Introduction

My name is Chaitanya das, my other name is Charles Robinson. Chaitanya das is the name given to me by my spiritual teacher, my dear friend, Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda.

I have been dealing with advanced prostate cancer now for almost 20 years. In my blog I want to talk about how being diagnosed with cancer affected me, and how in the years since, I have come to not only understand but experience who I am through meditation and the philosophy behind it. This has also helped me understand my relationship with others, and also my relationship with the Supreme Soul, who is beside not only me, but all living beings, always.

With a diagnosis of advanced cancer comes fear. The fear of pain and suffering. The fear of death and dying. As well as being worried about dying we also worry, and are fearful, for our loved ones we will leave behind. We are attached to many things in this world and every one of these attachments accentuates our fear of leaving this world. But this fear can be overcome.

So from time-to-time in this blog, I’ll try to unpack as best I can some of the many lessons and insights from the Vedic literatures such as the Bhagavad Gita and the great sages of Vedic history that I have come to appreciate by hearing from my spiritual teacher Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda.

During my life one of my interests has been vintage guitars - guitars that were made pre 1940’s. I have undertaken a great deal of research into different makers of vintage American guitars, particularly H.A. Weymann and Son. This is an interesting label and I’d like to share some little known facts about them as well as some other early vintage ‘parlor’ guitars that have come my way.

Thank you and Namaste

(I welcome and encourage comments and questions on all blogs).

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THE BLIND MEN & THE ELEPHANT

Stories have been used to illustrate important ideas in different cultures for thousands of years, with some of the same stories appearing in more than one culture.  This story comes from the Vedic tradition and was told by Srila Bhaktsiddhanta Swami, the guru of the guru of my guru (spiritual teacher).

Drawing by Navie

The Blind Men & the Elephant

A group of blind men heard of a strange animal called an ‘elephant’ from some elderly people. Naturally they had a very strong urge to have first-hand experience of such an animal via the sense of touch. Walking sticks in hand, the blind persons arrived at the elephant stable in the royal palace, and requested the elephant keepers to permit them to touch the elephant’s different limbs.

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c.1916 WEYMANN Style 30 ‘f’ hole acoustic guitar

This Weymann c.1916 flattop acoustic could well be Americas  first production ‘f’ hole guitar.  If anyone knows differently I would sure like to know.

This guitar also appears in my post: https://www.leavingthisworld.com/weymann-f-hole-guitars-styles-30-648-748-and-848/  but I felt it deserved it’s own posting.

Formerly owned by Bill Yates, due to his immense generosity, this is now in my possession.  Bill did an amazing job in restoring it (the ‘f’ holes themselves were quite damaged, but otherwise it was in pretty good condition for a 100+ year old instrument.

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c.1908 WEYMANN Amazing Inlay ‘OO’ Guitar!

Just when I thought I’d seen all the guitar ‘styles’ Weymann had to offer this one surfaces:

Photos by Ben’s Gear Emporium

This is a c.1908 ‘Auditorium’ size (lower bout 14 1/2″) Weymann guitar with abalone and pearl trim.   It is currently (Nov 2021) owned by Ben’s Gear Emporium and Ben has it for sale on Reverb.  He describes the guitar as:
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CARTOONS by my 14yr old grandson

All my 6 children are very artistic, as are their children. I’m a proud grandad and, when one of my grandsons, 14-year-old Kishan — the name is another name for Lord Krishna — approached me and asked if he could do some cartoons for my website I was pleased he wanted to help.

Kishan hard at work!

As far as I know he had never done anything like this before, but I had some ideas for cartoons and so did he, so I gave him free reign. This post is a result of his first ones:

Cartoon by Kishan 2021

This cartoon is a situation that happened.  I’d befriended someone who was diagnosed with prostate cancer which was very aggressive and growing quickly.  Like many of us now in our 60’s and 70’s, he had a distrust of Western medicine, but because his PSA was rising quickly his doctor managed to convince him to do an initial injection of hormone treatment so that he could consider his options.  In the meantime, he read about how some people were getting frozen sea cucumber and eating a little at a time.

