Monday, October 31, 2011

THE HISTORY OF HALLOWEEN

HAPPY HALLOWEEN
TRICK-OR-TREATING DETAILS
http://www.examiner.com - Halloween 2011 is finally here. To get into the spirit of the spook-tacular holiday, here are some interesting facts.  Halloween, referred to as All Hallows Eve, was originally a pagan holiday for which the dead were honored. It was celebrated on October 31st since this was the last day of the Celtic calendar. The celebration dates back some 2,000 years.  The ancient Celts thought that spirits and ghosts wandered the streets on All Hallows Eve so they began wearing masks and costumes in order to not be recognized as human.  The jack-o-lantern tradition comes from an old Irish folk tale about a man named Stingy Jack. It was said that he was unable to get into heaven and was turned away from the devil because of his tricky ways. So he set off to wander the world looking for a resting place.  For light, Stingy Jack used a burning coal ember in a hollowed out turnip.

When the Irish immigrated to the U.S. during the Great Potato Famine of 1845-1850, they found that turnips were not as readily available like they were in the homeland. So they started carving pumpkins as a replacement for their tradition.  On Halloween, Irish peasants would beg the rich for food. For those that refused, they would play a practical joke. So, in an effort to avoid being tricked, the rich would hand out cookies, candy, and fruit - a practice that morphed into trick-or-treating today.  Orange and black are Halloween colors because orange is associated with the fall harvest and black is associated with darkness and death.  Halloween candy sales average about $2 billion annually in the United States.  Halloween is the 2nd most commercially successful holiday, with Christmas being the first.  Today, parents and their excited ghosts and goblins are gearing up to go trick or treating. This is a time for little ones to have fun, but parents shouldn’t let the kids’ enthusiasm drown out common sense.

This Halloween, drivers should be aware not only for their own safety, but also for the safety of the little ghosts and goblins who will take to the streets on trick-or-treat night.  Compared to other days of the year, an average of twice as many children are killed in pedestrian accidents on Halloween.  Kids (and drivers alike) need proper safety instruction before heading out on this holiday.  When Holidays involve simply sense enjoyment - which for a child can mean games, presents, fireworks, and special food - we indirectly teach that we are living for material pleasure.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US? 
The year is full of holidays and special events unrelated to spiritual life. Even in India, where Janmashtami, the anniversary of Krishna’s divine birth, is a general festival, many other days are dedicated to the country or some ordinary, materialistic person. Outside of India, festival days sometimes even focus on demonic beings such as witches. ... If we wish to raise our children to be absorbed only in thoughts of Lord Krishna, how should we treat these secular holidays? One approach is, as far as possible, to ignore them. ... A second approach, therefore, is to find a way of relating nondevotional celebrations to Krishna. ... For example, one year on Halloween some of my high school girls dressed up as male devotees and went door to door selling Srila Prabhupada’s books. ... If we decide to have our children celebrate mundane occasions in the same way as the materialists, we greatly risk raising children whose idea of happiness is materialistic.


Śrīmati Urmila devi dasi :
“Observing Secular Holidays”
http://www.krishna.com/observing-secular-holidays
http://urmila.me.uk/

Sunday, October 30, 2011

VARANASI GHAT AMONG THREATENED HERITAGE SITES

VARANASI BALAJI GHAT AMONG
THREATENED WORLD HERITAGE SITES
New York (PTI) - The 18th century Balaji Ghat, situated along the river Ganges in Varanasi, is among over 60 endangered cultural heritage sites in the world that are in dire need of preservation, according to World Monuments Fund (WMF), a private foundation.  Last month, WMF President Bonnie Burnham announced the “2012 World Monuments Watch”, a list of 67 cultural heritage sites in 41 countries that need immediate assistance.  The sites include the Nasca lines and Geoglyphs in Peru, palace and garden of China’s Nanyue Kingdom, England’s Coventry Cathedral and the floating fishing villages in Vietnam.  The 67 sites “vividly illustrate the ever-more pressing need to create a balance between heritage concerns and the social, economic and environmental interests of communities around the world,” WMF said in a statement. 

