Monday, February 27, 2006

Kulimela to Be Held In New Vrindaban June 2006

The Kulimela website has been updated and now has more specifics on how the event will unfold Friday, June 16th to Sunday, June 18th in New Vrindaban, West Virginia. There will be pre-event workshops June 14th and 15th. Please see the website for more details.

Interestingly, this is not a New Vrindaban festival per se. It was conceived and organized by gurukulis themselves, who then approached New Vrindaban to host it. There are both on site lodgings available, and also links to find off site motels and cabins in the surrounding area.

A real trend to notice is that with the older gurukulis now entering their forties, the emphasis, while still on the reunion aspect, has shifted, most noticeable in the addition of a Kid's Camp to the event schedule.

This event takes on personal significance for me as my two granddaughters, ages 2 and 6, will be coming in for a visit with their gurukuli parents. Three of my children are gurukulis so they are all coming. Two girls and a boy. One from Colorado, one from Atlanta, Georgia, and one from Columbus Ohio. In this day and age, with flat rate calling plans, we do keep in touch by phone; even the granddaughters usually have something to say. The youngest has grasped the concept of a phone, so vocabulary is the limiting factor. Still, it is nothing like a physical visit. Plus, Manjari is expecting her first child, who is due the end of June, so we will be hosting a baby shower at our house. That will be a family event occurring against the backdrop of the Kulimela.

Of my other two kids, both boys, the youngest will be here, home from college. Marken is in the US Navy, stationed in Italy, so it remains to be seen if he can make it.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Protecting Cows in India

I am in an email discussion group about Cow Protection. The following came though, and I have kindly been given permission to repost it on my blog. Lanbangalatika dasi is located in Raigan, India, where she and her husband have established the Govardhan Trust that gives life time protection to cows.

"It is said that troubles don't come singly but in a battalion. Srila Prabhupada says we don’t pray for misfortune but still it comes so therefore we don’t need to pray for good fortune either. Whatever is due to us will come anyway. And in fact they are just the same good and bad..."


The first event last month was very auspicious at Makara Sankranti when the sun goes to the north and winter begins to get over and the demigods get up from their sleep, ( I believe?). Rosni, young Gir cow had her first calf in the middle of the night. She is a hot tempered aggressive red cow with big horns, I had given her pregnant mother to a very seemingly cow devotee Brahmin doctor neighbour at his request but brought her and calf back a year and half later as I was not satisfied with her care. (Maybe I will become a lizard in a well for taking back a gift to a brahmin) and the calf Rosni was bad tempered. I don't know how the workers over there had treated her, and we tried our best to pacify her but she would always shake her head and want to butt, if tied, and when loose, charge!

The delivery was very fast and easy and we didn’t intervene except to push the calf back to his mother if he fell down away from his mother while trying to get to his feet as the cowshed floor is sloping a bit. We had put down straw and leaves for deep litter for comfort for them. I sat the rest of the night on a bundle of straw and watched them.

The calf drank his fill of colostrum all night and next couple of days and skipped about happily all over. In some places superstitious people don’t allow the calf to drink colostrum or even allow human babies to drink it from their mother's breast. What deprivation and damage to health!! And wonders will never cease.

Madhu our cowherd milked out the excess and she didn’t kick at all. I thought we would never be able to milk this cow. She has become very mellow now. We bred her only because although our herd is big I do think every young cow four or five years old should be allowed to have a calf so her development becomes complete. Otherwise it is not fair. And the change in every cow after delivery is remarkable. They increase in size and become magnificent mothers and the calves of course will remain in our herd for lifetime protection.

Rosni is giving us abundant milk. The 3rd day however, blood appeared in the milk. Yikes! Luckily I practice homeopathy and the infallible remedy for this shocking phenomenon is IPECAC 30 and it worked right away and will work for anyone. (3
doses a day for 3 days,) This blood in milk is considered to be caused by " Naza" or evil eye, nothing serious, just envy, which is there doubtless, and the remedy which we also performed is to burn 7 red chilies with salt near the cow shed after waving it around her.

We give 2 teats to the calf and milk 2 while he is drinking. In some goshallas they leave only one for the calf trying to squeeze maximum milk to fill demand. (Iskcon goshallas even) and the excuse is that the calf will get diarrhea. At times they may get as ours did a few days back, and then we let him have one teat and gave him a bottle of kanci or rice water and ayurvedic medicine. So now he is ok he gets 2 teats again. Of course with the western breeds one teat is quite sufficient for the calf but Indian breed calves should not be deprived like this.

At the same time our local vet asked me to take in an accident case, a calf hit by a vehicle and left outside the door of her office in Roha. The vet has set her broken foot in plaster. Her hip the other side they thought was also broken but she was eating ok but not able to stand. When I brought her home she had maggots in and around hr vagina and on her eyelid. We got rid of those quite fast as they had just begun.