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“I’VE SEEN THE ELEPHANT!”

The first elephant to arrive in the USA was in 1796, and was exhibited around the country, so it was a question people asked — “Have you seen the elephant?”

1797 Pamphlet

In the mid 1800’s it was an idea often expressed in the West of America when someone was dying —  “You’ve seen the elephant!”—  meaning they’ve seen and experienced everything worthwhile in this world and it was now OK to die. http://www.awb.com/dailydose/?p=1097

Cartoon by Navie

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‘QUIRKY’ Individuals

I have heard the word ‘quirky’ a lot lately. My wife likes those home ‘fixer-upper’ and ‘Moving to the Country’ shows on TV and I often overhear people saying, “We are a quirky couple,” or “I am a quirky person and I’m looking for a house that reflects that.” It made me think, why do people want to be seen as quirky? What’s the attraction?

Nothing wrong with that as far as I’m concerned, and as far as Vaishnava philosophy is concerned (see post about what is a Vaishnava).

People in today’s world are struggling to find some individuality in a society where everything can look the same. We are swamped in mediocrity and people struggle to be individuals. I think that is why people call themselves ‘quirky.’ What they are saying is “I’m an individual, I’m not like everyone else, I have my own personality, I just want everyone to know that!”
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CANCER – Why Me?

When I was first diagnosed 20 years years ago at age 51 years with advanced prostate cancer, I had an acquaintance named ‘Edge’ — whether his real name or not, I do not know.  Edge was about 65 years old and would bike everywhere. He had a lot of reconstructive surgery done to his face after dealing with a particularly aggressive form of cancer.  I don’t even know which cancer it was. 

The time I first met him, Edge’s cancer was in remission, however it had been in remission previously and come back. When it had returned some years earlier it came with a vengeance, and he told me that twice he was put into the palliative/intensive care ward for terminal patients. It seems he pulled through and survived by sheer will power.

When I was first diagnosed, Edge said to me, “are you a ‘why me’ person or a ‘why not me’ person?

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GOSSIP & RUMORS

One day a parishioner went into the church to see his priest for confession. The priest asked what he wished to confess, and he stated he had been gossiping about someone.

(Original drawing by my grand-daughter Navie)

The churchgoer was not thinking this to be a serious sin and expected to be asked to say a couple of “Hail Mary’s.”  However, the priest said to him, “Go onto the highest roof-top you can find in the community with a feather-down pillow, cut it open, and let all the feathers fly into the wind, then return to see me next week.”

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1917 WEYMANN ‘f’ Sound-hole Guitar Style 24

Owner: Richard Barnes*

I’m always humbled by the generosity of many people who contact me.  I was pleased to receive emails from Richard Barnes who owns an ‘f’ sound-hole Weymann guitar that was not known to me, a Style 24, dated c.1917.  (You can read about Weymann ‘f’ hole guitars here, but I felt this guitar needed it’s own post).

Richard Barnes and his 1917 Weymann Style 24 ‘f’ hole guitar

Richard said he acquired this from an auction, maybe around 1992 or so for the whopping price of $100.00!  For a 100+ year old guitar this is is amazing condition. It is near mint and is the favorite of all his guitars.  It’s telling that at one time he owned a Weymann Jimmie Rodgers Special but sold that and kept this guitar.

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DEATH: The Elephant in the Room

‘Death and Dying’ is a subject I have read a lot about and studied extensively for the past 15 years or so. I have also spent time with friends and family as they have left this world.

We all know death is certain, something we will all face. But for most of us, it is the elephant in the room that hardly anyone wants to talk about or face head on.

Dying Patient: What is that large dark shape in the corner, it looks big!
Visitor: That’s nothing George, just your eyes playing tricks, you’ll be up and about in no time.

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