Drdha Vrata Prabhu had arranged for three big banners announcing the program in various prominent spots of the Mayapur Campus.
The plaque was also ready and looks very nice - hand made, with a certain flair of individuality and creative devotion.
The brochure giving information about the Institute turned out really well, with a nice color combination and a clear outline, and above all: good quality paper with a great finish. Infact, it looked really stylish and classy! And I had printed three thousand of them - to be distributed over the next couple of years, in various parts of the world.....
I had put together a vision statement with nine goals in order to give clear understanding what the purpose of the Institute is. I had given it to Dravida Prabhu, our most expert BBT editor who transformed the dough into a nice 'cookie'. Then, with Sivarama Swami and Niranjana Swami we had spent considerable time over email filing out the last subtle details in regards to content and wording to give it the last finishing touch.
Here it is:
The ultimate aim of the Institute for Spiritual Culture (ISC) is to facilitate what Srila Prabhupada envisioned: a cultural revolution for the re-spiritualization of the entire human society.
To achieve this ultimate aim, the ISC will strive to accomplish the following goals:
* To make the members of our ISKCON Society more aware of the importance of spiritual culture.
* To systematically train the Society's members in various aspects of spiritual culture through courses and
retreats, using a curriculum based on Srila Prabhupada's books, especially Srimad-Bhagavatam.
* To help ISKCON centers establish supportive networks that will guide and encourage the members in
integrating spiritual culture into their daily lives.
* To increase social stability within our ISKCON Society by creating strong and healthy families, wherein
the members fulfill their purifying duties toward one another.
* To protect our ISKCON Society from external influences detrimental to spiritual practice.
* To ensure that ISKCON will have powerful leadership based on the principles of spiritual culture.
* To promote among devotees an attitude of mutual care, which is intrinsic to genuine spiritual culture.
* To set an example for the whole world of how human life is meant to be lived: in peace and harmony
based on strong families which facilitates spiritual development.
* To unite ISKCON's devotees from all nations under the umbrella of the principles of spiritual culture and thus
establish Srila Prabhupada's vision of the real United Nations.
The next day after my return to Mayapur marked the beginning of the ILS - the ISKCON Leadership Sanga. Around one thousand leaders from all around the world had assembled to participate in presentations and seminars given by the various GBC Committees of the Strategic Planning.
I had decided not to take part in the Devotee Care Committee for the time being, which enabled me to fully concentrate on promoting the Institute. And this ILS was of course the perfect opportunity for me to distribute the brochures.
And ultimately I considered promoting spiritual culture to be a major contribution to Devotee Care, since the culture in itself promotes care.
So I still feel strongly connected to the topic of Devotee Care - more than ever.
For the sake of promoting Devotee Care I had left the Devotee Care Committee......
I had discovered a good spot for distribution outside the prasadam venue, and on two days I was there for several hours, speaking to as many devotees as I possibly could, and giving out brochures. It was simply ecstatic - I felt like being out on Sankirtan....
This is what 'Boiling the Milk' is all about: addressing those devotees who are interested in getting on deeper levels of spiritual practice and understanding, and who are seeking to tranform themselves, their lives and others around them on deeper levels - who don't want to leave things as they are....
And I met so many wonderful devotees who showed great interest in the topic of spiritual culture, and who gave support and encouragement.
I also visited the Conference Room where the GBC meetings were held, and distributed the brochures to all the GBC's. And during the morning program I also connected with many devotees.
It was indeed an exciting way to meet devotees and connect....
At the same time I also distributed leaflets for the upcoming Holy Name Retreat at Ekachakra. I had sceduled it for the days immediately after the ILS, and before the Kirtan Mela - a perfect way to prepare the consciousness and heart to receive Sri Harinam Prabhu when all the great souls would chant in Kirtan....
To my surprise most of the ILS attendants left immediately after the ILS, and did not stay on for the Kirtan Mela and the Maha Abhishek of Pancha Tattva, even though the latter being a special event only returning every five years.
Nevertheless, we captured fifty nice devotees from all around the world, and on the 24th of February we made our way to Ekachakra to spend four days in seclusion and deepen our relationship with Sri Harinama Prabhu - Krsna in the form of His holy name. HH Candramauli Swami, HH Smita Krsna Swami and other disciples of Srila Prabhupada also joined the event.
In a very personal atmosphere of such a small group we experienced a thorough spring clean and rejuvenation of our chanting, in japa aswell as in kirtan, shaking off the dust and rust which had settled on our spiritual practice.
Like on the last retreat we had put up a Pandal Tent on the roof of the Guest House, which became our Bhajan Kutir for the following four days.
Our chanting of the holy name easily becomes infested with neglect and overfamiliarity towards Krsna, and as a result our spiritual practice turns into a dry, mechanical routine. Our daily life is fast - full of stimulations and distractions, taking away our attention from Krsna and His holy name.
As Bhaktivinoda Thakur explains, inattentiveness in chanting is the root cause for all other offences. And this inattentiveness takes place on three levels: on the level of the body, mind and heart.
To be attentive on the level of the heart requires deep internal work. We have to become personal in our relationship with Krsna, mindfully turning towards Him while calling out in helplessness: "I know You are there - please allow me to serve You!"
Only when we chant with such quality of feeling within our heart will our relationship with Krsna develop and gradually become tangible reality in our daily life. And only by such chanting will we be established in our eternal position of being servant.
Such desperate appeal towards the Lord can only be expressed if we are in a humble state of mind. Therefore Mahaprabhu has instructed us to be more humble than a blade of grass and more tolerant than a tree. And Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur orders: "Make your chanting heart deep, not just lip deep."
In the final closing ceremony devotees shared heart moving realizations, expressing how this retreat had brought about a revolution within their hearts and minds - discovering how external and superficial their understanding of chanting the holy name had been, even after many years of being in Krsna consciousness.
One can indeed keep oneself externally busy within (so-called) Krsna consciousness, and leave Krsna and our relationship with Him entirely out of the picture. It is indeed possible, especially in this age of impersonalism and voidism.
Ultimately our fear of death shows how little our relationship with the Lord is established. And proportionally, as we connect with Krsna intimately through attentive chanting, our fear of death will gradually diminish, until we will look forward to finally joining Him in the spiritual world.
After all He has been waiting for us for so many life times.....
Going in seclusion, leaving behind all usual responsibilities and distractions and attending a Holy Name Retreat is a wonderful tool to deepen our relationship with the holy name. And Ekachakra Dham is the perfect place to embark on such internal journey......
Please see the video catching the mood of the retreat: http://youtu.be/lEE7fUuu-ps
We returned to Mayapur on the 28th of February - just in time to join the Kirtan Mela.....
Your servant, Devaki dd