Page 1 April 2011



Learning From Forced Situations?



Please bring warm vibes. Make yourself comfortable. Dance, sit, or meditate to the music and chanting. Let us free our spirit and unite our consciousness through the sacred sound vibrations of timeless sanskrit mantras. Dress comfortably. Shoes are not worn in the studio. Drinking water is provided. 2

<(previous issue's cover)>


THE SPRING LESSON By Mahat Tattva Dasa

I wrote the

the first day of spring.

16Rounds to Samadhi

following on March 21st,

After a month long touring of India’s holy places, I am now visiting my family and old friends on the Adriatic coast in Europe. The nature here is truly beautiful. Exotic islands and the warm Mediterranean climate make it very pleasant here. The first day when I arrived to Dalmatia the weather was cold and gloomy, but on the following day the spring

powerfully manifested itself. Now it is sunny, warm, and pleasant wherever you look. It even smells great. Everything looks as if it is waking up or as if it’s been released from imprisonment, an unwanted confinement. To those who develop a sense of possession over this beauty, this loveliness will become their prison. One should be satisfied to simply be a happy witness of God's glory. Possessiveness over people, things, and all other phenomena, even though it tends to initially present itself as pleasurable, leads toward an increase in entanglement, confusion, tension, loss of freedom, and unhappiness. �

16Rounds is published: ● To propagate spiritual knowledge and to educate all people in the techniques of spiritual life in order to check the imbalance of values in life and to achieve real unity and peace in the world. ● To bring people closer together for the purpose of teaching a simpler and more natural way of life. ● To expose the faults of materialism. ● To bring about the well-being of all living entities. 16Rounds is an independent magazine 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. Bhakti­ vedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder and spiritual guide of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).


The first copy is free; additional copies of the same issue are $10 each. © 2011 16Rounds to Samadhi. All rights reserved.

16Rounds Staff:


Editor: Mahat Tattva Dasa Mahat has been a monk since 1995 and is currently serving as the president of the Hare Krishna temple in San Diego. Assistant Editor & Layout: Giriraj Gopal Dasa Giriraj Gopal Dasa is a working artist and a bhakti-yoga teacher and practitioner.

Layout: Benjamin Derrick Ben has been a monk since 2008 and is currently living in the ashram at the Hare Krishna temple in San Diego.

CONTACT: 1030 Grand Ave. San Diego, CA 92109 We love to be in touch with our readers. Want to talk about stuff, discuss things, or even hang out? Let us know. FaceBook ADVERTISE Call/text Mahat at #858.405.5465. See media/advertising kit at

MEANING OF “16ROUNDS” 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 meditation for the age we are currently living in is mantra meditation. This process involves chanting of mantras. The Upanishads, 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 the string of beads is held in the fist of the right hand and is meant to help us count how many times we chanted 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 round the mala every day; thus the name “16 Rounds.”

Photo Credits Cover graphic by Coral McIntyre ( © 1 © 2 © 3 © 4 © 5 © 6 © 7 © 8 © 9 © 10 © 11 © 12 © 13 © 14 © 15




Spiritual Wisdom For Facing Death By Ramnath Subramanian

The silent tears

at the other end said it all. "Is everything alright?" I asked Priya. I have known Dr. Priya Venkat, a pediatrician, for nine years. I was a witness to her strength and determination as she fought through many challenges in her college years. I felt a sense of satisfaction to have personally contributed to her welfare and finally see her settled in a happy married life. That is why her call was tough. Priya, who was six-months pregnant, barely managed to utter the words: "Miscarriage."

Two conspicuous emotions emerged simultaneously -- helplessness and shock. Helplessness because I could not even find the words to console her or myself, and shock because two minutes before I received that phone call, I was talking to my roommate Ari about the fragility of our life and the constant, undercover companionship of our death. Little did I realize that the conversation was just the beginning of a series of deathly events in the span of one week. The news of the miscarriage was followed by a suicide of the 17-year-old son of a good friend, the demise of my 23-year-old student who was suffering from cancer, and finally a fatal heart attack that consumed my 60-year-old cousin.


Thousands of people die every day, and the world still moves on. We read and hear about deaths and tragedies almost every day in the news. It may grab our attention for a moment, but the sports section seems more interesting. Is death really that trivial? Or have we unconsciously or consciously tranquilized ourselves from its impact?