Balaji ghat is an important example of the buildings constructed along the Ganges to serve pilgrims worshiping at the holy river in Varanasi, one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities.  Collapse of the main building of Balaji ghat, likely from decay of the wood, points to inadequate conservation, maintenance as well as poor heritage protection.  Inclusion in the watch will support a plan to restore the building for use as a cultural centre and help to continue an ancient tradition of pilgrimage and enlightenment,” World Monuments Fund pointed.  In addition to promoting community pride, heritage preservation can have a positive impact on local populations during difficult economic times by providing employment and development of well-managed tourism.  American Express, a founding sponsor of the World Monuments Watch, will contribute five million dollars in support of the programme over the next five years, Burnham said.

Varanasi Ghats, also known as Kashi or Benares, India, is the oldest holy city of Hindus.  Hindus consider it most auspicious to die in this sacred place.  The Balaji Ghat, in Varanasi, India, is one of the buildings constructed along the Ganges to serve pilgrims worshiping at the holy river.  Varanasi is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, and a Hindu pilgrimage destination.  During His travels to Vrindāvana, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu arrived with great happiness at the holy place called Kāśī.  There He took His bath in the bathing ghat known as Manikarnikā.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US? 
Kāśī is another name for Vārānasī (Benares). It has been a place of pilgrimage since time immemorial. Two rivers named Asih and Varunā merge there. Manikarnikā is famous because, according to the opinion of great personalities, a bejeweled earring fell there from the ear of Lord Vishnu. According to some, it fell from the ear of Lord Śiva. The word mani means “jewel,” and karnikā means “from the ear.” According to some, Lord Viśvanātha is the great physician who cures the disease of material existence by delivering a person through the ear, which receives the vibration of the holy name of Lord Rāma. Because of this, this holy place is called Mani-karnikā. It is said that there is no better place than where the river Ganges flows, and the bathing ghat known as Manikarnikā is especially sanctified because it is very dear to Lord Viśvanātha. In the Kāśī-khanda it is said that one who gives up his body at Manikarnikā is liberated simply by remembering Lord Śiva’s name.


Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda :
Śrī Caitanya Caritāmrita - Madhya-līlā
Chapter 17: “The Lord Travels to Vrindāvana”
Verse 82 - Bhaktivedanta VedaBase

Saturday, October 29, 2011

BANGKOK BRACES FOR FLOODING FROM HIGH TIDES

BANGKOK RESIDENTS EVACUATE
HOMES FACED WITH RISING WATERS
http://articles.cnn.com - Severe flooding in Thailand on Saturday threatened central areas of Bangkok, a bustling capital barely above sea level and facing inundation at the next high tide predicted at 13 feet.  Residents who decided to stay in their homes despite government pleas to get out waited anxiously to see whether high tide, forecast for Saturday afternoon, would overwhelm defenses along the Chao Phraya River and its many canals.  Bangkok’s outer suburbs were already submerged, but the central city had been largely spared the misery Thailand has been suffering for months in the nation’s worst flooding since 1942.  In the east and the north of the city, water was at waist-level in some neighborhoods, but in central Bangkok, it had been mostly dry.  The city was facing two converging threats, however.  Runoff the equivalent of 480,000 Olympic-size pools was flowing south to the sea through Bangkok, as high tide pushed the water in the opposite direction.

Saturday’s high tide, the Red Cross said, was expected to put “extreme pressure” on Bangkok’s elaborate system of dikes and other flood defenses.  Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra ordered work crews Friday to cut channels in roadways to allow faster drainage, according to the state-run MCOT news agency. But the plan was rejected late in the day in favor of dredging canals and using pumps.  Health concerns were rising with the water.  Bangkok residents waded through murky waters without knowing what lurked within, the risk of infection and communicable disease worrying health officials. The government sent out crocodile hunters after reports of crocodiles and snakes in the filthy floodwater.  As floodwater entered homes, some Bangkok residents still in the city made plans to leave.

The centre of Bangkok may dodge the worst floods to hit Thailand in nearly 60 years by flood defences which shield the city’s centre, but it is expected that large tides from the Gulf of Thailand hit their peak on Saturday and test the defenses.  However, Bangkok’s outskirts and much of the countryside remain submerged.  It is believed that Thailand may lose a quarter of its main rice crop, which could increase prices from the world’s top exporter of the grain.  There are many reasons for that but the deforestation of the hills which has serious environmental consequences is one of them.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US? 
The people of the mountain valleys had always depended on the forests for their livelihood in one way or another, but they had never simply taken from them - they had preserved the forests for future generations, using only what they needed in a sustainable way. Now all that was changing. ... The trees were being treated as a disposable source of instant wealth to feed industry, but they were also an essential protection for the land. Trees captured the moisture of the heavy monsoon rains and released it gradually into the river system. They also held the fragile mountain-sides in place.  Without tree-cover, they became disaster areas. Flash floods and landslides became regular occurrences and have been responsible for a growing toll of death and damage throughout the second part of this century.  Diminishing forests also meant the drying up of mountain springs, loss of topsoil, fuel, fodder and fertiliser - all essential for village economy.


