BACK TO GODHEAD


Yesterday I attended the Hare Krishna Festival of Chariots at Venice Beach. I was completely won over by their philosophy and free food and now renounce Buddhism forever!

Nah. But the food was very tasty (and I opted for the $7 plate rather than the free one — much tastier!). Hare Krishnas are the best cooks in the material world. That’s for sure. But, once again, as happened 20-odd years ago when I listened to their philosophy back at the Cleveland Temple, they failed to win me over. I know I rag on the Krishnas way too much. But I really don’t mean to put them down specifically. I like them, actually, in some ways. It’s just that that’s what I know. My friend Bret came with me & when I was telling him about my experiences with the Krishnas it dawned on me just how deeply I had investigated their philosophy. I was even able to tell him how Krishna couples were supposed to “do it.” I never actually lived at a Krishna temple. But a close friend of mine did. The stories I heard from her were enough for me.

At one point I watched a Krishna guy give a lecture about the Spiritual World. In the Spiritual World, he said, grass and trees and stones can all talk. It sounded like one of those old Sid & Marty Krofft Saturday morning TV shows. You know, like Lidsville or HR Puff’n'Stuff. Very cartoony. I like cartoons. But I like cartoons as cartoons. I don’t want to pretend they’re real. I mean, I don’t care if trees can talk in Krishna Loka. They don’t talk here. And here is what I am concerned about.

When I was a teenager investigating various Eastern religions, I checked out a number of gurus and philosophies. I had a whole bunch of translations of the Bhagavad Gita. The Krishna one was the coolest looking, but, unfortunately, the most philosophically suspect. I still ove it, though, and keep a copy on my bookshelf. I had some Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (of TM fame, the one who allegedly tried to use his spiritual powers to woo Mia Farrow) books. I had Swami Sattchitananda’s album — a double LP! I remember I liked Ramana Maharshi’s books a lot and Jiddu Krishnamurti’s as well. Though when I tried reading some of those in more recent years they left me a bit unimpressed.

One of the things I noticed about the Krishnas this time around is they have a very funny relationship with science. On the one hand, they endlessly put down various scientific theories. One of the regular features in their magazines was to reprint these dialogues where a Krishna devotee armed with whatever he could memorize out of an encyclopedia entry on, say, Darwin, would debate and be defeated by Srila Prabhupada, their leader, who would prove the entire theory to be poppycock. Yet, on the other hand, whenever it suits them, the Krishnas try to allign themselves with science. For example, they love scientific evidence that humans are naturally vegetarians. And they love to promote their philosophy as the science of self-realization. This is pretty typical among religious orders of various types.

When I encountered Buddhism I was amazed that it was so vastly different from the other forms of “Eastern Spirituality” I’d been exposed to. It is, in fact, totally different. Not only from other Eastern philosophical systems, but from every other philosophical system yet devised by man. It comes from a completely different place. It is not based on thought but upon action. It has nothing to do with belief and everything to do with what you do. Plus it has no beefs with science and never did even back in the olden days.

Blah-blah-blah. My editor’s after me so I’m gonna go work on my book now. And maybe eat some of the incredibly delicious carob chip cookies I bought yesterday.

P.S. Take a look at the link. Gosh….

41 Responses

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  1. 6billionghosts
    6billionghosts August 1, 2006 at 4:19 am | |

    BACK TO GODHEAD would be a great name for a song.

  2. Justin
    Justin August 1, 2006 at 5:01 am | |

    There used to be an industrial band called Godhead. Not sure if they’re still going.

  3. gniz
    gniz August 1, 2006 at 7:55 am | |

    Buddhism is so awesome!!

  4. Askinstoo
    Askinstoo August 1, 2006 at 7:56 am | |

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  5. Jules
    Jules August 1, 2006 at 9:55 am | |

    I like Godsmack better.

  6. Anatman
    Anatman August 1, 2006 at 11:00 am | |

    In my younger years (18-19) I also used to go to the Krishna temple for the free “vegetarian feast.” I remember being impressed by the quality of the cooking, and also by the education of the speaker (an Indian monk with broad knowledge of science and philosophy).

