Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Why vegetarian?

Dear Friends,
   Someone at the Christmas party asked me why I don't eat animals. Perhaps I can start with the most basic principal. This world is created by a Power beyond comprehension. It is the Creator of manifestation and therefore, manifestation itself. It is infinite. It has no limits. It is the Power we worship. Since it is infinite, God is the human, the air, the grass, and the turkey all at once. Therefore, I will try my best to treat my Creator with utmost love and respect. Christ is another name for this Infinite Presence.
    Turkeys, like humans, very much want to live. They run away when I try to kill them just like humans do. They have babies just like humans. They take care of their babies just like humans. They talk to each other just like humans. They are an embodiment of this Infinite Presence. So naturally, my heart reaches out to the turkey. Feels compassion for the turkey whose half-eaten corpse lies on the table on the day of the celebration of Christ.
    Imagine if I had to go out and kill the turkey myself so I can enjoy eating it. It would be very hard for me to kill a turkey. I see the bird alive before my very eyes. It would scream and gobble in terror as I cut its throat! It is an aspect of my own Beloved.
    Imagine if I took care of a pet turkey since he was born, and I named him Angel. Now if my pet turkey was killed by someone for their Christmas dinner, I would be deeply sad. I took care of Angel like my own son, and now he is gone.
    On the other hand, the fruits from a tree are ready to be picked. They are bowing down to earth for the nourishment of other beings on this earth. It is difficult to avoid killing life, but I can try my best according to my body's capacity. It took about 2 years of adapting to the vegetarian lifestyle before my body could accept it. And it helped me to expand my love for the Divine Presence.
    I pray for the poor turkey who is sacrificed for human hunger. May we see the Divine Presence in our lovely turkeys and give them all the support we can.

With Love,
Brian
   

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Lotus Flower

Dear Friends,
    When I arrived in Orlando, Rafael presented me with a painting of a lotus flower. He said that he was inspired to paint it when he found out that I was coming to do satsangs at his home. The painting was a gift to Swami Purna - an offering from the depths of his heart. To Rafael, Swami Purna was coming to bless his home. "Let me clean up my home for my Beloved," he said. And Rafael was delighted to clean his home.
    You see, when Rafael showed me his painting, tears welled in my eyes. There is no greater gift than devotion to the Lord. "It was easy to paint," said Rafael. "I just thought of Swamiji and the painting came." He hung this painting above the picture of Swamiji in the satsang room.
    I am happy to sit under this painting and hold gatherings here. The pink lotus flower is a representation of the human heart open to divine love. When the heart is saturated by this love, the world becomes an ocean of nectar. As a lotus flower, we cannot be stained by the muddy waters around us. We remain untouched, beautiful, open to the shining sun of Grace.

A lotus takes birth
'Midst clay and stagnant ponds
Standing clear and sound
Of clinging mud and water
Sunwards bound
Awaiting its time...
Preparing the ground...
It opens at dawn,
Brilliance abound,
Flowering of purity
Eternal sound
Manifestation of truth
Of being, newly found.

by Svami Purna

Love,
Brian

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Passion for God


Dear Friends,
    We held satsang at the home of Nicolas, Reny, Michel and Rafael. Michel and Rafael spent a couple days setting up a very beautiful room. Building a stage. Decorating with plants and candles. Michel created a bookstore. Nicolas arranged lighting. Rafael painted a large lotus flower overhanging the stage. The room turned out to be be quite stunning...all centered around a picture of Svami Purna, the One we honor.
    After satsang, I contemplated the nature of my expression. It is centered on one principal: the passion for God. Do I want God more than everything else? Look at all the possible distractions in this world. I want approval, I want tasty foods, I want security. The desires are endless. Who created all of this? How do I bring the attention so completely on the Creator that I am consumed in this obsession. I eat God, I breathe God, I dream about God, I see God, I speak about God. It pains me deeply to think about anything else even for one second. I cannot live without Thy presence, Oh Lord. Perhaps this unquenchable desire will inspire people to jump into the fire too. My “house” is burning down in this fire. Once this fire catches, it is so hot that nothing survives. Come with me and jump into the fire. Let us burn together. 
    Oh Lord, lead us from untruth to truth, from darkness to light, from death to immortality. Let us sing songs to Thee through eternity. Thou hast given everything to us. Thou art life itself. May we give it back to Thee. It has always been Thine.

With love,
Brian

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My prayer

Dear Friends,
    At a recent satsang in Miami, someone asked if I would come down from Orlando to hold satsang on her birthday on December 31st. This request struck the core of my heart. Someone wants to dedicate her birthday to God? Inwardly, I was collapsing. You want to do this on your birthday? Not many people spend a birthday honoring Him. And surely no one ever requested something so beautiful in such a direct way. "Yes, I would be honored to hold satsang with you on your birthday." Remembering....He gives birth to us, He breathes us, He speaks us, He gives us the feeling of love. I am quite overwhelmed by this request. Tears fill my eyes. How can I forget Him who has given everything? I will do anything for You.
    I realize there is a prayer that must be expressed.
To my dearest Beloved,
    There are some of my friends that desperately want to return to You. The wish is so strong that sometimes they are crying day and night for You. And their longing is becoming stronger day by day. Please hear the cry of my friends. Their hearts cannot live without You. Oh, Lord, You are the Soul of the Universe. You are beyond my mind's understanding. Your ways are mysterious. I am amazed by your Power. Your Light is so bright, I cannot face it directly. Although I cannot face You directly, I beg you to bring these friends to Your Light...to make their surrender complete. How may I assist You in making this wish come true? Please show me the way.

with love,
Brian



Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Honoring others

Dear Friends,
    I was invited to hold a private satsang in honor of Kip, Karen's brother, who had just passed away at a relatively young age. I said "yes." But my stomach was in butterflies. I've never held the space for such an occasion. And I had never met Kip.
    MaFer and I arrived at the event in a feeling of unknown. My mind could not grip onto any words or ideas. Surprisingly open to whatever was to unfold. We sat down and contemplated on the nature of death. What happens to us when the body passes away? Well, the real question begs to ask: "Am I this body that lives and dies in such a brief period of time?" The body and mind are thoughts. Sensations arising in mind. They rise and fall. None of the thoughts last. They are constantly changing. If all the thoughts of body, mind and senses constantly change every moment, how can I truly be a changing thought? I watch the changes. I am not the changes themselves because they pass away. So what watches the impermanence of mind and body? When this revelation comes, the immortal Self shines through like millions of stars. I am the Cosmos, the infinite presence that contains all the passing thoughts of this universe. Shed this costume of a temporary human mind and embrace the Truth. You were never born, You can never die, and You are timeless.
    The passing of Kip's body brought people together to look beyond themselves. To something greater than a mortal body. He brought us together to realize how wonderful it is to pray for others. To honor those who have passed on, to send them light and love. To remember how precious each person really is. To recognize the Divine spark in our fellow beings on this Earth. To help others realize this Divine spark. To let go of my own desires and serve a greater Power.  Oh Lord, you are embodied in all of creation. Let me worship you in your awe-inspiring glory for all of eternity. Let me serve You with every particle of my being. Verily, this mind, body, and soul has always been Yours.

