at noon time and then let your plane fly the westward direction with a speed of, say, a thousand miles per hour approximately – what would be the experience?” The sun would be just above the head, above that aircraft, because the earth is also making circles around its axis and its circumference is some 25,000 miles around. So your plane is going approximately a thousand miles per hour, so if you take off at midday, wherever you go, the sun would be just above there, so what? Then the remaining example or the explanation is that if we are always chanting Hare Krishna, then Krishna who is like a sun – chanting Hare Krishna or studying Bhagavatam or honoring prasadam or taking darshanam of beautiful Radha Madan Mohan, engaged in devotional service of the Lord – then the sun will be always shining upon you. The Lord will act as a sun and you will never ever be in darkness. Like that person flying in the aircraft, he always will be on the light side, never on the other side, the dark side.”

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An extract from a lecture given by HH Lokanath Swami:

“Yesterday some devotee was comparing kirtan to japa saying that, “Japa is monotonous; same thing goes over and over again, one may have disinterest. It may be mechanical etc”. …

If your mind is going elsewhere then you have another exercise to do… Drag it back, bring it back. Take the help of intelligence. Who is superior to the mind? Intelligence is superior to the mind. So where is mind going, whether it is going to the right place or wrong place or is it timely for the mind to go… Who will decide all this? Intelligence decides. Power of discrimination is with intelligence. Mind doesn’t have its own philosophy. Mind is just floating. Just like child. While walking, passing by the shop, the child cries… daddy, daddy… I want that. Mind is like that. Daddy tries to convince… no no… Take this lollipop and then the child runs for that. Just a moment ago the child was crying for something else and now drops that and runs for something else and then something else. There is nothing fixed about the mind. Hence you could change the mind. Mind you could change. Train the mind. Shape up the mind. So there is a scope. Knowing that there is scope for changing the mind, it is possible to changing the habits of mind. Mind doesn’t have its own philosophy. Superior to mind is intelligence. …

We have to have intelligence and exercise it, use that intelligence for improving our chanting. So you prove you that you are intelligent by using the intelligence. So your two hours, the 16 rounds – this is the time for you to use intelligence. Otherwise it is just sleeping business because intelligence is not being exercised. If intelligence is at job, alert sharp intelligence, immediately you will be able to tell: oh you are sleeping, you are doing this, your mind is going away … you will watch and point out and come up with rectification measure.”

If you want to read more on this topic please visit the Lokanath Swami’s Chant for Change initiative.

 

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Everyone is now talking about crises: financial, economic, social and the like. But few realize that behind all these, there is a much more devastating crisis that is the cause of all the others. Its effects are so great that absolutely all living entities in the universe are affected by it. This is called the housing crisis of the soul.

As far as the Vedic worldview is concerned, we have left our real home. Instead of living with God or Krishna in the center of the spiritual world, where all our comfort is automatically ensured for eternity we have chosen to live in the ghetto, also known as the Material World. Down here we live on our own, we have to pay bills and a huge rent. Also, we have to change our residence—the body—after every lifetime.

How did we end up like this?

While living in the spiritual world, a minority of souls have the desire to imitate Krishna and to act as if they are the Lord. In that instant there is a conflict of interests because only God can be God. Only He is able to wield His own power, which would bewilder any other entity. So it appears that these souls now have a problem—they want to be the ones who makes things happen, independently, but they can’t actually do it in God’s presence, since God’s energy only listens to Him.

In this context, Krishna, in His divine mercy, creates an educational program called mayā, especially designed for these rebel souls. This process is an inconceivably sophisticated simulation of the spiritual world, in which the souls willing to act as lords can live as if they are separated from Krishna and can experience life without Him. To our modern understanding, this program is similar to a highly complex 3D computer game. A gamer becomes so absorbed in being the character in the game, lost as they are in the countless experiences offered by the game world, that they lose contact with reality. Just as the player gradually accepts the world of the game as their day to day reality, so do the souls accept the material simulation as their natural home.

Now what? Although captive in this world, our existential anxiety—on which rivers of literature have been written—makes us realize that something is wrong with the world. In our rare moments of peace we experience this anxiety—the soul’s “housing crisis”. What am I doing in this corporeal existence? I am not made to suffer. I have a body that is degradable, I have to make a huge struggle for the slightest comfort, I am always in tense relationship with the others, I am subjected to natural catastrophes, violence and all other calamities. This is not right. Why do I not accept these things as natural? Why do I have the feeling that there is more to all of this?  And then we begin to look for the road back to our native home.

