Focus For Global Unity Speaking in Boston before the International Student Society, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami p p y (pg. (pg 12)) solution for world peace and harmony. offers a practical, simple, and profound
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16Rounds publication is an independent media compiled, written, and published by a few Hare Krishna monks. It is produced in an attempt to benefit its readers, for our own purification, and for the pleasure of our spiritual grandfather, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder (acarya) and spiritual guide of ISKCON, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. 16Rounds is distributed in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas. EDITOR: Mahat Tattva Dasa COVER PAGE: Mike Jennings (www.design-it-right.com) GRAPHIC DESIGN & LAYOUT: Baddha-setu Dasa LOCATED: 1030 Grand Ave., San Diego (Pacific Beach), CA 92109 E-mail correspondence and all types of inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org www.16rounds.com
16ROUNDS MEANS: Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means “union” or “linking.” Meditation is a process of yoga by which the spiritual practitioner achieves union with the Divine. The recommended process of mediation for the age we are currently living in is mantra meditation. This process involves chanting of mantras. Upanishads, or the classical spiritual texts of ancient India, say that the best mantra is the Hare Krishna mantra: hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare/ hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare. A “mala” is a set of 108 beads strung on a thread, sort of like a rosary. The spiritual practitioner prayerfully and with great concentration recites/chants the whole mantra once for each bead of the mala. The mala, or string of beads, is held in the fist and is meant to help us count how many times we chant the mantra. It also helps engage the sense of touch in the process of meditation. Once we have chanted the mantra 108 times, or once for each bead, we have completed “one round.” Serious practitioners of this spiritual discipline take a vow to chant at least sixteen times around the mala, thus the name “16 Rounds.”
SAMADHI MEANS: Recollection, absorption, meditation, constant remembrance and trance are the five items of progressive rememberance of Krishna. At first, remembrance may be interrupted at intervals, but later remembrance proceeds uninterrupted. When remembrance is uninterrupted, it becomes concentrated and is called meditation. When meditation expands and becomes constant, it is called anusmrti. By uninterrupted and unceasing anusmrti one enters the stage of samadhi, or spiritual trance. After samadhi has fully developed, the soul comes to understand his original constitutional position. This is the perfection of life.
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You're Not That Body
Truth and Beauty
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Reincarnation and Karma
Economics: Economics: Materialistic, Green, & Transcendental
Focus for Global Unity
Mantra-the Sacred Sound
What am I doing here? Pushups, for god's sake! You can't tell!?
By Vic DiCara
been sitting here for hours. It’s a funeral; my friend died. At uncertain intervals people get oﬀ their plastic chairs, fine tune their careful solemnity, and walk slowly to the coffin. The coffin perplexes me. See, this is my first funeral and I’m still trying to figure things out. My friend is gone—and what does this long box represent? I thought it was empty. They said he was gone. I get up and walk forward slowly… I stare at carpet out of duty… I reach the coffin, and take a curious look ... It shocked me so bad… Bill’s right here!! He’s
DOUBT: You say that my body has been changing throughout my life, while I have remained
the same person, and therefore I’m diﬀerent from my body. I don’t agree. I think I have changed with my body. I am a diﬀerent person now then I was ten years ago. ANSWER: True. Not only does my physical body change, my mental body is also in a constant state of flux. Likes and dislikes change, goals and plans change, I even subtly change my concept of identity. This shows that the real me is neither the body nor the mind. I remember being totally into dinosaurs and Little League, with my self-concept wrapped around a five-year old body and mind. I also remember being into Twisted Sister and leather jackets in junior high. But behind all my changing identifications is the changeless I. Otherwise, who went through all those changes and remembers them all? Beyond the body and the mind is the real me. DOUBT: You say the body is always changing, and we remain through all the changes—so we must be diﬀerent from the body. But the body isn’t totally changing. There are similarities between the body in the baby pictures and the body in the mirror. Brown eyes then, brown eyes now, etc. And the navy-anchor tattoo I just got will still be there when I’m 70. ANSWER: If you study it closely you’ll see that the body really is always changing. Similarities in growth appear because cell structures like eyes and hair replicate themselves in specific patterns determined by DNA and stuﬀ like that. Although the cells are constantly changing, there appear to be similarities, because they change within regular patterns.
COLIN ANDREW ROSS
Y D O
right here!! They told me Bill was gone — but here he is — right here in the coffin. Same eyes, same hair, same brain, same DNA. I blurt, “Hey Billy! Man, you’re too wild, man! What kinda stunt is this!?” I wheel around to face the people. “Hey, it’s a practical joke or something, right? Bill’s not gone. He’s right here!” Needless to say, I was escorted out. They stare at me in disbelief—“Are you from some other planet or something? Can’t you understand? That’s not Bill in the coffin. Bill’s gone, he’s gone.” How can Bill be “gone” when his entire body is right there? Simple: he’s not the body. All of Bill’s body is there in the coffin—even all his brain cells, his heredity, and his DNA—but Bill is gone. The body’s there, but the person is gone. The person is not the body. You can understand this form another angle if you’re willing to try a simple experiment. Go dig up your old baby pictures (Cute? I hope so). Anyway, find a mirror. Look at your body in the mirror. Look at your body in the pictures. Two very diﬀerent bodies you got there—but both are somehow considered yours. From a chubby little baby body to a “cool” adolescent body… and someday to a wrinkled-up old body. The body constantly changes, but you remain. Same person, changing body. You are diﬀerent from the body.
at h t t o n e r ’ u Yo
Vic DiCara is a hardcore punk guitarist and bassist. He played in Beyond, Inside Out and later 108. As part of the band 108, DiCara was instrumental in recording three albums considered influential in the hardcore punk scene of the 1990s. DiCara is also noted for incorporating spirituality into his music. Discography: INSIDE OUT: * No Spiritual Surrender – 1990 BEYOND: * No Longer at Ease – 1989 (Combined Effort) - reissued w/ bonus material – 1999 BURN: * Cleanse – 2001 108: * Holyname – 1994 * Songs of Separation – 1995 * Threefold Misery – 1996 * Creation. Sustenance. Destruction – 2006 * Oneoeight Demo – 2006 (selfreleased)
REINCARNATION By Vic DiCara
rom ancient mystic scriptures to the smutty tabloid pages in the drug-store check-out line, you hear the word a lot these days — “reincarnation.” What is it,
anyway? Simple: After you die, you get born again in a diﬀerent body. Sounds kinda wild at first, maybe. But if you sit down and give it a fair think-over, you’ll see the logic of it. The last article explained how you are not the body. Understanding this, you can easily get a grasp on reincarnation. Remember that experiment, comparing your baby pictures with the baby face that confronts you in the mirror? You saw two very diﬀerent bodies, but they both belonged to one person—you. You used to have a tiny infant’s body, now you have a mature body, and someday you’ll have a wrinkly body. Somehow, you’ve been imperceptibly changing from one body to another as time passes by. From here it’s not such a gigantic leap to understanding reincarnation. Just as we change bodies throughout life, we also change bodies at the time of death. It’s a bit more drastic, but it’s the same basic principle.
How it Works You’d be surprised how many people belive in this kind of thing. But few have a clue as to the details of how reincarnation works. The ancient knowledge of the Hare Krishna movement, however, explains the subject exhaustively. We’ll just give you a quick summary of the essentials. First of all, we’re not simply a self in the body. We’re a self in two bodies: a physical body and a mental body. The physical body is that familiar thing made of flesh and blood and stuﬀ like that. The mental body is formed of the three subtle elements known as manah (mind), buddhi (intelligence), and ahankara (false ego, or conditional PHOTO BY FLICKR.COM/AMISHJIM
identity). At death the mental body and the self get kicked out of the broken-down physical body. The mentality carries the self from the physical body to the next, to fulfill the hopes and desires of the mind, intelligence, and false ego.
The Purpose of Reincarnation All right, in a weird way it sounds pretty reasonable and convincing— but what’s the purpose of the whole thing? You get born, you die, you get born again, you die again… What’s the use of it all? Yeah, it is pretty dumb to get born and die over and over again. But sometimes desires and dreams overthrow our better judgment and we do dumb things. That’s basically how we got involved in this cycle of birth and death to begin with. Desires and dreams impel us to build our hopeful sand castles of material happiness — which are smashed flat again and again by deathly waves in the ocean of time. The purpose is to learn the lesson that finding any lasting satisfaction in this costume-party world is hopeless. The whole idea of self-realization is to stop reincarnation, to stop taking oﬀ and putting on bodies, to halt the endless parade of masks marching before the forgotten face of the soul. The frustration of reincarnation is to give us the hint that the fulfillment we seek can only be found by waking up our long-dormant perpetual identity, the true self, who lives outside the avenues of time, beyond the borders of birth and death. DOUBT: If I really have lived past lives, I should remember them. ANSWER: I have serious trouble remembering what happened yesterday. Five years back things become a dim haze. Memories of my early childhood are practically forgotten. And my birth is
entirely unknown. Is it really such a surprise that I don’t remember previous lives? I can’t even easily remember what I ate for lunch last week! DOUBT: OK, this is like “Karma”. Right? I suﬀer or enjoy because of what I did in the past. That’s supposed to teach me a lesson and gradually move me toward self-realization or something, right? Well, my question is: What good is it for me to be punished or rewarded for something in a past life that I don’t even remember doing? How is that supposed to teach me a lesson? ANSWER: Suppose you rob a bank and get caught, convicted, and locked up. Then one day you get in a fight and bang your head. Bam! Suddenly you can’t remember who you are or how you got into jail. But then your cellmate tells you, “Hey, man, you robbed a bank. You belong here.” Now it all makes sense, and if the system works (which admittedly it rarely does) you’ll learn your lesson, and when you get out you’ll go straight. This whole world is also a sort of a jail. Ultimately, we’re all on death row, and in the meantime there’s plenty of bad stuﬀ that happens to us—like diseases, wars, getting ripped oﬀ. If we’re smart enough to ask “Why?” and look for the answer in the right place—such as the ancient books of wisdom called the Vedas—we’ll understand that it’s
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because we screwed up in our last life. Instead of working toward self-realization so we could stop reincarnation, we did whatever the heck we wanted, impelled by the desires of the body and mind. And so we wound up with another miserable material body in this prison house of the material world. This is an example of the law of karma. DOUBT: “Karma!” I can’t believe you. To think that people deserve their suﬀering—it’s just a reaction of their past activities—what a horribly insensitive, cold-hearted outlook. ANSWER: If you’re not familiar with the term, karma is the natural law that “every action has an equal opposite reaction.” Yes, it’s true; people who are suﬀering are really just “getting their karma,” getting justice. But that doesn’t mean we prance around famine victims, sneering and pointing fingers – “Hah! You deserve it, buddy!” Of course not. Reincarnation and karma don’t interfere with our compassion for others. In fact, by understanding the complete philosophy, a person becomes totally compassionate toward everyone and gains knowledge of how to help people become free from karma and suﬀering.
