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a community for spiritual revolution

Thursdays 7:15pm | Free Admission Kirtan Music Vegetarian Dinner bliss crowd You’re Welcome 1036 Grand Ave. San Diego (PB) CA 92109 | 858.405.5465 | | ( 2 )

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PASSING PHANTASMAGORIA When there are ample earthly flats to lie on, what is the necessity of cots and beds? When one can use his own arms, what is the necessity of a pillow? When one can use the palms of his hands, what is the necessity of varieties of utensils? When there is ample covering, or the skins of trees, what is the necessity of clothing? (Srimad Bhagavatam 2.2.4) COMMENTARY BY SRILA PRABHUPADA

16Rounds to Samadhi SAN DIEGO - SAN FRANCISCO - OAKLAND - BERKELEY 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. © 2013 16 Rounds to Samadhi. All rights reserved.

16Rounds Staff: Editor: Mahat Tattva Dasa In 1995, at the age of twenty, instead of opting for college, Mahat chose the monastic life and education. Ever since he’s taught and guided hundreds of new monks. Layout: Bhismadeva Dasa Bhismadeva has been a monk since 2008 and is currently serving at the ashram of the Hare Krishna community in San Diego.

English editor: Matthew McManus Born and grew up in Los Angeles. Graduated from San Diego State University in 2011. Currently a monk at the ISKCON ashram in San Diego.


necessities of life for the protection and comfort of the body must not be unnecessarily increased. Human energy is spoiled in a vain search after such illusory happiness. If one is able to lie down on the floor, then why should one endeavor to get a good bedstead or soft cushion to lie on? If one can rest without any pillow and make use of the soft arms endowed by nature, there is no necessity of searching after a pillow. If we make a study of the general life of the animals, we can see that they have no intelligence for building big houses, furniture, and other household paraphernalia, and yet they maintain a healthy life by lying down on the open land. They do not know how to cook or prepare foodstuff, yet they still live healthy lives more easily than the human being. This does not mean that human civilization should revert to animal life or that the human being should live naked in the jungles without any culture, education, and sense of moralCONTACT: Call/text 858-405-5465 ADVERTISE Call/text Mahat at 858-405-5465. SUBSCRIPTIONS 10 issues = $25 DISCLAIMER: Views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors.

ity. An intelligent human cannot live the life of an animal; rather, a human being should try to utilize his intelligence in arts and science, poetry and philosophy. In such a way he can further the progressive march of human civilization. But here the idea given by Srila Sukadeva Gosvami is that the reserve energy of human life, which is far superior to that of animals, should simply be utilized for self-realization. Advancement of human civilization must be towards the goal of establishing our lost relationship with God, which is not possible in any form of life other than the human. One must realize the nullity of the material phenomenon, considering it a passing phantasmagoria, and must endeavor to make a solution to the miseries of life. Self-complacence with a polished type of animal civilization geared to sense gratification is delusion, and such a "civilization" is not worthy of the name. In pursuit of such false activities, a human being is in the clutches of maya, or illusion. Great sages and saints in the days of yore were not living in palatial buildings furnished with good furniture and so-called amenities of life. They used to live in huts and groves and sit on the flat

ground, and yet they have left immense treasures of high knowledge with all perfection. Srila Rupa Gosvami and

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Photo Credits

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.

Thank you to the following artists for letting us print their art.

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.”

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A TRUE DEMOCRACY? Democracy & The Dhemokrat By Abhaya Mudra Dasi ETYMOLOGY OF THE WORD “DEMOCRACY”


popular historical accounts the word democracy was first used in ancient Greece to denote a contemporary system of governing. In ancient Athens, the word democracy was a compound term which could be broken into two parts: demos meaning ‘people’ and kratein ‘to rule.’ This ideal of governing inspires us even today. Democracy echoes the ancient ideals of equality and freedom among the modern governing systems.

Some authors like John Keane (author of Life and Death of Democracy) think that democracy has much older origins. He traces the meaning of the word democracy back to the Mycenaean period, which preceded the rule of Greece in the Mediterranean region. There the word demos (a person) is slightly changed to be pronounced damos. John Keane discovered

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the word demos in the Sumerian language, where it is pronounced dunu, meaning ‘inhabitants of a designated region.’ In the ancient world many of the different languages enjoyed a greater connection to one another than they do today. That is due to the fact that they all kept close phonetic link to their unifying origin, the prototypic Sanskrit. In Sanskrit or devanagari (lit. “language spoken in the cities of the demigods”) dham means “place.” Dhamu means “one who hails from a particular region.” Kratu implies intellectual ability. Therefore in ancient times, dhemokrat meant to employ the thinking ability of every person and utilize it for the welfare of the total society.


How democracy was applied in ancient times can be seen in an incident that is recorded in the Srimad Bhagavatam (10th canto, 89th chapter). When the local king failed to protect one citizen from a disease in the family, the citizen, every time the disease occurred,

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walked straight into the king’s assembly hall to voice his protest, concern, and demand protection. The king vowed to protect the citizen even at the cost of his own life. Numerous such incidents are described in the Puranic literature, the literature which consists of accounts of the ancient Vedic culture.

