Nothing

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Nothing
It has been a sobering few weeks as i finally started to sort through and clear out my basement from the things a devotee stored many years ago and sadly passed away.
Out of respect I’ve gone through every box and it gave me an opportunity to also sort out the recycling a requirement before the many trips to the skip, with each trip the basement returned to an empty state and all that is left is a few boxes and a couple of photo albums.
Réalisation
As i entered my home after a number of trips to the skip i compared the emptiness of the basement to the fullness of my home, slowly over the years I’ve accumulated so much and get somehow I’ve not noticed time for my own clear out of things no longer needed.
It also occurred to me one day i don’t know when someone will be going through my home or if I’ve moved on my belongings and like me off it goes to the skip.
Deep down I knew that somehow what the devotee stood for in the material body he had for such a short time had disappeared hopefully to be periodically remembered but as i leave my own material body not even a footnote of his existence will remain
And this will be the case for me also in what will be a short period of time
Thoughts
Best make sure that the short time of life is productive in as much as one gets to escape the material world and in this lifetime return to the spiritual world, at least it means this life has had real meaning
Yes
Simple living high thinking
The only way

Personal Wealth in devotional service

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Personal wealth
It’s an interesting concept that value of individuals is sometimes based on bank balances the size of the wallet
We judge depending on our own view of wealth, however it is easy to become envious of another’s personal wealth when it outstrips our own especially if that individual is in the renounced order of life, after all why should they have any personal wealth?
The reality is living in a society where money is king it’s impossible to survive without any financial income, the difficulty is how much does one actually need?
No matter what ashram one finds themselves in their is no getting away with it a certain amount of finance is needed, the question is when does the gaining of personal wealth becomes of concern
Sadly I’m hearing more and more saying they want paid devotee job, or opening centres based on the vast income it provides, and when those we see as leaders appear to have a personal wealth which matches that of big business men one could say “who can blame them”
There’s a difference
Understanding
A devotee understand that there​ is no such thing as personal wealth no matter what ashram
And that personal wealth is like our intelligence and material body only temporary, effort based on its accumulation including admiration and status is a futile effort.
The reality is the intelligence and personal wealth is temporary
How it is used makes a difference
Srila Prabhupada wanted books published, when we have books we need a place for those who read them to go, we then need self realised individuals to manage them and to help the individual’s progress and in time open their own centre’s
It’s impossible to have a saying in every city, town, village if their is no master plan and to make it happen the use of personal wealth is needed, even those with little personal wealth can do simple small prasadam distribution and kirtan; remember Srila Prabhupada started with a few rupees and as the movement increased he used the laxmi not to make personal wealth but to make facilities to make devotees and warned us not to be sidetracked by things, rooms, temples, position and wealth
Personal wealth is only personal wealth if we see it as mine
Personal wealth isn’t if we see it as a gift from Krishna so it is being used​ it to make devotees
Ultimately we remain accountable for our own actions and motivations
If we go to Sri Krishna with business plan to make personal wealth there may be success indeed millions could be made however Srila Prabhupada points out that being business Sri Krishna owes you nothing and one will not return home, if however one’s only motivation is not self gain but to make devotees then Sri Krishna remains in debt to his devotee and going home is assured
It’s a thought to ponder
And the motivation in gaining any personal wealth is one only each individual can answer and be accountable for, so use it wisely

Surviving the material ocean

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So earlier on in the week i had the opportunity to do a sea survival course which included a two hour practical session covering all that one needs to know in the case of abandoning the vessel.

It was for me exhausting and i found muscles i didn’t know existed, but did impress upon me how difficult and determined you have to be in order to survive; indeed the instructor made an interesting statement of fact “one is only a survivor only when you are back home” and the most vital point “the safest place is normally the boat, stay in it and only abandoned when their is no other option”

It did however focus my mind on how we chose to leave the safety of the spiritual world and being born into this material world are swept along by our senses and with each moment that passes were moving further away from Sri Krishna

Fortunately I have been offered the opportunity to get into the lifeboat in the form of the holy name’s of Sri Krishna, Srila Prabhupada books and the association of devotees; but don’t be fooled into thinking now i am safe, i am still under the influence of material nature and it only takes one moment a second of inattentiveness​ and again find myself being swept out of the lifeboat back into the material ocean and suffering.