EVIDENCE for REINCARNATION DR. STEVENSON HAS DEVOTED THE LAST FORTY YEARS TO THE SCIENTIFIC DOCUMENTATION OF PAST LIFE MEMORIES OF CHILDREN FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD. HE HAS OVER 3000 CASES IN HIS FILES. MANY PEOPLE, INCLUDING SKEPTICS AND SCHOLARS, AGREE THAT THESE CASES OFFER THE BEST EVIDENCE YET FOR REINCARNATION. THE WORK OF DR. STEVENSON IS THE TOPIC OF THIS ARTICLE. By Madhavendra Puri Dasa
operations” (Stevenson, 1974, p.260).
orty years of research by Professor Ian Stevenson (University of Virginia) provides impressive evidence that each one of us is diﬀerent from his/her physical body and is able to function independently of it. Stevenson has published dozens of carefully-researched cases (see bibliography) in which young children report verifiable details of what they claim were previous lives. The following is a typical case in terms of obscure and detailed information reported by the child. It is atypical in that the previous personality predicted his rebirth.
Eliminating Alternate Explanations
In 1945 Victor Vincent, a resident of Sitka, Alaska, informed a young friend of his, Mrs. Chotkin, that he was to die soon and be reborn as her son. He expressed the desire that in his next life as her son he would not stutter as he did in this life. He pulled up his shirt and showed her a scar on his back that was the result of a surgical operation performed several years earlier. The small round holes of the stitches were clearly visible. He also showed her a scar on the right side of his nose (near the eye) that was the result of a surgical operation there. He informed her that in his next life as her son he would have the same marks on his body in the same places, and thereby she would be able to recognize him as Victor Vincent reborn. A year later he died. Eighteen months thereafter Mrs. Chotkin gave birth to a boy she named Corliss. She told Stevenson that on the body of Corliss at the time of his birth were the same marks, in the same places, as those on the body of Victor Vincent. In 1962 Stevenson visited Alaska and described the mark on Corliss’s back: “It was heavily pigmented and raised. It extended about one inch in length and a quarter inch in width. Along its margins one could still easily discern several small round marks outside the main scar. Four of these on one side lined up like the stitch wounds of surgical
birthmarks. In fact, it is doubtful that anyone in the world in 1962 would have been able to fake the birthmarks well enough to fool Stevenson (himself an M.D. and professor). One day when Corliss’s mother was trying to get him to say his name, instead of saying the name “Corliss” he said “Don’t you know me? I’m Kahkody” (Stevenson, 1974, p.260). Kahkody was a nickname of Victor Vincent. Corliss identified strongly with Victor Vincent and was able to spontaneously recognize a number of people that Victor Vincent had known. Stevenson (1974, p.261) said that when Corliss was two years old he recognized Victor Vincent’s son named William. Corliss saw him on the street and spontaneously said, “There is William, my son.” About that same time Corliss also spontaneously SARA BROSKI
Obscure and Verifiable Details
Critics claiming fraud by Mrs. Chotkin for monetary gain are silenced by Stevenson’s report that she gained no money from him or anyone else. The claim that she faked the case for notoriety is refuted by the fact that hardly anyone (including her own daughter) was aware that she believed Corliss was Victor Vincent reborn. The claim that she faked the birthmarks is hard to believe, since she was a simple housewife with no access to the sophisticated lab equipment required to fake
recognized a stepdaughter of Victor Vincent’s. He saw her at the docks of Sitka and correctly said her name, Susie. At that time he was being pushed by his mother along the street in a carriage. Stevenson said that Corliss exhibited great excitement when he saw her, so much so that he was jumping up and down. He said, “There is my Susie.” Corliss also hugged her with great aﬀection. Corliss recognized Susie before his mother had noticed her. Stevenson mentioned that Mrs. Chotkin did not go to the docks with the intention of meeting Susie. In a similar way, when Corliss was three years old he spontaneously recognized and Victor Vincent’s widow and called her by her correct name, Rose. He recognized her in a crowd of people before Mrs. Chotkin had seen her. Stevenson reported that Corliss also recognized a number of other people that Victor Vincent had known. Stevenson (1974, p.261262) wrote that Corliss was able to provide a detailed account of certain events that had occurred in the life of Victor Vincent. One day Corliss related an experience Vincent had had when he was out on a fishing trip. The engine of Vincent’s boat had broken and left him helpless in one of the many hazardous channels of southeastern Alaska. Vincent wanted to attract the attention of any ship that might be passing by, but he thought that most crews would not take much notice of an ordinary fisherman. It turns out that he happened to be a parttime worker for the Salvation Army, and he had with him a Salvation Army uniform. He put on this uniform and rowed in a small boat to attract the attention of a passing ship named the North Star. He asked some of the crew members to deliver a message for him. Mrs. Chotkin heard this story directly from Victor Vincent himself when he was alive. She was sure that Corliss had not heard the story from her or her husband before he told it to them. On another occasion Mrs. Chotkin and Corliss were at the house that was previously owned by Mrs. Chotkin and her family during the life of Victor Vincent. Corliss pointed to a room in the house and said that he (as Vincent) and his wife had slept in this room when they visited the Chotkins. This statement is impressive since at the time Corliss was visiting the house, it had been reorganized and was being used for purposes other than an ordinary residential house.
None of the rooms in it were recognizable as bedrooms. But the room that Corliss pointed to had in fact been occupied by Victor Vincent and his wife when they had visited the Chotkins. The claim that Corliss acquired all this information by psychic power (and hence reincarnation is not required to explain the informational aspects of this and other similar cases) is refuted by the observation that Corliss was unable to provide such impressive information about anyone other than Victor Vincent. The same is true for the many other cases reported by Stevenson. Mrs. Chotkin told Stevenson that certain of Corliss’s behavior patterns closely resembled those of Victor Vincent. She mentioned that Corliss combed his hair forward over his forehead in the same way that Vincent had done, although she had tried to train Corliss to comb his hair in exactly the opposite manner. As mentioned earlier, Victor Vincent stuttered severely and told Mrs. Chotkin a year before his death that he hoped he would stutter less in his next life as her son. Corliss also stuttered severely when he was young, until he received speech therapy around the age of ten. Vincent was a very religious Christian. When Corliss was young, he expressed similar devoutness. Vincent was very fond of handling boats and living on the water. Corliss had the same interest. In fact, Corliss surprised his parents by repairing a boat engine without any training. Both Vincent and Corliss were lefthanded.
Correlation Between Birthmarks and Wounds Stevenson (1987, p.101) wrote that he had researched hundreds of cases in which a child claiming reincarnation had distinctive birthmarks supporting this claim, and in about thirty cases he had obtained independent corroboration (in the form of medical records or autopsies) of similar marks on the body of the previous personality. These are described in Stevenson (1997). There are many cases in which a child reported that he was violently murdered (usually by shooting or stabbing) in his previous life, and the child had on his body a birthmark of the same shape and in the same place as the fatal wound in his previous life. Stevenson wrote (1987, p.101): “Birthmarks and birth defects related to the previous personality seem to me to provide some of the strongest evidence in favor of reincarnation as the best interpretation for the cases. They are objectively observable (I have photographed several hundred of them), and
this brother was asked, he admitted that he was in fact attending local fairs at night, but no one in the family knew about it until Som Dutt’s mother had this dream. Stevenson added that Veer Singh also knew about other private family aﬀairs that took place after Som Dutt’s death and before Veer Singh was born, including the fact that the family bought a camel, that they were involved in a lawsuit, and that several children were born during this period (Stevenson, 1987, p.110). The persons who reported seeing
for most of them the only serious alternative explanation that I can think of is a psychic force on the part of the baby’s mother that influences the body of the embryo or fetus within her. However, this explanation, which is itself almost as mind-stretching (for the average Westerner) as reincarnation, can be firmly excluded in about twelve cases in which the child’s mother and father had never heard of the identified previous personality until after the child’s birth.” Those who want to eliminate the hypothesis of reincarnation and explain everything as psychic force on the part of the child must take into account the fact that the marks are present on the child’s body at the time of birth. This means that the child would have had to be able to wield this psychic force while in his mother’s womb, which is more consistent with the hypothesis of reincarnation than psychic force without reincarnation.
Lebanon and the northwestern part of North America (Stevenson 1980, p.13; 1987, p.93). Stevenson said that in these places he has received so many reports of possible cases that he simply did not have enough time to investigate them all. It is important to note that cases of the reincarnation type are found not only in southeast Asia but all over the world. Stevenson wrote, “Fortunately, many new cases are available, and as I mentioned in the General Introduction to this series, I should have no difficulty whatever in indicating places in several
1997), and Keil (1996). One might raise the following objection: “If reincarnation is actually true, why don’t I or more people I know remember a previous life?” A reasonable answer is that the power to remember a previous life is a rare talent like Einstein’s mathematical talent or Mozart’s musical talent. The fact that I and my friends do not have these talents does not mean that no one has these talents. Obviously Einstein and Mozart were real historical persons. Another important consideration is that there are things
countries where an investigator can easily find more cases of this type than he could possibly study” (Stevenson, 1980, p.351). Stevenson mentioned that he has also found and investigated many cases of the reincarnation type in the other parts of North America and Europe. The lesser frequency of reported cases in these countries is due to the fact that many parents ignore or suppress their children’s statements that would support such cases, and hence they can not come to the attention of investigators like Stevenson (Stevenson, 1987, p.9394). Careful studies by other scientists have uncovered dozens of cases similar to those reported by Stevenson. See, for example, Pasricha (1990, 1992, 1998), Mills (1989, 1990), Haraldsson (1991,
which we know we went through (such as being in our mother’s womb) but which we have no memory of. To say that I was not in my mother’s womb because I don’t remember it is clearly fallacious logic.
