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Unplugged Ice

Monday, August 19, 2013

1:18PM - Book Distribution Psychology 101: Acāpalam Is Not Had Without Effort

Due to some past earnest connection with a known Blue Boy, a certain group devotees, a few of whom I am fortunate to have become acquainted with, have been endowed with the gift of being able to effortlessly distribute Srila Prabhupada's books. I have observed the ease with which these particular devotees, at least the ones that I know, weave in and out of the daily lives of so many people, piquing interests in affairs more immediate than the latest in-vogue versions of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. The symptoms by which one can recognize these devotees is that they are naturally able to enlighten, inspire and enthuse inquiry into the supra-mundane in many of those that they come in contact with. Their behavior is always embellished with equanimity, self-satisfaction and, above all, humility in their constant wish to serve the sankirtan mission. Their lives are in unison with the wish of guru and Gauranga.

I am not one of these devotees. I continue after 25 years to struggle to convince myself that going out on sankirtan is a better option than not going out on sankirtan. Having said this I cannot say that I have not experienced bliss or things of a mystical nature on book distribution (which seem to be a common occurrence in this most dear of the Lord's sports). And, dare I say it; I have also gained some realizations as an immediate result of performing this service. But, and I say this with all sincerity without wishing to minimize book distribution in any way or form, this service is not one that I always joyfully perform - at least this is what I sometimes contemplate before going out.

A few days ago I was sitting in a library reading the Gita. I was planning to distribute that afternoon after the searing sun had gone down a little. As the time to go out drew ever nearer my mind began to conjure up its usual worst case scenarios: "How many more of these uninterested people can I tolerate? How many are going to disrespect me today? The scowls. The ignorance. The obvious wrath. I'm getting too old for this. Ten years ago I could take all this in my stride but now I'm almost fifty and it's time to hang up my boots and go to the forest. I should take the day off today and read more so I can be strong tomorrow."

The above way of thinking is a prime example of a self-developed strategic logic designed to overwhelm me at times of weakness. It's tricky because it's not entirely negative but, if followed, the end product seldom turns out to be positive: i.e., I rarely read more. In the library on this particular occasion, instead of dutifully surrendering to this argument, I caught myself and noted that which was not quite right in regard to this thinking process. It wasn't a light-bulb moment. It was more like a digging moment; that is, I suddenly wondered why I was so worried about others' reactions. These reactions have not troubled me so much in the past. I may have been affected during weak moments here and there but it was never anything worth bailing for. And then I realized that it wasn't so much others' reactions that worried me but my own reactions to their reactions. Rejection, rudeness, abuse and/or hostility from others is nothing to get hung up about. It's their problem. How I react to these reactions is my problem and this was worrying to me. What if I reacted badly? If I did react badly I would be forced to do one of two things. I would either have to let my false ego cover up the misdemeanor (or sort out all events in my head so that they were in my favor, thus making me the unsung hero/victim and everyone else a demon and/or fool) or I would have to face my own shortcomings. To be Krsna Conscious would be to choose the latter and use it as a foundation from which to try to improve. And that — facing my anarthas, my unwanted bad habits — would be the hard part.

Like I said earlier, book distribution does not come as naturally to me as it does with others. Maybe I'm not the only one who struggles like this. However, and I'm sure this also applies to others; I have developed an attachment for the dependence I need to have in Krsna to perform this service. But, needless to say, this dependence does not become complete without realization. If I am to keep distributing books I need to be willing to face my own anarthas, to realize my own shortcomings — and sankirtan will reveal them to me, no doubt. Am I willing to face them and learn what I have to do about them? Or will I cover them up, paste over them with a smattering of false ego, and continue to begin each day by painting worse case scenarios in my mind until I stop the service all together (to read). If I am at all sincere what better way is there than to face my troubles out on book distribution and hence improve my behavior and gain the symptoms of one dedicated to Srila Prabhupada's mission.

