Friday, March 31, 2006

Rumors of My Demise Are Greatly Exaggerated

"In due course of time, when the body becomes old and practically invalid, it is subject to jara, the sufferings of old age. There are four basic kinds of suffering -- birth, old age, disease and death. No scientist or philosopher has ever been able to make a solution to these four miserable conditions. The invalidity of old age known as jara is figuratively explained here as the daughter of Time. No one likes her, but she is very much anxious to accept anyone as her husband. No one likes to become old and invalid, but this is inevitable for everyone..."

SB 4.27.19

My wife is gone this weekend to the Indiana gourd Show, about 6-7 hours from here, to sell her crafted gourds. We have been going to that show for more than 10 years. We have also been going to the Ohio Gourd Show for about 15 years. Over that time, we have become friends with a lot of other gourd crafters and raw gourd sellers who are regulars at the two shows. Even only seeing them twice a year, over time, a sort of community of gourders has developed. They are generally very nice people, more mode of goodness types, tend to be religious, no intoxication, all that. Even a few other vegetarians, and the gourd banquets they have usually have a vegetarian option. Salt of the earth types.

I don’t have the juice to go much anymore, so my wife has been going to Indiana alone for the last few years. We have a friend there who is a vegetarian so they set up next to each other and watch each other’s booths if one steps away for a while. There are lots of interesting things to see so they take turns during slow times looking around at the other booths. They also share a motel room to save on expenses. This makes my being there less necessary. I have still been going to the Ohio show, and the gourders know me, so they are aware of my condition.

Still, it was a bit of a surprise to my wife when she arrived at the show to set up, and one of our friends, Helen, came up to her and very compassionately said, “I am sorry to hear that Mark (that’s me) passed.” My wife was a little puzzled and said “What?” to which Helen replied, “He passed away.” Somehow, the rumor had started and gone all around that I had died.

My wife was quite amused by this, probably not the reaction most people would have expected. We do have a sort of running gag about dying, gallows humor as it is called, that may seem a little odd or even callous to others, and this fit right in. When I called her at the motel tonight, we had a good chuckle about it. I told her to tell people tomorrow the famous quote (the attribution escapes me at the moment), “Rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated.”

Thursday, March 30, 2006

When the Frogs Have Croaked Three Times...

"While in the water they sometimes formed one circle and sometimes many circles, and while in the water they used to play cymbals and imitate the croaking of frogs..."

Madhya 14.77

The frogs in the silted in stock pond down below our house have been croaking the last few days. They came out of the mud the first time in the middle of March during a brief warmup, but then the temperature dropped and has been pegged at about 10 degrees (6 deg C) below normal until recently so they went silent. So this is the second time they are croaking. According to the oldtimers, when the frogs have croaked three times, spring will have arrived. Which is about right, as we will probably get another bit of weather cold enough to quiet them up before winter finally concedes.

The forsythia showed color the first time they sang, even some odd blooms, then went into like a freeze frame until this warmup where they are bursting into full bloom. The early daffodils are blooming as well, and life is stirring all around.

Normally I would be hauling compost into my garden with my truck, and finishing up replenishing the woodpile so next winter's fuel would be fully cured by the time it will be needed. Not this year-- in fact, I just donated the truck to ISCOWP, the Krsna centered cow protection program that is located a mile out the private lane that passes through my land. It needs a bit of maintenance to get it into good operating condition. Since I don't have the money to do so, can't really use it anyway, and the cost of keeping it insured is not going to be recovered operating it, it was only my sentimental attachment that was lobbying to keep it. It is so bound up with my previous personna that giving it up is both literally and symbolically closing a chapter in my life.

Plus, since my wife has been pushing to get more of the garage space to use for her gourd business, all the stars were lined up against me.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

“The Burning Truck” by Les Murray

for Mrs. Margaret Welton

It began at dawn with fighter planes:
they came in off the sea and didn't rise,
they leaped the sandbar one and one and one
coming so fast the crockery they shook down
off my kitchen shelves was spinning in the air
when they were gone.

They came in off the sea and drew a wave
of lagging cannon-shells across our roofs.
Windows spat glass, a truck took sudden fire,
out leaped the driver, but the truck ran on,
growing enormous, shambling by our street-doors,
coming and coming ...