This experience also helped me realize that treating death in a trivial fashion may close doors to deep realizations about our very existence. Life escapes us when we huddle within the defended fortress of our invulnerability. It's not that we should be paralyzed and depressed at the thought of death and renounce enjoying the precious and deep moments that life has bestowed upon us, but not taking death seriously enough may be as good as not taking life seriously enough. 4

THE PHILOSOPHICAL INQURY The topic of death has the wondrous potential of concentrating the mind. It opens up a deeper sense of inquiry into our true nature and makes us question the very purpose of our existence. The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once said that the real education of mankind means facing up to death. In most spiritual traditions, especially those from the East, the problem of death seems to open up the doorway to deeper spiritual inquiry. The Buddha renounced his wealth and riches to seek enlightenment when he saw the unpleasant sights of disease and death and realized that he had to go through the same. Similarly, in the Bhagavad-gita, which is India's classic text on yoga and spiritual wisdom, prince Arjuna faces a similar existential crisis as he is called upon to fight a gruesome war against his own kinsmen, led by his wily and unrighteous cousin Duryodhana. Although Arjuna was a veteran of many wars, he confronted death like never before because on the opposing side were members of his own family that he deeply loved and respected, but he was forced to fight them because of political intrigue.

SELF REALIZATION The first chapter of the Bhagavad-gita is called "The Yoga of Arjuna's Crisis" -- an appropriate title because the word "yoga" means "to link" or "to connect". In this chapter, Arjuna's crisis makes him connect through deep inquiry to his own identity. What follows is a beautifully composed and spiritually profound dialogue between Arjuna and his charioteer and dear friend Krishna. Although I grew up with three different editions of the Bhagavad-gita at home, this text made a much deeper impact on me after my own encounter with death.


My spiritual journey began when I first confronted the problem of death at the age of 17. After securing admission to the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, I faced deep insecurity about the fact that all achievements in my life will be invariably stripped from me at the time of death. The issue was like a thorn in my side until one day, during dinner, I expressed it to my mother. Very affectionately, she mentioned that I was letting such thoughts rob away my real joys of life. It is important to live in the moment and experience life to the fullest. Her affection touched my heart, but her response left me dissatisfied. I felt that her response was urging me to be in denial of the terror of death. It was like trying to enjoy a delicious, elaborate feast on the eve of a really tough exam for which I have not prepared one bit. Although I pursued the thought for some time, the intensity waned

-- helped by my own "confidence" of being able to "manage" the world. I invested myself in "hero projects" that I hoped would leave a mark in this world. It was not until my second date with death that I realized that the human brain just does not have the capacity to comprehend the magnitude of the terror.

The rendezvous occurred when I was a first year MBA student at Cornell University in September 2005. I had just finished a major exam in accounting and was one of few students in the class to secure full marks. My performance gave me complete confidence and security that I would ace my MBA program and secure a top job as an investment banker. That same afternoon I proceeded to Cornell University's medical center for a regular blood test. After the doctor obtained the required samples, I was sitting in the reception area scouring the Wall Street Journal. Suddenly, I saw darkness in front of me. When I came to external consciousness, I heard screams all around. I was on a stretcher surrounded by a whole bunch of medical personnel frantically rushing me to the emergency room. I felt excruciating pain in my hands and feet. They were twisted in an awkward fashion and to my greatest shock I could not move them. Then I felt numbness creeping up my body from my feet. I could barely speak and my eyes were getting heavier. Much to my horror, I realized that this could well be the end. Every moment seemed dilated. My entire life began to play out in front of me like a


movie. All the people that I loved and all the things that I felt deeply attached to filled up my thoughts. The pain of sudden separation from all of them was intense and tears welled up in my eyes. A distinct feeling enveloped me -- a state a despair resulting from an inevitable contradiction -- the strong desire for immortality in a situation that had mortality written all over it.

I was given heavy dosage of painkillers and other medicines and woke up 14 hours later feeling like I had run a marathon on my hands. I was relieved to be alive. Nothing else mattered at that moment. The doctors described the episode to be an extreme case of a vasovagal reaction or neurocardiogenic syncope -- an abnormal reflex to wounds or punctures that results in a blood pressure drop leading to decreased blood flow to the brain. Amazing what a harmless Cont'd on pg. 14 ›››

So, is it a good or a bad thing?







The Bliss Of Restraint By Karnamrita Dasa

The topic of

austerity became something of a web sensation, and was named the word of the year by Merriam-Webster online dictionary in 2010 because of the number of web searches this word generated that year. News articles on the Net and elsewhere have brought


the idea of forced austerity into the mainstream causing many people to wonder what austerity is, which is likely because they haven’t experienced directly applying it themselves or even heard about it being practiced by others—and certainly not in the spiritual sense of the word.

