February 2008


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“Just like outside there may be snow falling, but inside, if you are protected by heating system and other things, you are not affected. The whole city may be overwhelmed by snow falling, but if you are protected by certain means and adjustment, then you are not affected. Similarly, Visnu and Visnu-bhakta, they are not affected by this material nature.”

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 20.313-317 — New York, December 21, 1966

Someone forget to tell Winter that our average high temperature for this time of year is 42 (6 C) degrees as it has still been mostly below freezing with snow coming down seemingly everyday.

Thursday morning, after a gentle snow, the yard was covered with fluffy snow, punctuated only by the obligatory deer tracks.

Speaking of water…

(Bear in mind that most regular bottled water is simply tap water that has been filtered)

Bottled water ‘is immoral’

Drinking bottled water should be made as unfashionable as smoking, according to a government adviser.

“We have to make people think that it’s unfashionable just as we have with smoking. We need a similar campaign to convince people that this is wrong,” said Tim Lang, the Government’s naural resources commissioner.

  Bottled water generates up to 600 times more C02 than tap water
Bottled water generates upto 600 times more CO2 than tap water

Phil Woolas, the environment minister, added that the amount of money spent on mineral water “borders on being morally unacceptable”.

Their comments come as new research shows that drinking a bottle of water has the same impact on the environment as driving a car for a kilometre. Conservation groups and water providers have started a campaign against the £2 billion industry.

A BBC Panorama documentary, “Bottled Water: Who Needs It?”, to be broadcast tomorrow says that in terms of production, a litre bottle of Evian or Volvic generates up to 600 times more CO2 than a litre of tap water.

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From xkcd A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.

As part of my get in shape for The Transplant Games, I have been walking to the temple. I walked all the way there on Sunday without taking a rest.

When I was first walking to the temple 6 months after the transplant, I could make it but had to stop three times to rest on the way. Then I got knocked in the ditch with the interferon treatment and then the recovery period so I had stopped altogether, but now I am doing it again.

The recovery from the transplant was supposed to have taken a year, but with the interferon I never got to experience that. As I was walking past my three rest stops, I realized I am in much better health than I was a year ago.

Monday I walked there again, but because I knew Vidya wasn’t going to be at the temple as she was Sunday, I accepted rides for part of each leg of the round trip, but still did at least 3 miles.

If I can walk three miles now, hopefully by the time of the 5 K race in July, I will be able to trot through it and not be too embarrassed at my time.

Once the roads are clearer, I will start bicycling and perhaps enter a biking event also.

My legs were a little stiff the second day walking the distance but that is the “no pain no gain” part of it.

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The pain is offset by the pleasant aspects of walking in the country. As I walked down the hill into Bahulaban on the return part of the walk, this hawk saw me coming and slipped off the tree he was in and started to ascend.

Once he got started in his flight, I didn’t see him flap his wings hardly at all. Even on a grey day, he must have caught a thermal because he never seemed to move as he circled but continued to get higher and higher.

By the time I got my camera out and turned on, he was already fairly high, high enough so he seemed only a silhouette against the sky. When he first took off, I could clearly see he was a light phase Red Tail hawk and he looked right back into my eyes.

Maybe I will do a “things you don’t see from a car” pictorial tour of New Vrindaban in a series of posts for the edification of the “side of the road devotees”, who think New Vrindaban is a ribbon of grey, the Palace, and the Temple area.

I am starting to spread the news, promoting the concept of if you aren’t a vegan, and you drink milk from commercial sources, you are contributing to a system that slaughters cows. To offset that, you need to donate regularly to cow protection programs.

Visitors to my blog may have noted that I have added a widget in my sidebar where the connection to my fundraising page for GEETA ( an organization that protects cows) can easily be gotten to. GEETA is one of many cow protection programs that will accept your donations.

I am trying to get this idea of karma offsetting out of the realm of the theoretical and into the practical by telling people about my fund raising page. I just got an article on Dandavats so hopefully more devotees than just my readers will be exposed to the idea.

Beyond exposure, the greater hope is that you, my readers, will actually act on the premise and every time you buy some milk products, put something aside to give. Then once a week or month or whenever, donate to GEETA or any other cow protection program that you choose.

