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Everything posted by Gauracandra

  1. One day a Vrindavan pujari was visiting the Pope in Vatican city. The Pope invited the pujari into his personal quarters to discuss various spiritual issues. During the conversation the pujari noticed a small red phone with a single button in the middle. The pujari asked: "What is that little red phone with a button in the middle?" The Pope responded by saying that it was his direct connection to God. If ever he had a question that he couldn't resolve he'd press the button and would be put through directly to the Lord. The pujari had some spiritual dilemas he had been pondering for some time and asked if he could use his phone. The Pope obliged. After talking for perhaps a half-hour the Vrindavan pujari hung up the phone and asked the Pope how much the charge would be. The Pope said that at the going rate a half-hour would be 100,000 Lira. The pujari paid this amount and then the two parted. Several months later the Pope was embarking on a trip around the world. On this trip he stopped off in Vrindavan to meet with his old pujari friend. The Pope met with the pujari and was brought into his private quarters. There they continued their spiritual discussions from where they left off some months before. During the conversation the Pope became curious as he saw a solitary red phone with a single button in the corner of the pujari's room. The Pope asked: "By the way, what is that little red phone with the single button?" The pujari responded that, like the Pope, he too had a direct connection to God, and when he had philosophical questions he couldn't resolve, he would call up the Lord for the correct answer. The Pope asked the pujari if he could use the little red phone. The Pope explained that he had a number of serious philosophical questions that needed answering, and being on his world trip, he hadn't had access to his red phone in Vatican City. The pujari obliged. After about a half-hour conversation, the Pope hung up the phone and asked: "So how much do I owe you for the phone charge?" The Vrindavan pujari replied: "Oh, about 5 rupees". The Pope was surprised and replied: "Only 5 rupees? Why so little?". The Vrindavan pujari humbly responded: "Oh, its a local call" I hope you enjoyed that. Gauracandra
  2. What is the <<most>> difficult asana? This was a question I recently was asked in a personal email. The answer: Dandavats. Srila Prabhupada remarked that the dandavat (lying flat on the ground paying obeisances) is the most difficult because most people's false ego is too big to remain humble. I liked it so I thought I'd share it with you. Gauracandra
  3. Unfortunately, this is true. In this age of Kali Yuga many unqualified people put on saffron cloth and pose as spiritual teachers (this is after all the age of hypocrisy). How can we stop exploitation? I'm not sure it can be fully stopped. However, we should always stand guard against religious deviations and have the courage to speak out against such practices. This is easier said than done of course. Ultimately we must try to remain pure ourselves and seek to give good counsel to those who are genuinely seeking spiritual advancement. Gauracandra
  4. Yes, I agree. Srila Prabhupada noticed this and was very much disturbed that many Indians were giving up their culture in favor of Western materialism. He has stated that it is especially the duty of those born in India to share the Vedic knowledge with the rest of the world. He once said that his strategy was that since many of the young in India were taking up Western practices (like meat eating...) he would go to the west and give them Indian culture. Then when the young Indians saw Westerners respecting their traditions, following regulative principles (no meat eating etc...) then they would turn inwards back to their traditions and culture. Jai Jaganath, Jai Baladev, Jai Subhadra. Gauracandra
  5. I just got back from this years San Francisco Ratha Yatra and must say it was an ecstatic event. Its been many years since I attended the SF Ratha Yatra but it was great seeing hundreds of devotees performing Harinam through Golden Gate Park. Lord Jaganath, Lord Baladev, and Lady Subhadra blessed all those in attendance. It was a bit chilly and foggy (as San Fran usually is)but this didn't dampen the mood. If any thing it got people more fired up (to keep warm ). Anyways, I just wanted to share my quick thoughts. Srila Prabhupada introduced the Ratha Yatra festival to those outside of India 34 years ago in San Francisco. It was great to see it still going on today. I hope one day to see the Jaganath Puri Ratha Yatra. Gauracandra
  6. When talking about whether life comes from matter I think we inevitably get into a discussion of Darwinian Evolution. I think the best book I've read that raises serious doubts about evolution is Michael Behe's "Darwins Black Box". I'm sure you will be able to find many reviews/ commentaries on this book, both pro and con, on the Internet. In case you are not familiar with the term black box, it refers to a process in which inputs go in, and then through some unknown process, outputs come out. The point he makes is that when Darwin developed his theory, he knew of the existence of the Cell (the black box) but he had no understanding of what was going on in the cell. Certainly I will not be able to do justice to the book in a few short paragraphs, but one of the key arguments Behe makes is called "irreducible complexity". To give you a brief background, Michael Behe is a professor of Microbiology at Stanford