An old cowherd man from a village quite far came and expertly set her dislocated hip right and put a hot iron brand to keep it there. It didn’t seem to bother her. The vet’s plaster was not ok.. The foot was swelling and blood coming out of a hole in it. So it had to be removed which was not easy and he pounded up the sticky bark of a tree, which later hardens, and spread it on a cloth and bound her broken foot with it and tied it up with bamboo splints leaving a big opening for the pus to drain from the deep sore inside and on which we put imli or tamarind powder from the dried bark and covered it over with nirgundi leaves and a light bandage. He made a stand for her with posts and ropes in the middle and a sack for comfort in which we make her stand supported for a few hours to encourage her to put her front feet down on the ground. Very slow progress. We massage her front legs with ayurvedic oil and then hot water. Plus trying homeopathic treatments. She gets to her knees and one now fixed back leg and turns herself over quite frequently but doesn’t get up on her perfectly good front feet. Otherwise she is very jolly and eats very well, for nearly a month now with us.

Then Govinda my Jersey ox, although the herd got vaccinated just 3 months back, got foot and mouth and hardly ate for 4 days except glricidia leaves, not even green grass. It was a mild case. And one more ox got it in his feet only and no more cases. I asked the vet and she said this vaccine covers only one strain of FMD, although she assured me at the time it covers 7 strains and she said that since in this state we have daily 8 hour power cuts the efficacy of the vaccine cannot be guaranteed as it has to be kept refrigerated. So there it is... Also FMD is rampant this year again in villages and their cattle come through our land to the river. We just can’t build a great wall all around and it wouldn’t work any more than will the US
plan to build a great wall across the Mexican border to keep out illegal immigrants. We live among the villages not in an ivory tower and have to face the same problems.

After recovering nicely from foot and mouth Govinda somehow or other got maggots in his ear, deep in the ear too. When he was scratching his ear and shaking his head I thought he had an ear infection and gave him the homeopathic remedy and put some hydrogen peroxide. He seemed to improve but next day on cleaning is ear we found them. This had to be the worst thing that could ever happen. He stopped eating completely and started drooling this thick sticky mucous. When I called the vet she told me to use this awful chemical called Butox , very poisonous but you can’t use turpentine oil in the ear and this stuff doesn’t sting. It has to be diluted so I put it in his ear with a plastic syringe. And we cleaned his ear and maggots came out and we put more Butox on a cotton to kill the rest down there.

But he wasn’t eating and he was rapidly weakening and our vet goes away every weekend to her home elsewhere and her helpers couldn’t do a proper job so I called a friend who used to be head of SPCA in Mumbai and she volunteered to keep him at her place 40 km away and let their local vet, who is very qualified take care of his ear. I took him there in a hired tempo and they took excellent care giving IV calcium and antibiotics etc and after a few days I brought him back, his ear thoroughly cleaned. He has a new life back from the brink. The transport cost a fortune and was difficult on these rough hilly roads.

To crown it all our dog bit a vet’s assistant here. He is vaccinated against rabies but still I had to pay the poor man’s doctor bill. I thought that was to crown it all but now I see there is no limit to adversity and I am bracing for the next crisis. But I am very thankful to Krsna that Govinda's life got saved so timely.

ys Labangalatika dasi

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Maybe Death

Maybe death is like driving on a highway
and coming to a roadblock of blinding flashing lights
but your accelerator sticks and the brakes go soft
so you throw the vehicle into a sideways slide to stop.

The kind of stop you practiced on icy streets
in a small town with a small snow removal budget
so the streets were slick and there was nowhere to go,
nothing to do, with your freshly minted driver’s license.

A uniformed man with blank insignia
and blanker sunglasses suppresses a sneer
as he asks for your license and registration,
then takes them away without a word.

You try to explain but, over his shoulder,
he says open the hood and stay in the car.
So you wait until you smell gasoline
and get out and see a man with vacant eyes

sucking fuel from the disconnected
fuel line with a vacuum pump. Emptied,
you know you are powerless;
the twilight becomes noticeably darker.

Maybe death isn’t what you thought,
in a full sweat amid blurred action
with noise and suddenness and confusion,
then brief harsh pain and collapse in laced boots.

Instead, maybe death is endless visits to doctors
where blood work is ordered, ultrasound,
CAT scan, MRI, biopsy and in a flash
most of your yearly income vanishes.

Knowing that the stack of really cool T shirts
that’s been growing in your closet for years,
saved for special days and occasions,
is what you’ll be wearing every day now.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Ten Offenses to Pizza

(This has been floating around the internet for years, but with the recent discussion of pizza (metaphorically) at the GBC meeting, I thought I'd put it up for those who are interested in pizza literally and may not have heard it yet.)

The Glories of Pizza Prasadam

by Lasagne dasa Vanapasta

"Offering gifts in charity, accepting charitable gifts, revealing one’s mind in confidence, inquiring confidentially, accepting prasada and offering prasada are the six symptoms of love shared by one devotee and another."

Upadesamrita Verse 4

Here are some guidelines for the cooking and honoring of pizza feasts. The ten offenses to be avoided against Pizza Prasadam.

1. To compromise with ingredients because of health or financial considerations, i.e. any olive oils other than extra virgin, other
cheeses then mozzarella or paneer, cheap olives.

2. To commit rasa bhasa or other deviations, like mixing Italian with Indian or other styles; stick to the classical recipes (from la mamma, la nonna, Kurma is ok too).