Dr. Stevenson reported a number of cases in which the conscious self existed for days, weeks and even years without a physical body and acquired information by transcorporal senses. (Transcorporal senses refer to senses that are diﬀerent from those of the physical body and able to function independently of it.) For example, a Thai boy named Bongkuch Promsin claimed that in his previous life he was a Laotian man named Chamrat who was stabbed to death (Stevenson, 1987, p.68). After the murder, the conscious self that had resided in the body of Chamrat remained in a discarnate state for seven years, staying near a bamboo tree in the vicinity of the murder. One rainy day the discarnate Chamrat saw Bongkuch’s father and accompanied him home on a bus. Bongkuch’s father later told Stevenson that he happened to visit Hua Tanon (the place where Chamrat was murdered) shortly before his wife became pregnant with Bongkuch. Bongkuch’s father said that the day he went to Hua Tanon was in fact a rainy day. An Indian boy named Veer Singh said that after the death of his previous body (belonging to a man named Som Dutt) he, as a discarnate conscious self, remained near Som Dutt’s family and observed their activities. Veer Singh said that he accompanied members of this family who left the house at night and went out alone. Stevenson said that Som Dutt’s mother had a dream in which Som Dutt told her that he had accompanied his brother a number of times when his brother had surreptitiously left the house at night to attend local fairs. When
Functioning Without a Physical Body
things in the discarnate state could not have been using physical eyes. Thus, the above evidence supports the hypothesis that the conscious self is inherently transcorporal and possesses transcorporal senses.
Reincarnation is a Natural Process That Happens to All of Us The idea that reincarnation is a natural process that all conscious selves undergo when their physical bodies die is supported by Stevenson’s statements that it is easy to find persons who claim to remember a previous life in certain places such as West Africa, India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Syria, Turkey,
BIBLIOGRAPHY Haraldsson, Journal of Scientific Exploration, 1997, 11(3), 323 Haraldsson, Journal of Scientific Exploration, 1991, 5(2), 233 Keil, Journal of Scientific Exploration, 1996, 10(4), 467 Mills, Journal of Scientific Exploration, 1990, 4(2), 171 Mills, Journal of Scientific Exploration, 1989, 3(2), 133 Pasricha, Journal of Scientific Exploration, 1998, 12(2), 259 Pasricha, Journal of Scientific Exploration, 1992, 6(2), 167 Pasricha, S., Claims of Reincarnation, New Delhi: Harman, 1990 Stevenson, I., Reincarnation and Biology, London: Praeger, 1997 Stevenson, I., Children Who Remember Previous Lives, University of Virginia Press, 1987 Stevenson, I., Cases of the Reincarnation Type, Volume 3, University of Virginia Press, 1980 Stevenson, I., Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, University of Virginia Press, 1974
INDIVIDUALITY. Behind the masks. Beyond the labels. During his days as a monk, Vic DiCara stayed involved with the hardcore scene. Playing with some of the most popular bands of the time not only brought him fame but gave him a chance to field many questions from his fans and others. HERE’S A LETTER HE GOT:
HERE’S WHAT HE WROTE BACK: You seem to value individuality very highly. But what you say in your letter destroys true individuality and defines people as nothing more than blank robots ready to be programmed. According to you, a person has to be made into an individual by the clothes he/she wears, the music he/she listens to, etc. It’s the things we do that make us into the individuals we are, and if we don’t do the ‘right’ things (like if we shave our heads and wear robes) we lose our individuality. If I have to make myself an individual, then I must not be an individual to begin with. I must be some kind of blank slate who has to go out and buy my personhood and wear my “individuality.” You’ve turned individuality into something bought from thrift stores and hair salons. I don’t subscribe. Being Krishna conscious, I don’t take individuality so cheaply. An individual is something I am, not something I become. Real individuality is not the clothes you wear, or the style of your hair. It’s deep inside the self—an unalterable, eternal reality. Take 300 people. Give them all the exact same haircut, dress them all up in
philosophy, bro. In math everyone believes 2+2=4. Everyone believes the same exact thing. Do you plan on writing to all the mathematicians, informing them that they’re all a bunch of mindless followers, a herd of sheep with no individuality?
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Let’s face it man, you joined a club just like everyone else. You all dress the same. You all have the same bald head. You all believe the same things… You totally gave up your individuality, man. Sheep. You joined the herd, that’s all. You give it up. You’re no longer a person.
identical 3-piece suits and ties, and line them up against a white wall. That’s 300 people with exactly the same clothes and hair. But if you go and talk to them, you’ll find each one remains a unique person, a unique individual. Our dress doesn’t make or break our individuality. A green vinyl spiked jumpsuit and purple beehive hairdo make me no more or less an individual then an orange robe and a shaved head, because individuality has nothing to do with external appearance. Therefore, just because all the monks dress similarly doesn’t mean they’ve lost their individuality. “But you all believe the same thing. That makes you one big herd of sheep…” I don’t get your logic. You’re saying individuality is preserved only as long
as people disagree with each other? As soon as they all agree, they become a bunch of clones, a “herd of sheep?” That’s a zany
for two monks to believe the same basic things than it is for two mathematicians to believe 2+2=4. A person’s individuality is not lost by becoming Krishna conscious. On the contrary, our true individuality will not fully manifest until we become Krishna conscious. A spiritual practitioner intensely loves individuality and personality, knowing that these qualities are two of the most essential qualities of the deepest self. But when we plunge into material consciousness, we bury that priceless individuality, smothering the self under mountains of ego, profiles, and false identities. Mainstream society “educates” us to live as if we are our physical bodies. That makes us objects, non-persons, nonindividuals. Here is how a regular, mainstream educated fellow thinks: - I see the self as the physical body. - The body is a collection of atoms and electrons. - Atoms and electrons are objects, without personality or individuality. - Therefore I see myself as an object, without personality or individuality.
Like math, Krishna consciousness is an empirically verifiable science that deals rationally with the subject of spirituality. Thus it’s no more unusual
The body is a costume of the soul, a temporary character accepted in the fantasy-role-playing game of material life. To become Krishna conscious is to gradually rise above the confining illusion of bodily identification and uncover the true self, the real individual person— the person behind all the masks, beyond all the labels. Krishna consciousness does not take away individuality. It reveals the fullest potential of individuality by reviving the original spiritual identity.
a fine, good-natured crater, but uncommon wake-minded.” Well, sons are sometimes hard on mothers, too. That was why I had the afternoon last fall to take my two grandsons on a search for the self, some 260 years after Davie had looked in vain. This Saturday my harried daughter needed a break, so my wife and I were at her house trying to load Paramesvara (age five), Bhaktivinoda (three and a half), and all their weekend gear into our car. In the midst of a great deal of coming and going, Paramesvara and I found ourselves at one point alone together in the car. We chatted. I was struck once more by how bright this lanky, tow-headed boy was, and I wondered how much of the philosophy of Krishna consciousness he understood.
By Ravindra Svarupa Dasa
ometime in the 1730’s a young Scottish philosopher tried, and failed, to find himself. David Hume reflected upon this experience in his first book, A Treatise of Human Nature (1739). The passage is much quoted and anthologized. I encountered it frequently as an undergraduate philosophy major, for my teachers regarded it as a watershed in Western philosophy. They revered David Hume—progenitor of the hard-nosed, no-nonsense style of empiricism they professed—and they amused their classes by reproducing in a Scottish burr a famous remark by the great philosopher’s mother: “Oor Davie’s
I decided to begin with what Srila Prabhupada called “the first lesson.” Making sure I had his attention, I said, “Paramesvara, do you know you’re not your body?” “I’m not not?” ?” he exclaimed in amazement. He looked at me expectantly, awaiting explanation. “That’s right. You’re not. You’re the soul, the spirit soul.” He knew plenty of Krishna stories but, it seemed, no philosophy. Was he too young? His astonishment told me he was ready—my statement didn’t just go past him or bewilder him. Yet how could I get him to understand the soul? I did not want him simply reciting stock, catechistic responses that had no meaning for him. Before I could go any further we were interrupted: “Jaga! Jaga! Help me!” This was Bhaktivinoda, stranded on the sidewalk with a spill of paraphernalia, calling his older brother, whose inhouse name is “Jaga” or “Jaga-bear.” (I can’t tell you why.) After we had packed the trunk and settled back-seat territorial disputes, Jaga went back inside to look for
Statue of David Hume, in Edinburgh, Scotland. Hume is regarded as a key figure in Western philosophy, the progenitor of the hard-nosed, no-nonsense style of empiricism. He tried, and failed, to find himself. How could he have missed himself? Was he being willfully obtuse?
