One Dear Friend, One Dear Daughter

Yamuna Devi, my close friend of forty years, passed away last December. She was prepared to go; she passed with dignity and grace and in good consciousness. I miss her piercingly truthful insights, her charm, wit and laughter, and the loving pokes she gave me to draw me out. Yet I’m relieved that she’s finally relieved of her many bodily troubles. Her mature, confident God consciousness shores up my hope that one day I may be likewise.

Last month, Priya, my sweet eighteen-year-old daughter, left for her first year of college. Fearful, tearful, and confused about her career goals, her luggage weighed in at 150 pounds and her heart seemed heavier. She hasn’t liked change her whole life, which is a bit problematic since everything in this world changes.

One who’s practiced at flying soars when the final test comes. And one new to the art flies when she pushes herself out of the nest.

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Resilience

I notice with dismay that an apple tree my daughter and I planted seven years ago as well dead for no apparent reasonas my dear Montmorency sour cherry tree that my friends and I feast from each summer aren’t leafing out this spring. It was a mild winter, so it wasn’t the cold that killed them.

I’m discouraged. Why buy trees, chip holes for them into the rocklike soil, plant, fertilize, water, and prune them only to have them die for no apparent reason? I’d rather lie in the sun reading the Bhagavad-gita.

That reasoning wilts before my wise, pious friend Patricia. Now nearing 60, she’s successfully battled serious cancer and today has the buoyancy and brightness of a youth. Unhesitatingly she tells me, “Try again or try something else.” Her simple words lift me from my defeat. She’s right. Two trees died but ten lived. Why not see that?

Humans are not meant to give up—on trees, problems, people, or ourselves. In consistently, optimistically trying to bring health and spirituality into the world and its occupants, we gain the same for ourselves.

I can try again. And then I can read that book in the sun. And when I do read, the Gita’s words will enter my heart – the heart of a budding optimist – and resonate there, as they would never do for a cynic.

Ample Space, Divine Opportunities

One of the more noteworthy statements I heard while traveling was, “As yoga enables us to stretch in ways we couldn’t before, so the Bhagavad-gita enables our mind to stretch to accommodate ideas we couldn’t entertain before.”

Recently—and unfortunately—my absorption in the mind-stretching Gita has been disappointing. Although I had great intentions and read the Gita daily, I’ve been preoccupied with keeping my camper functioning, maintaining my stock of books and DVDs, having exchanges and farewells with friends along the way, forging future plans, keeping a wary eye on the weather, and trying to stay healthy and safe.

suburban samenessMy lack of absorption in the Gita may have been due to all that, or it may have been due to my feeling like a zombie after so much driving. Or from feeling suffocated after driving through cities with office buildings and houses so similar I could hardly tell them apart, buildings so close together that children couldn’t play between them.

At Saranagati, where my family and I live, each house is pleasantly quirky in ways just suited to its residents, as if the house and its residents morphed a bit to fit each other well. There’s ample space between them—space that doesn’t separate the residents but draws them closer.

The poet Cowper says the city is made by man and the country by God; perhaps that’s why the mind breathes deeply in the country, expanding to encompass dimensions suffocated elsewhere. And in the country the spirit, stretching toward that unknowable Person who’s within and without, basks in the enchanting freedom of real, divine intangibles.

our spiritual journey

Why read the Bhagavad-gita?

The Bhagavad-gita – the song of God – an immortal wisdom text revered by 850 million people, explores the themes of harmony and purpose, work and attitude, love and reciprocation.                                                                    The healthy, inquiring mind, pondering these and other profound life themes, quickly discovers a plethora of varying and often contradictory opinions. Are we meant to sift through these opinions, picking those that appeal to us? Or do we search until we find a source of knowledge that’s trustworthy? This search — our thoughtful search for truth — plays a major role in our spiritual journey.                   Any journey, even a spiritual one, is better undertaken with a guidebook. We at our-spiritual-journey have found consistent, logical, and deeply satisfying guidance in the poetic and universal verses of the Bhagavad-gita. Living by the words of this unique book has somehow made us happier. To help others feel the same, we’ve spent the past fifteen years making the Bhagavad-gita available to children, teens, and adults. We figure the Bhagavad-gita’s life-transforming beauty and riches are meant for everybody, everywhere.

I owed a magnificent day to the Bhagavad-gita. It was the first of books; it was as if an empire spoke to us, nothing small or unworthy, but large, serene, consistent, the voice of an old intelligence, which in another age and climate, had pondered and thus disposed of the same questions that exercise us.                                                                                                                                         — Ralph Waldo Emerson, American philosopher and poet

When doubts haunt me, when disappointments stare me in the face and I see not one ray of hope on the horizon, I turn to Bhagavad-gita and find a verse to comfort me; and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming sorrow. Those who meditate on the Gita will derive fresh joy and new meanings from it every day.                                                                       — Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi, Indian nationalist and spiritual leader

Bhagavad-gita is one of the most beautiful and profound texts of world literature.                                                                                                              — Octavio Paz, Nobel laureate

Bhagavad-gita’s relevant, straightforward and sublime wisdom, which impacts and improves lives, is available here for readers of all ages. Click on the book covers to find out more.

For young adults:the Bhagavad-gita that teens can understand and enjoy

Bhagavad-gita: A Photographic Essay is a fascinating presentation of the key philosophical ideas of the Bhagavad-gita, As It Is by His Divine Grace A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada with the aid of powerful photographs (for ages 11 and up).                     * 2011 Independent Publisher Book Award Winner *

For daily life:

an illustrated memoir on applying the Gita's teachings in everyday life

Harmony and the Bhagavad-gita is a contemplative memoir from the enchanting Sharanagati Valley, British Columbia. It demystifies the Gita, making its verses a clear source of enlightenment and personal development, and revealing why the reader needs the Gita’s wisdom. Harmony discusses contemporary concerns—ecology, stewardship, interpersonal conflict, peaceful living, priorities, and values—in a way that’s easy to understand and of immediate importance to readers.

For children:Krishna, the Supreme Lord and the speaker of Bhagavad-gita

Our Most Dear Friend presents the essence of the Gita through simple yet captivating painting, text, and photographic montages. Children of every race, nationality, and religion will deepen their understanding of themselves, God, and His creation through this delightful book (for ages 4 and up).