Terms like “dovetailing” and “extracting sweetness” aren’t unusual phrases for a talented woodworker and maple sugar producer like Bhakta Michael Gray, however he by no means anticipated they might additionally describe his non secular journey.
Gray, a resident of the Adirondacks of New York, holds a graduate diploma in biology, the place his analysis targeted on stream ecology and aquatic invasive species. He didn’t develop up in a non secular house however was uncovered to each Christian teachings and Eastern meditation by way of relations. “By the time I used to be an grownup, although, I used to be well-trained as an atheist, largely on account of my coaching in biology,” Gray stated.
Finding sense gratification unsatisfying and searching for one thing extra, Gray determined to take up a meditation apply he present in a e-book from his mom’s library. During the apply, his unease turned to peace. This opened his coronary heart to the potential for a significant non secular path, so he started to dig extra deeply.
Michael was launched to the Bhagavad Gita by way of an area yoga studio he discovered on social media and immediately resonated with the Gita’s teachings. Through a contact on the similar studio, Michael discovered a couple of podcast exploring non secular literature day by day. “In the Fall of 2020, I started to listen to the sweetness of the Srimad Bhagavatam every single day by tuning into the Zoom room of Wisdom of the Sages podcast, and that’s once I “rediscovered” my love for Krishna. It was a gradual course of. I started chanting and following the 4 regulative rules,” Gray remembers. During this time, Michael met his now fiancé Michelle. She had come to the Bhakti path a 12 months earlier than he had. After attending to know one another, they determined to stroll this Bhakti path collectively.
“The web and Zoom conferences have been my lifeline to the devotees. I used to be uncovered to Krishna, the Bhagavad Gita, the devotees, Bhaktin Michelle, and sangha all by way of the digital world. I don’t understand how lengthy it might have taken me to search out the devotees with out them!”
It’s additionally by way of the web that Michael started listening to ISKCON lecturers and trying to find a non secular grasp. As a consequence, he and Michelle are aspiring disciples of Vaisesika Dasa Adhikari. “Under his steerage, we’ve got seen our sadhana sweeten and our service blossom,” Gray stated.
As a woodworker, Gray was delighted to find the woodworking time period “dovetailing” in Srila Prabhupada’s writings and lectures. He designed an indication for Supersoul Farm in upstate New York for his pal and teacher, Raghunatha Das. “I had by no means skilled this degree of satisfaction in any challenge earlier than, and it wasn’t within the work itself, as this was only a easy signal, nevertheless it was as a result of I used to be serving a Vaisnava, one among my most influential lecturers, and that this signal was to welcome all guests to his ashram and all passersby. I spotted that I might preach by way of wooden!”
Michael started to pivot from constructing banjos to constructing altars and different devotional wooden merchandise. “I’ve endeavored to spiritualize each facet of my life; extending that into the woodshop made sense,” he continued, “When it got here time to construct our altar, I constructed it with dovetail joinery. It is time-consuming and tedious, however the joints are lovely and extremely sturdy. And, after all, Srila Prabhupada stated: ‘Simply, we should be taught the artwork of the way to dovetail. That’s all.’ ”
“I actually expertise bliss once I work with wooden in devotional service! That resulted in me reevaluating the place my woodworking could also be going, and it grew to become clear that I ought to pursue devotional woodworking extra significantly.” Gray stated. Michael hopes to create a sustainable livelihood from this and is taking up smaller commissions for bespoke altars and different devotional furnishings, treasure packing containers, wooden artwork ( and even banjos). All are crafted with devotion.
If you wish to attain out to Bhakta Michael, you may go to his website.
You also can comply with his work on Facebook and Instagram.
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