November 30, 2006
Posted by Madhava Gosh under Thomas Merton
For the following, where it says ‘discipline”, think of it as a reference to sadhana and where it says “Christ”, think “Krishna”.
The Function of Discipline
“If one ‘trains’ and disciplines his faculties and his whole being, it is in order to deepen and expand his capacity for experience, for awareness, for understanding, for a higher kind of life, a deeper and more authentic life ‘in Christ’ and ‘in the Spirit.’ The purpose of discipline is not only moral perfection (development of virtue for its own sake) but self-transcendence, transformation in Christ ‘from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.’ The death and crucifixion of the old self, the routine man of self-seeking and conventionally social life, leads to the resurrection in Christ of a totally ‘new man,’ who is ‘one Spirit’ with Christ. This new man is not just the old man in possession of a legal certificate entitling him to a reward. He is no longer the same, and his reward is precisely this transformation that makes him no longer the isolated subject of a limited reward but ‘one with Christ’ and, in Christ, with all men. The purpose of discipline is then not only to help us ‘turn on’ and understand the inner dimensions of existence, but to transform us in Christ in such a way that we completely transcend our routine existence. (Yet in transcending it, we rediscover its existential value and solidity. Transformation is not a repudiation of ordinary life but its definitive recovery in Christ). ”
From “Renewal and Discipline” in Contemplation in a World of Action, by Thomas Merton
(Doubleday, New York 1971): p.117.
Thought for the Day: “The real function of discipline is not to provide us with maps, but to sharpen our own sense of direction so that, when we really get going, we can travel without maps.”
From: Contemplation in a World of Action, p. 127
“Rules and regulations are meant for guiding those who have a tendency to act in ignorance or for personal gratification, but one who is perfect in spiritual consciousness can move freely, as described here by the Lord. One who tends to drive a car recklessly or who is unfamiliar with the local road conditions certainly needs the discipline of elaborate road signs and police enforcement of traffic laws. A perfectly safe driver, however, is thoroughly familiar with the local road conditions. He has no real need for the enforcement officials or the speed limits and caution signs meant for those unfamiliar with the road.”
November 29, 2006
Posted by Madhava Gosh under Jokes
A powerful senator dies after a prolonged illness. His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.
“Welcome to Heaven,” says St. Peter. “Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we’re not sure what to do with you.”
“No problem, just let me in,” says the guy.
“Well, I’d like to but I have orders from higher up. What we’ll do is have you spend one day in Hell and one in Heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity.”
“Really, I’ve made up my mind. I want to be in Heaven,” says the senator.
“I’m sorry but we have our rules.”
And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to Hell. The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a club and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him, everyone is very happy and in evening attire. They run to greet him, hug him, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people.
They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster and caviar. Also present is the Devil, who really is a very friendly guy who has a good time dancing and telling jokes. They are having such a good time that, before he realizes it, it is time to go. Everyone gives him a big hug and waves while the elevator rises. The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens on Heaven where St. Peter is waiting for him.
“Now it’s time to visit Heaven.”
So 24 hours pass with the head of state joining a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing. They have a good time and, before he realizes it, the 24 hours have gone by and St. Peter returns.
“Well then, you’ve spent a day in Hell and another in Heaven. Now choose your eternity.”
He reflects for a minute, then the senator answers, “Well, I would never have said it, I mean Heaven has been delightful, but I think I would be better off in Hell.”
So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to Hell. Now the doors of the elevator open and he is in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage. He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags. The Devil comes over to him and lays his arm on his neck.
“I don’t understand,” stammers the senator. “Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and club and we ate lobster and caviar and danced and had a great time. Now all there is, is a wasteland full of garbage and my friends look miserable.
The Devil looks at him, smiles and says, “Yesterday we were campaigning…Today you voted for us!”
November 28, 2006
The warm weather continues and we are taking as much advantage of it as we can. Vidya is cutting, dyeing, and sealing gourds for next year’s shows. It is better to do the dusty and smelly jobs outside, so she is concentrating on those now. When the weather turns, she retreats indoors and does painting on the gourds and works on developing new things. When you go to the same shows year after year, you need to have at least one new thing at a show or your sales drop. Gourds are durable so once someone has bought a particular type of gourd, they don’t need another one except to give it as a gift. Loyal buyers come back year after year and the easiest way to make a sale is something new. Developing new ideas is time consuming, so she does it in the winter.
