August 6 

It took about 3 hrs. easy drive to get to Prostejou and the small summer camp they hire every year in the midst of a pine forest. Kadamba Kanan Swami arrived just after me, and Danavir Maharaja in the evening. Mahadhutyi prabhu, now an itinerant monk after serving many years as TP of Soho St. temple, is also attending.

About 250 devotees have gathered from Czech and Slovakia. They have been putting this festival on for 8-9 years now. Association is the most important feature of spiritual life and Europe has a proliferation of these small festivals during the summer. Its a chance for the devotees to get together and celebrate, and hear from senior devotees and just perform congregational chanting of the holy names.

 August 7-9

We have a pretty easy schedule. I am speaking from 10-12 noon and we settled on the topic of Health. About a hundred attend the seminars, so it’s a nice group.

Kadamba Kanan Swami left on the 8th afternoon and was replaced by Lokanath Maharaja and Bhakti Vaibhava Swami. I was surprised to see Lokanatha M. with a few days growth on his face and head. His hair is pure white and he reminded me a bit of Santa Claus on his day off. He grinned and explained that B. Vaibhava M. is making a new movie called Lost Village. Its about the loss of natural living and local village life in the midst of our ecologically challenged planet. Lokanatha M. has already done some filming with his family members in his village in Maharasthra.

I was surprised when B. Vaibhava M. asked me to shoot a short segment also. The reason? He arrived just as I was giving Srimad Bhagavatam class yesterday morning. I mentioned how I heard that in America, a couple of weeks after the 9/11 attacks, the govt. made an appeal to everyone to go out and start shopping. Apparently everyone was so depressed in the aftermath that noone was buying anything. The whole economy was threatened so the govt. prescribed shopping therapy to relieve everyone of their depression and save their economy.

Are we happy? Are we really, really happy?

 shop till you drop1  … 

 shopping …

 shopper …

 shop drop

Then I talked a little about how the principle of a consumer society is to keep people in a state of perpetual dissatisfaction. Mass production of useless gadgets and unnecessary wares is the keystone of present global economies. The manufacturers hire armies of advertising agents to create discontent in the minds of the consumers with the stuff they bought last year so that they are motivated to go out and buy the new stuff being made this year. And so it goes…

It’s a grand con. On the one hand we are constantly told that new technologies will make us happier, and on the other hand, unless we become unhappy with what we have, we won’t buy the newest techie gadgets. Talk about cheaters and the cheated.Real happiness of course is not in consuming the planet to death and ourselves with it. Real happiness is found elsewhere, in spiritual development. People are exploiting material nature to the max because they don’t know how to relate to it anymore. Instead of seeing themselves as part of nature, and living within the natural controls already there, they see nature as something to be subdued and controlled. They don’t know the purpose of mother nature because they don’t know their own true natures. Instead of being nurtured by their mother, they are trying to suck her dry.

Now the talk is about sustainable energies and the like. But material nature has sustained itself, and humans and every other species, for thousands of years without our ‘help’. The present ecological efforts are doomed to failure because they are still based on the ‘exploit and consume’ model. They just want to figure out how to manage things in a better way but they are missing the whole point. Unless we get back to being dependents on nature instead of falsely trying to control her, the dire predictions of disaster will surely manifest. I hope B. Vaibhava M. was happy with my film clip.

Jayapataka Swami did his usual thing, arriving on the 11th afternoon in time for an evening class and SB class the next morning and then everything was over. We packed up and departed by 11 AM.

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