20 December 2011

The Gift Economy in acts of kindness

The song is "One Day" by Matisyahu. Here are the lyrics:

sometimes I lay
under the moon
and thank God I'm breathing
then I pray
don't take me soon
cause I am here for a reason
sometimes in my tears I drown
but I never let it get me down
so when negativity surrounds
I know some day it'll all turn around
all my life I've been waiting for
I've been praying for
for the people to say
that we don't wanna fight no more
they'll be no more wars
and our children will play
one day x6
it's not about
win or lose cause
we all lose
when they feed on the souls of the innocent
blood drenched pavement
keep on moving though the waters stay raging
in this maze you can lose your way (your way)
it might drive you crazy but don't let it faze you no way (no way)
sometimes in my tears I drown
but I never let it get me down
so when negativity surrounds
I know some day it'll all turn around
all my life I've been waiting for
I've been praying for
for the people to say
that we don't wanna fight no more
they'll be no more wars
and our children will play
one day x6
one day this all will change
treat people the same
stop with the violence
down with the hate
one day we'll all be free
and proud to be
under the same sun
singing songs of freedom like
one day x4
all my life I've been waiting for
I've been praying for
for the people to say
that we don't wanna fight no more
they'll be no more wars
and our children will play
one day x6

20 March 2011

The Mayan Calendar and Doomsday!

My friend Sri Nandanandana, aka Stephen Knapp, was attending a religious conference in India last year. Also present was a Mayan Shaman, and Sri Nandan thought that this is the opportunity to get the real scoop on the Mayan calendar and the looming, forbodeing date of 2012.

When queried the Shaman rolled his eyes saying: We wish you white men would have asked us these things before all the hoopla began. Let me set you straight on the Mayan calendar:

1. Why does it stop at 2012? Simply because that is where they stopped. The fact that it stops in 2012 means absolutely NOTHING.

2. In the second place we do not know exactly how our calendar aligns with the Gregorian calendar. Therefore 2012 on the Mayan calendar could be 2001 or 2030 for the Gregorian calendar.

Good luck trying to figure out what to do and when...better to save time and prepare for the ultimate crisis--the time of death-- which is guaranteed to arrive!

10 March 2011

Spiritual Economics in Action

At our annual Varnashrama Festival this past weekend I again met Andrey Volodimyrovich, a devotee in Kramatorsk, Ukraine who is taking Spiritual Economics seriously. 

At our last meeting I suggested to him to begin offering his Aikido martial arts training on the reciprocal basis of gifting as taught by Spiritual Economics. He has taken that suggestion seriously and this weekend he told me that formerly students would come and go and the number of students remained about the same. Since he has gone to a donation basis the number of students continues to increase, and the donations increase as well. The word got out and the local newspaper wrote the following story about his unusual club.  

How free is the free of charge sport’s section?

The only way to get into the lowermost corner gym at “sports” flank of PCaT NKMP* is to pass through the long serpentine corridors, where you may even get lost for the first time. And this is where the members of Aikido sports section take their classes. But so what’s that surprising? Are there not enough of sport clubs and sections in the fine city of Kramatorsk?

Well, that’s not the thing amazing about it. The point is that this young (opened on the 1st of September) sports club for martial arts “The Energy of Water” claims to be the only FREE-OF-CHARGE club in the whole city.

Aikido, spiritual economy and donations.

The founder and the senior trainer of the club, Andrey Yeskov (on photo), on his spiritual-religious commitment is Krishna’s devotee.