I have been working on the used Astro van we bought. It is mechanically sound and, unusual for West Virginia, rust free. It came out of New Mexico, where they don’t use salt on the roads to melt ice as they do here. Road salt rusts vehicles. It has some minor things that need attention.
The back door was locked shut. I was at Shyam’s and we opened up the interior part of the door to access the lock but still couldn’t get it to unlock. We loosened the bolts on the bracket so we could get some slack in the door so we could get a reciprocating in between the two sides and cut the rod that the lock was inextricably latched onto. It was now open, but one side was swinging in the breeze, so I put a 10” barrel bolt on it to hold it shut. I had to make some minor alteration on it so it doesn’t have any play in it so it holds the door shut enough that it is sealed.
It has an extra hole in it so a padlock can be used. It will be necessary to use a padlock when in town to prevent theft. I found this interesting quote that takes the concept of thief a little further than the usual indictable kind:
“In the broader sense, everyone who accumulates more than he needs is a thief. According to spiritual communism, one cannot possess more than he needs for his personal maintenance. That is the law of nature. Anyone who accumulates more money or more possessions than he needs is called a thief, and one who simply accumulates wealth without spending for sacrifice or for worship of the Personality of Godhead is a great thief.”
November 27, 2006
At its peak population, around 1992, New Vrindavan had 360 cows. That was a large undertaking. I used to plant and chop 200 acres of corn for silage, and hundreds more acres were put up for hay. Now, through attrition, that number of cows is under a 100. I am no longer hands on involved with the cows, and no corn is planted for silage at all. All the equipment that was used for corn sits idle.
This is a picture of another piece of farm equipment sitting idle. The notes say, ”Okay with 95, but not Windows 98” While the corn equipment is not antique, in the technology doubles every 18 months’ world of computing, this puppy is.
November 26, 2006
Posted by Madhava Gosh under Science
Plague of Plastic Chokes the Seas
Excerpted from the LA Times
“MIDWAY ATOLL — The albatross chick jumped to its feet, eyes alert and focused. At 5 months, it stood 18 inches tall and was fully feathered except for the fuzz that fringed its head.
All attitude, the chick straightened up and clacked its beak at a visitor, then rocked back and dangled webbed feet in the air to cool them in the afternoon breeze.
The next afternoon, the chick ignored passersby. The bird was flopped on its belly, its legs splayed awkwardly. Its wings drooped in the hot sun. A few hours later, the chick was dead.
John Klavitter, a wildlife biologist, turned the bird over and cut it open with a knife. Probing its innards with a gloved hand, he pulled out a yellowish sac — its stomach.
Out tumbled a collection of red, blue and orange bottle caps, a black spray nozzle, part of a green comb, a white golf tee and a clump of tiny dark squid beaks ensnared in a tangle of fishing line.
“This is pretty typical,” said Klavitter, who is stationed at the atoll for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “We often find cigarette lighters, bucket handles, toothbrushes, syringes, toy soldiers — anything made out of plastic.”
It’s all part of a tide of plastic debris that has spread throughout the world’s oceans, posing a lethal hazard to wildlife, even here, more than 1,000 miles from the nearest city.
Midway, an atoll halfway between North America and Japan, has no industrial centers, no fast-food joints with overflowing trash cans, and only a few dozen people….”
“Albatross fly hundreds of miles in their search for food for their young. Their flight paths from Midway often take them over what is perhaps the world’s largest dump: a slowly rotating mass of trash-laden water about twice the size of Texas.
This is known as the Eastern Garbage Patch, part of a system of currents called the North Pacific subtropical gyre. Located halfway between San Francisco and Hawaii, the garbage patch is an area of slack winds and sluggish currents where flotsam collects from around the Pacific, much like foam piling up in the calm center of a hot tub…”
“The debris can spin for decades in one of a dozen or more gigantic gyres around the globe, only to be spat out and carried by currents to distant lands. The U.N. Environment Program estimates that 46,000 pieces of plastic litter are floating on every square mile of the oceans. About 70% will eventually sink…”
“A piece of plastic found in an albatross stomach last year bore a serial number that was traced to a World War II seaplane shot down in 1944. Computer models re-creating the object’s odyssey showed it spent a decade in a gyre known as the Western Garbage Patch, just south of Japan, and then drifted 6,000 miles to the Eastern Garbage Patch off the West Coast of the U.S., where it spun in circles for the next 50 years…”
November 25, 2006
After weeks of bleak, cloudy days and well below average temperatures, Indian summer has finally arrived. We have had several days of sunny weather and above average temperatures. We are getting enough solar gain off our attached greenhouse today to keep the house warm enough to not use wood heat, if we wear a little extra clothing.