“Ranchor Prime (Śripad Ranchor Dasa) :
“Hinduism & Ecology - Seeds of Truth”
Chapter Eleven:  “Hugging The Trees”
http://sites.google.com/site/ranchorprime/home
Friends of Vrindavan (FOV) - WWF
http://www.fov.org.uk/hinduism/hinduism.html

Friday, October 28, 2011

YOGA WITHOUT SPIRITUAL CONNOTATIONS

IN U.S. SCHOOLS, YOGA
WITHOUT THE SPIRITUAL
New York - To “om” or not to “om”: For those who teach yoga in schools, that is a question that arises with regularity. The little syllable, often intoned by yoga students at the beginning and end of class, signifies different things to different people. But with its spiritual connotations, it is a potential tripwire for school administrators and parents, along with “namaste” and other Sanskrit words, chanting and hands in the prayer position.  The om question ties into the wider debate over the extent to which yoga is entwined with religion. Yoga program directors, who train and place teachers in the schools and develop curriculums, try to avoid setting off a battle like the one that developed over the Lord’s Prayer.  “Every school is different, and every one has their own permutations and parameters of what you can and can’t do,” said Shari Vilchez-Blatt, founder and director of “Karma Kids Yoga” on West 14th Street, which sends teachers to private and public schools in New York.

“Bent on Learning”, a 10-year-old program based on Grand Street that teaches 3,300 students a week in 16 public schools, is a namaste-free zone. “No namaste,” Jennifer Ford, the development director and one of the founders, said. “No om. No prayer position with the hands. Nothing that anyone could look in and think, this is religious.”  At Karma Kids, Ms. Vilchez-Blatt takes a more elastic position on “om.” “We om,” she said. “I don’t look at it as spiritual. When we say ‘om,’ it is all the sounds in the universe.” Still, she checks whether it is acceptable to school administrators before introducing it in class.  If the answer is no, she has creative remedies, leading chants of “peace”.  Jennifer Cohen Harper, director of “Little Flower Yoga”, also discusses with administrators the content of classes. She incorporates “om” and “namaste,” which she translates as “the light in me bows to the light in you.”

It is allowed to teach yoga but do not say "Namaste" nor "Om" and do not place your hands in prayer position. Some Yoga teacher training programs in the USA stress upon this hard-line policy.  One hurdle that yoga faces in the public school system in NYC - and in the West in general - is whether it is a religious practice or not.  Opinions on this question have been argued both ways - but quite a lot of it depends on how one defines ‘religion.’  In this article the issue of whether yoga is a religion, or part of a religion, is further confused by equating spirituality with religion.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US? 
Yoga is an integral part of the Hindu religion. There is a saying: “There is no Yoga without Hinduism and no Hinduism without Yoga.”  The country of origin of Yoga is undoubtedly India, where for many hundreds of years it has been a part of man’s activities directed towards higher spiritual achievements. The Yoga Philosophy is peculiar to the Hindus, and no trace of it is found in any other nation, ancient or modern. It was the fruit of the highest intellectual and spiritual development. The history of Yoga is long and ancient. The earliest Vedic texts, the Brahmanas, bear witness to the existence of ascetic practices (tapas) and the vedic Samhitas contain some references, to ascetics, namely the Munis or Kesins and the Vratyas. ... Yoga has a long history. It is an integral subjective science. ... The seeds of the yoga system may be discovered in the Vedic Samhita because the Vedas are the foundation of Indian culture philosophy and religion.


“A Tribute to Hinduism” - “Yoga and Hindu Philosophy”
by Sushama Londhe
Published by Pragun Publications, New Delhi, India
http://atributetohinduism.com/contents.htm
http://www.hinduwisdom.info/Yoga_and_Hindu_Philosophy.htm
sushama@atributetohinduism.com

Thursday, October 27, 2011

IS JUNK FOOD REALLY CHEAPER?

