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Rama Rao "Rama" (Annandale, VA, USA)

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Walden (Concord Library)
Walden (Concord Library)
by Henry David Thoreau
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.23

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Henry David Thoreau and Hindu scriptures, 29 Mar. 2011
Reading through the pages of this book makes you wonder if the author was a hermit and a heretic or a social reformer, or a mystical philosopher. "On Walden Pond" sounds similar to the classic movie "On Golden Pond," starring Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn. There are some similarities; in both stories the lead characters go and live near a secluded lake (pond) to spend their lives, but Thoreau goes a step forward to find himself and his soul when he can't accept the status quo of life. His journey is to find the truth that is beyond the apparent reality: A search for transcendental truth of Bhagavadgita and Upanishads. His search for the nature of soul is found in the tranquility of Walden Pond when he states that, "In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagvat Geeta, since whose com¨position years of the gods have elapsed, and in com¨parison with which our modem world and its litera¨ture seem puny and trivial; and I doubt if that philosophy is not to be referred to a previous state of existence, so remote is its sublimity from our con¨ceptions. I lay down the book and go to my well for water, and lo! There I meet the servant of the Brahmin, priest of Brahma and Vishnu and Indra, who still sits in his temple on the Ganges reading the Vedas, or dwells at the root of a tree with his crust and water jug. I meet his servant come to draw water for his master, and our buckets as it were grate together in the same well. The pure Walden water is mingled with the sacred water of the Ganges. With favoring winds it is wafted past the site of the fabulous islands of Atlantis and the Hesperides, makes the periplus of Hanno, and, floating by Temate and Tidore and the mouth of the Persian Gulf, melts in the tropic gales of the Indian seas, and is landed in ports of which Alexander (the Great) only heard the names." Through these passages he compares himself to the great Vedic sages and rishis who meditated deep in the woods for prolonged period of time in total tranquility to realize spiritual awakening. Thoreau was a prophet who had the same identity crisis as his better known contemporaries like; Emerson, Whitman, Channing, Hawthorne, Melville, and Dickinson. But among these men, Thoreau was forerunner as practitioner. He insisted that knowledge without experience or action is a false knowledge.

Thoreau's passion to seek inner meaning of life is illustrated by his disappointment in the traditional Christian culture; "We have adopted Chris¨tianity merely as an improved method of agriculture. We have built for this world a family mansion, and for the next a family tomb. The best works of art are the expression of man's struggle to free himself from this condition, but the effect of our art is merely to make this low state comfortable and that higher state to be forgotten." In another paragraph he observes; "For most men, it appears to me, are in a strange uncertainty about it, whether it is of the devil or of God, and have somewhat hastily concluded that it is the chief end of man here to glorify God and enjoy him forever." In another section of the book, Thoreau writes, "We perceive that only great and worthy things have any permanent and absolute existence that petty fears and petty pleasures are but the shadow of the reality. This is always ex¨hilarating and sublime. By closing the eyes and slum¨bering, and consenting to be deceived by shows, men establish and confirm their daily life of routine and habit every where, which still is built on purely il¨lusory foundations." He continues in the later part of the paragraph, "I have read in a Hindoo book, that there was a king's son, who, be¨ing expelled in infancy from his native city, was brought up by a forester, and, growing up to ma¨turity in that state, imagined himself to belong to the barbarous race with which he lived. One of his father's ministers having discovered him, revealed to him what he was, and the misconception of his character was removed, and he knew himself to be a prince. So soul," continues the Hindoo philosopher, "from the circumstances, in which it is placed, mistakes its own character, until the truth is revealed to it by some holy teacher, and then it knows itself to be Brahme. I perceive that we inhabitants of New England live this mean life that we do because our vision does not penetrate the surface of things."

Thoreau was also keenly interested in the work Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution. In many ways he resembled Darwin in his patient observations and Benjamin Franklin in his inventive practicality. Unlike most transcendentalists, he could do things, tend to garden and make home repairs for Emerson, or actualize the real carpentry Branson Alcott's fanciful vision of a summer house.

Thoreau expresses strong belief in social reforms when he refuses to pay taxes in protest against practice of slavery in Southern States. He championed abolitionist John Brown whom he met briefly in Concord, Massachusetts. In one paragraph he laments; "I sometimes wonder that we can be so frivolous,.." "There are so many keen and subtle masters that enslave both north and south. It is hard to have a southern overseer; it is worse to have a northern one; but worst of all when you are the slave driver of your soul."