University. In his argument against evolution he analyzes what occurs on the molecular level within the cell (something Darwin could never have known). He gives many examples, but for simplicity sake lets take blood cloting. When I cut my finger, my blood cells start to coagulate and seal up the wound. Thus I don't bleed to death. Suppose for this to occur I would need a certain protein sequence 12345. Behe's argument is that having sequence 12 5 will not help you. It is all or nothing. Now evolutionarily speaking suppose I was able to get part 1 of the sequence. And then after 20,000 years of random processes I got part 5 on the other end. Now these are stand alone pieces. According to the rules established by Darwinian theory, if my body is producing things which I don't need, it will for energy conservation SELECT these items out. I can't say "I have piece 1 but just hold on, in another 100,000 years I'll have pieces 2 and 5, and then in 50,000 years I'll get pieces 3 and 4 and voila I'll have something useful called Blood Clotting. If your body is producing things it doesn't need, according to the very rules of Evolution, they will fade away. This is how they explain why we no longer have a tail. We had no use for it so over time it disappeared. Thus from a molecular level you have irreducible complexity, a system so complex that if one piece is missing the entire system fails in its purpose. You either have all or nothing. The body is very finely tuned. If even a small piece is out of sequence you get things like Downe's Syndrome, Sickle Cell Anemia, Cancer etc.... It is partly because of this view that there has been a rather large change in Evolutionary theory (though you hardly ever hear of it). The traditional view is that evolution is a gradual process. But ideas like irreducible complexity bring into serious question this gradual process. There is a large and growing segment of Evolutionary theorists that acknowledge this problem. Their solution to this problem is to say that instead of occuring slowly, evolution actually occurs in big spurts. So one day I'm sitting around, and the next day I have sequence 12345, and all at once I've evolved the ability to clot blood. I say this jokingly, but pretty soon they'll say evolution occured in 6 days and on the seventh took a rest. The problem is that you will never get rid of the Theory of Evolution. No matter how many serious questions you may bring up that call it into question, unless you can bring in another materially based theory that replaces it, it will stay. If I remember correctly, according to Vedic teachings, the size of the soul is described as such: Take the very, very tip of a hair, the smallest possible portion. Then cut this tip into two pieces. Then take one of these pieces and cut it in two. Then again and again, for 10,000 times. At the very end of this process you'll be left with an infinitesimally small piece. And that is the size of the soul. The soul is smaller than the atom and yet pervades the whole body. So how can our crude material tools analyze something which is both spiritual and infinitely small. This is the problem. Scientists will never be able to detect the soul and will always be looking for material processes to explain everything. Gauracandra
  7. On one of the audio tapes the speaker talks about the process of self-realization. He mentions that according to the Vedas, one of the characteristics of the soul, in its constitutional position, is that it is full of knowledge. Vedanta, being the end of knowledge, is already known by the soul. Thus he says, the process is not an external one, but one of uncovering that which we already know to be the truth. If you have access to Real Audio try out the audio section. The speaker is really interesting. The tape I'm speaking of I believe was Introduction to the Vedas Part I. As a side note, I'd like to say that Self-Realization is not something one can gain simply by academic study. There are some who are very simple hearted, who may not be able to quote a single Sanskrit verse, and yet are fine examples of what the Vedas teach. On the contrary, I've met people who are so well versed in Sanskrit, know every verse, and yet though externally they seem very knowledgeable, they have no practical application of the principles in their lives. Gauracandra
  8. What is the relationship between Zoarastrianism and the Vedic religion? I have heard that they are very similar with respect to their traditions, deities etc... What I have heard is that their book is called the Avesta (or close to that) and it has the same essential stories as the Vedic Scriptures except it views the Devas and Asuras differently. I have heard they view the Asuras as the "heroes" and the Devas as the "Antagonists". What are their teachings, beliefs, practices etc...? If anyone knows I'd be interested. I believe they were supposed to be from Iran (a name I was told was derived from Vedic 'Aryan')which was part of the Ancient Vedic Empire. Any insight would be appreciated. Gauracandra
  9. I was wondering if you know of a mystic named Raghavendra Swami. I have a friend who has had chronic health problems for a number of years. A while back he was instructed to do daily puja to a picture of Raghavendra (I believe that is his name). He has put his picture on his altar alongside Radha Krsna and Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He swears that since he started this (a few years back) he has seen a noticeable improvement in his health. What can you tell me about this mystic?
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