Monday, July 31, 2006

Dancing, Old School

Here is a picture of me dancing. It was in a get well card from Pavitra and Meghamala. Pavitra is a photographer who has a lot of old photos. I have been threatening to write about dancing, and here is photographic proof I have danced. It is taken in the current Sri Sri Radha Vrindavan Candra temple. They moved there in the summer of 1983. Chedirajah is in the picture and he left his body in late 1985, so that dates the picture.

The guy in white with the mrdanga is Premarnava, so the baby would be Abhay. I am the other guy in white. Behind me, head showing, is Kumar. To the right is Chedirajah with both arms raised. Behind him is Garga Rsi, head shot, and in front of Chedi is Radha Gopinath. Now, trust me on this – between Chedi and Radha is Candramauli. How, you might ask, would I be able to tell that when we can’t see his head? Do I remember this exact instant in a kirtan that happened two decades ago? Had I meditated on those feet? No, but I do remember styles, and that is him. He had a distinctive dance style of bringing his nonsupporting foot up behind him. No one else did that. There is also the Hari Nama chadder. He commonly wore one. In case you were wondering, yes, THAT Candramauli.

Chedi left his body on traveling sankirtan. He was sleeping in a van in cold weather, and the supplemental heater malfunctioned. He died of carbon monoxide poisoning. The heater then went out and they froze. Gavum Guru’s brother, Mathura, also left the planet. His body rolled onto Kevala, who lived because it insulated him. They were on the benches in the van, and Kevala was on the floor. The warm carbon monoxide rose in the van, so he survived that. He did lose some musculature in his legs to frostbite, but was able to walk, with some difficulty, once he recovered. This was a blow to everyone in New Vrindavan.

Chedi was sort of the Visnujana of NV. The Adi-Hari Bol Bliss Boy, famous for his love of kirtans. He was a disciple of Srila Prahbupada originally from Buffalo.

Note my positioning in the photo. If you try to stand like that, you will fall over. One way to compensate for the unbalance is to bend your torso over the supporting foot, as the brahmacari to my right is doing. To avoid that, the knees and ankles have to be compressing while landing, and then, at the last possible moment, before falling over, uncoil into a leap. Once the supporting foot is off the ground, throw your legs in the other direction. It is a dynamic pose, not attainable statically. Yoga of motion.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Dahlias and Sunflowers

Here are some dahlias and sunflowers. You can find better pictures of dahlias on the web. My wife set out the dahlias, but the sunflowers were volunteers. While we were still doing the market garden thing, we used to grow a lot of ornamental sunflowers, which we sold for $1 US a stem. It was a good seller for us, and the bees loved it. If we had extra, we would let them go to seed and the birds would eat them in the winter.

Seeing the seedling sunflowers in the dahlias, I would have pulled them as weeds, but Vidya wanted to leave them, so they stayed. I thought it made the bed too crowded, which would cause all the plants to suffer, but we had abundant rainfall in the first part of the season, so it worked out okay. As the taller of the dahlias were yellow, the effect in bloom is eye catching, as it seems like the dahlias merge into the sunflowers.

My wife has been pushing the temple for years to grow a lot of dahlias, but the gardener there is vegetable centric and has resisted it. The pluses are that dahlias bloom for a long period of time, are long lasting as cut flowers, come in a wide variety of colors, from reds to purples to yellow to white, and all sizes. They are good for garlands and vase flowers. One negative is that they are tender bulbs, which means in colder climates they have to be lifted in the fall and stored in a root cellar. We have such a cellar, and have offered the temple its use if they get into a larger scale. On the other hand, they don’t need to be started in a greenhouse. Another drawback is initial cost. Some of the varieties can be very expensive. Every year though, they multiply by 3 or more. In a few years populations can build up geometrically and you will be giving them away. Or selling them. They do require some special care. Disbudding is needed if large size is desired, but not necessary, especially if used for garlands.

A mind all logic is like a knife all blade.
It makes the hand bleed that uses it

Rabindranath Tagore

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Speaking of Anniversaries...

In a sense, an anniversary is a pretty arbitrary thing. In and of itself, it has no intrinsic value, but it serves as an occasion for looking back, for remembering. Sometimes it is an objective remembrance, but often it is a time of reflection, of seeing a past event in a larger context, less restricted by the passions and limitations of its moment. Thinking the why, not just the what, of an event.

Last Tuesday was the 8th week anniversary of my liver transplant. Tomorrow will be the 2 month anniversary. It’s a big difference talking months instead of weeks. It seems more a part of the past. Yesterday I drove to UPMC for my bi-weekly checkup. Yes, that’s right, I drove myself to the clinic, just short of a 2 hour one way trip. Previously, someone had driven me. After 6 weeks I was medically cleared to drive, and was making some short trips, but didn’t trust my energy to make the round trip to Pittsburgh. In an emergency, I would have, but didn’t have to so didn’t. It was liberating to be able to go by myself, and not tie up someone else. I may not be contributing much yet, but at least I can minimize being a negative drag on those around me.

Met a guy who was 3 years out in for a yearly checkup. I met a little girl about Gracie’s age, 2 and ½, who was in for her 1-year checkup, after getting a part of her dad’s liver. There was another conversation about contacting a cadaveric donor’s family, and how emotionally complex that is. It was academic to me, having had a living donor, but interesting to hear. Meet a woman whose daughter died in April from a chronic disease. She thought she was also losing her husband until his transplant the end of May. He lived, the daughter died; it is all in Krishna’s hands.

After I posted my one year anniversary blurb for my blog, I noticed that Sitapati had his 2 year blog anniversary the same day. Since he was the original inspiration to start mine, I thought that was serendipitous. (Disclaimer: Such inspiration was unknown to him, so he has no karmic debt incurred for any mistakes or nonsense I write.) Of course, that is based on the sun calendar of 52 weeks, not the Vedic moon based calendar. I am not up enough to know if we would have hit the same day on a moon calendar, but it might not. You can never find a Vedic astronomer when you need one. It does serve as an example of the arbitrariness of anniversaries – it is a different day if you use the moon calendar or the sun calendar of the ugrkarmis.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Pennies From Heaven

My brother visited from North Dakota earlier this summer with his wife and two daughters. My daughter Vraja, her daughter Gracie, my son Tulasi, my wife and myself accompanied them on a tour of the Temple/Palace area of New Vrindavan.

When we passed through the Rose Garden, the girls noticed there were coins in the fountain. They seized on this with zeal. Quickly, all our pockets were emptied and we were unable to stem the pleas for more. Uncle Tulasi came to the rescue. He went to the car and got the ashtray, which was stuffed with pennies. As is typical of devotees, no one using the car smoked, and the ashtray had turned into a coin collector.

This ashtray was stuffed, so Uncle Tulasi started taking out the pennies and giving them to the girls. The funny thing was that as fast as he would hand one girl a penny, she would whirl and heave it into the fountain. Practically before it sank to the bottom, she would spin back around and put out her hand for another. All three of them were doing it in turn. Because there were so many pennies, it went on for quite a while. Coins were flying and, inexorably, hands were raised for more. It was quite amusing, better than anything showing on TV at that moment.

