Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

“What is night for all beings is the time of awakening for the self controlled; and the time of awakening for all beings is night for the introspective sage.” Bhagavad Gita 2:69

Now that the hullabaloo about the national gas tax holiday has subsided, don’t lose heart. There’s still a few things that you can do to test your metal, have an healthy and entertaining summer, and make a real difference. You don’t need politicians to come up with cheap solutions that are really no solutions at all. Will this November’s election really solve anything? Why wait for someone to do something for us? If enough of us are on the same page it could turn into one big ‘We” with the clout of a high priced lobbyist, pushy senator, out-of-control Supreme Court judge, or an insider presidential advisor. Fact: The bottom line for corporations is where and how We, the People spend our money. That means you can vote with your wallet every day of the week. Here’s four simple things that you can do to help yourself, the planet and the economy. From now until Labor Day try this -

1) Stop buying gas from Exxon – Mobil. This is one company. Out of all the gas companies Exxon - Mobil has the biggest profits. If their gas stations are idle, you’ll see their prices come down quickly. This will set off a price war between gas companies vying for your patronage. Another thing, just because oil companies want to renew off shore drilling doesn’t mean that our gas prices will come down. They will sell to the highest bidder no matter who or where they are. If off shore drilling is increased, will legislators insist that the oil be used for USA consumption?

NOTE: Most people mistake the dark night of material wealth created by greed as the day time of prosperity.

2) This next one is not for the faint hearted. This may almost be impossible – (Forgetabout boycotting the Olympics this August). Stop buying things made in China altogether (a side note - our government doesn’t let us buy stuff made in Cuba. Maybe it should. It would be cheaper than shipping it all the way from China. What’s the difference?). We, ourselves, are to blame for the gas increases. Why? Because we buy foreign made goods. We’re getting items from all over the world (wherever there is cheap labor) of which China is the largest importer to the USA. Because of the tremendous economic growth of China, and also India, their use of cars and demand for oil has increased multifold over the past decade. On top of that, the fact that so much of what we consume has to be shipped from half way around the world is just plain bad for the planet.

NOTE: The self controlled can use natural resources wisely and in moderation without creating an imbalance to the environment.

3) Don’t buy any produce that’s grown outside the country. The regulations for food production in other countries are lax or nonexistent. In general, buy mostly that which is grown or made in your country, or better yet in your state or area. It will be better for you, for your community and for the world So don’t be a lemming. If we don’t voluntarily learn to modify the ways and habits of our consumption, the unfolding waves of circumstances will force drastic change upon us and our children sooner or later.

NOTE: It’s already happening and one must remain undisturbed like an introspective sage.

4) Stop eating meat. Really no big deal, especially when we realize our own health and happiness is what’s at stake. And there are all sorts of unseen costs for growing and transporting beef. The decisive factor is that this simple, revolutionary act of refrain will nourish and expand our compassionate nature and help us to understand our connectedness to all life forms and to the world around us. To act compassionately, free from greed, is one of the basic principles of spirituality, as it is vital in opening the portal to our higher, eternal nature. We must practice living in the awareness that all things are connected.

NOTE: Many people remain in the darkness of night, unaware of the suffering of others.

RECAP: From now until Labor Day 1) stop buying from Exxon-Mobil (at least until their prices come down), 2) stop buying imports from China, 3) stop buying produce grown outside the country, and 4) stop buying meat. Try going for all four. If you can’t do all four totally, at least do any one or two. You’re on your way. Good luck.

And for additional bonus points try these two harrowing experiments until Labor Day:

1) Don’t use your credit card. Stick with debit card or use cash for everything.

2) For at least one day a week, stay off your computer and TV. Get out and talk to the folks in your community.

So stay well, physically, emotionally, spiritually. Be grateful. Pray. Have a healthy sense of humor. Laugh. Find your creative self. Speak up. Be flexible. Get involved! Interact!

