doesn’t hurt once it’s over

there is much benefit in chanting and meditation. I wrote specifically about japa meditation in one of my old journals Communicate Devotion a few years back. we would sit on the floor and chant the maha-mantra until sixteen rounds were completed (a round equalling a strand of 108 beads). this took about two hours a day, if not a little more, and needless to say this was a little tiring on the mind and body without mixing it up a little bit. so onto phase two: standing, or walking. japa walks, japa talks. in a room, you’d either go in a clockwise circle or pace back and forth. if you were tired, you could pick up the pace a bit. I remember, before leaving one time, we were in the van and looking out the window. one devotee was outside taking laps around the temple like a marathon runner. that was quite an eccentric way for someone to get their rounds done. later this guy completely lost it and was phoning in death threats to SDG.

now I’ll just mention, through japa I found a love for pacing in a room and mulling over thoughts. in japa meditation, your attention is to rest solely on the mantra itself, but inevitably stuff would come in. when I was in my room in India, this is how the idea hit me to start a zine when I got back to the States. the working title, “notes and open thought,” later became “Journal of Thought.” a run of 15 copies for the first issue was received well, so I ran more, turning it into something “real.” I went for years writing like this, pacing the floor and chanting, ideas hitting me, running to the keyboard. issues — as far as content and design — became more polished as things moved along.

later I heard that some famous people in history were known to pace back and forth while confronting their problems or just making things more clear in their minds. this too, is a form of meditation. at least to me. and I like it because it is completely active. you’re not mouthing any mantras to disturb anyone near you, the pace can be set to your liking, and it can be done anywhere.

. . .

kc days
began in ’88
I wore my
army jacket
“Swiz” stenciled
on the back
wore my shoes
in the temple once
didn’t know
to bow
didn’t think to
the gravel
parking lot
Jason R. showed
me where to
put my shoes
kind of irritated
like having
to show
a child
an Indian congregation
a Sunday feast
our separate
little class across
the way
for the youth of today
basics of reincarnation
an awkward kirtana
at the end
a huge circle of dancers
me not
enthusiastic
not wanting to dance
but sang some
my friend Derek
asked, “can we come back”
he was intrigued
it was a long drive
but what the hell
I would mow lawns
and go on days
by myself
skip school
play Cro-Mags
on the headphones
chant japa around
the way in
Silver Spring

I visited
spent the night
for the first time
woke very early
to the smell
of incense and
the deity in
that room
and in the beginning
did not understand
the significance
of murti worship and ritual
brass Caitanya
the Divine Couple
sannyasi’s devotion

going down that
little walkway to
the main temple room
hated how when
the dancing got
wound up
I was pressured into
jumping around
just like them
“if you don’t feel enthusiastic,”
they said, “pretend
like you are.”
some days I did
some days the genuine
bliss would hit me
I was more myself
less shy
and I felt
a love

I was ready
to love
the entire world

it turned
me inside out

. . .

when I saw Varsana Swami speak for the first time, I think I cried. if not, it was pretty much every time after that. I’d cry even now, I think, if he were here. he is a beautiful person and full of love of God, no doubt about it. I specifically remember once in Baltimore, after a class he had given, I was sitting on the floor, eating, and moved to tears — I was so moved by his words. little moments like that added up over the years and kept me around for a long time. I wouldn’t change them.

. . .

there is a bitterness, too. young men and women talked into joining a temple at a young age, that they’ll be taken care of by the society their entire lives, find themselves struck down by a disappointment that the rest of the world is out their waiting to devour them when things don’t work out. there’s no need to pursue an education on the outside. be a monk, serve God and let your ego die. chant and be happy.

I remember some would leave, and it wouldn’t be anything like a team assembled to go and kidnap that person, but the attitude: “if you see James, let me know and we’ll see if we can talk him out of his silly dreams to become a doctor. what maya (illusion)!” yet the society itself receives much of its donations from the Indian community — doctors, lawyers, and so on.

you see a person leaving years later, for whatever reason, unable to really join society without any marketable skills. only the monks are taken care of, and usually not very well. if you decide you want to start a family, you’re pretty much on your own, and it’s looked down upon.

why dwell on it now?
I’m just getting it
out of my system
it feels
good to do so
to put
it into words

I know
it’s in the
past now
I’m
well aware

I feel good writing prose-poems, knowing I’m free of the past (at least to some extent), and watching Kalika climb up into her bed of our unfolded clothes. a cool air comes through the window. we are celebrating weekend time together. a red-neck mountain town, as the South Park song goes. I like it here. it’s not forever. 2 years so far, maybe one more. more or less. married almost 6 years ago, getting sweeter. married as one flesh. now we are two pieces of flesh. we are each whole. she will go to Spain for 4 months and be whole, and I will be here and be whole. I will learn to cook, listen to discourses on buddhism, time travel, self-help, psychology, etc.

a pain in the hand
the hip the breathing
gland the palm the pare
the pine cone a sublime
hankering speak firm
with confidence
shine like that
and surprise them
over and over and
over again
kill them with
kindness
kill them with
surprises
there they will
think you
are the most
kindest host
gracious

in and out of consciousness you find yourself come out, dream a nightmare but awaken and carry it with you down a back alley, sun rising that you can’t stop if you tried. there is the sun behind the rain dancing down your spine and activating impermanence. how a mafia were attacking you. amidst the wrestling you decided to take action. you turned his gun back on him. he swallowed his own bullets. fear in his eyes. a stare into space. you helped him realize three times.

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