By every right in town, by every average
we knew of in the world, it had to stop,
fetch up against a building, fall to rubble
from pure force of burning, for its whole
body and substance were consumed with heat
but it would not stop.

And all of us who knew our place and prayers
clutched our verandah-rails and window-sills,
begging that truck between our teeth to halt,
keep going, vanish, strike ... but set us free.
And then we saw the wild boys of the street
go running after it.

And as they followed, cheering, on it crept,
windshield melting now, canopy-frame a cage
torn by gorillas of flame, and it kept on
over the tramlines, past the church, on past
the last lit windows, and then out of the world
with its disciples.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Leaving My Car Body

"It can be said that a person sitting in his car is certainly different from his car, but if there is damage to the car, the owner of the car, being overly attached to the car, feels pain. Actually, the damage done to the car has nothing to do with the car's proprietor, but because the proprietor has identified himself with the interest of the car, he feels pleasure and pain connected with it..."

SB 5.10.22

Today I emptied out my truck, my ugly little truck that I have been driving for 11 years, and dug the title paper out of the files. It is a 1986 Mazda B2000. When I first got it, I could haul 3 devotee kids, Tulasi included, in the little seats in the extended part of the cab and another in the front seat on the way to soccer practice. Now, they’ve grown, and only one of them would be uncomfortable and scrunched up back there. I’ve replaced parts on it, done really bad body work on it – like pop riveting pieces of tin in rusty holes, and wire brushing and painting little spots of beginning rust. It was a beige truck at birth, so I would find a can of spray paint as close as possible, and spray it where needed. It is surprising how many different shades of tan and beige there are. Over the years it has began to resemble desert camouflage.

One of the spots I had to clean up and paint is a slight dent in the front left quarter panel above the wheel well. I was teaching Marken how to drive a stick shift. We were in a pasture gathering firewood and on his way out going up an incline he spun the wheels and killed it. In order to get another run at it, I had him back down to a level spot to get more momentum to so we could overcome gravity before it had a chance to lose traction. On the way down, he was only looking backwards, the direction he was heading, and swung the front end of the truck into a utility pole. It wasn’t enough to effect a safety inspection, and since it was only cosmetic, I cleaned up the loose paint and got out the spray can. Remember him whenever I happen to notice the dent.

I took out the tools that I have been hauling around all these years. The hammer, the little toolbox with the basics plus some fencing staples for emergency repairs, a fold up pruning saw, a hand pruners, tape measure and a Wonder Bar for prying and removing nails. I carried a set of jumper cables, a nylon towrope, some coiled regular rope, cloth rags and some garbage bags. In the glove box I kept band-aids, matches, air pressure gauge and latex gloves in case I came up on an accident.

By now you may have guessed I will be returning to this theme of my truck but enough for today.

Monday, March 27, 2006

155 Channels and Nothing On

"In technological society, in which the means of communication and signification have become fabulously versatile, and are at the point of an even more prolific development, thanks to the computer with its inexhaustible memory and its capacity for immediate absorption and organization of facts, the very nature and use of communication itself becomes unconsciously symbolic. Though he now has the capacity to communicate anything, anywhere, instantly, man finds himself with nothing to say. Not that there are not many things he could communicate, or should attempt to communicate. He should, for instance, be able to meet with his fellow man and discuss ways of building a peaceful world. He is incapable of this kind of confrontation. Instead of this, he has intercontinental ballistic missiles which can deliver nuclear death to tens of millions of people in a few moments. This is the most sophisticated message modern man has, apparently, to convey to his fellow man. It is, of course, a message about himself, his alienation from himself, and his inability to come to terms with life."

Thomas Merton, 1915 - 1968

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Logic As Too Commonly Used

(I realize this wouldn't have a broad appeal, but I am amused by it so please indulge me. Click at bottom of post to see the whole thing. P is a stand in for any premise someone is trying to prove.)

Proofs that p

Davidson's proof that p:
Let us make the following bold conjecture: p

Wallace's proof that p:
Davidson has made the following bold conjecture: p

As I have asserted again and again in previous publications, p.

Some philosophers have argued that not-p, on the grounds that q. It would be an interesting exercise to count all the fallacies in this "argument". (It's really awful, isn't it?) Therefore p.

It would be nice to have a deductive argument that p from self- evident premises. Unfortunately I am unable to provide one. So I will have to rest content with the following intuitive considerations in its support: p.