With love,
Brian

Beyond form

Dear Friends,
    Recently I was invited to a yantra meditation with Victoria. She paints beautiful pictures of yantras - brilliant, swirling colors coming to a single point in the center called the bindu. Yantra is a doorway into the formless essence. It cannot be understood because it is beyond conception of the mind. That is why its meaning cannot be explained adequately. It is an ancient symbol in Vedic tradition that provides a powerful focal point for meditation. And these yantras contain the blessing of Swami Purna. This means that Victoria must go through sometimes difficult purification in order for the yantra to come through. Surrendering her life and ego to the will of the Holy Spirit. It can hurt physically, mentally, emotionally...but after going through the fire, she comes out as pure gold.
    According to Victoria, she had had a clear vision before I had confirmed my attendance that I would be the only one to attend out of the many people she had invited. It was true. We focused on the Agni Yantra - a red, orange, yellow, and white whirling flow of paint marked with a tiny bindu in the middle. The Yantra of Fire. That power which is present throughout the universe in physical form or potential. Oh, God of Fire, we bow to Thee - the One who digests food, keeps our bodies warm, lights up the stars, and gives light to the Cosmos. The One who purifies old emotional patterns that are no longer needed. The spiritual fire that burns illusion and ignorance and allows us to see beyond the world of Maya. Victoria gently guided the meditation, suggesting that we let go of any ideas of yantra. I was pulled into the center of the yantra and felt the energy of fire from heart to crown chakra. Thoughts came up and burned in the energy. Mind focused more deeply until it began to meditate by itself. Closing my eyes, I could still see the shape of the yantra in opposite colors of green and blue and black. That was kind of neat.

    Yantra is a profound way to connect to Grace. So simple, so elegant, so cleansing. Yantra calls me to   my home beyond form. Letting go, allowing It to be revealed which has always been.

With love,
Brian

(for more information on these beautiful yantras, please send me an e-mail)

Monday, December 3, 2012

I have only One Heart

Dear Friends,
    In one spiritual gathering at Forrest Yoga studio, Maria's two children attended. My expression naturally adopted a child-like quality. Vocabulary simplified, sentences shortened. An innocence came through that I was quite moved by. It felt like being a child - genuine, uninhibited, real, true, simple love, so excited to participate and sing my heart out. I am a child of God. I am resting in His arms. More and more now, I let Him hold me and take care of me. He is my mother, my father, my friend, my relative, my everything to me. I feel safe here. I can let go.
    In another gathering, Barbie gave me flowers. How thoughtful! I can't remember ever getting flowers before. So we did a flower meditation. Imagine your heart is a flower. As the sun floats above the horizon, the first rays enter your flower, and it blooms most beautifully. Give this flower to someone you love very much and thank this person for being in your life. Now imagine that the flower multiplies into billions of flowers that rain all over the world. Covering streets, homes, oceans...people are running through the streets, frolicking in the flowers. There is such joy in this world just because of your one heart. I have only One Heart...
    The next evening, returning to Cindy's complex in her Subaru after a beautiful yantra meditation, I drove to the gate and Lewis, the guard, greeted me from his station. "I really like this little car," he said and then began to enthusiastically describe all his reasons why. "What kind of car do you have?" I asked. "These two legs," he said. Then Lewis proceeded to tell me that he had had a divorce and had lost everything including his home and car. "My children don't even call me Dad anymore. They call me Lewis." Then I drove on to Cindy's place and went inside to get those flowers. I walked back to the station and waited about 10 minutes for an opportune moment when the cars stopped coming. Then I strode up to the little building and looked inside. "Lewis, I have something for you. These are to keep you company tonight." Lewis took the flowers and shook my hand gratefully. "I could take them home," he said. And then he thought a moment. "Well, I can keep them here for everyone to enjoy." And he showed me a large water bottle. "This is good," he said excitedly. "Do you think they'll be okay with tap water." I nodded my head. "Yes, I think so, Lewis. Have a good night." He shook my hand again and I walked back to Cindy's home, smiling.
   I have only One Heart. And I give it to You.

With love,
Brian

Monday, November 26, 2012

Bobby

Dear Friends,
    The day after Persistence crashed, I brought her to my friend, Bobby, who lives in Miami. We had planned to do this at least a week beforehand. I had bought 3 large boards and a carpet for the floor. For the next week, Bobby spent every night after a long day's work laboring on her. Building the new floor over her naked inside, cleansing the oil-soaked carpets, installing a light inside, polishing the chrome, painting over rusted parts, fixing the gas fume leak, installing a dress on the bed to hide the frame, fixing the solar panel which had fallen off. Last night, I went to pick her up and hardly recognized the van. She was born again! Inside it looks like a home. Driving her around, I discovered that the smell of gas was gone. My body would be happy to live in such a clean environment. Bobby did all of this for me as a gift. He said he did it because "it makes my heart feel good. I am happy when I see others happy." He also said that he's trying to learn more about spirituality because he hasn't had time to attend satsangs. "I've fallen behind," he said.
    Bobby's simple humility brings tears to my eyes. How can I write about him? Words cannot describe the soul. The soul can only be felt. I cannot repay Bobby. He has repaired so much more than just my van. He is a living example of Truth. Satyam shivam sundaram. Satya meva jyate nanrtam. The Truth is beautiful. Victory to the Truth.

All my love,
Brian

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The roof is falling off!