In fact, as one might expect in a capitalist-dominated world, in popular usage, the word is defined primarily, even solely,

in terms of economic policy. According to Wikipedia, “In economics, austerity is a policy of deficit-cutting, lower spending, and a reduction in the amount of benefits and public services provided. Austerity policies are often used by governments to reduce their deficit spending while sometimes coupled with increases in taxes to pay back creditors to reduce debt.” In light of this one-sided use of the word, I thought

it would be interesting to look at a more spiritual perspective, since it is an important word in Eastern spiritual circles and found throughout the writings of my spiritual teacher, Srila Prabhupada.

In other dictionaries I didn’t find much help in looking up austerity as it was defined as “the quality of state of being austere.” So I had to look up austere to see how the word is generally used. The usual

LIFESTYLE definitions of the word I found in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary don’t give the meaning as used in a Vedic or spiritual sense throughout Srila Prabhupada’s writings. Yet, for comparison sake, here are the meanings I found: 1) a : stern and cold in appearance or manner; b : somber, grave <an austere critic>; 2) : morally strict : ascetic; 3) : markedly simple or unadorned <an austere office> <an austere style of writing>; 4) : giving little or no scope for pleasure <austere diets>. Does it sound like something you would like to do? Probably not. Who would want to practice voluntary austerity? What about being forced to live an austere life? Could there be any benefit in any type of austere living?

For example, in current economic times, is there any advantage to having to reduce spending or in being thrifty? Or what about losing one’s freedom while being held hostage? Although most people would not pray for either possibility, if we study those who have experienced forced thrift, restricted freedom, or the increased possibility of death, there are surprising benefits which are possible.

In the first case, when spending must be limited or curtailed, many people naturally contemplate what is really of value in their lives. Going against the values of consumerism, a common discovery is that true value in life does not come from possessions or money, but through their family relationships, and facilities like having time and freedom. Those are certainly good realizations. However, in the second case of forced austerity, there can even be more benefit, especially spiritually. Any circumstance son’s life is


where a per-

“AUSTERITY OF THE BODY consists in expressing devotion to Godhead, the wise, the spiritual teacher, and superiors like the father and mother, and in cleanliness, simplicity, celibacy, and nonviolence.” “AUSTERITY OF SPEECH consists in speaking words that are truthful, pleasing, beneficial, and not agitating to others, and also in regularly reciting Vedic literature.” “Satisfaction, simplicity, gravity, self-control, and purification of one's existence are the AUSTERITIES OF THE MIND” [Bhagavad-gita 17.14-16] threatened or their freedom is reduced can have the effect of bringing about deep thought about the purpose of life, its meaning, the pondering of death, and the existence of God. Being in prison is another example of forced austerity. When there is limited external stimulation (or distractions), coupled with the increased possibility of death, existential introspection seems to be a natural consequence. These last effects give us a clue about why voluntary austerity is considered the wealth of the brahmanas or those whose lives are engrossed in spiritual study and practice. Srila Prabhupada taught the idea of simple living and high thinking. We find that by simple or uncomplicated, stress-free living, existential inquisitiveness or “high” spiritual thinking is often fostered. A Sanskrit word for austerity is tapasya. This word is frequently used in the Bhagavad-gita and other Vedic texts. Penance is often used conjointly or sometimes synonymously with austerity. Tapasya means voluntary acceptance of some material trouble for progress in spiritual life. There are many recommendations for spiritual life given in the Vedas, such as rising early, internal and external cleanliness, giving up the eating of meat and intoxications, fasting on special days, studying Vedic literature, and chanting Vedic hymns and prayers. Such activities may be materially troublesome, yet they are helpful for spiritual advancement, and those interested in such advancement gladly embrace them.

There are three consecutive verses in the Bhagavad-gita which delineate austerity of the body, speech, and the mind. They are considered in the mode, or quality, of goodness, and are thus favorable for the practice of spiritual life. Within these verses favorable practices for a spiritually balanced life are outlined.


“Austerity of the body consists in expressing devotion to Godhead, the brahmanas, the spiritual teacher, and superiors like the father and mother, and in cleanliness, simplicity, celibacy and nonviolence.” “Austerity of speech consists in speaking words that are truthful, pleasing, beneficial, and not agitating to others, and also in regularly reciting Vedic literature.”

