Saturday, November 08, 2008

travel journal#4.20: FSU / God & Science / Halloween Harinama

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 4, No. 20
By Krishna-kripa das
(October 2008, part two)
Gainesville, Alachua, Tallahassee
(Sent from Orlando, Florida, U.S.A. on 11/08/08)

Where I Am and What I Am Doing

I am chanting at the campuses in Florida, specifically in Gainesville and Tallahassee, and next week, in Orlando. I was happy to meet the Hare Krishna devotees when I was in college, and hope to give others the same opportunity. Special this month were a creation/evolution debate and a Halloween harinama.

Devotional Meditations

Notes on Kalakantha Prabhu’s class:

There is a difference between discriminating who we should associate with and making a judgment as to how advanced someone is in spiritual life. We cannot always tell how advanced someone in Krishna conscious is, and so it is offensive to verbalize judgements of devotees.

As long as the people are making spiritual advancement, they should be allowed to live in the temple.

Notes on Adi-karta Prabhu’s class:

This age is very demoniac. In England, a study showed 85% think religion does more harm than good.

Notes on Jayananda Prabhu’s class:

We should develop the vision of eternity. Our tiny ten-year plans are insignificant compared to the age of the earth what to speak of eternal time.

This is the age of Kali, the iron age. Iron has been the most profit commodity for the last ten years. Down the street they have electronic implants for your dog for $30 so you won’t loose it.

Notes on Kalakantha Prabhu’s class:

In response to material setbacks, devotees should:
1) patiently continue with their duties,
2) offer obeisances to Krishna, and
3) await Krishna’s mercy.

Q: Can we help our friends and relatives with their setbacks?
A: If we try as far as it is possible then that is Krishna’s desire, but if the endeavor to do so is so great that blocks our spiritual progress, then that is not Krishna’s desire.

Florida State University at Tallahassee

I chanted at the FSU campus three days from 11:00 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. and was pleased with the response. I brought a harmonium, and a book table with prasadam, invitations to the temple and to the lunch program, and books. Some people were attracted by the harmonium. Some of these knew of the instrument but had never seen one. Other people asked, "What kind of Buddhist are you?" I had made carob coconut burfi and told the people who came by that everyone who
tried them had liked them. The first day a bus of high school sophomores from Panama City came, and many of the students were interested in the instruments and the prasadam. The first FSU student who stopped by had heard of our lunch program but did not know its location. Another student had Krishna food at the First Friday art festival but didn’t know we served lunch weekdays on campus too. One girl told me her boyfriend at University of Florida went to our lunch program there. I told her that we started an all-you-can-eat dinner for $8 on Saturday nights at our place in Gainesville quite near that University. Later she said she told her boyfriend on the phone about the new dinner program, and she promised they would go together next time she was in Gainesville. Some students I told about our mantra meditation at our temple in Tallahassee. One young student named Marie offered me a small New Testament Bible. I declined because I already had one. [I heard later of one devotee who would accept them and then sell them to people who did not want the Bhagavad-gitas he was distributing.] Marie offered to help carry my table back to the van, and I let her. I wondered if she was the kind of Christian who seems really curious about what we believe but at heart just wants to convert us. Thinking in this way, I told her, "You know, so many Christians have tried to convert me to Christianity, but they have all failed, so I highly doubt you will succeed." I gave her another sweet for helping with the table. Amazing me, she came back the last day and again helped me carry my table to the van. She took two sweets that day as well.

Daru Brahman Prabhu also teaches vegetarian cooking classes occasionally in addition to his cooking five days a week for 150 students. All the participants were really friendly. One mother whose daughter goes to the Krishna lunch in Gainesville took a list of our German centers from me so her daughter could visit the Sunday feasts when she travels to Germany in the summer.

God / Science Debate

The devotees in the Gainesville temple went to see the debate between a Christian creationist, Dr. Jacobi, and an evolutionist, Dr. Schermer, of Skeptic magazine. The creationist argued that evolution was God’s way of creating and therefore you could be both a creationist and evolutionist. The evolutionist, who was formerly a born-again Christian, considered God as an unnecessary element that should not be introduced. The creationist lost my sympathy when he said that the Bible was the best scripture on earth. He must not know all the additional information about God, the soul, their relationship, and the spiritual world where they live eternally which abounds in the Vedic literature. The evolutionist did not touch the many gaps in the explanation of how a human being arises from chemicals, and I sensed that he had as much blind faith that God does not exist as the creationist did that God does exist. I think he just went from being a fanatical Christian to be a fanatical agnostic. I tried to sell some of Sadaputa Prabhu’s God and Science books to the people after the lecture. Two people said they would look it up at the college library, where I had placed it soon after publication. I talked to the evolutionist after the talk about if he heard of Forbidden Archeology. He said Michael Cremo (Drutakarma Prabhu) visited him in his office once. He did not think cases in the book were very sound. [The fact is that if one of the many cases is true, everything they have been teaching about the evolution of man from apes is completely wrong.] I asked if they seriously looked at
them, and he said he would email the review of the book in Skeptic magazine. I imagine it will be incomplete. To refute all the cases in the book would take more than a years’ worth of magazines to do, if it could be done at all!

Halloween Harinama in Gainesville

Halloween weekend in Gainesville is special time when many punk rock bands play at different venues, and their admirers crowd the streets.

Mother Akuti decided to take advantage of the situation and distribute prasadam on Halloween night with the assistance Mothers Vrindavanesvari and Parijata. Although the Orlando devotees invited us to the big city that night, we worried we would be too wiped out to properly observe Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance festival, so we elected to assist with the kirtana in Gainesville.

The devotees themselves dressed in various ways:

devotee clothes, street clothes, as blue grass bhajana singers,

as Dvivida gorilla, and as a more traditional Halloween goblin.

One kirtana leader was Adi Karta Prabhu, who played accordion.

Many people in quite an array of costumes danced with us.

One high school youth (in back), dressed in the red robes of a cardinal, a cross dangling from his neck and mantra card in hand, danced with us with upraised arms for almost an hour and a half. A friend of his, decorated with palm leaves, also participated as well. The cardinal had to leave at 10:00 p.m., respecting his parents’ curfew, but must have got a lot of mercy to stay so long.

Another guy joined us for some time, playing a large drum with "The Lower 13th Street Jazz Band" written on the side of it.

I was happy to see the college students who live at our center, as a result, really developed a taste for harinama and want to continue to go out on Friday nights. We thank Ali Krishna Dasi and Bhakta Jude for the nice illustrations.

sanketyam parihasyam va
stobham helanam eva va
asesagha-haram vidhu

One who chants the holy name of the Lord is immediately freed from the reactions of unlimited sins, even if he chants indirectly [to indicate something else], jokingly, for musical entertainment, or even neglectfully. This is accepted by all the learned scholars of the scriptures (SB 6.2.14).