Dear Friends,
    Maria Fernanda coordinated a satsang at the Yoga Center in Key Biscayne. Driving there in my van, I was noticing how easy everything was flowing. Normally before a satsang, I am going through so much purification, it is not pleasant - depression, detachment, tiredness etc. Just a function of the cleansing beforehand. But this time, it was surprisingly nice. When I came to the island, I went back and forth on the main road, searching the red dot on my I-phone map. This was my destination. But I couldn't see the yoga studio from the road. Finally I parked in driveway that went down into a parking garage. I sat there, thinking. But no answers came.
    Suddenly I was awakened out of my reverie by the sounds of a loud horn. A beautiful Mercedes wanted to go into the garage and I was blocking the entrance. I looked ahead. The garage entrance seemed rather low for how tall Persistence was. But I felt quite pressure by the car behind me. Putting her into gear, I went forward and suddenly heard the loud scraping of the roof above. Almost in disbelief, I went forward, and the tearing sound became unbearable. I stopped and started to drive in reverse. The Mercedes had moved in so close behind that I was within a few feet. He honked so loudly that I stopped and went no further. After a short time, he decided to back up so I could move into the driveway and out of his way. As I backed up, the metal rack on the top of the van fell in pieces to the ground with clang. I backed up some more and gave enough room for the Mercedes to pass by and disappear somewhere in the garage. The I got out of the van and picked up the long metal pieces from the room and placed them inside. Back inside, I sat in the driver's seat, feeling stunned.
    Then Maria Fernanda appeared in the street and offered to guide me to the  nearest mall parking space. I followed. I parked in a fairly bustling lot went to look at the top of the van. Maria Fernanda was standing there, watching me examine the roof.  I noticed that the roof was not torn off. However, the solar panel that gives my extra battery power was dangling by a wire off the back of the roof. I nearly burst into tears. My poor Persistence. She was so battered. And I had been so happy to have a solar panel provide electricity. Now things were falling apart. Waves of grief washed over me. Disoriented, I gave Maria Fernanda a hug. "So good to see you!" I said. It took so much effort just to sound even. Then she led me to an apartment complex nearby where she managed to get permission for Persistence to park in the grass. I got into her car and we drove to the yoga studio. We exchanged some loving words and then went inside. There were 10 people waiting since I was now late. I sat down on the pillow in front and calmly unpacked my harmonium and picture of Swamiji. I lit a candle for Him and began with a meditation.
    During satsang, someone commented on how joyful I appeared. "It depends on when you catch me," I said. I told the story of the car. People seemed quite riveted. "How do you feel right now?" someone asked. "Delighted!" I said. "It feels like a funny experience." Somehow, much of the emotion had washed away quite quickly.
    Afterward, I found out that the person who had driven the Mercedes had attended the satsang.
    That night, at home at Cindy's place, in my mind, I thanked that person for all that he did. I thought I had released attachment to Persistence, but obviously not. If he had not been there, I may never had let go of so much grief in my heart. I knelt on the ground in gratitude. "Thank you, Oh Lord, for Thy powerful Grace. Thou art always with me. I surrender unto Thy will. Please help me to let go. Please bless that soul that has brought me to my knees."

Monday, November 19, 2012

Friends

Dear Friends,
    I stayed with Ana and Andres on Key Biscayne, Florida and held a satsang there. In Ana's presence, I felt the power of friendship. She encouraged me to look deeply within myself and discover the blocks to Love. What greater quest than this? I found that it was difficult to receive the kindness of others. Allowing Mother Lakshmi to come into life and bring abundance and prosperity. Even the smallest things. One day I left in the morning for a yoga class, leaving the bed in disarray. When I came back, the bed was neatly made. One look at this bed and I was in tears. The Mother gives so much, I am overwhelmed by Her generosity. I can never give back what She has given. I sat on the bed and caressed the covers. There is no such thing as a "little thing." Every little thing is enormously powerful if I let it into my heart. Oh Divine Mother, let me embrace every aspect of You. Let me live in constant awe of Thy Creation.

With Love,
Brian

Quan Yin

Dear Friend,
    I arrived in West Palm Beach to do a satsang at David's bookstore. I had never met David. He welcomed me with a warm hug. In the meditation room, I noticed a beautiful photograph of the head of a statue. David brought me to the center of the store and presented the statue of Quan Yin, the Goddess of Compassion. It had extraordinary energy. David had taken the photograph of this statue. He then gave me a necklace with the same picture. That night, I slept in the meditation room right under the photograph. Oh Quan Yin, thank You for Thy mercy and kindness.

With love,
Brian

   

From Spark to Fire

Dear Friends,
    I travelled to Winter Park just north of Orlando to stay with Mark and discovered a handful of people ready to spread the Teachings of Swamiji. Excitement is building. Satsang was held at Eva's home. She has encouraged me to come back to Orlando for a couple months to hold satsangs every week. Michel is ready to host them at his home in nearby Longwood. It is my deep honor to work together with them. With this sort of support, the power of satsang grows into a roaring fire. As others experience this expanded commitment, the feeling catches on like a fire. The Light shines more brightly. We hold one another in a unified field - in a greater possibility. I used to sit my room alone in meditation like a hermit enjoying his peace and quiet. Now I have discovered Grace in community - people coming together for a mighty Cause. This is inspiring and moving. Together we uplift one another. Together we are greater. Together we are One.

With love,
Brian

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Temple of the Universe

Dear Friends,
    I stayed with Bianca in Gainsville, Florida. Every morning we went to satsang at the Temple of the Universe to meditate and sing bhajans with Mickey Singer. There are pictures of many spiritual teachers in the temple - Jesus, Yogananda, Muktananda, Ramana, Ramakrishna, Mother Mary, Anandamayi Ma etc. It is nice to honor all of them since they all teach the same Universal Truth. The core of their teachings is the same - be kind, loving, peaceful, joyous, and in service. Cultivating these beautiful virtues leads one to God, i.e. perfect happiness. Isn't everyone seeking perfect happiness? Accepting everything as it is so completely that there is no fear, hatred or anger ever. Mickey encourages people to let go of all these emotions, so that they can come closer to God. When there is a good and bad, then it is easy to suffer. I want this, but I don't want that. If there is no good and bad, then every situation, object, or person is accepted as it is. Hence, the spirit of unification is so powerful. How is everything actually the same rather than different? Once God is seen universally, suffering cannot occur. Once all duality is let go, suffering cannot occur.

So the Temple of the Universe honors those beings that have Universal Vision and are unified in spirit. We sang songs in honor of these Beings, in honor of the Light that leads the way towards perfect happiness. The people I met there are so dedicated to these principles. The Temple grounds lay in the middle of the forest. What a beautiful place to worship! On the last day, I performed arati to these Beings. As we sang the song for each One, I had forgotten which was which. Ah well... May your day be full of Light.