FYI - The saying “Wake up and smell the coffee” is said to someone to suggest that they begin to pay attention and try to see the true facts of a situation or event which is relevant to their lives. Recently, a study revealed that the attention of sleep deprived rats was boosted when they were exposed to the aroma of roasted coffee beans. See: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/17/science/17objava.html?_r=1&n&oref=slogin

Thursday, June 5, 2008

More Observations From College Groups

During this last school year, New Vrindaban was visited by first time college groups from West Virginia University, Denison University, and Wheeling Jesuit, Bethany, Marietta, and Belmont Technical Colleges, with repeat visits from Ohio University, Hiram College and Hanover College. Three of the groups stayed overnight. I’d like to thank all the devotees who helped make these visits memorable for the college groups. Below are some comments and observations from professors and students. Big hits were the friendly devotees, the prasadam, the organic gardens, and the chanting of the Holy Names.

“Thank you for your hospitality and your helpful teaching, storytelling and explanations during our visit to New Vrindaban. I have taken many field trips with students over my years of teaching, and none have been more informative than this one. Riding back, the students and I discussed the trip and agreed that the members of ISKCON have a special advantage in translating and explaining the Hindu tradition to westerners. Please give my thanks to all of the devotees we spoke to. Also, I have been enjoying the book I bought.” Professor David Torbett, Marietta College

“The students and I had great day with you. Out of all the places we visited for our religion course this visit is the one that stayed with the students the longest. Thanks again for the very enlightening tour.” Professor Jon Moody, Hiram College

“I just wanted to thank you for hosting our group for lunch and Hare Krishna education. Every one enjoyed their experience. I feel that it was very helpful to those of us who had no prior knowledge of your religion and it gave us great insight. The devotees at the community were all polite and friendly. Your stories certainly enriched our experience as well. It was also exciting to join in on the worship ceremonies. Lastly, the Palace of Gold was an amazing building.” Professor Paul Rashid, WVU

“I want to thank you again for the informative commentary you gave us during our tour. The students truly enjoyed the experience and have a better understanding of your religion as a consequence.” Professor Joe Laker, Wheeling Jesuit University

And from some of the students:

“I greatly enjoyed the tour of the organic garden, free time to explore and discuss, and the panel of devotees we talked to on Sunday. Overall I enjoyed my experience which sparked a greater interest in the Hare Krishna movement and in Hinduism as a whole.”

“I really enjoyed our stay at your temple. I was impressed by the temple and interested to learn more about the Hare Krishna faith. The only suggestion I can think of would be to make more time for more questions during the tours and during the course of our stay. I thought that the food, accommodations, and welcoming atmosphere added to the trip and overall had a good experience. Thank you for your hospitality and best wishes for the future!”

“Thank you for your hospitality and willingness to allow curious and questioning people into your temple. I especially enjoyed being able to participate in the evening ceremony. The accommodations were cozy and the food was scrumptious. The only thing I would have changed was that I wish I had less structure more free time to wander around and encounter things in my own way. However, that was largely a problem with our own time constraints. Thanks again!”

“I really enjoyed our visit! My biggest problem with it was that it was far too short. More of what I would want to see: a longer discussion about organic farming, vegetarianism, and the philosophy behind them, for instance - can basically be summed up as 'I wanted more of everything.'”

“I really enjoyed the opportunity we had to talk individually or in small groups with devotees, as these offered the best conversation and I learned a lot from them. Also, thank you all for being so welcoming, inviting us to all the activities at the temple and encouraging us to participate. I still have a lot of questions and a lot I want to think about after the weekend, which in my opinion, is the surest proof of the success of our trip.”

“We attended a service and witnessed the followers doing the “Hare Krishna” chant. After the ceremony, they treated us to their traditional vegetarian meal. The whole experience was great.”