1. Civil Disobedience
2. The Works of Henry David Thoreau (with active table of contents)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 9, 2012 12:38 AM BST

Walled-in: Soul in nature, Henry David Thoreau in the light of the Bhagavad-Gita
Walled-in: Soul in nature, Henry David Thoreau in the light of the Bhagavad-Gita
by Jay Bremyer
Edition: Unknown Binding

5.0 out of 5 stars The influence of Gita in the life of Henry David Thoreau, 15 Mar. 2011
The author reviews Thoreau's book, "Walden," in the light of the philosophical teachings of Bhagavadgita. In the chapter "Pond in winter," Thoreau states that "In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmological philosophy of the Bhagavad-Gita." Later in that paragraph, "The pure Walden water is mingled with the sacred waters of Ganges."In these expressions Thoreau tries to find a spiritual renewal and a revival of faith. The "Walden" is described in 18 chapters like Gita, which develop incrementally the theme of becoming the whole man; spiritually awakened and in tune with one's greater self.

Man is haunted for centuries by the question, who am I on an absolute scale? The Vedic scholars in ancient India were debating and experiencing the truth about consciousness. By the process of elimination of each part of a man's body, like I am not my foot or arm or head, or face or whatever is limited, but I am only conscious of these things, but not limited to the scope of any of them. In Vedic tradition, it is possible for one to be fully developed and in control of individual consciousness to detach himself from a particular body and relocate in another. In this case the initial body devoid of consciousness is no longer a man. Then at what point does self conscious begin and where does it end? For example, the eyes are an integral part of consciousness but eyes themselves do not constitute a man. Thoreau, by eliminating the philosophical format, guides the reader to the soul that is in quest for self realization in the world of Maya. Thoreau is a prophet who had the same identity crisis as his better known contemporaries like; Emerson, Whitman, Channing, Hawthorne, Melville, and Dickinson. But among these men, Thoreau was forerunner as practitioner; he was more like a Vedic seer or a rishi meditating deep in the woods seeking knowledge. Thoreau attempts to discover himself as a sage peering through the cosmos in search of soul and consciousness. He insisted that knowledge without experience or action is a false knowledge.

The yoga and Sankhya schools of philosophies argue for the distinction between the spirit (Jiva, Purusha) and matter (Prakriti, a-jiva), a departure from Vedanta that teaches absolute monism. The resolution of this dichotomy is illustrated in Gita; likewise, Thoreau discusses in "Walden." Atman is Brahman, the biggest secret is that there is no secret; no one is withholding the information. There are exercises and practices leading to the right track. Beneath all disparity, there is unity, and all inspired truth is one truth but it plays different games (Maya).

In chapter 9, Thoreau brings the reader into his innermost meditations and illustrates the path of consciousness and the power of words and traditions. He reveals growing uneasiness and admits doubt to his original certainty. He detects that the "paver" is nature herself and that the soul rather than being "free" in nature is really "Walled-in." Thoreau goes through a kind of metamorphosis as he struggles through the winter and born again in spring in a higher spiritual state. He sounds elated as he sees the truth in Krishna's words "For the man who has once asked the way to Brahman (un-manifested pure spirit) goes further than any mere fulfiller of the Vedic rituals; by struggling hard, and cleansing himself of all impurities, that yogi will move gradually toward perfection through many births, and reach the highest goal at last." This follows from another Krishna's statement that "To achieve this certainty is to know the real meaning of the word yoga. It is breaking of contact with pain. You must practice this yoga resolutely." Thoreau was a great believer in these words. Comparing "Walden" with the Bhagavad-Gita is that the latter is about what a yogi should be doing, and the former is what one did and what he thought about it.