With love,
Brian

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Blessed

Dear Friends,

After the retreat in Austin, I sat outside and pondered the blessings of life. Surrounded by people who act out of love, hearing words of kindness and appreciation, in the presence of powerful spiritual energy, fed with fine foods, sitting in the cool shade of towering trees. Everywhere I am reminded of Him. He is the beauty of the world, the source of all thoughts, the power behind all emotions, the magic of the body's healing. How can I give back everything I have been given? How can I honor such a Creator? Let me bow down this mighty Love. Let me surrender to the Great One. Let me hold Him in my heart forever and ever. The Sun shines to awaken us. It gives light to everyone equally. It does not discriminate. What an incredible symbol of God!

Then I got present to the ocean of suffering in the world. All are longing to return to the Source, but happiness seems so fleeting. This earthly happiness is temporary. What is permanent and eternal? Let me be there for all those suffering on Earth. They are my own Self, my own Soul. In my surrender to Him, I give myself to the Whole, the fire of my Heart. Let this prayer be heard. What else to do but to serve the Whole, the Lord of my Heart?

This world is my own. Let me embrace it in my arms. Let me hold it like my own child. It is crying for help. Oh Lord, You are feeling pain, let me hold You. Everything will be okay. You are the Whole. You are Complete. You are the One. Come back.

For You,

Brian

Monday, October 29, 2012

Amazing Grace

Dear Friends,
    I stayed with Glen at his apartment in Rockwood, TN. Glen brought me to a powerful waterfall that he calls his temple. Ah, the magnificence of this place. Its energy is quite conducive to meditation and devotion. Water thunders down a hundred foot drop and lands in a beautiful pool surrounded by layered rock walls. Human bodies are tiny at the foot of these grand rock walls.
    Glen's apartment complex is inhabited by people age 55 and older. One afternoon, the complex felt a bit lonely and sad and silent. So I took my harmonium and sat down on a blanket in the middle of the complex, lit a candle for Swamiji, and started to play. Slowly but surely, people started to emerge from their rooms. A couple of them rolled up in their wheelchairs, staring in wonder as the sound of "Amazing Grace" filled the air. Others peeked from behind the concrete pillars; others sat on a bench nearby and smiled. Some stood in a dark corner, listening from a distance. As the song ended, a man in a wheelchair rolled up to me and gave me a $5 bill. "God Bless You," he said. I played a few more songs. Another man who is very spiritually oriented asked me about my trip and after I had responded, he said, "God man, it's like we're twins!" For a while, some of the onlookers seemed uplifted. And the energy of the complex felt lighter. As the last song faded away, I bowed down to Him, then picked up the harmonium and went back to the apartment. I had felt awkward the whole time and did not particularly want to play in public. But it seems some other force is in charge now. May all those at the Rockwood apartments be healed by the light of God. May they be surrounded by the beauty of Grace. Om.

Love,
Brian

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Oh Mary Don't You Weep

Dear Friends,
     Driving many miles northeast, I arrived in a little village nested in the hills of West Virginia called Hillsboro. I saw the beautiful community coming together to share their homes, gardens and music. In the morning I went with Lynmarie to milk the goats. After I had squeezed out a few drops, the goat finished her food and kicked over the bucket, spilling out the milked I had worked so hard to obtain. Why cry over spilt milk? Taking a deep breath, I let go of the frustration and handed the teats over to Lynn Marie. She was most adept with milking and so loving with the goats. Rather than trying to get out as much milk as possible, I learned how to love a goat instead - through Lynmarie's example of love. Goats have unique personalities, and they can give milk for years if they are taken care of. I enjoyed goat cheese later.
     One night, I listened to Josh and Lynmarie sing "Oh Mary Don't You Weep." God protected her from the Pharoah. Christ had a destiny to fulfill. Mary, you are safe. Nothing can go wrong. I imagine feeling safe all the time, and the clutching in my abdomen lets go. Oh Dear God, thank you for Thy protection. Whatever happens is Thy will, not mine. Everything happens out of Thy Love, the Love for Thy children. Oh Mary don't you weep, have faith in this Love. In faith, all fear dissolves.
     I pray that all beings may feel safe, that all beings may rest deeply knowing that God protects. Each breath is given by Him. Thank you, Oh Lord, for Thy breath. The Breath of Life.

With love,
Brian

Monday, October 8, 2012

Out of nothing flows something

Dear Friends,
     We had a beautiful satsang at Yoganize Yoga Studio near Greenville, SC. It was coordinated by a beautiful being named Jen. I arrived at the studio with no plan. In fact, depression was coming up strongly over the last two days. When I sat down, the mind became quite still and a flow of words poured out of this emptiness. Witnessing the flow was something quite astonishing. Language and imagery appeared that I had not heard before. Meditation techniques I had never conceived of. Who was in charge now? It certainly wasn't I. It was guiding the satsang. Somehow I had stepped out of the way, and a more charismatic leader-type being had stepped in. The energy wasn't mine, the expression wasn't mine, the words, the voice. It couldn't be identified.
    I'm forgetting who I was. I can't describe the former personality. I can't remember much of what has happened over the past 3 months. It is a sort of disorientation. When one moves around so much, there is no place to land or settle. Nothing to hold onto. It feels like falling into emptiness and letting go of the objects of this world. I don't have a home or a name.
    The sense of identity is just a thought. Thoughts come and go. Why cling to a thought of identity? Consciousness is so much more vast than the thought of "me." I suffer because there is an identification with pain. My pain. If there is no central identity, how can there be suffering? There is no one to suffer! On the other hand, as I identity with the body, this identity continues to be born in a body over and over again. A body is a speck in the cosmos. Why pretend to be a limited speck in such a vast creation? There is so much more possibility!
    Imagine that the universe is just one unified field of consciousness. Only the mind makes up differences and creates time, space, and distance. Perhaps the passing thoughts of the mind are not as important as we make them up to be. May you realize who you really are without the mind. And then there is only You. Pure awareness. Truth. Love. Peace. And Beyond.