“I never imagined a place like this would be in West Virginia. The Palace was so intricate that it was hard to believe that only followers of the movement helped build it. Everywhere you looked had some great picture or design and every thing in the building had some meaning to it. One thing I found really unique was how lifelike the statues of Pradhupada were. On first glance I actually thought it was somebody meditating. The ceremony at the temple was pretty cool as well, hearing the devotees sing the “Hare Krishna” chant so many times.”

“The golden palace, overlooking a valley, was indeed a beautiful sight to see. It was interesting to visit the community, especially since it was modeled after a town (Vrindaban) in India.”

“One of the really interesting points was the seven mothers in the Krishna faith: our real mother, a nurse, wife of the king, wife of a teacher, earth, and the cow, etc. We also learned that the body is just a temporary dwelling for the soul, and that the body goes through different stages. I felt that the Hare Krishna religion had a lot of similarities with many religions.”

“Once inside the temple, I was assaulted by the scent of incense. There were statues all over the main sanctuary, each one depicting a different form of God. There were gates at each alter that were used to separate the ordinary from the extraordinary ; also bells were used to “wake” God. Our guide did a good job in telling some of the stories about the different alters. The Hare Krishna religious beliefs, which I thought were strange, believe in heaven, hell, and sin, just as Christianity does; also the Krishna religion has many of the same laws of Christianity. I feel that maybe some of the Christian and Islamic beliefs may have assimilated into the Hare Krishna religion."

“When we met our tour guide I was surprised that he was white since Hare Krishna is an Indian religion. As we toured the Palace our guide described some of the beliefs of the religion, and I felt how they can believe in some of this. But lots of religions have out there beliefs. After we left the Palace we went to the temple for a service which included chanting and incense. We had carpet mats to sit on. The carpet mats are something that Islam has, so I was surprised to see them at the temple. The vegetarian food was good, but while we were waiting for the food I was reading some of the posters on the wall and most of it was just pure propaganda to get people to stop eating meat. The Hare Krishna religion is actually very interesting. Although it does not adapt to today’s society it seems to have a large following.”

“You community in West Virginia was so completely amazing, and something I had never experienced before. What impressed me most was the fact that it was an entire community built upon a religion.”

“It was very interesting to learn how these people lived on a daily basis and visit some of the places where they would go to do work and worship. I never realized places like this were around so close to us. I loved the visit to their garden and the cow barn. We learned about how the people of the community would grow their own food and take care of the cows. It was a fascinating experience to go into the church where they worshiped. We attended a short service where they used multiple instruments and chanted lots of prayers.”

“I was surprised to hear that ISKCON members believe in only one God although Hinduism believes in polytheism . Their lifestyle is very stoic. But at their temple service I was impressed by the beautiful melodies they sing. When I listened to this, I remembered my family in Japan. I wondered if the Hindu religion might be similar to my own spiritual tradition. Hare Krishna is very easy with simple words, but the meaning of the chanting is to convey love for God, Krishna. They believe that icons serve as a tangible link between the worshiper and God.”

“The beauty and grandeur of the palace and temple alone was breathtaking, and helped to give a sense of East meets West to the place. This seemed to be the mission of Prabhupada and this mission is encapsulated in the community.”

“The place looked a lot like an American summer camp, especially with the cabins, gardens, ponds and swans. This rustic look must help to incorporate some sense of Americanism to their religion, which the Palace of Gold lacked. Also interesting was the fact that so much of the community outreach (organic farming) may be due to its origins in the hippie movement. The sense of community was surprising due to that it was initially labeled a cult. The temple and the Palace both included gift shops. Secular designs, like making money, never ceased to be important. As far as the service itself, the burning of incense and playing music only further reminded me of its existence as a hippie offshoot. The devotees’ openness was a welcome surprise.”

“The devotees were very open and welcoming in everything they did. They invited us into their place of worship knowing that we were foreigners in their eyes. They were able to make us feel at home and very comfortable. This was so great to see. In my opinion, this was the most interesting place we had visited for this course.”