A life of full-time dedication to distributing Srila Prabhupada's books is glorious. If this cannot be done, then this service performed part-time is also wonderful. If it cannot be done part-time, then a year, a month, a week or a day doing it bestows untold benefits. If this is not practical, then simply one or two hours during an entire lifetime can be a life-changer. Why would I consider such short a time as an hour to be so beneficial? Because, apart for the benefit we are giving others, a moment's clarity in regard to how far we have to go to attain Krsna Consciousness through facing even one anartha while doing something so dear to guru and Gauranga as sankirtan is something that will stay with us our entire life. It will give us strength and fortitude when inevitable problems, spiritual crises and indolence manifest. It will help us with acāpalam, the determination to not be agitated or frustrated in, this case, the attempt to serve Krsna.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

11:12AM - Very scary stuff

... and this is based on a prediction of a lifetime consumption of pills
of a couple living in England. A US exhibit of the same nature would
probably cover several tables.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

4:05PM - Cave Glow Worms

The cave glow worm hangs silken fishing lines made of its own mucus from the roof of its cave to catch its prey. It then literally hangs from a mucus hammock and waits. There is a chemical reaction in a capsule at the end of its body that emits a blue glow. So, literally, the light shines out of its ass. When you stand at the bottom of a cave and look up at the mass of lights a colony of these glow worms make, there is little to distinguish one from the other. Each is insignificant in relation to the whole mass, let alone to the sun outside of the cave. But when you zoom into one of these unfortunate creatures, you will find an individual who thinks that the light shines out of its ass. Thus, the whole colony is made up of an en-mass unfortunate notion that the light shines out of my ass.

Somehow or other, insects are uncontrollably attracted to that glow worm ass-light and are snared before being eaten alive. The glow worm thus gains its audience and subsequently devours it. And so it subsists on the misfortunes of others who have uncontrollable senses that drag them to its ass-light. But in the end, it is unable to do anything that is of benefit for anyone while it maintains the notion that there is a light that shines out of its ass.

The analogies that can be drawn from this are eerily pertinent. For example:
“These so-called glow-worms, they'll not be able to do anything. That's a fact. Don't remain a glow-worm. Just become a sun and moon.” [SP: SB 1.15.1 Lecture NY 29/11/73]

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

1:33PM - I have a question:

A "truth act" is a term that refers to a situation that is found many times throughout the Vedas and their corollaries and is performed by a variety of men and women. An instance of a truth act generally involves an individual who states a situation that he or she is in, that always tends to be an exemplary situation in respect to that person's dharma or something that has happened as a result of that person following his or her dharma, and, from that basis, that person makes a statement to the effect that he or she implores or expects something to happen to fulfill a certain wish. This wish can include the reversing of events or can be the desiring of a miracle. Since the wish is made in respect to dharma, it is very powerful and always comes to fruition. The question is whether the reason for the person performing the truth act is solely for the purpose of fulfilling his or her dharma or whether it is just a selfish desire that, by divine providence, becomes dharmic? Or whether each situation is different?

An example of a truth act is in the story of Damayanti who wants to marry Nala in the Mahabharata. To cut a long story short: Indra, Yama, Agni and Candra have disguised themselves as Nala and, standing with the real Nala, ask Damayanti to choose one from between them. Damayanti then states how she has followed her dharma as a woman and then basically tells all the Nalas in front of her to reveal their true identities. This truth act was so powerful that they do what she says.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

10:40PM - The art of successful preaching, or not

Try asking someone the following two questions:

1. Answering yes or no: will you answer this question in the same way that you will answer the next question?

2. Will you chant Hare Krsna?

Either way, if they answer, they will have to agree; or they will call you names unmentionable on this forum.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

5:48PM - the ism of monotheism

My tendency has been to emphasize "monotheism" whenever i explain KC to anyone new to or ignorant of Vaisnava culture and philosophy. I'm not saying that this is wrong but i do wonder whether my use of the word is due to my being overly influenced by my Christian roots and Christianity's absolute abhorrence of anything other than that particular ism. So i checked the Vedabase and noticed that "monotheism", "monotheistic", "monotheist" and "monotheists" only have 7 hits in SP's writings, lectures, conversations, and letters....

