Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Srimad-Bhagavatam Meditation: 1.7.5 (Part 2)

Scroll down to read Part 1, or just click here.

It is once again time for our weekly/bi-weekly meditation on the ripened fruit of the tree of Vedic knowledge, the Srimad-Bhagavatam.

I humbly ask you to read first the translation and Bhaktivedanta purport to today's verse, from the 1st Canto, Seventh Chapter, Fifth Verse.

yayā sammohito jīva
paro 'pi manute 'narthaḿ
tat-kṛtaḿ cābhipadyate

Due to this external energy, the living entity, although transcendental to the three modes of material nature, thinks of himself as a material product and thus undergoes the reactions of material miseries.


A very famous example of the intense mercy of the Lord came in the final months of the life of one of our dearest saints, Bhakta Tirtha Swami. As he dealt with the final stages of terminal cancer, Krsna was actually feeling so much love for him that he decided to purify him of any remaining material attachments by letting him face and pass one final, very challenging, but incredibly rewarding test.

So many devotees who experienced his final pastimes in his direct presence realized that their own devotional life was actually being affected in the most positive way. The powerful experience of seeing and hearing from a pure devotee in the direct process of going back to Godhead, being used by Krsna as a vessel for all to see the temporary nature of the body and the eternal nature of the spirit, allowed a real sense of re-committment and renewal to come back into the lives of all involved.

Throughout the process, Bhakta Tirtha Swami repeatedly said, despite the bodily pain he was feeling, that he could not have been more grateful to have been allowed to be of so much benefit to those who came to him in love. It was the exclamation point to his ideal example that we should all follow.

In a more common example, for those in the throes of the various types of addiction, the difficult circumstances involved can often lead to a personal enlightenment that could never come to someone who never faces any serious challenges. Indeed, we are all addicted to the idea that we are our body, and unless we face up to and overcome the serious challenges that are involved with breaking this bodily addiction, we will never be truly happy. We cannot blame maya, for she is just acting a vessel of mercy in the Lord's hands. She is tied to Krsna as we are tied to Krsna. We cannot blame Krsna either. He is always with us, guiding us, pushing us, and desiring for us to return to His side more so than we ever realize.

Prabhupada says "that eternal relation between the Lord and the living being is transcendental, otherwise the Lord would not have taken the trouble to reclaim the conditioned souls from the clutches of māyā." This is the foundation of Krsna's causeless mercy. Like a lover after a stormy fight, we huff away for a few moments, determined never to return, but the pull is too strong. We must go back! Difficult circumstances will be arranged before the original condition is restored, so that we fully understand our own foolishness.

The beat-down of boot-camp that this material life is is not meant to be comfortable. We have to go kicking and screaming back. This life is for some serious learning, and the sufferings imposed by maya are a very powerful teacher. We must understand what she is actually trying to tell us, and when we are finally able to reach our head and hand above the surface of this ocean of misery, we must take grasp of His hand reaching down to pull us out. He is always there, waiting, and by serious endeavor and prayer, we will get back to Him. This is the real promise, and the real goal of our lives

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Real Solution to Global Warming?


To the hope of many and the chagrin of the few, the pressing demands of our looming earthly environmental crisis are finally seeping like an inevitable flood into the mainstream of cultural thought across the world.

However, as my favorite quotemaster-prabhu Madhava Gosh says, while the rest of the world agrees that global warming is a genuine phenomenon and wonders if we are doing enough to curtail its frightening forecasts, here in the U.S we're still trying to deciding if global warming is real news or a mass Hollywood conspiracy.

And here in ISKCON, as we'll find out in one relevant workshop ("How the Styrofoam Plate Monster Ate The Hare Krsna Movement.") from Tapahpunja Prabhu at the upcoming 2007 Festival of Inspiration, we are missing the boat on institutionally being a lead example of how the world can practically sustain itself for the benefit of all those yet to come.

We can begin by urging all we meet to please stop consuming the flesh of Mother Cow and all her animal associates, for turning to vegetarianism is a real solution to global warming.

Indeed, it is animal agriculture and the cattle industry which is actually contributing far more harm to our environment than all the gas-guzzling automobiles put together.
Here are some relevant stats to spread about. Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of the world's greenhouse-gas emissions measured in CO2, as opposed to 13.5% from all forms of transportation.

It produces 65% of human-related nitrous oxide (which has 296 times the global warming potential of CO2) and 37% of all human-induced methane (which is 23 times as warming as CO2).

It also generates 64% of the ammonia, which contributes to acid rain and acidification of ecosystems.

The Case Against Meat is staggering, and to put it plain, most people are just simply uninformed, rather than unwilling. I find it personally disturbing that in this current climate where the issue of environmental abuse becomes more and more mainstream, we still refuse en masse to consider that our own diets, rather than our cars or our smokestacks, are the root problem of a very frightening future.

As writer Dan Brook says in his article "Another Inconvenient Truth: Meat is a Global Warming Issue": "Vegetarianism is literally about life and death — for each of us individually and for all of us together. Eating animals simultaneously contributes to a multitude of tragedies: the animals’ suffering and death; the ill-health and early death of people; the unsustainable overuse of oil, water, land, topsoil, grain, labor and other vital resources; environmental destruction, including deforestation, species extinction, mono-cropping and global warming; the legitimacy of force and violence; the mis-allocation of capital, skills, land and other assets; vast inefficiencies in the economy; tremendous waste; massive inequalities in the world; the continuation of world hunger and mass starvation; the transmission and spread of dangerous diseases; and moral failure in so-called civilized societies. Vegetarianism is an antidote to all of these unnecessary tragedies."

As devotees of Krishna, our responsibilities should extend well beyond just giving out a little prasad and taking a little donation. In other words, we can't just make people comfortable. We have to exhibit true compassion by informing them of the proper ways of utilizing this body and utilizing this planet.Spreading the gospel of vegetarianism through our living devotional examples in temples and homes across this fragile world is a very potent way of allowing people a true gateway to spiritual life. There are already many wonderful examples within ISKCON of true environmental cutting-edge service. If we can make this a institutional priority, then we will be getting much more of an increasingly concerned world's attention in this time of great global change.
Srila Prabhupada, with the incredible inspiration of his vision of self-sufficient and self-realized farm communities providing the framework for the return to varnasrama, is just the pure soul so many intelligent and responsible people of all stripes need to meet to be provided with the necessary vision to get us on the ark and over to the other side.