The greatest hope is that some of you will embrace the concept so much that you will start your own fundraising page for GEETA (or some other program) and help promote cow protection to your own friends and family.

Through a plate glass window:

Shed leaves of trees all raked away, yellow
flowered cannas still stand tall and green,
preserved by the stored warmth
of the brick southern wall of the courthouse.
A backdrop for the sun-drenched lawn
between a cannon and the WW1 Memorial.

There a wedding party of six takes pictures of itself,
the men dressed in colored shirts, ties, and smiles,
hair combed and moussed for the occasion.
The women dressy casual and jubilant,
bride in a short shiny white dress
bearing a bouquet that hasn’t began to fade.

A love that might have begun so strong
it sprayed itself out on a highway overpass
for all the driven world to see.
Grew in cars and theaters and bars
until it became too pleasant a habit
to imagine life any other way.

Behind the brick wall a jury deliberates.
They will return a guilty verdict
in time for the evening news,
convicting a jilted lover of the arson deaths
of her rival’s child and the parents
of the one who spurned her.

A man uncomfortable in baggy jeans
walks by, self absorbed and unseeing.
Lost his license by embezzling a Trust.
Everyone knows he can no longer
do title searches or file divorces.
“Next”

Can You Teach the Pursuit of Happiness Online?

By Sudip Ghosh, MD

William McDougall, Harvard social psychologist, wrote that people can be happy while in pain and unhappy while experiencing pleasure. While the philosophical and semantic ramifications of the term “happiness” are still far away from being well-defined on a universal basis, it is generally accepted that while short-term happiness are more to do with positive feelings like pleasure or victory, long-term happiness tends to be more value based and goal-oriented.

One thing is certain however: on a psychological basis, a state of happiness is popular and sought after, going by the number of university courses that teach exclusively how to be happy as part of our overall well-being. This is an encouraging trend as it indicates that progressively more and more people are eager to realize “happiness” through their cerebral cortices (in the brain), rather than through their pleasure centers in the limbic systems. Realizing the need to be happy, rather than being driven by our instincts to be happy is a significant step up the social evolutionary tree…

Young people are finally willing to formally commit their cerebral cortices to ask the big questions of life and its meaning.

(above article excerpted by demand of originating blog — see comments)

Prabhupada: Because you have forgotten. That is your natural position. You have forgotten the service of Radha-Krsna, therefore you have become the servant of maya. You are servant of maya, your senses.

“Therefore I am teaching, that “You are serving your senses, now you turn your service to Radha and Krsna, you’ll be happy. Service you have to render. Either Radha-Krsna or maya, illusion, senses. Everybody is serving to the senses. Is it not?” But he’s not satisfied. He cannot be satisfied.

“Therefore I am giving them the right information — that service you have to render. But instead of serving your senses, please serve Radha-Krsna, then you’ll be happy. Your position of servant remains the same, but I’m offering a good service. If you don’t serve Radha-Krsna, then you have to serve your senses, maya. So your service position will remain. Even if you don’t serve Radha-Krsna. Therefore the best instruction is that instead of serving your senses, your whims, please serve Radha-Krsna, you’ll be happy. That’s all.”

Bhagavad-gita 6.46-47 — Los Angeles, February 21, 1969

I was planning to go to New York City this weekend but a major storm ended that plan. We will try again next weekend.

Instead I am watching the birds and checking out the witchazel. We had a couple of record setting warm days the first week of February so it came into bloom, and has been blooming ever since, even though the temperature has been below freezing most of the time.

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Yes, the white stuff is snow.

Instead of going to NYC, I had to settle for a memory, something I wrote back in the day:

In Vrindaban

(Brijabasi Spirit Vol. 4, NO. 1&2, dated January/February 1977.)

New York stunned me. Bumper to bumper traffic spewing garbage into the air; people looking at you like you were the source of all their miseries; chaotic noises; a con­stant bombardment of propaganda for sex, intoxication, gambling and consumption of flesh; a whirlwind of activity aimlessly progressing nowhere at best, to even more hell­ish conditions most likely.