Tulasi is good with kids and they naturally take to him. Somehow or other he always seems to keep them hopping. This is a great relief to the older, less energetic members of the family who can get exhausted trying to keep the wee ones engaged and safe. The adults actually had some time to discuss various topics and catch up on family news.

Girls on asana in rose garden

Thursday, July 27, 2006

"My Advice While in Health" by Vien Chieu

Like a wall, the body constantly threatens collapse.
A pity, really, the world still buzzes on.
Trust that Mind equals No-Mind, has no substance:
Let it come and go, appear and vanish.
What do we have to lose?

“With deep arrogance I took myself to be the body, which is a material object like a pot or a wall. Thinking myself a god among men, I traveled the earth surrounded by my charioteers, elephants, cavalry, foot soldiers and generals, disregarding You in my deluding pride.”

SB 10.51.48

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

It’s The One Year What of What?

me in vine covered house

“Just like here the nature is working in that way. You build a very nice house. Gradually, the nature's course is it will become old and you'll fall down. This is the way of nature here. You cannot keep anything fresh always.”

Bhagavad-gita 7.2 -- San Francisco, September 11, 1968

It’s not a big celebration! There are no festivities to mark the occasion, and it is an unimportant event in all timelines. It has little personal significance. It isn’t even worth the time it took to scribble these lines. Okay, “scribbling” is an anachronism, granted. It isn’t even worth the time it took to type these lines. The problem with saying “typing” is it makes it sound more important than it is. Maybe “pecking” would be the modern equivalent of “scribbling”. It isn’t even worth the time it took to peck these lines. In any case, is the point being made? No reason to have mentioned this particular day except in regards to this blog.

Nonetheless, it is the One Year Anniversary of my first post. Way back then, was spending most of my time on a couch, a useless waste of skin with little prospects. To foster some semblance of self worth, some illusion of contributing, I took up blogging. Little idea of what blogging really was, and no expectation that anyone would read it. Maybe some sentimentalist after my memorial and ash spreading would be curious and think, “Who was that guy I had to sit through all that about just to eat the free meal at the reception?” So I tried to put down some thoughts I had paid some prices for in order to have. Something to be read after I was ashed and trashed.

Never thought it would be active after a year, so put all the good stuff out fairly quickly. In the first months I sprinkled in what might have been my last thoughts. I was assuming I would eventually not be lucid enough to write anything. Of course, some would say I have achieved that goal, and prove it everyday. They are probably right, but somehow it has become a habit, a reason to wake up in the morning, so I keep at it.

I am planning to keep blogging for a while. I am assuming that at some point I will be able to do menial labor again and revert to my constitutional position, but in the meantime it gives me a sense I am doing some service. I am not trying to compete with the mainstream ISKCON writing tradition. There are so many competent writers doing that so well, I would only be adding mediocre clutter. I assume my readers are already getting the broad strokes from those more qualified sources. I am simply trying to add a little color to one small corner of the picture.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

What Can Brown Do For You?

Like a sand painting, here for a moment, then gone with the winds of change. As I write this, if you go to, click "more", then click "finance", then type ups and click search, you get the financials for United Parcel Service, famous for their brown trucks. Scroll down a bit to Blogs and there, at the top of the heap, is a link to my "Tour de America" post where I cited an article about fuel savings at UPS. This is the address you will get to:

As most will probably not read this timely, I took a Print Screen of the page. I think it is funny.

Standing In The Shadows

shilouette by barb wire scars

“Let me therefore offer my respectful obeisances unto the Lord, who has become the son of Vasudeva, the pleasure of Devaki, the boy of Nanda and the other cowherd men of Vrndavana, and the enlivener of the cows and the senses.”

Srimad Bhagvatam 1.8.21

From this photo you can tell I am in the shade on a sunny day. I am alive, standing next to a tree that bears the scars of having been a post in a fenceline.

You can't tell my name, my age, or the days of my birth and death. You won't know who my mother and father are, nor who or how many are my brothers and sisters. You can't tell if I lived most of my life on concrete or on dirt. My scars, if I have any, are unseen by you, and their origin will be unknown. I may have seen great sadhus, or abusers; have been herded by someone who cared, or someone who didn't.

Do you know any of my kind? Have you ever had dung on your shoes from coming to feed them? Known the names of any of my herd or other herds? Are we a concept or memory for you? Have you drank the milk of my sisters or of some other herd? Do you know where that herd is, and how those mothers will die?

Will you again drink milk, partake of products made of milk? Will that milk be a commodity subsidized by the blood flowing in a slaughterhouse? Or will it be made an opulence, by subsidizing with your time or money, so one of us might have the association of devotees?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Bicycling OnThe Red Path

"Branching brain cells

"These specialised cells named Purkinje cells (red) are found in a part of the brain called the cerebellum. They send out vast numbers of branches that make connections with other cells in the cerebellum. This part of the brain coordinates your voluntary movements and keeps you oriented in space. It also plays a part in learning physical skills – such as riding a bike or playing the piano."

Confocal micrograph by Ludovic Collin

Connectivity in the brain is important for function. The more connections, the better the function, and the better the brain is able to compensate for injuries, such as Alzheimer’s Disease. Challenging the brain with mental exercises builds connectivity, as does learning new motor skills. A simple thing to do is to switch the hand you use for your mouse. It will be awkward for a day or two, but eventually the brain makes more connections, and it will become automatic.

This image came from Biomedical Image Awards 2006 and lots more pictures I will never be able to take are there as well. I don’t have the equipment to take them. I did have the camera to take photos at the Sun ceremony, but it is discouraged, so I honor that. Even at the Amish place where we stopped to buy produce when we were lost preferred no pictures. This was a farm out of the tourist area, and they like their privacy.

The dresses of the female dancers at Friendship village are made of red, and they use yellow shawls with long fringing that swirls as they dance. The men wear a red skirt, like a swami dhoti, but are bare cheasted except for a yellow sash. All the dancers wore circlets on their heads woven out of red and yellow cloth except for an aborigine from Australia who had a red and yellow cap woven by her elders.

The colors have meaning. Red represents the Red Path, what Christians might call the straight and narrow. A devotee would think of it as the Dharma, the Path of Religion. It means to live with right livelihood, right principles. It means to be aware of your connection to all living beings.

“In this endeavor there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear.”

Bg 2.40

"And the dharma of each spark of divine consciousness is to dance in harmony around the central fire, Krsna, the original supreme personality. We are all unique, individual, and personal manifestations of Krsna, but our dharma is to recognize our source, to celebrate our eternal connection with Him through loving service. In short, our dharma, as eternally conscious selves, is to love and serve Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead."

Dharma: The Way of Transcendence -- Introduction

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Tour de America

While the world watches hyperathletic bicyclists churning across France, some devotees are using bikes more practically in the USA. They may never win a yellow jersey, but they do have a yellow car. Check out their fledgling blog at:

World’s Most Efficient Vehicle? A Bicycle.