1. Modern Indian Interpreters of the Bhagavad-gita (SUNY Series in Religious Studies)
2. Walden: Or, Life in the Woods (Dover Thrift)
3. Walden and Other Writings by Henry David Thoreau

Dictionary of Bhagavad Gita
Dictionary of Bhagavad Gita
by Swami Sri Atmananda
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars A concordance to Bhagavadgita, 2 Mar. 2011
This book is a useful concordance to Bhagavadgita, but falls short of meeting all the requirements of a good reference book. First of all, the hymns are numbered serially from 1-700. Therefore the reader has to figure out the chapter and the hymn. For example, the word Vedanta-krt (565) refers to verse 565, which is chapter 15, verse 15. The second problem is that references are provided only to the first hymn; if a word is found in more than one verse in the Gita. An ellipsis following a word indicates that a given word is in more than one hymn, but this is an incomplete reference; a full concordance is necessary. The reader has to know all the hymns that contain a particular word. Finally the words listed in the book dos not follow English alphabetical order, but appears to follow Sanskrit alphabetic order. For example, the word sadhibhuta (310) (a, bar; the second letter "a" has bar over it) is found after the word savyasacin (447), but the reader would have liked to see this word after sadbhave (620), which is separated by 10 pages. It is interesting to note that key words like; Sankhyam (209), Sankhyayogau (208), Sankhyanam (122), Sankhye (86), Sankhye krtante (635), and Sankhyena yogena (513), all referring to Sankhya philosophy appear only once in the Gita.

The author has put everything together in his book with a good intention of helping everyone to be familiar with Gita but his efforts could have been a little more sincere.

1. Living Gita: The Complete Bhagavad Gita A Commentary for Modern Readers
2. Dictionary of Bhagavad-gita

The Philosophical Breakfast Club
The Philosophical Breakfast Club

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A biography of Charles Babbage, John Herschel, William Whewell, and Richard Jones, 24 Feb. 2011
This is a biography of four men that chronicles their work in the early 19 century at Cambridge. This group is called the Philosophical Breakfast Club. Charles Babbage invented a calculating machine, a primitive form of calculator, John Herschel made early contribution to the invention of photography and also mapped the skies of southern hemisphere, William Whewell did some basic work on crystal structures, and Richard Jones with Whewell worked in the field of economics. This book illustrates their passions, politics, religious beliefs, friendships/rivalries, family tragedies, desire to pursue knowledge, find professional success and gain power. The book also narrates their impact on other scientists who lived at that time including Charles Darwin, Talbot and few others.

A summary of few scientific contributions of these men are as follows: Herschel's objective was to map the stars of southern hemisphere matching his father's earlier charting of northern stars. He collaborated with the members of the club to map Stars, Seas and land. This helped British to bring more worlds' natural resources under their control. The maps also helped sailing in southern hemisphere promoting more explorations.

A number of economists agreed with the writings of the Philosophical Breakfast Club on political economy that favored more fact-based empirical approach bringing insights from behavioral psychology and sociology to make more accurate predictions about people's economic actions. The members of the club gained a broad audience for their inductive methods.

Herschel's first paper on photography was read at the Royal Society on March 14, 1939. In this paper he used the name "photography" for the first time, and also terms like "positive" and "negative" and "by snapshot." In Dec 1840 Royal Society awarded a gold medal for his work in photography.

In Dec 1838, Charles Darwin read Babbage's "Ninth Bridgewater Treatise" and saw Herschel's idea that one species may produce another species, which he calls mystery of mysteries. Darwin repeats this phrase in the opening line of his book, Origin of Species." While sitting in Babbage's drawing room, Darwin thought that God is like a computer programmer who built earlier species to change into new ones over millions of years. After reading Babbage's soirees, and Malthus's "Essay on the Principle of Population," Darwin concluded that species change and he wrote in 1842 and 1844 the first version of the Theory of Evolution without invoking God's intervention. But Babbage did not like Darwin's idea in general and specifically the concept that "Species Variation" occurs randomly. He continued to believe that a divine intervention is essential for the creation of a new species, and went further to suggest that the control of species variations has been built into physical laws that govern the natural world.

Philosopher Immanuel Kant wanted to find middle way between empiricism and rationalism, but he concluded that we can not have knowledge of the physical world per se, but only knowledge of our experience of the world. The physical world itself is dim and unknown to us, which is in agreement with the philosophy of quantum physics. The human mind could never break through the veil of our ideas to understand physical reality. This concept was supported by later German philosophers such as, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, who collectively became known as "idealists" because of their emphasis on ideas rather empirical facts. Herschel seemed to agree with Kant but Whewell believed that since God created our mental concepts and the physical world, therefore the concepts of our mind should help us know the physical reality.