    The chanting and dancing was boring though, as I preferred MDC, DK, BBR, The Meat Puppets, and The Killer Gumbys.

    Now, if the Krishnas had a rock band instead of one drum and a couple finger cymbals, I would probably have a shaved head with a little tail and a saffron robe by now.

  7. Ryuei
    Ryuei August 1, 2006 at 2:27 pm | |

    Funny, my experience with the Krishnas is very similar to yours Brad. I have their Bhagavad Gita As It is at home, and some other books by Prabhupada and a couple by his followers who actually did some serious study on their own (though they remained Hindu fundies). I read Monkey on a Stick (and is that ever a gruesome story) and some other exposes. But I could never be comfortable with their fundamentalism, patriarchal authoritarianism, and so on. I do like the chanting, Sanskrit songs, and of course the food. And their books are nicely presented and fairly cheap and for some strange reason I like all the kitschy Krishna art and have always had some wherever I have lived since college.

    Oh, Anatman, I think that there have been a few Straight Edge bands composed of Hare Krishnas or at least Krishna sympathizers. I can’t think of any particular names though, but I know they were or perhaps are still out there.

    Namu Myoho Renge Kyo,
    Ryuei

  8. Stuart
    Stuart August 1, 2006 at 4:20 pm | |

    I had a fascinating visit to the Krishna community in West Virginia (the one where they’ve got that “Prabhupada Palace of Gold”) in the mid-80s. The whole story is at:

    http://home.comcast.net/~sresnick2/cookie.htm

  9. cookie
    cookie August 1, 2006 at 5:01 pm | |

    I can see why you aren’t taken by Krisnamurti. It would be incovenient if your oh so hip observations were no closer to the truth than the blathering Krishnas.

  10. Matt
    Matt August 1, 2006 at 6:56 pm | |

    I really considered “going SxE” for awhile there. But I’m sure I don’t have to tell you the joys and wonder that is “scene politics.” Speaking of punk ethics, is it disconcerting that straight edge has been embraced by a national ad campaign? Not that punk hasn’t been utterly compromised and neutered these days anyway. But then again, straight edge is more of a hardcore punk thing than a pop-punk or surf-punk/ska-punk thing.

    I’m poison free for sure, but I’m just leery of a herd mentality. I’ve heard a faction called Courage Crew is a group of SxE assholes who actually beat up people who do drugs. Sweet! (Pennywise, I believe, endorses or is Courage Crew.) They’re just a few bad apples though, not representative of straight edge as a whole.

    ON THE OTHER HAND it’s really really really really really really really really cool that something like the Straight Edge movement has hit mainstream consciousness and will likely get lots of kids involved in punk and to understand what it’s really supposed to be about. Maybe if they can appreciate straight edge they can appreciate the political and social commentary of punk too? Here’s to the new generation of flipping off the dopeman and get asses kicked by jocks!!!!!

    Take care y’alls
    matt

  11. Justin
    Justin August 2, 2006 at 2:03 am | |

    No, actually it was GodFlesh

  12. castillo
    castillo August 2, 2006 at 2:56 am | |

    There is a Krishna band called Shelter that I like a lot. They don’t make a whole lot of direct references to Krishna which is probably why I enjoy them so much. Personally, I can’t get over the conservative element of the Hare Krishnas. That an a general creepiness vibe I get off them. It may not be justified, I don’t know enough about them, but it is there none the less.

    As far as straight edge goes, there is a whole new group of kids involved in it that isn’t even into punk or hardcore. It has also gone beyond the ridiculous stage where kids are having serious debates on whether taking an asperin or eating food cooked with wine constitute “breaking edge”. Just kind of strange.

  13. j
    j August 2, 2006 at 3:39 am | |

    thanks for the link.
    glad you are back.

  14. cromanyak
    cromanyak August 2, 2006 at 8:38 am | |

    At the end of the straight edge video is a link to Morokai’s Guide To Buddhism. It’s animae. Check it out. It makes absolutely no sense.