“Comparing energy used per passenger-mile (calories), they found that a bicycle needed only 35 calories, whereas a car expended a whopping 1,860. Bus and trains fell about midway between, and walking still took 3 times as many calories as riding a bike the same distance. They also looked at a measurement called: ‘Persons per hour that one meter-width-equivalent right-of-way can carry’. In this case Rail scored tops with 4,000 persons, but ‘autos in mixed traffic’ still managed the worse rating with only 170 people. Bikes did pretty well, relative to cars, achieving 1,500 persons per hour. This is the sort of impact that Critical Mass rides around the planet try to demonstrate on a regular basis. The stats also inferred that cycling contributes to a nation’s health. For example, they found that only 1% of urban travel in the US was by bicycle, a country with 30.6% of adults considered obese. This contrasted with the Netherlands where 28% of urban travel was via a bike, and only 10% were obese...“

(There is a lot of conservation stuff at the Efficient Vehicle site.)

Even the devotees' yellow car has an interesting feature – it runs on recycled fryer oil. That’s vegetable oil that would otherwise have been landfilled.

Alternative fuels and conservation are starting to get some notice. What could you do as an individual immediately? Well, walking as much as possible instead of turning on an engine for short distances. Even if you do have to make vehicle trips, try to minimize them, and multitask. Simply planning the most efficient trip can pay dividends for the planet.

Fuel Conservation No Idle Matter at UPS

“You wouldn't think of something as benign as avoiding a left-hand turn could conserve fuel, but Atlanta-based United Parcel Service (UPS) swears by it. In fact, the parcel carrier has technology in its systems that help map this out routes that minimize the number of left turns the driver has to make. According to spokesperson Steve Holmes, avoiding left turns at intersections reduces idling which in turn lowers fuel consumption. "It seems small, but when you multiply it across 88,0000 vehicles making nearly 15 million deliveries every day during the course of a year, it adds up."...”

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Om Bhur Bhuvah Svah Tat Savitur Varenyam

" 'Let me worship,' Lord Brahma said, 'the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Govinda [Krsna], who is the original person and under whose order the sun, which is the king of all planets, is assuming immense power and heat. The sun represents the eye of the Lord and traverses its orbit in obedience to His order.' "

Bg 4.1

Yesterday we made a day trip to the Sun Ceremony at Friendship Village where Vamsa is on a 4 day complete fast from food, while dancing many hours a day in the sun. On the way, I was navigating and missed the turnoff for a shortcut. Since we knew we were on a road parallel to the one we wanted to be on, I arbitrarily picked a graveled road and headed across country. Naturally, we ended up lost, but took it as an opportunity to do some sight seeing along the twisting hilly roads of rural Southeastern Ohio. Stumbled on an old log shed that had been converted into a barn, where I took this picture of some horses.

We missed the first round of dancing for the day, but were there for the next two; each lasted about 1.5 hours, in the sun. They were going to have one more right after we left, but I don't know if that would be the last one, maybe another one at sunset. Since it is a Sun Ceremony, typically there will be rounds at sunrise, high noon, and sunset, the traditional times for chanting gayatri. There can be as many as six.

I did end up hugging Grandmother Parisha, the spiritual leader. She is 10 years older than me, and has, at times, been my surrogate mother. I have shared some adventures with her, and her people, though not so much recently. We chatted together at lunch between rounds. She has a great attitude about life and we discussed death, living in completeness, and future plans. There was some laughing involved.

After his first trial verdict was reversed on appeal, Kirtananada (Bhaktipada) was riding high, feeling vindicated and home free. He was surrounded by a large core of dedicated disciples. At that seeming zenith, Grandmother Parisha (who had come to NV several times during the interfaith period) advised him that he needed to physically move away from New Vrindavan, stop giving classes, stop initiating, and not act as a guru for an extended period, or he would end up in prison. With the humility clad smugness that can only be mustered by an "advanced" devotee, surrounded by adoring and, at least at that point, fiercely loyal disciples, he declined the advice. FYI, he just got out of a 10+ year stint in prison for copyright infringement, and most of his disciples are nowhere to be seen. Of course, with the attitude of “forgiveness” so much ballyhooed by elements in ISKCON now, perhaps we shall see him initiating again soon, (sorry, that was inexcusably cynical, but... unable... to... delete;... tongue... too,,, powerful,... can’t... control).

Friday, July 21, 2006

Kokopeli:The Dancing Flute Player

sunrise with kokopeli

Hitting the road today. I’ll swing by Wheeling to for my blood work, then off to Friendship Village in Ohio. They are doing Sun Ceremony. Vamsa, a gurukuli who grew up in New Vrindavan, will be dancing. This is an elaborate, structured ritual; the dancers prepare for a year to participate. It is colorful but austere, an offering so the People can live. The dance lasts 4 days.

We go as her supporters. It starts today, and ends Monday. Anyone wishing to support her, let me know. I only have the juice to go one day. Last day is the best in a lot of ways(not least of which is a feast), but too much hugging goes on when the dancers come out. Being immunosuppressed, it becomes uncomfortable begging off and having to explain my condition. Everyone will be busy the first day so easier to slip in. The dancers stay isolated during the ceremony, so it will only be the supporters. Since the weekend won’t have started, lots of them won’t have arrived yet. Those already there will be busy covering logistics, security, cooking, etc.

Material support is welcomed, but support can comes via prayers. Anyone knowing Vamsa who wants to support her -- pray away. Hare Krishna mantras are always appropriate, if you don’t know specific prayers. Support her if you don’t know her, for that matter. Keep praying until Monday.

“Life consists in learning to live on one’s own, spontaneous, freewheeling: to do this one must recognize what is one’s own—be familiar and at home with oneself. This means basically learning who one is, and learning what one has to offer to the contemporary world, and then learning how to make that offering valid.

“The purpose of education is to show us how to define ourselves authentically and spontaneously in relation to our world—not to impose a prefabricated definition of the world, still less an arbitrary definition of ourselves as individuals. The world is made up of the people who are fully alive in it: that is, of the people who can be themselves in it and can enter into a living and fruitful relationship with each other in it. The world is, therefore, more real in proportion as the people in it are able to be more fully and more humanly alive: that is to say, better able to make a lucid and conscious use of their freedom. Basically, this freedom must consist first of all in the capacity to choose their own lives, to find themselves on the deepest possible level. A superficial freedom to wander aimlessly here and there, to taste this or that, to make a choice of distractions … is simply a sham. It claims to be a freedom of “choice” when it has evaded the basic task of discovering who it is that chooses. It is not free because it is unwilling to face the risk of self-discovery.“

Thomas Merton. “Learning to Live” in Love and Living.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Lord Shyamasundara

All glories to the Personality of Godhead, the hue of whose soft body resembles the blackish color of a new cloud! All glories to Lord Mukunda, who removes the burdens of the earth!

Mukunda-mala-stotra 2

His blackness is compared with the black cloud. Asita-ambuda, ambuda means the cloud. The black cloud is full of water. When there is black cloud in the sky, you can be sure that the rain is going to fall down. Not the white cloud. White cloud means no water. Is it not? So you understand this philosophy and add water to the suffering humanity. They are suffering in the burning, blazing fire of material existence. So blazing fire can be extinguished when the water falls from the sky, not by your fire brigade.

Interview -- July 12, 1976, Detroit

It is now looking so peaceful nice, but with the permission of the Lord immediately there will be a heavy cloud and storm and waves and finished everything, within a second.

Morning Walk -- May 29, 1975, Honolulu

(This post is meant as a tie in to the "Death" verse of "The Four Hills of Existence")

Headbutted: Banned in India!; Happy Birthday ISKCON; New Direction in Management?

