I watched a lot of movies when I was younger. Many with my father who was a big fan of the old western movies. I always remember a line from a western from the 1960’s by director Sam Peckinpah. The movie is RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY which was about 2 aging cowboys played by Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea towards the end of their acting careers.
I describe myself as a Vaishnava Hindu but emphasize that this is not a sectarian term. Sectarian being defined as excessive devotion to a particular religion. Vaishnava Hinduism is not like this, in fact, Vaishnavism is the polar opposite of sectarianism.
Recently I saw a YouTube message from Tulsi Gabbard, the first practicing Hindu elected to The US Congress. She expressed in this video more eloquently than I can why Vaishnava Hinduism embraces all faiths:
According to Vaishnava Hinduism, there’s one Supreme Being who is called many names by different people around the world at different times. It’s not that there is a Christian god, a Buddhist god, a Hindu god, or a Muslim god, all competing with each other. There is only one God although we may call Him by different names.
“It is the loving exchange one has with God that is true spirituality. And one who is experiencing such love for God is able to see beyond our external differences and designations, and recognize that we are all relatives in the deepest sense. We are all children of the same Supreme Lord. This is the message of Bhagavad-gita, the message of love, of how we can achieve real harmony with others, no matter the different backgrounds we come from.”
During the 1970’s and 1980’s Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda traveled extensively in the USA, South America, New Zealand, Australia, different Pacific Islands, the Philippines, and Hong Kong to name a few places.
Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda in the 1970’s
Everywhere he went Siddhaswarupananda spoke and held kirtans, sometimes with just a few people, sometimes with many more. He was influential everywhere he went and many of the people he spoke to in those days are now his students. Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa’s message has not changed in all that time.
To paraphrase his words:
By hearing and chanting God’s Names a person’s mind and attention gradually becomes immersed in the spiritual world. In this way, even though living in this temporary world, one actually begins to taste the nectar of what it’s like to be in the spiritual dimension.
Hearing and chanting God’s names is a very easy method for anyone no matter what their religion. All Names of God have potency so it doesn’t even matter if a person is a little sectarian and fearful of certain names of God, thinking ‘But I’m a Moslem’ , ‘I’m a Hindu’ or ‘I’m a Christian’. No problem – they can simply sing the names of God as given in their scripture. That will have a purifying effect and their attention will be drawn more and more to the eternal”.
When I was young I would often lie in bed and before sleep overcame me, I thought a lot about my existence and wondered who I was. Often the walls of my bedroom seemed to close in on me and I felt imprisoned, or I felt very small and the walls were miles away. We lived in the country, and sometimes I would go out at night, lie on the grass, and look at the vastness of the universe – how insignificant I felt!
At such times I would contemplate about death: what would happen when I died or, as I know more correctly now, when my body died?
It seemed to me that there were 2 possibilities: when I died there was either nothingness; or as Lord Jesus taught, if we love Him, we can go to the Supreme Father. Any another possibility I did not want to contemplate!
I am known by many names: Chaitanya das to some, Charles to others, and yet others as Charlie. There is also Chas, Snowy (when I was really young), Robbo, Mr. Robinson, Father, Dad, Popo (to my grandchildren), Pops, Popes, Mate, Sir, Mister, and some other names my wife calls me that I cannot repeat here! People call me different names depending on my relationship with them and also the role I am ‘playing’.
Kirtan is the singing or saying or chanting of sacred mantras. It is transcendental sound meditation. It is uplifting and cleanses the heart and mind. The above example is my son Kirtan das, leading a kirtan with one of these age old mantras “Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya”. The meaning of this mantra is: “O my Lord, the all-pervading Supreme Person, Krishna, I offer all my respects to you”
Life is not all philosophy, cancer and death and dying. Relationships are what is important. The relationship with the Supreme, relationships with friends, family and all living entities, our brothers, our sisters. (Thank you Kenaram for the above poem and photos!)
(or more correctly, we are all spirit souls, sparks of God)
So I was feeding the Rosey Barb fish in the lily pond in the garden, and over time I’ve noticed they all have their individual traits. They are all little personalities.
One is a bully, and no matter how much seaweed food I feed them, he always tries to stop the others getting any. Another is Mr. Energetic who swims dartingly around as fast as he can….all the time. Then there’s Mr. Timid, who stays towards to bottom and waits for the food to fall down and come to him. Another likes to go into the greenery and massage herself against the weed. And still another will come to the surface and allow me to gently pat him. They are not all the same.
Many of us feel we’ve been ‘wronged’ at times in life by others, and we harbor these feelings sometimes for many decades. Such things can tear families apart, tear friends apart, and sometimes tear nations apart.