Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

Friday, May 30, 2014

Moonshine


Man landed on the moon in July 1969. It was a big public relations success for the United States especially during the cold war era. The astronauts who landed found the moon to have dark grey stones and rubble all over. In fact, they bought some back to earth. Anyways, I am not going into the moon landing debate. However what intrigues me is the cause of moonshine?

If you notice especially during the full moon night, the moon shines so brightly that you can see light rays illuminating earth at night. In fact it is so bright you do not need a torch or any artificial light source. The question is if the moon is made of dark grey stones, then how come it can reflect such brilliant light? Modern scientists claim that it bounces off sun's rays back to earth and depending on its rotational orbit, it is bright or less bright. This claim does not seem very convincing to me.

Have you tried focusing light on dark grey stones or even your street pavements? Does it reflect back light brilliantly? What to speak of the reflection travelling long distances? In fact dark dense objects absorb light. Imagine a huge body which is filled with dark grey stones & dust all over, will it be a beautiful reflecting object or a dark dense ugly object at night?

Light can only bounce off a surface only if the surface is shiny and sleek. If it is rough and dark, it will not reflect light. How then such a large celestial body such as the moon which is apparently made of just dust and stones reflect such brilliant light to the point where the moon looks so gorgeous at night? It is so gorgeous that poets and philosophers romanticize the moon. It is one of the most beautiful things to witness in the night sky. People fall in love on a full moon night! This is the effect moon and its shine has on people on earth. Do you think a planet with grey dense rocks can have that effect on people?

It is more like the moon is lit from inside and is emanating light for millions of miles just like the sun except the moon's light is soothing and beautiful. The sun on the other hand has fiery and hot type of light. Both in my mind emanate original source of light and not borrowed light.

I seriously doubt a planet with dust and grey stones can emanate such beautiful light at night especially if it is borrowed light.

Hare Krishna

Pride comes before fall

I am very pleased that you are doing nicely. But don't be proud. Always remain humble, meek, that "I am nothing. I cannot..." That will be nice. And if you think, "Now I have become liberated. I can chant and dance," no, don't think like that. Just like even Caitanya-caritamrta author, he says, purisera kita haite muni se laghistha: [Cc. Adi 5.205] "I am lower than the worm in the stool." Jagai madhai haite muni se papistha: "I am more sinner than Jagai-Madhai." In this way... That is not artificial. A Vaisnava must think like that, that "I am rotten. I have no value." Don't be proud. Then the things will go on nicely. And as soon as you become proud, then maya.

Srila Prabhupada lecture - Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.1.50 -- Detroit, August 3, 1975

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Dropout prevention


Every year, over 1.2 million high school students drop out of high school in the United States. This is a significant number especially considering the advanced educational system in the US. Without a high school diploma, it is practically impossible to be economically self-sufficient. It is in this situation, these desperate young adults engage in social ill activities such as substance abuse, illicit sex (leading to abortion), crime etc. It does not stop there; these activities have a chain effect impacting other people, families and the bigger community.  They become unproductive citizens spiraling down more and more into poor decision making to the point where they destroy their lives. Because we live in such a competitive society, students who stay behind due to various reasons end behind and just cannot catch up with rest of society. 

Poverty, broken homes, and abuse are seen as strong predictors of high school dropouts. However, the number one reason kids’ dropout is because they become disconnected with their peers, teachers and counselors. Disconnected youth is the singular immediate cause for students to not return to school. With poor attendance against them, they eventually stop going to school. This disconnection exists because they feel that nobody cares about them. They feel parents don’t care or their friends don’t care or their teachers don’t care etc. This makes sense because as young adults, we all need social and emotional support. We need mentors and care-takers that we know we can turn to at the time of need. Rarely will we find a young student motivated from within. Although it sounds simplistic, this is a complex social problem. 

More and more the culture becomes materialistic, more and more people go inward to just operate on the platform of use, abuse and neglect. Gone are the days where the individual is appreciated for his natural qualities (the Varnashrama system was designed to appreciate every individual for their natural self and not based on some artificial economic monetary system).  The psyche is wired spontaneously (in subtle ways) to use and abuse things, money and people for promoting selfish interests. Such tendencies manifest in an individual right from puberty or perhaps even earlier. As the material culture advances, we will find our civilization becoming more and more impersonalistic. Video games, computer technology, political correctness, box stores like Walmart, cookie cutter city planning strategies, Government secularism etc are subtle manifestations of impersonal material culture. In these environments, you will find minimal human interaction and even if there is it is not intended for personal engagement of the individual. It is intended for fulfilling some other cause or purpose more important than the individual. Disconnected youth dropping out of school is but a natural product of this sort of impersonal culture. 