One of the main things learnt was how to maintain once inside of the liferaft, routine and making sure that we clean out any sea water that may enter and most importantly a positive mental attitude that will be the difference between survival or not.

The only way to escape the material ocean is to maintain my own daily routine of chanting, reading and basking in the association of other devotees when the opportunity allows

And remember I’m only safe once i awaken in the spiritual world and be aware that even though we are in the spiritual life raft every second one needs to remain alert

I would however recommend a sea survival course and whilst doing it ponder how what is being learnt can be applied to our survival in finally escaping the clutches of this material ocean and how even when in the lifeboat difficulties will remain, yes spiritual life has its ups and downs but is well worth remaining with.

Don’t let the mind or others or the difficulties faced sweep one away from the lifeboat of spiritual life

Hare Krishna

Congratulations or Commiserations upon initiation (a thought)

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So meeting a wonderful devotee after his initiation i asked him a simple question “is it congratulations or commiserations?”

He looked a little confused, indeed it is a transforming moment in anyone’s life; and the beginning of a life most extraordinary so in many ways congratulations is in order.

But for those observing outside it can be a moment of commiseration as the focus goes from the pursuit of material gains and as society in general puts emphasis on possessions and financial wealth; and for those who have gained real knowledge understand really​ no value in this which goes against society norms.

So our dormant love of Krishna is woken and initiation is the outward sign of this and seeing others take this step indeed reminds me of this step, but it reminded me of one what i feel is one point to ponder.

The need to remain attentive

Not to let standards slip and to increase our love of Krishna and devotional service

As our spiritual selves emerge and increase from the dormant stage to an active stage, thus being in the material world our old material pursuing self goes from an active to a dormant stage.

The moment one feels well I’m most senior, I’ve been around for so long, or believe that one can become a little less strict in reading and chanting them instantly we can return to the point where we rejoin society in material pursuit

Initiation is a truly wonderful and remarkable the start of real living an opportunity few have and one best shared with everyone, and how best to show our gratitude for such an opportunity. Keep to our initiation vows and make devotees

Hare Krishna

What does anti-ISKCON mean?

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When we label someone what is our intention?
Is it to elevate, chastise or keep a individual in their place
One of the most interesting labels I’ve been given and used effectively to sway a committee against myself was that my blog; and thus by default me as an individual is anti-ISKCON. What is most disturbing is that the word of one individual was enough to seal my fate and no one spoke checked or asked, indeed I’m not anti-ISKCON but anti individuals leaving ISKCON due to the corporate we have rules management style.
The thing is we can read, listen and watch Srila Prabhupada and one thing I’ve observed is his compassion and understanding of individuals he knew his disciples would have their own battles and difficulties along the way. He dealt fairly and most importantly didn’t want anyone to leave ISKCON admit is to be a home for everyone, not an elite or those who have no problems following rules.
It’s interesting that when one becomes so wrapped up in “we have rules Prabhu” we forget this is Sri Chaitanya Sankirtan Movement and in this age of Kali there is no other way than the chanting of the holy name’s, it’s the power of the Mahamantra not enforcement of rules.
Srila Prabhupada started the whole movement based on this chanting, indeed the three greatest gifts, harinama, books, prasadam with the simple instruction we distribute them.
And their is no greater joy than these three things.
Upon initiation Srila Prabhupada then introduced then four regulative principles, I like to call them the four protections as it saves those who follow them from great hardship and suffering. It takes time to progress to the point when following is second nature, fall down is and should be expected but this does not reduce the person’s sincerity or determination and the mantra we have rules seriously doesn’t help.
When I look at life long followers many have had problems, fall down and difficulties but it is not rules that have kept them but friendship a personal relationship with a devotee who like Srila Prabhupada is full of compassion for the fallen soul. Friendship and the getting together to chant and share prasadam is more powerful than rule following, and for some this is where they are at and happy and so my question is why push them and make the person unhappy?
It appears that being wrapped up in rules and courses we forgot Srila Prabhupada wanted personal relationship.
For me that’s the key, and by our honesty with each other great strength can be drawn and great progress on a spiritual path of self realisation can be achieved.
Friendship not rules is the key
And that was Srila Prabhupada success he was friend and ever well wisher to all introspective of rules following or not as long as they wanted to chant Hare Krishna and render some service, so even today we see the different flavours of disciples of Srila Prabhupada and that for me says it all from the rule followers to those who just enjoy chanting.
Each perfect in their own way, this for me is ISKCON able to accommodate and be a home for everyone.
And I am reminded and end on a comment Srila Prabhupada said “please try to get on with each other” for he knew we would be all individual and different, let’s celebrate this.

