The devotees received me at the small airport and took me straight to Pundarik Dham - a two-hours' drive.
The local devotees arranged everything very nicely - Pundarik Dham gives the perfect setting for such kind of retreats: it is a holy dham with Sri Sri Varsabhanavi-Murari being the Lords of the establishment, and it is in seclusion, with lush and green surroundings making the mind and senses calm.
Once again, the retreat was a wonderful and deep experience for everyone who participated sincerely. I always especially value the deep and prayerful evening kirtans, where we try and apply what we had discussed during the day. Even as a fulltime traveling preacher I find myself in the situation where I don't have enough kirtan in my life! Our usual disease is that we are always too busy, and maybe we are also sometimes lacking opportunities to participate in deep and prayerful kirtans.
In 1969 Srila Prabhupada explains in a lecture: "So we are addressing, Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna: 'O energy of the Lord, O Lord, please accept me'. That's all. 'Please accept me.' We have no other prayer. 'Please accept me.' Lord Caitanya taught that we should simply cry, and we shall simply pray for accepting us. That's all. So this vibration is simply a cry for addressing the Supreme Lord, requesting Him, 'Please accept me. Please accept me".
This is not only in japa, but also in kirtan.
one can chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind...." Unless we do this internal work of subduing and dissolving the false ego, it is indeed very difficult to chant the holy name. We can imagine a large throne within our heart, which is actually meant for Ksna to take His seat there. But at this moment our big false ego has occupied it, and thus we cannot offer this asana to Krsna. The process of Krsna consciousness is meant to push this well fed false ego off the throne, so that Krsna can take His seat there. This is not an easy task and requires introspection and deep, sincere and constant endeavor, with great determination.
Next year we are planning to have a three-day retreat on the topic of "The False Ego - Our Constant Companion and Troubelmaker." Unless we learn to consciously work on subduing our false ego, we cannot really get on deeper levels of chanting. Whatever benefit we receive is once again spoiled and poisened through "ego-driven" behavior - it is like the elefant throwing sand on his back after he has taken his bath. Both endeavors have to go on parallel - chanting the holy name and cultivating a genuine and selfless service attitude, free from the influence of the false ego.
The next evening we conducted a class for the temple devotees on the topic of prajalpa. I felt this topic was a direct follow-up of the Holy Name Retreat, since prajalpa destroys the echo the holy name is carrying, and immediately switches on the mundane mind. We discussed the various forms of prajalpa which Bhaktivinoda Thakur mentions in his book Bhaktyaloka. A lively question-and-answer sesssion followed.....
On the 29th of November I traveled back to Chittagong.....
Your servant, Devaki dd