With love,
Brian

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Meeting God in Nature

Dear Friends,
    Norma assigned me task. To gather sticks. I went down to the wooded yard, collected a bunch, and brought it inside for the stove heater. Finished my little seva task for the day... What is missing? I said to myself. Most of life is a series of tasks. I finished sleep, I'm done with breakfast, I did my meditation, I completed a retreat. The more tasks I finish, the more productive I feel. Then when the body is dying, I look back at all the tasks completed and wonder, "What is the point?"
    So I looked back out at the trees and contemplated. Here were these majestic trees providing blessed shade and oxygen to this home. They shed pieces of their body, and I took these limbs to burn in a fire so that my body could stay warm and comfortable. They never asked for anything back. They never complained or bragged. I thanked the trees for their generosity. Then the mind asked who created the trees for our enjoyment. The Creator. Ah, the Creator resided in these trees. They weren't just trees. I prayed for the Creator that gave of Itself. I praise the Creator. I sings songs for the Creator. I can't stop because that is all there is to do in life. Every action, every thought is dedicated to Him. So I keep singing for Him. And Love springs from this Song like an endless spring.
    Norma and I went on a hike, and I saw Him there. Towering green trees over the trail, golden sunlight shimmering through the leaves, cascades of waterfalls passing over and under gigantic boulders, gnarled roots winding over the ground, clear blue sky and clean air. I was in awe. I meet God in Nature and bow down to the tremendous beauty that He displays. Wherever I look or sense, He is there. Resting in the awe.

With love,
Brian

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Stripped naked

Dear Friends,
    A few days ago, I spoke to a friend and medical intuitive about the kidneys. "The body needs to urinate too often," I said. He told me I was being exposed to toxins in the environment. In fact, there were three chemicals inside Persistence that weakened the kidneys. Petrochemical, gas, and pesticide. "You could get a new vehicle," he said. I couldn't afford that option. "You could clean the carpet." That was a good idea. The next two days, it poured in Banner Elk, NC. When the weather cleared a bit, I went down to see Persistence. Inside the van, I notice the carpet was damp. Wiping a hand across the floor, I was shocked to see my palm covered in oil. When I spoke to Norma about this, she suggested to take out all the carpet and the floor boards all the way to the metal. I sat down. My body had been exhausted all day. Norma picked up the phone and invited a good friend to come over and strip the van. "Better get started taking out your stuff," she said to me. So I spent the next two hours unscrewing bolts and removing almost everything. Victor arrived and we took out the bed and cabinet and unscrewed the second battery and solar panel connections. Then he cut out most of the carpet, and we tore out large pieces of foam and underboards. In the darkness of night, after the floor was swept and wiped, we put the bed and cabinet back inside. It had been two and a half hours of activity. With his concentration and dedication, Victor had saved me. Praise to the power of Shakti. She can achieve anything.
     Today, Persistence is stripped to the metal. Purified with vinegar and baking soda. Norma has kindly offered to create a team in Miami to rebuild the van's floor and stop up all the holes. Her ability to get things done is a rare talent. In fact, had it not been for her push, I would have just lived with the chemicals until it was intolerable. Yes, my laziness is a rare talent too.
    Persistence is a shell now. As her floor was stripped away, so has mine. I'm doing jobs that I've never done before - very physical and somewhat mechanical. Clearing away beliefs of "I can't do it" and "it's too much work." I am a shell. Now all I need is a new floor - clean and insulated. So I cannot be harmed by the harsh elements of the world, so I can stand on dry ground. The inside of my vehicle is being restructured and rebuilt. Taking the road of purification. I'm ready.

Love,
Brian

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Gift

Dear Friends,
    Lora travels slowly in life. Why? Because she's always looking for the little things to give back to her Beloved. Her Beloved who has given so much and never asked for anything in return. Thank you, Lora, for your kind and thoughtful manner. You are so giving, you are a gift.

With love,
Brian

As all is lost, everything is gained

Dear Friends,
    The day after I received darshan with Swamiji, I got a phone call from a company holding a lot of my savings. I sat in my van, Persistence, looking out at the wooded campground. It was beautiful day in Hawley, PA.
    "I have an update regarding this investment," said the voice. "Since the crash a few years ago, it appears that it will not be turning out as we planned. The money is lost." The man continued to explain as I listened in silence. I think he expected some sort of reaction.
    After I had asked a couple of questions, I said, "Thank you so much for letting me know." And I hung up the phone. "Thank you, Swamiji," I whispered to myself.

    This money had been my safety blanket, and now it was gone. Suddenly, grief struck at my heart, and tears fell from my eyes. For all these years, I had spent my life force worshiping money as my God. Why had I wasted so many years worshiping money when I could have given my heart to the Real One? I had missed my Beloved all these years. How could I have rejected Him for so long, giving my heart to a cold piece of metal? The clouds around my heart started to part, and the sunlight poured inside. My vision changed, and the colors of manifestation became a sparkling rainbow.

    This afternoon, I received a message from Paypal saying that I had  received a donation from someone unexpectedly. I wept in gratitude for Divine Grace that wants to support this journey I am taking. I stand naked in this world, giving my life to the One who takes care of me, storing my savings with this One. No longer can I worship money. I turn my face to the Light like a child seeing his Mother for the first time.

Hari Om,
Brian
 

Cosmic Consciousness

Dear Friends,
    A Spiritual Teacher has an awareness beyond the human mind. He knows Himself to be the Cosmic Soul. Yesterday, I attended a class in which we contemplated a book called "Autobiography of a Yogi." To get a sense of the heights of spiritual awareness, you can read this book. Paramahansa Yogananda writes about His direct experience of the Cosmic Soul. When you read His description, you will understand why I am a spiritual seeker myself and why it is so helpful being connected to One who has Cosmic Awareness. Here is a segment of one chapter:
Sri Yukteswar seldom indulged in riddles; I was bewildered. He struck gently on my chest above the heart.
My body became immovably rooted; breath was drawn out of my lungs as if by some huge magnet. Soul and mind instantly lost their physical bondage, and streamed out like a fluid piercing light from my every pore. The flesh was as though dead, yet in my intense awareness I knew that never before had I been fully alive. My sense of identity was no longer narrowly confined to a body, but embraced the circumambient atoms. People on distant streets seemed to be moving gently over my own remote periphery. The roots of plants and trees appeared through a dim transparency of the soil; I discerned the inward flow of their sap.
The whole vicinity lay bare before me. My ordinary frontal vision was now changed to a vast spherical sight, simultaneously all-perceptive. Through the back of my head I saw men strolling far down Rai Ghat Road, and noticed also a white cow who was leisurely approaching. When she reached the space in front of the open ashram gate, I observed her with my two physical eyes. As she passed by, behind the brick wall, I saw her clearly still.
All objects within my panoramic gaze trembled and vibrated like quick motion pictures. My body, Master's, the pillared courtyard, the furniture and floor, the trees and sunshine, occasionally became violently agitated, until all melted into a luminescent sea; even as sugar crystals, thrown into a glass of water, dissolve after being shaken. The unifying light alternated with materializations of form, the metamorphoses revealing the law of cause and effect in creation.
An oceanic joy broke upon calm endless shores of my soul. The Spirit of God, I realized, is exhaustless Bliss; His body is countless tissues of light. A swelling glory within me began to envelop towns, continents, the earth, solar and stellar systems, tenuous nebulae, and floating universes. The entire cosmos, gently luminous, like a city seen afar at night, glimmered within the infinitude of my being. The sharply etched global outlines faded somewhat at the farthest edges; there I could see a mellow radiance, ever-undiminished. It was indescribably subtle; the planetary pictures were formed of a grosser light.
The divine dispersion of rays poured from an Eternal Source, blazing into galaxies, transfigured with ineffable auras. Again and again I saw the creative beams condense into constellations, then resolve into sheets of transparent flame. By rhythmic reversion, sextillion worlds passed into diaphanous luster; fire became firmament.
I cognized the center of the empyrean as a point of intuitive perception in my heart. Irradiating splendor issued from my nucleus to every part of the universal structure. Blissful amrita,the nectar of immortality, pulsed through me with a quicksilverlike fluidity. The creative voice of God I heard resounding as Aum,1
the vibration of the Cosmic Motor.
http://www.crystalclarity.com/yogananda/chap14.php
May all beings return to this place of awareness. May all beings be freed of their suffering. May all beings be an expression of peace, love, and joy. Let us work together to bring this transformation about in the world. Jai, Jai, Swamiji, let Thy Grace embrace this Earth. I have only One Heart.
With Love,
Brian