See http://nytsanga.blogspot.com/2007/11/what-college-students-really-thought.html to view comments from students of Ohio University

Friday, April 18, 2008

Master of Camouflage

There’s a legend about a tribe called the Invisible People in the Amazon jungles. When standing silently and unmoving in the middle of the forest, they would remain undetected by their enemies. Then there’s the comic book character Plastic Man who, in his fight against crime, would at times mold himself into part of the landscape or appear as inanimate objects. His ability was because of a freak chemical accident.

Now if you wanted to go undetected in plain view of everyone how would you do that? Could you take the shape of a rock, bicycle or garbage can? Could you blend into the marble wall in the lobby of some big downtown hotel? What about taking on the color and texture of a plush armchair you’re sitting in so it appears that no one’s there?

Carl Zimmer, in his New York Times article Revealed: Secrets Of The Camouflage Masters,


reports how some living entities can, within a moments notice, blend into their surroundings and “disappear.” It sounds like the talents of the best Special Forces Units, Undercover Squads, Hollywood make up artists, and the likes of Houdini and David Copperfield all rolled into one.

But the marvels explained therein are not of human design, but of Intelligent Design. The Supreme Intelligent (Krishna - God) has given various living entities and species their own special intelligence and has parceled out to them an array of extraordinary abilities that in many ways seem to out perform those of us humans.

The article focuses on Dr. Roger Hanlon and his ongoing research over a 30 year period with cephalopods, animals that can change or disguise themselves in their environments. Among them, the cuttlefish, squids and octopus are the “world’s camouflage champions.” One account tells that after following an octopus for an hour and a half underwater, Dr Hanlon turned away for an instant, and when he turned back, the octopus was gone. After searching for 20 minutes he realized it was right in front of him all the time, exactly where he had seen it before. Other Octopuses he observed “assume the shape of a rock and move in plain sight across the sea floor. But no faster than the ripples of light around them, so they never seem to move.”

It would serve Dr Hanlon and colleagues to study the camouflage abilities of Sri Krishna. Krishna appears in numerous forms, shapes, and guises. He is always with us, He surrounds us and maintains us, but we cannot see Him nor readily detect Him. This is the greatest deception. He simultaneously walks and does not walk. He is within everything and yet he is also outside of everything. He is the furthest away, and even if one travels at the speed of the mind, no one can approach Him. And yet He is the closest of all, residing undetected, in the core of our hearts. And on those rare occasions when yogis and mystics, meditating for ages, finally glimpse the Lord Within The Heart, they think it’s themselves. O’Krishna – the supreme master of camouflage!

“I am never manifest to the foolish and unintelligent. For them I am covered by my creative potency. And so the deluded world knows Me not , who am unborn and infallible. I know everything that has happened in the past, all that is happening in the present, and all things yet to come. I also know all living entities; but Me no one knows.” Bhagavad Gita 7: 25-26

Friday, March 21, 2008

Do I Dare Eat A Peach

Prufrock had had enough. He couldn’t take it another moment. He fled the room with all women talking about the New York Times article, “Some Ignorance Can Cure Chronic Buyer’s Remorse,” by Alina Tugend.


The article explains how people, more then ever, are agonizing in making decisions: small decisions as well as big decisions. There are just too many choices, too much information to sift through. It’s infuriating. Just going to the supermarket can turn into an ordeal. The amount of choices that are available to the consumer is mind boggling. There are dozens of types of cereals, spreads, coffees, sodas, and a gazillion types of potato chips. There’s the fine print to read, the weight of the boxes and the prices to compare. The article also mentioned Timothy Wilson’s book “Strangers To Ourselves,” wherein he writes about his research and observations on the confusion of many consumers. Consumers seem to be shell shocked, walking around dazed, not really knowing what to buy, and not being satisfied with their decision after they do buy something.