First, the late breaking news: Calling the Next Generation of ISKCON Leaders

Okay, the Indian government didn’t ban me specifically, but did ban my host. Maybe it was a mistake, or else they really don’t get the internet as a means to communicate.

Report: Indian gov blocks Blogspot, Typepad, Geocities blogs

“India's Department of Telecommunications (DoT) passed an order to ISPs Friday to block several websites. The list is confidential. Indian ISPs have been slowly coming into compliance. SpectraNet, MTNL, Reliance, and as of Monday afternoon, Airtel. State-backed BSNL and VSNL have not started yet but likely will soon. The known list of blocked domains is *, * and*...

“Update, 11AM PT: Shii says,
An Indian political blog is reporting that the ban was initiated by the Indian intelligence service to stop terrorism: Link. According totheir source, the terrorists are using blogs to communicate. Not only is this useless (because the terrorists can simply use proxies), it's akin to shutting off the country's telephone service because terrorists talk to each other through phones.”

I said I was done talking about World Cup, but the Zidane head butt has taken on a life of its own. Struck a chord with the young and internet savvy. This game was out the day after the finals:

The Zidane head butt game

Not satisfying? There's more!:

Zidane Headbutt Spoofs

Happy Birthday ISKCON!:

Hare Krishna at 40

“Once reviled as a cult, they've abandoned airport proselytizing for life as a mainstream American denomination. If you think that Hare Krishnas disappeared when the Age of Aquarius ended, look in the next cubicle– they may be working in your office, wearing a suit, with a full head of hair. This week the Hare Krishnas celebrate their 40th anniversary, and they’ve joined the American mainstream...

“At the same time, much of what made the Hare Krishnas stand out as unusual in the '60s and '70s has become part of mainstream American spirituality, including yoga, vegetarianism, chanting, and concepts like karma and reincarnation. "A lot of people on the streets now believe in those things," Anuttama says. "A lot of things that were considered outlandish or threatening are now taking place in the basement of Christian churches." “

An example of yoga catching on:

Yoga Trend Catching on With Soldiers

“PENSACOLA, Fla. -- When Marine Lt. Alan Zarracina finally did the splits after months of struggling with the difficult pose in yoga class, the limber women around him applauded...

“Yoga breathing exercises can help SEALs with their diving, and learning to control the body by remaining in unusual positions can help members stay in confined spaces for long periods, he said.
“The ability to stay focused on something, whether on breathing or on the yoga practice, and not be drawn off course, that has a lot of connection to the military," he said. "In our SEAL basic training, there are many things that are yoga-like in nature."...”

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

"The Four Hills of Existence" by Tran Nhan-ton


The endless multitude of beings swarms
from the Creator’s hands, not from shoots or symptoms.
We are no different, though we have brains
we thoughtlessly forgot to use,
and thus are born again from the unborn,
our noses enslaved to fragrance, our tongues to flavors,
our eyes lusting for color, our ears for pitches.
So we become the world’s guests, wandering unhomed forever,
The day far off, home endless miles away.


Here our life lingers like a drifting bubble,
its term fixed by Heaven, not by our prayers.
Toward evening the sun weighs down the elms and mulberries.
Our bodies pose like willows that survive the fall.
And where is Fan, known for his sleek hairs?
And Lu Wang, hair struck through with winter’s frost?
The world grinds forward; it knows no turning back.
At evening the sun slips westward, eastward the waters.


Those engendering opposites, male and female, vice and virtue,
forever in motion, create all our afflictions.
Having a body, you must bow to sickness.
To escape sickness, you must go bodiless.
Don’t brag of deathless potions, life-giving elixirs.
No medicine can halt the death-throes of the spring.
All we can do is shun the realms of demons
and struggle to foster within us our true being.


The wild-raging storm sweeps the whole earth now,
running adrift the drunken fisherman's boat.
From all four quarters, clouds thicken and blacken,
waves surge like the report of beaten drums,
everything washed out by slashing rain, gust-driven,
beneath the shuddering menace of this thunder.
Afterward, the dust settles, the sky grows calm,
and the moonlit river lengthens out. What time of night is this?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Tolerating Old Cows, Or Not?

Here are the cows at Bahulaban resting in tree shade during the heat of midday. They are so peaceful. They are pretty much all cows and oxen 15 years or older. Which is old for a cow, especially in a slaughter based economy such as the USA and most “developed” countries Wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of cows that old in the state of West Virginia are in this picture, or just out of camera view. You can click on the picture to see it bigger; most pictures I post can be clicked, usually.

The current macro society is not predisposed to small, human scale, agriculture. Case in point:

Judge Rules Against Farmer in Raw Milk Case

“(AP) A judge has ruled that a state law prohibiting the sale of raw milk does not violate an Amish dairy farmer's religious beliefs and has ordered him not to sell unlabeled milk from his farm.

“Arlie Stutzman, who owns a herd of 27 cows near Mount Hope, in northeast Ohio, appeared in court June 30 to protest a law that he says violates his religious beliefs because it prohibits him from sharing milk he produces with others.

“Judge Thomas D. White wrote that Stutzman may give his unpasteurized milk away to people in need, but may not accept money for it.

"Calling the compensation for milk a 'donation' is clearly a subterfuge to skirt the requirements of the law," White wrote in his decision issued Friday...”

If you haven’t read the following story yet, consider doing so. It has to do with the human side of reaction to slaughterhouses:

ISKCON devotee survived amidst the bombs in Mumbai

"I was confused as to what to do, I was shivering and my whole body was trembling; I immediately called up 100 (Police Helpline) I informed the police who attended the call, since this was the first bomb that exploded he was shocked when I said that there is a bomb blast..."

"At the present moment, so-called civilized men do not sacrifice animals to a deity in a religious or ritualistic way. They openly kill animals daily by the thousands for no purpose other than the satisfaction of the tongue. Because of this the entire world is suffering in so many ways. Politicians are unnecessarily declaring war, and according to the stringent laws of material nature, massacres are taking place between nations.”

Madhya 24.250

Monday, July 17, 2006

No Cow Picture Today

I wanted to post a picture of a cow today, so headed up the road towards Sudhanu and Lajjavati’s house. I wanted a current picture, but no cows were in the part of the pasture I went by so nada. So no, the title of the post is not in reference to the fact I changed my profile photo from a cow to what it is today. That is part of some tinkering I have been doing in my rut of a blog to make me feel like I am preparing for the upcoming One Year Anniversary of clogging up my archives.

To get to a true half-mile (800 meters) on my walk, I had to go past Sudhanu’s, where I had been turning around, and over the hump towards Tejomaya’s. My rough, unverified step count got me almost to this slip in the road. It slipped two winters ago when we had the record setting rain that resulted in the Ohio River flooding twice. The State Road has fixed some slips on Palace Road, but not this one yet. There were over 400 slips that winter in Marshall County and they have a limited budget.

In order to facilitate traffic, they erected this sign to avoid accidents. I think this is what needs to happen to devotees. They need to be aware that if they think cow protection is unimportant, or the responsibility of someone else or some institution, but, bottom line, not their problem, then they need to Yield To Oncoming Traffic. Because the cycle with the gurukulis we see playing out is going to happen with cows.