Suppose it were the case that not-p. It would follow from this that someone knows that q. But on my view, no one knows anything whatsoever. Therefore p. (Unger believes that the louder you say this argument, the more persuasive it becomes).

I have seventeen arguments for the claim that p, and I know of only four for the claim that not-p. Therefore p.

Most people find the claim that not-p completely obvious and when I assert p they give me an incredulous stare. But the fact that they find not-p obvious is no argument that it is true; and I do not know how to refute an incredulous stare. Therefore, p.



My argument for p is based on three premises:
1. q
2. r
3. p

From these, the claim that p deductively follows. Some people may find the third premise controversial, but it is clear that if we replaced that premise by any other reasonable premise, the argument would go through just as well.

Sellars' proof that p:
Unfortunately limitations of space prevent it from being included here, but important parts of the proof can be found in each of the articles in the attached bibliography.

There are solutions to the field equations of general relativity in which space-time has the structure of a four- dimensional Klein bottle and in which there is no matter. In each such space-time, the claim that not-p is false. Therefore p.

Zabludowski has insinuated that my thesis that p is false, on the basis of alleged counterexamples. But these so- called "counterexamples" depend on construing my thesis that p in a way that it was obviously not intended -- for I intended my thesis to have no counterexamples. Therefore p.

Outline Of A Proof That P (1):
Saul Kripke
Some philosophers have argued that not-p. But none of them seems to me to have made a convincing argument against the intuitive view that this is not the case. Therefore, p.
(1) This outline was prepared hastily -- at the editor's insistence -- from a taped manuscript of a lecture. Since I was not even given the opportunity to revise the first draft before publication, I cannot be held responsible for any lacunae in the (published version of the) argument, or for any fallacious or garbled inferences resulting from faulty preparation of the typescript. Also, the argument now seems to me to have problems which I did not know when I wrote it, but which I can't discuss here, and which are completely unrelated to any criticisms that have appeared in the literature (or that I have seen in manuscript); all such criticisms misconstrue my argument. It will be noted that the present version of the argument seems to presuppose the (intuitionistically unacceptable) law of double negation. But the argument can easily be reformulated in a way that avoids employing such an inference rule. I hope to expand on these matters further in a separate monograph.

Routley and Meyer:
If (q & not-q) is true, then there is a model for p. Therefore p.

It is a model theorem that p -> p. Surely its possible that p must be true. Thus p. But it is a model theorem that p -> p. Therefore p.

P-ness is self-presenting. Therefore, p.

If not p, what? q maybe?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Once You Set Your Hand to the Plow...

Luke 9:62 (NEB) To him Jesus said, "No one who sets his hand to the plow and then keeps looking back is fit for the kingdom of God."

Well, I don’t know about entering the kingdom, or Vaikuntha as some call it. I will probably have to get a mercy exemption. I do know about plowing. I used this metaphor to explain to the psychiatrist at UPMC that if I commit to the transplant process, I will adhere to all the post operative protocols

The thing with plowing is all the decisions and research is done before plowing begins. What to plant, where to plant it, when in theory, and when the soil conditions are right to actually plow. Getting your source of traction, type of plow, sufficient fuel – all those things.

Once you start though, as you make the first pass, in order to get a straight furrow (which has practical value, and is a point of honor amongst farmers), you can't look back. You totally have to focus on lining up and looking forward. You need to be totally committed.

From personal experience, I grew up on tractors rather with animal traction, and plowed fields 1/2 mile long. The land had been divided into grids prior to settlement so it is very orderly. We would pace in from one side of the field and set a flag you could see from the other end, then go there and pace in an equal amount. This would be the starting point. Once you started, any lack of focus would turn into a wiggle in the furrow. You would line up the radiator cap at the front of the tractor with the flag and totally keep them in alignment the entire way.

Another problem is curvature of your eyeball -- you don't see the flag where it actually is. Even if you keep the cap and flag lined up, at the end of the field, you will see a smooth, but slightly curved furrow.

In order to keep a straight furrow, you would pick a third point, on the horizon, and keep all three points aligned. If you did this, as you plowed through the field, you would find yourself seemingly constantly making incremental changes to keep the 3 points in alignment, but at the end, the furrow would be straight.

You couldn't look back, both from the aspect of not being able to unplow a field, and the straightness of the plowing. Agricultural concepts are alien to modern cultures, so this may be theoretical to most, but in Jesus’ time, people understood his meaning. In the devotee’s cosmology, Balarama carries a plow, and the bull, who pulls the plow, is Dharma.