SB 2.1.3 - as an explanation of what the verse talks about
Renunciation Through Wisdom - in regard to one religion and one creed
Lecture: Bg 9.15-18 NY Dec 2, 1966 - as an ism
Lecture NY Sept 8, 1966 - in regard to different types of philosophers seeing pantheism and monotheism
3 times in a letter to Prof Staal 30 Jan - in reference to Western monotheism

Srila Prabhupada didn't seem to bother too much with the ism of monotheism. He was more interested in connecting with Krsna in loving and personal service. There are so many isms and they do more to confuse than they do to enlighten. Once you label something you can easily put it aside and forget it. It's almost as if it has been conquered. So my emphasis on monotheism is ok, but it's not the essence of what Prabhupada taught. It's more the essence of what Christians and atheists have taught me.

Monday, September 21, 2009

6:02PM - the academy

I'm taking a seminar on Bhakti this semester. Part of the course involves reading the Bhagavad Gita's twelfth chapter and commentaries by the four Vaisnava sampradayas. The translation we are using is by someone who hails from a branch of the Sri Sampradaya. It's much better than the standard nirvisesas and sunyavada renderings that permeate the academy, so i'm not grumbling. But, still, i always go back to Prabhupada's Gita so that i can understand what is being said. Even on the simple level of just being clear about what each verse of the Gita means, Prabhupada's translations and purports far surpass any others that i have read.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

5:45PM - Now that's what I call music!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

4:46PM - The Cult

Modern day academia is like an organized religion. It has its hierarchy, its dogmatic teachings, its rituals, its rites of passage, and its cosmology. It reacts to criticism from outside in the same way religious fanatics defend their faith -- with no consideration of logic or objectivity. It upholds its own values and, even though it abhors cultural relativity, it considers itself the sole guardian of truth. Actually, "truth" is not allowed. It has been banned. And so has "potential truth." Nothing has value. The greatest achievement that humanity can claim is a "valuableness" unto it's own particular culture or tradition. Thus nothing is of absolute value and, for the sake of "scholarship," everything is open to interpretation (speculation). What is left? A monistic, atheistic, undefinable mixed-up pile of human excreta that allows individuals the right to become mini-gods on the basis of how much well-articulated nonsense they can regurgitate in one sitting. This, my friends, is academia. This is the elite. This is what society looks up to as its teachers, mentors, and advisers. This is how the innocent are fooled. This is the battle.

All is not lost for as time waits for no man, and as Krsna is time,-- a change is underway.

Friday, November 7, 2008

2:02PM - Slogans

I have a dilemma. I see posts on devotee websites and bulk emails full of slogans meant to change the hearts of their audiences. Devotees are connected with Krsna so anything posted by a devotee is in some way connected with the supreme. But slogans are so close to symbols, and symbols are fine for the masses, and though there's no harm in getting the masses off of their haunches in order to do something good for themselves and others, i cannot categorize devotees as part of the masses. The masses in this day and age are...... let me put it this way - not so Krsna conscious. Any small creeper of spiritual inquiry is immediately stamped out by their desires to eat, sleep, mate and defend. That is why slogans and symbols (even mode-of-goodness ones) are good for them - they need something catchy to clear the material mist once in a while. But it's rare souls, like devotees, who begin to inquiry further. And to throw slogans at these souls is, for want of a better word, sad. My dilemma is that i want to say something about how inquiry means so much more than symbolism and sloganism, but i can't for the slogans that devotees pass on are, in a certain capacity, correct - and they do attract attention.