3. To serve thick crusts, subji toppings, cold or reheated Pizzas.

4. To cook and offer the Pizza to Krishna without AMORE, knowing well that He is the true enjoyer of everything.

5. To preach the glories of Pizza prasadam to the faithless.

6. To have been invited to a Pizza feast and to have eaten before it, thus not being sufficiently hungry to properly honor the

7. To habitually cook Pizza for yourself without wanting to relish the mellows with others, thus not taking advantage of the superexcellent opportunity to uniquely enhance loving exchanges amongst devotees.

8. To stash Pizza for yourself while serving it, or to hope that those you are serving will not eat too much, so that you can enjoy more afterwards.

9. To fail to cook Pizza prasadam for the devotees on occasions when; it is obviously appropriate and auspicious to do so.

10. To serve Pizza without a good salad, some pasta or soup, or without a drink (i.e. lemon or pure grape juice) and sweet.

One who avoids the above offenses will be able to relish ever increasing varieties and quantities of Pizza throughout his life, in spite of the otherwise limiting factors of old age, disease, and high cholesterol.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Another View of the Olympics

From "Glimpsing the Divine Through Sports":

"My teammates and I had just finished cranking out a 9,000-yard workout in the pool... when we heard the official news: the United States would boycott the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow. We were not going.

I was 19 years old and nearing the top of my swimming career. Though the news of our government's decision wasn't a total surprise--rumors had been rampant for months--the finality hit hard. For eight years, I'd spent four hours daily in the pool, run miles upon miles, lifted hundreds of pounds of weights-and endured tortures that would get a coach fired for cruelty today. Yet my future came down to events out of my control. Remember, in 1980 there was no money to be made in competitive swimming, no X-Games, no endorsements. Going to the Olympic Games was the ultimate goal.

I had to search deeply to make sense of it all. For some swimmers, it was too difficult to comprehend, and they took a hiatus from the sport. For me, the boycott became a catalyst for my spiritual quest. I had to find higher meaning in sport itself-not just in the competition and glory. Prior to this, I never gave it much thought beyond the recognition and fun I had with my friends..."

"In that moment, I realized there is a divine spark that can be harnessed and drawn from. I think this is what most highly accomplished athletes feel--strength through grace, the divine through the physical... "

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Another Waiting Room

Today was another waiting room day. Gray industrial carpet, metal frame chairs with easy to clean light cushions, ivory white semi matte paint on the walls. Windowless. Signing in on a clipboard with a list of names, the ones at the top crossed out, then sitting and waiting to be called. The local newspaper spread out on a low table covering some outdated magazines. A TV set tuned in to Regis and Kathy Lee, conversing insipidly about nothing.

Patients come out the door from the exam rooms, avoiding eye contact, handing paperwork to the receptionist, getting lab orders and little appointment cards to take home with them and they leave. New patients walk in and sign the clipboard and sit.

Finally getting called to an exam room, going through weigh in, blood pressure, temperature, and heart rate, all the vitals with the nurse. After not really seeing a doctor for almost 30 years, this routine has become too familiar. I shift the weights on the balance beam of the scale myself because I can do it faster than most nurses. She leaves and more waiting for yet another doctor in a long string of doctors. At least this guy is new to me so I can have a little fun with him while bringing him up to speed, recycle some anecdotes from previous appointments.

He does his thing, and now I am standing in front of the receptionist getting my lab order and appointment card, giving her some pages from previous lab tests ordered by other doctors to copy for my new file here.

I turn to leave and hear a slightly hoarse voice, soft but confident, and turn to look at an old guy, older than I have any realistic expectation of ever being. He is saying, “Nice coat.” I have never seen him before. He is sitting in the same chair I sat in when I came in, his eyes full of life.

I stop and look at him, perhaps a bit too jadedly. Smiling, he repeats himself, “Nice coat”. Well, it is a nice coat. It’s a plush fabric winter one, black, with what looks like snow on it until you realize it’s a picture of a wolf looking directly at you when you see it from the back.

“My daughter gave it to me,” I say. “She travels around a lot so she sees things I never would “. He seems genuinely pleased to hear this so I continue, “My wife has one like it, except the white and black colors are reversed.” I pause for a moment, we exchange nods, and I leave, wondering who was seeing Krishna more clearly in that brief blip in time, him or me. I conclude that it wasn’t even a contest, he was so much more in tune, so much more in harmony than I was, so much in the moment. I will probably never know what name he calls Krishna, but I have no doubt he knows Him.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Another Reason to Not Eat at Fast Food Places

I guess never say never but ethical and moral qualms about the corporate culture that produces fast foods generally keep me from ever eating at those places, even the vegetarian foods. Not to say I never have or never will, but it's been a long time and no visits in the foreseeable future. I can imagine circumstances when I am away from home and pressed for time that I might go and get a baked potato or something. Still, these days, traveling has pretty much become a relic of my past, so no need. I can always make it home and have some kitcherie or a sandwich or whatever.

Even when I was in the hospital last spring, my wife was smuggling in healthy foodstuffs, and when I used to travel, I would take some dried fruit and nuts along to at least get the day off to a healthy start.

