March 2012

  •  “Man only likes to count his troubles; he doesn’t calculate his happiness.”
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground
  • “Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
  • “What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.”
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
  • “Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth.”
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment
  • “Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking…”
    Leo Tolstoy
  • “We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.”
    Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
  • “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”
    Leo Tolstoy
  • “When you love someone, you love the person as they are, and not as you’d like them to be.”
    Leo Tolstoy
  • “It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.”
    Leo Tolstoy, The Kreutzer Sonata
  • “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
    Leo Tolstoy
  • “In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.”
    Leo Tolstoy

Yesterday morning my high/low thermometer  recorded 23 degrees (-5 C).  I have been afraid of this, as many fruit trees had already blossomed out and and a hard frost destroys the blooms, ergo no fruit this year.  Fortunately the apples haven’t come out yet, but they are getting cranked up and unless we get some cooler weather they will arrive early this year also.  Our average last frost is May 7th, so we have lots of potential for frost yet.

I had a pear tree and a peach tree in full bloom. I haven’t walked up the hill to check them out yet, but I am pessimistic.   I have two peaches and they bloom one after the other, so maybe one of them will make it.

I have two varieties of bush cherries. The Nanking had already bloomed and dropped its petals before the freeze.  You can see the little pollinized cherries had started to form, thanks to the bees and pollinating wasps that had been working them.  As of last night they were still green so will probably be viable.  It is the period from just before they open until they start to form little fruits that the trees are vulnerable to frost.

The Hanson cherries were showing bud break and color, and the night before the freeze I noted that the next day the early blooms would open, a few per cent of them.  Sure enough after the freeze some did open and I checked their centers which didn’t turn brown.  As most hadn’t opened yet, I am hopeful they will make it yet. Maybe cherry blossoms are naturally better at taking some frost than other fruits, because I know apples will take damage even if not quite open.  The staggered timing of the blooms opening will also be a survival trait for the cherries.

There was definitely some casualties, as the variegated ivy that had started to grow was brown by evening. The butterfly bushes had a lot of emerged foliage and that is all wilted. It shouldn’t affect the bloom as that is not until August.

Most notable was the forsythia.  My wife and I had been mentioning to each other how brilliant the color in the forsythia had been this record setting high temperature  spring weather.  Later she told me another gardener had made the same comment to her.

That is a bit subjective, and after a long gray winter forsythia with its blaze of yellow always is spirit lifting and seems bright, but for some reason it seemed especially bright this spring.

Although it was still yellow, by afternoon it was noticeable that the chroma had been sucked out of it. This morning, out feeding sunflowers to the birds in the last moments before dawn,  it almost has a faint browning to them.   Oh well, we had a great display that lasted about ten days and we are grateful for that, and it may continue for a while yet, but that intensity is gone.  Faded as my youth.

A DEA officer stopped at a ranch in Texas , and talked with an old rancher.

He told the rancher, “I need to inspect your ranch for illegally grown drugs.”

The rancher said, “Okay , but don’t go in that field over there…..”, as he pointed out the location.

The DEA officer verbally exploded saying, ” Mister, I have the authority of the Federal Government with me !”

Reaching into his rear pants pocket, he removed his badge and proudly displayed it to the rancher.

“See this badge?! This badge means I am allowed to go wherever I wish…. On any land !!

No questions asked or answers given!! Have I made myself clear……do you understand ?!!”

The rancher nodded politely, apologized, and went about his chores.

A short time later, the old rancher heard loud screams, looked up, and saw the DEA officer running for his life, being chased by the rancher’s big Santa Gertrudis bull……

With every step the bull was gaining ground on the officer, and it seemed likely that he’d sure enough get gored before he reached safety. The officer was clearly terrified.

The rancher threw down his tools, ran to the fence and yelled at the top of his lungs…..

(I just love this part….)

“Your badge, show him your BADGE…….. ! !”

I was scheduled to have a conference call and the usual conference moderator wasn’t going to be there so I had the moderator’s pass code number to start the call.

Although it was the same call in number we had used for years as we hadn’t used it for a few months I called in the night before to verify it was still working so in case it wasn’t I would have time to make other arrangements. It was fine.

Ten minutes before the conference call, at 1:2o pm, I dialed in and initiated the conference with the moderator’s pass code number in case anyone came early.   Ten minutes went by and no one. Another 5 minutes passed and I was really starting to wonder because this group was always punctual.

I had an incoming call so I used call waiting and took it.  It was one of the members calling and wondering where I was because when he called in at 1:25 pm, no one was there and the auto response told him that the phone number had been changed. He dialed the new number and was able to get in the queue waiting for the moderator to arrive.

Sure enough, I called in again and got the same message he had gotten– that the call in number had been changed although the pass code numbers remained the same. I called the new number, logged in and there were all the members of the conference waiting for me.