Prufrock found himself standing alone in the produce aisle of the neighborhood grocery eyeing the peaches. And indeed, he too began to agonize. “Do I dare eat a peach? Where are they from? Chili, Taiwan, China? They’ve gotten awfully expensive. Are they worth it? I wonder if they’re dry inside. And they can’t be very healthy with all the pesticides they use? I could wind up with cancer or Alzheimer’s. And look at these grapes, apples and strawberries. They’re not much better.”

Plagued by indecision Prufrock fled the grocery and wandered through half deserted streets. A lot of the houses were empty because of the mortgage foreclosures. Prufrock still had his home, but who knew for how long. He recently lost heavily in the stock market. He had thought surely that Bear Stearns was solid. But he had been proven wrong. He wondered if any decision he made can ever again be right or satisfying. Prufrock desperately wanted to save face. He thought there was still time, time to prepare a face to meet the faces that he would meet. He wanted to appear composed and successful at the fag end of life. At least he could have that.

But that image shattered when he caught a glimpse of himself in a store window. His hair had grown thin. And his arms and legs had gotten so thin. He was overcome with worry and wasn’t eating properly. Surely people would talk. In his youth he thought about daring to disturb his universe. But as it turned out, that was only a passing phase, and ultimately he carefully and deliberately measured out his life with coffee spoons. His life had been filled with so many details, so much minutiae and, of course, appearances to maintain. So many decisions and indecisions, and a hundred visions and revisions. Where would it all end???

He hurried on not knowing where to. “It was for the best,” he thought. “After all, the little things are important.… But what did I really do with my life? I could have easily been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the ocean floors. I didn’t have the guts to force the moment to its crisis.… I have wept and fasted and prayed. But who am I kidding. I’m no prophet. I saw death waiting and yes, I am afraid…. But I should have squeezed the universe into a ball and rolled it toward some overwhelming question. It would have been damn well worth it…. But no, that’s not me. Instead, I settled for the novels and teacups and skirts….”

Then Prufrock heard the sound of a sankirtana party coming down the street. Drums, cymbals, Hare Krishna. His mind was terrified. This was all too much for him. Wanting to avoid the Krishnas, again he fled, and this time he went for a calming walk on the beach.

“There’s too many choices, too many decisions to make. Even when it comes to religion. How can we ever sort it all out.” And his mind drifted back to his beloved peaches. “…. Now I grow old. I grow old. Perhaps I shall wear my trousers rolled. Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare eat a peach?…. I have lingered here and there, lingered by the ocean, lingered with the sea-girls. I have admired their beauty…. But maybe someday, if I’m lucky, a voice will wake me from this dream and my false ego will drown.”

“The intricacies of action are very hard to understand. Therefore one should know properly what action is, what forbidden action is, and what inaction is.” Bhagavad Gita 4:17

“The doubts which have arisen in your heart out of ignorance should be slashed with the weapon of knowledge. Armed with yoga, stand and fight.” Bhagavad Gita 4:42

Thursday, February 14, 2008

"Forget Religion"

In a discussion with professors from the University of Durban (Oct 8, 1975) Srila Prabhupada proclaims “forget religion.” Prabhupada wants the discussion to revolve around very practical and scientific principles. He goes on to say that “knowledge of God should be (have a) practical application in life.” The idea of presenting the practically of Krishna Consciousness was one of the reoccurring themes in his converstaions.

So in a world that has indeed forgotten religion, or distorted religious principals, the preaching, more and more, has to make Krishna Consciousness relevant to people’s lives in a practical way. And Maya, in serving the devotees, is more and more turning the materialistic culture topsy-turvy and thus giving devotees the opportunity to offer solutions.

A case in point is the January 2nd New York Times Op-Ed article What’s Your Consumption Factor? by Jared Diamond. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/02/opinion/02diamond.html
An accompanying illustration poses the title in a very graphic way by showing a 12oz, 16oz, and 32 oz soft drink. So who is consuming how much and where? In USA the per capita consumption of goods is 32 oz, In China it’s about 3 oz. In many third world countries people are walking around with only a 1 oz. cups.

