Cultivating Self-Knowledge: ‘Swami in a Strange Land’ Author Joshua M. Greene talks God and Beatles

By Jon Kelly

NewsInsideOut.com

Vancouver, BC – An exclusive new video published to YouTube on May 6, 2016, explores the lives and teachings of Krishna and Prabhupada, a yogi from India who founded the Krishna Consciousness movement in the West during the 1960s. Bestselling author Joshua M. Greene recently spoke about his new book “Swami in a Strange Land: How Krishna Came to the West: The Life of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada” with NewsInsideOut.com’s Jon Kelly. During his one-hour interview the PBS and Disney filmmaker told of an encounter with his teacher at Beatles headquarters in London that convinced him to follow a spiritual path.

Described by the New York Times as “a storyteller who traces journeys to enlightenment,” the director of strategic planning for the United Nations Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders portrayed the 1960s as a period of transition. “We were flexing new muscles, looking for alternative solutions to war and inequality. The message which Prabhupada brought (the millennial teachings of Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita) spoke directly to those issues.”

The former adjunct professor of religious studies at Hofstra University in New York suggested that his teacher’s mission revealed “knowledge of the self as the immortal spark of God, a Divine essence different from the external body and the race/religious background of the body. By cultivating knowledge of ourselves as eternal souls we could know the peace that had so eluded us through other channels: military, economic, governmental etc.”

“All of these teachers were coming into America. The Asian Exclusion Act had been repealed. Teachers from India and Asia who otherwise had no access to America were coming and setting up their shops, their schools and their teachings. There was this marketplace of spirituality in the 1960s.

“Prabhupada among all of those many teachers was the one who insisted that the purpose of yoga, the purpose of all spiritual disciplines is to know ourselves as eternal beings and our relationship with the Supreme Being through love and devotion.”

“There was a universalism to his teachings,” the author further reflected. However he later cautioned viewers, “That knowledge of the deeper dimension of reality is not something you get like a gold ring on a carousel. It is something that is revealed when we become qualified to understand it.”

According to the edition, “In 1965, a seventy-year-old man set sail from India to America with a few books in his bag, pennies in his pockets, and a message of love in his heart. He landed in New York at the peak of the revolutionary counterculture movement of the ’60s, and went on to spark a global spiritual renaissance that led to the creation of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.”

The following partial transcript records one highlight from an exclusive interview featuring bestselling author Joshua M. Greene in conversation with NewsInsideOut.com’s Jon Kelly discussing the new book “Swami in a Strange Land: How Krishna Came to the West: The Life of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada”.

What were the circumstances under which you first met Prabhupada?

I was a lost child of the 1960s and wondering what it’s all about (Mrs. Jones). At the time I was a student at the Sorbonne in Paris. A devotee who had been there to start a Krishna Center in 1969 said, “My teacher Prabhupada is in London right now. Why don’t you go and meet him? It’s very rare to meet a pure devotee of God.”

I had no idea what he was talking about. But when he said that Prabhupada was living with John Lennon I got on the next boat train to London and showed up at the Krishna Temple (on Bury Place off Little Oxford Street by the British Museum) and walked in.

They were having lunch, this beautiful vegetarian spread. I sat down and they asked me about myself. I said that I was in school studying literature.

“Really. What else?”

“Well, I play organ in a rock band.”

“Really? Come with us!” So we traipsed out and got into this Volkswagen Minibus. Probably the worst car allowed on the roads. We’re rocking back and forth on our way to someplace.

I said, “Where are we going?”

They said, “You’ll see, you’ll see. You’re welcome to Krishna’s band. You’re in Krishna’s band now.”

So we show up about 15 minutes later. They open the door and there in front of me is a door with the number three on it. I’m thinking about three and I’m looking up and down the street when I realize it’s Savile Row.

3 Savile Row: This is Beatles headquarters.

The Beatles were pretty much the wise men of our age. Whatever they were into we wanted to know what it was.

I walked in and we go down to a studio in the basement of the building and there’s George Harrison, stringy as a string bean, hair down to his waist wearing badges. Krishna badge and a Yogananda badge and a Prabhupada badge and he’s got beads around his neck; the whole paraphernalia.

They hand me a harmonium, this hand-pumped instrument and I start playing along as they’re recording an album of Indian devotional music.