That was so bizarre, what are the odds? We use the same number for years and then the very day we go to use it after months of not,  the number changes between 1:20 when I log on and 1:25 when the next member tries.

I had even tried the number the night before to be sure it was working, doing the best I could to assure success, but Krishna decided to have a little joke on me and my illusion that I was the doer and that I could do anything to assure success when He wanted it to not succeed.  Man proposes, God disposes was demonstrated once again.

‘Therefore the statement of Bhagavad-gita that a devotee should see Krsna everywhere (yo mam pasyati sarvatra) can be understood in terms of the example of a lusty man’s thinking that the world is full of beautiful women. Similarly, one should become transcendentally so desirous of seeing the Lord that one can perceive within the entire universe nothing but Krsna and His potency. ”

Srimad Bhagvatam 11.2.45

“When we love God’s will we find Him and own His joy in all things.”

A Merton Reader, ed. by Thomas P. McDonnell, (New York: Image Books, 1989): 65

Psalm 95: 1 “Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD; cry out to the rock of our salvation.”

Contemplative Pause: “Throughout this day, pause, take a breath, and listen with your heart. Name the joy in your life.”

The Merton Institute for Contemplative Living

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

My granddaughter Sydney, Manjari’s daughter,   came for a visit last weekend. One of the activities was going out to pick the early daffodils that were starting to open up.  Later there will be an abundance of blooming flowers but we were just getting the varieties that are the earliest to take to the temple to the Deities.

Sydney got right into it and was as  productive as an adult.  I am sure she would have eventually gotten bored with it but for the time it took us to get what was ready she stayed excited.

Vidya had an early Easter egg hunt since she won’t be here at Easter and there was a full day of other things for Sydney to do as well.

In the evening we went to the local roller skating rink. That is mostly a tween type crowd, and Sydney, at almost 6, was the youngest skater there but that didn’t dampen her enthusiasm.

I know that she will eventually be a great skater because she has balance and determination. She kept at it in a very focused way, and although she would accept a helping hand from time to time, mostly she was pushing herself on her own.  Sshe is not afraid to fall and no matter how many times she went down she got herself back up and kept at it.

I have always said you can learn how to skate and not fall, or you can fall and learn how to skate. She is not afraid to fall.  Falling means you are pushing the edge of the learning curve and that is required if you want to improve.

I had hoped to be able to demonstrate better than I was able to because if you can see someone else can do something, it makes it easier to do it yourself.  The mental barrier of knowing it can be done is breached if you can see someone else doing it.

That is why the principle of association is so important in religious and spiritual life — if you can see someone performing strong sadhana, spiritual practices,  you know it can be done, even if you yourself are struggling to improve.

I was trying to do an aerial but the best I could manage was a 180 degrees, I couldn’t pull the trigger on a full 360, something I used to do routinely.  I just don’t get skating often enough to do some of my old tricks. plus the energy it takes to pull some of them off is lacking.

Still, I was able to do a lot of moves and hopefully  she will have a few memories when she gets older of me being able to skate.

“Our philosophy is that you produce your food anywhere you stay, and keep cows, take milk, produce vegetables, food grains, and chant Hare Krsna. That’s all. This is our philosophy. Make your life successful. By becoming Krsna conscious, you become free from al these troubles of material condition. This is our education.” Srila Prabhupada, Conversations, May 25, 1974

Daiva Varnasrma Ministry (In) unveiled its new publication titled – “Village Life – Our Philosophy, Our Life and Our Education” in an attractive paperback design. The tasty and insightful articles of author – His Holiness Bhakti Raghava Swami draws one to deep topics such as Dharma, Tehnology, Development, Women, Traditional Education, Food, Astrology, Health and Guiding Principles of Rural Communities of Villages.

The central theme of the book reflected through the main essay titled – “Village Life – Our Philosophy, Our Education and Our Lifestyle” draw one attention towards the importance of village living.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

“The basis of ‘Simple Living and High Thinking’, the norm for civilized human beings, lies in the acceptance of village life centered on the performance of sacrifice, yajna, which is born of prescribed duties as delineated in the scientific system of varnas and asramas. Such a social system, being very intimately connected with land, cows and higher consciousness, namely Krsna consiousness, is the most perfect and holistic way to live. When human society, due to neglect, bad leadership or misfortune, all based on lust, anger, greed, illusion, madness and envy, deviates from this established norm, a norm scientifically designed and created by the highest of authorities, Lord Krsna Himself, a system meant to uphold, protect and foster the universal principles of dharma or religiosity, we should know for certain that only chaos will prevail and immense sufferring must follow”.

For devotees interested to collect this valuable piece kindly write to the following id:

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For bulk orders (min 25 copies): Rs80/- Retail price : Rs100/-

your servant,

Bharat Chandra Dasa National Coordinator ISKCON Daiva Varnasrama Ministry (In) email:

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