This is where Krishna’s appearances in this world come in, such as that of 5000 years ago when He came and spoke the Bhagavad Gita. He comes and reminds us of our home, where He is waiting for us to live happily with Him. The only thing we have to do is to really want to return, and then He will teach us step by step how to actually achieve it. The shortest route Krishna presents to us in the Bhagavad Gita is bhakti yoga: the path of devotion. Through the active engagement in the divine service, any soul now lost in the ghettos of mayā will come back home, where God or Krishna will have been waiting for millions and millions of years.

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The Vedic theory of reincarnation holds that the divine arrangement enables us to live multiple lives in the context of a long-term educational process. But since we can’t seem to remember anything from our previous existences, someone could ask how we are supposed to learn something from them. This question can be answered with the help of a pot of boiling water, a poem and a scented flower.

We are all very careful when we are carrying a pot of boiling water. Even if no drop is touching our skin, the very anticipation of this danger makes us tread lightly. The question is: when did we learn that we need to stay away from boiling water? What was the exact context? How old were we, in what location, what clothes did we have on? What was the weather like? Hard to say. But, still, this act of learning had to have happened sometime during our lifetime. Although we’ve forgotten the details, we have not forgotten the lesson: careful with boiling water.

Let’s take another example. Escaping the cold outside, relaxing under a warm blanket, we read something nice – say a lofty Rudyard Kipling poem. Carried away by the awe inspiring images, we let ourselves be seduced by the poet’s talent. All this time, our mind is silently accessing and processing hundreds of grammatical rules and word meanings. Can we remember the details of the context in which we have learned each and every rule? Definitely not. But still, the assimilation of the essence of those learning experiences is evident by our ability to read and enjoy the poem.

But even if we could remember, would it really help us? On the contrary. Let’s imagine that while we are savoring the subtleties of the poem our mind would suddenly be invaded with specific memories associated with the learning of every word and every grammar rule inherent in the processing of those verses. Could we then be able to concentrate on the poem?

This cumulative learning mechanism, through the assimilation of the essence and the discarding of the context details also applies to the lessons we have learned from previous lives. The arrangement of nature makes it in such a way that the soul is able to carry with it in a mind-bottle technically called citta the essential teachings of the previous life reflected in our worldview, habits and behaviors, but it spares us the mental overload which would paralyze our life if every time we were about to do something, we would automatically remember every little detail about that something.

In the Bhagavad Gita (15.8), the Supreme explains this using a comparison: the living entities in the material world carry with them various conceptions of life from one body to the next, like air currents carry with them a variety of scents from the flowers. Elegantly put.

In conclusion, despite our forgetfulness of our previous lives, the essential information is there, somewhere in our mind, present in the form of so-called inborn tendencies, traits and inclinations. The lessons are there at our disposal. The important thing is to use them wisely in order to be successful at our Final Exam.

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Experience the nectar of life, the bhakti yoga way: meditation, spiritual music and dance, philosophy and great vegetarian feasts. Truly, happiness is found within, and if you come with an open heart you can give it a try and see for yourself.

Below, you can find information about our programs here at the Centre de Bhakti-Yoga and how to get in touch with us.

Our programs consists of a mantra music session, an interactive discussion on spiritual topics and, at the end, a delicious vegetarian feast. The entrance is free, but donations are welcome. The schedule is as follows:


Every Friday at 19:00, we have a program in French.

Every second Saturday of the month, at 16:00 there’s a Russian program.

Every Sunday, at 13:30 we have an English program.


You ca reach us at:

Centre de Bhakti-yoga, Avenue D’Auderghem, 197, 1040 Etterbeek, Brussels; note that streets in Brussels have two names, one in French and one in Dutch. For example: Avenue d’Auderghem = Oudergemselaan.

E-mail: bhaktibrussels@gmail.com

Telephone:

In English or French: 0486820310 (Janmastami das).

In Russian: 04 86 33 56 49 (Mohamed Osmanov) or 04 97 93 77 71 (Leilya Khassanova).

Donate:

If you would like to give a donation, the bank details: Centre de Bhakti Yoga de Bruxelles asbl, Dexia 068-2404705-05, IBAN: BE96 0682 4047 0505, BIC: GKCCBEBB. Thank you for your support.

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The Vedic scriptures establish nonviolence, called ahimsa, as the ethical foundation of vegetarianism and for a peaceful society. According to the Vedas, God is the Supreme Father of all creatures, not just humans. Therefore, slaughter of innocent animals is considered equivalent to killing one’s brother or sister. Krishna devotees follow a wholesome lacto-vegetarian diet excluding meat, fish and eggs. Although it may be argued that vegetarians are guilty of killing vegetables, foods such as fruits, nuts, milk, and grains do not require killing. But even when a plant’s life is taken, the pain involved is dramatically less than that of a highly-sensitive animal such as a cow or lamb.