When it comes to queens, they were equal to the kings in making decisions. One such example is illustrated by the story (Srimad Bhagavatam 1st canto, chapter 7) of punishment applied to Ashvatthama. When Ashvatthama killed the five sleeping and helpless sons of Draupadi, he was captured by Shri Krishna and Arjuna. When Krishna and his friend were determined to kill Ashvatthama, Draupadi was also consulted for a verdict. Her choice of punishment was much milder and considerate of the mother of Ashvatthama; therefore, Shri Krishna only disgraced Ashvatthama. As long as there was true princely order, the aristocracy (kshatriyas), the citizens were protected. But the moment the kings became corrupt, the people decided to take

the reigns of power into their own hands. In ancient Athens, democratic votes were given every day. Whenever there was a predicament, all the people discussed the situation. For this reason the governments constructed large places for congregation. Every citizen had a turn to rule the city at some point in their life; a big city being considered to be a village of 10,000 people, which made the application of democracy easier. In Manu Samhita and Shukra Niti it is noted that an ideal city should not exceed a population of 56,000.


What is the situation today? We live in gigantic conglomerates. The idea of democracy is stronger than ever in our modern world. But although it may be one of the most used words in political accounts and discussions, democracy remains an elusive dream when it comes to practical application. Words have vast power in today’s world of the variegated media. Words in the form of information rule the world today; they change and shape the global perception of each generation. When we hear “democracy” we think equality and freedom. But there are many different forms of democracy and all of them are meant to discourage the straightforward practice of control by the people.

DIFFERENT FORMS OF APPLYING DEMOCRACY In representative democracies, the people elect a few candidates amongst themselves and those representatives run in an election. The problem with representation is that not all people in the population of a country are politically active and only the political parties elect representatives. Many end up voting for candidates they do not like or do not identify with. In this form of democracy the president is not able to stand for all the views and wants of all the citizens at large. The main reason is because in this form of democracy the rule is wielded by the majority. This situation creates an oppressed minority. The oppressed minority acts in opposition to the elected representative. Because the opposition wants a share in the decision making process, a situation is created in which a consecutive election is inevitable. Thus no one remains on top of the political game for too long. No president has enough time to solve the major problems concerning his country and the world. Most presidents come to power, enrich themselves for their term of four or five years and then go away for the next elected “leader” to come along and repeat the performance. Because the representative democracy, depending on the winner amongst the two leading parties, is inevitably partisan to their own party’s agenda, some societies em-

PHILOSOPHY ploy another type of democracy called parliamentary. In this form of democracy, there is an extended representation of the citizens in the form of a parliament. In the parliament, all major political parties in a country have their representatives. The parliament has the right to vote against the decisions of the prime minister and the president. Although this is a better version of democracy than the representative democracy, it is noteworthy to mention that an ordinary person has little or no access to the parliamentary decisions. The high officials who supposedly represent the citizens are sitting in big chairs behind many closed doors. Their cabinets have high security alarms and the so-called “representatives” are virtually inaccessible to the ordinary citizens. Hence, the fellow on the street has a tough time influencing the decisions of the parliament. Although the deputies are supposed to represent the opinions of the people, they have their own political agenda. Often politics and corruption go hand in hand. On the surface, parliamentary democracy may seem fairer than other forms of democracy but in practice it does not provide better results. This form of democracy is confusing to the general public. The ordinary citizens are deceived to believe that they personally take part in the government via their representatives. In fact, the chosen few in the parliament are only looking after the citizen’s interests


DEMOCRACY IN MODERN TIMES in theory. In this unfair form of democracy only a chosen few can truly represent themselves and those few are the deputies in the parliament. When the citizens realize that nobody is truly looking after them, they do not know how to overcome this social imbalance.

In general, society reacts to corruption by exposing the culprits. However, the ones who want to fight for their rights by bringing about a revolution in society, lose track of priorities. They start by looking into the lives of the alleged high personas, and end up popularizing their mistakes. They do this by focusing on the flaws themselves instead of developing a pragmatic alternative for people to follow. Although they have good intentions to make a change, it ends up backfiring; the freedom fighters

inspire society to follow the same path of corruption as the ones in charge instead of following a higher standard. Some countries prefer another form of democracy called presidential. In this form of democracy the president has the right to oversee the work of the government. His power is close to that of a king because he can interfere with all decisions made by the administration. The problem with this democracy is that the president is elected through one political party. He is supposed to be without bias and represent all political parties equally. In practice this is impossible because the president is always loyal to the party that promoted him. But a perfect ruler is not cre-

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When “Chewing the Chewed” Works By Vic DiCara

I got tired of

swiping a metallic looking thing to the right to open up my personaluniverse-slash-smartphone. It got boring. But today, there is a new iOS! iOS7! Seven!!! Now I don’t have to swipe that same old boring metallic looking thing to the right. Now I have… well, I don’t really even know how to describe it, it’s so light and airy and freeform. It’s so fun. It’s like right-swiping cotton candy. My personal-universe-slashsmartphone is fun again! Yippie!


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And other neat things abound. I can have an “active background.” That means little bubbles can blurb around animated in the background. That’s a relief. I was bored solid of those static, standing-still

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photo-images I had to use for the last twelve years as the backdrop to my personal universe. And there are other neat things. Well, there are other things that look neater, and there are a few things that even work better. Actually, everything looks neater. Kinda more like, you know… one of those other smartphones – like the Galaxy or whatever else is out there. So, that’s what you do. You repackage.

Here is a bit of meal that’s already been chewed. That’s alright, we can serve it again, just put it on a new plate. The customer will love it, because the plate is more modern. So I get my new iOS and feel like a kid again, for fifteen minutes, or maybe fifteen days. Then I’ll want a new plate again, a new package, a new update, some new way to swipe, some new two-finger

screen-gesture to flick… and they’ll give it to me. iOS7. They’ll keep giving it to me because they like my money.

dialing and SMS / Line / Skyping us? And how delicious is that reality?