I’m thinking to myself, “Okay, let me get this straight. If I hang out with these people I get God and the Beatles.”

“Alright, I’m in!”

“Swami in a Strange Land: How Krishna Came to the West: The Life of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada” by author Joshua M. Greene is available on Amazon. For more information readers may visit the author’s website Atma.org.

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Cultivating Self-Knowledge: ‘Swami in a Strange Land’ Author Joshua M. Greene talks God and Beatles

By Jon Kelly

NewsInsideOut.com

Vancouver, BC – An exclusive new video published to YouTube on May 6, 2016, explores the lives and teachings of Krishna and Prabhupada, a yogi from India who founded the Krishna Consciousness movement in the West during the 1960s. Bestselling author Joshua M. Greene recently spoke about his new book “Swami in a Strange Land: How Krishna Came to the West: The Life of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada” with NewsInsideOut.com’s Jon Kelly. During his one-hour interview the PBS and Disney filmmaker told of an encounter with his teacher at Beatles headquarters in London that convinced him to follow a spiritual path.

Described by the New York Times as “a storyteller who traces journeys to enlightenment,” the director of strategic planning for the United Nations Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders portrayed the 1960s as a period of transition. “We were flexing new muscles, looking for alternative solutions to war and inequality. The message which Prabhupada brought (the millennial teachings of Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita) spoke directly to those issues.”

The former adjunct professor of religious studies at Hofstra University in New York suggested that his teacher’s mission revealed “knowledge of the self as the immortal spark of God, a Divine essence different from the external body and the race/religious background of the body. By cultivating knowledge of ourselves as eternal souls we could know the peace that had so eluded us through other channels: military, economic, governmental etc.”

“All of these teachers were coming into America. The Asian Exclusion Act had been repealed. Teachers from India and Asia who otherwise had no access to America were coming and setting up their shops, their schools and their teachings. There was this marketplace of spirituality in the 1960s.

“Prabhupada among all of those many teachers was the one who insisted that the purpose of yoga, the purpose of all spiritual disciplines is to know ourselves as eternal beings and our relationship with the Supreme Being through love and devotion.”

“There was a universalism to his teachings,” the author further reflected. However he later cautioned viewers, “That knowledge of the deeper dimension of reality is not something you get like a gold ring on a carousel. It is something that is revealed when we become qualified to understand it.”

According to the edition, “In 1965, a seventy-year-old man set sail from India to America with a few books in his bag, pennies in his pockets, and a message of love in his heart. He landed in New York at the peak of the revolutionary counterculture movement of the ’60s, and went on to spark a global spiritual renaissance that led to the creation of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.”

The following partial transcript records one highlight from an exclusive interview featuring bestselling author Joshua M. Greene in conversation with NewsInsideOut.com’s Jon Kelly discussing the new book “Swami in a Strange Land: How Krishna Came to the West: The Life of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada”.

What were the circumstances under which you first met Prabhupada?

I was a lost child of the 1960s and wondering what it’s all about (Mrs. Jones). At the time I was a student at the Sorbonne in Paris. A devotee who had been there to start a Krishna Center in 1969 said, “My teacher Prabhupada is in London right now. Why don’t you go and meet him? It’s very rare to meet a pure devotee of God.”

I had no idea what he was talking about. But when he said that Prabhupada was living with John Lennon I got on the next boat train to London and showed up at the Krishna Temple (on Bury Place off Little Oxford Street by the British Museum) and walked in.

They were having lunch, this beautiful vegetarian spread. I sat down and they asked me about myself. I said that I was in school studying literature.

“Really. What else?”

“Well, I play organ in a rock band.”

“Really? Come with us!” So we traipsed out and got into this Volkswagen Minibus. Probably the worst car allowed on the roads. We’re rocking back and forth on our way to someplace.

I said, “Where are we going?”

They said, “You’ll see, you’ll see. You’re welcome to Krishna’s band. You’re in Krishna’s band now.”

So we show up about 15 minutes later. They open the door and there in front of me is a door with the number three on it. I’m thinking about three and I’m looking up and down the street when I realize it’s Savile Row.

3 Savile Row: This is Beatles headquarters.

The Beatles were pretty much the wise men of our age. Whatever they were into we wanted to know what it was.

I walked in and we go down to a studio in the basement of the building and there’s George Harrison, stringy as a string bean, hair down to his waist wearing badges. Krishna badge and a Yogananda badge and a Prabhupada badge and he’s got beads around his neck; the whole paraphernalia.