JUNK FOOD IS NOT CHEAPER THAN
REAL, HEALTHY, HOME-COOKED MEAL
NEW YORK (nytimes.com) - THE “fact” that junk food is cheaper than real food has become a reflexive part of how we explain why so many Americans are overweight, particularly those with lower incomes.  This is just plain wrong. In fact it isn’t cheaper to eat highly processed food. Moreover, it’s unnecessarily high in calories, and most people in this country - especially the poor - already consume too many calories.  Even meat eaters can feed a family of four to six for about $14 with a roasted chicken, vegetables, a simple salad and milk. Just try feeding that family at McDonalds, or any other restaurant, for that price!  Vegetarian meals, of course, can cost much less.  Unfortunately, cooking is defined as work; fast food is both a pleasure and a crutch.  There are five fast-food restaurants for every supermarket in the United States, and fast-food companies spent an incredible $4.2 billion on marketing in 2009. 

Furthermore, the engineering behind hyperprocessed food makes it virtually addictive.  For decades, the fast-food industry has been placing their products on every street corner, making it socially acceptable to eat anywhere and anytime, and training us to self-stimulation every 15 minutes. Real cultural changes are needed to turn this around. Somehow we must get people to see cooking as part of a normal life, ideally as a joy rather than a burden.  To make changes like this more widespread we need action both cultural and political. The cultural action lies in celebrating real food. Political action would mean forcing the makers of junk’s marketing to pay the true costs of production and recognizing that advertising for fast food is not the exercise of free speech but behavior manipulation of addictive substances.

The American obesity epidemic is often "explained" by saying that junk food is cheaper than a healthy, home-cooked meal.  But despite extensive government subsidies, hyperprocessed food remains more expensive than food cooked at home.  Real cultural changes are needed to turn this around.  We should feed our children in homes and do not program them for fast-produced, eaten-on-the-run, high-calorie, low-nutrition junk and teach them that real food is affordable and available to everyone.  And remember: vegetarian meals are healthier and cost much less. 
 
WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US? 
Vibrant health, peaceful mind, and satisfying loving relationships are essential for a life of quality. Almost everyone could live healthily for a century if he just followed a life of plain living and high thinking. For many reasons, however, people live unhealthy lives and die prematurely. People poison their digestive tract with meat, alcohol, and various chemicals used in junk-food coloring and preservation. They also poison their bodies with licit and illicit drugs, pain relievers, sleeping pills, etc.  In the past, great authorities selected those foods that best aid health and increase life’s duration, such as milk products, sugar, rice, wheat, fruits and vegetables.  At BACE, the serious students who follow all the principles of spiritual life, get Prasadam, sanctified food that is cooked in a hygienic way by devotees. It is wholesome, nutritious, satisfying and nourishing to body and soul.


BACE : 
Bhaktivedanta Academy for Culture and Education
“Yoga Meditations and Nutrious Diet”
http://bacedelhi.org/activities.html


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

DIWALI BEING CELEBRATED TODAY

DIWALI BEING CELEBRATED  
WITH FERVOUR ACROSS INDIA
New Delhi - Diwali, the festival of lights, is being celebrated across the country with traditional fervor and zeal today.  The festival is important for its association with the uplifting of religious darkness in the souls of people.  Diwali symbolizes the triumph of truth and righteousness over falsehood and of good over evil, highlighting the high values and ethos of our great civilization. President Pratibha Devisingh Patil, Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh have greeted the people on this occasion. President Patil in her message said: “On the festive occasion of Diwali, I express my greetings and best wishes to all my fellow citizens. May the festival of lights dispel darkness and gloom and bring joy, happiness and prosperity to the people of our country.”  Vice President Ansari in his message said that Diwali, the festival of lights, signifies the victory of good over evil and strengthens our resolve to follow true ethical values in our lives.

“I extend my warm greetings and good wishes to the people of our country on the auspicious occasion of Diwali. The festival of lights signifies the victory of good over evil and strengthens our resolve to follow true ethical values in our lives,” he added.  The Prime Minister expressed hope that the festival of lights will dispel darkness and gloom and brings joy, happiness and prosperity to the people.  Scams involving the UPA government have made Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wiser. For the first time in seven years as PM, he has appealed to his well- wishers not to send him gifts on Diwali.  Through a public statement, Singh has asked people to donate to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund instead. Surprisingly, none of his ministers has made a similar appeal.