“Satisfaction, simplicity, gravity, selfcontrol, and purification of one's existence are the austerities of the mind” [Bhagavad-gita 17.14-16]


Austerity is also one of the qualities attributed to the brahmanas, the traditional Vedic teachers in society:

“Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom, and religiousness -- these are the natural qualities by which the brahmanas work.” [Bhagavad-gita 18.42]

And finally, austerity is considered one of the four basic principles of spirituality given in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. They consist of austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness. Although these principles can be considered as corollary Cont'd on pg. 14 ›››





The Analysis, The Purpose, & The Light His Holiness Radhanath  Swami is one of the greatest contemporary spiritual leaders in India. Swami was born in Chicago and as a teenager migrated to India on the journey of a spiritual search to eventually become a distinguished spiritual teacher.

By Radhanath Swami

According to

t h e Bhagavad-gita, as well as according to the teachings of Lord Buddha, the source of suffering is in the fact that the body is temporary, that life is temporary, and therefore everything is subjected to birth, old age, disease, and death. The Vedas explain that there are three types of suffering: Adhyatmika, sufferings of one's own body and mind; Adi-bhautika, sufferings due to other living beings; and Adi-daivika, sufferings due to natural circumstances like heat or cold, or earthquakes. These sufferings are always there, potentially posing threat to the physical body at any moment.


The soul, Krishna explains, is never born and never dies. That source of life within the body, the source of consciousness, is the atma or the soul. The soul is transcendental. In Sanskrit: sat, cit, ananda - the soul is eternal, full of knowledge, and full of bliss. That is who we are.

The soul is like the driver of the car, and the body is like the car. We are seeing through our eyes, hearing through our ears, smelling through our nose, tasting through our tongue, touching through our skin, thinking through our brain. But who are we? Are we a brain or a heart or an eye or an ear? We are the witness - the soul. That is who we are. That soul is by nature full of love and always fulfilled. But when that soul identifies itself with the body and becomes immersed in that state, then the soul has to identify with all of the vulnerabilities and

frailties of this body. That is the source of all suffering!


In many ways, the sufferings in this world are blessings because they help us to take life very seriously, if we make that choice, to really understand what is deeper, what is higher than all these temporary pleasures and pains, honor and dishonor, happiness and distress, health and disease, success and failure, birth and death. The world around us is constituted on the basis of dualities. One brings pleasure, the other one brings pain. To the degree we are attached to something that gives us pleasure, to that same degree we suffer when it is lost. Ultimately, because everything is under the consumption of time, everything will be lost. So going through these experiences, thoughtful people contemplate, "Is there something higher?" "Is there something deeper?" "Is there something more to life than this?"

All the great saintly teachers and all the great sacred scriptures are leading us in that direction, that "There is something more." This world is just a temporary place but this world can be a launching pad to help us realize the inner treasures within our own heart. It is usually the sufferings of this world that serve as an impetus for us to not just theoretically try to understand what is beyond, but to feel the urgent need to do something about it, to realize and experience the essence of the self.


In the Bhagavad-gita Krishna tells, dukhalayam asasvatam, that the nature of

It is usually the sufferings of this world that serve as an impetus for us to not just theoretically try to understand what is beyond, but to feel the urgent need to do something about it, to realize and experience the essence of the self. 8

PHILOSOPHY this world, when we are in ignorance of our true self, is suffering. Potentially there can be suffering at any moment, whoever we are, however wealthy, however educated, however powerful. Disease, people, natural circumstance, etc., they all could create a disaster, create a tragedy. So whatever happiness anyone has in this world, it is so tottering. It is like a drop of water on a lotus leaf - at any moment it could slip away. So where is permanent happiness? Where is freedom from suffering? It exists only on the spiritual platform. And that is what all the great sages have come to tell us. In the Bible it is said, "Make your treasure not in this world, but make your treasure in the kingdom of God. In this world your treasure will be stolen by thieves, or rusted by the elements, or eaten by moths. But if you make your treasure in the kingdom of God, it will be perfect and infallible.” And then Jesus said, "The Kingdom of God is within."

Similarly, Krishna tells in the Bhagavadgita, "One should find pleasure within”. One should find satisfaction within. One should be enlightened and illuminated from within. The life of such a person is of substantial quality and real intelligence."

We should seek that eternal reality beyond all the sufferings of this world and thus find real happiness. �


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MUBARACK Learning B M O B From Forced By Mahat Tattva Dasa


People naturally want to have a say in the decision making process of their own destinies. Probably one of the worst feelings one can have is a lack of freedom to make decisions about one’s own fate.