We need to pay close attention to our daily lives, the immediacy of where we are. We also should keep in mind that which is front of us, both within our lives (the flag at the other end of the field) and our relationship to God and broader society, the point on the horizon.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Kulimela Band; Psychiatric Callback.

Chaits sent a link to a band's website. They will be playing at the Kulimela June 16 - 18. They were raised in New Vrindavan, though they haven't lived here for quite some time.

I had a follow-up visit in Pittsburgh at UPMC yesterday. It was a callback by a psychiatrist. As part of the original 4 day screening, I had had a meeting with one already, and thought it had gone well, so the callback made me nervous. Had I joked around too during the seemingly endless stream of interviews representing all the facets of the transplant team? Had I talked too much about the temporary nature of the body? Was it something I said about having lived a full life and everything from here out was just extra anyway?

Actually, it was none of that. Turns out it was a routine callback that most patients get, they just hadn’t mentioned it was going to happen. It was mainly about compliance with postoperative protocols. Not treating infections casually, immediately reporting any change in status, coming in for all the follow-up blood work. That sort of thing; especially important was taking all the pills as scheduled. For the rest of a transplant patient’s life, really, adherence is not option. Since livers are scarce, they don’t want to waste one on somebody who will lose determination. They didn’t say that about the scarce livers, but for every 4 patients who come off the list by getting a transplant, 1 goes off by the sould leaving the body while waiting and not receiving one. so it is easy to read between the lines. Of course, all my readers are registered donors, right?

Anyway, not much I can do about supply. (Irony alert! Irony alert!) Though getting involved in a group working for the repeal of motorcycle helmet laws could help, assuming they get what they want.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Why Is This Picture So Unique?

There is something really unique about this photo. Don’t give up; really look at it for a while. It is a major feature of the picture, not some minor detail. You should be able to click on the image to make it larger. If you do feel the need to give up, or to validate your observation, click through to the second page of the post.


"Here the material world is described as a tree whose roots are upwards and branches are below. We have experience of a tree whose roots are upward: if one stands on the bank of a river or any reservoir of water, he can see that the trees reflected in the water are upside down. The branches go downward and the roots upward. Similarly, this material world is a reflection of the spiritual world. The material world is but a shadow of reality. In the shadow there is no reality or substantiality, but from the shadow we can understand that there are substance and reality. In the desert there is no water, but the mirage suggests that there is such a thing as water..."

From the "Introduction" to the Bhagavad-Gita

If you still haven’t figured it out, use the above quote as a key to understanding the uniqueness. Stop reading now and give it another shot.

Okay, I am now going to babble on a bit in order in camouflage the answer within this paragraph so if someone has a weak moment, they won’t see the insight unless they really want to. This is another in the running series of illusions that are sprinkled throughout the archives of my blog. The thing with the picture is that the black figures are shadows of the actual camels. It is taken directly overhead with the sun at a low angle.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

What I Have Learned In 15 Years

A great post from someone who has earned the right to have an opinion:

What I Have Learned In 15 Years by Tom McMahon

"It was 15 years ago today that our 8-year-old son Ryan suffered a severe brain injury that left him unable to walk or talk or feed himself. He was in the hospital (in two hospitals, actually) for over six months, and ever since has lived with us at home. I thought I would share some of the lessons I've learned in these past 15 years:..."

Here is an excerpt:

"Muddle through

I've never seen a self-help book with this advice, but really it's some of the best advice I can give somebody going through a difficult stretch. Sometimes the absolute best you can do isn't that pretty, or elegant, or graceful, or frankly all that inspiring. When you're in one of those stretches, stop worrying about it. Nobody else could do that much better in your position either..."

Another (definitely go read the whole thing):

"People are such wusses to-day

Take that last item. Some folks would be horrified not to take an airplane trip vacation at least twice a year. While that's very nice, it's not a Minimum Daily Requirement for a Happy Life. People re-define extravagant luxuries as the bare necessities of life, and whine like a two-year-old when they don't have every last one of them. Keep the two categories straight and you'll be much happier..."

Monday, March 20, 2006

Lottery Winners' Good Luck Can Go Bad Fast

"Eight workers at a Nebraska meatpacking plant who won the $365 million Powerball jackpot last week may want to take heed of the downside of such good fortune.

