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Sunday, October 19, 2008


Rex Weyler of Greenpeacedrops the straight dope on the link between our ecological problems and our environmental problems, and what the solutions may turn out to be to put out "the big bonfire."

Click here to read more.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Assumption of Civilization (Part 2)

"The demoniac are engaged in activities that will lead the world to destruction. The Lord states here that they are less intelligent. The materialists, who have no concept of God, think that they are advancing. But according to Bhagavad-gītā, they are unintelligent and devoid of all sense. They try to enjoy this material world to the utmost limit and therefore always engage in inventing something for sense gratification. Such materialistic inventions are considered to be advancement of human civilization, but the result is that people grow more and more violent and more and more cruel, cruel to animals and cruel to other human beings.

Such people are considered the enemies of the world because ultimately they will invent or create something which will bring destruction to all. Indirectly, this verse anticipates the invention of nuclear weapons, of which the whole world is today very proud. At any moment war may take place, and these atomic weapons may create havoc. Such things are created solely for the destruction of the world, and this is indicated here. Due to godlessness, such weapons are invented in human society; they are not meant for the peace and prosperity of the world."

(Purport to Bhagavad-Gita 16.9)

In our understanding of our philosophy and by our experience we know that it is not wise to trust or place our dependence upon those deeply entangled in the material modes of nature.

Today, those individual living entities who control the world's economic, political, social, and military structures are largely deluded by their own misguided vision of the "will to power."

Beyond this, the animal agriculture (slaughterhouse) industry creates untold suffering to millions of animals, disgusting environmental by-products, and a negative karmic roll-call on an always steady number of human heads.

It is any number of ways in which the brittle and fragile "status quo" we currently live in could collapse: stock market failure, nuclear conflict, disease, massive social conflicts between the "haves" and the "have-nots", etc.

Yes, of course, we preach and live in urban environments, and that is a vital part of our mission, but we cannot ignore or neglect the other half of Prabhupada's vision.

We have to have an URGENCY to create, via our rural communities, an alternative cultural set-up, based on the principles of daivi-varnasrama, for the benefit of devotees and non-devotees alike.

For devotees, these communities would be places of refuge and inspiration, a place to get their hands dirty and also to have the freedom to go deeply inward in their own devotional life.

If devotees in our urban communities suddenly find themselves refugees of some paradigm-shift, then we must be able to give them all facilities for material shelter in our rural communities.

It's not a matter of time. We need to create this infrastructure of our own alternative network of communities NOW! We need people to voluteer their inspiration and motivation and most of all we need the leaders of our society to step up and make this a top priority, providing us with financial and spiritual support.

It will be very difficult to rescue our society from our global house if the fire gets too hot. It is our vital duty now to create a real shelter for devotees and for the culture of devotion , and it is our humble opinion that this is the issue that will define ISKCON's growth and sustainability over the next 40 years and beyond.

"[We] in modern technological society [have] begun to be callous and disillusioned. [We have] learned to suspect what claims to be new, to doubt all the "latest" in everything. [We are] drawn instinctively to the new, and yet [we see] in it nothing but the same old sham. The specious glitter of newness, the pretended creativity of a society in which youthfulness is commercialized and the young are old before they are twenty, fills some hearts with utter despair. There seems to be no way to find any real change. 'The more things change,' says a French proverb, 'the more they are the same.'

Yet in the deepest ground of our being we still hear the insistent voice which tells us: 'You must be born again.'

There is in us an instinct for newness, for renewal, for a liberation of creative power. We seek to awaken in ourselves a force which really changes our lives from within. And yet the same instinct tells us that this change is a recovery of that which is deepest, most original, most personal in ourselves. To be born again is not to become somebody else, but to become ourselves."

Thomas Merton

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Assumption of Civilization (Part 1)

The history of the world has factually proved that attempts to increase economic development for bodily comfort through the advancement of material civilization have done nothing to remedy the inevitability of birth, death, old age and disease. Everyone has knowledge of huge empires throughout the history of the world — the Roman Empire, the Moghul Empire, the British Empire and so on — but all the societies engaged in such economic development (sarve 'rtha-kāmāḥ) have been frustrated by the laws of nature through periodic wars, pestilence, famine and so on.

Thus all their attempts have been flickering and temporary. In this verse, therefore, it is said, kurvanti martyasya kiyat priyaḿ calāḥ: one may be very proud of possessing a vast empire, but such empires are impermanent; after one hundred or two hundred years, everything is finished. All such positions of economic development, although created with great endeavor and hardship, are vanquished very soon.
-Srila Prabhupada, purport to S.B 7.7.39

It's the end of the world as we know it
And I feel fine
-a modern Southern sage

The assumption of civilization is based on three statements:
1) That, as a society of devotees (ISKCON), we are economically dependent upon the external, material, ugra-karma infrastructure for such things as foodstuffs, utilities, transport, and financial support.
2) That our awareness is limited that the ugra-karma infrastructure has a very tenous and temporary foundation and may collapse like the proverbial "house of cards".
3) That, as a society of devotees, we are not prepared for such a paradigm shift across the economic and social horizon. What will we do when we can no longer place our dependence for our sustenance on sources outside our society?