We did burn some extra wood while all the kids were here, as we opened the part of the house we usually close off in winter. They are all gone except for Vraja and Devaji who are here for a couple of more days. Today is a baby shower for Rosa, Nick and Ambudhara’s daughter, in the afternoon, followed by a birthday party of a one year old temple devotee at 6 PM, then a birthday party for Lila and Arundhati at around 8 PM this evening, so plenty for Vraja and Gracie to do. Lila, Arundhati, and Rosa are all sisters, so they are renting the Limestone Fire Department hall and having both events there.
Madhu and Tulasi helped chop and haul wood into the house while they were here. Even Marken made a cameo appearance at the wood pile, though it was marred by an unfortunate incident. One of his friends came by (you know who you are) and Marken was showing him the proper way to split wood – hands spread apart on the maul, raise it just above the head, drop it as quickly as possible, pushing with the upper hand and pulling with the lower hand at the moment of impact, while simultaneously dropping the knees to put the full body weight behind the blow. Unfortunately, he neglected to tell him that it is better to miss short than long while you are calibrating your stroke. He overstruck it and the handle hit the block of wood instead of the head, and it broke.
I do have a backup maul, so we aren’t out of business, and there were some promises of replacing the handle so all is not lost. We won’t freeze for lack of split wood. We are continuing to do some more each day to get our sheltered storage full before the weather turns again. Chopping wood tires me out but is good rehab work and saves the carbon dioxide that would be emitted by a trip to the gym. Splitting wood is also a great stress reliever – it is very satisfying to strike a blow and see the split parts fall away, and it does get the endorphins flowing if you stick at it for a while.
November 24, 2006
Posted by Madhava Gosh under Poetry
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4. A SHORT HISTORY OF BRITISH INDIA (I)
Make miniatures of the once-monstrous theme:
the red-coat devotees, melees of wheels,
Jagannath’s lovers. With indifferent aim
unleash the rutting cannon at the walls
of forts and palaces; pollute the wells.
Impound the memoirs for their bankrupt shame,
fantasies of true destiny that kills
‘under the sanction of the English name’.
Be moved by faith, obedience without fault,
the flawless hubris of heroic guilt,
the grace of visitation; and be stirred
by all her god-quests, her idolatries,
in conclave of abiding injuries,
sated upon the stillness of the bride.
5. A SHORT HISTORY OF BRITISH INDIA (II)
Suppose they sweltered here three thousand years
patient for our destruction. There is a greeting
beyond the act. Destiny is the great thing,
true lord of annexation and arrears.
Our law-books overrule the emperors.
The mango is the bride-bed of light. Spring
jostles the flame-tree. But new mandates bring
new images of faith, good subahdars!
The flittering candles of the wayside shrines
melt into dawn. The sun surmounts the dust.
Krishna from Radha lovingly untwines.
Lugging the earth, the oxen bow their heads.
The alien conscience of our days is lost
among the ruins and on endless roads.
6. A SHORT HISTORY OF BRITISH INDIA (III)
Malcolm and Frere, Colebrooke and Elphinstone,
the life of empire like the life of the mind
‘simple, sensuous, passionate’, attuned
to the clear theme of justice and order, gone.
Gone the ascetic pastimes, the Persian
scholarship, the wild boar run to ground,
the watercolours of the sun and wind.
Names rise like outcrops on the rich terrain,
like carapaces of the Mughal tombs
lop-sided in the rice-fields, boarded-up
near railway-crossings and small aerodromes.
‘India’s a peacock-shrine next to a shop
selling mangola, sitars, lucky charms,
heavenly Buddhas smiling in their sleep.’
November 23, 2006
Posted by Madhava Gosh under Sports
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This wonderful picture is from an article discussing what constitutes unnecessary sports. My opinion is that there is not a one size fits all answer for that question. For instance, yesterday the local Krishna youth had what they themselves refer to as the traditional New Vrindavan Thanksgiving weekend touch football game. This is a bonding experience that has been going on for since before many of the current participants were born. It is a community building tradition that has at its center the commonality of it being devotee kids. IMHO, that falls well outside any consideration of being unnecessary.
Wrong sport, according to my personal bias (see picture for a hint of my stance) but that is for a different debate.
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