March 2006


camels-shadow.jpg

There is something really unique about this photo. Don’t give up; really look at it for a while. It is a major feature of the picture, not some minor detail. You should be able to click on the image to make it larger. If you do feel the need to give up, your answer is at the end of the post.

“Here the material world is described as a tree whose roots are upwards and branches are below. We have experience of a tree whose roots are upward: if one stands on the bank of a river or any reservoir of water, he can see that the trees reflected in the water are upside down. The branches go downward and the roots upward. Similarly, this material world is a reflection of the spiritual world. The material world is but a shadow of reality. In the shadow there is no reality or substantiality, but from the shadow we can understand that there are substance and reality. In the desert there is no water, but the mirage suggests that there is such a thing as water…”

From the “Introduction” to the Bhagavad-Gita

If you still haven’t figured it out, use the above quote as a key to understanding the uniqueness. Stop reading now and give it another shot.

Okay, I am now going to babble on a bit in order in camouflage the answer within this paragraph so if someone has a weak moment, they won’t see the insight unless they really want to. This is another in the running series of illusions that are sprinkled throughout the archives of my blog. The thing with the picture is that the black figures are shadows of the actual camels. It is taken directly overhead with the sun at a low angle.

A great post from someone who has earned the right to have an opinion:

What I Have Learned In 15 Years by Tom McMahon

“It was 15 years ago today that our 8-year-old son Ryan suffered a severe brain injury that left him unable to walk or talk or feed himself. He was in the hospital (in two hospitals, actually) for over six months, and ever since has lived with us at home. I thought I would share some of the lessons I’ve learned in these past 15 years:…”

Here is an excerpt:

“Muddle through

I’ve never seen a self-help book with this advice, but really it’s some of the best advice I can give somebody going through a difficult stretch. Sometimes the absolute best you can do isn’t that pretty, or elegant, or graceful, or frankly all that inspiring. When you’re in one of those stretches, stop worrying about it. Nobody else could do that much better in your position either…”

Another (definitely go read the whole thing):

“People are such wusses to-day

Take that last item. Some folks would be horrified not to take an airplane trip vacation at least twice a year. While that’s very nice, it’s not a Minimum Daily Requirement for a Happy Life. People re-define extravagant luxuries as the bare necessities of life, and whine like a two-year-old when they don’t have every last one of them. Keep the two categories straight and you’ll be much happier…”

“Eight workers at a Nebraska meatpacking plant who won the $365 million Powerball jackpot last week may want to take heed of the downside of such good fortune.

Not that anyone would turn down such a windfall, but other heavenly jackpots did not lead to paradise. Some big winners have filed for bankruptcy within a few years, been attacked by family members and been besieged by requests from people they didn’t know…”

http://www.libertypost.org/cgi-bin/readart.cgi?ArtNum=131269

A West Virginian who won a huge Powerball lottery had his own share of bad luck, including being arrested several times and his granddaughter going off the deep end and dying from a drug overdose. He was already well off as the owner of several construction companies, so the won money was all extra. He did give 10 percent to a charitable foundation he set up.

So, kiddies, there is more to happiness than money.

Sad Story OF Jack Whittaker

(Winning Poem by Jeffrey Johnson of Sudbury, Massachusetts)

Of how much more value
are you than the birds?
Luke 12:24

If you can focus your eyes
on that bird on the bench,
the one in the charcoal suit
with the off-white shirt,
see that it’s small and proper
with a formal tail tipping
and a head swiveling socially,
see how it flaps straight up
and lands on the same spot,
with bugs on its breath, see it
smooth and present there
and not as a specimen,
an example, a kind or a type,
as a pet to be held or a carcass
for the altar or the market,
but as a small bird on a bench,
then you will have prayed,
and prayed well I would say,
as if you loved an ordinary
and otherwise unnoticed bird.

While it certainly isn’t on the level of separation, in the sense that devotees use the word, or even lamentation, I do miss being active. The symbol of that activity had for me been playing soccer (futbol). The combination of endorphins generated by intense activity, with the adrenaline produced by competition, did a lot to make the material world more bearable. Granted, dancing in kirtan will get you the endorphins. That brain chemical release is a component of what makes for an “ecstatic” kirtan. But I don’t think the adrenaline comes as much into it. Although when I see some of the contemporary kirtan dancing, which has more or less abandoned the forms Srila Prahbupada taught us, it may have become more competitive. Dancing isn’t much of an option for me anymore in any case.