With all the

rapidly happening things in the world today, events in Egypt are quickly sinking into history. However, while thinking about the dramatic events in the recent history of that country, I am reminded of wise teachings.


When did the trouble of the Egyptians start? It is hard to say. It probably always existed in one form or another. Hosni Mubarak became the president of the country in 1981. Like all the presidents of Egypt, Hosni too had a military training background. He was certainly an educated, cultured, and sophisticated person. Perhaps he also had his fellow citizens’ interest in mind when taking up the post of the president. Whatever his motivations might have been, I can only speculate about it. The fact is that the people of his country wanted a demo-


cratic government. They wanted to have a say in the decision making process of their own destinies. Probably one of the worst feelings one can have is a lack of freedom to make decisions about one’s own fate. However, Mr. Mubarak managed to hold on to the absolute power for thirty long years. Not only did his fellow countrymen have to humbly accept the results of his personal decision making which were in many ways directly deciding Egyptians’ present and future, but they were also living in poverty while Mr. Mubarak’s wealth, and that of his personal family, was increasing to ridiculous proportions. No one knows exactly how much is the Mubarak’s family’s worth. The British Guardian newspaper cites Middle Eastern sources estimating the Mubarak wealth to be between $40 billion and


Bill Gates & Hosni Mubarak


COVER STORY $70 billion. ABC News came up with similar estimates. Compare that to the wealth of Bill Gates whose worth is $53 billion. If Guardian’s and ABC’s numbers are correct, that would make Mr. Mubarak one of the richest people on the planet if not the richest. Now we can begin to understand the anger of the Egyptian people. To amass that kind of wealth as a president of a rather poor

country is much more than shady. As I write this, Egypt’s General Prosecutor has issued an order prohibiting the Mubarak family from leaving Egypt. A criminal investigation is underhand. Even Switzerland’s government froze Swiss bank accounts possibly related to Mubarak’s family.


However, all that is now over. Mubarak is off the throne and democracy is ascendi n g . Peop l e

My blanket is short. What to do now?




are excited about the new, bright future with the draconian system behind. Now Egyptian Muslim extremists are killing Egyptian Christians. The members of the Muslim Brotherhood party are demanding, out of fear, that Egypt be an exclusively Muslim-run country. Thus one set of problems has been replaced by another set of problems. However, people still have hope. After all, who could live, or exist on any level, without hope.

Actually, I would hate to see anyone being brought to this intersection.

I would hate to see the poor people of Egypt’s hope crushed again. I would not want to see them at the crossroad where they will have to make a choice between suicide or hope against hope.

It is not possible for peace and happiness to last. Disturbance comes unsought. No one goes to the forest to set a fire. Yet somehow by the friction among trees, forest fire takes place. The First World War, for example, was so gory and horrific that all people decided to do ev-


It is the nature of the physical existence that something must be hurting. Material existence is like having a short blanket on a cold night. No matter how you position yourself, a part of the body will be uncovered and exposed to the cold. We may solve one problem, but another one will manifest. Krishna teaches (Bhagavad-gita 8.15) that the material creation, although containing happiness, is permeated by pain and it is ultimately temporary.

erything they could to ensure that nothing like it would ever repeat in history. The First World War, according to some estimates, took 17,000,000 lives and left 22,000,000 wounded. However, just some short twenty years later, the Second World War broke out taking more lives and painfully impacting more people than the First World War (World War Two took nearly 80,000,000 lives.) On the material, physical plane happiness and distress are like summer and winter (Bhagavad-gita 2.14). When one is over, the other one sets in. So what should Egyptians do? Give up and let Mubarak and other

COVER STORY such scavengers reign supreme? Should they withdraw themselves into their internal world and simply tolerate whatever extremes might be taking place outside? I guess they could try that. However I would advise them to consider Krishna’s teachings.

