December 2009

School bus in Japan

School Bus in India

But where did you call when you had a technical problem with your computer?

Japan or India?


“My dear King, I am very captivated by your elevated qualities and excellent behavior, and thus I am very favorably inclined toward you. You may therefore ask from Me any benediction you like. One who does not possess elevated qualities and behavior cannot possibly achieve My favor simply by performance of sacrifices, severe austerities or mystic yoga. But I always remain equipoised in the heart of one who is also equipoised in all circumstances.


“Lord Visnu was very pleased with Maharaja Prthu’s good character and behavior and offered him a benediction. The Lord openly says that performing great sacrifices or undergoing the austerities of mystic yoga practice cannot satisfy Him. He is pleased only by elevated character and behavior. But these cannot develop unless one becomes a pure devotee of the Lord. Anyone who has developed unalloyed, unflinching devotional service unto the Lord develops his original good qualities as spirit soul. The spirit soul, as part and parcel of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, has all the good qualities of the Lord. When the spirit soul is contaminated by the material modes of nature, one is considered good or bad with reference to the material qualities. But when one is transcendental to all material qualities, all the good qualities come out. These qualities of a devotee, twenty-six in number, are listed as follows:

“(1) kind to everyone,
(2) does not quarrel with anyone,
(3) fixed in the Absolute Truth,
(4) equal to everyone,
(5) faultless,
(6) charitable,
(7) mild,
(8) clean,
(9) simple,
(10) benevolent,
(11) peaceful,
(12) completely attached to Krsna,
(13) has no material hankering,
(14) meek,
(15) steady,
(16) self-controlled,
(17) does not eat more than required,
(18) sane,
(19) respectful,
(20) humble,
(21) grave,
(22) compassionate,
(23) friendly,
(24) poetic,
(25) expert,
(26) silent.

“The Lord is satisfied by development of the transcendental qualities of the living entity and not by artificial performance of sacrifices and mystic yoga. In other words, unless one is fully qualified to become a pure devotee of the Lord, one cannot expect to be liberated from material entanglement.”

SB 4.20.16

I note there are no membership requirements based on level of sadhana.

Wearing a dhoti, attending mangala arotik, getting initiated, emulating Indian culture, and walking around with one’s hand in a bead bag are not mentioned. These are not qualities of a devotee — they are tools used to develop the qualities of being a devotee.

It seems like there is always a lot of discussion based on cultural issues about who is a devotee and not much about the 26 qualities so I thought I would mention them.

The hot new movie in the theaters is Avatar.  It has ground breaking computer generated images and that is drawing a crowd even though the plot is said to be pretty derivative.

In the media buzz surrounding its release, a lot of emphasis has been put on how it has an environmentally conscious perspective. Hah!

However environmentally conscious it purports to be, we can see that is only to take advantage of an emerging consciousness about the environment and not a true commitment to the principles of environmentalism.  It is simply pandering to what some people want to hear. They will already get the war pic buffs.

The tipoff that it isn’t real is that they are doing a huge advertising tie in with McDonalds. That’s right, they talk about environmentalism but where the rubber meets the road, money, they are in bed with major animal killer corporation McDonalds.

For those of you who don’t already know that meat eating is worse for the environment than SUVs, check out Vegetarian is the New Prius.

“Ox carts are an important part of Costa Rica’s cultural history. Each year, in March, there is a large parade of ox carts in Escazú, on the outskirts of San José. Last Sunday was Ox Driver’s Day and I was able to watch the parade for the first time in quite a few years. There must have been around 250 carts, some very old, some very ornate. I think I enjoy the bullocks more than the carts themselves; some are huge and very beautiful…”

Read more and see more here Dia del Boyero.

Now winter downs the dying of the year,
And night is all a settlement of snow;
From the soft street the rooms of houses show
A gathered light, a shapen atmosphere,
Like frozen-over lakes whose ice is thin
And still allows some stirring down within.

I’ve known the wind by water banks to shake
The late leaves down, which frozen where they fell
And held in ice as dancers in a spell
Fluttered all winter long into a lake;
Graved on the dark in gestures of descent,
They seemed their own most perfect monument.

There was perfection in the death of ferns
Which laid their fragile cheeks against the stone
A million years. Great mammoths overthrown
Composedly have made their long sojourns,
Like palaces of patience, in the gray
And changeless lands of ice. And at Pompeii

The little dog lay curled and did not rise
But slept the deeper as the ashes rose
And found the people incomplete, and froze
The random hands, the loose unready eyes
Of men expecting yet another sun
To do the shapely thing they had not done.

These sudden ends of time must give us pause.
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
More time, more time. Barrages of applause
Come muffled from a buried radio.
The New-year bells are wrangling with the snow.