  15. Justin
    Justin August 2, 2006 at 9:49 am | |

    You don’t really get Straight Edge in the UK AFAIK. Certainly there has been anti-escapist/anti-self-sedation currents for a long time with the ‘anarcho-punk’ movement. Lots of punks were sympathetic with Jello Biafra’s anti-drug stance for example.

    The sort of attitude you’re describing seems quite puritanical.

  16. flecktones
    flecktones August 2, 2006 at 11:19 am | |

    By Anti Drug do you mean:
    Biafra believes in ending the war on drugs by legalizing marijuana and other narcotics. He believes drug addicts should be treated instead of jailed and should be given legal outlets to get drugs from, thus eliminating illegal drug sales. He also advocates ending jail sentences for minor, non-violent, drug related offenses. In drug education for public schools, Biafra advocates educating students on drugs by using demonstrations of drug use in classes and allowing experimentation in controlled environments to help reduce the possibility of addiction. These, he believes, would provide an alternative to anti-drug advertising, which he believes does not work. He also advocates ending drug testing of employees and students.

  17. Dan
    Dan August 2, 2006 at 12:05 pm | |

    sounds like timothy leary flecktones.

    straight edgers take it too seriously. it’s all about being tee total. much wimpier name but there’s no sense of the self righteous anger you get with the straight edgers.
    btw justin, there is a fairly big straight edge movement in london at least but as i say it all seems a bit too angry about the whole thing for my liking.

  18. flecktones
    flecktones August 2, 2006 at 12:40 pm | |

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jello_Biafra
    Scroll down to political beliefs, and there it is.

  19. Dan
    Dan August 2, 2006 at 4:00 pm | |

    yeh i know, but it sounds like what timothy leary used to go on about. maybe thats where jello got his inspiration from.

  20. Dan
    Dan August 2, 2006 at 4:02 pm | |

    particularly the bit about drugs in schools

  21. Dan
    Dan August 2, 2006 at 4:02 pm | |

    yeh i know, but it sounds like what timothy leary used to go on about. maybe thats where jello got his inspiration from.

  22. Justin
    Justin August 3, 2006 at 3:48 am | |

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  23. Justin
    Justin August 3, 2006 at 3:51 am | |

    Biafra is anti-drugs in the sense that he is against drug-taking, as characterised in many Dead Kennnedys songs which mock those who ‘escape reality’ and their ‘responsibilty to oppose corporate fascism’ as per Biafra’s world-view (which I’m sympathetic to even if it is excessively paranoid).

    That he also wants to revise the way that anti-drug policy works doesn’t mean he’s not anti-drugs – if that’s what you’re suggesting.

    I don’t know whether it came from Timothy Leary originally or not, but what Biafra is describing is a pretty standard liberal approach.

    Straight Edgers are angry because they are a punk movement. Punk is characterised by anger.

  24. Justin
    Justin August 3, 2006 at 5:13 am | |

    Having a liberal policy towards drugs is not the same as being pro- or indifferent to drugs.

  25. Jules
    Jules August 3, 2006 at 7:17 am | |

    I am Governor Jerry Brown
    My aura smiles
    And never frowns
    Soon I will be president…

    Carter Power will soon go away
    I will be Fuhrer one day
    I will command all of you
    Your kids will meditate in school
    Your kids will meditate in school!

    [Chorus:]
    California Uber Alles
    California Uber Alles
    Uber Alles California
    Uber Alles California

    Zen fascists will control you
    100% natural
    You will jog for the master race
    And always wear the happy face

    Close your eyes, can’t happen here
    Big Bro’ on white horse is near
    The hippies won’t come back you say
    Mellow out or you will pay
    Mellow out or you will pay!

    [Chorus]

    Now it is 1984
    Knock-knock at your front door
    It’s the suede/denim secret police
    They have come for your uncool niece

    Come quietly to the camp
    You’d look nice as a drawstring lamp
    Don’t you worry, it’s only a shower
    For your clothes here’s a pretty flower.