Ravindra Svarupa the trip snack-bag, leaving me alone with Bhaktivinoda, or, conveniently, “T-Node.” T-Node is a rolly-polly kind of kid with a pale, circular face that’s surrounded by a sunburst of curly hair so blonde it’s nearly white. A toddler’s lisp overlays his low, gravelly voice. I had him alone: How would someone this young respond? Would he be interested at all? “T-Node,” I asked in a serious voice, “do you know you’re not your body?” “I’m not not?” ?” he exclaimed at once, his eyes wide with astonishment. He looked up at me, waiting. “No, you’re not. When Jaga comes back I’ll explain it.” I began making plans. My wife agreed to drive, and by the time we made the turnpike I was ready. I had remembered how Srila Prabhupada had taught some schoolchildren and decided to try it. I twisted around to face the boys in the back seat. “Now I’ll show you that you’re not your body. First stick your pointing finger out straight, like this. OK? Good. Now just do what I tell you. Ready?” They were; they were into it. “Now: point to your nose nose!” !” I pointed to my nose, Jaga to his, T-Node to his. “Now point to your belly belly!” !” We all did. I led them through a sequence: elbow, eye, foot, knee, chest … (Once they got going I stopped pointing.) I hammed it up a bit and gradually gained speed until I reached the punchline: “Now point to your self self!” !” Consternation. Pointing fingers waved about aimlessly, eyebrows knit together in bafflement. They laughed … “What? What?” Jaga said, his finger looping around like a bottled-up fly. “See!” I said. “You can’t point to yourself. That’s because you are not your body body!! You’re the soul.” T-Node was thunderstruck; he had
clearly undergone an intellectual breakthrough. His face was lit up with the wonder of discovery. “Do it again! Do it again!” T-Node begged. We went through the sequence a few times, and each time it worked to both boys’ satisfaction. “I’m not my body,” I heard T-Node saying to himself. “I am the soul.” It seemed to sound right to him. But I felt an unease, a mental chill, almost a presence. It was the ghost of David Hume. With suave, measured tones that nicely set oﬀ a hint of contempt, I heard the words of the Treatise announcing the position about to be demolished: “There are some philosophers who imagine we are every moment intimately conscious of what we call our self self.. …” But where, Hume asks, could we get the idea of a self from? All real ideas are based on “impressions”—on sensations, passions, or emotions. We must be able to analyze or dissect ideas down to show ultimately the impressions that produced them. If we cannot, then the so-called idea is meaningless. What impression, Hume asks, is responsible for the idea of a single, simple, enduring, unchanging self? “If any impression gives rise to the idea of self,” Hume wrote, “that impression must continue invariably the same, through the whole course of our lives; since self is supposed to exist after that manner. But there is no impression constant and invariable. Pain and pleasure, grief and joy, passions and sensations succeed each other, and never all exist at the same time. It cannot therefore be from any of these impressions, or from any other, that the idea of self is derived; and consequently there is no such idea.” Yet don’t we need a self to possess or unify all our particular impressions? Well, where is it? “For my part,” continued Hume, “when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe anything but the perception.” A person may attest that he perceives “something simple and continued, which he calls himself, himself,”” Hume says, “though I am certain there is no such principle in me.” Setting such “metaphysicians” aside, Hume affirms that humans “are nothing but a bundle or collection of diﬀerent perceptions, which succeed each other with an inconceivable rapidity, and are in a perpetual flux and movement.” Haunted by Hume, I kept on conversing with the metaphysicians in the back seat while the Pennsylvania croplands poured away behind them. They were
learning to discriminate between matter and spirit. I held a rubber ball in my hand and beat it with a fist. “See? I can hit it over and over again—hard again— hard—and —and it never goes ‘Ow!’ It never cries. But if I hit you”—they bobbed away from my slow-motion punch— ”you’ll feel it. You’ll cry. That’s because there is a soul— soul—you you—in —in your body. But there’s no soul in this ball.” “This morning Jaga hit me and made me cry,” T-Node said. “If you hit a cat or dog, it feels it,” Jaga quickly put in. “It is also a spirit soul.” “Even ants or spiders,” I added. T-Node looked down guiltily. He’s been known to step on ants on purpose. How could Hume have missed himself? Was he being willfully obtuse? Imagine him conducting an inventory of his mental contents, like an auctioneer appraising the contents of an estate up for sale. He walks through each room, examining each object. Picking it up, setting it down. Looking for something in particular. “Is this myself? Is this? Is this?” After an exhaustive search, he reports— truthfully enough—that he didn’t find it. But who is looking? Who is inspecting this memory, this joy, this love, this fear, this regret, this ambition, this or that train of thought? David, you could not find your self in all that because none of that, taken separately or all together, is your self. The self is not the seen but the seer, not the experience but the experiencer. You are not even David Hume, but rather the experiencer of being David Hume. Teaching my grandsons had given me a new insight into the Treatise Treatise.. Like T-Node and Jaga, David Hume had been playing the pointing game. T-Node and Jaga played by pointing to diﬀerent parts of their bodies, while David played by pointing to diﬀerent parts of his mind— the subtle body. I could take Davie through
it point by point, running through the inventory of mental goods, until: “Point to your self!” And the indexical Human finger wavers, finding no object. “See!” I’d say. “You’re not your mind. You’re the spirit soul.” For we are no more to be identified with our minds than with our bodies. The mind belongs to the category of the not-self as much as the body does. Both mind and body are material, the former being merely finer or subtler than the latter. Vedic seers know this, but Western philosophers have conflated the spiritual and the mental; “mind” and “soul” are synonymous. David Hume discovered in
the Treatise that the mind was not the self, but he drew a false conclusion: there was no self, no soul, at all. My grandsons were doing better: “What happens if I attack the soul with ninja swords?” “Nothing! It can’t be cut!” “What happens if I drop a huge rock on it?” “It can’t be smashed!” “What happens if I put a blowtorch to it?” “It can’t be burnt!” “How can I kill the soul?” “You can’t! You can’t kill the soul!” They were good students. They made me wish I had Davie in my class along with them. I thought about that. Since the presence of such a great philosopher might intimidate me, I would want his mother along too. She sounded like a formidable woman, and she seemed to know her son.
uthenticity is a popular topic these days. Many people feel that they should be authentic in expressing themselves without inhibition. For example, if I feel like burping, I should do so without consideration of social impropriety. Might as well do it as loud as I can. Authenticity is, and has always been, greatly appreciated. For example, when shopping for diamonds, much care is taken to insure that they are authentic, and serious consequences are in store for a guy who has sold us fake diamonds. If a manufacturer of a famous name-brand watch or pair of shoes cheats by placing his brand on an inferior product, we are naturally outraged when we find out about it. Similarly, in relationships between people, the last thing we want is an inauthentic relationship. Especially in romantic relationships, tremendous value is placed on being “true,” to the extent that it is not uncommon to hear of a man killing his wife (or vice versa) when he or she finds out the spouse has been consorting with a paramour. How quickly intense love and attachment turns into anger, hate, and vengefulness as soon as inauthenticity is detected! Now, it is interesting to note that although we find inauthenticity abominable in others, we nevertheless manage to rationalize it in ourselves! How many times have we been inauthentic in our dealings with others and yet justified our behavior in various ways, such as “I was forced to do it,” or “It is normal to be inauthentic. You need to be that way in order to prosper in this day and age.”
Although everyone decries inauthenticity, there sure is a lot of it going around. Anti-virus companies pretend to be rendering a valuable service to people by protecting them from nasty computer viruses, but very likely they created the viruses in the first place! After all, without a steady supply of new viruses, how could they keep extracting money from frightened computer users? How often do we hear a business-
money. It’s worth remembering that in 1966 gas was 25 cents per gallon and a new Ford Mustang cost $2,500. Let us not forget that Income Tax is unconstitutional, as most lawyers know.
The Fundamental Cause of Inauthenticity Why is inauthenticity so rampant
the very basis is wrong, so it is not surprising that everything that follows is influenced by this primordial mistake. In fact, this primordial inauthenticity results in an entire lifetime of mistakes, one after another. We have tried so many things for genuine happiness, but they always fall short. Real enjoyment should not require labor; it should spring from within as a natural part of our innermost being. A kind of pleasure that lasts a few minutes a day but requires many hours of work is not real pleasure.
Material Nature Is Like a Bully
PHOTO BY FLICKR.COM/MACTEN
By Mahat Tattva Dasa
man say “For you I make no profit,” only later to find out that he is making 300% profit? Some of the most eﬀective scams are perpetrated by governments, since they have the resources to cheat people while masquerading as their greatest wellwishers. There are tantalizing indications that 9-11 was orchestrated by our own government, which, while claiming to combat terrorism, uses this as an excuse to exploit Middle East countries for oil. In 1972 Nixon took us oﬀ the gold standard, which means that, since then, gold is no longer obtainable on demand for dollars, as was formerly the case. This means that the government can rob you simply by printing more paper
The materialist identifies with material nature and consequently cannot rise above the miseries imposed by it. But the spiritualist does not identify with material nature and so does not experience material distress, although his body may be undergoing the same conditions. Think of material nature like a bully. Perhaps the most frightening situation is one in which we are forced to undergo something with no options. If we think about it, that’s exactly
despite everyone detesting it? The answer is that all of us have a fundamentally wrong conception of who we actually are; we identify ourselves as material when factually we are not (an article elsewhere in this issue presents scientific evidence for this). No wonder cheating is so all-pervasive; it starts with our cheating ourselves! Right from the start IMAGE BY FLICKR.COM/ZEN
MARKUS KOLJONEN PHOTO BY PHOTO BY FLICKR.COM/13542313@N00
what material nature does to us all the time, right from the start. Birth is forced on us—no choices are given. I might have wanted diﬀerent parents, a diﬀerent city to grow up in, a stronger body, a better brain, better looks, etc. But no one gave me a choice. Just consider puberty—hormones boiling, and with this a radical change in world view; now it is no longer acceptable to be satisfied with riding a tricycle through the woods—you’ve got to attract a mate, you’ve got to work hard in high school so you can go to a reputable university so you can get a good job, because no girl is going to want you unless you have money and prestige. Thus, puberty ushers in an avalanche of anxieties, necessities, and obligations, all of which are imposed on us with absolutely no choice. No wonder practically every teenager contemplates suicide at least once. Essentially one is forced to be a slave of the myriad desires generated by the mind and body. This situation persists for decades, after which a new terror looms on the horizon—the specter of old age. Gone are the good looks and sensual prowess of former decades; now one must contend with decrepitude and failing health. Imagine the suﬀering of a once-beautiful woman who must now deal with wrinkles, sagging curves, and unsightly fat. In the past, simply by walking down the street, she made heads turn and eyes stare; now she walks neglected and
unnoticed. And, of course, the final crushing blow is death, about which we have no choice. Thus, for our whole life material nature pushes us around like a bully. It is interesting to see how a materialistic society tacitly reinforces inauthenticity by rewarding you for it and penalizing you for being authentic. Successful actors, actresses, and others, who are strongly devoted to falsely identifying with their physical bodies, are adored, worshiped and given handsome monetary remuneration, whereas genuine meditators and philosophers are ignored. In ignorance we dodge the issue by saying, “That’s just the way it is.”