Should you eat meat?

by Elizabeth Kolbert

“Americans love animals. Forty-six million families in the United States own at least one dog, and thirty-eight million keep cats. Thirteen million maintain freshwater aquariums in which swim a total of more than a hundred and seventy million fish. Collectively, these creatures cost Americans some forty billion dollars annually. (Seventeen billion goes to food and another twelve billion to veterinary bills.)

“Despite the recession, pet-related expenditures this year are expected to increase five per cent over 2008, in part owing to outlays on luxury items like avian manicures and canine bath spritz. “We have so many customers who say they’d eat macaroni and cheese before they’d cut back on their dogs,” a Colorado pet-store owner recently told the Denver Post. In a survey released this past August, more than half of all dog, cat, and bird owners reported having bought presents for their animals during the previous twelve months, often for no special occasion, just out of love. (Fish enthusiasts may bring home fewer gifts, but they spend more on each one, with the average fish gift coming to thirty-seven dollars.) A majority of owners report that one of the reasons they enjoy keeping pets is that they consider them part of the family.

“Americans also love to eat animals. This year, they will cook roughly twenty-seven billion pounds of beef, sliced from some thirty-five million cows…

“One day while in Berlin, Franz Kafka went to visit the city’s famous aquarium. According to his friend and biographer Max Brod, Kafka, gazing into the illuminated tanks, addressed the fish directly. “Now at last I can look at you in peace,” he told them. “I don’t eat you anymore.”…”

“Foer’s position is that all such arguments are, finally, bogus. We eat meat because we like to, and we devise justifications afterward. “Almost always, when I told someone I was writing a book about ‘eating animals,’ they assumed, even without knowing anything about my views, that it was a case for vegetarianism,” he says. “It’s a telling assumption, one that implies not only that a thorough inquiry into animal agriculture would lead one away from eating meat, but that most people already know that to be the case.”

“What we know about eating animals is that we don’t want to know. Although he never explicitly equates “concentrated animal feeding operations” with the Final Solution, the German model of at once seeing and not seeing clearly informs Foer’s thinking…

“Meanwhile, it could be argued that even a vegetarian diet falls short. As Foer is well aware, some of the animals that suffer most from the factory-farm system aren’t the ones that end up on the table. Most dairy cows spend their lives in sheds, where they are milked two or three times a day by machine. Many develop chronic udder infections…

“But is even veganism really enough? The cost that consumer society imposes on the planet’s fifteen or so million non-human species goes way beyond either meat or eggs. Bananas, bluejeans, soy lattes, the paper used to print this magazine, the computer screen you may be reading it on—death and destruction are embedded in them all. It is hard to think at all rigorously about our impact on other organisms without being sickened.”

“Prabhupäda: Yes. Now what is that bird who is killed in Christmas?
Devotees: Turkey.
Prabhupäda: Turkey, you see. Now, Christmas, God’s Christmas, Jesus Christ. He said, “Thou shalt not kill.” But his birthday is observed by killing, killing, killing, killing, killing.”

“[Circular Letter, Advent-Christmas, 1967] The times are difficult. They call for courage and faith. Faith is in the end a lonely virtue. Lonely especially where a deep authentic community of love is not an accomplished fact, but a job to be begun over and over… Love is not something we get from Mother Church as a child gets milk from the breast: it also has to be given. We don’t get love if we don’t give any.

“Christmas, then, is not just a sweet regression to breast-feeding and infancy. It is a serious and sometimes difficult feast. Difficult especially if, for psychological reasons, we fail to grasp the indestructible kernel of hope that is in it. If we are just looking for a little consolation-we may be disappointed.”

Thomas Merton. The Road to Joy, Robert E. Daggy, editor (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1989): 108.

I have run on about Christmas, its corruption and other aspects, in past Christmas seasons.

For the benefit of any new readers, here are links to previous posts about Christmas:

How Santa Claus Killed Christmas

“How did Saint Nick get transformed into the  Santa Claus we know today?  It was a long trail but he was finally standardized into the image we have today by Coca Cola. He was an ad campaign figure for the the soda for 35 years starting in 1931..”

Christmas Meditation

“Today, eternity enters in time, and time, sanctified, is caught up into eternity…”

Merry Giftmas and Happy Mallidays

“Probably the devolutionary low point of the transformation of Christmas from a spiritual celebration into a consumer orgy…”

What Would Jesus Buy?

“The Shopocalypse is upon us … Who will be $aved?…”

Origins of Christmas

“But our objective is that religion means there is connection, relationship with God. Take, for example, Christian religion…”

Christ (no) mas

“I know the scary Santa pictures are a little weird, but if you have ever raised kids, they are funny :-)…”

Caution – Children Under 9 Should Not Read

“Personally, I think it is a little wierd that a rite of passage for young children is to find out that not only their parents but an entire society has been lying to them…”

Holydays vesus Christmas? Why Is This an Issue?

“Dogmatic Christians are outraged that they aren’t allowed exclusive use of the Winter Solistice to celebrate Christ’s birth…”

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