If we want to reverse this trend, we need to reverse our impersonal tendencies and connect more with the people at a personal level. We need to build families, communities and societies based on human interaction and scale. Bigger the city, scarier and lonelier it feels. So we need to reverse this trend of bigger is better and bring it back to a human scale where every individual matters no matter how big or small the individual may seem. This sort of reversal is possible only if we understand that each individual is as valuable as the other and not meant to be used for our personal motives. 

This can happen only if we see the deeper picture that every individual, animal and plant is part and parcel of God. When we appreciate everyone is part of God, then neglect and abuse can never be common place in our society. Therefore what is missing for these dropout kids is that they need to be appreciated because they are children of God and that they are as important as anybody else. When we have such sanctity of vision, our disposition toward other people, animals and plants will be of personal care, respect and love. 

This is the ultimate message of Bhagavad Gita – to see all beings as part of Krishna and Krishna as part of all beings - thus - we will always be connected to everyone and Krishna at a personal level. We will no more have spiraling social problems instead everyone will be happy – sarve sukhinah bhavantu!

Hare Krishna 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Two types of humans

There is a general tendency to think that a spiritual master is a human being and hence we do not need to worship or bow down to him. This sort of thinking of the spiritual master or acharya exists because we are envious of his position. We have a tendency to find fault with the spiritual master as an ordinary human being and hence do not consider his words as divine.

One devotee showed me a youtube video about how Mr.Zakir Naik was saying that because a human being wrote the Purnanas and Itihasas it is not considered very authentic especially in comparison to the direct word of God. The stress was given to the "human being". But what he does not know is that there are two types of human beings. 

One type is called nitya-baddha beings who are forced to enjoy or suffer the reactions of their past karma or in other words eternally bonded to the laws of karma and this world. Then there are the second type called nitya-Siddha beings who like God walk, talk and perform activities in this world out of their own free will. Unlike the bonded beings, these eternally liberated beings are not bound to the laws of this world. Mahamuni Vyas is one such liberated entity came to this world specifically for the benefit of mankind and when He writes the Puranas or Itihasas we have to consider it as good as the word of God. 

Krishna Himself directly speaks in the Srimad Bhagavatam on the position of such an acharya or liberated being.

ācāryaṁ māṁ vijānīyān
navamanyeta karhicit
na martya-buddhyāsūyeta
sarva-deva-mayo guruḥ

One should know the ācārya as Myself and never disrespect him in any way. One should not envy him, thinking him an ordinary man, for he is the representative of all the demigods. - SB 11.17.27

So yes they may appear as human beings but they are not like ordinary human beings who are attracted to the razzle and dazzle of this world reaping their own karma. They are supremely independent in the full shelter of God or Krishna. We need to be aware of this distinction.

Hare Krishna

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Closure

Often times, when things go sour in a relationship or if a loved one dies suddenly, we need what is called closure. Closure is sort of a mental appeasement where the aggrieved has some final goodbyes before the curtain is drawn. In tragic deaths such as the Malaysian airline crash recently, friends and relatives did not have that final goodbyes or the knowledge about the final times of the deceased. This lack of closure can cause intense pain and agony. When we lose someone in a tragic death in an untimely manner, it is very hard to move forward.

In Krishna consciousness, we are trained to practice closure at all times. In other words, we are mentally exposed to the idea of the temporary nature of this world. The fact that something will close at any moment (padam padam yad vipadam na tesham) is a fact of life and not a surprise. Closure is simply a matter of "when" and not "if". One may argue this is a morbid or pessimistic approach to life but actually this is reality or truth. In fact the insurance companies and other emergency service industries work on this model - to always be alert for the inevitable.

Similarly, Krishna urges all of us to be alert to this danger of transience. In this transitory mood, we will naturally cultivate inner detachment and equanimity of mind and when disaster thus presents itself, we are mentally equipped to do the needful and move on!

Hare Krishna

Pure love is final in transcendence

Pure love for Krishna is devoid of  knowledge (gnana) and austerity (vairagya). Residents of Vrindavan do not possess vedantic knowledge and or practice austerities. Pure love for God transcends all that. It is the final destination. It is compared to a boatman who uses his boat and oar to cross the river to get to land on the other side. But once he reaches land, he abandons the boat and oar for there is no need for them. However, if he chooses to carry, then the boat and oar becomes a burden.

Similarly in the realm of pure love of God, knowledge and austerity is like the boat and oar, it is used to cross the river (Viraja) from material shores to spiritual (Vaikunta). Once we reach Vaikunta shore, we give up the boat of knowledge and oar of austerity and simply engage in loving devotional service to the Lord. Otherwise knowledge and austerity will become a burden and drag us back to the material shores. This burden is felt as pride and anxiety especially when our knowledge is questioned and austerity tested. Sometimes i feel the burden!

Hare Krishna