It was nice to be competitive on the pitch (soccer field) and then be able to walk away and just leave it all out there. The other thing that was nice was that I am so bad, when I would go into a game in the adult league I played in, I was usually the worst on the pitch, and no one really expected much from me –- anything I would manage to do was like extra. There is a certain liberating feeling about being in a situation where I could try the hardest I possibly could but there were no repercussions that really mattered if the outcome was disappointing. No one who had expectations of me I couldn’t meet, not much responsibility for the outcome, just the joy of detached involvement. Mostly just the false ego to deal with, the one element of consciousness that was more concerned about giving the game everything I had than the outcome of the game.

As mundane as it sounds, the idea of stepping once again onto the pitch is part of the package that keeps me going through this whole medical ordeal. Oh yeah, that and the idea that I want to teach my granddaughters how to skate.

My blog server was messed up for the better part of a day. I wasn’t able to get yesterday’s post to go up until today, and it was impossible to access my blog. It is functional now but still seems messed up as the sidebar isn’t at the top right – it doesn’t come in until after the last post. Maybe that will resolve itself soon.

We had two days of unrelenting strong winds. We are back in a spell of below average temperatures although the sun has been out more so we are getting some solar gain from our attached greenhouse to help heat our living space.

Check out the following site. Don’t forget to check out the Products section. Of course, of much greater concern is the mass organized abduction of cows into the slaughterhouses.

http://www.cowabduction.com/

From the article at:

Hot Pepper Compund Kills Prostrate Cancer

“A hot pepper compound known as capsaicin may help men fight prostate cancer, according to a new study published in the March 15 issue of Cancer Research. The study, led by Soren Lehmann and colleagues from the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and UCLA, found the hot pepper component induced deaths of about 80 percent of prostate cancer cells growing in mice…”

“The dose of pepper extract fed orally to the mice was equivalent to 400 milligrams of capsaicin for a 200-pound man, the amount found in three to eight fresh habanera peppers, according to the researchers…”

Well, men aren’t exactly mice in most cases, so the study is indicative rather than proof, but there are a lot of other benefits to a diet that includes cayenne or other hot peppers. I wouldn’t advise trying to take those levels of capsaicin though, as habaneras are about 10 times hotter than cayenne so that would amount to 30 to 80 cayenne a day, according to the Scoville Heat Index:

http://www.calantilles.com/scoville.html

Still, we all know an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so a reasonable amount in the diet as a preventative seems advisable. Cayenne coupled with the health benefits of ginger and turmeric and a decent diet based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and a restrained amount of milk may maximize our health potential. And make the kitcherie taste good to boot. I wouldn’t advise partaking of foods with these spices in them, then thinking it made us exempt so we can chronically overdose our systems with white flour, sugar, excess oils (even ghee), and milk products eaten merely for enjoyment.

Here is a bit about health benefits of ginger:

Migraines and Cardiovascular

Here is a link about the benefits or turmeric:

Turmeric Is an Effective Preventative

I like this picture. It is on a building at Bahulaban, a part of New Vrindaban that was the heart of the community for many years, but now has been abandoned. The sticker starting to curl on a door that someone once thought was important enough to keep locked, now open to anyone. The graffiti the only sign of life.

This is taken from a website based on the results of a study done by a group of college students who came to NV for a visit as some part of their studies. It has a nice slide show of pictures of NV. The study itself is a cross sectional one, largely consisting of interviews. To my sense of things, it gives a bit of a skewed impression, as it seems the interviewees were mainly whoever was available at the time, but that is minor. Overall it is fairly interesting and an in depth look at NV from the perspective of impartial observers. Anyone truly interested in NV should read it. It can be found at:

http://www.pluralism.org/affiliates/emery/research.php

All contents copyright © 2006
President and Fellows of Harvard College and Diana Eck. All rights reserved.

Speaking of NV, now that Gaura Paurnima is past, the next festival of interest to devotees will be the Festival of Inspiration 12,13 and 14th of May 2006. This is a festival aimed at devotees and hundreds of guests from all over attend. Lots of seminars and discussion groups, for specific details check out:

http://www.festivalofinspiration.com/

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