Besides the corporate cultural issues, there are also the health issues. Even the shakes are nothing but a concoction of chemicals, the salad dressings are loaded with fat, etc. The following is a link to another angle that even I hadn't thought of.

Fast-Food Ice Dirtier Than Toilet Water:

"Jasmine Roberts never expected her award-winning middle school science project to get so much attention. But the project produced some disturbing results: 70 percent of the time, ice from fast food restaurants was dirtier than toilet water..."

Monday, February 20, 2006

Almonds Are All Right

"It doesn't matter if things are going a little slow; but make everything slow but sure. That is a good principle. To do things hastily and incorrectly is not good. There is a proverb in Bengali sabure mawaphale. This means that all valuable nuts like almonds, macadamias, walnuts, coconuts, etc. all take a long time to fructify. Anything valuable takes a little time to come into existence. Therefore there is no harm in waiting for the best thing. But everything is well that ends well: That should be the principle..."

Letter to: Syamasundara -- Los Angeles 15 July, 1969

A couple of quotes from an article about health benefits of almonds:

"A one-ounce handful of almonds offers heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, the antioxidant vitamin E, protein, fiber, magnesium, potassium, calcium, phosphorous and iron, all in 160 calories. In addition to their nutrition, almonds can play a role in heart health and weight maintenance... "

"A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition last February showed that the same heart-healthy dietary approach including almonds, the Portfolio Eating Plan, was just as effective as first-generation statins in lowering LDL cholesterol below the recommended range for heart disease prevention. The study directly compared statins and the dietary approach for one month..."

Saturday, February 18, 2006

How Many Black Circles?

"Another difficulty is that those who depend more on their imperfect senses cannot realize Him as the Supreme Lord. Such persons are like the modern scientist. They want to know everything by their experimental knowledge. But it is not possible to know the Supreme Person by imperfect experimental knowledge. He is described herein as adhoksaja, or beyond the range of experimental knowledge. All our senses are imperfect. We claim to observe everything and anything, but we must admit that we can observe things under certain material conditions only, which are also beyond our control."

SB 1.8.19

Friday, February 17, 2006

Ox Carts

Prabhupada: So this problem will be solved as soon as we are localized. Petrol is required for transport, but if you are localized, there is no question of transport. You don't require petrol. Suppose in New Vrindaban, we stay, we don't go anywhere. Then where is the need of petrol?
Bhagavan: Petrol they also use for heating. And electricity.
Prabhupada: No, heating. Heating we can do by wood. By nature.
Dhananjaya: I remember, Srila Prabhupada, you were saying that all we require is some oxen, and the oxen can carry.
Prabhupada: Yes. The oxen will solve the problem of transport. That bullock cart. Just like Krsna, when He was transferred from Gokula to Nandagrama, so they took all the bullock carts, and within a few hours they transported them, the whole thing, their luggage, family member, everything.


HIGHLIGHTS: Energy problems will be solved as soon as we are localized...oxen will solve problem of transport...ISKCON should be ideal by practical application

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Ruins of Time

The Ruins Of Time

(Quevedo, Mire los muros de la partia mia and
Buscas en Roma a Roma, (!)O peregrino!)


I saw the musty shingles of my house,
raw wood and fixed once, now a wash of moss
eroded by the ruin of age
turning all fair and green things into waste.
I climbed the pasture. I saw the dim sun drink
the ice just thawing from the boldered fallow,
woods crowd the foothills, seize last summer's field,
and higher up, the sickly cattle bellow.
I went into my house. I saw how dust
and ravel had devoured its furnishing;
even my cane was withered and more bent,
even my sword was coffined up in rust—
there was no hilt left for the hand to try.
Everything ached, and told me I must die.


You search in Rome for Rome? O Traveler!
in Rome itself, there is no room for Rome,
the Aventine is its own mound and tomb,
only a corpse receives the worshipper.
And where the Capitol once crowned the forum,
are medals ruined by the hands of time;
they show how more was lost to chance and time
than Hannibal or Caesar could consume.
The Tiber flows still, but its waste laments
a city that has fallen in its grave -
each wave's a woman beating at her breast.
O Rome! From all your palms, dominion, bronze
and beauty, what was firm has fled. What once
was fugitive maintains its permanence.

(Robert Lowell)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cultured Pearls of Wisdom

This is the disclaimer made by producers of the life-after-death movie called'"What Dreams May Come." ..... "The persons and events in this production are fictitious. No similarity to actual persons, living, dead or REINCARNATED is intended or should be inferred."
If you don't believe in reincarnation, don't worry. You probably will in your next lifetime. Swami Beyondananda
The Chinese may have Tai Chi, but Indians have Chai Tea!
Q: Why do some Hindus ceremoniously walk on fire?
A: To cleanse their soles.
I am one with my duality.
The answers are already within each of us. Good luck matching them with the corresponding questions.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Minister of Defense

One event that took place Super Bowl weekend was selection of inductees for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Reggie White was selected, and everyone knew it was going to happen. He set the NFL career sacks record as a player and was a force of nature when he was on the field. Off the field, he was a Christian minister. The nickname of the "Minister of Defense" was a natural one for him.

I found the following article fascinating, how after football, he was able to move beyond the cultural bounds of religion and explore the realm of true spirituality.