Not that anyone would turn down such a windfall, but other heavenly jackpots did not lead to paradise. Some big winners have filed for bankruptcy within a few years, been attacked by family members and been besieged by requests from people they didn't know..."

A West Virginian who won a huge Powerball lottery had his own share of bad luck, including being arrested several times and his granddaughter going off the deep end and dying from a drug overdose. He was already well off as the owner of several construction companies, so the won money was all extra. He did give 10 percent to a charitable foundation he set up.

So, kiddies, there is more to happiness than money.

Sad Story OF Jack Whittaker

Sunday, March 19, 2006

2006 Thomas Merton Prize - Poetry of the Sacred

(Winning Poem by Jeffrey Johnson of Sudbury, Massachusetts)

Of how much more value
are you than the birds?
Luke 12:24

If you can focus your eyes
on that bird on the bench,
the one in the charcoal suit
with the off-white shirt,
see that it's small and proper
with a formal tail tipping
and a head swiveling socially,
see how it flaps straight up
and lands on the same spot,
with bugs on its breath, see it
smooth and present there
and not as a specimen,
an example, a kind or a type,
as a pet to be held or a carcass
for the altar or the market,
but as a small bird on a bench,
then you will have prayed,
and prayed well I would say,
as if you loved an ordinary
and otherwise unnoticed bird.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Detachment On the Field of Activity

While it certainly isn’t on the level of separation, in the sense that devotees use the word, or even lamentation, I do miss being active. The symbol of that activity had for me been playing soccer (futbol). The combination of endorphins generated by intense activity, with the adrenaline produced by competition, did a lot to make the material world more bearable. Granted, dancing in kirtan will get you the endorphins. That brain chemical release is a component of what makes for an “ecstatic” kirtan. But I don’t think the adrenaline comes as much into it. Although when I see some of the contemporary kirtan dancing, which has more or less abandoned the forms Srila Prahbupada taught us, it may have become more competitive. Dancing isn’t much of an option for me anymore in any case.

It was nice to be competitive on the pitch (soccer field) and then be able to walk away and just leave it all out there. The other thing that was nice was that I am so bad, when I would go into a game in the adult league I played in, I was usually the worst on the pitch, and no one really expected much from me –- anything I would manage to do was like extra. There is a certain liberating feeling about being in a situation where I could try the hardest I possibly could but there were no repercussions that really mattered if the outcome was disappointing. No one who had expectations of me I couldn’t meet, not much responsibility for the outcome, just the joy of detached involvement. Mostly just the false ego to deal with, the one element of consciousness that was more concerned about giving the game everything I had than the outcome of the game.

As mundane as it sounds, the idea of stepping once again onto the pitch is part of the package that keeps me going through this whole medical ordeal. Oh yeah, that and the idea that I want to teach my granddaughters how to skate.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Cow Abductions

My blog server was messed up for the better part of a day. I wasn’t able to get yesterday’s post to go up until today, and it was impossible to access my blog. It is functional now but still seems messed up as the sidebar isn’t at the top right – it doesn’t come in until after the last post. Maybe that will resolve itself soon.

We had two days of unrelenting strong winds. We are back in a spell of below average temperatures although the sun has been out more so we are getting some solar gain from our attached greenhouse to help heat our living space.

Check out the following site. Don’t forget to check out the Products section. Of course, of much greater concern is the mass organized abduction of cows into the slaughterhouses.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Some Like It Hot

From the article at:

Hot Pepper Compund Kills Prostrate Cancer

“A hot pepper compound known as capsaicin may help men fight prostate cancer, according to a new study published in the March 15 issue of Cancer Research. The study, led by Soren Lehmann and colleagues from the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and UCLA, found the hot pepper component induced deaths of about 80 percent of prostate cancer cells growing in mice…”

“The dose of pepper extract fed orally to the mice was equivalent to 400 milligrams of capsaicin for a 200-pound man, the amount found in three to eight fresh habanera peppers, according to the researchers…”

Well, men aren’t exactly mice in most cases, so the study is indicative rather than proof, but there are a lot of other benefits to a diet that includes cayenne or other hot peppers. I wouldn’t advise trying to take those levels of capsaicin though, as habaneras are about 10 times hotter than cayenne so that would amount to 30 to 80 cayenne a day, according to the Scoville Heat Index:

Still, we all know an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so a reasonable amount in the diet as a preventative seems advisable. Cayenne coupled with the health benefits of ginger and turmeric and a decent diet based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and a restrained amount of milk may maximize our health potential. And make the kitcherie taste good to boot. I wouldn’t advise partaking of foods with these spices in them, then thinking it made us exempt so we can chronically overdose our systems with white flour, sugar, excess oils (even ghee), and milk products eaten merely for enjoyment.

