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Showing posts from June, 2012

The Holy Name, Personal Mysticism and Possession

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This is a combination of four articles that were posted on Gaudiya Discussions from April 10, 2004. Since I am engaged in a bit of reminiscence, this fits in right about here.


I. Ritual and Structure: The meaningful organization of symbols
One thing I learned about in the phenomenology of religion course during my university days was to look for structures in religious rituals. As I have stated many times, religious symbols are inexhaustible sources of meaning. They should contain all the elements of a dialectic within them, so that each completion of the dialectic circle results in a deepening of perception of one's ultimate religious concern.

A great religion generally has a little something for everybody--a saint, a demigod, a little myth or legend, a theological interpretation. These all expand out of the great central constellation of myths. A religion's rituals generally recapitulate these myths communally, so that they are reinforced by their performance. The congreg…

Vrindavan heat stirs up old bhajan memories

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A few days ago I was on a bit of a roll... and it stirred up so many memories of my life in Nabadwip and Braj in the early 80s. In my kaupin, the sweat rolling down my chest as I chanted japa, the heat reminded me of the way my summer days back then were spent sitting, almost entirely inactive except for chanting, meditating and studying. I was feeling a bit of appreciation for the immobilizing heat. It seems to push you inward... not such a bad thing, on the whole, despite all the prejudices and pressures to externalize, externalize, externalize.

After reading Ramdas's book, I was thinking about his idea of laminar flows... that material and spiritual activities are separate and parallel streams that do not really affect one another, existing side by side, ebbing and flowing to their own rhythms. Ramdas's thesis, that we should allow bhakti to take the lead and not think that we can force it by our own ego-dominated discipline, struck a bit of a chord.

The South-Indian Shri …

Natural Bhakti: Bhakti without fear – the lost science of attraction (Rati).

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A small book I have had lying around for a few months was given to me by the author, Ramdas, Ronald Engert, whom I met at the Munger temple in Vrindavan. He is a jovial 50-year-old German devotee from Berlin. He has been publishing a good quality magazine in German on spiritual topics, called Tattva Viveka and has also been making forays into other kinds of publishing. He is trained in religious studies, and although engaging in bhakti since 1989, was only formally initiated by Bhaktivedanta Narayan Maharaj in 2003. Currently, he is a leading supporter of Bhaktivedanta Sadhu Maharaj in central Europe, and the numerous German-speaking devotees at the Munger temple from Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, are a testament to Sadhu Maharaj's laid back approach, which Ramdas is also promoting.

The book, which he told me has met with considerable criticism from conservative ISKCON ranks, is called Natural Bhakti: Bhakti without fear – the lost science of attraction (Rati). He has already…