May 29

Princeton Bhakti Vedanta Institute Report – April 21, 2018

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Time and Immortality

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“Material existence means we are part of the world of reflection, and thus necessarily part of the original world that is the source of the reflection. When you look in the mirror you see your own reflection but the left and right sides are reversed. You will see the left side of your body on the right side in the mirror and the right side of your body on the left side of the mirror reflection. If you hold your right hand up to the mirror it will appear as if your left hand is in the reflection,” Sripad Puri Maharaja continued, “ It is said that when you look at objects in the world, light comes through the lens of the eye, and an image appears inverted on the retina, yet we see it up straight because it is not the eyes that see, the mind is also involved and it flips things around because that’s the way we want to see things. We see things the way we think they should be, not just the way it appears on the back of the retina. Perception scientists did some experiments where they put glasses on people that would make the world appear upside down through those lenses so that the image at the back of the retina is up straight. Then after they wear these glasses for a while the mind flips the whole thing so that everything appears up straight again. This indicates that it is not merely the image on the retina that is causing some mechanical stimulation in the brain, but the mind is interpreting the stimulation indicating that intention or will is involved in seeing. It is also known that if a person who is born blind due to some physiological defect, when surgery is used to correct that defect the person is still not immediately able to see but has to learn how to see, how to interpret the stimulations of the eye. This indicates that the mind plays an important role in sense perception.”

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May 14

Science and the Rise of Science Supremacists

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We have zero tolerance for supremacists of any type and the hate speech that they generate.

We remind and request all to follow the one rule of humility, tolerance and respect when addressing one another, even in the case of complete disagreements. It is what makes it possible for us all to consider a wide diversity of viewpoints urbanely without the dialog becoming acrimonious. We do not think this rule is beyond the ability of intelligent ladies and gentlemen to observe.

One may make the case that the major problem in the world today, certainly in the USA, is extremism and its consequent polarization of society. What lies at the root of that type of mentality and how did it develop? The question is often asked: why are we suffering? An answer may come from the Greek tragic play of Sophocles’ Antigone, which may be paraphrased – “We suffer because we have erred.”

Today’s scientists, mathematicians and other professionals might not be expected to recognize where that line comes from and the great significance it has maintained in human culture for millennia. Historians tell us it was composed by Sophocles almost 500 years before the historical appearance of Christ. Why has it endured and been so highly respected by scholars, the learned and other members of society for so long?

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Apr 27

Princeton Bhakti Vedanta Institute Report – April 7, 2018

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Abhiram Thakur’s Disappearanc. Sri Guru and His Grace

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“Why is it that they say you have to approach a living guru in the sense that you just cannot read the words or hear the lectures?” Bhakta Mike asked. “Because it is not just the words or the text or the sound. We want the living experience of what we read or hear and conceive in our own subjectivity. If we can do everything on our own then why are there so many educational institutions? We accept learning from a teacher about so many practical matters, yet when it comes to religion and philosophy everyone thinks the only qualification necessary to be an expert is a birth certificate. But just because everyone has a foot does not make them automatically expert shoemakers. Of course, guru is not an ordinary teacher. Krishna says,’ know that I am the guru.’ If we are actually seeking Krishna and realize that Krishna is coming to us in the form of guru then there should be no difficulty accepting guru.”

“Why can’t that transmission go through the recordings of their voices, through their words in the books? Bhakta Mike followed-up with. “Yes, their teachings do come to us through books and recordings, but they are passive teachers. We can examine them, but they can’t examine us. Do we think ourselves so perfect that we are not capable of misconception? We may need someone more expert than ourselves or with a different viewpoint than our own to confirm, improve or correct our personal understanding. Most importantly of all, guru is there to chastise us and break the false egoism of independence that is the fundamental root that binds us to the material conception of life. This may not happen with book learning. Rather it may even help foster our false sense of independence and lead us to think we know everything simply by our own prowess without surrender that stands at the threshold of the spiritual world,” Sripad Puri Maharaja responded.

“Srila Siddantha Saraswati Thakur said that Mayavadis can’t chant the Holy Name just like you can’t taste the honey in a bottle by simply licking the bottle. They think they are tasting the Holy Name but you have to receive that connection from to be able to taste the honey in the bottle. It is a heart transaction, from the heart of the guru to the heart of the sincere seekers – the disciples,” Rasaraja das Prabhu interjected.

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Apr 15

Princeton Bhakti Vedanta Institute Report – March 24, 2018

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Rama Navami

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Sripad Puri Maharaja began the disucssion by asking our guests if they had
ever heard of Sri Ram? “He appeared millions of years ago in Treta Yuga in
Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh), India. Some think He appeared only 5000 years
ago, but there is scriptural support that it was much more than that. There
are four yugas (Satya, Treta, Dwarpa and Kali yuga) which are like the
eras/seasons of the universe. We are presently in Kali-yuga which is like the
winter of the universe in which everything is in decay. Today’s scientists
claim that 13.8 billion years ago the universe was created from a big bang.
They have difficulty accepting that during Rama’s era there was an
advanced human civilization in which Ram appeared as an incarnation of
Krishna,” Sripad Puri Maharaja said. “Sri Ram was a perfect king. He is
known as ‘Maryada Purushottama,’ which means a person of superlative
character. Everything in His kingdom was being conducted according to
the laws of dharma (religion).”

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Dec 25

Princeton Bhakti Vedanta Institute Report – November 25, 2017

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Dharma, War, and Love

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“What is the significance of women in relationship to dharma? If we think
about the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, both of these involved war
– and what was the cause of those wars?” Sripad Puri Maharaja asked.
“Greed and dharma,” Shoba responded. “Yes, both involved dharma but
in the case of the Ramayana, it was Sitadevi whose chastity was being
provoked by Ravana (demon) and in the case of the Mahabharata, it was
Draupadi whose sanctity was being violated by the Kuruvas. What is the
connection of the sanctity and chastity of women with dharma?” Sripad
Puri Maharaja asked then responded that “These are attributes of lust
(exploitation) that are opposed to love (devotion) that is the principle of
dharma. Exploitation, activities of self-centered lust, drag us away from
our dharma, so those tendencies have to be fought. This is the cause of
war in the defense of dharma, as is being illustrated in the epics of India.”

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