Dear Guru Maharaja,
please accept my humble obeisances. All Glories to Srila Prabhupada.
When you texted me the reminder that annual disciple reports were due, it wasn't only that I felt bad about giving an honest assessment of how much i had fallen short of the minimums that you and Srila Prabhupada require your disciples to follow, but even worse, i lacked the resolve, maybe the desire or ability to vow to give my best in making up the difference.
The year before my initiation I was able to complete my rounds, and was for the most part maintaining the four principles. When i told Jaganaath Swami that I had hoped to ask you for shelter as your disciple I had been doing a fair amount of service at the temple and the festivals for a few years, but I knew that as a neophyte, to follow in the footsteps of a surrendered devotee of the Lord would be a challenge that I could only hope to rise to with the Lord's special mercy as I was clearly not "cooked all the way through". I was suprised but also felt thankful and blessed when a week or two later Jaganaath Swami told me that he recommended me to you as a prospective disciple and that an initiation could be scheduled the day after SF ratha yatra that year. Now I see that my biggest obstacle to truly surrendering- I unconsciously wanted to use Krishna Consciousness as a band-aid to a life where i was not able to find real peace, joy, and lasting fulfillment with otherwise. I found a faith (science) with a powerful spiritual practice, that i was trying to use to prop up my own separate life of sense enjoyment, never giving up- or understanding how to give up trying to be the enjoyer- to give up being so self-centered. I completed my rounds, plenty of service at the temple, taking part in sankirtan and book distribution. Took part in kirtan for the deities. It was though always in a sense "bhoga-tyaga". I felt blessed, comforted, protected, and elevated by the Lord's mercy that reached me. The service i performed were offerings out of gratitude to a Lord I could see was blessing and supporting me. Pretty far from uninterrupted and unmotivated.
Around summer 2020 I was invited to an online program that devotees from ISV had created during the start of the pandemic they called "Bhakti Community". I was touched that he took the trouble every monday and thursday to text me an invitation to the program. Even though this program is held using the zoom conferencing software, the kindness I felt on the part of the facilitating devotees and especially the often-MC Vaisesika Das made an impression. I wished that kindness would have been would have been more prevalent at the historic temple in Berkeley that I thought of as my home temple. I had been absent from the temple even some time before the pandemic, to avoid the fighting, gossip, and lack of courtesy that more than a few other devotees would say that you could expect there. The programs Bhakti Community hosted online would feature a video that was full to the top in Krishna Conscious philosophy from Prabhupada's books- presented a LOT of information in 5 - 10 minutes. After around 2 years of these twice-weekly sessions I felt encouraged and able to pick up and try again. This April they started a morning Japa circle call from 5 - 7 am. I joined that program and now have 16 good rounds completed every morning before 8 am. What I experienced doing this made clear that perhaps my biggest stumbling block was just looking at anything in this world as an accessory to my own enjoyment. Things that Prabhupada sometimes would describe as 'decorations on a dead body'. When chanting im finally touched with some love, peace, and satisfaction that I had been starving for.
Gurudeva, there are so many examples from the gates of Vaikuntha down to the hell realms of jivas that require making mistakes to learn an important lesson. I hope and beg that you could still accept me as your disciple in spite of my mistakes the past 2-3 years. I recently caught covid from home and it was one of the most painful illnesses I have ever experienced. I asked Krishna to accept that suffering as an offering for my purification. If there is anything i can do to atone for this period please let me know and consider it done. I hope my mistakes did not impact you negatively. I want to pursue spiritual life and wish to be a cooperating member of Iskcon and be of service to Lord Chaitanya's mission. I want to avoid any single thing that is not an asset to that goal. I want to thank you for your mercy and beg your forgiveness. Please let me know. Thank you Gurudeva
Loka Bandhu Rama Das
HpS - ASA --- AgtSP. Paoho. We received the hard copy of this letter and the very nice oriental drawing yesterday.
I wrote an answer to the hard copy with some of our own drawings.
Please send us your phone number and mailing address here in the Blog. I will not publish them, but then can mail you our letter.
Our address book for electronically corrupted a while ago.
We answered all the questions in the letter.
Basically thank you for your nice letter and your nice efforts in so many circumstances to be a good human.
As you describe things, it is an honor to try to serve you and Srila Prabhupada as your Diksa guru again.
Details in the letter.