But that makes me anti-ISKCON I believe

Paid Seva or unpaid Seva (a thought)

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When is seva not seva?

Sadly I hear more and more individuals stating they want a paid job at one of the large established temples that regularly advertise such post’s, many state after all they have been devotee for many years and now deserve to be paid for their services.

Sadly I’ve also heard some who are in such post complaining that during festival times they are being asked to work more hours, but worse is that it’s without pay, I mean who works for free.

For me there’s some sadness when seeing devotees doing sincere seva in a restaurant were it is being run for profit, and that the profit is for individual wealth not to assist in supporting either the temple or preaching centre.

It is of note more see devotional life as a way of creating personal wealth or a right to be paid for doing seva and smiling whilst encouraging others to do seva for free. So what is my own personal thoughts and realisations on this based on my reading and listening to Srila Prabhupada?

Srila Prabhupada was clear seva is free and unconditional, that if full time devotee then minimum support (the bear necessity of life, simple living high thinking); of note he never spoke about wages in all the research I’ve personally done.

Srila Prabhupada noted that if we as individuals wanted more than minimum simple living then they should take a job outside of the temple; and I admire those who have opened up restaurants and the like to show how amazing vegetarian meals are (prasadam), but it is a private enterprise and anyone working for you as a private enterprise should be paid.

I’ve noted many who are in paid roles and it’s large enough to pay for mortgage and a reasonable good lifestyle, Srila Prabhupada noted no material gain the gain is spiritual the opportunity to dedicate one life to serving Sri Guru and share love of Krishna giving real education and showing the way home back to Krishna.

Srila Prabhupada noted support of individuals and families, food, clothing a place to stay simple living reliant on Sri Krishna and serving the devotee community, he was however very compassionate in as much as he spoke of how Sri Krishna can deal with any individual and if business then that is fine “Sri Krishna I do this for you and you pay me”, Srila Prabhupada gave a warning that this is business not devotional service and Sri Krishna owes you nothing; pure devotional service comes with no strings and no motivation for personal gain and Sri Krishna remains indebted to you.

So was Srila Prabhupada wrong?

Seeing the ongoing success of paid devotional jobs which means devotees live in some cases better than a majority of the congregation member’s it appears so, but then it’s business and well Srila Prabhupada said that’s fine.

However for me the higher taste is not to deal with Sri Krishna in business mentality but following Srila Prabhupada instructions, so just seva and work outside of the temple.

It’s a thought but do you think we should have more paid jobs and any objection anti ISKCON and an attack on senior devotees who take a wage?

Depending on personal view but my mind always returns to the warning from Srila Prabhupada take a wage then it’s business not devotional service, I feel it couldn’t be clearer than that; unless it’s a small maintenance pay where you make no personal gain and it’s just simpke maintenance were you make zero personal gain.

Is Deity worship the worship of a false Idol? A thought

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It is a real honour to be asked to give class indeed I’ve found it allows the opportunity to really absorb my mind in great pastimes of the Lord and ponder the lovely purport’s of Srila Prabhupada.

As I prepared for giving one biblical verse came to mind, it was one which over the years puzzled me; but closer examination given understanding of Guru and Deity worship unlocked the mystery.