I guess i did say something. By the way, did the images above inspire you to read this?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

5:33PM - Incase you thought Kali Yuga was giving everyone a break this time round

Yesterday a lady came to the Honolulu temple with her three children. All four of them were very nice and cultured; however, they had been left homeless due to the present economic climate. After they left i checked my email and had to filter out several items of spam telling me how to find foreclosures in my area. Greed and lust have broken out from their hiding places and are running amok in our sand castles. Without the KC perspective, it would be easy to get very depressed about how humanity is turning out -- shallow, cruel, and ridiculously opportunistic. Only can a person who  reasons that little further, allowing the Absolute a chance to enter the equation of life, find some reason to be optimistic about human nature -- or soul nature. It's at times like this that i wish i had the intelligence and openness to be able to chant Hare Krsna incessantly. Any other future is cruel.

Friday, June 13, 2008

7:59PM - I have my moments

I have my moments. They are extremely rare but they are there, and they exist as a touch of Krsna's mercy. Reality as opposed to ignorance is divine, transported from a realm that can only be perceived if one is humble and ready to accept one's fate and wrongdoings. In my case, reality is perceived sporadically, like patches of a blue sky through a fog. And when I catch a glimpse I see an eternity of deeds opposed to self-realization – a mentality that is selfish, irrational, and hungry for name, fame, adoration. Obsequious and unashamed, I mount an eternal struggle for something that is detrimental to well-being, and, as a result, live in a fog while occasionally – out of Krsna's sheer unequivocal mercy upon me – I catch glimpses of the eternal - instead of relishing it's continual presence (something that I would not be unable to do had I the desire for it). It is like this for me.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

2:39PM - Wrestling with the mind

Why is KC so simple and yet so hard? Minds are quite a handful are they not? To conquer the mind is to conquer the senses, and that would be quite an achievement. I find myself thinking back to distributing Prabhupada's books. I had the same mind, the same senses, the same three gunas, and yet somehow at that time, amidst all the same chaos and turbulence, there was an obvious trail back to Godhead and a means to traverse it. Leave the books alone for a few months and the path starts to become overgrown. Leave it too long and i'll have to wrestle with my mind to decide which way to walk is best.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

5:21PM - Doctor Bird Cage

When i get nasty flus i try to avoid going to the doctor for various reasons. But this time, to save you graphic details of grossness, i got a flu that would have required a few weeks of work to get rid of naturally; so i decided it best that i kill it quickly with antibiotics since i couldn't afford the time lost. I ended up in a cheap clinic with a pleasant Thai doctor. I tried to keep quiet so that i could get the drugs and run but i slipped up and told him that i had just done prolotherapy on my back to try to fix a long running problem. I normally avoid telling these doctors of any alternative medicine i take because they tend to take it personally. This doctor was no different. His pleasant mood vanished as he began ranting on about liability, and quacks, and everything else to minimize or give a bad name to everything except his beloved allopathy. And as he was blabbering it again dawned on me that that these doctors care about everything except their patients health. Not once did he ask me if prolotherapy had helped me. His only concern was to protect all those years he had toiled in medical school so that he could become an absolute authority on something. This is the story of the material world. This is another twist in the story of the bird in the cage

Friday, December 14, 2007

5:26PM - Indian Culture: American as Apple Pie

The following is scratching the surface, but was nevertheless interesting to write. As Benjamin Franklin wrote in a letter to an acquaintance: I'm sorry, but if i had more time i would have made this shorter.

Indian Culture: American as Apple Pie

Most of us think Indian influences arrived in America during the countercultural movements of the sixties. In reality, that was only the most recent wave in the rising tide of Indiological interest stretching back centuries. I will review the history of the transference of knowledge from India to America. Each of the following cultural phenomena in America occurred in roughly the following order: cross-cultural traffic between India, Europe, and America; Transcendentalism; the Theosophical Society and Eastern gurus; Nazi Germany; the Civil Rights Movement; the Beat Generation; the widespread use of LSD; Indian influenced music; and the Hippies.
Read more...Collapse )

Saturday, October 20, 2007

3:39PM - Mangala-arati

The following is a descriptive essay written for my English class here in Honolulu. Bear in mind it was written for a non-devotee audience who are completely unfamiliar with anything that we do, plus there was a limit to the amount of words I could use. There's nothing academic about this paper but it was fun to write. And, by the way, I used a heap of artistic license since I avoided mentioning karatalas played like dustbin lids and the mad passionate drumming associated with many a present day kirtan.