    DIE on organic poison gas
    Serpent’s egg’s already hatched
    You will croak, you little clown
    When you mess with President Brown
    When you mess with President Brown

    [Chorus]

  26. Justin
    Justin August 3, 2006 at 7:32 am | |

    Biafra has (or at least had) the same attitude towards Zen, meditation and eastern religion/philosophy as a form of social control through seducing the masses with escapism. An extension of Marx’s ‘religion is the opium of the masses’.

  27. Justin
    Justin August 3, 2006 at 7:34 am | |

    Interestingly ‘the hippies’ are associated with the a far more successful US anti-war/anti-corporate movement in the 60s than the one that exists now it seems.

  28. Justin
    Justin August 3, 2006 at 7:35 am | |

    Good song though.

  29. Esmerelda
    Esmerelda August 4, 2006 at 12:12 pm | |

    Well, no they were not particularly successful. He is just being very sarcastic. Just like in Holiday in Cambodia. Another great song. Governor Moonbeam got pretty annoying sometimes. However, there is the current Governor to make him look good in retrospect.

  30. John Christian
    John Christian August 5, 2006 at 12:41 pm | |

    tEST

  31. John Christian
    John Christian August 5, 2006 at 2:26 pm | |

    Have to love the Krishn’a for trying. I still have a lot of love for Maharishi and had some amazing experiences. Not sure what Brad found “unexciting” about Ramana’s work as it really was a transmission of no-mind. He only started talking because very, very few got it and pressured him to “speak the truth”. If i was going to pick up a book on his linage though i would rather read Poonjaji, Gangaji, her husband Eli or even better John Sherman’s (www.riverganga.org i think). John was in prison for bank robbery and had been a communist/anarchist if that is possible. Had shoot outs with the police etc..Was a practicing Buddhist when he met Gangaji 17 years later or so. An amazing transformation. Nothing boring about pointing to the truth. For that matter getting Deeksha from the Oneness movement teachers has been very nice too. Like a blending of the best energy transmission youve ever had with a nice dose of Inquiry, with the desired result of a “declutched mind” which is just shutting the damn mind up i suppose.

    I do dig the Harrison version of thier chant though…

  32. John Christian
    John Christian August 6, 2006 at 8:23 am | |

    Oh btw Maharishi never fiddled about with Mia Farrow. Mia and her sister who was also on the course (Dear Prudance)were both pretty crazy, but the story was concocted by a Beatle hangeron who wanted them out of India.

  33. Stuart
    Stuart August 7, 2006 at 10:37 am | |

    John Christian said…
    > Oh btw Maharishi never fiddled
    > about with Mia Farrow. Mia and
    > her sister who was also on the
    > course (Dear Prudance)were both
    > pretty crazy, but the story was
    > concocted by a Beatle hangeron
    > who wanted them out of India.

    Thanks… I assume you’ve read
    http://home.comcast.net/~sresnick2/cookie.htm
    where I discuss this? Kindly pass on any references/evidence you know of regarding the Maharishi accusation being false, so I can set the story straight.

    > Not sure what Brad
    > found “unexciting” about
    > Ramana’s work as it really was a
    > transmission of no-mind.

    Zen style is pointing to the truth that has already appeared. People get the idea that there’s some special mind-state or understanding that gets transmitted, but all that’s actually transmitted is this style of pointing to what’s already there.

    I like Ramana as someone who encourages big questioning (“What am I?”), which I find to be a cool technique for cutting through attachment to ideas etc. But I do find that lots of Ramana fans regard him in an awfully dualistic way; that Ramana was some sort of higher being with a special mind-state or superior understanding that we can or should emulate. All of that seems contrary to the spirit of Zen, and perhaps contrary to the spirit of Ramana’s own teaching.