It’s nothing “evil” about Apple, or smartphones, or technology, or the modern world. It’s just the way things are. Everything has always been this way.

Our content is stale. Only love is fresh.

And it seems that I like giving them my money.

A zillion aeons ago, a brilliant young boy named Prahlād ingeniously expressed what it’s like to live in this world: “Again and again, chewing the chewed…”

We’re chewing something that doesn’t have flavor. But it’s so nicely packaged! The plate is so well presented, and so nicely decorated! The user interface is so simple, clear, minimal, and effective!!! So, let’s try it! OK, once the packaging is opened, the content is… well, the same… basically, something without much flavor.

“Waiter! This is tasteless. Send it back to the chef!” OK, the chef will try again… a new platter, new decorations, a new interface – same food.

Oooo, so attractive. Let’s try it again. Chew it again.

Why doesn’t the content have any flavor? We should ask! Our smart-phones are fun to use, but what do we use them for? Talking to friends? It can be fun to swipe, pinch and point to call and text our friends, but do our friends really even like us? If we stopped driving them here or there, or flattering their ego – would they keep speed-

The real operating system is the mind. And the real content is the heart. Instead of love we all are saturated with various permutations of selfishness – the anti-love. That’s why life tastes bitter. Even if you taste a bitter thing from a penthouse on the top of the Empire State Building, it’s still bitter. Even if you read it on your amazing iOS79c transported by Mr. Spock to you from the future – it’s still bitter. So, you might be thinking, “What? I’m selfish?”

It’s not like it’s just you - it’s the entire material universe. So when you compare yourself to the creature standing next to you in the line for the cashier, you might look pretty awesome and unselfish. So, again, you might be thinking, “What? This whole universe is selfish?”

Yeah. You haven’t noticed? The only unselfish thing that exists is love. But is there any true love in the material world??? When you’ve got the patience and guts, think about that honestly for a while. Like I said with your friends, are they really texting you, or are they texting someone who enhances their image, or maybe makes them feel “good” etc. etc.? How about your significant other? Do they love you, or what you do for them? The only love that’s pretty darn close to true love in this world is the love of a really good mother; and it only gives you a hint of the reflection of real,

SOCIETY problem with the constitutional democracy lies in the truth that the constitution is not a perfect document. It is written at a particular time, which has its own trends, by a handful of people with limited experience. The constitution is a weak call to rewrite the laws of the universe, a task only God can be capable of.

A TRUE DEMOCRACY? Cont'd from pg. 5



If you want to get a taste for true love, I really think you’ll need to put yourself in contact with Śrī Krishna Caitanya - the fountainhead of true-love-divine. It’s a very deep and beautiful ocean of bliss you can access there. It won’t fit in this short article about a gadget’s latest crappy update.

Suffice to say that as long as we are charmed by the allure of repackaging a selfish, bitter outlook on life – every revision is going to be disappointing (as iOS7 turned out to be). As soon as we forget the fluff and get to the real stuff – right down into our heart and work on finding the infinite pool of rāsa (FLAVOR) that ripples like nectar in the goblet of our spiritual being – then we really won’t give a damn for any OS updates. We’ll be too

busy dancing, singing, celebrating, and shedding tears of loving joy.

This is the most powerful mantra that will update the kernel of your soul’s inner heart. Download it now: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma

Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare

Chant this mantra constantly and you will discover the fountainhead of all delightful flavor, Krishna - the honeymoon-faced divine darling surrounded by the limitless beautiful love. �


ated in one or two days and he does not rule a country for one or two terms for a limited number of years. A real well-wisher of all citizens is born as a king and trained since birth to follow dharma. Thus the problem with the presidential democracy is that the imposed leader ends up being a mere panderer in the hands of certain powerful political parties or corporations. In some countries there is semipresidential democracy where the prime minister and the president have equal powers and are supposedly checking and correcting each others’ errors. The problem here is that the president and the prime-minister go into endless error fining. Instead of working constructively and solving real problems like tax, poverty line, employment, and medical care, they only add new meanings to political correctness. Since all democracies in the

above list have failed to properly represent all citizens, political masterminds have made one last attempt to make democracy work by using the power of law. Supposedly, in the face of law, the political parties, the president, the prime minister, and the ordinary citizens are equal. The chains of law, ideally, stop all unfair and underhanded techniques and secure true representation of all citizens. But the problem with liberal democracy is that it does not make the democratic system more workable. In practice, it actually makes the drawbacks of the system legalized.

Finally, to cast the historical mistakes of modern classlessness as iron clad, the last and supposedly perfect form of democracy is created, the constitutional democracy. This democratic system is based on a constitution and it is a derivative of the liberal democracy. The difference is that the constitution is supposed to be permanent while the law can be changed. The

We should also note that democracy cannot possibly represent spiritual equality. Krishna devotees, for example, know the futility of voting for any listed political party because there is no representation for followers of Krishna consciousness. The truth is that if we wait for the mundane world of repeated-birth-and-death type consciousness (samsara) to represent us, those of us who are on the spiritual path will never be heard or noticed. We cannot be apart of a world where selfishness dictates to the majority of representatives, from whichever party they originate.