Distinguishing Between Material and Spiritual Some people say “We are all spiritual,” or “I am spiritual,” but what does this actually mean? One guy told me he strongly feels God’s presence when surfing. Since the distinction between material and spiritual is of monumental importance, it is necessary to provide
Mendicants in India in search for authenticity. a clear definition: spiritual means beyond the dualities of mater (being indiﬀerent to material pleasure and pain), as well as established in a relationship with Krishna, the Divine. A fundamental solution to the problem of inauthenticity, as well as as a practical method of achieving spiri--
tual identity and with Krishna, the
How do we know we are makwe feel less and less attracted to
ists. than the best material pleasures, and nd nd this higher pleasure can be experienced even in the beginning stages by following the proper, authentic methodology, which is described in great detail in the Bhagavad-gita a and other Vedic texts.
Focus for Global Unity
By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanata Swami Prabhupada
FOCUS FOR GLOBAL UNITY
vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma su-durlabhah
By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
The first idea in this mantra is that one can become a mahatma Speaking in Boston before the International Student Society, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami only after many births. The soul oﬀers a practical, simple, and profound solution for world peace and harmony. Noting is transmigrating through many the increasing number of flags at the United Nations building in New York, he states bodies, one after another. There that inter-nationalism is failing because “your international feeling and my interna- are 8,400,000 diﬀerent species of tional feeling are overlapping and conflicting. We have to find the proper center for our life, and we evolve through them loving feelings.” until at last we come to the human form. Only then can we become a mahatma. This is why Krishna feeling and my international feeling, Right Center of Aﬀection says “After many, many births one may your national feeling and my national become a mahatma.” feeling, are overlapping and conflictour society is known as the A similar mantra is labdhva suing. So we have to find the proper International Student Society. durlabham idam bahu-sambhavante: center for our loving feelings. Then we There are many other inter“After many births you have achieved a can expand our circle of feelings and national societies, such as the human body, which is difficult to get.” it will not overlap or conflict with othUnited Nations. The idea of an interThis human form of life is not cheap. ers’. That center is Krishna. national society is very nice, but we After being born in at least 8,000,000 must try to understand what should diﬀ erent species, we get this human be the central idea of an international Mahatma – A Great Soul form. society. If you throw a stone into the
middle of a pool of water, a circle will expand to the limit of the bank. Similarly, radio waves expand in a circle, and when you capture the waves with your radio you can hear the message. In the same way, our loving feeling can also expand. At the beginning of our life, we simply want to eat. Whatever a small child grabs, he wants to eat. Then, as he grows a little, he tries to participate with his brothers and sisters. This is an increase in the feeling of fellowship. Then, as he grows up, he begins to feel love for his parents, then for his community, for his country, and at last for all nations. But unless the center is right, that expansion of feeling—even if it is national or international—is not perfect. You feel for other Americans because they are born in this country. You may even sacrifice your life for your countrymen. But there is a defect. If the definition of national is “one who is born in a particular country,” then why are the animals born in America not considered Americans? We are not expanding our feelings beyond the human society because we don’t think animals are our countrymen; we send them to the slaughterhouse. The center of our national or international feeling is not fixed on the proper object. If the center is right, then you can draw any number of circles around that center and they will never overlap. They will simply keep growing, growing, growing. They will not intersect with one another if the center is all right. Unfortunately, although everyone is feeling nationally or internationally, the center is missing. Therefore your international
Our society, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, is teaching the people of all countries that the center of their aﬀection should be Krishna. In other words, we are teaching people to be mahatmas. You may have heard this word mahatma before. It is a Sanskrit word that is applied to a person whose mind is exnded, whose circle of feelings panded, is very much expanded. He is a ahatma. Maha means big or mahatma. eat, and atma means soul. great, Hee who has expanded his ul is called a mahatma. soul The Bhagavadta, an ancient Indian gita, iritual text, gives a spiritual scription of the description rson who has widely person panded his feelings: expanded bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate
Highest Spiritual Platform If one is actually cultivating spiritual knowledge—not in one, but in many lives—one eventually comes to the g p g highest platform of knowledge and is called jnanavan, or the possessor of true knowledge. Then, Krishna says, “He turns toward Me, Krishna, the all-attractive Supreme Personality.” Now, why does a man in knowledge turn toward Krishna? Because he knows that Krishna is the central point of all loving feelings. After cul-
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tivating knowledge for many births, a person who expands his consciousness up to the point of loving God—he is a mahatma, a great soul. God is great, and His devotee is also great. But, Krishna says, sa mahatma su-durlabhah: “That great soul is rarely to be seen.” Now, we have expanded our feelings of love to various objects. We may love our country, our community, our family, our cats and dogs. In any case, we expand our love according to our knowledge. And when our knowledge is perfect, we come to the point of loving Krishna. That is the perfection. Love of Krishna is the aim of all activities, the aim of life.
Symptoms of a Great Soul Now, suppose a man says, “I have expanded my feelings of love widely.”
That is all right, but he must show the symptoms of how his feelings of love are expanded. As Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita: vidya-vinaya-sampanne brahmane gavi hastini suni caiva svapake ca panditah sama-darsinah If one is actually a pundit, someone who is elevated to the stage of perfect wisdom, then he must see everyone on an equal platform. Because the vision of a pundit is no longer absorbed simply with the physical body, he sees a learned brahmin as a spirit soul, he sees a dog as a spirit soul, he sees an elephant as a spirit soul. There are many social classes in human society, but if a man is really learned he sees everyone, every living entity, on the same level. That is the stage of true learning.
Srila Prabhupada is interviewed by a news reporter. We are trying to expand our feelings socially, communally, nationally, internationally, or universally. That is our natural function—to expand our consciousness. But my point is that if we actually want to expand our consciousness to the utmost, we must find out the real center of existence. That center is Krishna. Whatever we see is made up of various energies of God. It is said, “The Supreme Absolute Truth has many varieties of energies.” And these energies are acting so nicely that it appears they are working automatically. For example, we have all seen a blooming flower. We may think that it has automatically blossomed and become so beautiful. But no, the material energy of God is acting. Similarly, Krishna has a spiritual energy, and a mahatma, one who is broad-minded, is under the protection of that spiritual energy; he is not under the spell of the material energy. What is the symptom of that protection? “A mahatma is always engaged in devotional service to Me.” That is the main symptom of a mahatma. Does he engage in this devotional service blindly? No. Krishna says “He knows perfectly that I am the source of everything.”
First Enlightenment, Then Unity
The mayor of Geneva greets Srila Prabhupada in May 1974.
The nations are trying to be united. In your country there is the United Nations. Unfortunately, instead of the nations becoming united, the flags are increasing. Similarly, India was once one country, Hindustan. Now there is also Pakistan. And some time in the future there will be Sikhistan and then some other “stan.” Instead of becoming united we are becoming disunited, because we are missing the center. Therefore, my request is that you please try to find out the real center
of your international movement. Then your international movement will be perfect. In the Fourteenth Chapter of the Bhagavad-gita it is said, sarva-yonisu kaunteya murtayah sambhavanti yah tasam brahma mahad yonir aham bija-pradah pita Here Krishna says, “I am the father of all forms of life. The material nature is the mother, and I am the seed-giving father.” Without a father and mother, no one can be born. The father gives the seed, and the mother supplies the body. In this material world the mother of every one of us—from the highest being down to the ant—is the material nature. Our body is matter; therefore it is a gift of the material nature, our mother. But I, the spirit soul, am part and parcel of the supreme father, Krishna. If you want to broaden your feelings of fellowship to the utmost limit, please try to understand this teaching of the Bhagavad-gita. You will get enlightenment; you will become a real mahatma. You will feel aﬀection even for the cats and dogs and reptiles. We cannot become enlightened unless we come to the point of understanding Krishna. Therefore we are teaching Krishna consciousness all over the world. The Krishna consciousness movement is not new. It is based on the principles of the Bhagavad-gita, an ancient scripture. Try to understand Bhagavad-gita as it is. The words of the Bhagavad-gita are sufficient to give you enlightenment.
ECONOMICS: MATERIALISTIC, GREEN, & TRANSCENDENTAL
By Vic DiCara
This happened to me when I was touring Europe with a hardcore punk band named Shelter.
he show is finished, and the equipment is loaded. The van sits before the front door, and I sit inside the van. It is cold and windy on the German shore. Three guys approach— young, clean cut & straightedged. They want to do an interview… “I don’t need Krishna,” says the spokesman, with an unforgettable German accent. “I have my own way.” “That’s cool…” I say. “What ‘way’ is that”? Lots of hesitation. Lots of stuttering. Lots of eyes darting back and forth between the three of them. Finally the spokesman speaks up: “I believe in my own self. I rely on my own self. I follow only my own self.” “You believe in your self, rely on your self, and follow yourself. Great… Who is that self”? More darting eyes and stuttering. Sentences begin, but are consumed by confusion, and silence dominates. They cannot answer. I ask them, “How can you believe in it, rely on it, and follow it if you don’t even know what it is”? Silence is spoken in German. “See, that’s why you do need Krishna consciousness.” No comment returned. “The first point is that the self is not the body”.