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Chip, the man who brought me wood

Dear Friends,

I am staying at Norma's masterpiece of architecture in the woods of Banner Elk, NC. It is a place of natural wonder, a place for meditation and contemplation. Going from the bustle of New York to the stillness of Banner Elk, the mind still comes with me. It creates a similar environment no matter where the body goes. Where ever I go, there I am. Will the mind ever be still? If not, let it think about beautiful and noble things.

Chip came over to deliver a truck load of wood to the house. I greeted him cheerfully and started to help him stack the wood under the roof of a shed up the hill. Chip appears to be about 70 years old. He has been living in this area for 40 years. He has a strong southern accent and a deep connection to this land. Chip pushed a heavy wheel barrow of wood up and down the hill. I was surprised that a man of his age was able to do this. He gave me a pair of gloves. "Be careful handling this wood, you can get splinters. I don't need gloves since I know how to handle it." I was grateful for the gloves. For his simple care. I stacked the wood under the roof as neatly as I could. Norma likes things done neatly, so I try to do my best. After a few trips up and down the hill, Chip sat down in the wheel barrow and rested. "This is good wood. It has more BTU's than most." Then we had a discussion about trees and how certain kinds of wood burn longer than others because of their density. I felt the energy of the wood, and it was powerful. Suddenly I had a deep appreciation for trees. My body was cold up in these hills, and I needed the fire in this wood to keep it warm.

Chip had been to larger cities but preferred to live here in the hills of North Carolina. "Why do you like this area the most, Chip?" "Well, I guess it would be its beauty." I looked up. Sunlight passed through the branches and lit up the leaves with a warm golden glow. I pointed at this scene. "Chip, just look at how beautiful it is." Chip spent a minute gazing up at the golden leaves. "It's good to meet someone who knows what I mean."

A couple days later, Chip came up to the house to collect his money. As I gave it to him, he pointed out some trees on the property. One of them was a locust tree. "Bees drink from the flowers of that tree and take the nectar back to their hives. There, it becomes locust honey. And if you eat this honey, you won't get allergies." Suddenly I had more appreciation for the bees and the trees. Mother Nature gives people healing powers, and She does not ask for anything in return.

I play harmonium outside on the deck now, sending energy to the trees, the plants, the bees, the butterflies. My heart is filled with gratitude for all my fellow creatures here. I embrace them with this music. I bow down to the Creator that gives so much for my benefit. How can I give back? Thank you, dear Chip, for your wisdom.

Love,
Brian
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGlTzH9xkXQ


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Why Can't We Float?

Dear Friends,
   After meeting David for the first time at the retreat, he invited me over to his apartment in Brooklyn to hold a satsang. A few people shared quite deeply an experience of love. The sharing created a safe space and an opening to the beautiful energy that came through. Sharing really breaks the ice in satsang especially since most of the people did not know me. Authentic sharing also requires courage and vulnerability. I bow to those who open their hearts to the Grace and risk being known. Let us be real, let us drop the mask of pretension, let us reveal our broken heart. This is where the transformation comes from.


    Today, as I fast for 24 hours, I speak to David about the clouds of depression and boredom passing through my mind. And asking Grace for more lightness in life. Then he points out the window and we see this vision of 4 blimps swimming like fish across the New York City sky. And we both started to laugh. Tears filled my eyes. Why can't we just float?

love,
Brian

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Kind Cop

Dear Friends,
On my way to the retreat in Hawley, PA, I was stopped by a cop name Fab. He asked for my papers and I gave them to him. Normally, fear of authority and getting in trouble causes me to freeze, but this time, I was happy to see him. Then he asked me where I had come from and where I was going. I suppose the Texas license plate was rather suspicious. I described the retreat with Swamiji as well as my 2 year journey through the US. Somehow, he was amazed at this story and asked if he could see my bed. I opened the back and he marveled at how I could be living in my van and spreading a spiritual message. What a strange concept! I gave him the website for Swamiji and also for my journey, and he said he would follow me on the blog. He also gave me some advice about how to make life more comfortable on the road. After half an hour, I said good-bye to Fab and went on my way. He was in very good spirits when I left. But I never found out why he stopped me. Perhaps Fab wanted to join a satsang on the side of the road that day. Perhaps he wanted to find Swamiji. He certainly showed me that cops are not as scary as my mind imagines them to be. May Fab be blessed with a spiritual fire in his heart.

