January 2011

It’s been white here. Some recent pics.

White isn’t the only color on our minds though.

“In krsna-lila the Lord’s complexion is blackish. Holding a flute to His mouth, He enjoys as a cowherd boy.”

Caitanya caritamrta Adi 17.302

“Lord Krsna also appears with a golden complexion. That golden Lord Krsna is Lord Caitanya, who is worshiped by intelligent men in this age.”

Srimad Bhagvatam 11.5.32

Krishna is black. Lord Chaitanya is gold.

Go Black and Gold!


I am thy grass, O Lord!
      I grow up sweet and tall
But for a day; beneath Thy sword
     To lie at evenfall.

Yet have I not enough
     In that brief day of mine?
The wind, the bees, the wholesome stuff
     The sun pours out like wine.

Behold, this is my crown;
     Love will not let me be;
Love holds me here; Love cuts me down;
     And it is well with me.

Lord, Love, keep it but so;
     Thy purpose is full plain;
I die that after I may grow
     As tall, as sweet again.

I can still remember the first time I ever heard the George Harrison recording of “My Sweet Lord”. I was hanging out  in Amsterdam for a couple of months. As memory serves me, it was in a kracked house (squatters taking over an abandoned building). Going out from the Dam Square it was after crossing the first canal and then a left and about half way down the block.

Somebody had visited London and came back with a copy before it hit the local stores and we sat in a room and listened to it and it hit me like a wall of ecstatic bricks.

Later at the end of the block and take a right the devotees opened up the first temple in Amsterdam. Before that they had been having Sunday programs in a school building out in the suburbs somewhere. I had first met them at the Cosmos about which enough said and been invited to the program at the school which I had attended.

Decades later I heard a remix version by Nina Hagen and it was almost like hearing it for the first time again.

Here is a laid back cool version of My Sweet Lord:

There are a lot of versions out there. Here is  one from the 1950s:

And from the serendipity side of My Sweet Lord:


‘Only an empowered personality can distribute the holy name of the Lord and enjoin all fallen souls to worship Krsna. By distributing the holy name of the Lord, he cleanses the hearts of the most fallen people; therefore he extinguishes the blazing fire of the material world. Not only that, he broadcasts the shining brightness of Krsna’s effulgence throughout the world. “

Chaitanya Charitamrta, Madhya 25.9

This is a real photo, no Photoshopping or any digital manipulation whatsoever. I saw this last summer and grabbed my camera and snapped it. It was actually happening just like this.

While my first inclination was to take it as a miraculous thing, and maybe it was, I know my level of realization isn’t such that I would be treated to that sort of thing so I went over to the kitchen door and saw what caused it.

There in the garden was a window used for the top of a cold frame which had been removed and was leaning against it.  The time of the year, with the sun in its position relative to North, the time of the day, the angle of the leaning window, the position of the movable  cold frame in the garden so the reflected ray would pass through the kitchen door window, that it was sunny and not cloudy at the time of alignment, the angle the reflected light hit the hanging photo to be re-reflected off the ceiling  — everything had to be so precise that if I had wanted to do this I would never have been able to and will never be able to duplicate it.

That I happened to be in the house during the minute or two that everything lined up to get this shot, again, what were the odds?

I can say that it does  represent what my sentimental side feels about Srila Prabhupada and I felt really blessed to have experienced such an external manifestation of that.

Who’s to say what is a miracle, even if it can be explained scientifically?

Draft Ver. 1.3 –

Pancharatna dasa,  November 13, 2010

There is no getting around it. For dairy farmers to be competitive in today’s market, practically every cow that enters their farm will leave for the slaughterhouse. Only by selling their newborn male calves and older cows (generally around 12 years old – with an average of 8 years left to their lives) to meat producers can they afford to sell milk at current market prices of about $1-2 per gallon wholesale.

In a protected cow farm the cost per gallon of milk would be at least six times the cost of industrial milk (more later on how this is calculated) When we buy industrial milk we should always remember that the price we are paying has been subsidized by the blood of the cows that have produced that milk and their offspring.

What is a devotee of Krishna to do? Of course, the best option would be to only purchase milk and milk products from protected cows. Unfortunately, this is rarely available today even if we are willing to pay the real cost. Another sensible solution is to simply become vegan and forego milk products altogether, except for what we need to offer to Sri Krishna and that daily cup of hot milk Srila Prabhupada recommends. Again, for a variety of reasons, many devotees find this option unsatisfactory.