He sits up straight in the van chair and says, “Yes. I am not the body. I am the collection of the ideals that my brothers and I share in common.” “These ideals are not the self,” I say. “They’re all impressed upon you from outside yourself.” They eventually agree: The self is beyond the body and ideals of the mind. Then I ask, “We know what the self isn’t. But, what is it?” “The spirit?” “Yeah. The self is a particle of spirit, a part of the complete spirit. Just like a guitar string is a part of the complete guitar. If you rip oﬀ that guitar string and throw it on the sidewalk out here— what value does it have?” “Nothing.” “Yeah, not a whole lot,” I say. “It’s useless. But when you connect that string to the complete guitar, tune it up and that—it has so much value, right? It can make music. It can make songs… The string is valuable when it works for the complete guitar; but on its own, sitting on the sidewalk, it’s worthless. The part becomes useless when it’s not connected to the complete unit.” They nod. “The self, the individual spirit,” I
continued, “is a part of the complete spirit. When the self tries to live separately from the complete self, he or she is like the guitar string rusting on the sidewalk. And that’s what we’ve done—disconnected ourselves from the Complete. Just like the guitar string, our value is forgotten, our meaning is forgotten. Most of our time is spent trying to fill in the gaps of a hollow life as we loiter on the sidewalk.” “The real nature of the self,” I enthusiastically continue, “is to serve the complete self, just like the string serves the complete guitar and reaches its highest expression and fulfillment in the process.” “What do you mean, ‘complete self’?” they ask. “You know: Krishna. The highest expression of the self is to serve Krishna.” “Oh.” “That’s what it really means to ‘follow yourself’.. That’s Krishna consciousness”. They were thoughtful. I was thankful.
By Mahat Tattva T Dasa
h modern economic he system, being driven by materialistic incentives and measured by production and consumption, is deliberately designed by vested interests to create insatiable desires. Obviously, the more people buy, the more money is made by the sellers. When these sellers are primarily motivated by short-term profit, which is the case today, the overall eﬀect on society is negative. This is well known in academic circles. Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute wrote: “Our global civilization today is on an economic path that is environmentally unsustainable, a path that is leading us toward economic decline and collapse.” Robert Lane noted
in his book Loss of Happiness in Market Democracies that many people in advanced market democracies throughout the world are haunted by the specter of unhappiness and depression. Does affluence + choice = wellbeing? Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Laureate in Economics, noted that affluence is on the rise but happiness is declining, an eﬀect he calls the “Affluence-Happiness Paradox.” We are paying a high price for materialism: higher anxiety, depression, drug & alcohol use (not to mention abuse); lower self-actualization, vitality, and satisfaction. Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky of Princeton University have pointed out another interesting paradox: increased choice among material objects leads to decreased happiness. This is because choosing
eration; policy makers should consider when and how much choice to give in various public realms.”
According to the Worldwatch Institute, 33% of the planet’s natural resources have been consumed in the last 30 years, 25% of the fifty recent wars and armed conflicts have involved a struggle for control of natural resources, 4% of the US’ original forests are left, 80% of the planet’s original forests are gone, 40% of US rivers are undrinkable, 30% of the kids in parts of the Congo now have had to drop out of school to mine coltan (used in electronics), globally 200,000 people a day move into cities to live in slums and work in toxic industries that release 4 billion lbs of toxins a
The Worldwatch Institute also reported that in 1960 the Gross Domestic Product (the total market value of all final goods and services produced in a country in a given year) of the 20 richest countries was 18 times greater than that of the 20 poorest countries. By 1995, the gap between the richest and poorest nations had more than doubled to 37 times. The World Wildlife Fund, a global conservation organization, revealed in their Living “WHAT PEACE?” Planet Report for the year by Michael Nolan @ Burning Man 2006 2006 that, according to current projections, humanity will be impact on the natural world will not be using two planets’ worth of easy. The cities, power plants and homes natural resources by 2050 — if those rewe build today will either lock society sources have not run out by then. It also into damaging over-consumption beyond confirms the trend of biodiversity loss
and measures of depression.” Ed Diener and Martin Seligman noted in their book Beyond Money: “In stark contrast to the improvement in economic statistics over the past 50 years, there is strong evidence that the incidence of depression has increased enormously over the same time period. This is a very revealing paradox.” Barry Schwartz said that a point is reached at which an increased range of choice brings increased misery rather than increased opportunity. It seems that American society has already passed that point. According to a study at Columbia University: “Evidence is mounting that subjective and, in several cases, even objective well-being may be negatively aﬀected by choice prolif-
year (breast milk contains the highest levels of many toxins), 40% of ocean areas are strongly polluted and only 4% remain pristine. Dr. Halpern wrote in the prestigious Science Magazine (February 15, 2008) “I study this stuﬀ all the time and didn’t expect the impacts to be as pervasive as we found.” Hawken and coworkers revealed in Natural Capitalism: “There is no longer any serious scientific dispute that the decline in every living system in the world has reached an extraordinary threshold.” According to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), there are 1.2 million fatalities on the job each year (3,300 deaths per day), and 160 million new cases of work-related diseases.
seen in previous Living Planet Reports Reports.. Already resources are depleting, with the report showing that vertebrate species populations have declined by about onethird in the 33 years from 1970 to 2003. At the same time, humanity’s ecological footprint —the demand people place upon the natural world—has increased to the point where the earth is unable to keep up in the struggle to regenerate. “We are in serious ecological overshoot, consuming resources faster than the earth can replace them,” said WWF’s international director James Leape. He added: “The consequences of this are predictable and dire. It is time to make some vital choices. Change that improves living standards while reducing our
Are We Raping Our Planet?
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one option means foregoing others: the wider the range of choice, the deeper the sense of loss. Losses make us hurt more than gains make us feel good. We should also keep in mind the phenomenon of adaptation: the joy of possessing an item declines with time. People consistently misestimate how long good experiences will make them feel good and how long bad experiences will make them feel bad, according to studies by Daniel T. Gilbert of Harvard University and Timothy D. Wilson of the University of Virginia. The greater the expectation, the greater the frustration is about a poor choice. Barry Schwartz wrote in his revolutionary book The Tyranny of Choice: “With group after group of people, varying in age (including young adolescents), gender, educational level, geographic location, race and socioeconomic status, we have found a strong correlation between maximizing
our lifetimes, or begin to propel this and future generations towards sustainable living.” The Living Planet Report uses various data to compile two indicators of the earth’s well-being. The first, the Living Planet Index, measures biodiversity, based on trends in more than 3,600 populations of 1,300 vertebrate species around the world. In all, data for 695 terrestrial, 344 freshwater and 274 marine species were analyzed. Terrestrial species declined by 31 per cent, freshwater species by 28%, and marine species by 27%. The second index, the Ecological Footprint, measures humanity’s demand on the biosphere. Humanity’s footprint has more than tripled between 1961 and 2003. This report shows that our
footprint exceeded biocapacity by 25% in 2003. The carbon dioxide footprint, from the use of fossil fuels, was the fastest growing component of our global footprint, increasing more than ninefold from 1961 to 2003. Countries of over a million people with the largest footprint, in global hectares per person, are the United Arab Emirates, the United States of America, Finland, Canada, Kuwait, Australia, Estonia, Sweden, New Zealand and Norway. China comes mid-way in world rankings, at number 69, but its growing economy and rapid development mean it has a key role in keeping the world on the path to sustainability. New, more comprehensive methodology identifies overfishing, industrial agriculture, urban sprawl and carbon emissions as the chief culprits driving ecological overshoot. WWF’s conclusions are confirmed by another group called Redefining Progress, who found that humanity’s ecological footprint exceeds the earth’s biological capacity by nearly 40%, as revealed in their Footprint of Nations report. The ecological footprint—a concept refined over the past decade by Redefining Progress—is a measure of the amount of nature it takes to sustain a given population over the course of a year. By comparing a population’s footprint with its biological capacity, ecological footprint analysis suggests whether or not that population is living within its ecological means. If a population’s footprint exceeds its biological capacity, that population is said to be engaging in unsustainable ecological overshoot. According to the new Footprint of Nations report, humanity’s footprint is 57 acres per person while the earth’s biological capacity is just 41. “The ecological footprint is becoming an increasingly accurate tool for monitoring humanity’s impact on our planet’s vital life support systems. Our new results should heighten concern about ecological overshoot, and our new tools give the whole world the ability to understand and then to act,” said Michel Gelobter, Executive Director of Redefining Progress. RP’s new ecological footprint analysis underscores the need to act soon to curb a runaway greenhouse eﬀect, an extinction rate approaching nearly 1,000 times the natural rate, and degradation of farmland, forests, fisheries, and pastures. The good news is that the largest single threat, climate change, is now being addressed by the Kyoto Protocol. The ecological footprint highlights the need to make even deeper cuts in our consumption of fossil-fuel-based energy and increase the speed of the transition to widespread renewable energy. The latest Footprint
of Nations report is available online at www.ecologicalfootprint.org. Victor Lebow said: “Our enormously productive economy… demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption . . . [W]e need things consumed, burned up, replaced, and discarded at an ever-accelerating rate.”
consumed at U.S. rates, we would need 3 to 5 planets! In summary, materialistic economics is based on exploitation, encourages unlimited consumption, is unsustainable, is divisive, focuses on individual material welfare, forces people to give up higher needs, thrives on lower materialistic tastes, leads to animalistic dealings and relationships, is harmful to oneself and other people, and produces irreversible
“CONSUMERISM WILL GETCHA” IMAGE BY FLICKR.COM/MACWAGEN
Gary Cross wrote in An All-Consuming Century: “The real winner of the century was consumerism. Visions of a political community of stable, shared values and active citizenship have given way to a dynamic but seemingly passive society of consumption in America, and increasingly across the globe.” The U.S. has 5% of the world’s population but consumes 30% of the world’s resources and creates 30% of the world’s waste. The average U.S. person now consumes twice as much as 50 years ago. If everybody
damage to nature and biodiversity.