With love,
Brian

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Yogi in the Black Hoodie

Dear Friends,
    I arrived in Ann Arbor, MI recently. Before coming, I had discovered Atmaram through a google search for "kirtan" and "bhakti." After e-mailing him, he called to invite me over to his home for dinner and kirtan. What a delightful surprise! He plays the harmonium and drum, and his Teacher is Muktananda. I was deeply moved by the energy of his beautiful raga version of the Hare Krishna Mahamantra and told him so. Atmaram and I are soul brothers. His heart is filled with tenderness and his knowledge very deep. I feel his love even now. Never had I been so warmly welcomed, particularly by someone I had just met. We ate together, played together, and discussed form, formlessness, and the guru. His dog, Mocha, was just as enthusiastic about the whole event. It is said that during the Golden Age, one could travel across the country and one would not need to be concerned with food or shelter. Everyone would take care of you and provide everything you need just like family. This visit with Atmaram took me back to the Golden Age.
     I visited Uncle Ted, Aunt Madolyn, and Lizzie in Ann Arbor. They opened their home to me for at least 5 days, and we bonded together. For every topic or question I had for Uncle Ted, he had a story to share his wisdom. I love stories. Aunt Madolyn made sure I was comfortable. She has the divine mother energy. Lizzie has an intelligence beyond her years, and she thinks in poetry!
    One morning, I was doing yoga on a mat in the back yard just at the border of the neighbor's yard. I wore a jacket with a black hood as it was cool outside. When I came in, Uncle said, "Our neighbor just called. He warned me about a person in the back yard doing yoga in a black hoodie! Then I looked outside and told him it was just my nephew and everything was going to be alright."
    For the rest of my stay, many times I would laugh out loud, thinking about the neighbor's warning. Watch out for the yogi in the black hoodie!

Warmly yours,
Brian

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Friends with Myself

Dear Friends,
   I arrived in Fort Collins for its birthday party. The beautiful Colorado city bustled with thousands of people who were there to listen to famous bands and partake of the many foods. I went straight to Om Ananda Yoga studio. Sarada, the director, had kindly invited me to do kirtan (singing to one's Beloved) on Friday night. I am deeply moved by her kindness and acceptance. I hope to meet her personally one day to thank her for allowing me to use her space.
   Near the studio, I discovered a little alley where a friendly youth named Jasper was playing a brightly painted piano. I sat down to play the piano, and thought I would bring the harmonium to play in the alleyway. So for the next 3 afternoons, I played the harmonium and sang sanskrit mantras to the passersby. At first, I was quite shy and embarrassed and looked away from the onlookers. But by the 3rd day, this self-conscious aspect was mostly dissolved. I was advertising the upcoming satsang, and this music was to uplift people and purify the city environment with its vibration. It seemed, in fact, that most people had their own shyness and would often just glance surreptitiously at this street musician. I made a couple of friends during the performance. One of those friends was my own self. It seemed that my body was walking taller and more confidently after playing for the people. Somehow, I cared less for other's judgments and thoughts.
   Well, it turned out that two people arrived at the satsang at Om Ananda Yoga Studio. The rest probably joined the throng who had showed up for Fort Collins birthday. We had a beautiful chant, singing the names of the Lord. Please let me continue to chant His name constantly 'til the end of time. Let me bring His Name to others for the upliftment of His Cosmic Creation. May Om Ananda flourish with His Grace. Thank you, Sarada!

All my love,
Brian

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Mission

Dear Friends,
   I visited the SCS Mission in Salt Lake City this past weekend. Grace certainly planned it so that I could arrive at the monumental installation of the Sri Chaitanya installation at the temple. This event is so significant that the installation day will be celebrated every year from now on.
   When I arrived, they were about to begin the Hari Nam march through the streets of Salt Lake. Joyfully we danced along the sidewalk, chanting Hare Krishna and playing various instruments. It was my first Hari Nam, celebrating Sri Chaitanya's early morning march a thousand years ago. The picture down below is a remembrance of our walk. Three great Sanyasins (renunciants) were in town - the guests of honor. The next day, we hiked through the mountains nearby along pristine lakes surrounded by towering trees. And the last day, we celebrated the installation of Sri Chaitanya, chanting devotional songs in sanskrit and singing the name Hari.
   I had the opportunity to wash many dishes and help out in other ways. The devotees serve the Lord in such a focused and powerful way that I was very much humbled. They treat one another as family, taking care of one another's children and cooking free and delicious food for large numbers of people. Indeed, seva is taken to such a high level in the community that I have not seen the likes of it anywhere. 
    Thank you to Sudarshan and his mother, Mata, for having me at the temple. They work tirelessly for the Lord. May I learn from their incredible example.

with love,
Brian

Satsang in Novato

I went to Novato, CA, just north of San Francisco, to hold satsang at the accupuncture clinic where Terrence and Joy tirelessly work together. Terrence took me to Mount Tamalpais, a holy mountain above Mill Valley. The energy is brought forth by the divine mother who dwells in all of creation. Satsang was centered around appreciation. Who is your life do you appreciate and love? What about that person or animal or thing do you love? This feeling of love is the key to opening the heart. When love is present all the time, suffering cannot touch you. One young woman spoke of her father who had just passed away. He had supported the family and given everything to support them. As we listened, we had tears of empathy for this woman's love. Her father was at the satsang in spirit. We can only learn from his example. I found that this participation, again, adds such depth to satsangs. Let me continue to learn the skill of listening to others. There are jewels in their words.

Terrence and I did a puja to bless the clinic. He is helping me to put together a couple of short recordings of the satsang. Thank you, Terrence, for your devotion to Truth. You are my teacher. Up above is Terrence sitting in meditation on Mount Tamalpais.

Joy gave me a a free accupuncture treatment and loaded me with homemade food for my journey. Thank you, Joy, for supporting the spiritual cause. Your generosity goes so far and beyond!

with love, Brian

Satsang in Santa Cruz

I stayed in Santa Cruz to do a satsang at the Pacific Cultural Center. Brent and Serena, wonderful friends, allowed me to stay at their home. Sandra, a wonderful friend from El Salvador, happened to be visiting the area at the exact same time. We all joined in satsang and shared in the a powerful field of love and gratitude. The energy was so strong that it was a miracle I could speak coherently. I found that  when people share an experience of gratitude, it unites the hearts of everyone attending. I am thankful for their participation, and I will cultivate this sort of participation in future satsangs. Dear reader, please feel free to e-mail me something you are grateful for in your life. I would love to receive your inspiration too. Above is a picture of my friend Brent. His generosity cannot be described. I am honored to be his friend. with love, Brian