The towering monuments dedicated to eating, sleeping, mating and de­fending seemed too absurd to be ac­tually there even in the illusory energy, yet each day there they were again. It seemed amazing to me that people could actually exist in what was merely an intensification of the society I was raised in; I couldn’t imagine how it must have seemed to Prabhupada, who came from Vrndavana, India, where the cows roam freely and gentle people glor­ify the Lord, living simply and happily.

The only thing that made it tol­erable was the shelter of Sri Sri Radha Govinda and His ecstatic de­votees, who somehow manage to be Krsna Conscious amongst all the turmoil and barrages of the Big Apple.

The return to New Vrindaban was a fresh breath of air; those devot­ees who stay in the cities to dis­tribute Prabhupada’s books are cer­tainly empowered by Lord Caitanya. I can see that this movement is un-stoppable.

After a couple days I was off again, this time to North Dakota to pick up a load of wheat donated by my brothers, crossing some of the most productive farmland in the world in the process–Ohio, India­na, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota. The most striking feature is that in all that land, how few people there are. Memories of a concrete jungle that is really so unneces­sary were a real contrast.

The high points of the trip were the visits to the Radha Krsna temples along the way: the newly opened center in Columbus with a handful of devot­ees, Chicago with Their Lordships Sri Sri Kisor Kisore, and Minneapo­lis, because I had spent a lot of time there as a karmi, wasting so much priceless time in the pursuit of nescience. Now a beacon is shin­ing bright there, a hope for the innocents suffering in the darkness of ignorance — another outlet of Prabhupada’s unlimited mercy.

Back to New Vrindaban, then off again, this time with Daivata to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania for the Mid-Atlantic No Tillage conference, a big meeting where the latest techniques in agriculture are dis­cussed. It was snowing and a jack-knifed tractor trailer had traffic stopped for an hour on the turn­pike, so we arrived a little late, and in my haste to get inside I left the headlights on.

When we went to leave, the battery was too dejuiced to turn the starter over, so Daivata started asking people if they had any jumper cables, and sure enough a man had a set, drove his car next to us and got us go­ing. I grabbed a Bhagavad-gita and offered it to him for helping us, but he just smiled and said he’d already gotten one at the airport, read it, and liked it very much. That blissed me out. I could see Krsna was arranging things, as this man had some attraction to Krsna and now he had been given the op­portunity to render some service.

Now I’m sitting here writing this next to the fire while outside the snow lies deep and the thermo­meter reads about zero, grateful that I’ve been somehow able to re­ceive the causeless mercy of the Lord and stay here in New Vrinda­ban as part of ISKCON, hoping that I’ll be able to help out in some small way.

“That is the difference between a yogi and a bhogi. Bhogi, the bogus yogi, he is thinking how I will enjoy by my yoga process, and the actual yogi, he is thinking how the Supreme Lord will enjoy by this yoga process. He has transferred the account of sense gratification to the Lord, and He uses these senses, which are also the property of the Lord, in the service of the Lord’s senses.

“Therefore he’s actually one with God, because his senses are dovetailed in the will of the pleasure of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; he is one in will with God. Not that he loses his individuality; that’s bogus, that after we get rid of false ego we lose all individuality and we merge and become God — that’s not true, that’s a concoction in the minds of the rascals.”

Srimad-Bhagavatam Class 1.13.16 – Portland, Oregon — 1973

“Brilliant and gorgeous day, bright sun, breeze making all the leaves and high brown grasses shine. Singing of the wind in the cedars. Exultant day in which even a puddle in the pig lot shines like precious silver.

“Finally I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already am. That I will never fulfill my obligation to surpass myself unless I first accept myself and, if I accept myself fully in the right way, I will already have surpassed myself. For it is the unaccepted self that stands in my way and will continue to do so as long as it is not accepted.

“When it has been accepted–it is my own stepping stone to what is above me. Because this is the way man has been made by God. Original sin was the effort to surpass oneself by being “like God”–i.e. unlike oneself. But our God-likeness begins at home. We must first become like ourselves and stop living ‘beside ourselves.’ ”

Thomas Merton. A Search for Solitude. Edited by Lawrence S. Cunningham (San Francisco, HarperSanFrancisco, 1996): 220-221

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