Herschel succeeded physicist Isaac Newton as the Master of the Mint. Newton spent his tenure at the mint catching and prosecuting counterfeiters. This position had great influence on the financial policies of the government, and Herschel was looking forward to that, but an act of the government relegated this to a less important position. At that time Herschel was looking forward to replace sterling pound with "100-millet" coin called "Rupee."

In 1833, Herschel published his "Treatise on Astronomy," and in this work he had speculated on the possibility of intelligent life on other planets of the solar system and also on moon and even on the sun. His father William Herschel speculated that "cooler regions" of the sun could support life forms.

The book is not very focused and the author changes topics of discussion too quickly. The personal and family tragedies of some of the members of club are touching, but the book doesn't go into too much detail.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 23, 2011 11:23 AM BST

Exorbitant Privilege: The Rise and Fall of the Dollar
Exorbitant Privilege: The Rise and Fall of the Dollar
by Barry Eichengreen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.17

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The dominance of the U.S. dollar; how long will it last?,, 24 Feb. 2011
The author provides an interesting discussion about the rise and the fall of the U.S. dollar in an historical context. The dollar became a power bill only after WWII even though United Sates was the largest economy around 1880. When Europe and Japan was in ruins after WWII, the U.S. dollar gained global attention and became the currency of the world's banks; the kind of cash accepted worldwide. It is an economic consequence of a widespread international use of the U.S. dollar that confers on its issuer the geopolitical and strategic leverage, namely its strong financial position and leadership in foreign policy decisions. Because it pays less on its debts, it is better able to finance foreign operations and exert strategic influence. It does not depend on other people's money. Instead, it has leverage over other countries that depend on its currency. In the 19th century, when Britain colonized half the world, the sterling pound dominated international financial markets, with the post-World War II period, when sterling lost its dominance and the United States, not Britain, called the foreign-policy shots. But what made sense then makes less sense now, when both China and Germany export more than the United States. Today the U.S. share of global exports is only 13 percent. The United States is the source of less than 20 percent of foreign direct investment down from nearly 85 percent between 1945 and 1980. These two changes are both manifestations of the same fact: the United States is less dominant economically than 50 years ago. This fact reflects the progress of other economies, first Europe, then Japan, and then China and India.

But today, in the wake of the most serious financial crisis in 80 years, a crisis is born and bred in the United States, there is again widespread criticism of America's exorbitant privilege, other countries question whether the United States dollar should have been permitted to run current account deficits approaching 6 percentage of GDP in the run-up to the crisis. Emerging markets complain that as their economies expanded and their central banks felt compelled to augment their dollar reserves, they were obliged to provide cheap finance for the U.S. external deficit. With cheap foreign finance keeping U.S. interest rates low and enabling American households to live beyond their means, poor households in the developing world ended up subsidizing rich ones in the United States. The cheap finance that other countries provided the U.S. in order to obtain the dollars needed to back an expanding volume of international transactions underwrote the practices that culminated in the crisis. The United Sates lit the fire, but foreigners were forced to provide the fuel. If this was not injustice enough, there is the fact that America's international financial position was actually strengthened by the crisis. In the course of 2007 the dollar weakened by about eight percent on the foreign exchange market. But since American debts are denominated in American currency, there was no impact on their dollar value, In contrast, American foreign investments, whether in bonds or factories, became more valuable as the dollar fell, and the interest and dividends were more when converted back into dollars. Then in 2008, in the worst of financial crisis in 80 years, the U.S. govern¨ment was able to borrow vast sums at low interest rates because foreigners fig¨ured that the dollar was the safest currency to be in at a time of great turmoil. But in the spring of 2010, when financial volatility spiked, investors fled into the most liquid market, that for U.S, treasury bonds, pushing down the cost of borrowing for the U.S. government and along with it, the mortgage interest rates available to American households: this is what exorbitant privi¨lege is all about.

The author points out that it is not the exchange rate or the net foreign investment that plays a role in dollar's strength, but it is the general health of the U.S. economy that matters. Whether the dollar rises or falls will matter much less for U.S. strategic influence than whether U.S. economic growth averages 2 or 4 percent per annum over the next decade. Hence the likely scenario for a dollar crash is one in which brought about by poor American economy. Consequently the fate of the dollar is in American hands and not those of Chinese.