The biblical verse is found in Numbers 21 v 6-9

6 And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died
7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
8 And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole; and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

Given that I had been indoctrinated into the notion of not worshiping idols this passage appeared to encourage simple idol worship; however this indoctrination meant that Deity worship and the form of Sri Krishna is rejected out of hand without any question. But my thirst to understand made me curious and a long search for the answer.

Here is my humble understanding.

Guru

Moses is the Israelites own Guru Maharaja, he is guiding and leading his followers to Gods promised land. But as we know it’s hard for many to really understand so offences are made; it was this offence that lead to the plauge of serpents.

Wise is the one who seeks out the advice of Guru and we note that intelligence is given in distress the people turned to Moses who communicated directly with Sri Krishna, by heading and following instructions precisely ones distress is relieved.

We are in the distress of material suffering, recognising it means one seeks out the Guru who can relieve this distress; our Guru Maharaja having full understanding of this condition advise and guides this strict following of the gurus instruction is required.

As is the case of the Israelites they could choose to follow Moses instruction or ignore, similarly we can choose to follow or ignore; we either continue to suffer of gain relief.

Authorised Idol (Deity)

We see that Sri Krishna gave precise instructions to Moses make thee a fiery serpent, for me the best example is Kaliya one could not get any fiery. But most importantly it was to be set on a pole, it would be useless unless it was in a high place and also that which is most prominent.

One would gain relief from suffering death from the serpents bite upon glancing at this idol, you would have to have firm faith and belief if not then simply one wouldn’t bother. With faith ones suffering was relieved.

We are suffering the pangs of material distress, so how do we gain relief?

Sri Krishna has given firm information on this, he through our Guru Maharaja has given us instructions and guidance. This is how I look and this is how you can connect and serve me.

Do I have firm faith in the Guru’s instructions and the words of Sri Krishna?

One can connect simply by chanting the names of Krishna, similarly one can connect through pray, but isn’t it more personal to see the form of Sri Krishna and to offer nicely water, flowers, food and to wash cloth and sing directly to their Lordships?

By looking directly onto the form of Sri Krishna ones material suffering is instantly cured, and we can take darshan every day.

Both instructions based on time place and circumstances, the Israelites were not ready to worship Sri Krishna directly. Indeed the biblical recollection of this time in history reports that when Moses went to receive the 10 commandments, the people became restless, and made idols and worshiped them as if they were Krishna himself; so they must have had some concept of Deity worship, but due to this offence were instructed not to worship any False Idols.

Best we make sure we don’t make the same mistake and follow instructions nicely, for Deity worship is not false idol worship but true idol worship; we idolise Sri Krishna so much so that our meditation is always upon him, this way we return home in this lifetime as promised by Srila Prabhupada

Anything that doesn’t achieve this is false Idol, anything that prevents us from achieving the perfection in life

This is my basic understanding
Hare Krishna

Duplicity, hypocrisy and foolishness; when you ban a £5 note but not leather

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For some reason best known to my self I chose to live in the material world and be in the best and worst of yuga’s that of the age of Kali
It’s the best for one can return home simply by chanting the Mahamantra
It’s the worst because it’s a time of exploration and suffering, duplicate and hypocrisy

For those who don’t live in the UK you will be unaware that the bank notes issued by The Bank of England are changing the first being changed is the £5, it makes it more hard wearing and harder to counterfeit. And is very similar in nature to those issued in New Zealand and Australia.

It has now been discovered that it contains a trace of tallow, much to the outrage of vegans,vegetarians and some religious groups most notably the one misidentified as the Hindu Faith.

It brings in a quandary as sadly you need money and have little control over its production or value in real terms, so pressure is mounting to sign petitions calling for its withdrawal and that a new bank note be issued not containing tallow

Indeed an honourable cause one most who truly believe in animal welfare and understand the real nature of the spirit soul would agree with.

So a number of Hindu temples have banned and refuse to accept the £5 note within the grounds and especially in the temple room, very honourable.

But let’s make an analysis and note some observations

One of the reasons for the new bank note is that the old ones picked up and carried germs and residue very easily, indeed lab analysis showed that the old bank notes contained traces of drugs and animal fats; the trace of animal fat in the new note is far less; which raises an interesting observation notation if you are enraged by the tallow in the new £5 note than you have to be also enraged that the other notes are also contmimated.