I have been practicing Aikido for many years’ says Andrey in his interview to TECHNOPOLIS. ‘I studied both in Kramatorsk and in Kyiv, where I’ve been an apprentice of Aleksey Kudryavcev (who now has the fourth dan rank in Aikido). Under his guidance I started to teach Aikido to other people there, in Kyiv. And I’ve been teaching Aikido for seven years already. After returning back to my hometown, I felt concerned with searching for the meaning of life and the true faith. Having met the Krishna’s devotees I realized I’ve found my spiritual avocation. After I got to know the Vedic culture, in the process of spiritual communication, there arose an idea for free sports section. We visited a festival, where I met my spiritual Teacher. His name is Dhanesvara Das , he came to Ukraine from the USA. He had acquainted me with the concept of spiritual economy. This is a method for rebuilding our society in a new way. In order to do this, we don’t have to become attached to the results of our activity. Nowadays we generally live only for making money, live for ourselves. The only thing that people are concerned with is how to get more and more for themselves. On the contrary, in the heart of the spiritual economy there lies a concept of giving. To feel happy you need to be engaged with your labor of love, and you need to do it for free, giving its products to other people. The main principle of spiritual economy claims: “There is no higher goal then serving for others”. And this is what I actually do. My Teacher has recommended me to open a free club for the town. For us payment is not something obligatory, but completely voluntary and ingenuous donation. Everyone pays as much as he can, and if he can’t – then he may just help with something.

-Then what is the reason for donation, if the club is free-of –charge?

To gain an insight into any knowledge, one should sacrifice something, or else this knowledge would not be entirely conceived. If you do sacrifice some money or your work - only then you will have the Teacher’s approval, only then you will get further in your Knowledge. We don’t have any tough conditions. You may give some adequate help to the club – to paste up notices or to make a slight repair in the gym, for example... Or to talk to people, so that they will learn about our existence. Thus we set up a task to develop mellowness in people, which might be of service to them in future. The abundance will come into our society not earlier then we stop trying to get all the best for ourselves, but start sharing it with the others.

- We’re living through the tough times. So what will happen if to your club comes a man who cannot make any payments or, speaking your language, any donation?

If a person doesn’t have any money to pay – I won’t require any money payments from him. There are other manners of payment and my task as a Teacher to explain it to him.

- And where are these donations put into?

In our club there are several trainers which, like me, do not have fixed salary for their work, but do it voluntary. With the exception for the single person – a man is now in a difficult situation, and that’s why some part of the donations is given to him. The rest of the money we take to cover the rent for the gym, which is quite essential – 2300UAH per month for one gym, and we have two of that. Besides, with this money we managed to buy 14 kimonoes for our students. It would be great if we find a man of means, perhaps a businessman, who would be willing to help us. Then we wouldn’t have to take money donations from our students at all. For the moment we don’t have any means even for bying a new tatami for the second gym. Quite recently my acquaintance businessman has donated us 2500 UAH, for he wants to register his son into our club so that the boy would have some occupation and won’t get into a bad company. Such amount of money is a handsome geasture, but we would appreciate if people donated to the club as much as they can, even one or two gryvnas.

"I never impose Krishnaism to others."

Our training starts with a short ritual for expression of homage to Aikido Art and to the Teacher’ says Andrey. ‘An hour and a half training ends with conversation on spiritual matters. My task is not so much to train people to defend themselves physically, as to teach them living in a way when they won’t need to defend. To live without hindering others, without getting into conflicts, to overcome bad habbits like smoking and drinking. To clean out the body one should refuse from meat. This is the idea I wish to bring to our youth. The modern society tries to rassle against adolescent drunkenness and drug addiction. But the problem is that everyone fights with the consequences, not with the cause. And the cause consists in a fact that it is not enough just to explain how bad these things are. Children have to be engaged into something and sport is the best variant.

- Let’s assume that this article has been published in TECHNOPOLIS and dozens of people wish to train in your club. The gyms are overcrowded. What actions will you take?

We’ll just rent another gym and invite more trainers, for there are many Aikido specialists in the town.

- A lot of children take trainings in your club. Is there a chance that these spiritual conversations might be perceived (from point of view of the law) as a propaganda for Krishnaism and implication of juvenile into some kind of a sect?

All of my students are aware of my devotion to Krishnaism. But I do not put pressure upon anybody. I discuss with them topics of general philosophical and moral meaning and do not make any attemps to impose the Vedic religion upon anyone. We should take into account that these very children in ten of fifteen years might become officials and directors. And if we take a moment now to explain them how people should live, I think in future order and prosperity will come to our town.