Betrayal of the Spirit: My Life Behind the Headlines of the Hare Krishna Movement
Betrayal of the Spirit: My Life Behind the Headlines of the Hare Krishna Movement
by Nori Muster
Edition: Paperback
Price: £17.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The spiritual odyssey of a Krishna follower, 13 Feb. 2011
The author was looking for a spiritual direction in her life, and she found that in the Hare Krishna movement. In the beginning, she found ISKCON was filled with joy, happiness, and peace, but when she left the organization after a decade; she found it scarred with scandals, enmity, and descended in disgrace. The death of the founder Prabhupada brought changes and years of confusion which was tumultuous. No one in the organization comprehended what would be the fate of the organization at this critical period of its life. Many followers left in disgust or disappointment. The Governing body council (GBC) made of 11 men enforced its rules, but for believers, the rigid patriarchal structure was too hard to bear and some henchmen including the gurus, and local temple leaders took advantage of their political might and subjected their followers, especially women and children to abuse. The taste of money and power corrupted many leaders.

Many people think that this book is similar to John Hubner's scandal filled book "Monkey on a Stick," but actually this is different from it in its narrative style and the story. This is partly an autobiography where the author discusses the spiritual joy of Krishna consciousness she experienced in the beginning and her father's positive influence in her personal, professional and spiritual life. This book in some way is similar to Mukunda Goswami's "Inside Hare Krishna Movement," which focused on ISKCON global communication strategies. Likewise this book also focuses mainly on issues surrounding the governing body and the dissemination of information through the organization's publicity wing, the "The ISKCON World Review." One of the responsibilities of the author was to disseminate the ISKCON news as it happened and also ensure that it creates positive image for the organization.

This book does not get into details of the scandals as John Hubner does in his book "Monkey on a stick," but discusses the issues and the steps the PR department has to take to minimize the damage and correct the erroneous ways of the individual or the group involved. Issues like women raising more money than men in sankirtan program but they never had any say in the managing the organization or sankirtan parties. The PR department urged temple leaders to change their ways of doing their business. The Los Angles temple took steps to change this practice and set an example for other temples. The 1973 attack on deities at New Vrindaban by a group of motor bikers discusses the bad media publicity on the organization and the subsequent investigations that lead to the detection of stockpiling of assault weapons. The Rishabdev of Laguna Beach temple was explosive news since his connection to drug dealers in Southern California to raise money for temple projects caused concern for the principles on which the organization was found. The biggest challenge to the PR department, the author recalls is the 1980 raid in San Francisco and the large cache of weapons found on the temple property. Guru Hansadatta strongly believed that the war between United States and Soviet Union was inevitable and he thought they had to defend ISKCON organization in an armed struggle. It was getting harder to keep the organization from media assault and the crippling effect it had on ISKCON. Other problems for PR department were GBC unity, guru reform, initiation by suspended guru's and stealing of devotes from another guru. Certain media coverage helped the organization such as Life magazine's cover page picture of Hare Krishna girls in saris and the gopi makeup provided a positive image of ISKCON. Chapter 9 entitled "The gurus start world war III" is an interesting account of the evolution of several splinter groups around the country by ex-ISKCON members.

Bill Muster, the author's father had experience as a PR person in the "Save the Delta Queen" campaign to win congressional exemptions from legislation. He guides the author in her publicity/marketing of the movement, and provides positive impact on her professional life. He is even positive about her joining the ISKCON movement and not pleased when she leaves it. One of the touching parts of her personal story involving her father is in the last few pages when he is dying of cancer. He finds peace in God and the faith that his soul would continue after death. His last wish was to be cremated after his death and ashes dispersed in the southeastern part of India amid chanting of sacred hymns by a Viashnava priest at a remote Hindu temple on the edge of Bay of Bengal.

Even though many have fallen and left Krishna life entirely, some are spiritually compelled to go back to the movement because of its metaphysics, the rituals and Krishna consciousness. Reincarnation, karma yoga, bhakti yoga, chanting, and meditation have become common to many in the West, partly because of the determination and courage of Prabhupada to come to United Sates to save thousands of souls which otherwise would have been lost to drugs, sex and alcohol.