Krishna says that we should carefully cultivate the spiritual source of our happiness while dealing with the external world as a matter of duty. We should not get elated when in material comfort because it will not last. Neither should we feel desponded when in material discomfort because that will not last either. As the summer is followed by winter and as winter is followed by summer, happiness and distress take each other's place. The trouble called Mr. Mubarak might be over for Egyptians, but something else will surely replace him. Think of the short blanket on a cold night example for a minute. Something is bound to be left uncovered and cold. One may manage to cover and keep warm one's chest, but his legs are going to sooner or later get cold. At that time one will cover his legs but will be forced to expose his chest. After covering the chest, one will feel warm and happy, but only for a while until he gets woken up by the cold due to having his chest uncovered. Thus one will indefinitely continue to alternate the solutions. Something is bound to be cold. By attaching oneself to material pleasure, one is certainly attaching oneself to material pain! To see this is crucial. Material pain is repulsive and material pleasure is attractive. However, it is impossible to separate the two. Thus, acceptance of material pleasure

necessitates opening the door to material pain. To avoid getting attached to material pleasure, Krishna advises that we go about our external life as a matter of duty. By doing something as a matter of duty we don’t get attached to it. In this way we can eliminate, to whatever degree that is possible, the unnecessary material disturbance and use the acquired time and peace to cultivate our internal, spiritual world, the garden where eternal and unconditional happiness can exist.


Even if somehow we are to manage to eliminate all sources of external discomfort, we would still not achieve happiness. Happiness is not a matter of external arrangements. Happiness is an internal experience, independent of the external world. Imagine a person that is externally very comfortable. If that person is not internally comfortable, he or she is certainly an uncomfortable person. On the other hand, a person might be externally even extremely uncomfortable, but if he or she is internally comfortable, that person is a comfortable person.

It is interesting to note that often the people with means to produce lots of external comfort tend to be internally uncomfortable people. It is painful to see all the wealthy celebrities who just can’t get a grip on their own lives. While pursuing the top limits of the external comfort, too many are eroding internally.


"It is my certain conviction that no man loses his freedom except through his own weakness." - Mohandas K. Gandhi Even though Gandhi said and wrote many things that are incongruous with what I have experienced in life and studied in the Vedas, this statement by this otherwise great person, reveals an important spiritual secret, the one I tried to communicate about in this article.


It is impossible to completely eliminate external discomforts. One should focus on the internal pleasure. Even if one is to completely eliminate all external discomforts, it would not be enough to produce happiness, which is an internal experience. One should deal with the external world as a matter of duty and in that way escape getting attached to the external comforts which are always followed by external discomfort. The time and peace thus gained should be used for spiritual cultivation. I wish you a happy and successful journey. �


By attaching oneself to material pleasure, one is certainly attaching oneself to material pain! To see this is crucial. Material pain is repulsive and material pleasure is attractive. However, it is impossible to separate the two. Thus, acceptance of material pleasure necessitates opening the door to material pain.


THE GRIM REAPER ››› Cont'd from pg. 5 blood test can cause!

This experience opened my eyes to the fact that death could come at any time -even when it is least expected. It only takes a moment for life to change by 180 degrees, and when it does, the first reaction is shock. I say shock because the built-in narcissist in the human psyche believes that he will never die; he only feels sorry for the man next to him. Freud's explanation for this was that in man's inner organic recesses he feels immortal.


I once read a story in the Mahabharata, a text on India's ancient history that resonates well with this. The great king Yudhisthira, who was very famous for his wisdom and unwavering sense of integrity, was once put to a test. He had to answer 100 questions that tested his intellect and wisdom, and his success was a matter of life and death for his dear brothers. Yudhisthira impressed his interrogator with the first 99 questions. The last and the most open-ended question of the test was, "What is the most wondrous thing in this world?" To this, the king deeply


pondered and responded, "Every person sees many others around him die every day, but refuses to believe that he will ever have to go through it. On the contrary, they make plans for a permanent settlement in this world. To me, this is the greatest wonder and the biggest irony!" Of course Yudhisthira won the contest.

Confronting the fragile nature of my existence was a very humbling experience. I realized that at the time of death, the physical body that I so carefully nurture, the adoration and distinction that I strive for and treasure as fortifications of my greatness can all get uprooted and scattered like trees in a tornado. I was forced to re-examine the reliability of social, political and financial power-linkages that gave me the sense of being grounded. Facing the truth of this situation opened up spiritual inquiry yet again. For the first time, the concepts from the Bhagavad-gita made deep and logical sense.


This experience also helped me realize that treating death in a trivial fashion may close doors to deep realizations about our very existence. Life escapes us when we huddle within the defended fortress of our invulnerability. It's not that we should be

paralyzed and depressed at the thought of death and renounce enjoying the precious and deep moments that life has bestowed upon us, but not taking death seriously enough may be as good as not taking life seriously enough. It may very well rob us of the opportunity to develop the humility and gratitude to appreciate the abundant gifts of life.