I have included a link to the article, but as Yahoo links go stale, I have also included the article in its entirety.

"DETROIT – He would rise every morning and descend to the basement where an office full of books, translations and lessons waited for Reggie White, his pursuit of knowledge and truth being as ferocious as his running down of quarterbacks.

White, the greatest pass rusher the NFL has ever known, is almost assured on Saturday to be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2006, just over 13 months since dying of arrhythmia at the age of 43.

His expected enshrinement this August is sure to bring White back into the spotlight, flushing the public with memories of his dominating play on the field and his high-profile Christian preaching off of it. But it will also bring to a controversial light the striking conflict between that man and the one who found what he called his greatest victories down in that basement with his nose in an ancient book..."

"But what Reggie White believed and said began to change after retiring in 2000. Ever an insatiable learner, he began to question what exactly his Bible was teaching him, how it was written and where it came from.

So he poured himself into learning not just Hebrew, but how Hebrew was spoken at the time of Christ. He spent six, seven hours a day studying, and he studied so hard that he could eventually take the original Torah, which is what many believe is the original Word of God, and translate it for himself.

What he found changed everything. What he found, he believed, could change everything..."


DETROIT – He would rise every morning and descend to the basement where an office full of books, translations and lessons waited for Reggie White, his pursuit of knowledge and truth being as ferocious as his running down of quarterbacks.

White, the greatest pass rusher the NFL has ever known, is almost assured on Saturday to be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2006, just over 13 months since dying of arrhythmia at the age of 43.

His expected enshrinement this August is sure to bring White back into the spotlight, flushing the public with memories of his dominating play on the field and his high-profile Christian preaching off of it. But it will also bring to a controversial light the striking conflict between that man and the one who found what he called his greatest victories down in that basement with his nose in an ancient book.

Ordained at 17, White earned the nickname "The Minister of Defense" in college, but he didn't believe in ministers in his final years.

White, who used his considerable fame to preach the Bible, didn't believe in the Bible. White, who had his own church in Tennessee (one that was burned to the ground in a likely hate crime), didn't believe in churches.

Oh, he was the same man who believed in living a most wholesome life, of respecting marriage, of respecting life, of a loving family, of being close to his God. He was, by all accounts, more faithful than ever.

But in that basement office in his home in Charlotte, N.C., and in repeated trips to Israel, White found a new version of the truth that seemed to humble him, perhaps frighten him, and make him question everything he once thought and so thoroughly believed.

"Reggie was a person who stood on his beliefs," his widow Sara said. "He was a person that was always solid in what he said, that never backed down. What he believed, he said."

But what Reggie White believed and said began to change after retiring in 2000. Ever an insatiable learner, he began to question what exactly his Bible was teaching him, how it was written and where it came from.

So he poured himself into learning not just Hebrew, but how Hebrew was spoken at the time of Christ. He spent six, seven hours a day studying, and he studied so hard that he could eventually take the original Torah, which is what many believe is the original Word of God, and translate it for himself.

What he found changed everything. What he found, he believed, could change everything.

Sara White marveled at her husband's passion for the truth. She had known Reggie since college and married him when she was just 21, yet he never ceased to amaze her. Here he was each morning, forsaking celebrity golf outings and easy speaking engagements, to spend hours and hours in solitude painstakingly translating Hebrew.

"He would come upstairs and say, 'Did you know, this, this and this?' " said Sara on Thursday, as the faint afternoon light peaked through the stained glass of the old Mariner's Church in downtown Detroit, where she conducted interviews for a forthcoming DVD about Reggie. "He would teach me what he learned. He found, first off, (that the) King James (Bible) was taken out of context, a lot. A lot of words were added. A lot of words were subtracted.

"He found that in the Torah, in Hebrew, things that may have been taken literal shouldn't have been. Some things that were idioms at that time, today people don't understand those idioms because they were their time. Just like in 40 years, people aren't going to understand our idioms.

"(For example) 'I paid an arm and a leg for this shirt.' Guess what, in 40 years they are going to think I paid a literal arm and a literal leg for this shirt. What Reggie understood, and he taught us, is that you have to go back to the way they were living and understand their mindset."

Reggie meticulously translated each word and then put it in context. Sara says he found alarming inaccuracies. Some of it was lost in translations, Hebrew being translated into Greek and then being translated into another language. Some may have been just simple errors, the product of an era before moveable type.

Some were not so honest, Reggie White believed.

"And so, that was what he was getting to – there were so many mistakes in the translations," said Sara while her sister nodded in agreement. "That is why he was so doggone eager to (translate it himself)."

Each day brought new clarity, new opinions and more dismay that so much of what Reggie had once preached he no longer believed. He began to wonder if he had been used and lied to by ministers. He regretted using his fame to raise so much money for various churches he felt weren't true to God.

He felt, he told NFL Films just four days before dying, "prostituted."

"Reggie felt like the churches had become polluted because they were following man's tradition instead of God," Sara said. "We felt like early on, (the) idea (of churches) was right, but then later on it was polluted because now, instead of going with what God was saying, they added to The Word. They added their opinions rather than just reading.