Fireworks, earthen lamps dotted houses and people exchanged sweets and gifts.  The Diwali season is upon us - five days of food, festivity, friends, family and worship. For Hindus, Sikhs and Jains around the world these sacred days are not only a time of celebration and consumption, but one of reflection, too.  Nearly one billion Hindus across the world celebrate the coming of Rama as their most important festival, Diwali - the Festival of Lights.  In South India, Deepavali marks the victory of Lord Krishna over the mighty asura, the demon Narakasura.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US? 
After defeating Ravana, Rama gave back the kingdom to Vibhishna, the brother of Ravana, thus establishing an eternal legacy for the Hindus that they might not usurp any possession that does not belong to them.  Winning a war does not alter this principle.  After winning the war and releasing Sita from the wicked Ravana, the period of fourteen years was over.  It was time to return to Ayodha.  The people of Ayodha were most eagerly waiting for this day.  They welcomed their beloved Rama, along with Sita, Lakshman, and Hanuman, by lighting candles to welcome them. ... Diwali, or Deepawali, as it is often called, is the Festival of Lights.  Undoubtedly, it is the most popular festival of Hindus. Nearly one billion Hindus celebrate this auspicious event with gusto and religious sentiment in all parts of world.  Diwali signifies the return of Lord Rama, after completing his fourteen years of exile in the forest and winning victory over the wicked King Ravana.


Dr. Hiro Badlani:
“Hinduism - Path of the Ancient Wisdom”
Chapter 20 - “Victory of Righteousness over Unrighteousness”
Chapter 54 - “Hindu Festivals”
http://hinduismpath.com/

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

TURKEY QUAKE KILLS AT LEAST 279, HUNDREDS MISSING

DEATH TOLL IN TURKEY QUAKE
RISES TO 279, HUNDREDS MISSING
(Reuters) - Rescuers searched the rubble of collapsed buildings Monday for survivors and victims of a major earthquake that killed at least 279 people and injured more than 1,300 in mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey.  Rescue and relief efforts focused on the city of Van and the town of Ercis, 100 km to the north, but hundreds were also feared dead in remote villages of mud-brick houses after Sunday’s 7.2 magnitude quake, Turkey’s strongest in a decade.  Desperate survivors cried for help beneath heaps of smashed concrete and twisted metal, some using mobile phones to tell friends they were alive, as earth-moving machines and troops raced against time in Van and Ercis.  The U.N. disaster agency said almost 1,000 buildings had collapsed, many of them poorly built. A Red Crescent spokesman said the agency was preparing to provide refuge for as many as 40,000 people, though it was so far impossible to tell how many would need shelter. 

Thousands of people made homeless by the quake were forced to spend a second night outdoors in the hilly, windswept Van region, enduring near-freezing temperatures. Families huddled round open fires that glowed in the dark. Some stayed in tents put up on soccer pitches, living on handouts from aid agencies.  In Van, cranes shifted rubble from a collapsed six-storey apartment block where 70 people were feared trapped.  The quake brought fresh torment to impoverished southeast Turkey, where PKK militants fighting a decades-long insurgency killed 24 Turkish troops south of Van last week.  The area it struck, near the border with Iran, is remote and mountainous, with long distances between villages and people who live off stock-raising, arable farming and trading.

Rescuers pulled survivors from beneath mounds of collapsed buildings and searched for the missing on Monday after a major earthquake killed at least 279 people and wounded more than 1,000 in mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey.  Hundreds more were feared dead after 7.2 magnitude quake. Thousands of people made homeless and were forced to spend the night on the streets, wrapped in blankets and huddled round open fires.  When this fleshy body is in danger we should do Nama-sankirtan and serve as a mediator to draw and distribute that divine energy.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US? 
So when the general apprehension of destruction comes, whether individual or collective, we shall try our best to utilise our time with the high conception, within divinity. That is very good. It is also appreciable that where the apprehension of danger is acute, one runs there for relief work. That is laudable. Circumstances may vary, and how far the intention is correct in a particular case is to be judged. ... Our aim will be to engage ourselves always in this distribution. Again, distribution may not be the only work. Some are seen to distribute, some are supplying, and others are cooking. Different functions are necessary to save the people.  Some disasters are acute and some minor, but disasters are always occurring. It is not only limited to the human beings, but so many insects, animals and others are also in need of receiving such vibration that comes from the Divine layer. 