They hand me a harmonium, this hand-pumped instrument and I start playing along as they’re recording an album of Indian devotional music.

I’m thinking to myself, “Okay, let me get this straight. If I hang out with these people I get God and the Beatles.”

“Alright, I’m in!”

“Swami in a Strange Land: How Krishna Came to the West: The Life of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada” by author Joshua M. Greene is available on Amazon. For more information readers may visit the author’s website Atma.org.

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Yoga and Meditation in a Life Extraordinary with Author Dada Vedaprajinananda

By Jon Kelly

NewsInsideOut.com

Roberts Creek, BC – In an exclusive new interview published to YouTube on January 22, 2016, NewsInsideOut met with yoga and meditation expert author Dada Vedaprajinananda during his tour of the British Columbia Sunshine Coast to discuss his spiritual memoir “From Brooklyn to Benares and Back.” From life in post-World War II New York, through the birth of Rock and Roll and the Vietnam-era draft readers discover compelling social and spiritual forces that culminated in the author’s pursuit of Self-knowledge leading to personal contact with one of the most profound intellectual and spiritual personalities of the twentieth century.

In his summary Futures Studies researcher and Professor Sohail Inayatullah explained how this book teaches “equanimity of mind” offering a “journey in authenticity, in humanity.” Told with characteristic humor and insight, the monk’s tale offers his clear, no-nonsense take on a life extraordinary in pursuit of the yogic goal of merger with Cosmic Consciousness. The title is accessible to beginners and of special value to meditation students, yoga teachers-in-training and spiritual aspirants of all faiths.

Seeming chance encounters with legendary musicians, Presidential family members and heroes of the Space Race populate the pages of this work. However, the most significant impressions are conveyed during his meetings with yogic Acharya’s (Skr: “Teacher by example”) who provide personal instruction in original spiritual practices of humanity’s ancient Sanskrit-speaking ancestors. These techniques emphasize unlocking the gates of consciousness through the recitation of personal mantras formulated to meet the needs of each individual’s character and emotional disposition.

The nature of these instructions and their accompanying lifestyle are further elucidated in “The Chakras and Kundalinii with Dada Vedaprajinananda,” a presentation given by the author in January of this year now streaming on NewsInsideOut Plus and available for rental or purchase. At just under two hours, this talk provides post-graduate-level insight including lucid articulations of the tantric chakra seed sounds and clear descriptions of their accompanying Vrttis (Skr: “Emotions”). Filled with music and fun, this title teaches and entertains in a way that could only be informed by decades of personal practice and instructional leadership given in more than thirty countries throughout the world.

For readers who wish to understand the secrets of spiritual living told in the voice of an expert western practitioner and experiencer, this reporter highly recommends “From Brooklyn to Benares and Back” by Dada Vedaprajinananda, now available through his website or on Amazon.com.

According to his biography, Dada is a monk, meditation and yoga teacher and a singer-songwriter. A native New Yorker, he has lectured, performed and taught in more than thirty countries since the early 1970s. He currently resides in the Ananda Liina Spiritual Community in Urbana, Illinois, where he offers regular instruction and retreats emphasizing men’s spirituality and personal development.

From DadaVeda.com: “This is Dada’s memoir.  It chronicles his life,  from his upbringing in New York right up to the present time. It give an inside glimpse showing how he was attracted to the spiritual path and how he went on to become a world-traveled monk , singer-songwriter and author.

““Many spiritual books try to enthrall with colorful language about the many states of nirvana. Dada’s
text is not like that. His words are even keel, just like the author. They live and teach equanimity of mind.

“One joins him for a journey in authenticity, in humanity. From his early   days watching to in Brooklyn, to his meeting with the famous hippies of the 60s, to his transition to an editor and then to a monk. One flows. We go with Dada to Europe to Japan to Syria and then back to New York. In this journey, this peaceful journey, we share in Dada’s calm approach to giving, to living the right life. And to challenging our comfort zones. If we wish for the Divine to carry us, we need to first let go. Dada’s life has been an example of that. Read his book. And let go. Wade shallow or dive deep, but go in the water and the let the flow carry you to you. “”

Professor Sohail Inayatullah,
Tamkang University, Taiwan, Author of Transcending Boundaries

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