Here is a bit about health benefits of ginger:

Migraines and Cardiovascular

Here is a link about the benefits or turmeric:

Turmeric Is an Effective Preventative

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Looking Backwards and Forwards For Inspiration

I like this picture. It is on a building at Bahulaban, a part of New Vrindaban that was the heart of the community for many years, but now has been abandoned. The sticker starting to curl on a door that someone once thought was important enough to keep locked, now open to anyone. The graffiti the only sign of life.

This is taken from a website based on the results of a study done by a group of college students who came to NV for a visit as some part of their studies. It has a nice slide show of pictures of NV. The study itself is a cross sectional one, largely consisting of interviews. To my sense of things, it gives a bit of a skewed impression, as it seems the interviewees were mainly whoever was available at the time, but that is minor. Overall it is fairly interesting and an in depth look at NV from the perspective of impartial observers. Anyone truly interested in NV should read it. It can be found at:

All contents copyright © 2006
President and Fellows of Harvard College and Diana Eck. All rights reserved.

Speaking of NV, now that Gaura Paurnima is past, the next festival of interest to devotees will be the Festival of Inspiration 12,13 and 14th of May 2006. This is a festival aimed at devotees and hundreds of guests from all over attend. Lots of seminars and discussion groups, for specific details check out:

Monday, March 13, 2006

Running Before the Storm

The line of storms that swept through the Midwest Sunday spawning tornadoes and damaging winds, killing 10 people and in places producing baseball sized hail was due to hit West Virginia around 3 in the afternoon. No, this is not going to be a account of some adventure this generated. More, it was about whether I should keep my 11:15 appointment in Morgantown, about an hour and a half away.

Tulasi is home on spring break, but had some business to attend to in Morgantown, at West Virginia University. He is renting an apartment for next year so when he returns for his sophmore year, and his brother Marken starts college also after a hitch in the Navy, they will have a place to stay. Plus Balaji was still there and was looking for a ride back to New Vrindavan for Gaura Paurnima. So with Tulasi doing the driving, we set out.

I didn't want to miss the appointment as I wanted to get scheduled for the two procedures I still needed done. We got to the specialists a little early, so were in and out timely. In about 2 weeks I will have an upper endoscopy, which essentially is the doctor sliding a camera down your throat and taking a look about at the esophagus, stomach and duodenum.

We did what Tulasi needed to do, picked up Balaji and headed for home. It was still when we left, but as we were headed West into the path of the storm, the winds picking up as we went along, even shaking the car at one point. We were back by 2, and the winds were kicking up. By 4 they were strong enough we lost our electricity, but then it calmed rather quickly and the electric was restored in under an hour. You never know how long it is going to take, have waited up to 3 days on a few occasions, so happy it came back quickly, addicted to it as we are.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

10 Most Looked up Words of 2005

Why am I not surprised no one knows what integrity means?

Merriam-Webster's Words of the Year 2005

Based on online lookups, the #1 Word of the Year for 2005 was:

1. integrity

Pronunciation: in-'te-gr&-tE
Function: noun

1 : firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : INCORRUPTIBILITY
2 : an unimpaired condition : SOUNDNESS
3 : the quality or state of being complete or undivided : COMPLETENESS
synonym see HONESTY

See complete list at: Merriam-Webster Online

"Wherever there is Krsna, the master of all mystics, and wherever there is Arjuna, the supreme archer, there will also certainly be opulence, victory, extraordinary power, and morality. That is my opinion."

Ref. VedaBase => Bg 18.78

Common word in both quotes = morality.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

On The Salt Ocean

"Try to understand that in the Bhagavad-gita and other Vedic literatures, everywhere, it is said that God is great and that although we are qualitatively one with God, we are minute. The ocean and the minute particle of water have the same quality, but the quantity of salt in the drop of water and the quantity of salt in the ocean are different. They are qualitatively one but quantitatively different. Similarly, God is all-powerful, and we have some power. God creates everything, and we can create a small machine to fly, just like the small machines with which children play. But God can create millions of planets flying in the air."