Śrīla Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Mahārāja :
“Distribute In Danger”
http://www.scsmath.com/
http://www.bvml.org/SBRSM/did.html

Monday, October 24, 2011

34 DEAD IN INDIA BRIDGE COLLAPSE

DARJEELING BRIDGE COLLAPSE
KILLS 34, INJURES 102 IN INDIA
http://www.bbc.co.uk - At least 34 people have died and 102 injured after a bridge collapsed at a political event in India’s tea-producing region of Darjeeling.  More than 150 villagers were standing on the bridge for talks by local separatist leaders on Saturday night when it collapsed.  Officials say the victims fell at least 70ft (21m) into the fast-flowing Rangeet Khola River.  The army, fire brigade and police helped residents in the rescue effort.  Up to 60 people were rescued on Saturday night, but the search on Sunday was mainly focused on areas down river, reports say.  Rescue operations continued till late in the night on Saturday and on Sunday. District officials used sniffer dogs to look for missing people in the Rangeet River over which the bridge collapsed.  District officials said the old bridge could not take the weight of over hundred persons who were on it when it collapsed. A senior district official said the bridge was not meant to take the weight of more than 10-15 persons.

People had gathered in the village of Bijonbari, 30km (20miles) from Darjeeling, to listen to speeches by leaders of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) party.  “A cultural programme was being held on one side of the bridge, while a meeting was being held on the other,” GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri said.  “Too many people were standing on it when it collapsed and they fell into the river below.”  At least six children are among the casualties.  West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said her government would do “everything it can” to help the victims and their families.  The bridge was reportedly built in 1942, and is thought to have been weakened by a magnitude 6.9 earthquake that shook north-eastern India, Nepal and Tibet in September.

A wooden bridge collapse in India’s tea-producing region of Darjeeling has left at least 34 people dead.  Another 102 people were injured.  The collapse took place Saturday, when a steel cable of the bridge snapped as crowds clamoured for a view of speeches and a cultural programme during the five-day festival in Bijanbari town.  It is said the bridge was weakened by the past September 18 earthquake.  Faced with this unexpected calamity, we should relieve people of their suffering by giving them spiritual knowledge so they can rise above the bodily platform. 
 
WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US? 
One thing for sure is that if you are here reading this, you are alive. And if you are alive, then you are here for a purpose. You are special. You are not an accident. You are a spiritual being in a material body. You are a product of God’s intention. You are a spiritual part of God and have every chance of regaining that awareness and realization. When we raise our awareness above the level of ordinary activities, free from mental and sensual influences, then we can get a glimpse of that reality which makes it clear that we are spiritual in nature, above all the mundane things that go on all around us. The reality is that you are actually connected directly to God, if you can only be aware of it.  Furthermore, as a spiritual being, you are always connected with God. That never changes. You only need to fully awaken this awareness to understand the comfort and loving exchange that is possible between you and God.


Stephen Knapp (Śrīpad Nandanandana dasa) :
“Thirty-one Days to Salvation on the Vedic Path”
“Day Five: Why this Knowledge is Given to You”
http://www.stephen-knapp.com/thirtyone_days_to_salvation_on_the_vedic_path.htm
http://www.stephen-knapp.com  -  http://www.stephenknapp.info/

Sunday, October 23, 2011

ENTREPRENEURS OFTEN PRAY OR MEDITATE

DOES MEDITATION HELP FUEL
ENTREPRENEURIAL SUCCESS? 
USA (RNS) - Entrepreneurs behave just like most Americans when it comes to religion - but with one spiritual twist.  They’re significantly more likely to pray several times a day or to meditate, said sociologist Kevin Dougherty, a co-author of the Baylor Religion Survey.  The survey can’t answer whether the stress of a start-up drives folks to their knees or to the lotus position, Dougherty said.  But either way, 34 % of entrepreneurs say they frequently look up to the Lord, compared with 27 % of non-entrepreneurs. Nearly as many (32 %) say they look inward in meditation, while just 22 % of non-entrepreneurs say they practice any of the eight forms of meditation - including Christian, Jewish and Buddhist variations - listed on the survey.  Christian meditation was reported by 18 % of entrepreneurs.  Leah Rampy of McLean, Va., who ran her own company as an executive leadership coach, said her prayers were often that “the spirit would work through me.”
Mindful meditation was cited by 17 % of entrepreneurs.  Wendy Woods, a consultant based in Toronto, shares with her corporate clients how “meditation helps me push away fear and bring in calm and creativity.”  Buddhist meditation worked for Ray Yeh, of Ukiah, Calif., who created and ran a software sales company for 20 years.  Psychologist Kenneth Pargament, from the Institute for Spirituality and Health at the Texas Medical Center in Houston, explained, “Entrepreneurs have a strong sense they can take matters into their own hands.  But they also face risk, unpredictability and uncertainty. Prayer and meditation can be important resources for people who are trying to achieve a lot and yet still face the reality that there is only so much they can control.”