If they don’t yield, this may be their fate.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Clinic 108

Went to clinic Friday. Always hear stories and learn new things. Met a guy who was 5 ½ months out, but he had had complications and been in the ICU for 2 ½ months, then another 2 months in the transition unit. Surprisingly, he still was able to smile when I was goofing around in the waiting room. Then I met another guy who was 3 months out and already gone to 6 week intervals on his clinical visits. I may not get there as quickly, being in a study of familial living donor transplant patients, so watched closer. Cutting edge stuff.

I have made my position known to the team that being a vegetarian should minimize complications, as meat has so many toxins in it, and antibiotic residues that must mess with your system. One guy 4 years out said I looked good for 6 weeks out. I feel fortunate. For a discussion of transplants from a devotee perspective, visit Transplants and Transfusions. I wonder if any other devotees have had a transplant? Let me know if you have heard of any. For a look at what various religions think about transplants, visit Donation and Transplantation: Religious Views.

I have to get blood work weekly, so it is driving 1 ¾ hours to Pittsburgh or 30 minutes to Wheeling. One plus of going to Pittsburgh is stopping at an Indian store and buying bitter melon. I am in an e-mail discussion with the transplant team’s pharmacist concerning supplements, based on scientific studies. She is advising not taking Alpha Lipoic Acid, which was my mainstay, as it stimulates T cell production. Certain T cells attack the liver allograft – rejection. While there are millions of different kinds of T cells, no use taking chances. Bitter melon has been given the nod, but avoid extracts. One side effect of the anti-rejection drug, Prograft, is diabetes in people who are prone to get it anyway. ALA is good to use in that situation, but so is bitter melon.

I didn’t get the numerical results of my blood work because there was a power outage in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh and the hospital was on emergency generators. So here are some numbers to fill the void:

1 1 x 2 2 x 3 3 = 108 (1x4x27=108) = mantras in a round. What happens if we go x 4 4?

108 x 4 =432 “At the present moment we have just passed through five thousand years of the Kali-yuga, which lasts 432,000 years.” Bg 4.1

432 x 4 = 1,728, the number of mantras chanted if you do 42 (16) rounds.

1,728 x 4 = 6,912 which is 64 rounds of mantras. If nothing else it is a sequence of multiples of 3 -- 6,9,12. Of course, 9 x 12 = 108.

6,912 x 4 = 27,648 “The beads are chanted a minimum of sixteen rounds daily, or in other words, 27,648 Names daily.”
Letter to: Hanuman Prasad Poddar -- Los Angeles 5 February 1970

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Mispellign Knot Ownly Weigh Two RIte Bad

harvey krishna
Originally uploaded by gofriend8.
There are more ways to write badly than misspelling. I mean besides long, repetitious, disorganized disasters that purport to be argumentation and mistake quantity for quality, as seen on too many websites. Here is some All Star bad writing:

Bizarre metaphors and similes

"3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it...

9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't...

18. Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut...

25. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up."

If you feel that you can write on that level, and want to get serious about bad writing, you can always take the next step and submit here next year:

It was a long and twisting sentence...

"An opening sentence containing a burrito, an angel and a shovel was judged appalling enough to win the annual Bulwer-Lytton literary parody prize on Tuesday. Retired mechanical designer Jim Guigli of California was proclaimed winner of the contest, which challenges entrants to submit their worst opening sentence of an imaginary novel...

The 2006 runner-up, Stuart Vasepuru from Scotland, played with one of the most famous pieces of dialogue from the Clint Eastwood movie "Dirty Harry".

"I know what you're thinking, punk," hissed Wordy Harry to his new editor, "you're thinking, 'Did he use six superfluous adjectives or only five?' -- and to tell the truth, I forgot myself in all this excitement; but being as this is English, the most powerful language in the world, whose subtle nuances will blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel loquacious?' -- well do you, punk?” "

Friday, July 14, 2006

Money, Genius, and Pilgrimage

Blogger hasn't let me post pictures for two days. This isn't the first time. I am thinking about finding a new host. Besides reliability, two nice features would be the ability to sort by category, and to schedule uploads for posting later. Now I can only post in real time. If anyone has a suggestion, leave a comment.

If you want to see a visual, you can go to and watch the video of when the ISKCON Youth Tour visited New Vrindavan in 2005 and took a tour of ISCOWP.

If you are of a more contemplative mood, check out the last link, assuming you have already figured this one out:

Does Money Buy Happiness?

"A Princeton University study has confirmed that the link between money and happiness is exaggerated and an illusion.

The researchers, which included Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman, examined a range of data and found that the effect of money on mood was greatly exaggerated (i.e. bucketloads of cash won't make you happier) and was only weakly correlated with moment to moment happiness.

Which, as the study claims, raises the question of why people are so focused on getting rich and whether we have our priorities around the wrong way..."

Okay, if it isn't money, what it is? Feel like you haven't made a real contribution yet? There is always hope you may yet pull something off:

What Kind of Genius Are You?

"A new theory suggests that creativity comes in two distinct types – quick and dramatic, or careful and quiet...

"In the fall of 1972, when David Galenson was a senior economics major at Harvard, he took what he describes as a “gut” course in 17th-century Dutch art. On the first day of class, the professor displayed a stunning image of a Renaissance Madonna and child. “Pablo Picasso did this copy of a Raphael drawing when he was 17 years old,” the professor told the students. “What have you people done lately?” It’s a question we all ask ourselves...

"What he has found is that genius – whether in art or architecture or even business – is not the sole province of 17-year-old Picassos and 22-year-old Andreessens. Instead, it comes in two very different forms, embodied by two very different types of people. “Conceptual innovators,” as Galenson calls them, make bold, dramatic leaps in their disciplines. They do their breakthrough work when they are young. Think Edvard Munch, Herman Melville, and Orson Welles. They make the rest of us feel like also-rans. Then there’s a second character type, someone who’s just as significant but trudging by comparison. Galenson calls this group “experimental innovators.” Geniuses like Auguste Rodin, Mark Twain, and Alfred Hitchcock proceed by a lifetime of trial and error and thus do their important work much later in their careers. Galenson maintains that this duality – conceptualists are from Mars, experimentalists are from Venus – is the core of the creative process. And it applies to virtually every field of intellectual endeavor, from painters and poets to economists..."

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Clipping Along On My Walk

Did my walk yesterday. I counted paces out and back -- 350 going away and 345 coming back. It’s slightly uphill out and my legs were tiring as I reached the turnaround point. My sense was my pace was shortening, so I used the coming back figure for calculations. At a yard a pace, I’ve been walking 2/5 of a mile total; about 640 meters. I need to go farther next time and try make it a ½ mile round trip (note to self: that would be 440 paces one way).

I made it in seven and one half minutes. That is about a 19 minute mile. When I was a brahmacari at the old Vrindavan farm, we used to walk the 2 miles to Bahulaban, then the main farm, in about 40 minutes. Down in the morning, and back up at night, about a 20 minute mile So I have my walking speed back, now it is a question of being able to extend the distance to at least a mile. the interesting thing to me is that instead of being knocked down by fatigue, it is my legs giving out that limits me. Which may sound like a bad thing, but I am enjoying it because it means I have the energy to make the walk, but the muscles are out of condition. It has been years since I have experienced being tired rather than fatigued. Which accounts for being out of condition, naturally. I look forward to experiencing overall tiredness after working for a long stretch, or even all day. After years of fatigue, it will be like bliss.