The Science of Self Realization: Knowing the Purpose of Life

Here is a picture of my son, Markendeya, 22. Of the two kneeling sailors, he is the one on the right. Click on picture to see larger version. He is finishing up a 4 year hitch in the US Navy in August, and then will be returning home to attend West Virginia University. He is planning on being in New Vrindavan for the Kulimela in June.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Austerity is the Wealth of the Brahmanas

Here's To Those Who Suffer Voluntarily

Here's to those who suffer voluntarily,
who rise above the mean and merely momentary
pleasure that we feel sitting on a couch,
eating Cheetos, watching reruns of "The Brady Bunch";

those who exercise, walk fast (raising weights
with their arms in rhythm to their feet),
jog, or actually even run --
as long as there's no clear goal in mind,
no Olympic medal, no short-skirted cheerleaders
proffering kisses;

residents of Blakely, Georgia, and Moosejaw, Saskatchewan,
who steadfastly resist removal to California
and similar climes, knowing intuitively
that delight in perfect weather is born in sub-zero winters,
in summer's humid swelter;

those who do without air-conditioning,
using the money for a violin
or books or trips to the local swimming pool;

those who fast, mortify the flesh, --
or at least skip breakfast occasionally,
refusing to indulge every bodily whim,
letting them ripen, at least now and then,
into actual, robust hunger;

monks in solemn Kentucky silence,
some, I suppose, are misanthropes, here I speak of those
with a normal affection for chat and hubbub
who restrict themselves to a reverent silence,
speech being used only in extremity;

blood donors.

(by Lucius Furius)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Thirty One and Counting

Just got back today (Thursday afternoon ) from UPMC and 4 days of tests and interviews. I am so grateful that I have been given access to the concept of transcendence and "you're not your body" and all that. Makes coping easier.

I had a couple of ultrasounds, one for the organs and another as part of a stress test from my heart. I seem to be in good condition with everything except my liver, naturally. No lesions or anything. Clear chest x ray, heart in great shape, blood work seems to be all good. Need to get scoped top and bottom at another appointment and once they have those results the transplant team will meet and make official decision to add me to the list but unofficially I am qualified.

They have a scoring system to determine where on the list. Scale of 0 - 40, one doc told me I was a 14 which is high enough to be put on the list but not as a priority case. Around 30 you get to the top of the list. Depending on blood type, they have different lists so not easy to predict wait times as they didn't have that result yet.

We personally met a guy from Kansas who needed a double transplant, lung and liver, and he ended up waiting 4 years and then another guy who had his liver only transplant in less than a week on the list. He did jump up because the person ahead of him wasn't able to make it to the hospital in time, and he must have entered the list with a high score.

Anyway, I have bruises on all my veins on the inside of the elbow from the seemingly endless need they had to take samples or to hook up for contrast dyes for various tests.

But all that is just an excuse. The real story is I took my wife for a 4 day stay at nice lodging in Pittsburgh, and on our 31st wedding anniversary we went to the Star of India which was a very nice restaurant with a great vegetarian menu.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Krsna With No Cows?

I will be out of town for four days. I am going to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for screening tests to see if I am eligible for a liver transplant, so won't be doing any blogging. The following sort of reminds me of devotees who want to worship Krishna in the temple and ignore the cows in the world around them.

Krishna, cows, devotees.

A fellow stopped at a rural gas station and, after filling his tank, he paid the bill and bought a soft drink. He stood by his car to drink his soda, and he watched a couple of men working along the roadside. One man would dig a hole two or three feet deep and then move on. The other man came along behind and filled in the hole. While one was digging a new hole, the other was 25 feet behind filling in the old. The men worked right past the fellow with the soft drink and went on down the road.

"I can't stand this," said the man, tossing the can into a trash container and headed down the road toward the men. "Hold
it, hold it," he said to the men. "Can you tell me what's going on here with this digging?"

"Well, we work for the government," one of the men said.

"But one of you is digging a hole and the other fills it up. You're not accomplishing anything. Aren't you wasting the taxpayers' money?"