One bit of profound advice that Socrates gave to his disciples was to practice dying every day. Although this may sound impractical, the undertone to this insight is very useful -- to cultivate awareness of and face our deep-rooted insecurities, the epitome of which is death itself. Such awareness, when dealt with in a healthy and honest fashion, leads to a deliberate dismantling of our defense mechanisms of denial and repression. It makes us take life seriously enough to deliberate on our actions and makes routine activity impossible. It increases the discovery of new possibilities of choice and action and new forms of courage and endurance. It gives rise to a new and more meaningful way of life. �


››› Cont'd from pg. 7 factors which support the most important practices of devotional life, they are essential principles which promote a pure lifestyle.

Although sometimes Srila Prabhupada would say that human life is meant for austerity, on the path of devotion, we don’t engage in greatly difficult and austere practices like the traditional yogis do. From our perspective such austerities can make the heart hard, while bhakti is about softening the heart through loving Krishna. Our austerity is the natural austerity which comes in relationship to service to Krishna. For example eating (or honoring) the sanctified vegetarian food, although enjoyable, is also an austerity, as one doesn’t eat food that cannot be offered to Krishna. Alcohol and meat are some of the foods that cannot be offered to Krishna as they are considered impure and polluting. Once we become attracted to Krishna and center our life on his service, many activities fall away that we used to think nothing about doing. Some would call this austere, but for a devotee it becomes a source of joy. Such natural austerities help us fix our minds and hearts on Krishna and make spiritual progress. �





According to the sutras, regardless of one’s culture, religion, family traditions or race, universal principles exist that apply to all human beings.

By Sara Bock

Good health

and happiness go hand in hand. When we are healthy, we have energy to do things that make us happy. On the flipside, psychological studies have shown that happy people live longer and healthier lives. The question is, how do we become happy? Propaganda may lead us to believe that acquiring material goods leads to happiness. We work hard to earn money to buy the latest trends. Yet something is missing. Frustration is still there. No matter how much we get, it is never enough.

The Yoga Sutras, compiled by Patanjali, teach us about the eight limbs of yoga, an alternative path to happiness and health. The physical exercises practiced in yoga studios are one of the eight limbs. The other limbs focus on breath, morality, meditation, and other aspects of spiritual living. The first limb is called Yamas, or universal principles of morality. According to the sutras, regardless of one’s culture, religion, family traditions or race, universal principles exist that apply to all human beings. Following these principles, not acquisition of material goods, is the key to happiness. These principles of morality are:

Ahimsa (non-violence/compassion) –

includes being nonviolent to other living beings in thought, words, and deeds. Following a vegetarian diet is one way to practice ahimsa. Ahimsa also refers to being nonviolent to oneself.

Satya (truthfulness) – besides not speaking lies to others, satya includes being honest with ourselves.

Asteya (non-stealing) – in addition to not stealing others’ property, asteya includes


not stealing people’s time with gossip/non-purposeful speech, and not taking from the earth more resources than needed. We can recognize everything as belonging to God, and use resources for universal good rather than “steal” them for selfish purposes.

Brahmacarya (sense control) – Just because we see a piece of chocolate cake, we do not have to eat it. Brahmacarya refers to utilizing intelligence rather than sensual inclinations in making choices. In regards to sex, it refers to celibacy in unmarried people, and monogamy and restriction within married couples. Aparigraha (non-hoarding) – Aparigraha refers to keeping what we need, and not more, to maintain a healthy life. When we possess less, life becomes simpler, and we have more time and energy for spiritual cultivation.


Modern society teaches us that more sex, money, and possessions will bring us happiness. To accomplish these feats we Cont'd on pg. 17 ›››



Where The Matter Meets Spirit By Sara Bock

You may

already be aware of some health benefits of being vegetarian such as a lower risk of high cholesterol and heart disease. Have you also considered the more subtle effects of your diet on your mind and consciousness? According to the Vedas, following a sattvic diet (diet in the mode of goodness) is essential for maintaining a healthy, peaceful, and happy mental state. Foods in goodness include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts,



sometimes lie, pretend to be who we are not, and commit violence against others to get our own way. Yet such a life does not lead to actual happiness. Let us acknowledge the wisdom offered by spiritual texts such as Patanjali’s yoga sutras. Experiment with these principles of morality for just one week. Try to live a simple, honest, and pure life in accordance with these five yamas, and feel the results for yourself. Happiness and health come from within by the choices we make every day. �

In this mud here, through which flow waters as oily and thick as some kind of a blood soup, where every creature is drowning in its own feces, all our ideas conform to the provincialist, petit bourgeois, unsophisticated reality: roasted chicken, grilled pork, venison with sour cream and cranberries, woodcock, pheasant, partridge, lamb, turkey, wine, beer, and whiskey. -Miroslav Krleza

and legumes. Canned or frozen foods, whether vegetables, beans, or meats, are not sattvic, as any food that is not fresh loses some of its prana or life force/energy. Meats then, are far from being sattvic, as animal flesh is old and decomposed. Rather than giving us prana, animal flesh can actually deplete the body of prana. A diet heavy in meat can thus leave one feeling lethargic, while a vegetarian diet with fresh foods can help the mind feel lightness, creativity and happiness. Recently, some scientific research studies have supported this notion that a vegetarian diet creates a more peaceful mind such as one study entitled, “Vegetarian diets are associated with healthy mood states: a crosssectional study in Seventh Day Adventist adults” published in Nutritional Journal in June 2010. We absorb the energy of the foods we eat. If we eat an apple picked fresh from a tree, we intake fresh energy and life. If we ingest meat however, our minds can absorb the negative emotions

the animal felt upon slaughter such as anxiety, suspicion and fear of death. Such emotions can get stored on a cellular level in the animal flesh and make its way into the consciousness of one who eats it. Furthermore, one important quality of practicing any form of spiritual life, be it Christianity, Krishna Consciousness, Judaism, or Islam, is to become free from envy of other living creatures. God created and loves all creatures, and hopes that we also love and respect our fellow beings as commanded in all religious practices. As long as we are participating in, or supporting animal slaughter, we are not exactly following the instruction of God to love and care for all creatures, but rather causing unnecessary

pain to others. We did not create the animals, so why do we have the right to take their lives away, when we can subsist rather nicely on a meat free diet? The mind and spirit will feel more compassionate and less envious when we eat a vegetarian, cruelty free diet. Our diet does affect our consciousness and mental state. To take your vegetarian diet to the next level, prepare your vegetarian food as an offering to God, and then accept the food as His mercy, or prasadam. Visit your local Hare Krishna temple to sample delicious vegetarian prasadam or to learn in detail how to prepare your own. By eating prasadam, and by following a vegetarian diet, your mind can increase in goodness, peace, and clarity. �




Review by Nug Magazine (


from South India, dosas are a sourdoughlike pancakes made from rice and bean dough, stuffed with flavored potatoes, and served with handcrafted chutneys to use as a dip. At Bova Dosa, they add their own Southern California twist by adding avocado and soy-free, dairy-free cheese in some of their dosas. They also have sweet ones with natural peanut butter and agave.

Their food is spiritualized because they are practicing a form of Bhakti Yoga when creating it. They offer up their food to the highest source and give the food with love and devotion. They believe that when they distribute food that has been offered in this manner, both the food and the activity of giving and receiving money are spiritualized.  People receive great benefits from eating it. People that are really sensitive have expressed their experience of eating their food as that of feeling a vibration. Coral, one of the owners, says, “The greatest thing is when you can do what you are doing for the highest purpose and the betterment for anyone who comes into contact with it, spreading the love that is already there. It’s as if you’re being nourished by the love of God.”  So when they say it is vegan soul food, they really mean it!

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“You’re eating of this is a form of yoga and a form of union; that is the form of meditation you are practicing right now, so just open yourself up to receive what it is giving you. The whole time I’m making it I’m deep in prayer thinking, ‘If you could feed God, what would you feed him?’ As I’m making this food, I’m thinking of the Beloved, and it’s like making it for the Supreme. When other people receive this food, the sensation is indescribable, but people feel it.”

“We put our love, heart, and hopes for everybody into all the food we make.” The food is also said to be medicinal; for example, their chutneys are medicinal because every ingredient in it is powerful. They crack open coconuts by hand and use over two pounds of ginger in one chutney along with whole seed spices such as fenugreek, mustard seeds, Dahl, and fresh curry leaves.  “We want to heal people and help them find the highest truth, and help them refocus on watering the roots instead of running around watering the leaves.  Go to the source; there’s not enough money or whatever to fulfill them, so it’s important to get centered.” You can find Coral and Sage running Bova Dosa at the Imperial Beach Farmers Market every Friday, and more markets will be coming soon.  Go and treat yourself to a Dosa Love. �




April 2011  

16 Rounds To Samadhi newspaper. April 2011 issue.