My pace is usually fairly accurate, with all confidence I would say within 10% accurate and most times closer. I have practiced it, as it was a common need, while still farming, to estimate distances and areas. When you are maintaining over 20 miles of fence line, and constructing more, it was an essential skill. Even for estimating the number of plants that would fit into a given garden space, or for calibrating a sprayer. Of course, I am out of practice.

Hope is an important thing. It contributes to determination. With determination, patience, and some enthusiasm, it is possible to achieve more than one might expect. Regular readers will remember that in April, I talked about the guy who wanted to trade one red paper clip for a house and how it reminded me of Srila Prahbupada. Well, one year after he started, he has got his house. Click here to read all about it.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Oh Yeah, The Nectar Story I Promised

Yesterday I drove to the temple, my first time driving since my transplant. Got some maha prasadam and sat at a picnic table with several devotees. Ended up swapping surgery stories with Shyam Pandit after needling him about not posting to his blog. Shyam is from Bombay and grew up in the movement.

When he was going into surgery, an Indian doctor said there is always a danger and he should call his mother. She got him a phone as he was lying on the table. He had an India calling card, so did reach his mother. He told her that two minutes later he would be going under for the procedure. She started crying, so the Indian doctor got on the phone and told her in Hindi that Shyam was going to be okay. While he was recovering, Shyam invited the doctor out to New Vrindavan and she has come and visited.

It reminded me I promised to tell the nectar story about my surgery. I think devotees sometimes tell the nectar and skip the rest, giving an unrealistic perspective of what being a devotee is about, but I seem to have erred in the opposite direction, by neglecting the nectar.

The operating room was like a NASCAR pit area. There were several groups of people, all busy. My son’s liver may have already been removed, so maybe one group was dealing with that. Another group was getting me from the gurney onto the table and lashing my arms down on outriggers. It was a bit unnerving, so I asked the anesthesiologist who had been with me for an hour, “When do we get to the point where I don’t remember any of this?” My next memory is about 36 hours later.

Before I went under, I remember looking over to where a Hindu stood, gowned, capped, and masked, calmly observing the seemingly chaotic proceedings. I got the feeling he was aware of everything and error checking everyone. Very comforting.

After the transplant, daily they would take blood samples, then a doctor would come by, and finally, a flock of doctors would descend and review my case. On the day I ended up getting released, it was the Hindu surgeon who came singly.

He asked about the thread garland I was wearing. I said it was from Lord Nrsimhadev. He said “Who?” I showed him the picture I had and when he looked at it, he said, “Yes, that is Nrsimhadev.” Behind the picture, fruit juices and dried foods were stashed, as I was having prasadam brought in. I explained to him I was vegetarian. In the course of conversation, I asked if he knew of Srila Prabhupada, and he said that he did, and that he also was Bengali. Turns out he had visited the Bhaktivedanta Manor in London. I invited him to NV, and look forward to his promised visit.

So even though I wasn’t thinking about Krishna, He sent someone to watch over.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

One Quarter Mile (400 meters)

White clover
Tiger lily
Red clover
Hairy vetch
Bird’s foot trefoil
Crown vetch
Queen Anne’s Lace
Saint John’s Wort

Like a whirlwind,
two white butterflies
ascend in a mating dance.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Italians - Bliss, Rest of World - Abyss

Shed snakeskin in abandoned temple room at Vrindavan at "Bhaktipada's house" Which is a misnomer because it was a large building where he had a small 2 room apartment. There was also a temple room, brahmacari ashram, kitchen, and one apartment for householders.

So the World Cup is over. One country feels great and, in typical material world fashion, the rest of the world feels like losers. Zidane loses millions because his header in overtime was stopped by the Italian goalie. If it goes in, France wins, and he is the greatest soccer player in the world. Instead, he is frustrated, head butts an opposing player, and is red carded out of the match, in an inglorious end to his career. Probably cost him millions of dollars in endorsements.

I watched the finals with Rupa, Balaji, and Tulasi, three college age kids who were born and raised in New Vrindavan but never went to any gurukula because it was already closed. They had all played on youth teams I coached. Earlier in the day, they had been out bicycling and gone up to old Vrindavan, the original farm NV started in. These pictures were taken by Balaji. He has more at Balaji's website.

People may or may not change from the material perspective, but somehow the potential of a soul remains about the vagaries of the material world, just like this lotus flower still growing in the pond at Bhaktipada’s. Even the most fallen has the chance to change.

Anyway, let’s finish up all this World Cup katha. Here are some interesting links related to it:

What happens when religious dogmatists miss the essence and become fanatics? Read about one example Somali World Cup viewers killed :

“Two people are reported dead after Islamist gunmen in central Somalia opened fire in a cinema where people were watching a banned World Cup match...”

On the other extreme, here is someone taking things too far. At least now we know why all those angels Christian theologians used to argue about were trying to fit on the tip of a hair – futbol! Scientist makes tiniest soccer pitch:

“A German scientist has created the world's smallest soccer pitch -- so minute that 20,000 of them could fit onto the tip of a human hair...”

On the middle path between the two extremes, you would think everything would balance, but even there, difficulties abide. Thai monks too tired to take alms

“Buddhist monks in Thailand are too tired to receive early morning alms because they are staying up late to watch the World Cup, a Thai newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The Nation quoted a woman in the northern city of Chiang Mai who said her birthday celebrations were ruined because monks at a city temple were not awake to receive her morning offering, a mandatory religious ritual in the predominately Buddhist country...”

Sunday, July 09, 2006

On A Distant Ridge: Cows

If you drink milk, somewhere, in objective reality, there is(are) a cow(cows) who fed you, acknowledge it or not. This view is from my front yard. The black dots across the road between the trees are old cows still alive after kirtanananda abandoned them in the early 90s. They are still alive due to the sacrifice of many devotees in New Vrindavan.

I buy my milk in the market, but support cow protection vicariously. Recently, I attended a wedding at ISCOWP, where Laxmi, daughter of life long cow protectors Balabhadra and Chayadev married Janaka Mahajan. Bir Krsishna Swami performed the fire sacrifice and some pictures can be found at his website. After the fire sacrifice, and the tying of the dhoti to sari,Balabhadra added some wrinkles to the ceremony by joining the new couple in an baby ox yoke. They also exchanged sweets from Estonia and Hawaii, where they each originated.

Some of the wedding guests were devotees who vicariously support cow protection by adopting and supporting cows cared for by ISCOWP. The opportunity for vicarious cow protection is available for anyone, so no excuses, prahbus.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Pilgrimage To Logicavan Math

If your math skills are approximated above, the following logic may be unattainable. I had some trouble with it myself, but I am amused by the concept:

"Every year I get a few kids in my classes who argue with me on this. And there are arguers all over the web. And I just know I'm going to get contentious "but it just can't be true" whiners in my comments. But I feel obliged to step into this fray.