The points presented this piece will show that Prabhupada wanted us to create an alternative to this arrangement i.e Krsna conscious rural communities, not only for the spiritual benefit of the devotees, but also to provide for them materially in a way independent of the ugra-karma infrastructure.

In the microcosmic view, in our own immediate situation, we must be aware of the karmic situation of the global society, which to put it lightly, is not good.

We should not assume the support of the ugra-karmic infrastructure as it stands now is always going to be there. This could be potentially dangerous to the future of ISKCON

This isn't "conspiracy theory". The implications of this assumption of civilization lie in the hallowed print of Prabhupada's books all the way down to the gaudy but all-too-real headlines of today's news outlets.

The universe may not be dissolved, the world may not end, but the way we live and breathe and eat and function within these bodies may change in a drastic fashion, and it may come sooner than we plan or think. Are you, or we, prepared for this?

"Although the Krsna conscoiusness movement is a movement for brahmanas and Vaisnavas, it is trying to reestablish the divine varnasrama institution, for without this division of society there cannot be peace and prosperity anywhere" Srimad Bhagavatam Purport

What Srila Prabhupada wanted was for his disciples and granddisciples and so on to create an alternative culture of devotion through which the entire Planet Earth could benefit from, materially and spiritually.

With devotee-led rural communities in the lead, Prabhupada wanted us to show the world how "Simple Living, High Thinking" could lead the suffering peoples of this world to ideal happiness.

Prabhupada wanted that daivi-varnasrama be establsihed as the central guiding principle in these communities, and he wanted that these communities creating this ideal would be able to be self-sufficient, or in modern terms, "off the grid."

This means communities producing their own foodstuffs, utilities, transport, and means of life without having to be dependent in any economic way from sources outside the community.

In today's ISKCON, we are still in a great struggle to bring to reality this vital portion of Prabhupada's spiritual vision for the world.

The creation of this simple, rural lifestyle ethic is as important a part of Prabhupada's vision as is sankirtana, temple construction, and book distribution.

HH Bhakti-Raghava Maharaja writes that "As early as 1949, Srila Prabhupada described his mission in a letter to the Hon. Sardar, Dr. Vallavbhaiji Patel, Deputy Prime Minister of India, outlining four movements. The first was the “sankirtan” movement of chanting and philosophical discourse that was to be introduced all over the world. Then came the “temple entry” movement; organising temples as centres of spiritual culture according to scriptures like Bhagavad-gita. Thirdly, he described the “spiritual initiation” movement, a movement that would be conducted under strict disciplinary methods to enable “mayajanas” to attain the perfection of human life. This would “be organized in such a manner that people all over the world may take interest in it.” Finally, he described the "classless society" movement or the "scientific division of the caste system as envisaged in the Bhagavad-gita”.

He continues "However, the establishment of a society based on the traditional village lifestyle has been neglected. Although one can still advance in Krishna consciousness living in the cities, the degraded influences of urban life place serious constraints on the progress most devotees can make. ISKCON must recognise the need to re-establish, develop, and maintain the ideals of village-based communities, the natural Krishna-conscious village lifestyle which was shown by Krishna and Balarama Themselves. Initially, perhaps only a few will want to take it up, but without it, Srila Prabhupada's mission in four phases or "movements", and ISKCON's preaching programs, remain incomplete.
(Position Paper on Promoting Vrndaban Village Development in India)

The reasons for our lack of success are myriad and complex, but following in the example of Prabhupada's boundless determination to establish his vision around the world, it is our duty not to give up or claim that it is "hopeless."

Indeed, the future of ISKCON may depend on it.

Stau tuned for Part 2 on Wednesday.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Your Own Vegetarian Jesus

Rumbling under the surface of the crumbling mainstream world is more common sense bubbling up to the vision of the planet. Could animal rights be the next major social movement of our times? What role do we as spiritualists have to play?

Click here to read a very informative interview from Vasu Murti on some of the info from his book "They Shall Not Hurt or Destroy"

And as always, our good friend Satyahit Prabhu from Florida lays down the truth. Click here to check it out...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Damn You XBox!

A friend of mine told me to make these blogs positive and inspirational, but sometimes we just gotta share something that makes us shake our heads in disbelief.

As another friend of mine said, it's stuff like this that has to tick you off enough to really get you motivated to bring the positive change.

Click here to read all about it!