-What will you recommend to people who might want to train in your club? 
Just get your sporting form, sneakers and come. We work from 7 p.m. everyday.

What do members of the martial arts club say:

Vyacheslav, 13 years old: I wish to learn to defend myself in the street. Sometimes I pay 50, or 100 gryvnas – it depends.

Alexander Kusmin, 29 years old: I’ve been training for month and a half. I am now in the process of conceiving the basis of Aikido technics and philosophy. Does it give anything for my spiritual world? I haven’t realised yet.

Victoria Zavgorodnaya: I come here for physical and spiritual aims. After three months of trainings I’ve felt that I’m developing successfully in both spheres. I like the philosophy of our sensei Andrey Volodimyrovich. And frankly speaking, to study the martial arts – is my dearest dream since childhood.

Andrey Beloborodov,
photo taken by author.

The story is from the facebook page of Andrey Volodimyrovich which you can find here.  

18 February 2011

WOW! Lots of New Finds About People Who Do Not Use Money!

(See, I am not crazy : p  Just in a small minority (so far) Ha!)

First, there is the Website run by Mark Boyle, here. What a great site, and what a great guy! On his blog Mark introduces three people (with more on the way) who gave up using money. What is most amazing from the Hare Krishna point-of-view is that we have here three phenomena -- people who are becoming free from the "mine" aspect of false ego. Not only do these people stop using money, they stop being consumers. In other words, they are living very consciously: conscious of how things impact their own lives, conscious of how their behavior in relationship to things affect the planet and others, and conscious of the needs of their fellow human beings.

One of them, Heidemarie Schwermer, is a a 68 year old German woman who has been living free from the chains of money for the past 15 years, and is featured in an upcoming movie "Living Without Money." Here is the trailer below. For the entire month of April, 2011, Living Without Money will be available to screen publicly for free! Click here if you’re interested in sharing the film and debating the issues. And see more about this endeavor here.

And more people are taking notice. It seems Mark is going to give a TED talk sometime soon. Sorry I lost the details of that in all of my rambling over these pages. So Please check these people out. There is a shift happening in this world, one which is very unexpected, in which very ordinary people are challenging the status quo of get and spend.

And, they are not even Hare Krishnas! Ok, no surprise there since most Hare Krishnas are totally behind the curve on this one despite the fact that I have shown them, in their own philosophy, that that is how Krishna tells them to live. Yawn. That's the reaction I get from most. Well, I am excited to be finding people of my own ilk who realize that money is not needed to live, and that one can live much better without the stuff than with it. Get the story directly from these people who have lived it, and then think again about how you are living. Maybe you want to dig deep into the annals of this blog and find one of the original posts where I explain the spiritual side of money-less living, also known as, the gift economy. Keep digging, it's down there somewhere.

Tomorrow we are off to visit one of our Gitagrad communities -- New Indraprastha -- about 150 km east of Lugansk, Ukraine. The residents of that community are walking the talk, and becoming wealthy on less than $2 a day. I'll write more from there...

11 January 2011

The Role of the People in Determining the Future

One of the conclusions of my Spiritual Economics book is that the people have an important role to play in determining how the economic system works. That is they get a good economy or bad depending on their own character and activities. This is called karma. It is foolish to think that the various parts of life are disconnected, separate spheres of activity. What we do in one area of life affects all areas. We cannot engage in all manners of depraved and sinful activity and expect either a good economy, or good government, for that matter. Since we now realize that the government is getting worse along with the economy, we might consider our responsibility in the matter.
One of America's founding fathers, James Madison, recognized this fact and succinctly explained the necessary requirement of the people in order that they have a decent government:
"Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks -- no form of government -- can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea..."
I'm no fan of Michael Jackson, but he had one good song that we should all consider. You want the world to be a better place? Begin with the man in the mirror.