Today in the name of democracy, gigantic corporations threaten to swallow even the little remaining freedoms of the ordinary citizens. People have been tricked in the name of democracy into voting away their autonomy. They have sacrificed their free time, the right to drink pure water, the need to breathe fresh air, and to work at home producing their own Godgiven food. Big businesses assure the people that they do not have to do hard labor because all their

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ECO AND THE EGO Mother Earth’s Reflection on Ourselves By Radhanath Swami

A crippled

economy and a polluted environment plague our social body. Both largely stem from the same core disease -- pollution of hearts. Blinded by distractions, one can forget how to invest in what awards a meaningful, fulfilling life. Parallel to our vast strides in technology, there is a dangerous rise in unemployment, foreclosures and degrading education. Millions of people are stricken with hopelessness and strife. Sadly, in the name of progress we have

polluted the air, water, soil and the food we eat. What can we do? The following is a story about an encounter I had with someone who cared.

It was winter in New Delhi when the days are mild and the nights are biting cold. New Delhi's wide roads are lined with massive government buildings - the older ones built by the British perhaps a century back with stone pillars, ornate statues and vast lawns. Others built after independence in 1947 are adorned with Indian style arches and domes. I rode toward the airport. Monkeys appeared everywhere, scam-


pering along the boundary walls. At the crossroads we passed circular islands of grass and trees surrounding memorials for the country's freedom fighters. The streets were congested with cars, trucks and motorcycle rickshaws spewing out trails of exhaust fumes. Overhead a murky cloud of smog hung in the sky and reduced the sun to a gray, lifeless ball. The fumes were thick, the smells toxic, and they sat on our tongues like sour lozenges. On the roadside an elderly man squatted cross-legged with back erect, performing pranayama, a yogic breathing exercise. He vigorously inhaled and exhaled. I wondered if it did him more harm than good. We crossed a bridge over the Yamuna River. I looked down and remembered 30 years before, when I first came to India, that under the same bridge the Yamuna flowed in her full glory. Now, she looked plundered and crippled. What was once a pristine river had now become a thick, blackish liquid, foaming bubbles, and a current so lame she barely flowed. When I reached the airport and was waiting at the gate for my flight, a lady informed me that sitting close by was the Union Minister for Environment and Forests. She wanted to talk to me. I obliged. The minister stood up and greeted me, "Namaste Swamiji." After a pleasant exchange she suddenly challenged me with a passion. "What are you spiritual leaders doing about the ecology?" She was very serious.



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"Every second the air is being saturated with cancerous smog," she said. "Tons of raw sewage and toxic waste are dumped hourly into rivers where millions of people bathe and drink. The earth is being stripped of its forest and has become a dumping ground for deadly waste. The world is on the brink of ecological disaster while all of you spiritualists are praying, meditating or chanting. What is all your devotion doing to save the ecology?"

Her concern was real and impassioned. It was exciting to see that depth of concern from a powerful leader over an issue that affects us all.

"Yes, the environment is everyone's responsibility," I responded, "and I sincerely admire your tireless commitment. The spiritual leaders I know believe that along with passing laws and doing the cleaning work, we need to address the root cause of the problem. If a person is covered with boils, the symptoms must be treated, but unless the cause of the problem is addressed, the boils will recur. In the case of boils, the cause may be a disease in the blood. The root of cause of pollution in the world is pollution in the heart.

"Toxic greed has contaminated the minds of human society. The environment is simply an external manifestation of the ecology of the mind. Greed is an obsession, an addiction. It can never be quenched. The more it gets, the more it needs. Greed hardens the heart and fools us into rationalizing cruelty and justifying crime. Greed induces envy, divides families, provokes wars and blinds us to our real selfinterest. Greed for money, power, fame, sex -- the world is ravaged by greed. It is practically an exercise in futility to attempt to clean the environment when politicians are corrupted by bribes, industrialists pollute rivers to maximize profits and scientists put aside their ethics for funding. "The Bhagavad Gita states that greed is a symptom of avidya or ignorance that covers the natural virtues of the true self within us. I'm sure you would agree with me that most people are not bad spirited, but due to a lack of awareness they may be destroying the environment, not understanding that what may seem convenient, like dumping industrial waste into a river, is actually killing fish, animals and people. So along with the pollution of our rivers, we must give attention to the pollution in our hearts. If you successfully clean the air, the sky, every river and every

ocean, it is for certain that people will pollute them again unless they reform the ecology of their hearts.

"Spiritual life is the science of cleansing the heart and tasting the joy of living in harmony with God, each other and nature. It begins with cultivating good character, the willingness to make personal sacrifices for a higher cause, to make the right choices even in the face of temptation and fear, and put concern for the well being of others as a priority. "How to do that? All of these virtues can spring from bhakti or spiritual love. The Bible teaches that 'the first and great commandment is to love God with all one's heart, mind and soul.' And the natural result of that is, 'to love your neighbor as yourself.' Nature is also our neighbor, she is alive with rights like everyone else, but too many people don't see nature that way. The Vedic scriptures tell that the most simple and powerful method of cleansing the ecology of the heart and awakening this dormant love within us is to chant God's names. In my tradition we chant the names of Krishna."

"God has empowered all of us in different ways and if we agree on what the real problem is, then we can all contribute our part of the solution. The well being of Mother Earth is everyone's problem. It is crucial for leaders in all fields to serve cooperatively." At that point the minister was called to board her flight. She thought for a moment, then stood up and smiled saying, "Yes Swamiji, What you say is true. We all need to work together." She was right to take me to task. Religious and spiritual leaders should be held accountable for environmental activism, not only because they have access to large communities and can influence votes but because service is integral to religious and spiritual life. Reducing carbon emissions is important, but it is shortsighted if not

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LIVING WITH MONKS By 4:30am everyone is in the temple to attend the first temple function.




Every day our monks rise early in the morning by 4am. Here Vincent is accessing his locker and getting dressed, having just showered. Cold shower is optional. w w w . 1 6 r o u n d s . co m

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Every morning, before meditation begins, monks offer respect to each other. It helps keep the community healthy.