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According to karma, nature’s law of action and reaction, human beings must suffer for any killing that is against God’s laws. For this reason, as well as to show recognition and appreciation for the supreme proprietor and supplier of all food, devotees prepare vegetarian meals as devotional offerings to Krishna, God. Then food is called prasadam (spiritual food), which can be fully enjoyed without karmic reaction. In the process of bhakti-yoga, devotion goes beyond simple vegetarianism, and food becomes a means of spiritual progress. In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krishna says, “All that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me.” So offering what we eat to the Lord is an integral part of bhakti-yoga and makes the food blessed with spiritual potencies. The Lord also describes what He accepts as offerings: “If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.” Thus, we can see that the Lord accepts fruits, grains, and vegetarian foods. The Lord does not accept foods like meat, fish or eggs, but only those that are pure and naturally available without harming others.

On the spiritual path, there are several reasons why a person is recommended to be vegetarian. One primary reason is that we need to see the spiritual nature within all living beings, and that includes the animals and other creatures as well. Universal brotherhood means nonviolence to both humans and animals. It consists of understanding that animals also have souls. They are alive, conscious, and feel pain. And these are the indications of the presence of consciousness, which is the symptom of the soul. Even the Bible (Genesis 1.21; 1.24; 1.30; 2.7; and in many other places) refers to both animals and people as nefesh chayah, living souls. Those who eat meat, however, because of their desires to eat animals or see them as a source of food for one’s stomach, are not so easily able to understand the spiritual nature of all beings. After all, if you know that all living entities are spiritual in essence, and that all living beings that are conscious show the symptoms of the soul within, then how can you kill them unnecessarily? Any living creature is also the same as we are in the respect that it is also a child of the same father, a part of the same Supreme Being. Thus, the killing of animals shows a great lack in spiritual awareness.

How to offer food to Krishna?

Preparing and offering food to the Lord shows Him our devotion and gratitude. Krishna doesn’t need to eat, of course, but He accepts the love with which we offer food to Him.
As far as possible, use fresh, natural ingredients for cooking. Krishna accepts only vegetarian food, and packaged, store-bought products may contain meat, fish, or eggs. So read labels carefully.
Cleanliness is important in cooking for Krishna. Wash your hands before you begin. And don’t taste the food while cooking; the meal is for Krishna’s pleasure, so He should taste it first.
It’s best to have a new set of dinnerware used only for Krishna’s offerings and not used by anyone else.
Place the plate in front of Krishna and ask Him to accept the offering. Then, in a mood of assisting the pure devotees, offer the preparations to Krishna while reciting the following prayers:

Prayers for Offering Food to Krishna

nama om vishnu-padaya krishna-preshthaya bhu-tale
srimate bhaktivedanta-svamin iti namine
namas te sarasvate deve gaura-vani-pracarine
nirvisesha-sunyavadi-paschatya-desa-tarine

I offer my respectful obeisances unto His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who is very dear to Lord Krishna, having taken shelter at His lotus feet. Our respectful obeisances are unto you, O spiritual master, servant of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami. You are kindly preaching the message of Lord Chaitanyadeva and delivering the Western countries, which are filled with impersonalism and voidism.

namo maha-vadanyaya
krishna-prema-pradaya te
krishnaya krishna-chaitanya-
namne gaura-tvishe namah

O most munificent incarnation! You are Krishna Himself appearing as Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. You have assumed the golden color of Srimati Radharani, and You are widely distributing pure love of Krishna. We offer our respectful obeisances unto You.

namo brahmanya-devaya
go-brahmana-hitaya ca
jagad-dhitaya krishnaya
govindaya namo namah

My Lord, You are the well-wisher of the cows and the brahmanas,and You are the well-wisher of the entire human society and world.
You can also chant the Pancha Tattva and Hare Krsna mantras three times:

sri-krishna-chaitanya prabhu-nityananda
sri-advaita gadadhara srivasadi-gaura-bhakta-vrinda

“I offer my obeisances to Sri Krishna Chaitanya, Prabhu Nityananda, Sri Advaita, Gadadhara, Srivasa and all others in the line of devotion”

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare

Leave the plate there for a few minutes, just as you would if a loved one was eating. Remove the plate, transfer the food to a serving plate, and wash Krishna’s dinnerware. The food is now prasadam, or “mercy” from Krishna. While you eat, consider the spiritual value of the food; because Krishna has accepted it, it is spiritually identical to Him. Therefore by eatingprasadam you become purified. Everything you offer Krishna becomes spiritualized prasadam—flowers, incense, water, food. All prasadam should be respected and shared with others. Spread the mercy around.

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