There is an annual “transcultural” event in Brazil called “Movement for Life” (Movimento Pela Vida), which presents the public with a mix of science, art and spirituality aimed at increased wellness and higher consciousness. The event took place over this last weekend13-15th of August.
As in other years, this 11th edition of the event took place in the small town of Taquaruçu. Taquaruçu is in the State of Tocantins, a less well-known and sparsely populated State in Brazil which has, even to this day, a tribe of cannibals who will kill any white man who dares enter their forest! It’s a bit like a Brazilian “Outback”.
Since 2007 I have been receiving annual invitations, all expenses paid, to participate in the event. It’s a nice opportunity to share Krishna consciousness, in a place where Vaishnavas are practically unheard of. In the event, it’s normal to find that most of the people there have never chanted Hare Krishna, or even heard of it! A great chance to render some transcendental pioneering service to Srila Prabhupada.
This year I was the first to “bless” the event. All the representatives from the different religions offer some kind of blessing in the opening, and this year they called me first. Better yet, I was able to arrange with the organizers to close the opening ceremony with a kirtan. I was there alone and had nobody to play any percussion while I played the harmonium and sang, so I invited a “shaman” lady to play her shaman drum with me. It was the only percussion instrument there! But it worked, by the grace of the Holy Names. By the end, the whole crowd of some 150 people were up, joyfully dancing and singing the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.
On Saturday I had two events. The first was a lecture, “Karma: what is it and how to get rid of it.” The small room was crowded and I spoke at length about the situation of the soul in the material world and the techniques of karma yoga, jnana-yoga and bhakti-yoga to release the soul from its entanglement. The MVP is all very simple, using a state college for its events. The audience is very diverse, from local youths to spiritual seekers visiting from other parts of Brazil.
The second event was a one-hour kirtan in a section where they held “therapies” of various types (quantum therapy, reiki, apometry, etc.). It was super sweet to spend an hour in kirtan with a diverse group of people entering deeply into the chanting of the holy names. In this kirtan we didn’t even have the shamanic drum to accompany the chanting, just my harmonium.
The next day I conducted a “Mantra Workshop.” The crowd filled the small room again and we spent 90 minutes singing and talking about important mantras of our tradition! It was very inspiring. At the beginning I asked how many of the participants had heard the word “kirtan” before … nobody! By the end, all were “initiated” in the kirtan of the holy names and it seems they liked it very much!
I dragged a suitcase full of books, CDs and beads to all the events and managed to sell various transcendental items by the grace of the Lord.
One of the highlights of staying at Taquaruçu is my place to practice japa in the early morning – a rock suspended over the beautiful valley where Taquaruçu is situated. It is worth the hard climb of 15 minutes or so to spend an hour there in contemplation of the holy names, seeing the sun rise and illuminate the valley and town below.