Dim lights, mantras and chants make for a serene, mystical atmosphere.

During the mantra meditation each monk softly recites the Hare Krishna mantra in a prayerful and meditative mood. ( 10 )

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Primary engagement of a monk is to study, learn, and teach. Each of us thus spend a considerable amount of time being studious.

Monastic life also includes physical work. This is what our temple kitchen looks like every Sunday after we cook for hundreds of people. Stoves need to be scrubbed...

...Floors cleaned...

...pots washed... w w w . 1 6 r o u n d s . co m

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LIFESTYLE In good company, everything is fun.

Daily guests to the temple need to be entertained and their questions answered. All that takes time and energy... monks sometimes need to nap. For a simple and happy person, crashing on a bare floor or on a swanky bed makes no difference.

At the end of the day, internal satisfaction is what makes one a happy person. ( 12 )

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who is going to vote for them in the elections. In the aftermath, a person is not counted as an individual but as a vote.


OWN LAND, GROW YOUR OWN FOOD, AND DEVELOP SMALL COMMUNITIES TO ENACT THE VISION OF SELF-SUFFICIENCY. needs will be taken care of. The corporations will bottle the water and sell it to the people in pretty containers. They will sell them air purifiers; they will open big supermarkets with all imaginable fruits and vegetables in every season, and they will vend them to the obedient citizens. The human beings do not need to do anything but surrender their freedom and in return they will receive plenty of money to spend back into the system. Though such big corporations create a motherly image, they induce everyone to model their life after their unscrupulous principles. The big corporations console the sleeping souls with the promise that in the next election each citizen can vote for whoever one chooses. However, every civilian has but one time to vote every four or five

years. And even then, many are watching how he, the civilian, exercises his vote. Family members who are politically oriented will also try to sway him into voting for their representative. The company he works for will also try to buy his vote. Around the time of the election campaign, certain faces become famous for a short period of time. They are supposed to be the candidates of the ordinary citizen who usually has never met them in person. There is nothing personal about the aggressive way the candidates approach him from their posters, television, radio, and internet. They talk about themselves and how they are going to solve his problems, but they do not care to personally know the voter. Because the candidates are also ordinary people, it is impossible for them to know every single person

Personalism is possible only in spiritual, Krishna consciousness. Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, knows every single soul in the universe regardless of the size of their body, from an insect to a demigod. It does not matter what form of democracy, monarchy, or patriarchy society adopts. If Shri Krishna is not put in the center, there will always be a failure in the establishment. The system’s principles would stay elusively in the realm of idealism. Democracy is theoretically a very good system, but in practice its ideals have been unreachable. On the contrary, Vaishnava philosophy does not claim that everyone is born equal. Every single entity has different karma and has to suffer different consequences in life. Though advocates of democracy claim that vox populi can provide equality, sameness will not exist. A man and a woman have different bodies with different requirements. A person with godly inclinations is also not equal to a person with demonic propensities. People have to be treated according to their individual karma, their respective characters, and their goals in life. Real equality means to treat every single person according to their situation while at the same time providing them with equal possibility for self-realization. This

is the goal of the spiritual varnashrama system taught by Shri Krishna (See Bhagavad Gita 4.14).


The varnashrama principle is “simple living and high thinking” because it relies on the resources of nature. Self-sufficiency, which is a normal consequence of agrarian living, is the key to freedom. Freedom is not possible if a single person is dependent on countless individuals; as it is the situation in the modern world. For example, we would be surprised to learn how many people handle the distribution of electricity before it reaches the consumer. How many individuals have been engaged in producing the devices which allocate the electricity, and how many devices are there that receive the electricity? How many people handle the bureaucratic side of electric distribution? How many people handle the invoices? Before someone receives a single kilowatt-hour of electricity, countless people have participated in its production. On the contrary, agrarian community makes the individual dependent on a small and intimate community, but mainly on their family. In this way the family becomes the basic unit of society. Today families are being destroyed by the artificial dependency on technology. Technology dooms human relations and destroys the feelings associated with human interaction. In modern society new psychological diseases are on the rise. We cannot disregard the fact that human beings are mainly emotional creatures. And despite the fact that in mod-

ern society all material needs may be met, the need for emotional security is not. The original position of the living entity is to find his close relationship with the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna. All other relationships are based on this fact. Reviving our lost relationship with Krishna is the most comprehensive way to solve emotional disorientation. Democracy can be a manifestation of a confusion regarding our innate need to be close to another, to be close to the Supreme. In the name of democracy we see all kinds of atrocities being conducted by the big powers of the day. The large and powerful establishments force others into becoming democratic in the name of consumerism, which they control.

The need of the hour is that we try to entrench ourselves in secure situations. We need to own land, grow our own food, and we need to develop small communities which will grow to enact the vision of selfsufficient society which gives freedom and equality to all individuals to love God, our common source. Then the utopia of direct democracy (when everyone’s desires, opinions and rights are fully counted) can be accomplished. � The futility of democracy at work: American elected officials check sports scores, visit Facebook, or play video card games while the Speaker of the House addresses the “dignitaries.”