There is a third option — industrial milk offsets.

These are just like the carbon offsets purchased by environmentally conscious consumers to offset the excess carbon produced by their regular consumption (driving a car, using electricity, etc.). The goal is to neutralize the negative effects of using carbon producing energy by supporting positive carbon reducing activities like planting trees, building windmills, etc.

In the same way, devotees of Krishna can offset the disastrous effects of cow slaughter connected to the milk they purchase by contributing towards cow protection the amount they should have paid for those products had they been produced by protected cows.

For example, a typical vegetarian family will consume nearly 3 gallons per week of milk in the form of both milk and milk products (yogurt, cheese, butter) with a weekly cost of about $20. If all those products were purchased from a protected cow farm, the cost would be nearly $70 (we’ll get to our calculations soon). So, to offset the negative effect of the meat industry’s subsidies, the difference of $50 (in cash or kind) is contributed to a cow protection development program.

The industrial milk offsets system accomplishes two important goals. First industrial milk offsets can enable the development of a viable protected cow products market, by investing in protected cow farms which can replace the commercial products. Secondly, it prepares cow loving consumers to pay the real price of their treasured milk products as they become available from protected cow farms – without paying any more than they are already.

Now for the calculations.

Basically, to keep a guaranteed supply of milk a farm needs to breed one cow every year (well taken care of cows can give milk for several years, but the supply nearly always drops off after the first year). To keep this going the farm needs to maintain 20 animals altogether, breeding each cow no more than two calving cycles (we don’t want the herd to grow unmanageably). Statistically, 10 (50%) will be male, 4 (20%) will be milking cows in different years of lactation, 3 (15%) will be heifers, too young to breed and 3 (15%) will be retired cows. Altogether this family of cows is expected to give about 7 gallons of milk per day.

Currently, in the New Raman Reti Farm in Florida, where I live, it costs about $1000 per year to take care of a cow. This includes hay, grains, minerals, veterinary care, worming, hoof trimming, pasture maintenance (fence repairs, water tanks, fertilization, mowing), tractor maintenance and diesel fuel. This does not include any carrying costs for the land required (about two acres per cow), capital costs for barns, etc., or any payment to the volunteers who look after them. A milking cow would require about $500 a year more for special feed, etc. So, altogether the cost of maintaining 20 cows and milking four of them, in NRR would be $22,000 per year which works out to be about $8.60 per gallon of milk.

In a private farm, where the farmers are supporting themselves through protecting the cows and growing agricultural products, we have to add the land and infrastructure costs and the personal income needs of the farmer while subtracting the value of the manure and income from agricultural products (vegetables, etc.). This is a difficult number to estimate but at a minimum, we should calculate the labor cost at $30 per day for milking and looking after the herd. This adds an additional $4.30 per gallon or just under $13 per gallon total. This is assuming that the rest of the income requirements of the farm are met through agricultural products (products grown with ox power should also fetch a premium amongst the cow loving community).

Naturally, there are many variables that can affect all of these costs. For example, abundant rain would offset the need for purchasing hay as would the growing of fodder crops with ox power. Still, the mathematics is inescapable. If it costs nearly $1 -2 per gallon (current wholesale prices) to produce industrial milk by using factory farming techniques and forgoing the care and protection of 90% of the cows involved than the real cost per gallon, if those same cows were protected, must be in the range of $12-$14 minimum.

Of course, it’s a big step to go from paying an average of $3 to $12 per gallon or from $80 per month to $280 per month. Naturally, protected cow milk products are going to be more valuable and thus less consumed. That’s why, at our New Raman Reti Save the Cow program we recommend starting off contributing whatever you can (and cutting back on industrial dairy products where practical). Contributing to cow protection can, of course, take many forms including a vacation and spending time donating labor at a devotee farm with cows, educating others about milk offsets, etc.

Just imagine if all the members of ISKCON were to adopt a policy of industrial milk offsets. Within a short time, there would be sufficient funding to invest in startup protected cow farms with an already primed and developed market for both their dairy and agricultural products at their real costs.

Just as if everybody went carbon neutral by purchasing carbon offsets it could save our environment, purchasing industrial milk offsets is the most sustainable and progressive way at this time to expand cow protection.