The conclusion is that all notes should be banned

Their is also a duplicity when it comes to ISKCON UK stance we refuse the £5 note in the temple and it’s premises, but our sankirtan devotees are allowed to handle and accept the £5 note

The conclusion this is hypocrisy, you either are against and ban altogether or not make up your minds which one

An outsider observing will also note that given your outraged by this use of animal fat, but looking around one notes leather shoes, and individuals who wear leather belts and get the money out of leather wallets and bags.

Their conclusion is why is wearing of leather in the temple not banned

One interesting argument is that the shoes and accepting of the £5 note outside is alright as it’s outside of the temple and not offered to Sri Krishna, this is duplicity and hypocritical; everything a devotee does should be as an offering to Sri Krishna and of the highest standard the individual can achieve and maintain, we should not have a temple standard and well I’m not in the temple so it doesn’t matter standard.

Our business is the propagation of Krishna Consciousness and to give proper education, proper education is to inform about spirit soul and animal welfare, and show the benefits of a vegetarian diet.

Signing a petition calling for the removal of tallow from the bank note whilst turning a blind eye to the widespread use of leather products when their is many alternatives is disgraceful.

One should be looking at the cause not symptom

The symptom is the use of animal products in everyday items were it’s not needed
The cause is animal slaughter

We should be campaigning for a complete ban on animal slaughter, especially as were aware of the karmic reaction the government officials receive for allowing this, and for all those involved in meat, leather and animal byproduct production.

If you are making a stand against the small amount of animal byproduct in a bank note banning it’s use but then turning a blind eye to the wearing and use of leather which can be avoided this is duplicity and as the inventor of the £5 note stated your stupid

Over the years I’ve convinced 3 restaurants and 2 shops to remove all cow product’s one restaurant removed all meat products, not by petition but by education and by example

Srila Prabhupada said we lead by example

So my conclusion is if we are banning the £5 note we need to ban all leather from entering the temple and as individuals we conduct ourself outside the temple as we would inside

Personally I will continue to use the £5 note as it’s less contaminated than the old £5 note, otherwise no leather products I can avoid this, whilst continuing to educate those I meet on real animal welfare and the spirit soul within.

Whilst campaigning for a closure of all slaughter houses

And on an end note Hindu India has one of the largest cow slaughter programs in the world best ISKCON and the outraged devotees petition the Indian government to close these, one this is achieved I will take the let’s ban the £5 note more seriously.

And accepting the £5 note outside of the temple but not inside frankly is just hypocrisy duplicity and gives entirely the wrong message, one just looks like a fool, and devotees aren’t fools

A small Vyasa puja offering to HDG A.C.Bhaktivadanta Swami Prabhupada

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In this the appearance day of His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivadanta Swami Prabhupada I thought writing a small vyasa puja offering

Dear Srila Prabhupada Founder Acharia of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
Please accept my humble obeisance
All glories to your Guru Maharaja who you served so diligently

One can never truly put into words how much you have done, how inspirational your works and the selfless service in humble carrying out his instructions to you; how when praised you simply praised your Guru Maharaja for sending such lovely disciples then glorified your disciples for their selfless service and devotion to you.

It reminded me of this verse:

tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam śābde pare ca nisnatamṁ brahmany upaśamāśrayam

Therefore any person who seriously desires real happiness must seek a bona fide spiritual master and take shelter of him by initiation. The qualification of the bona fide guru is that he has realized the conclusions of the scriptures by deliberation and is able to convince others of these conclusions. Such great personalities, who have taken shelter of the Supreme Godhead, leaving aside all material considerations, should be understood to be bona fide spiritual masters
Bhag. 5.14.41

Those who served you personally, those who came into contact with you even a glimpse was enough to convince them to take up a life of devotional service. Leaving aside all modern comforts that the West could provide, simply to serve and understand true knowledge.

Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī in his Hari-bhakti-vilāsa says that a person, whatever he may be, can attain the perfection of a twice-born brāhmaṇa by undergoing the spiritual disciplinary actions under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master, exactly as a chemist can turn gun metal into gold by chemical manipulation. It is therefore the actual guidance that matters in the process of becoming a brāhmana
Bhag. 1.15.47-48

From the hippies and dropouts of society you gave freely, inspired shaped and gave meaning to their lives; true knowledge the knowledge of Self and the art of bhakti. From these came a society dedicated to helping others to come to the real knowledge of Self and real love, love of Sri Krishna.

The art of loving and caring devotional service.

You said make sure everyone has a book, and how everything we need can be found in.

Over the years I’ve found this to be true no matter what I’ve found its been their in those books you so painstakingly wrote, but still took time to personally educate direct and help your disciples.

And teaching us how to use whatever we have in Krishna service, and most importantly as a health care professional you gave us the greatest lesson how to deal with the material body and use it to advance in Krishna Consciousness.

I pray through your words you will continue to guide me and that one day maybe by your grace I will be able to inspire just one person to themselves become fully Krishna Conscious

So I end with a thank you, which never says what needs to be said

Yours humble
Dhirabhakta Das

Charge, donation or contribution (which is the sweetest exchange?)

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Charge, donation or contribution

I’ve been pondering these three words, how interchangeable are they and how easy it is to cheet if their misapplied

We often ask for a donation especially on book distribution, if you give me a donation you can have a book whilst showing them a wonderful book that will transform their life. Then we withdraw the book if the donation is small, or we go no it has to be £x; unwittingly we can cause offence, they asked for a donation I gave and they took away (I’ve had individuals who felt cheeted by this). Best if asking for donation show small booklet, if donation given they take no matter how small; if they donate a bigger sum of laxmi perfect, wow this is so kind please take this book, massaging the false ego but also a loving exchanges.

As devotees our aim is to have these loving exchanges, they may or may not take a book the aim should be to leave such a sweet exchange that they praise the devotees, maybe next time a book will be taken.

My thoughts are never far from controversial matters and one of the most controversial is paid courses that are becoming the normal this dispite Srila Prabhupada instructions that if they come to the temple it is free (a hard concept to grasp); although Srila Prabhupada was skillful in making sure they took a book and asking for a small contribution.

I like that word contribution, the act of assisting in something you believe in; one gives in many ways to what is termed good causes and the greatest cause is to relieve the burden of mankind with the glories of Sri Caitanya’s sankirtan movement.

But back to my thoughts (it’s my personal thoughts to which you may or may not agree)

I wish to become initiated, how wonderful the most successful move one will ever make; now enrol in this system and sign up for these mandatory course’s (yes mandatory it’s for your own good one day maybe not now but one day you’ll appreciate it)

One is presented with a bill

So what is it?

Not a donation, although many argue this is the case
May be a contribution, but contribution means it is like a donation from the heart based upon ones means and inspiration
A charge? Yes we are Charing the information will not be imparted unless their is an exchange.

But Srila Prabhupada said if come to the temple no charge, indeed he did give instruction on charging, if I’m dig institution or education centre and I ask you to come speak; wisdom is this Srila Prabhupada knew it is acceptable indeed normal to charge.

My thoughts is this, we give course free

Then at the end we suggest that if they feel inspired a small contribution (individuals can decide how much) can be made to help in continuing to put on these valuable courses full of knowledge and insight.

This way we are not seen as either cheating or profiteering, nor going against Srila Prabhupada instructions not to charge if they come to temple.

Yes some will laugh and give nothing, some a little, some a lot; but if we trust in Sri Krishna the way Srila Prabhupada did laxmi will always be their.

And we make sure they leave with the respective books, inspired to read and ask questions as their studied nicely.

My thoughts best not present with bill, upfront charges; but give freely

Inspired the person will contribute and give donations, which over the years I’ve been happy to do; always a sweet exchange and indeed as I analys my own situation I’ve given more than is asked upfront price and not feel cheeted; but I do when asked for upfront charges

But then it’s a suggestion

And you may suggest I’m just bitter as I’ve been charged to see my own Guru Maharaja, now that remains a painful and bitter pill to swallow