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A WORLD OF NAMES Revelations of the Self-Realized

“The enlightened person endeavors only for the minimum necessities of life while in the world of names. Such a person is intelligently fixed and never endeavors for unwanted things, being competent to perceive practically that such endeavors are merely hard labor for nothing.” -Srimad Bhagavatam 2.2.3 COMMENTARY BY SRILA PRABHUPADA


bhagavatadharma, the spiritual way, is perfectly distinct from the way of fruitive activities, which are considered by the transcendentalists to be merely a waste of time. The whole universe, or for that matter all material existence, is moving on as jagat, simply for planning business to make one's position very comfortable or secure; although, everyone sees that this existence is neither comfortable nor secure and can never become comfortable or secure at any stage of development. Those who are captivated by the illusory advancement of material civilization (following the way of phantasmagoria) are certainly mad. The whole material creation is a jugglery of names only; in fact, it is nothing but a bewildering creation of matter like earth (solids), water (liquids), and

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fire (heat). The buildings, furniture, cars, bungalows, mills, factories, industries, peace, war, or even the highest perfection of material science, namely atomic energy and electronics, are all simply bewildering names of material elements with their concomitant reactions of the three modes of illusion. One who knows them perfectly well is not interested in creating unwanted things for a situation which is not at all reality, but simply names of no more significance than the babble of sea waves. The great kings, leaders, and soldiers fight with one another in order to perpetuate their names in history. They are forgotten in due course of time, and they make a place for another era in history. But the devotee, the transcendentalist, realizes how much history and historical persons are useless products of flickering time. The fruitive worker aspires after a big fortune in the matter of wealth, sex, and worldly adoration, but those who are fixed

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in perfect reality are not at all interested in such false things. For them it is all a waste of time. Since every second of human life is important, an enlightened person should be careful to utilize time cautiously. One second of human life wasted in the vain research of planning for happiness in the material world can never be replaced, even if one spends millions of coins of gold. Therefore, the transcendentalist desiring freedom from the clutches of maya, or the illusory activities of life, is warned not to be captivated by the external features of fruitive actors. Human life is never meant for sense gratification, but for selfrealization. Srimad-Bhagavatam instructs us solely on this subject from the very beginning to the end. Human life is simply meant for selfrealization. The civilization which aims at this utmost perfection never indulges in creating unwanted things, and such a perfect civilization prepares people only to accept


the bare necessities of life or to follow the principle of the best use of a bad bargain. Our material bodies and our lives in that connection are bad bargains because the living entity is actually spirit, and spiritual advancement of the living entity is absolutely necessary. Human life is intended for the realization of this important factor, and one should act accordingly, accepting only the bare necessities of life and depending more on God's gift without diversion of human energy for any other purpose, such as being mad for material enjoyment. The materialistic advancement of civilization is called "the civilization of the demons," which ultimately ends in wars and scarcity. The transcendentalist is specifically warned herewith to be fixed in mind, so that even if there is difficulty in plain living and high thinking, he will not budge even an inch from his stark determination. For a transcendentalist, it is a suicidal policy to be intimately in touch with the sense gratifiers of the world, because such a policy will frustrate

the ultimate gain of life. �


Cont'd from pg. 3 Srila Sanatana Gosvami were highranking ministers of state, but they were able to leave behind them immense writings on transcendental knowledge, while residing only for one night underneath one tree. They did not live even two nights under the same tree, and what to speak of well-furnished rooms with modern amenities. And still they were able to give us most important literatures of self-realization. So-called comforts of life are not actually helpful for progressive civilization; rather, they can be detrimental to such progressive life.�

PHILOSOPHY conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his mind will remain the greatest enemy” (Bhagavad Gita 6.6).

Tom may maintain his belief in the ‘zero to zero’ paradigm, but since no evidence or even inference is given to prove such a claim, and no lasting happiness derived from it, how can Tom remain sincere to such a belief? Rather, we should be real about what our intentions are, instead of using sense gratification to try to manipulate objective reality and genuine happiness like a cheap game of cat and mouse. �


ZERO TO ZERO Cont'd from pg. 16 experience in which something comes from zero. In fact, we have every type of experience to assert the opposite as true – everything comes from something else. History teaches us that there is always an initial cause for every effect. Clearly illogical and nonsensical, the only reason for such a philosophy is to substantiate one’s acting whimsically according to one’s own desires. After all, you only have this short window of manifestation by which to act for pleasure before returning to zero status. But because you are just a zero, why place importance even on this? Ironically, such a philosophy does not bring greater happiness or freedom – its true intention. Actually, one who takes to unbridled enjoyment becomes more inured to obeying the orders of the mind and senses, thereby losing freedom, which is evinced by the gradual degradation of the higher senti-

ments afforded a human being.

The Bhagavad Gita states in chapter 2:

“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 bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost one falls down again into the material pool.”

Minnie knew that a higher authority was supplying her and instead of over-endeavoring to pursue more sense gratification; rather, she spent her time accruing wisdom, and because of her wisdom, she was content despite having seemingly less freedom than Tom. Indeed, the mind is apt to bring one misery if it is not controlled because “For him who has


Cont'd from pg. 8 coupled with reducing the toxic emissions from our heart; and that is something spiritual leaders are supposed to teach and something all thinking people, regardless of their beliefs, should practice. We should honor Mother Earth with gratitude; otherwise, our spirituality may become hypocritical. The earth nourishes us with every necessity for a prosperous life. When, on a massive worldwide scale we plunder her oil, destroy her forests, pollute her resources, torture and kill her animals, soak her with the blood of her children, exploit one another and trample her with immorality, there will naturally be devastating consequences. We should honor our mother and respect all of her children as our brothers and sisters. Otherwise, we may force her to react. Humanity has reached a critical crossroads. We have made monumental

progress in technology, medicine, science, academics and globalization but if we do not use them with compassion, what will be our fate? The dire need is at hand to take responsibility as caretakers of the helpless and live as dedicated instruments of God's love. �


Cont'd from pg. 18

without taking time to let the body rest and recover. That would be in passion rather than goodness. Watching a wisdom-provoking movie could be done in goodness, whereas sitting in front of the TV all day could result in ignorance and lethargy. Overall, recreation in goodness is regulated, balanced, and brings life, energy, and health to the body and mind. A person in goodness aims to live and speak in a manner that is beneficial to others, being honest, kind, compassionate, and generous. One in passion or ignorance might be greedy, selfish, angry, or hurtful to others.