Entrepreneurs are significantly more likely to pray several times a day or to meditate than most Americans, according to this survey - which listed eight forms of meditation - including Christian, Jewish and Buddhist variations.  Questions on entrepreneurs were a part of the survey underwritten by Baylor’s sociology department, the National Study of Religion and Entrepreneurial Behavior and the National Science Foundation.  This is a good start, then people should find a sadhu, a saintly person, and from such a person they can learn about Krsna and purify their lives. 
WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?  
A devotee is called satam, honest, truthful. This is fundamental to spiritual life. We have to be honest, truthful. If you’re not truthful, you cannot have a peaceful mind. If you are not honest, you cannot meditate. It is not possible. There is a saying, “Oh, what a web we weave when at first we choose to deceive.” That is our material existence. It is based on deception, it is based on falsity that I am this body. That is a false premise. And then to support that, so much work, effort. We’re busy trying to cover our tracks here and there to support this idea. Such existence will not endure. When we’re basing our life on such a false premise, it puts us in so much difficulty. We weave a web, a karmic web. How will we get out? It is very difficult. The answer is satam prasangan, by associating with honest people. And honest here means devotees, devotees of Krsna.  In the association of these people, this talk about Krishna is always going on. ... So this Hari-katha, talk about Krishna, it is rasayana-katha, like rejuvenating elixir.


Śrīla Bhakti Vedanta Tripurari Mahārāja :
“What Is Sraddha?”
Sri Caitanya Sanga - Vol. I, No. 24 (San Francisco - July, 1996)
http://www.swami.org/pages/sanga/1999/1999_24.php

Saturday, October 22, 2011

ATHEISTS EXAMINE THEIR FAITH (OR LACK THEREOF)

JEDIS AND PASTAFARIANS: 
REAL RELIGION OR JUST A JOKE?
USA (Religion News Service) - When congregants of West Side Church and the Christian Life Center awoke in June to news that their churches had been vandalized, their frustration quickly turned to confusion.  In addition to the anti-Christian slogans scrawled on the walls of the two buildings, the words “Praise the FSM” were painted everywhere.  “FSM” stood for “Flying Spaghetti Monster,” the Deity of a spoof religion called “Pastafarianism” that’s popular among some atheists and agnostics.  However, mere hours after news of the vandalism broke, Bobby Henderson, the head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, publicly condemned the vandals; and Hemant Mehta, author of the Friendly Atheist blog, posted an online plea for donations to help fund repairs. In less than 24 hours, he raised more than $3,000. 


But while the vandalism seemed to be an isolated incident, it has spurred a discussion among atheists about the usefulness of so-called “joke” or “invented” religions in the nonreligious movement.  Pastafarianism was founded in 2005 when Henderson, then a physics student, sent a letter to a Kansas school board satirically critiquing the theory of intelligent design by citing “evidence that a Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe.”  For many atheists like Mehta, harmless religious satire is part of the atheist experience.  Atheists in Australia are divided over a parody religion called “Jediism,” based on George Lucas’ “Star Wars” film franchise.  “When (religious) people try to dominate the political landscape, sometimes the humor you find in things like the Flying Spaghetti Monster is a very subtle and powerful way of pushing back,” says Greg Epstein, the Humanist chaplain at Harvard University.

Carole Cusack, professor of religious studies at the University of Sydney and author of the book “Invented Religions,” notes that members of the eclectic and diverse atheist communities view the sarcasm in different ways.  “The first is as fellow warriors in the ongoing campaign to make religion look ridiculous,” Cusack said. “The second is as a nuisance, muddying the waters by proposing parody religions instead of calling for the end of religion.”  Nowadays, people rationalize everything and transform it to science, to logic, and have distorted truth by atheism. 

