After a few weeks of quiet prayer and deliberation, I’ve made the choice to withdraw from doing readings at the OSCARS, which I was invited to do last month. It wasn’t an easy choice, but it’s the right one. My annual Kickstarter did amazingly well this year, but it has also left me with the top priority of fulfilling a large stack of reward readings that I owe people, which I know I will be significantly sidetracked from if I travel to California for a long weekend. I was mostly attracted to going because I’m a lifelong fan of the movies, and I know it would have been an amazing life experience, regardless of who I may or may not meet, who may or may not endorse my work, etc. At the same time, I am more aware now than ever of the importance of keeping my daily devotional rhythms, prioritizing the support of my wife and children, and those I serve as students, clients, and readers or viewers, especially all of those who recently gave so generously to support my work this new year.
In the Krishna Bhakti tradition, my guru once wrote, “It is important to remember that it’s natural to be unsteady when beginning any discipline: learning to ride a bicycle, play the piano, or taking our first steps as a baby, all begin with unsteady practice. The process of Krsna Consciousness is very powerful and works without fail for those who stick with it, tolerating the initial unsteady stage, anistha-bhajana kriya. The rewards of persistence are great.”
When my spiritual teacher was here recently, he also spoke about the way in which bhaktas run from the spotlight, fame, or taking credit for things, because it can be so distracting to the humility required to develop and/or maintain spiritual absorption. I can’t say that in wanting to go to the OSCARS that I was running toward fame, or even that I desired it on any conscious level, but the truth is that right now the golden shining form of Krishna on my home altar, Lord Gauranga, reminds me each day that eventually becoming steadier in my devotional life means to make small little choices, right now, to prioritize the simplest rhythms of my devotional existence.
This isn’t to say anything at all about the worthiness or unworthiness of reading for or serving celebrities, and it’s not to cast any judgment on the film industry or movie stars. It’s just a simple truth…making the choice to stay home and prioritize the obvious and important services I have right in front of me is the right thing to do.
I regret not thinking through my decision longer than I did. I said “yes” right away, like instantly, and shared it publicly right away, in great enthusiasm, and so the only reason I now share this post is that I am receiving many emails, and would continue receiving many emails asking what the experience was like, etc. So, given that I put myself in this situation, the best I can do is to share my process and reflections, along with a healthy tinge of embarrassment, hoping that it may encourage others to also think carefully through the prioritization of their own spiritual values, commitments, time, energy, etc. Because I really do believe that my spiritual teacher is correct, “The rewards of persistence are great!”
Hare Krishna Friends!
ps–the photo is of the Golden Avatar of Krishna, Lord Gauranga…who I will now forever think of as the original academy award, award winner, and award ceremony.