.9 repeating equals one. In other words, .9999999... is the same number as 1. They're 2 different ways of writing the same number. Kind of like 1.5, 1 1/2, 3/2, and 99/66. All the same. I know some of you still don't believe me, so let me say it loudly:

Do you believe it yet? Well, I do have a couple of arguments besides mere size. Let's look at some reasons why it's true. Then we'll look at some reasons why it's not false, which is something different entirely. The standard algebra proof (which, if you modify it a little, works to convert any repeating decimal into a fraction) runs something like this. Let x = .9999999..., and then multiply both sides by 10, so you get 10x = 9.9999999... because multiplying by 10 just moves the decimal point to the right. Then stack those two equations and subtract them (this is a legal move because you're subtracting the same quantity from the left side, where it's called x, as from the right, where it's called .9999999..., but they're the same because they're equal. We said so, remember?):

Surely if 9x = 9, then x = 1. But since x also equals .9999999... we get that .9999999... = 1. The algebra is impeccable.

But I know that this is unconvincing to many people. So here's another argument..."

For more arguments, and attempts at refutation, go to:

Polymathematics: No, I'm sorry, it is

Personally, I'm still struggling with the idea that you can't divide by zero.

Friday, July 07, 2006

A Plethora of Pictures

Annamaya in action -- Grandpa and Gracie have homemade apple pie and ice cream at the temple lassi bar.

For the paramahamsas, check out Jaya Murari's June 30th photos of NV. Click here for a slide show.

For Kulimela action:

"There are now nearly 4,000 Kulimela pics posted at the Kuliloka website:

Please register and upload your pics as well!

For those of you with broadband internet capacity you can also view uploaded Kulimela video on Google Video:

More pics and videos are being posted daily. Please check back often.

Pass this message on....


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Dance Like Lord Chaitanya

I am still on a couple of PAMHO conferences. One is Holistic Health. There is a current discussion about gall bladder removal and consequences and alternatives to surgery in order to remove gallstones. Exercise is a good preventative for gallstones. In this context, Jayo posted the following comment and his response (quoting a thread from 1997):

“ 'Incidentally, dancing before the deities and yogic breath excercises are not really cardiovascular in nature.'

This comment is pure speculation on your part. I've personally seen Prabhupada, on several occasions, jump up very vigorously with his hands raised high over his head. I am sure he was reaching his target heart rate! ( I guess you haven't been to any kirtans lead by Urjasvat or Vakreshwar Pandit prabhus, at the Dallas temple lately.) Now as many of my godbrothers could attest, I do know something of dancing devotionally, and the key thing is not really the particular technique, but the spirit of devotion in which it is rendered. Prabhupada would be pleased to see the bhakta engaged, however
imperfectly. He said if a wino remembers Krsna when he drinks his wine, he is offering it and making spiritual progress; I heard him say this in LA in '74 or'75, if you want a reference. (I think Madhava Ghosh prabhu may be a more "traditional stylist", even after so many years in NV.) Try this experiment doctor: Do the simple swami two-step with your hand overhead for 10-15 minutes MINIMUMMLY and Continuously WITHOUT EVER LOWERING THEM. I guarantee you will be doing aerobic exercise and you'll reach your target heart rate!”

I responded:

This amused me. It was dated 1997, and the reference is to kirtan dance style. Yes, I was always a traditionalist, the old fogy mumbling in the back about the upstarts and their mentally speculative dance styles. I confess - traditional swami two-step is my dogma, my muse, and my aspiration. I believe most of the apostates who don't use it, can't. It is actually very difficult to follow, and most are too weak, and unwilling to discipline themselves to the rigors of the style. Which is too bad, because IMHO, it is the greatest exercise, both physically and mentally, leading to the best results. Once mastered, it is very easily varied and applied even in the fastest paced and most vigorous of kirtans.

Perhaps when I recover some more, I will be able to dance again. I'll be the guy over on the side, hands raised above my head, one foot crossing in front of the other, on the beat. In the meantime, I may write about dancing occasionally.

FYI - just kidding (or am I?).

“Just like see Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He is chanting and dancing, chanting and dancing, you see, the same thing. This picture is before you so that gradually, when you feel ecstasy, you will also dance like Him."

Lecture on Maha-mantra -- New York, September 8, 1966

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Fountains of Soda and Wee

So supposing everyone who read my blog entry on avoiding sodas stopped drinking them. What to do with the stock left on hand? Here is a great idea:

Soda and Mentos Fountains

"We were just on both Late Night With David Letterman and The Today Show. Dave picked us for his Big Show Highlight and you can see the segment at the Late Show web site at Late Show Highlights (click on the thumbnail of us on the right column).
And the Today Show piece (though not the interview) is at Today Show (scroll down and click on "Fizz fountain! Mentos and Diet Coke."

We’d like to thank the folks at for their help. Our video has been seen over 4 million times in the past three weeks alone! It’s been a wild ride -- thanks again to everyone who’s come along with us!..."

But for those who drink sodas, or any liquid, there is an inevitable bodily reaction. Since I am on the platform of annamya I am fascinated by these things.

"In Krsna, Srila Prabhupada explains the five levels of ego covering the self: "Within the body there are five different departments of existence, known as anna-maya, prana-maya, mano-maya, vijnana-maya, and at last ananda-maya. [These are enumerated in the Brahmananda-valli of the Taittiriya Upanisad.] In the beginning of life, every living entity is food conscious. A child or an animal is satisfied only by getting nice food. This stage of consciousness, in which the goal is to eat sumptuously, is called anna-maya. Anna means 'food.' After this one lives in the consciousness of being alive. If one can continue his life without being attacked or destroyed, one thinks himself happy. This stage is called prana-maya, or consciousness of one's existence. After this stage, when one is situated on the mental platform, that consciousness is called mano-maya. The material civilization is primarily situated in these three stages -- annamaya, prana-maya and mano-maya. The first concern of civilized persons is economic development, the next concern is defense against being annihilated, and the next consciousness is mental speculation, the philosophical approach to the values of life."

SB 10.87.17

So the following article has all the elements that appeal to me in my stage of consciousness -- urine, soccer, and the environment:

There's just a wee problem

"Here we go, there we go ...

It has so far been a near-perfect success - with brilliant stadiums, a chilled-out atmosphere and a near-total absence of hooligans. The only thing the organisers of the World Cup appear to have got wrong is the number of toilets provided. Biologists have warned that trees in Berlin are in danger of dying because of male fans urinating in the bushes. The huge, leafy 'fan mile' in the centre of the city has regularly been attracting crowds of up to 700,000 who have gathered to drink beer, eat sausages and watch games on giant screens - but it only has 280 portable loos. 'The urea sinks into the ground as ammonia. In small quantities this is a good fertiliser, but too much acidity is bad for the soil and could damage or even kill the trees,' warns Tilman Lamparter, a biologist at Berlin's Free University."

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Sydney and Me

Here's me holding 12 hour old Sydney, wearing a Lord Nrshimadev t-shirt.

Haven't had pictures from the camera Marken gave me because of assumption. The first batteries died as I was trying to upload pictures to my computer. Opening the battery compartment, I didn't attention to position of the batteries and simply dumped them out. When I put in the new ones, there was a little sticker on the side of the compartment that had a black line drawing of the positive end of a battery and a "+" sign, so naturally I put the positive end of the battery up there and the negative end up on the other side.

