March 2014


Tulasi — thanks.


Passing away
ever at play
Brahman transformer
spinning maya
inviting all
a game
You are That

From Institute for Contemplative Practice
Throughout history, humankind has strung, counted and worn beads not only as a form of religious devotion, but as an act of meditation to focus the mind, help solve problems, and dispel fear. The use of prayer beads is not a practice recently invented or introduced, but is archetypal in nature, and common to every major faith tradition. This is the third reflection on our path towards self-realization and virtue, meditating on the role of sacred beads in our prayer and faith.
Jewish Tefillin
Judaic practice focuses not on counting rosary beads like other religions, but on wearing the tefillin. The Jewish tefillin is cuboid leather boxes containing prayer straps, upon which are written the Commandments of God. The Jews literally bind the Commandments to themselves when they wrap the straps around their arm and head. This act demonstrates humility in serving God by disciplining and sublimating the desires of the heart, body and mind. The tefillin helps the worshiper to focus within, enabling a humble and uninterrupted contemplation.
Numerology in Judaism is greatly significant. Within the tefillin, the five hollow compartments for parchment inscriptions – four in the leather head box, one in the arm box – represents the number of senses which must be subdued to become closer to God.
When we sit in contemplative prayer and become more aware of our True Self, we see what the Jewish mystical thought holds; that God’s presence lies hidden inside every part of the physical universe. Residing within, transcending the moment and individual desires, and looking at oneself objectively with a view to rectifying mistakes are part of this way of experiencing the connectedness and sanctity of all forms of life.
St. John of the Cross


From the LA Times

HUSTONTOWN, Pa. — Jim Crawford was rushing to load crates of freshly picked organic tomatoes onto trucks heading for an urban farmers market when he noticed the federal agent.

A tense conversation followed as the visitor to his farm — an inspector from the Food and Drug Administration — warned him that some organic-growing techniques he had honed over four decades could soon be outlawed.

“This is my badge. These are the fines. This is what is hanging over your head, and we want you to know that,” Crawford says the official told him.

Crawford’s popular farm may seem a curious place for the FDA to move ahead with a long-planned federal assault on deadly food poisoning. To Crawford’s knowledge, none of the kohlrabi, fennel, sugar snap peas or other crops from his New Morning Farm have ever sickened anyone. But he is not the only organic grower to suddenly discover federal inspectors on his land.

In 2010, after a years-long campaign, food-safety activists persuaded Congress to give the FDA authority to regulate farm practices. The next year, an outbreak of food poisoning that killed 33 people who ate tainted cantaloupes put pressure on the FDA to be aggressive.

Now, farmers are discovering that the FDA’s proposed rules would curtail many techniques that are common among organic growers, including spreading house-made fertilizers, tilling cropland with grazing animals, and irrigating from open creeks.

Suddenly, from small family operations nestled in the foothills of Appalachia to the sophisticated organic-grower networks that serve Los Angeles and San Francisco, the farms that celebrity chefs and food-conscious consumers jostle to buy from are facing an unexpected adversary.

They’re fighting back. Even though full enforcement of the rules is still years away, they are warning customers that some farms would have to close.

“They are going to drive farms out of business,” said Dave Runsten, policy director for Community Alliance with Family Farmers in Davis, Calif.

“The consumer groups behind this don’t understand farming,” Runsten says. “They talk out of both sides of their mouth. They demand these one-size-fits-all regulations, then say, ‘I don’t want to hurt those cute little farmers at the farmers market. I shop at the farmers market.’ It is frustrating.”

Many farmers who take part in the locally grown food movement argue that contamination is a problem of industrial-sized farms and that some of the practices the FDA might ban actually make consumers safer.

Food safety advocates have urged regulators to hang tough. “We don’t believe large facilities are the only place where outbreaks are happening,” said Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington. Farm-to-fork growers, she said, need to accept that emerging strains of E. coli and other bacteria can just as easily seep into the produce sold at a farmers market as into the batches of salad bagged at giant processing plants, and they need to tweak their methods to protect against it.

I am on the Board of Directors for ECOV  and was recently requested to give a brief bio.

According to our website”ECOV is a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to cow protection, local production of food, sustainable housing, alternative energy production and energy conservation. Cow protection includes not sending cows to the slaughter house and letting them live out their lives until a natural death. We are also working towards having active teams of oxen, planting 1000 fruit and nut trees and building earth sheltered low impact housing using recycled or locally produced materials. ”

So applying the filter of what would be relevant to that here goes.

I was raised on a farm. My father put me on a tractor at age 11 in the flat and long fields of North Dakota. By the time I came to New Vrindaban at age  24 I had had my fill of industrial agriculture and wanted to get into a simple living scenario.  In the beginning  I trained a team of oxen, Bala and Deva, and worked the community vegetable gardens.

After a year in 1974 I was approached by the community leaders and asked to take over the field side of agriculture in New Vrindaban. As they wanted to free up labor to work at the Palace I was asked to use tractors and assured it was a temporary situation and we would go back to oxen later. It is now 40 years later and I am still trying to get back there thus supporting efforts to train ox teamsters and oxen and build an ox barn.

In the meantime I have had various services including Purchasing when we had 600 people here and were doing major construction projects many of which  you see  today.  For a couple of year I ran the Finance department of New Vrindaban. I  was also involved in various businesses New Vrindaban did to help support the community, including spending 3 years over a ten year period in New York City.

When I came back from NYC the final time I noted there was zero vegetables being grown in NV and have dedicated a lot of energy to reintroducing growing into NV culture.

I have 5 children and 3 grandchildren and still live in New Vrindaban where I garden, burn wood for heat, support my wife’s crafted gourd business,  and try to enable Srila Prabhupada’s vision for NV of  living simply dependent on the land and the cow.

I have also been keeping a blog  for 8 years that may   give some insight.