 
WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US? 
Vaishnava philosophers have discovered that all the mistakes we are guilty of making originate from (1) error, (2) inebriation, (3) the shortcomings of our senses and (4) an inclination to deceive others, and by these our boldest and strongest thoughts are lost. ... All people are subject to fall victim to these defects. The only exception is God Almighty and His associate counterparts, who remain within the Absolute Truth. God is all-knowing, all-powerful and all-blissful. He is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent, and none like Him can be found anywhere. He is one without a second and possesses infinite powers. ... When theism is forced to give way to pantheism, atheism, scepticism and agnosticism, then irreligion, unscrupulousness and duplicity bring about chaos on earth. Sin and its consequences surge around us, tumultuously clamouring to have their way against our wishes, and we find ourselves in the midst of a whirlpool. He (God) comes to save us from their clutches and re-establish peace and order.


Śrīla Bhakti Saranga Mahārāja :
Lecture: “God-realization”
“Omnipotent God Beyond Error”
Śrī Sajjana-tosani Patrikā, Vol. IV, No. 11 (June 1959)
Rays of The Harmonist No 13 Karttika 2003
Bhaktivedanta Memorial Library - http://bvml.org/SBSGM/index.html

Friday, October 21, 2011

CHINESE HIT-AND-RUN TODDLER DIES

CHINESE TODDLER DIES AFTER DOUBLE
HIT-AND-RUN THAT SPARKED OUTRAGE
(Reuters) - A two-year-old Chinese girl run over by two different vehicles and ignored by passersby died on Friday, state media said, in a case which ignited public uproar over what some called a moral numbness seeping through society.  Both drivers who ran over the girl have been arrested, but Internet users have decried the apathy of the people who left her for dead, after graphic footage from a security camera of the incident went viral.  The surveillance video from the October 13 hit-and-run, aired by a television station, shows the girl run over by a van, which drives off leaving her to bleed on a narrow street.  More than a dozen people over the next seven minutes walk or drive past the girl on bicycles and she is run over by a second truck.  A woman then pulls the girl to the side of the street before her mother, a migrant worker, rushes into the frame.

 Wang Yue died of brain failure more than a week after the accident in Foshan in the far southern province of Guangdong.   China’s economic boom and the growing disparity between the rich and poor have made changing social values a contentious topic, with some lamenting what they see as materialism replacing morals.  “Now people have become so selfish. So many people walked by but no one helped her because they didn’t want to get into trouble,” said Yang Yaying, a 21-year-old Beijing resident.  Wang’s death quickly became the most talked about topic on China’s popular Twitter-like microblog service, Sina’s Weibo.  The provincial Communist Party chief, Wang Yang, urged “searching reflection” on the incident.  “Take active and effective steps to raise the moral standards of the entire society,” he told a meeting of province officials.


Chinese toddler Yue Yue who was ignored by 18 passers-by after she was the victim of a hit-and-run has died from her injuries.  Closed-circuit television footage of 18 people walking past her body without helping her has ignited outrage both inside China and worldwide.  It is possible that she could have survived the initial accident if one of the early passers-by had come to her aid. The world needs more compassionate attitude towards others, and cultivate Vaishnavas’ feelings, who are “para dukha dukhī” and suffer when they see the sufferings of others.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?  
The Bhagavad Gita teaches us to balance our lives; to understand that we are eternal spirit souls while honoring material nature and cultivating feelings of compassion for the body, mind and soul of ourselves and others. A genuine spiritualist accepts the suffering of others as his or her own and finds joy in other people’s happiness. A genuine spiritualist feels compassion for all living beings-humans as well as animals and other species- because he realizes that everyone is a sacred part of God, who is the father and mother of all living entities. Thus a spiritualist extends love and compassion to all, without egoistic, selfish conditions. … We should all try to do our part however little or big it may be. A compassionate heart also extends to those apparently fortunate people with wealth, health and success, who forgetful of their eternal nature are being consumed by time, on the road to death.


Śrīla Radhanath Swami Mahārāja :
“Nature - Love It Or Fear It?”
http://radhanathswami.com/events/nature-love-it-or-fear-it
http://www.radhanath-swami.net/  -  http://radhanathswami.info/