"Now we have preachers preaching their opinion which distorts The Word. It should be (called) opinion churches, or motivational speakers. For our family and for many people who was studying the Torah with us, it created a sense of excitement because now the things we felt uncomfortable (about) in church wasn't our imagination. It was we should have been uncomfortable.

"We should have been uncomfortable with some idols, with some idol worshipping, with people bowing down to the pastor, people putting the pastor on a pedestal."

The change in the White home was dramatic. Reggie discarded all athletic awards that included a statue of a football player, since it was a false idol. His kids' Beanie Babies soon followed. The Whites had never celebrated Easter because it is not in the Bible (they observed Passover), but they have eliminated the celebration of Christmas, too.

"We all knew the Messiah wasn't born on Christmas Day, December 25. We all knew that was just a representation to celebrate his life," Sara said. "But after we started reading how Christmas came about, with the pagan holiday of the sun solstice, then we stopped celebrating Christmas.

"What (they) were trying to do as a traditional church was satisfy the Christians and give them Christmas. When really, in fact, we are worshipping the solstice, the winter solstice; The Word says, 'Don't do it.' "

Perhaps no professional athlete had evangelized more often or more publicly than Reggie White. During his playing days, he preached at every opportunity. He mentored young players. He spoke out against sin. He even had a habit, after mowing over some opposing offensive lineman, to go back, help him up and say, "Jesus loves you."

When he left the Philadelphia Eagles as a free agent in 1993, he said God influenced his decision to sign with the Green Bay Packers, with whom he won a second Defensive Player of the Year award and a Super Bowl.

It is at least some of White's trailblazing that allowed so many Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks to feel comfortable speaking about their faith in the run-up to Sunday's Super Bowl XL. For his entire career, White was the ultimate example of a Christian athlete. He was officially non-denominational, but to Evangelical Christians, he was one of them.

"Reggie gave (people) permission to stand on their faith, whatever faith that was," Sara White said. "It's OK for a man to cry. It's OK for a man to pray. It's OK for a man to love his wife. It's OK for a man to say they are not going out on their wife – that it was OK to be moral and not be crazy.

"He had changed the perspective of people of what a real man is."

Now, in death, Reggie stands at odds with many Christians. Sara says he even stopped calling himself Christian and preferred to be known as "Believer" after studying the Torah. He eschewed any organized religion, but he held on to most of his same convictions.

Reggie's most controversial statement came in 1998 while addressing the Wisconsin Legislature. He declared, "Homosexuality is a decision, it's not a race. People from all different ethnic backgrounds live in this lifestyle. But people from all different ethnic backgrounds also are liars and cheaters and malicious and backstabbing."

There was a major furor. Sara says he never backed down from that stance.

"Oh, no, no, no. That didn't change," she said. "Homosexuality wasn't changed. And let me just tell you about our Wisconsin legislators. They were not as bad as people reported them to be. The media tore that up.

"I believe God allowed that to happen to put some thick skin on Reggie because Reggie was hurt by it. Because he was there, he knew what he said, he knew how it was reported and he is very sensitive. But I think God allowed that to give him thicker skin for where he was going to go. Because where he was going to go was much deeper than that."

The thing that makes religion the ultimate hot-button issue is that almost no one wants to admit what they believe and what they've taught and been taught, or how they've taught or been taught, may be wrong. Throughout history, wars have routinely been fought over this.

And that is what makes Reggie White's journey fascinating to some and frightening to others. Here he was, once the most vocal of his kind, now saying he had been duped. The Bible thumper said the Bible was bunk.

"Reggie was before his time," Sara said. "People were not ready for Reggie. Pastors were not ready for Reggie.

"Pastors were intimidated by Reggie because Reggie knew the truth, and they knew that he knew the truth and they knew a little bit of the truth. But they said their congregation wasn't ready for the truth and they'd lose their congregation.

"So what would that lead to? No money in the church."

James Brown, the Fox Sports broadcaster and a close friend of Reggie White, says the player had plans to build a movie studio to make wholesome, family-based shows. Brown said White dreamed of theme parks. Some of White's other friends claim he was planning to take his message big, that he was just getting started.

It isn't difficult to imagine White's Hall of Fame induction being the start of him proselytizing about a new belief, about all those hours in the basement office.

Sara White isn't so sure. Being wrong had scared Reggie like nothing else.

"He was so fearful because he had taught at a mass scale for so much of his life and he felt he wasn't preaching exactly what The Word said because it was polluted," she said. "But Reggie didn't know it was polluted. (I said) 'You were preaching from your heart, from God. This is what you knew.'

"He said he didn't want to take the chance. He wanted to study until he knew everything. I said, 'Reggie, you'll never know everything. But you know everything on this subject, you have been studying this. Just teach this. Teach one thing at a time.' "

But White wasn't ready. And his time ended before he ever was prepared.

Sara White understands some of these beliefs won't be popular. But she also says she and Reggie and so many others are correct. She trusts her late husband's translations. She trusts his faith.

And her life is not wrapped up in it. She has children to raise and a career to run.

Sara has started a company called "Power of 92" and is selling hats and other items on the website, with proceeds to help former NFL players who don't receive much from the league pension. There is the work-in-progress DVD. Her son is also writing a book about his father.