  34. John Christian
    John Christian August 8, 2006 at 10:17 am | |

    I checked your link out yesterday just briefly but it semmed to be an article on the Krishna’s in West Virginia. Having just read Monkey on a stick and having followed thier movement since the late 60′s i would like to read it but today it does not seem to come up.
    I wasnt on the course with Mia Farror but know a few that were and it really was a combination of Farrows very odd sense of her princessness, Maharishi touching her (turned out it was on the shoulder during a puja)and a guy who was already doing what he could to spread crap IE that Maharishi had caused great harm in Greese, when in fact he has never been there. He then took a fairly innocent comment from Farrow and begain to go to town.).
    Either way 47 years with one fucked up allegation by a freak (Farrow…you think Woody was crazy?)aint bad in the Guru buisness.
    Ramana’s question was actually “who am i”. His original teaching was one in silence i asumme because in his silence was truth. Words on any level only mess it up. And yes some made him out special (this dosent happen in Zen????). The dualistic mind see’s dualism. Thats the way it is. We can pretend and spirtiualize but we either get it or dont. What i think we get or dont is always there. In that sence nothing changes. If i start Zazen today despite Brad or anyone elses warnings i would have expectations. After a few years i would be smart enough to speak to the truth of Zazen without ever tasting it. In my mind this is the state of ALL techniques. True Inquiry is search for who “I” really am. No techniques (although some have cropped up by people who need structure)just sitting with what ever comes up. Sounds a lot like Zazen to me.
    As far as how we or anyone veiw someone like say Brad who share an “experience” and apply some title to them like say “they are special or enlightened” is part thier fault. Someone may state something like they have had a deep experience. Where before there was suffering, pain, and hate there now is peace comfort, silence and love. Before they were identified as John now they are not. And we in our dualistic mind begain to go to work on what that means. We ask them to define it and to speak of it and they say “nothing has happened”. BULLSHIT!! Im not fucking Einstien but something happened.
    Right now i am enjoying getting Deeksha which is purported to be a biological process that deals with the frontal lobes and other area of the brain that see the world as seperate. There is really no philosophy, and they are reluctant to discuss what and who is awakening but they are having amazing success in bringing people to this state which dosent exsist :)
    Any way enough for now. Nice to meet you even if it is online.
    John

  35. Stuart
    Stuart August 8, 2006 at 12:18 pm | |

    > I checked your link out
    > yesterday just briefly but it
    > semmed to be an article on the
    > Krishna’s in West Virginia.
    > Having just read Monkey on a
    > stick and having followed thier
    > movement since the late 60′s i
    > would like to read it but today
    > it does not seem to come up.

    The link

    http://home.comcast.net/~sresnick2/cookie.htm

    is the story of my trip to the West Virginia Hare Krishna temple with a buddy of mine in 1984. It’s mostly played for humor. You might like it if you’re familiar with “Monkey on a Stick” etc. I’ve been working on updating my whole site, so if that link didn’t come up for you yesterday, it may be because it was “under construction”; it should be available now.

    > Ramana’s question was
    > actually “who am i”.

    I prefer “What am I?” It’s like, if you suddenly wake up in the middle of the night, your FIRST question is always “What?!?” not “Who?!?” So “What” hits closer to the core; it assumes less than “Who.”

    > His original teaching was one in
    > silence i asumme because in his
    > silence was truth. Words on any
    > level only mess it up.

    I know of no meaning of “truth” other than what’s appearing just now. If it’s silence, OK, but that’s nothing special. Words are truth too. Getting attached to words is no good, but then one can get attached to emptiness also.

    > And yes some made him out
    > special (this dosent happen in
    > Zen????).

    Yes, sure, but what I consider “good” Zen teachers are clear that ordinary, everyday mind is the truth and the way. This makes it less likely for their students to make them something special. When I see a teacher who’s being worshipped, it’s an indication to me that I wouldn’t like his teaching so much.

    > We ask them to define it and to
    > speak of it and they
    > say “nothing has happened”.
    > BULLSHIT!! Im not fucking
    > Einstien but something happened.

    Well, yeah, things are happening all the time, things are changing all the time. But I believe the special job of the Zen tradition is to point to something that’s already appeared in this moment, and NOT to attach to any special state or situation that may come and go. So, yeah, things happen, and for instance special mind states may appear for you and they may be amazing, but the style I’ve learned from Zen masters is to let such things come and go like clouds in the sky.