Some activities in goodness may appear difficult at first, but they lead to long term and lasting happiness, whereas activities in passion are often highly pleasurable in the moment (sex, drugs, and rock and roll), but lead to future suffering and destruction of health over time. Modern society, for the most part, is highly passion driven, and focused on instant gratification of the senses in many ways. To counteract this passion, we have to strive extra conscientiously to work for goodness in our lives, putting aside immediate pleasure for longer term, inner satisfaction,

peace, and happiness.

If your current lifestyle and habits are more passion or ignorance driven, fear not. You can gradually elevate yourself to goodness step by step. Start by incorporating a few activities in goodness into your daily routine – perhaps the foods you eat, or resisting the urge to get angry at the driver in the lane next to you, meditating, or going to sleep earlier and waking up at a regular time. You will start to feel the benefits of choosing such activities, and will naturally want to bring more goodness into your life. Once situated in goodness, due to the development of consequential qualifications (discipline, clear mind, focus, austerity, compassion, etc.), you will find transitioning to the spiritual plane very natural, which will elevate you to an even brighter future. Put aside immediate gratification and choose the path in your best long term interest – choose goodness – you are worth it. � For Ayurvedic oils visit :


Cont'd from pg. 17 main as it always has.

Pondering these fascinating revelations by the sages of the East, I look back to this earth knowing that it is just a temporal home, and I am a traveler in it. Then I wonder how prudent it is to make my stay here the emphasis of my entire journey. Rather, I should ask myself, where am I heading? �

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Playing Cat and Mouse ©12



By Matthew McManus

Once there

was a pleasure-seeking cat and a wise mouse that lived as pets. The cat was interested wholly and solely in eating nice foodstuffs, taking long naps, fending off competitors who encroached on his territory, and enjoying lovemaking – indeed, your typical back alley feline. This cat, we’ll call him Tom, worked hard to have all these things nicely available by hustling and competing amongst other cats for long hours during the day. Although he had an arduous routine, his one concession was being able to come back home at night to enjoy his carnal commodities. The mouse, on the other hand, who also lived in the man’s house, was confined to a cage (we’ll call her Minnie) and was simply at the mercy of the owner to provide for all bodily necessities.

The mouse, who was keen and knowledgeable about life, saw the cat’s daily endeavors through the wire mesh of her cage and spoke to Tom with compassion: “My dear friend, how are you faring? How is your peace and sanctity? I see you struggle every day to make nice arrangements for food and sex, working at the cost of your

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own precious time and health. Has all of this made you happy and successful? Please tell me plainly.”

Tom, resting on his side, with a voice infused with a slight purr said, “I am as happy as I can be. I have to work and struggle, but I get to enjoy too. And enjoying makes me happy. I figure, let me take advantage now because it will all be finished one day.” “If that is true, then why cause yourself so much pain to pursue pleasure? I am being supplied automatically, and yet because you want more than what is provided by your owner, you have become

mind remains placid, but although you can travel anywhere, your mind, being disturbed, always accompanies you. I am not put into anxiety because I have faith in my maintainer, but because you think you maintain yourself, you have so much distress.”


It is a popular and easy application to use philosophy as justification, even moral obligation, for increasing or maintaining a high grade of sensuality. Popular idioms, like ‘Carpe Diem’ and ‘You only live once,’ promulgate it; celebrities evoke envy of it; religions often justify it; advertisements plant desires of it; indeed, it is enmeshed in every aspect of a culture hinged by capitalism alone. One such exemplary philosophy is that we all came from nothing and it was by accident that we were manifested, and we will become nothing once more after death.


Tom, now taking umbrage, changed his tone from a slight purr to a slight snarl. “You say this though you are confined to a cage, mouse. What freedoms do you have compared to me, who can roam freely and enjoy life as I please?” Minnie, with an amused smirk on her whitish mouth, commented that “Although I am in a cage, my

In refutation to this ideology, if all your endeavors ultimately add to nothing or zero and you came from nothing, then why endeavor so hard? It’s all nothing anyway; and, anyone who seriously believes such a philosophy should find working for nothing to be truly a pointless pursuit. Secondly, there is no practical

Cont'd on pg. 15 ›››


SOUL GAZER Look Up ©15

NOT HUNGARY FOR GMOS Worldwide Protests against Monsanto By Matthew McManus

Back in May

of 2013, Hungary government officials incinerated 1000 acres of genetically modified corn, a product made by the agro-chemical conglomerate Monsanto. Hungary, a maverick among the EU on the issue of genetically modified crops (GMOs), has taken a strong stance by banning it from being used by Hungarian farmers. This comes at the same time massive protests were conducted here in the United States in response to The Monsanto Protection Act (see May issue of 16 Rounds for more information on Monsanto and The Monsanto Protection Act).

There is a worldwide countervail against Monsanto’s biopiracy and hegemony. Farmers in Mexico conducted a hunger strike and protest march in Mexico City to decry GMO corn; Chileans have rallied against a bill that would put multinationals at the helm of controlling Chile’s seed market; in Haiti, 10,000 farmers burned Monsanto seeds in Papaye, asserting the preeminence of keeping seeds organic and local. Indian farmers have taken a univocal stand to oust Monsanto after being cheated since 2001 with promises of soaring crop yields.