She is busy. And now, after 13 tough months, Saturday should bring word that her husband is headed to Canton and a day for a long-awaited celebration. But she knows the spotlight is coming with it.

Sara White is not sure what Reggie's old fans will think of what he came to believe before his death. But she isn't hiding it. She is excited that maybe some will question what they have been taught, question their religious institutions and perhaps dedicate themselves to learning Hebrew, the culture of the time and translating The Word themselves.

It is, she believes, one of the good things that can come out of the death of Reggie White.

"God," she said with a slight, knowing nod, "had a plan."

Dan Wetzel is Yahoo! Sports' national columnist. Dan is the author of two new books

Monday, February 13, 2006

Baaa, Baaa, Baaa

Sheep are well known for their tendency to follow the herd. Here is an example of how humans also have that tendency, a fact well known by leaders with agendas.

From "The Science of Hit Songs."

"When Ashlee Simpson tops the charts while a critically acclaimed ex-Beatle's album fails to crack the top 200, eyebrows go up in the marketing world.

So what makes a hit?

A new study reveals that we make our music purchases based partly on our perceived preferences of others..."

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Witch Hazel, an Antidote for Winter

Our witch hazel blooms are curled up tonight as the temperature drops and the snow falls. There are several types of witch hazel, ours being the Hamamelis vernalis. During thaws in January, the buds start to open up, first from the bottom of the bush, then up until the top. If the thaw isn’t long enough for all the blooms to open, it waits until the next one and opens up some more. The flowers are about ½” or a little bigger, so quite small but abundant, looking like little ribbons. They are easy to overlook if casually walking by, but if you take the time to stop and look closely, they are wonderful. The blooms curling up during cold spells is a mechanism that preserves them.

The ten footer we have is almost completely budded out, and will stay that way throughout February. On a warm sunny day it can be quite fragrant, and can be a bit of a mystery if you haven’t noticed the blossoms. It is quite a spirit lifter during the cold and grayest days of the winter, a promise that spring is eventually going to arrive. The small flowers are durable when picked, and are a wonderful offering to make, if the fact that something grown in your community is preferable to some hot house rose flown in from who knows where. If there is more to making an offering than merely flashy visuals, witch hazel would be a must for any temple grounds, even as far North as US horticultural zone 4.

Information about witch hazel.

Friday, February 10, 2006


I happen to be full bloodied Norwegian, though I was born and raised in the United States and have never been to Norway. So, being under the bodily concept as much as I am, recent events have made me curious about what Made in Norway products I could buy. I have been more or less a failure as a consumer, so I had to do a little research. About the only thing I really checked was foods, as I don't feel any need to be accumulating things, but I do still eat regularly.

I came across gjetost, a Norwegian cheese made from goat whey. Technically, it is not a cheese, as it uses no rennet, but it looks like cheese and is used similarly. A variation is also made from cow's whey. After separating the curds from the whey, the whey is put over a heat source and boiled down until the solids carmelize. Another variation is to add some cream to it, which produces the Ski Queen variety of gjetost. This extended cooking was an obvious thing to do when you were going through the long Norge winters and heating with wood, the fire was there anyway. It takes several hours to cook down whey.

It is eaten cut into very thin slices, traditionally on a rye crisp bread. As gjetost is an unpipened cheese, it keeps well and was used by the Vikings on their long sea voyages. I remember trying it once a long time ago, but was unaware of how it was produced, and that was back in the day when rennet was still made from a calf's fourth stomach. Since I wasn't sure if it was made with rennet, I never looked for it again. Since about 1990, animal rennet is not economical for commercial cheesemakers to use, and is even becoming hard to find. Some artisan cheeses, especially from France, still use it.

Article on gjetost.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Lord Varaha's Appearance Day

Today is Lord Varaha’s Appearance Day. Over simplifying the story, even if the earth gets mismanaged into a muddy mess, the Lord will incarnate and save it from the muck and mire. Which is not a justification to live environmentally unsound lifestyles, thinking the Lord will bail you out. It is an extreme example of how, after the inhabitants of the planet suffer grievously for their foolishness, the Lord will intervene to save his handiwork. More efficient that starting from scratch, I guess.

“The floating of the planets in the weightless air is due to the inner constitution of the globes, and the modernized drilling of the earth to exploit oil from within is a sort of disturbance by the modern demons and can result in a greatly harmful reaction to the floating condition of the earth. A similar disturbance was created formerly by the demons headed by Hiranyaksa (the great exploiter of the gold rush), and the earth was detached from its weightless condition and fell down into the Garbhodaka Ocean. The Lord, as maintainer of the whole creation of the material world, therefore assumed the gigantic form of a boar with a proportionate snout and picked up the earth from within the water of Garbhodaka…”

SB 2.7.1

At the risk of offending fundamentalist fanatics, I have included a depiction of Lord Varaha. I hope this doesn’t lead to a boycott of my wife’s crafted gourds.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Butter Cow

We can carve a cow from butter and put it on display in a refrigerated box and stand in wonder of it. We can take the butter from a cow and when she can no longer produce it economically, we can carve the meat from her bones and sell it to subsidize the cheapness of industrial milk. We can benefit from this subsidizing, seeing the cow as merely a source of tongue pleasing foodstuffs, or….