Went to hook it up to the computer. I could get it to signal "connected to computer", then it would go blank. Thinking the new batteries were dead, even from an unopened package, I bought a new set and tried them. Still nothing. I uninstalled and reinstalled the driver from the CD that came with the camera. Nada. Thinking the CD may have been flawed, I downloaded the driver off the company website and reinstalled it again. Zilch.

Manjari said she had had a camera that didn't work with alkaline batteries but did work with lithium ones. I went to the manual and saw it recommended Ni MH ones, so Sunday Gopish drove me to the flea market in Glendale and afterwards we went to a store and bought the Ni MHs and a charger. My wife, Tulasi,Vraja, and Gracie are all at the Mountain State Arts and Craft Show July 1-4 so I am home alone. Exhilarating being able to care for myself - by reheating kitcherie my wife made, sandwiches, and chowing down at Laxmi's wedding, I am getting by. I am not supposed to drive for 6 weeks, though, hence the need for Gopish to take me into town. Physically, I could drive in an emergency, but know that with the fatigue issues I am grappling with, occasionally I can't keep the 100% focus needed to drive safely.

Got the batteries in the charger Monday, and now, Tuesday morning, I went to put them in the camera. Disappointingly, still no results. Thinking Zen mind, make no assumptions, I went to the manual and read how to install batteries. The picture there showed them opposite to how I had them. I opened the battery compartment and sure enough, stamped into the opened cover on the metal of the contacts was a “+” and a “-“ opposite to how I had them. Yet right next to the batteries themselves was the line drawing of the battery end with the “+” sign, where the negative end was supposed to be. Apparently, some moron engineer put the line drawing in so we would know it was the battery compartment. Either that or the slave laborer in China who assembled it put the sticker on the wrong side. Couple that with my lack of observation and inability to look at the contacts and know by seeing what was correct, a long comedy of errors.

At last, though, the material world has granted me a reprieve and I now have original pictures to upload.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Reconciliation; Newspaper Article; Granddaughter

“It is true, political problems are not solved by love and mercy. But the world of politics is not the only world, and unless political decisions rest on a foundation of something better and higher than politics, they can never do any real good for men. When a country has to be rebuilt after war, the passions and energies of war are no longer enough. There must be a new force, the power of love, the power of understanding and human compassion, the strength of selflessness and cooperation, and the creative dynamism of the will to live and to build, and the will to forgive. The will for reconciliation.”

From "Introductions East & West. The Foreign Prefaces of Thomas Merton"

I think this is true for any institution, not just governments. Any traumatic event in an institution, not just wars.

Here is an article about my transplant in the local newspaper.

Son Donates Part Of Liver To Save Dad’s Life

Okay, okay – Krishna isn’t mentioned anywhere. Materialistic? I stipulate to that. I told the reporter that she was coming to a Hare Krishna house. I gave her a link to my blog, so she could read what I wrote about my surgery. She chose not to use the devotee angle. True, I didn’t stress it during the interview. Still, I know quite a few people locally, from decades of business dealings and 10 years of coaching youth soccer. They know I am a devotee, so it can’t hurt NV’s image with them. Plus the people my kid knows.

This article was on the front page of the Sunday paper, below the fold. The last time I was on the front page, it was above the fold, on a weekday. It was a fall color shot of me chopping corn for silage, driving a Deutz tractor, pulling a two row chopper blowing the silage into a large covered forage wagon. It was a sideways shot. I was chopping in a flat bottomland field, and the background was the side of a ridge, covered with trees in full autumn coloration. There was only a caption, but I did use my devotee name for that one. That was at a time when most local media coverage was extremely negative. Not without some cause, I might add, though most of the negativity had to do with the nonfarming aspects of NV.

Marken had bought himself a new car the day before Manjari had her baby, so he drove up from Morgantown and picked Tulasi and me up and made the drive to Columbus. Four weeks after the transplant I got to hold my 12 hour old granddaughter in my arms for half an hour. Difficult to convey the experience in words.

When we arrived at the hospital, Marken stopped halfway through the door and said, “Do you realize what is happening? We are going into a hospital, we don’t have to do any tests, and we can leave anytime we want!” Very funny.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Kulimela Mooed

That special incense from India,
the heady stuff,
floats out of the temple room,
clinging to the bright eyed
who wander into the sunshine,
memories sated with kirtan
and vicarious realizations.

An all day bhajan slowly pumps
up an inlaid harmonium
as the first of a million mrdanga
beats echo off the building fronts.

Conference rooms rustle to life.
Slide projectors hum into light
as laptops boot up
and chairs are slide into formations.

At long tables in open spaces
paper plates and cups
are taken from large cardboard boxes
and ladles and spoons are neatly arrayed.

The kitchen door opens
as the head cook takes his first breath
not burdened with a thousand details.
Inside, stainless steel containers rattle
together as eager servers
dance them full and towards the door.

Alone, at the dumpster,
the cowherd man throws plastic
bags of trash from a 20 year old Toyota
truck with a homemade wooden bed,
covering emptied produce boxes
and milk containers,
then leaves with a fresh roll of bags
to make his rounds again.

The occasional visitor to the barn,
wandering away from the festival,
finds it empty,
but no one notices.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Gathering Clouds of Urine

When you were a kid, did you ever look up at the clouds and see things there? Sometimes faces? If you aren’t too urbanized, sophisticated, and/or jaded, it is still possible. Imagine looking out on the horizon and seeing distant storm clouds. Now, looking at those impending clouds, try to make out a face. I hope you see mine.

For those who remember when the term gurukuli was first self coined back in the early 1990s, and some gurukulis bought a Mac and started publishing a periodical, you know the recent Kulimela and current events transpiring in the life of an ISKCON guru and his friends are not a beginning but milestones in a long journey. Now, think about cows, and remember the name of the cow whose milk you consumed today. If you can’t, look again at those dark clouds of urine gathering in the distance and imagine the sun of your current days’ consciousness setting behind them.

“It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall”

Yesterday I went for my checkup, and the doctor raised my level of Prograft, my anti-rejection drug. I commented that was a bad sign, assuming that the problem being the immune system trying to reject the liver it perceives as foreign, if I needed more Prograft it was because the liver was losing the battle and needed more help. The doctor assured me that, no, on the contrary, it was a good sign. The liver metabolizes Prograft, and the stronger the liver becomes, the more it can metabolize, so in order to maintain the proper level of the drug in the bloodstream, it is necessary to raise the level of Prograft ingested.

I made a mistake in understanding my situation by not knowing the actual reality of the biochemistry of what was happening. Don’t make a similar mistake and think that by chanting some auspicious Vedic mantras before you consume milk products that you are involved in cow protection. Don’t ignore reality by rationalizing some academic conception of what “Reality” is. The reality is that milk is cheap in the market because the cows that give the milk are slaughtered. Cow protection in ISKCON today is about where gurukulis were in the 1970s and 80s.

"Our cows are happy, therefore they give plenty of milk. Vedic civilization gives protection to all the living creatures, especially the cows, because they render such valuable service to the human society in the shape of milk, without which no one can become healthy and strong. In your country the dog is protected, and the cow is killed. The dog is passing stool and urine in the street, he is considered the best friend of man, and the cow is all pure, stool, urine, and milk, but they are taken to the slaughter house and killed for food. What kind of civilization is this. Therefore we have to preach against all this nonsense."

Letter to: Rupanuga -- Vrindaban 7 December 1975