Now is a watershed in food production. Chemical manipulation of food is deleterious to health,

toxic to the environment, and an impractical, unrealistic remedy to world hunger – as evinced by batteries of lab tests and case studies conducted by third-party researchers for years. Bhagavad Gita, a text of profound wisdom from ancient India, teaches that whatever action a great person performs, common people follow and whatever standards such a person sets by exemplary acts, the entire world pursues. Indeed history repeats itself, and teaches us about the consequences of not fighting back to malign influences. �

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ― Edmund Burke


By Abeer Saha

The world

of our senses is in constant flux and we, like fools, are trying desperately to cling on to it, failing to see the inevitability of separation; I used the words ‘constant flux’ to illustrate that our very existence is so contradictory that it is apt to use an oxymoron in order to describe it. Nothing seems to outlast time and everything is subject to withering away, yet our innermost desire is to hold on, to persist, to live forever. The fact that even those who believe in heaven and eternal life don't want to die to get there is case in point. Are we truly born to live, but forced to die? I found a good answer to reconcile this apparent anomaly between what I feel is our inherent purpose, to be alive, and the enigma of death, in the Bhagavad Gita. The passage states,

“Those who are seers of the truth have concluded that of the non-existent (material body) there is no endurance and of the eternal (soul) there is no change… For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any

time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.”

Commentaries by authoritative teachers on the illuminating verses of the Bhagavad Gita explain that the reason why all of us feel so inexorably drawn to eternal life is because that is our true nature as spirit souls. In other words, the fact that we are ever-existing individuals is evident in our deep-rooted longing for an existence not bound by time. Due to our misidentification with the impermanent body, we delude ourselves into believing that we will die; whereas in actuality it is only our physical bodies that die. These seers of the truth emphasize that the body is dying at every moment as we move from a child's body to a youth's body to an adult's body and finally to an elder's body; yet, the personality, the embodied self, continues to exist. So, when the body dies once again, having alas deteriorated beyond repair, we should not be bewildered; instead, we should understand that the self will re-

Cont'd on pg. 15 ›››

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LIVING IN GOODNESS (SATTVA GUNA) The Spring Board to Spiritual Life By Sara Bock

According to

Ayurveda and the Bhagavad Gita, there are three modes of nature that we can live under – goodness (sattva), passion (raja), or ignorance (tama). Ultimately, a spiritual practitioner aims to transcend all three modes and live life acting as pure spirit, beyond the limitations of the body and mind, but until we reach that point, living in goodness is the road that can lead us best towards the ultimate spiritual destination.

Whether we live in goodness, passion, or ignorance (or any combination of these three modes) is determined by our day to day activities such as the foods we eat, the schedules we keep, and even by our thoughts and attitudes. Following, will be a description of one living in goodness. The more we choose activities in goodness, the more we will feel positive results such as a peaceful mind, better health and energy, a sense of happiness, knowledge, and more clarity of thought.

Foods in goodness are wholesome, fresh, and acquired by nonviolent means . They include whole grains, milk products (from well cared for cows), fresh fruits and


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vegetables (raw or cooked), nuts, seeds, legumes, and oils. Garlic and onions, as well as some spices like chili, although natural and fresh, are considered in the mode of passion, not goodness, because their strong flavor/spiciness bring agitation rather than tranquility to the mind. Leftovers, even if consisting of vegetables, whole grains, and beans for example, are considered to be in the mode of ignorance, as they are dull and lacking in energy. Freshly cooked food, on the other hand, gives life and energy to the body and mind, and helps keep one in a state of goodness.

work simply because it ought to be done, without being affected by outside conditions. For example, a person in passion or ignorance might want to stay in bed under the warm covers in the morning when it is cold outside, whereas a person in goodness will get up at their regulated time regardless of the weather, and carry on with daily activities. A person in goodness is determined and disciplined, and acts out of duty without attachment to the result.

The work and recreation of one in goodness are healthy, and help to maintain, rather than destroy the body and mind (as some activities in passion and ignorance actually bring harm to oneself such as drug use, overwork, lethargy, etc). A person in goodness maintains a healthy balance between work and recreation, working enough to honestly support oneself (in a profession that does not cause harm to others, and possibly in a profes-

WHETHER WE LIVE IN GOODNESS, PASSION, OR IGNORANCE (OR ANY COMBINATION OF THESE THREE MODES) IS DETERMINED BY OUR DAY TO DAY ACTIVITIES SUCH AS THE FOODS WE EAT, THE SCHEDULES WE KEEP, AND EVEN BY OUR THOUGHTS AND ATTITUDES. The daily schedule and routines of one living in goodness are regulated. Those in goodness do not do whatever they want whenever they want, but in general, aim to wake and take rest at around the same time each day, and eat, work, and exercise at around the same times each day. Having a daily routine helps keep the body healthy and the mind peaceful. Regulation also helps one to be disciplined, and discipline is an essential ingredient of a spiritual practice.

A person in goodness performs

sion that gives service to others), and takes time to exercise and socialize moderately. Recreation in goodness includes swimming, yoga, hiking, walking, reading and other intellectual pursuits, meditation, and pursuing a hobby or skill such as art or music. Any of these activities could be done in passion however, and become harmful to one self rather than helpful. A person could take an intense two hour yoga class every day for example,

Cont'd on pg. 15 ›››


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November 2013  
November 2013  

November issue of the 16 Rounds To Samadhi magazine.