Green Economy to the Rescue? What’s the alternative? Some propose “the green economy,” whose virtues are said to include sustainability, equity, renewable energy, local economies, fair trade, recycling, and closed-loop production. Although a step forward from sheer materialism, the green economy
fails to confront the root cause of the problem, which is consumption mania. Thomas Princen, Michael Maniates, and Ken Conca wrote in their book Confronting Consumption: “Much that is said today in the name of sustainability continues to stress the familiar environmental themes of population (too large), technology (not green enough), and IMAGE BY FLICKR.COM/RAINDOG
economic growth (not enough of it in the right places). Consumption occasionally enters the discussion, but only in nonthreatening ways, and most often in the form of calls for ‘green consumption’ or in support of some moral imperative to consume recycled or recyclable products. Much of this sustainable development talk steers clear of escalating consumption and, especially, the roots of such escalation.” Indeed, the green economy itself is a rapidly growing billion-dollar sector! Moreover, the green economy’s proposed solutions are often accompanied by severe side eﬀects. Consider biofuels, specifically ethanol. C. Ford Runge and Benjamin Senauer wrote in their article “How Biofuels Could Starve the Poor” in the journal Foreign Aﬀairs (May/June 2007): “Biofuels have tied oil and food prices together in ways that could profoundly upset the relationships between food producers, consumers, and nations in the years ahead, with potentially devastating implications for both global poverty and food security.” Timothy Searchinger, a researcher in environment and economics at Princeton University, wrote in his article “Biofuels Deemed a Greenhouse Threat,” which was published in the NY Times: “Most of the biofuel that people are using or
planning to use would probably increase greenhouse gases substantially.” Regarding solar power, Terrence J. Collins, an environmental expert and professor at Carnegie Mellon University, wrote in his article “Turning Glare into Watts,” which was published in the New York Times: “The one thing that’s eventually going to raise its head is desert biodiversity, and the land area itself.” Aside from these problems, we must keep in mind the enormity of the crisis we face, as documented in detail earlier in this article. When we consider this enormity, it is apparent that Green Economy is ineﬀective and superficial. A final problem with the green economy is that it doesn’t address the lack of spiritual well-being. Clearly we need a fundamental change in consciousness!
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Ruins of a stunningly beautiful temple in the jungles of Cambodia now stand as a monument to a culture that strived for spiritual achievements.
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Consumption mania is eliminated when we realize that we are transcendental beings who are inherently diﬀerent from our physical bodies. According to the Bhagavad-gita (2.59), through genuine meditation one experiences a pleasure superior to the greatest material pleasure, which means that one naturally loses interest in unnecessary material things. The Bhagavad-gita (2.62–63) further says: “While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises. From anger, complete delusion arises, and from delusion be-
wilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost one falls down again into the material pool.” This cycle is avoided by genuine meditation. Srila Prabhupada, founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, said, “By diverting attention
to so many unwanted things, human energy is spoiled without achievement of spiritual realization, the prime necessity of human life. Advancement of material vision or material civilization is a great stumbling block for spiritual advancement. Such material advancement entangles the living being in the bondage of a material body, which is followed by all sorts of material miseries.” Spiritual economics promotes the following desirable things: individual and collective material well-being, individual and collective spiritual wellbeing, positive psychology, occupations that satisfy psycho-physical needs, tools and methodologies to help people experience a higher pleasure, ideal self-sufficient communities, sustainable development, natural economics, simple life, social service, higher consciousness
and activities, respect for nature, a focus on care and preservation, and nonviolence toward other humans, as well as animals and plants. Moreover, spiritual economics eliminates the following undesirable things: conflicts, personal and social imbalances, exploitation of the weak, materialism, social chaos, inequality, greed, scarcity, prejudice, discrimination, and unhealthy consumption. Keep in mind that real pleasure is in GIVING, not TAKING! But note that one who thinks himself a material product cannot stop thinking, fearing, and worrying about his material security, and thus the greed forces in the culture of TAKING and pushes out the culture of GIVING.
←This image’s sarcastic title is “Consumerism Will Free This World.” The culture of consumerism is busy freeing us from nature by destroying it. The World Wildlife Fund, a global conservation organization, revealed in its “Living Planet Report” for the year 2006 that, according to current projections, humanity will be using two planets’ worth of natural resources by 2050 — if those resources have not run out by then. The question is, what is capable of checking the runaway material desires and attachments of the current world’s population? For the answer, read the last section of this article, entitled “SPIRITUAL ECONOMICS.”
Mantra-the Sacred Sound
ay, way back in time (long before what’s recorded in the thickest McGrawHill history book) a simple soul sat cross-legged on the clean earth, emanating sound vibration. Retrace your steps through the ages and arrive at a time when the waters are fresh, the air is pure, the people are peaceful, and the earth is bountifully green. Tread the soft dirt path into the village, past gently roaming cows, through clean courtyards of smoothwalled huts. Enter the Vedic Age. A crackling fire is fueled by butter and sesame, encircled by the fair, noble population. In unison, they punctuate the air with exacting rhythms of vibrantly precise sound. They are chanting the Hare Krishna mantra. In the ancient language of Sanskrit, man means “mind” and tra means “to free.” So a mantra is sound that has the power to liberate our mind from conditioning and illusion. Sound is the most powerful force in the world. Go to any concert for proof. Sound brings hundreds of thousands of people together and makes them dance and jump and scream. Sound can change nations. Sound is power. From that remote village up to today, the Hare Krishna movement has been based on music and sound. The power of Krishna conscious sound can completely emancipate anyone and everyone from the shackles of mundane existence and give direct experience of sublime spiritual pleasure. Material sounds nail you down deeper and deeper into the material world. Talk about the rich and famous. Sing about the sleek and sexy. Poison the brain with sounds about people’s bodies, and how they exploit the world for the gratification of those bodies. Spiritual sounds break you out of the rut and return you to your original spiritual consciousness. Talk and sing about the true self—that is spiritual sound. The most powerful of all such sounds is that which focuses on the most powerful of all selves—the Supreme Self, Krishna. There are no rigid rules or restrictions. Anyone can take advantage of this mantra meditation thing, no strings attached. This sound vibrates
directly from the spiritual platform and is heard by the inner ear of the soul. When heard or sung with attentiveness and sincerity, the mantra begins to wipe the dust from the mirror of your heart, until you can finally see yourself again—and Krishna. It works. You might as well see for yourself. DOUBT: Chanting.....Isn’t that brainwashing? ANSWER: Don’t fall for that scare tactic. Of course it’s brainwashing. So what? So is everything else. Everything that goes into your brain is going to wash or stain it in some way. If my clothes are dirty, they should be washed. Chanting the mantra will wash away the dark stain of materialism and selfishness that’s been so deeply ingrained in our minds by years of social indoctrination. DOUBT: That’s just because there’s a whole elaborate philosophy behind the chanting. People can convince themselves that they like chanting and that it’s helping them in all these diﬀerent ways. If you had that kind of philosophy behind chanting Coca Cola, it would work just as good. ANSWER: OK, prove it. Write up a line and psyche us up to chant it over and over again, for hours on end, every day, over thousands of years—so that we feel happier and more fulfilled the more we chant. If you just take a sound, put some philosophy behind it, and have it be as successful as Hare Krishna, I’d like to see somebody do it. Musicians are constantly trying to do just that, to write a song that people will want to listen to over and over again, deriving fresh inspiration every time. They all fail. Their songs fall oﬀ the charts. Why are the mantras (such simple jingles) the only ones to ever succeed? There’s clearly something unique about them which sets them apart from mundane sounds. “Hare Krishna” is a spiritual vibration, not a mind hype.
HOW TO Maha means “great” Mantra means “sound that frees the mind from ignorance”
You can chant the mantra anywhere and at any time, but it is best to set a specific time of the day to regularly chant. Early morning hours are ideal. The chanting can be done in two ways: singing the mantra, called kirtana (usually done in a group), and saying or reciting the mantra to oneself, called japa (which literally means “to speak softly”). Concentrate on hearing the sound of the mantra. As you chant, pronounce increase the minimum number of rounds the mantra clearly and distinctly, in you chant each day—but try not to fall a prayerful mood. When your mind wanbelow that number. You can chant more ders, bring it back to the transcendental than your fixed number, but do your best sound. to maintain a set minimum each day. It is good to chant on japa beads. The japa beads are considered This not only helps you fix your attensacred, and it is therefore recommended tion on the mantra, but it also helps you to keep them in a clean place. To keep count the number of times you chant the your beads clean, it’s best to carry them mantra daily. Each strand of japa beads in a special bead bag. (available from the contains 108 small beads and one large temple store) bead, the head bead. Begin on a bead next to the head bead and gently roll it between the thumb and middle finger of your right hand as you chant the full Hare Krishna mantra. Then move to the next bead and repeat the process. In this way, chant on each of the 108 beads until you reach the head bead again. This is one round of japa. Then, without chanting on the head bead, reverse the beads and start your second round on the last bead you chanted on. Initiated practitioners chant at least sixteen rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra daily. But even if you can chant only one round a day, a good principle is that once you commit yourself to chanting that round, try to complete George Harrison chanting Hare it every day. When you feel you can chant more, then Krishna on japa beads.
irtan is a form of devotional chanting. Its roots go back over 500 years to India. It is a form of Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of devotion, and has the power to open the heart. The singing is accompanied by musical instruments and rhythmic drumming. The audience is encouraged to participate by chanting, clapping and even dancing. It is hard to resist the urge to join in! In its heartfelt expression, kirtan can induce profound states of meditation, bliss, and ecstasy. There is a sweet sound vibration that penetrates through all layers of cov- Gaura Vani, one of the better erings and makes God dance. That sound known kirtan leaders. Check vibration is kirtan. It is a mysterious con- out GAURAVANI.COM. nection that draws people to each other. Kirtan is a boon and blessing that can awaken the perfection of one’s life and carry one over the ocean of miseries that are abundant in the material realm, the realm that is filled with tings that we cannot understand. There are wars and disease, death and people in constant anxiety. Kirtan transports the soul out of there. Without kirtan life is empty, meaningless, devoid of anything substantial. It is the best friend, shelter, water to quench thirst. You got to try.