    Stuart

  36. John Christian
    John Christian August 11, 2006 at 10:38 am | |

    Stuart, i will re-read the link. Thanx.
    “What am i” is just as valid. Bottom line is whatever gets the mind to turn around and see what has always been there and “who” see that. I guess its that inside we feel as if there is a “who” and less a “what”.
    I dont know that silence IS truth but i think in order to get what “is just apperaring here now” we need the mind to stop, slow down or be set aside a bit ie declutched. As long as there is dialog going on i dont think we see what is here. Words POINT to the truth but i dont see them as truth in and of themselves (Sanskrit aside maybe).
    There might be some mistaking the people around some of these saints and they themselves. The utter ordinariness of Gangaji etc. (she has a book called “Just like you”)is quite evident. Their claim is all people have everything they need, nothing need be added, including techniques. The simplicity of Inquiry is very profound.
    Not so much talking about experiences in and of themselves as yes they can be traps. Im talking about something maybe grace that allows for a time to clearly see who we really are. If in fact we misidentify as body, mind, emotions the WHO ARE WE REALLY??? Who is asking this question?? Some know, the vast majority do not. All im asking is that for those who state something like: Before i was depressed, hopeless, and in suffering, now i am bliss, even though nothing has changed outwardly dont deny it when i come knocking. How do they do this? By saying enlightenment does not exsist, etc. etc. etc., but they have already let the cat out of the bag.

  37. Stuart
    Stuart August 11, 2006 at 12:15 pm | |

    Thanks for your comments, John. One thing I’d like to hightlight: you say

    > If in fact we misidentify as
    > body, mind, emotions the WHO ARE
    > WE REALLY??? Who is asking this
    > question?? Some know, the vast
    > majority do not.

    Maybe it’s not true that “some know.” Maybe *everyone* doesn’t know the answer to “What am I?” (Any more than the eyes can see themselves, yada yada.)

    It does seem true that some people at some times cling to various ideas of who they are, crude or subtle, and some people at some times are just responding to the moment without clinging to such ideas.

    Looking to other people, I can find encouragement for letting go ideas of who I am, but it’s really all my own choice, any moment, to cling to ideas or to just let them appear and disappear.

    STUART
    http://home.comcast.net/~sresnick2/mypage.htm

  38. John Christian
    John Christian August 12, 2006 at 7:39 am | |

    Stuart:
    Your right of course how could any of of us really know what someone else is experiencing.
    Recently during a Oneness “Satsang” (really just a lot of wonderfull Deeksha, and some Inquiry like discusion)a man named Ram simplfied it. He said basically that if “John” or “Stuart” was asking him the question we did not get it. That Stuart or John WAS the question.
    This was nothing i had not heard or read before. But in this intimate samll setting it was profound. He says that he no longer sees the world as Ram and has not for many years.
    So if i still see the world identified as John, and i do, what would the world look like NOT identified? He also stated that (this was at lunch) none of us had experienced eating an orange. He meant without the dialog of the mind. That when the mind is silent or at least one is not attached to the continual blatherings and comparison’s of the mind, one can experience the simple eating of the orange and NOTHING else. So we from the outside see nothing has changed just a man eating an orange. He will say maybe that nothing has changed he is still just a man eating an orange. BUT what HAS changed is huge i can only imagine. As if for the first time.

  39. Gautam Vig
    Gautam Vig May 25, 2008 at 10:02 am | |

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  40. publisher
    publisher December 15, 2008 at 1:52 am | |

    There is another account from a friend of mia farrow on the same site:

    The Beatles and Mia Farrow

    It matches what Mia Farrow related in her autobiography and which can be seen on Google Books. Mia’s own account in her autobiography seems to be largely ignored by commentators.

    A far more serious accusation was made by a TM teacher Linda Pearce in 1981 which is discussed here:

    Linda Pearce story

  41. sabkush
    sabkush August 28, 2010 at 5:46 am | |

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