1. Hubner & Gruson : Monkey on A Stick (Onyx)
2. Inside the Hare Krishna Movement: An Ancient Eastern Religious Tradition Comes of Age in the Western World
3. Hare Krishna in America
4. Hare Krishna Transformed (New and Alternative Religions)
5. The Hare Krishna Explosion
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 29, 2011 1:40 AM BST

Elmer Gantry [DVD]
Elmer Gantry [DVD]
Dvd ~ Burt Lancaster
Price: £7.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story of an evangelical movement in 1920s America, 9 Feb. 2011
This review is from: Elmer Gantry [DVD] (DVD)
This is a spectacular movie which focuses on the early evangelical movement in the United Sates. Some critics think it is crudely based on the lives of evangelists, Aimee Semple McPherson and Billy Sunday, but it is based on a novel by Sinclair Lewis (1927) which caused a public furor. His book was banned in Boston and other cities, and clergy denounced from pulpits across the country. He wrote this book after his research at several churches in Kansas City. The theme of the movie is corruption and fraud perpetrated in the name of God, but there are no foul words, no nakedness, no illicit sex or alcohol among church members, but there is greed and ambition.

Burt Lancaster, as the lead character Elmer Gantry, offers a brilliant performance that is captivating: Some critics said that he was born to do this role. Sometimes he acts like a crazy drunk, a flamboyant salesman, a womanizer, a penniless drifter who cons others for his own enjoyment. We see Gantry as a disillusioned and misguided middle aged human being with no particular aim in life. While travelling in the Midwest, he comes across the public prayer meeting of evangelist, Sharon Falconer (Jean Simmons). Sister Sharon is the leading preacher of a new movement, a kind of revival of faith movement, or evangelism, or church without walls. She is very feminine, tender, and vulnerable and yet she can put her foot down when she has to make firm decisions about her preaching or her style of spreading the message of God. She is on a fast track to make to the top as the messenger of God, and it is then Gantry meets her and cons her into believing that he is a man of God and he can help her movement. Sharon is hesitant and her right-hand man, William Morgan (Dean Jagger) expresses his displeasure especially when he finds about the shadowy past of Elmer Gantry. But Gantry squirms his way into the movement as the new leading man; he impresses Sharon Falconer with his style of preaching. Soon he will be making deals with crooked men and gamblers.

Jean Simmons offers a great performance as Sharon Falconer, but she is strongly overshadowed by the brilliance of Burt Lancaster who won the Academy award in the best actor category in 1960 beating a heavy weight like Spenser Tracy (Inherit the wind), another movie about Biblical teachings.

Gantry sees his end coming when his past catches up with him. His involvement with a young woman named Lulu Bains (Shirley Jones) becomes scandalous and his reputation and the movement is discredited, but when the air clears and later Lulu claims that she framed Elmer, the movement gains its strength again, but it is too late for Sharon Falconer when the church catches fire . It is at end of the movie, we see humanity in all its beauty, love and forgiveness in the spirit of Biblical teachings.

The rest of the cast is also superb. Patti Page is poignant as Sister Rachel, who leads the choir of the ministry, and falls in love with Gantry, but in vain, her voice is never heard, since he is more focused on expanding the ministry and building the coffers of the movement. Jean Simmons does her best to speak with a Midwestern accent, since Falconer is supposed to be from Kansas. Shirley Jones as Lulu Bains is beautiful and seductive was also honored with an Academy award in the best supporting actress category. My favorite moment in the movie is when Gantry enters a black church, barefoot, filthy, with two suit cases in his hands (after a fight with drifters on goods-train). Then he joins the startled congregation in singing the prayer; "I am on my way, Glory, Hallelujah, I am on my way." You may watch part of this video on YouTube.

1. Inherit The Wind [DVD] [1960]

Jack Goes Boating [DVD] [2010] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Jack Goes Boating [DVD] [2010] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Philip Seymour Hoffman
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £3.71

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jack and Connie, 4 Feb. 2011
Philip Seymour Hoffman makes the directorial debut in this movie, in addition to being the lead actor. The movie is a sad-sack love story about a limo driver named Jack (Hoffman) and his girlfriend Connie (Amy Ryan). Connie tries to have a positive impact on his life by getting him to learn cooking and swimming. We see a contrast in the lives of Jack and Connie and their best friends Clyde (John Ortiz) and Lucy (Daphne Rubin-Vega). The love life warms up for Jack and Connie as the story unfolds but it gets sour for their friends Clyde and Lucy. We see an effort on the side of Jack and Connie to reach out for each other with a touch of humor. The key part of the movie is the director's ability to handle a relationship problem of the lead character's best friends to make it an appealing act. Hoffman has done a good job in his directorial debut, but as one expected he shines better as an actor. The subway scene and a dinner party are some of the interesting episodes of the movie. It is fun to watch this move.

