Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What's Wrong With This Picture?

The people in the companies never see the people who make the products. And the people that make the products will never have to face the people who use them. And the people who use them are not being protected by the people they’ve elected to do precisely that. People, there’s something very wrong with this picture!

On June 19th an article entitled Train Wreck told of a massive recall of wooden trains made in China contaminated by paint containing lead. Mums the word at RC2, the US company that orders the trains. The toy is just one of 24 kinds this year that have been recalled. Over the past year there have been other problems with products made in China: pet food, pharmaceuticals, toothpaste, foods, etc. I’m sure there are many other items just waiting to be discovered since only a small fraction of imports are examined.

Lured to China by cheap labor, it seems that companies are only interested in the bottom line. This means more $$$$ for their share holders and more for the company’s big guys. They’re too busy taking the loot to the bank to look at the long range picture. They are willing to forego quality control and jeopardize our health. They are responsible for the loss of manufacturing jobs in the States and thus a deterioration of the economy. What to speak of the burden it places on the earth with an ever expanding need for oil to ship products half way around the world. And I wonder what do they do with all these US rejects. Will they just send the trains back to China to sell since they have no restrictions on using lead paint in toys, or maybe they’ll donate the toys to kids in Africa. Or will they slice the trains into toothpicks and send them to Cuba.

“Those who are demoniac do not know what is to be done and what is not to be done. Neither cleanliness nor proper behavior nor truth is found in them.” Bhagavad Gita 16:7

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Observing the micro to understand the macro

In the Science Times section (June 5) there’s an essay entitled The Universe, Expanding Beyond All Understanding by Dennis Overbye. He quotes an article (authored by Lawrence Krauss and Robert Scherrer) in The Journal of Relativity And Gravitation which states that in 100 billion years from now we will be “incapable of understanding the true nature of the universe.” By then, they argue, all but a few of the galaxies in our ever expanding universe will have moved beyond our vision. And the further away the galaxies get from one another the faster they travel. One can only imagine that after the galaxies slip from view, our own galaxy will expand and unravel as the stars and planets travel away from one another. Pretty soon street corners will seem further away and it will eventually take ages just to cross the street. After that the -----l e t t e r s ----------- o -- n -- n --n -- n -- n ---n aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa p --a ---g ----e ------------------w ---- i ---- l ----- l
g e t -------------- s o o o o o o o o o -- o ----- o ----- o ----------- f a r r r r r - r - r - r --- r ---- r ----------------------------------a p a r t ------------------------- --that you’ll have to travel a million miles just to read one sentence. Edward Witten, one prominent theorist, said that a universe that expanded forever was “not very appealing.” Dr Krauss called it “the worst possible universe.”

But guys, don’t despair. According to Vedic understanding, the universe will eventually come back in on itself. These cycles of universal expansion and contraction are dependent on the outward and inward breathing of Maha Vishnu. Right now we’re on one of Maha Vishnu’s outward breaths wherein everything is expanding, histories are unfolding, countless generations and dynasties appear and disappear as they struggle within the material realm. The depth and scope of the universe is unimaginable. But when Maha Vishnu breathes in, the whole cosmos folds up. Then, when He breathes out, it starts all over again. To Maha Vishnu, our aeons of time are insignificant. For Him, it’s only one breath.

“Know that all beautiful, glorious, and mighty creations spring from but a spark of My splendor.” Bhagavad Gita 10:41

“With a single fragment of Myself I pervade and support this entire universe.” Gita 10:42

Friday, July 13, 2007

Listen, do you wanna know a secret

Several months back the Times ran an ad for a DVD of the book The Secret. The Secret is newest sensation and darling of the New Agers. It's beyond the New Age. I'm sure the Neocons are reading it behind closed doors. It's a hot seller with the Walmart crowd. Oprah, on her show, made a big deal about it.

I had an occasion to see The Secret video last year. I can only describe it as a testimonial to materialism. The height of Me-ism. At one point on the video there’s a women standing in front of a jewelry store longingly looking at a necklace displayed in the window. The next minute she’s wearing the necklace. There’s another scene where a kid wants a bike and then you see him happily riding the bicycle. This goes on to a woman being attracted to a man and later she’s walking with him hand in hand.

The Secret views the earth as just one big Kamadhenu cow ready and eager to supply everyone’s desire, as opposed to the paradigm of The Sri Isopanishad which tells us that everything in the world is controlled and owned by the Supreme Lord and that we should only accept what we really need for ourselves and not take anything unnecessarily, knowing well to whom it belongs. There is a delicate balance in nature and we should fulfill our needs and wants with the utmost care. Native American wisdom tells us that we must take into consideration the impact of our actions on the next seven generations.

But The Secret, endorsed by the "good guys," would have us believe that the earth can completely satisfy our every desire and that we can have a fairy tale life wherein all wishes are fulfilled (that may have been the case in the Satya-yuga). The ad in the paper reads that The Secret can give you "...unlimited joy, health, money, relationships, love, youth, everything you ever wanted." Yes. It's all yours!!!You have just hit the jackpot, won the lottery, beat out everyone on The Idol, been invited on Oprah, postponed death indefinitely, moved into a new mansion and made a million new close friends. (This sounds better than all the snake oil remedies the quack doctors used to sell in the wild west.)

In these times, however, is it responsible to have a mindset and live a lifestyle advocated by the Secret? This type of unrestricted consumerism is the very mentality that has put us in the precarious situation we’re in today. Is the The Secret going to stop the ice caps from melting or bring back the ozone layer? Is it going to stop people from getting blown up? Is it going to stop disease and death? The Secret doesn’t mention that ultimately we cannot control what happens to us. We can only control our attitude and our intentions. As the ancients, to live peacefully, we must learn self control, to conquer our greed and anger, to respect all life and the environment we live in, and to offer ourselves in service to the Creator of all things.

One of the appeals of a secret is that people like to be in on something that’s exclusive. The Secret is special, and they are special and their knowing the Secret gives them a special advantage over everybody else. Of course, everybody else is thinking the same thing. Basically, the secret of The Secret is the law of attraction, when you think positive thoughts you get positive results. And when you know this “secret” you can have it all. And to prove that The Secret is bona fide, the narrator in the video (DVD) summons up some of the big movers in history like Jesus, Buddha, Lao-tzu, Confucius, Socrates, Shakespeare, Newton. They all knew The Secret, and that’s what made them so famous, successful and spiritual. I wonder why they didn’t mention Gengis Khan or Rocky Balboa.

Because of its popularity, I think devotees have a great opportunity to offer people an insight into the real Secret (In marketing this is called positioning - that you position your product with, or against, a product that is popular). Real knowledge is not on how to acquire material things and get a beautiful body, but how to distinguish between matter and spirit.

“This knowledge is the king of education, the most secret of all secrets. It is the purest knowledge, and because it gives direct perception of the self by realization, it is the perfection of religion. It is everlasting and it is joyfully performed.” Bhagavad Gita 9:2