(PhysOrg.com) — The eyes of moths, which allow them to see well at night, are also covered with a water-repellent, antireflective coating that makes their eyes among the least reflective surfaces in nature and helps them hide from predators in the dark. Mimicking the moth eye’s microstructure, a team of researchers in Japan has created a new film, suitable for mass-production, for covering solar cells that can cut down on the amount of reflected light and help capture more power from the sun.

In a paper appearing in Energy Express, a bi-monthly supplement to , the open-access journal published by the Optical Society (OSA), the team describes how this film improves the performance of photovoltaic modules in laboratory and , and they calculate how the anti-reflection film would improve the yearly performance of solar cells deployed over large areas in either Tokyo, Japan or Phoenix, Ariz.

“Surface reflections are an essential loss for any type of photovoltaic module, and ultimately low reflections are desired,” says Noboru Yamada, a scientist at Nagaoka University of Technology Japan, who led the research with colleagues at Mitsubishi Rayon Co. Ltd. and Tokyo Metropolitan University.

The team chose to look at the effect of deploying this antireflective moth-eye film on solar cells in Phoenix and Tokyo because Phoenix is a “sunbelt” city, with high annual amount of direct sunlight, while Tokyo is well outside the sunbelt region with a high fraction of diffuse .

They estimate that the films would improve the annual efficiency of solar cells by 6 percent in Phoenix and by 5 percent in Tokyo.

“People may think this improvement is very small, but the efficiency of is just like fuel consumption rates of road vehicles,” says Yamada. “Every little bit helps.”

Yamada and his colleagues found the inspiration for this new technology a few years ago after they began looking for a broad-wavelength and omnidirectional antireflective structure in nature. The eyes of the moth were the best they found.

The difficulty in making the film, says Yamada, was designing a seamless, high-throughput roll-to-roll process for nanoimprinting the film. This was ultimately solved by Hideki Masuda, one of the authors on the Energy Express paper, and his colleagues at Mitsubishi Rayon Co. Ltd.

The team is now working on improving the durability of the film and optimizing it for many different types of . They also believe the film could be applied as an anti-reflection coating to windows and computer displays.

More information: Paper: “Characterization of antireflection moth-eye film on crystalline silicon photovoltaic module,” Noboru Yamada, Toshikazu Ijiro, Eiko Okamoto, Kentaro Hayashi, and Hideki Masuda, Optics Express, Vol. 19, Issue S2, pp. A118-A125. Available at: http://www.opticsi … -19-102-A118

It’s late fall and the Indians on a remote reservation in South Dakota asked their new chief if the coming winter was going to be cold  or mild.

Since he was a chief in a modern society, he had never been taught the old secrets. When he looked at the sky, he couldn’t tell what the winter was going to be like.

Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, he told his tribe that the winter was indeed going to be cold and that the members of the village should collect firewood to be prepared.

But, being a practical leader, after several days, he got an idea. He went to the phone booth, called the National Weather Service and asked, ‘Is the coming winter going to be cold?’

‘It looks like this winter is going to be quite cold,’ the meteorologist at the weather service responded.

So the chief went back to his people and told them to collect even more firewood in order to be prepared.

A week later, he called the National Weather Service again. ‘Does it still look like it is going to be a very cold winter?’

‘Yes,’ the man at National Weather Service again replied, ‘it’s going to be a very cold winter.’

The chief again went back to his people and ordered them to collect every scrap of firewood they could find.

Two weeks later, the chief called the National Weather Service again. ‘Are you absolutely sure that the winter is going to be very cold?’

‘Absolutely,’ the man replied.  ‘It’s looking more and more like it is going to be one of the coldest winters we’ve ever seen.’

‘How can you be so sure?’ the chief asked.

The weatherman replied, ‘The Indians are collecting a boatload of firewood’

“This first stage is technically called sadhana-bhakti, or devotional service in practice. The result of sadhana-bhakti must be ecstatic love, attachment for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, which is also called prema-bhakti. In the neophyte stage, sadhana-bhakti includes faith, association with devotees, and practicing devotional service. Thus one is freed from all unwanted things. One then becomes fixed in devotional service and increases his desire to act in devotional service. Thus one becomes attached to the Lord and His devotional service.”

Chaitanya Charitamrta,  Madhya 8.68

“…all prayer, reading, meditation and all the activities of the monastic life are aimed at purity of heart, an unconditional and totally humble surrender to God, a total acceptance of ourselves and of our situation as willed by him. …Purity of heart is then correlative to a new spiritual identity – the “self” as recognized in the context of realities willed by God…”

Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer (New York: Image Books, 1971) 68

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