         Halfway up the Nuuanu Valley tucked in a huddle of bungalows, consulates and churches, is a Krishna Temple that pulsates with music from another world.
         My day begins at 4:30am as I enter the temple room. It’s a long, narrow room with a soft, warm, wooden floor underfoot. The chandeliers are dimmed, stimulating a meditative atmosphere. An angelic breeze carries a bouquet of jasmine from a nearby tree and delivers it to the temple through an open window. The rustling of leaves outside accompanies Vedic mantras chanted within by three or four monks who sit and softly rock back and forth. Eye-catching paintings grace the walls like windows into a sublime land.
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Friday, August 31, 2007

2:33PM - Slaughterhouse civilization

I'm taking classes at a community college in Hawaii. This semester i am taking "World History", which is really a bad fiction read; "Philosophy (logic)", which is the proselytizing front of agnosticism; "Food Science and Human Nutrition", which must be partially funded by the meat industry; and "English", which is a business language.

Luckily i used to like reading fiction so it's bearable in that sense.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

1:55PM - Here comes the rain again

It's raining as i write. Actually i would say it's bucketing down. Every day like clockwork the rains come to Taipei around 1pm and subside around 3pm. The weather has it's rituals and when it performs them there is not much we can do about it. I always found the "everything came about by chance" "philosophy" on life quite ridiculous. If something was brought into existence by chance then logically it should continue to exist within the laws of chance. Does chance pack-up and leave once it has created something? Even if chance produced an alarm clock that worked like clockwork, chance should always be there to give that clock a chance to do something else. If chance created it in such a way that during rainy season it rains every day at a certain time, then chance should still exist to change that. We learn in school that the law of averages is constant. Each time we throw a die we have the same chance of getting a six. Each time you get a six, the chance of getting another six or any other number doesn't decrease. In the same way, the chances of creation should also always be constant. But in too many cases this chance has produced something that works according to rules, and then [maybe] by chance that chance simply stops being chance any more. Whatever! It's still raining as i write, by the way.

Friday, August 3, 2007

6:05PM - Surf's up

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

My body is a year older. If I were ambitious I would be worried about this. After all, if I were ambitious, my precious body would be the vehicle to take me to my ambitions and, once arrived there, also carry them. If this were the case then I would most certainly squirm at my increasing number of gray hairs and receding hairline. I would be over self-conscious of the extra baggage I carry around my waist. I would be intolerant of the ever increasing wrinkles and other youth destroying phenomena. I would find it difficult to bear my decreasing endurance levels. I would find it hard to accept my limited allotted time available here. I would find it impossible to think that I am starting to get a glimpse of my inevitable twighlight years. I would have to be illusioned to continue.Read more...Collapse )

Thursday, July 19, 2007

1:11PM - Turn the tables

If i don't write on this journal it can mean one of only two things... i'm either busy or dead.

Since i'm neither of those right now...

I just got back to Taipei from a day in Hong Kong. While i was walking about Hong Kong island i was approached by two different Buddhist monks on two different occasions for donations. I declined both but checked to see their reactions to my refusals, which turned out to be more like scowls at the loss of a gullible westerner than sincerity. If they had been gracious i would have turned around and given them something. But because of the way they reacted, i didn't trust them.

This in turn led to self reflection... how do i react when someone rejects taking a book from me? I am trying to be detached and noble in defeat but sometimes i slip up and don't react in the right way. How do others perceive my reaction?

Detachment is far from being callous and uncaring towards humanity; a rocky outcrop as shelter in shark infested waters. It doesn't mean i don't see or want to see how others perceive me. It means that i am self-satisfied and offer whatever i offer without self motivation or reward. Those "others" that i may disdain or ridicule for not being on the same page as me are, in-fact, my guides. They react and i see how i should be.

If we're lucky, Krsna turns the tables on us so that we get a glimpse into who or what we are becoming.

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