1. Capote [DVD] [2005]

The Teaching of the Bhagavad Gita
The Teaching of the Bhagavad Gita
by Dayananda Swami
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.35

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Philosophy of Bhagavadgita: Swami Dayananda's Interpretation, 4 Feb. 2011
The author unfolds the teaching of Lord Krishna in a lucid and effortless manner. While retaining the profound nature of the text he discusses the inner meaning of its philosophy so that everyone can understand. He highlights the message of all relevant chapters and interprets key hymns in great detail. The author illustrates his profound understanding of one of the greatest texts ever presented to mankind. The metaphysics of Gita according to the author is summarized below;

The knowledge of the self will eliminate the sense of inadequacy in life. When one discovers oneself to be a full and complete being, all the conflicts and grief vanish: This is called Brahmavidya. The Gita teaches karma yoga as a means of eliminating likes and dis-likes which may be achieved through bhakti or devotion to the Lord, according to the author.

Everything you know is an object and you are the subject. There are only two things in creation: ksetra, the object, and ksetrajna the subject, the one who knows the object. This concept is discussed in detail in the thirteenth chapter of the Gita, but it is also unfolded in the second chapter. The subject, the knower, must be distinct from the known, the sense organs. You can rightly say that you are the knower of the deafness of your ears, the blindness of your eyes, or the congestion in your nose, but you are not the deaf ears, the blind eyes, or the blocked nose. If you are not the sense organs, who are you? Who is the knower? Through this inquiry you are able to conclude that you must be distinct from the body, sense organs, mind, knowledge, memory, and ignorance. You are none of the relative roles, like father, son, etc., because to play a particular role you have to stop playing the others. You are therefore "distinct from all of these. You must now say, "I am someone who is aware of my ignorance, my knowledge, my memories, my emotions, my hunger, my sense organs, and my body. All that I hear, see, smell, taste or touch are objects. I am the subject, the aware being, who is aware of all the objects, including the body and the mind." This Awareness, I, is limitless and non-dual. Any object can be limited by time, space, or another object; but Awareness, I, is not an object, and so it has no dimension, no shape, no limitation.

There cannot be any distance between the moon and space because the moon is in space and space is in and through the moon. Distance itself is the space between two objects in space, but between space and space there is no distance. Similarly, the sun, the sky, the stars all exist Within Awareness. Your body exists within Awareness. Space exists within Awareness. There can be no distance. You are Awareness, and in Awareness are the stars above. Between Awareness and the stars there is no distance. You are Awareness, he is Awareness, she is Awareness, I am Awareness. How many awareness's are there? There is one, all-pervasive Awareness in which all objects exist. And this Awareness is not limited by time, because I, the Awareness being aware of time. Anything that is born in time can be destroyed in time; but Awareness, the very basis of time, is beyond the realm of time. Further, because Awareness is formless, it cannot be destroyed by dividing it into parts. An object can be destroyed, but Awareness is the subject to the basis of everything. Thus all agents of destruction are incapable of destroying I-Awareness. Lord Krishna says in verses 2.23-24, "Weapons cannot cut it; fire cannot burn it; water cannot wet it; even wind cannot dry it. It is not subject to being cut, burned, wet or dried. It, is beyond time, all-pervasive, Immovable, and immutable." In sleep, neither time nor space, nor the mind (which objectifies the world) exists; but I exist in and through waking, dream, and sleep. Therefore I am not circumscribed by space or time: I am sarvagata, all-pervasive and nitya, free from the limitation of time. In Awareness are space and time, and in time-space alone is the whole creation. Therefore, I am free from all limitations. Talking about Awareness, Lord Krishna says in verse 2.25: "This is not manifest (cannot be perceived), nor can this be thought of (as one thinks of an object); not subject to mutation either (because it is not born). Therefore knowing this Awareness to be thus you have no cause or grief." Eternity is a concept that is timeless, because anything that is material must change with time, but eternity is unaffected by time, and I, awareness is beyond time and hence not subject to death. Therefore, Lord Krishna says in verse 2.21, killing or causing others to be killed is totally immaterial to the one who knows this Self to be indestructible, eternal, unborn, and not subject to decline