Monday, July 30, 2012

Synchronicity

Before I arrived at Mount Madonna, a beautifully wooded yoga retreat center in the Santa Cruz mountains, I called ahead to reserve a place. The girl answered, "We are holding a retreat. There is no room here for you to stay. Sorry." I drove there anyway. The office manager made an exception and allowed me to sleep in my van on the property. That evening, I went up to a woman named Sami sitting alone at one of the tables in the dining hall and started to talk to her. She said, "I'm trying to be alone, so I can stay more present to the energy of the Sufi retreat. But don't go. I'll talk to you." So I asked her about the retreat. She said, "We just ended 3 days of silence and Pir Zia will be speaking over the next 3 days." Pir Zia is considered the great Sufi Master in the US. I had been to Sufi meetings before. "I would like to see Pir Zia one day. I've heard of him. It would be great to connect to the energy and learn from his teachings." "Well, let me ask the coordinator." So she stood up and soon returned. "He says maybe. That's better than nothing." A few minutes later, the coordinator himself came to join us at our table. I stood up and said, "Greetings, Wahaab!" And I gave Wahaab a big hug. I knew him and his wife, Batina. Good friends from Austin. They had helped me to connect to one of my great harmonium teachers. "My gosh," said Wahaab, "it is amazing to see you again." "What are the chances?" I exclaimed. Then he circled Pir Zia's talks on the retreat schedule and said, "You can come to these events." So for the next 3 days, I listened in person to the deep wisdom of Pir Zia, one of the great Sufi Masters of the West. He spoke about prayer and the generous legacy of Abraham from the Bible. I also listened to a beautiful Sufi concert and participated in a lovely group dance one night. One of the participants called me a retreat crasher. Yes indeed, I am a retreat crasher. What an honor to be with Pir Zia! My eyes filled with tears of gratitude. Let me incorporate his wisdom into my own teachings for the benefit of those who would hear me in the future. I spent many hours with Babaji too, the rare yogi who founded Mount Madonna and whose presence is a great Light in this world. In the early mornings, I took wonderful yoga classes, and in the evenings, I joined arati to Hanuman at the temple. After the retreat, I thanked Wahaab and Batina as well as my good friend, Sami, for the great honor of participating in this Sufi retreat. The retreat ended on the very day that I had planned to leave Mount Madonna. I can only bow to Grace who brings such spiritual abundance to life. May I surrender to Thy Will and let go of my own. With love, Brian.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Persistence

Dear Persistence (my van), I am writing to apologize for how I have treated you since we first met. You were just an object, a vehicle to get from one point to another. I have been so cold and practical and never thought about your feelings. I wanted to keep pushing you, forcing you to move forward to fulfill my own destiny. Please forgive me for treating you like just another tool to fulfill my desires. You have really tried hard to transport me from place to place, even from Austin to Los Angeles. That is a great journey, and you never once complained. Please show me how to be so loyal, persistent, and patient. I have lost these qualities, and I am ready to follow your example. I also know you have overheated a few times now. I will try my best to keep you cool even at the expense of my body's comfort. You deserve care and appreciation for working so hard on the road. I honor you as a friend. If you should die on the road and not come back to life, it is ok. I will remember you fondly. My deep love and gratitude - Brian.

Joy Rising

As I drove "Persistence," the white Chevy van, down highway 40 through Arizona, I passed a town with little gas left in the tank. For the next 50 miles, up and down the long stretches of highway, I anxiously watched the gas gauge go down below the red line. In desperation, I typed "gas" into the I-phone and counted down the miles to the nearest station. At around 6:30pm, I got off at exit 66 and rolled to a stop at the stopsign. The last drop had just burned away and the truck station was about 150 yards away. After 10 minutes of embarrassment and haphazard thinking, I walked toward the station and a man walked toward me. "Can I help you?" he asked. I said, "Yes, my van is out of gas." "Lucky for you it ran out so close." He sat in the driver's seat and put the van in neutral while I pushed Persistence into the station. "Where can I camp for the night?" I asked. He said there is a campsite right up the road. "You can stay with me if you like. I live 5 miles back up the road, five miles down the exit, and 5 miles up a dirt road into the hills." This seemed rather far, so I said, "Let me check the RV site first." So after filling with exactly $99 worth of gas, I drove toward the camping place. The window was open, and I heard the rattling and clanging of the tire below. I stopped and discovered the bolts  were falling off, and I needed help. So I went back and said to Charlie, "Yes, I'd like to take you up on your offer." "Ok, my name's Charlie. Would you like to stay to watch a movie here?" "Sure," I said. And so we sat next to one another in the tiny theatre in the station and watched Stakeout. Great movie. Charlie hadn't seen a movie in a month, so this was special. Then I followed behind his truck through the dusty windy roads to his home deep in the desert mountains. It was a scary drive. The home had no electricity or running water, but he had brought barrels of water home. A border named Howard lived here with his own dog named Precious. Charlie introduced me to his cactus garden and showed me the dead generators outside. Moon was high, lighting up the distance mountains. It was a beautiful 20 acres of land that Charlie owned. That night, I slept on the bed in Persistence, and woke up right after the moon had set. Charlie and his 2 dogs were about, and they took me on a tour of the beautiful landscape. Never had I experienced such appreciation for desert beauty. Then Howard made pancakes and we sat at the table. Howard placed a large pool of melted margarine in front of me and a jar of peanut butter and some syrup. It was a feast for kings indeed. "We haven't been able to watch the TV because we have no electricity. And it takes money to fix the generators." "Well, I've got a generator, Charlie. Would you like to use it to run the TV and VCR?" I had bought a high quality Honda generator for $540 off of e-bay recently to charge appliances inside my van, Persistence. Charlie agreed, and with one smooth pool, Charlie got this little generator whirring happily away. He plugged in the TV and VCR with a cable he had found on the side of the street and turned them on. This was the first time they could watch TV since 2007 when Charlie first bought the land. "Well, since it's July 3rd, let's watch "Independence Day." So we sat in front of the TV watching Will Smith on TV. I petted the dogs, and Howard told me a story about how his dog shows love. An hour later, I said it was time for me to be on my way. Before Charlie could unplug the generator, I said, "You know, Charlie, you both can benefit more from the generator than me. Why don't you keep it and I'll pick it up if I return?" Both Charlie and Howard were happy. They hadn't had electricity in a long time. And it was really special to watch a movie in celebration of Independence Day. Charlie led me back to the main road, and I gave him a hug before I rode away. It was a bittersweet parting. A few hours later, I sent a text to Charlie, "Hi Charlie, In CA. All is well. Just learned van has cruise control! What a gift. May you always see joy in life, Charlie." He texted back, "Well the joy of life brought U to me. Now see what U can do to make the world better." Then Charlie texted a picture Howard had taken a couple months back of the moon rising one morning. You can see that one above. with love, Brian