Friday, October 12, 2007

Second Generation

Tonite i was invited to the vyasa puja of my godbrother, Paramadwaiti Swami, at his temple in Miami. I would normally never attend such an event, but as Paramadwaiti is a personal friend who has been very kind to me, and he's also an outcaste from Iskcon, i felt comfortable attending the celebration. He is in Chile for his birthday observance. A small group of his disciples are here in Miami. I arrived in time for Gaura arotik, worshipping a beautiful Mahaprabhu deity from Bengal, then there was more kirtan, guru puja, puspanjali and the usual verbal glorifications. I also spoke something about my friendship with him. Afterwards we sat around and took a nicely prepared feast of prasadam. Everyone was relaxed and it was comforting to be in the company of devotees. We are now the seniors when devotees gather. We are different because we're older. In my opinion, the first generation of western devotees can claim to have received the mercy of a most extraordinary pure devotee, a special messenger from Krishna. But in all other departments, we have failed miserably. I certainly don't see myself as a good example or role model. But there are a few leaders like Paramadwaiti who do inspire younger devotees. The 2nd generation have less baggage than we do. They are motivated by the hope that they can do something. Most of us have lost that hope, or it's been obfuscated by the mess we made of things. It would be nice to have some of that innocent enthusiasm back, with the benefit of practical experience from living in this world. It would be great if the 1st and 2nd generation could mix together freely and share what each has to offer the other. But again, that's easier said than done. That requires a kind of maturity and vision that does not seem to exist yet in the ranks of the assembled vaisnavas.

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Saturday nite my G4 Mac Powerbook started making strange noises. It has always been a quiet machine and never gave me a single problem in the 3 1/2 years since i purchased it. But after making noises as if it were dying, it froze and would not reboot. I tried putting in the original OSX systems disc but it could not read it. I thought my hard drive was finished. Sunday morning i started desperately calling Apple stores. This being America, they were all open on Sunday. But they were all very busy. I could not make an appointment for the "Genius Bar" (a trouble shooting area they have in all their stores) for a few days....unless i became a member of "Pro Care." That meant $99, so i paid it over the phone, and after several more phone calls, got an appointment for the Genius Bar at an Apple store in Ft. Lauderdale, 25 miles from my apartment. Just get in the car, follow the directions, and 45 minutes later, i'm there, going up the escalator into the heart of America, the mall.

I was on time for my appointment at the Galleria Mall, and within 20 minutes, the tech at Apple's Genius Bar, got my laptop working. He diagnosed it, fixed it and rebooted it, all with a little machine that looked like a small external backup drive. So within 15 hours of its crashing, my computer was healthy again. That's efficiency. And it was free (except for the $99 that i think i'm going to get refunded.) My anxiety over, i was free to browse the Apple Store. Amazing machines and monitors these days. So much advanced from 20 years ago, when i first started using Macintosh computers for my advertising agency. Capitalism at its best.

But looking around the store at the people there, both customers and staff, it was a sorry sight. Americans are the most overweight people in the world i think. And one of the most unhappy, despite the show they put on. Many of these people are on prescription drugs, just to get by. And most of the others, are on non-prescription drugs or alcohol. They are working like asses to afford the toys they covet. The mall is where they go to enjoy life. Capitalism at its worst.

The ugly part is when nature strikes at persons who are unprepared for setbacks. That's when the payback comes, in the form of diseases, depression and death. A life devoid of reflection or without connection to the divine is a sad life, regardless of how pretty, how polished or how impressive the outward show is.