"You don't understand, mister," one of the men said, leaning on his shovel and wiping his brow. "Normally there's three of us: me, Rodney, and Mike. I dig the hole, Rodney sticks in the tree, and Mike here puts the dirt back. Now just because Rodney's sick, that don't mean that Mike and me can't work."

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Serving Attitude of Autistic Wins Nation's Heart

"Jason McElwain had done everything he was asked to do for the Greece Athena High School basketball team, keep the stats, run the clock, hand out water bottles. That all changed last week for the team manager in the final home game of the season..."

Full story in text at:

"When the autistic team manager of a high school basketball team got his chance in the spotlight, he shattered everyone's expectations by scoring 20 points in four minutes...

Original CBS news video that captured the nation's attention at:

Friday, March 03, 2006

Knowledge and Realization

There is a window. The sun shines through the window. The sun is warm and bright. There is a sink by the window. A kitchen sink. I am in the sink. My grandmother is bathing me. The sun shines into the sink.

This is a bit of knowledge I have from the memory of a direct experience. Not that it is something I think about much. It is just there, the same as a memory of who my third grade teacher was. It exists. This is the only memory I have of my maternal grandmother. From hearing, I know she was in poor health and died shortly after I turned 2 years old. More knowledge. My grandmother had only one child, and I was her first grandchild.

I was recently filling out a medical history and it asked for the causes of death of my grandparents, so naturally such a memory would bubble up. The difference this time is that now I am a grandparent, and I know how fulfilling it can be to have a grandchild, to hold the helpless child of your child. How biologically satisfying it is.

Suddenly, instead of seeing that memory from my perspective as a pre-cognitive child, I experienced it from hers. It was almost an ecstatic moment, and that memory was transformed from knowledge, into realization. Even though I had had the memory and facts for a long time, I had never understood how she must have experienced it, or even thought to try understand her emotions at the time.

Similarly, reading scripture gives us knowledge. We can, and should, study scripture, learn verses. We can learn a philosophical paradigm based on the scriptures. We can learn how to teach from that paradigm, how to use scripture to illustrate and support points. We can even learn how to debate effectively using these as tools. However, that is still based on knowledge, on empirical study and analysis. Realization is another level, something that unfolds wider and deeper as we move along the paths of our lives. Knowledge is a useful tool for realization, but it is quantitative, whereas realization is qualitative, and it behooves us to know the difference.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Eliminating Pesticides from Children's Bodies

If you are not growing your own produce and can't afford to get everything organic, here is a guideline to help minimize exposures to pesticides in food:

12 Most Contaminated (Buy These Organic)

• Apples
• Bell Peppers
• Celery
• Cherries
• Imported Grapes
• Nectarines
• Peaches
• Pears
• Potatoes
• Red Raspberries
• Spinach
• Strawberries

12 Least Contaminated

• Asparagus
• Avocados
• Bananas
• Broccoli
• Cauliflower
• Corn (sweet)
• Kiwi
• Mangos
• Onions
• Papaya
• Pineapples
• Peas (sweet)

From a more comprehensive article found at:

"Researchers monitored levels of two organophosphorus pesticides ... There is evidence that they're dangerous, said Dr. Nathan M. Graber, a fellow in pediatric environmental health at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. 'We know that at high doses, these pesticides can cause serious symptoms because they are toxic to the nervous system,' he said, adding that there's 'sound scientific reasoning' suggesting that low doses can hurt the developing brain."

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Dust to Dust, Ashes on Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Christians who observe this day can often be seen with ashes on their third eye, as we commonly see devotees do after a fire sacrifice. Traditionally, the ashes come from the burning of the palms used to celebrate Palm Sunday.

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the 40 days of Lent (Sundays are excluded from the count) which lead up to Good Friday. Jesus is believed to have gone into the wilderness and fasted for 40 days, and Lent is when Christians are expected to do some atonement and penance to reflect that. It is a period of introspection, a time for personal re-evaluation, a time to contemplate our mortality.

Of course, for too many, it is merely the day after the 8 days leading up to Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, where the last chance to party before Lent has turned into an even bigger festival than Ash Wednesday itself. A festival that in essence runs contrary to the spirit of Lent, a time of intoxication and glutting on dead animals.

Naturally, the dancing and feasting of Mardi Gras is more attractive to the senses then fasting and meditation. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a religion that had dancing and feasting, without the intoxication or meat eating, and ashes on the forehead to boot? Hari Bol, sounds like a market niche!