Gaura Vani and Alex Gray, after Gaura’s performance at Alex’s Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, discuss “Chant4Change,” a kirtan event in JAN. 2009.
(By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada)
This transcendental vibration of chanting Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare is the sublime method of reviving our Krishna consciousness. As living spiritual souls, we are all originally Krishna conscious entities, but due to our association with matter since time immemorial, our consciousness is now polluted by the material atmosphere. In this polluted concept of life, we are trying to exploit the resources of material nature, but actually we are becoming more and more entangled in her complexities. This illusion is called maya — or hard struggle for existence for winning over the stringent laws of material nature. This illusory struggle against material nature can at once be stopped by the revival of our Krishna consciousness. Krishna consciousness is not an artificial imposition on the mind. It is the original energy of the living entity. When we hear the transcendental vibration, this consciousness is revived. By practical experience, also, we can perceive that by chanting this maha-mantra, or “the great chanting for deliverance,” one can at once feel transcendental ecstasy from the
spiritual stratum. When one is actually on the plane of spiritual understanding, surpassing the stages of sense, mind, and intelligence, one is situated on the transcendental plane. This chanting of Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare is directly enacted from the spiritual platform, surpassing all lower stages of consciousness, namely sensual, mental, and intellectual. There is no need to understand the language of the mantra, nor is there any need of mental speculation, nor any intellectual adjustment for chanting this maha-mantra. It springs automatically from the spiritual platform, and as such anyone can take part in this transcendental sound vibration without any previous qualification and feel the ecstasy. We have seen it practically—even a child can take part in the chanting. The word Hara is a form of addressing God’s energy. Krishna and Rama mean “the highest pleasure.” Hara is Krishna’s supreme pleasure potency. This potency, addressed as Hare, helps us in reaching Krishna. The material energy, known as maya, is also one of God’s multipotencies. The living entities are described as an energy that is superior to matter. When the superior energy is in contact with inferior energy, it becomes an incompatible situation. But when the marginal potency is in contact with the supreme spiritual potency, Hara, it becomes the happy, normal condition of the living entity. The three words Hare, Krishna, and Rama are the transcendental seeds of the maha-mantra, and the chanting is the spiritual call for God and His internal energy, Hara, for giving protection to the soul. The chanting is exactly like the genuine crying by a child for his mother. Mother Hara helps in achieving the grace of the supreme father—Hari, or Krishna—who reveals Himself to such a sincere devotee.
the whole story of the beauty liquid was disclosed to him. Finally, this man of low character was able to distinguish between the shadow and the substance, and thus he came to his senses. This man’s position is similar to that of every one of us who is attracted by false, material beauty. The girl mentioned above had a beautiful physical body, but in fact she was apart from that temporary body. ARE TRUTH AND BEAUTY COMPATIBLE TERMS? WE ARE ATTRACTED BY THE BEAUTY OF TRUTH, She was in fact a spiritual spark, and so BUT SINCE TIME IMMEMORIAL WE HAVE BEEN HABITUATED TO LOVE UNTRUTH APPEARING LIKE also was the lover who was attracted by her false skin. Mundane intellectuals and TRUTH. THEREFORE, TO A MUNDANE PERSON, TRUTH AND BEAUTY ARE INCOMPATIBLE TERMS. aesthetics, however, are deluded by the CHECK OUT THIS INSTRUCTIVE STORY. outward beauty and attraction of the relative truth and are unaware of the spiritual spark, which is both truth and beauty at By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami the so-called beautiful girl became lean and thin like the same time. The spiritual spark is so beautiful that Prabhupada a skeleton, her complexion turned blackish, and her when it leaves the so-called beautiful physical body, beautiful eyes sank into the sockets of her skull. Thus, at which in fact is full of stool and vomit, no one wants to here may sometimes be arguments about the appointed hour she waited anxiously to receive the t touch that body, even if it is decorated with a costly coswhether “truth” and “beauty” eauty” are compatible eager man. The man appeared on the t tume. We are all pursuing a false, relative truth, which terms. One would willingly ngly agree to express scene well dressed and well behaved is incompatible with real beauty. The actual truth, the truth, one might say, y, but since truth is not and asked the ugly g rl he found gi girl h however, is permanently beautiful, retaining the same always beautiful—indeed, it is frequently equently rather starwaiting there about the beautiful s standard of beauty for innumerable years. That spiritling and unpleasant—how is onee to express truth and girl he was t tual spark, which is who we actually are, is indestrucbeauty at the same time? to meet. t tible. The beauty of the outer skin can be destroyed in In reply, we may inform all concerned The man o only a few hours merely by a dose of a strong purgative, that “truth” and “beauty” are compatible mpatible could not b but the beauty of truth is indestructible and always the terms. Indeed, we may emphatically ally assert recognize s same. Mundane artists and intellectuals are ignorant of that the actual truth, which is absolute, solute, is the girl t this beautiful spiritual spark. always beautiful. The truth is so beautiful that it attracts everyone, including uding the truth itself. Truth is so beautiful ful that many sages, saints, and yogis have ve left everything for the sake of truth. Every ery one of us has the urge to search for or truth. Unfortunately, people have no information of the actual truth. h. Indeed, the great majority of people ple in all walks of life are pursuing unntruth only, in the name of truth. We are actually attracted by the beauty uty of truth, but since time immemorial rial we have been habituated to love untruth appearing like truth. Therefore, to a mundane person, “truth” and “beauty” are incompatible terms. Mundane truth and d beauty may be explained as follows. ws. Once a man who was very powerful and strongly built, but whose character was questionable, fell in love with a beautiful girl. This girl had great philosophical insight and was thus aware that she was actually the nonphysical conscious f th h i l h th same beautiful b tif l girl i l for f self, which is inherently diﬀerent from the physical he saw as the body. Therefore she did not like the man’s advances. whom he was asking; indeed, although she The man, however, was insistent because of his lusty repeatedly asserted her identity, because desires, and therefore the girl requested him to wait of her pitiable condition he was unable only seven days, and she set a time after that when he to recognize her. At last the girl told the could meet her. The man agreed, and with high expecpowerful man that she had separated the tations he began waiting for the appointed time. The ingredients of her beauty and stored them girl, however, adopted a method to instruct him about in pots. She also told him that he could enthe actual nature of her physical body. She took very joy those juices of beauty. When the munstrong doses of laxatives and purgatives, and for seven dane poetic man asked to see the juices days she continually passed loose stool and vomited of beauty, he was directed to the store of all that she ate. Moreover, she stored all the loose stool loose stool and liquid vomit, which were and vomit in suitable pots. As a result of the purgatives, emanating an unbearably bad smell. Thus
TRUTH & BEAUTY
The Song Divine BHAGAVAD-GITA AS IT IS by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. – Book Review by Vic DiCara
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e often look to songs and their lyrics for inspiration and guidance in life. The Bhagavad-gita is the lyrics to a song written by the Supreme Fountainhead of all Beings. On that merit alone, it would seem worth your attention. The Bhagavad-gita — even without a user-friendly title — is widely known throughout the world. People say the Gita is to Eastern culture what the Bible is to Western culture. I don’t agree 100%, but this comparison does give you a good idea of how important the Gita is to human development. The Gita’s song was not sung in English. In fact, English didn’t really even exist at the time. Instead, these lyrics are in the ancient spiritual language known as Sanskrit. Since it’s not likely that you know Sanskrit, you will need a translation. There’s a famous movie and a more famous saying — “Lost in Translation.” This is our main challenge: to find a translation of the Gita that does not lose the essence. To translate a concept from one language to another, from one culture to another, without damaging its original meaning is a miraculous feat. It requires linguistic capability and scholastic talent, but above all it requires one essential thing: The translator must deeply understand the inner meaning of the concept he or she hopes to translate. There are many English translations of the Bhagavad-gita — and they are all meritorious. But when push comes to shove, a translation made by one who has deeply and personally realized the inner meaning of the Bhagavad-
gita will stand head and shoulders above the rest, being uniquely empowered to deliver the inspiration of the song’s original author — the Supreme Artist. Without a doubt or challenge, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami (also known as “Srila Prabhupada”) possessed such a qualification. The proof that he was the most qualified to translate the Gita’s ancient Eastern concepts so that modern Westerners could understand them is the fact that Srila Prabhupada created and propagated throughout the modern world an actual movement based on the Bhagavad-gita’s spirituality. Srila Prabhupada entitled his translation “Bhagavad-gita “Bhagavad-gita As It Is,” Is,” signifying that he intended to present only the original meanings of the original author of these divine lyrics: the Supreme Soul, Sri Krishna. How refreshing! In the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, the reader gets not only a translation of the actual lyrics but also explanatory commentary on nearly every verse. In addition, this Gita contains word-for-word translations, as well as the original Sanskrit with a phonetic transliteration so that any reader can chant the verses. Some criticize the Gita As It Is for being sectarian or one-sided. But it must be objectively noted that any reference to Srila Prabhupada’s specific religious movement (ISKCON) is in actuality presented as a practical example of the Gita’s concepts in action rather than as a plug for any sectarian organization. And as for this translation being one-sided, it is the thesis of Srila Prabhupada that the Gita’s original author (Sri Krishna) did in fact have a singular intention behind his lyrics: to elevate human consciousness to the point of divine loving union with the Supreme Consciousness. Personally, I consider this thesis to be quite reasonable and agreeable. Arguably there is no better pre-
Henry David Thoreau: H “In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupen“ dous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavadd gita, in comparison with which our modern world g aand its literature seem puny and trivial.”
sentation of the Bhagavad-gita for those who wish to grasp its real meaning and benefit from the deep inspiration available in these lyrics written by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. ~~~ Vic DiCara is a Vedic astrologer and a student and proponent of the Vedantic school of divine love of Sri Radha-Krishna. He has published many works on these topics and is himself an author of music and lyrics, with more than half a dozen internationally published CDs to his credit. His astrology site is vicdicara.com, his band’s site is weare108.com
To order the Bhagavad-Gita, go to krishnasd.com/gita or call 1.800.927.4152