“In the morning we were reading. How they were happy, the inhabitants of Vrndavana with Krsna and living and cows. That I want to introduce. At any cost do it and... Don't bother about big, big buildings. It is not required. Useless waste of time. Produce. Make the whole field green. See that. Then whole economic question solved. Then you eat sumptuous. Eat sumptuously. The animal is happy. The animal even does not give milk; let them eat and pass stool and urine. That is welcome. After all, eating, they will pass stool. So that is beneficial, not that simple milk is beneficial. Even the stool is beneficial. Therefore I am asking so much here and..., "Farm, farm, farm, farm..." That is not my program -- Krsna's program. Annad bhavanti bhutani [Bg. 3.14]. Produce greenness everywhere, everywhere. Vrndavana. It is not this motorcar civilization…”

May 27, 1977, Vrndavana

How to do this, that is the challenge, stipulating in advance that most devotees will live in urban areas. Think “vicarious cow protection”. Some plans for this have been developed, it remains to see who shall become the leader to carry it forward. Now, it appears to be a low priority. Would be nice to live long enough to see some concrete progress made in this area.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer

When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in
the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.

(Walt Whitman)

Monday, February 06, 2006


A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead.

He remembered dying, and that the dog walking beside him had been dead for years. He wondered where the road was leading them. After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight. When he was standing before it he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold. He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side.

When he was close enough, he called out, "Excuse me, where are we?" "This is Heaven, sir," the man answered. "Wow! Would you happen to have some water?" the man asked. "Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up."
The man gestured, and the gate began to open. "Can my friend," gesturing toward his dog, "come in, too?" the traveler asked. "I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept pets."

The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going with his dog. After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. There was no fence.

As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book.

"Excuse me!" he called to the man. "Do you have any water?" "Yeah, sure, there's a pump over there, come on in." "How about my friend here?" the traveler gestured to the dog. "There should be a bowl by the pump." They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it. The traveler filled the water bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog. When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree.

"What do you call this place?" the traveler asked. "This is Heaven," he answered. "Well, that's confusing," the traveler said. "The man down the road said that was Heaven, too." "Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That's hell."

"Doesn't it make you mad for them to use your name like that?"

"No, we're just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind."

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Deity of Pittsburgh

I will not be posting tomorrow as it is Super Bowl Sunday, which is a major religious festival in the USA. Everything grinds to a halt, as even the most casual fan turns their attention to the biggest game of the year. It is a cultural event of major proportions. Worshipping at the altar of a game, paying homage to highly paid professionals battering each other to get a piece of pig's skin over a white line. Studying every detail of their lifes. Each team's fans totally reveling in the expectation leading up to, and then the event itself, tying their future happiness to the outcome. Ah, the lure; I am weak and fall under the spell.

Like Karl Marx said, "Football is the opiate of the masses." See ya Monday.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Wasp Performs Brain Surgery

No, this is not a WASP (White Anglo Saxon Protestant(like Bush)) being a surgeon instead of a politician. Nor is it a metaphorical anthropomorphic device to describe cheating cultlike leaders. It is about a real insect type wasp.

Wasp performs roach-brain-surgery to make zombie slave-roaches

"Ampulex compressa is a wasp that has evolved to tackle roaches, insert a stinger into their brains and disable their escape reflexes. This lets the wasp use the roach's antennae to steer the roach to its lair, where it can lay its egg in it..."

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Thunderstorms and Crows

We are already into the second month of 2006. A mild January slips into memory, marked by 3 days with thunderstorms. The normal occurrence of thunderstorms in West Virginia in January is zero. On average it happens once every 10 years. So 3 is significant. Not that it will be as memorable as the harsh winters of 1976 or 1977, or the flood of 1996, but notable for sure. Other Januarys were memorable for events not related to the weather, but they tend to be more personal or shared by a group, whereas the weather is something that everybody in an area had a common experience with.

The crows have found the bird feeder, so that is getting to be a problem. They chase off the songbirds and gobble everything up. They leave if you chase them, but they go off to some nearby tree and watch, knowing that soon you will be gone or back in the house. Then they return. Crows and crow-like mentalities are one of those facts of life that keep reminding us that this life is far from perfect. Of the 2 the crows bother me less. They are bound by instinct to be the way they are. The others have free choice and consciously choose to act the way they act, often driven by an overwhelming sense of self-righteousness. Religious crow-likes are the worst, IMHO. Oh well, what can you do?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Gurukulis in the Military

Bhima is a gurukuli who lived in New Vrindavan. He is the son of Sankara and Dhanakali. He was the youngest of five kids, Chaits being the oldest. He has choosen a career path in the military as a search and rescue specialist. He has had postings all over the world and is currently serving with the Alaskan Air National Guard. Recently he had some notice in the Anchorage Daily News about one of the rescues he participated in.

"After circling for hours over socked-in Bear Lake Glacier on Monday, the helicopter carrying Alaska Air National Guard pararescuer Ben Walker finally caught a break in the weather, dropped in and lowered Walker and his partner to the deep powder snow..."

Complete Article