For years America has been exporting its capitalistic, indulgent life style. More recently, to help things along and promote the American way, companies have been outsourcing manufacturing jobs like crazy to places like China, India and other countries that provide cheap labor. And, guess what, for an administration that hasn’t gotten much else right, the tactic is beginning to work, and it could prove (to the chagrin of the American worker) to be a smashing success.

Now people elsewhere might have a chance to live the American dream. The jobs are rolling in to their countries. They are consuming more, buying more cars, guzzling more gas. Hurray!!!…. But wait a minute…. Are there actually enough natural resources for six point plus billion people in the world to live the American dream?

Let’s see. Last year one news commentator made this rather elusive observation: “Gas prices are rising in America because of a brisk global economy.” That means the gas prices are going up because now we have to compete with China’s ever growing gas needs.

On one hand the author of the Times article admits: “The world is already running out of resources, and it will do so even sooner if China achieves American level consumption rates. Already China is competing with us for oil and metals on world markets.”

In Mahabharata it is stated that the earth cannot tolerate even one greedy man because ultimately man’s greed knows no limits. Thus, to save both the world and ourselves we have to learn restraint, self control, equanimity, and yes, even austerity. Not only will it be better for the planet, but we’ll actually be happier and more peaceful in the process. Just on this point alone Krishna Consciousness has volumes to teach that would help the world situation.

On the other hand, the author refrains from being too pessimistic about the future, as if it might somehow be blasphemous. In the end he says, “I am cautiously optimistic. The world has serious consumption problems, but we can solve them if we choose to do so.” American know-how can still save the world. Someday, in a bright future, everyone can yet have the strong, caffeinated sense gratification of a 32 oz cup.

And surely there are devotees who eagerly await the demise of materialistic civilization and are anticipating the rush of people who will come in droves to take shelter of the temples. To them I say, first consider establishing a rapport, a dialogue, with people based on mutual respect and intelligent observation, and only then will people begin to consider what you are saying and see it as relevant. In America, after 40 years, this type of connection is sorely needed in many ways. If and when people do turn to us, will the devotee community be ready in our internal dealings, relations, and activities to make the impact that it needs to make? Will our hearts and house be in order?

“Thus perplexed by various anxieties and bound by a network of illusions, one becomes too strongly attached to sense enjoyment and falls down into hell.” Bhagavad Gita 16:16

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Pluralism Project Features New Vrindaban

Student papers at the Global Leadership Center at Ohio University profile the conversion experience of some of the residents of New Vrindavan Community. The students broke into groups and interviewed devotees on the phone a couple of times, spent a month doing research into the community, and then actually came to visit for a weekend last Oct. Now their papers are ready for viewing at Harvard University's Pluralism Project website. The Pluralism Project is dedicated to the study of religious diversity in America.


The article that targets me is at


If you haven't seen it already, you might also view my Nov 29th post - What The College Students Really Thought About New Vrindavan -


- which contains reflections by the students of their visit.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Raw Deal

(or Shell Game Passes For Tough Love)

New York Times - Huckabee proposes his idea of a “fair tax” as Chuck Norris looks on admiringly. See http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/15/us/politics/15campaign.html

Big Politician Guy: Listen, I’m going to give it to you straight. This federal income tax system is dumb. It’s your hard earned money. You have a right to spend it the way you see fit. You know how to spend it better then the government. Forget about federal income tax and use your money to be happy..…… Actually, the government will need some money… Of course we’re not going to tax the people… Oh wait, I know… We’ll just impose a spending tax. That sounds fair. We’ll have a national sales tax on gas and clothing and food and stuff like that. . But why should you worry? You can afford a few extra cents with all those 1000’s of dollars you’re saving from not having to pay income tax.

