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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Simple Living, High Thinking #9

The goats don't seem to understand they have grass inside their pen as well

For the week of July 27th-August 3rd, 2008

Get out the long-nose shovel and dig in, as we take a look at yet another week at the fun going on in the Small Farm Training Center.

What we got done
-We held the first Farm Circle community gathering of the summer, at the wonderful and warm home of Raghu and Jamuna. For the full report on what went down, click here.
This week the Farm Circle will commence on Thursday the 7th at 630 pm in the Teaching Garden. Be there with your overalls on.

"Those who stay will be champions"

-Thanks to the efforts of Devananda Pandit, we initiated our first morning japa walk to the Old Vrndavana farmhouse. The weather was misty and mystic, and the pace was brisk for the fifteen devotees present last Monday the 28th. At the farmhouse, Devananda Prabhu shared a few stories of the previous pastimes there (former of home of our Jagannath Deities, Radha-Vrindabannath, and such exalted personalities as Radhanath Swami, Varsana Swami, and Mother Hladini). We plan to continue these walks in the next few weeks and hopefully have a full morning program at Old Vrndavana.

Japa in the Old Vrndavana farmhouse

-Construction continued hot and heavy on the workshop pavilion extension in the Teaching Garden. We received seven tons of gravel which we will spread out under the stone floor for support, and Bryce spent all Saturday afternoon filling tires with dirt to finish off the last wall of the foundation, facing the southeast.

Seven tons of gravel

Bryce does his best impression of John Henry

-Tom could also be seen in his natural position and duty, as a stone mason, beginning preliminary work on dressing and leveling small pieces of local sand stone for the pavilion floor.
Look for Tom to give a workshop on stone masonry in a future edition of our Farm Circle, and if you would like to help him and learn hands-on, come see him in the Teaching Garden.

-This Sunday saw the return of the Small Farm Organic Market, camped out in the RVC Temple courtyard for the purchasing pleasure of guests and residents. For sale from our gardens are fresh cucumbers, basil, carrots, okra, jalapeno peppers, beets, chard, kale, and cilantro. Kamalavati also had a big seller with her homemade stevia sweetener. As the harvest begins to hit in the Teaching Garden and the Garden of Seven Gates, look for green beans, tomatoes, and bitter melon to make their debut in the weeks ahead.

Tom can't believe the prices!

What we realized
This is certainly a topic with no uniform opinions, but it is clear that on some levels of our lives, we have what is called an "assumption of civilization." Prabhupada of course wanted us to give up our material attachments all together, to dovetail everything for Krsna, but he was clear that the modern, Western model of civilization, based on consumption and exploitation, was doomed to fail.

In our attempts to create a working model of varnasrama within this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, we have to understand that the healthy future of our movement depends on creating an strong internal culture and model of living that acts as an alternative to the ugra-karma society we live in, of which we are still so attached to in so many gross and subtle ways.

Of course, this doesn't mean we pack up our city centers and devotees and move them out to the farm before the tidal wave hits. But it means we can't always assume we can be backed up by the structures of city life. At New Vrindaban and other ISKCON farm centers, we should be actively moving towards a model of simple living that allows us to stand on our own two feet as far as possible in terms of utilities, finances, and foodstuffs.

This is what Prabhupada wanted. Our farm centers should present a model of Vedic village life that attracts the increasing number of alternative minded spiritual seekers who are looking for a real, authentic way of life beyond materialism.

What happens if the lights go out, the water is shut off, and Wal-Mart and Giant Eagle close? You may shake your head (and I see you shaking your head), but the state of our global society is more fragile than one may give it credit for. In any case, even if there is not any massive societal shift, and things devolve into something akin to Blade Runner, it is our duty to Prabhupada to continue to develop our rural communities as a model of real, eternally minded down-home living.

Our farm projects are an extremely important part of our movement. We must become self-sufficient by growing our own grains and producing our own milk, then there will be no question of poverty. So develop these farm communities as far as possible. They should be developed as an ideal society depending on natural products not industry.
Letter to Rupanuga: 74-12-1 8 Bombay

Please help us out! Your hands, heads, and hearts can help us restore Srila Prabhupada's vision of self-sufficency here at New Vrindaban Dham. We're out shining and even in the rain in the Teaching Garden across the street from the RVC Temple, or up the hill at the Garden of Seven Gates. See HG Tapahpunja Prabhu for all the details.

Click here for more info on the Small Farm Training Center.

Stay tuned for next week's update! Hari Haribol!

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