The Self is the reason for awareness of your emotions, your thoughts, and all the objects of the world. Happiness is manifest only in a satisfied mind, a mind that desires nothing, because the Self is the source of happiness. Verse 2.55 states that "when one completely renounces all the desires entertained by the mind, satisfied in the Self, by the Self, one is called a person of steady wisdom." The one who recognizes that the Self is sat-cit-ananda - existence, Awareness, and ful1ness is wise. That person is cal1ed sthitaprajna, well rooted in wisdom. The one into whom al1 desires enter, as waters flow into the ocean, which remains unchanged and ever full, that one gains peace, and not the one who desires objects (verse 2.70). Verse 2.71 states, `having given up al1 desires, the man who moves about without attachment, who has no thought of ''I'' or "my", gains peace." In the next verse the Lord goes on to state that; with limitless space, you will no longer feel limited. This knowledge is cal1ed here the Brahmi state, a state of Brahman,

In verse 2.47, Krishna states that "Work alone is your privilege, never its results." Many interpreters take this to mean that one should perform action without expecting a result, but no one performs action without expecting some result. This verse really means that you have a choice in your action, but never in the results. The results of action are governed by physical laws. It is through His laws that one gets a particular result.

If the Brahman associated with Maya is the cause of everything, how is it that everyone is not similar? When the cause is One, why should the effects be varied? The body-mind complex of a human being is nothing but Prakriti, matter, vivified by caitanya, consciousness. Prakriti and Caitanya being the same in everyone why should one person be contemplative, another ambitious, and a third dull? The fourteenth chapter, called Gunatraya-vibhaga-yoga accounts for these differences. All the constituents of creation can be classified into three categories called gunas (qualities): sattva, related to knowledge; rajas related to activity; and tamas, related to inactivity. So that everything that comes from Prakriti including the psychological disposition of a given individual is characterized by these three gunas. The Lord says that everyone is a mixture of these three gunas, but the predominance of one guna over the other accounts for the dissimilarities observed among people.

1. Modern Indian Interpreters of the Bhagavad-gita (SUNY Series in Religious Studies)
2. The Philosophy of the Bhagavad-Gita
3. Philosophy of the Gita (American University Studies Series V, Philosophy)
4. The Philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita

Radio Shangri-La: What I Learned in the Happiest Kingdom on Earth
Radio Shangri-La: What I Learned in the Happiest Kingdom on Earth
by Lisa Napoli
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating story of one woman's journey into the land of happiness, 4 Feb. 2011
This is a fascinating story of one woman's journey into the remote Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan which ranks the highest in Gross National happiness (GNH) in the world. Happiness is measured differently by different people but if you are looking for a very simple life in a Buddhist culture remote from most forms of civilization, then this tiny nation surrounded by Himalayan mountains would be your choice, says the author. She describes her encounters with local people, the culture, and the friendship she made during her stay and the impact it had on her spiritual and personal life.

This spiritual little kingdom is endowed with richness of rolling hills punctuated by spectacular mountains, vast expanses of meticulously terraced land and the clearest river rushing through, interrupted only occasionally by a cluster of unusual-looking houses. Within an array, a tiny store, marked by a simple blue sign bearing white hand written letters, provided a hint of commerce.

The author describing her experience in assisting with a newly formed radio station called "Kuzoo FM," she recalls the most fascinating aspect of her experi¨ence was the quality that endeared to its audience above all others was that listeners were allowed, even encouraged to participate on-air. Besides making dedications, they could sing songs and talk to friendly radio jockeys. Or ask questions about Buddhism on a weekly show called Dharma Bites, which was hosted by two young self-styled evangelists, who saw the power of the medium to educate and per¨suade the fellow citizens. The excitement wasn't just because media in Bhutan hadn't been interactive before. For generations, the tiny, landlocked Himalayan kingdom had practically no media at all, and very little in the way of modern communication. It had been literally sealed off from the rest of the world, and virtually sequestered too. TV had long been outlawed. Recently this tiny Buddhist kingdom was very much in news because the local police were raiding homes to stub out smoking habits. The Bhutan's Narcotic Control Agency and their tobacco sniffing dogs were in full swing since the sale and use of tobacco is banned in the country.

The author narrates her story in a simple and lucid manner that many readers find themselves attracted to the simplicity of Bhutanese life. The book is very engaging and well written; highly recommended.

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