Local Politician Guy: Since the taxes were cut the Federal government doesn’t have any money to give to supplement state programs so we’re going to have to increase your property taxes and also add a few more cents to the tax on goods. But why should you worry? You can afford a few extra cents with all those 1000’s of dollars you’re saving from not having to pay income tax.

Local Doctor or Pharmacist : The government is cutting back on Medicare and drug programs, so you’re going have to pay for your own drugs and treatment. But why should you worry? You can afford it with all those 1000’s of dollars you’re saving from not having to pay income tax.

Big Politician Guy: What! You need some help? Why turn to the government? The government is not a charity. . Don’t expect the government to bail you out… What?… Well, sure… the government created the New Deal to help people in the depression….. And that’s right, after WW II there was the GI Bill where the government helped millions of GI’s go to college and get an education. And sure the government bailed out a lot of corporations. And what if the government gave amnesty to a bunch of illegal immigrants back in the 80’s. What does all that got to do with you? Listen, times have changed. Your better than that. We believe in you. Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. Keep your eye on the ball. Put your nose to the grind stone. Study hard. Then move to China and get a good job there.

Srila Prabhupada (from Light Of The Bhagavat text 2): The welfare state imposes upon its citizens scorching taxes… in due course of time when the taxes accumulate into a large sum of money, they are utilized for the welfare of the citizens in various ways. Nevertheless, sometimes it happens that the benefits of the taxes fall like rains on the stone-hearted men in the state who are unable to utilize the money properly and who squander it for sense gratification….Thus, to have equal distribution of state raised taxes, the citizens need to be scrupulously honest and virtuous… if the people are not good they cannot have good government, regardless of which party governs the administration. Therefore good character is the first principle necessary for a good government and equal distribution of wealth.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Deconstructing Obama In Iowa

This last week the media was buzzing with the results of Iowa caucuses. Ten months earlier, Rory Steele, a 29 year old former marine, had arrived in the state. He was a man on a mission, sent there to organize the Barack Obama campaign in 21 counties. He did whatever it took. No job was too big nor too small for him. Steele, a friendly guy who can talk with anyone, says, “We don’t give up on people.” On January 3rd his efforts paid off. A New York Times article from back on Nov 26th , entitled In West Iowa, Obama’s Man Thinks Locally http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/26/us/politics/26organizer.html
reveals how Steele helped organize and lay the foundation that culminated in Obama’s Iowa victory.

Actually, the metaphor of a political campaign, in its excitement and competitiveness, seems appropriate to Krishna Consciousness. Devotees want to inject the awareness and teachings of Krishna into the hearts and minds of the “voters.” This brief article is a whole mini-course in itself. It glimpses Steele’s methodology and is chock full of important lessons that can be applied both within the Krishna movement as well as for interacting with the general public. The points below emerge as the article unfolds:

1) Think like a local - anticipate, understand and address people’s needs and concerns
2) Build networks based on person to person contact
3) Listen to people to get their advice and feedback
4) Be a problem solver but depend upon Krishna (Steele admits there are things and situations beyond his control - “I can only control what I can control, or I’d spend all day freaking out.”)
5) Focus on your work at hand
6) Delegate responsibility – empower others
7) Inspire people by your words and actions
8) Acknowledge people’s efforts and contributions
9) Thoroughly know your Candidate’s philosophy
10) Don’t speak ill of people (you might need their help in the future)
11) Pay attention to community movers and leaders who can help get others involved (warning: this does not imply that those who don’t appear to be “leaders” should be ignored)
12) Take notes and be sure to follow up

In this way, a devotee can humbly work for his Candidate. As Srila Prabhupada explains in the purport of the verse below – “ A Krishna Conscious person acts out of pure love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and therefore he has no attraction for the results of the action.”

“Abandoning all attachment to the results of his activities, ever satisfied and independent, he performs no fruitive action, although engaged in all kinds of undertakings.” Gita 4:20