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Trying to find peace among devotees again

Lately I’ve been trying to get back into devotional service again, but I’m finding many obstacles that I will need to overcome. A major portion of this is figuring out how to get along with devotees, because I still feel that it was problems with devotees that pushed me out.

Another big issue I struggle with relates to gurus. Mostly it was problems with gurus that made life in ISKCON impossible for me. I saw gurus breaking ISKCON Law in a variety of ways, and my confronting this made me someone whom devotees did not want around. That gave me such pain that I am still trying to get over it more than seven years later.

I remember it being announced (in 2007?) by our local GBC, a guru himself, that the temple bylaws were being changed (in a way that I thought Srila Prabhupada said they should not be) to protect the temples from takeover by the “rtviks,” who he said (twice) were “enemies of ISKCON.” I remember then thinking that if someone is said to be my enemy, then I have a responsibility to understand their point of view before accepting that. So I did, and I found their view had merit. However I had problems with them too. They were hurt a lot too, and it’s difficult to get along with hurt people.

Since I’m not a Krishna conscious person, I can’t definitively say what’s right or wrong in the process. I can say what makes sense based on what I know from Srila Prabhupada’s writing and speaking, and I can say what seems honest to me and what doesn’t.

This morning I saw a short blog series called “Diksa or Rtvik,” by Danavir Gosvami, and unfortunately it seems very biased to me to the point where I it’s hard not to call it dishonest. I wanted to comment there, but to do so requires creating an account, and I’m so fallen from devotional service that I’m not even sure what name to use, so for now I’ll write here.

Danavir’s post begins as follows:

“What has been the standard system of initiation (diksa) conducted throughout the ages in all bonafide Vaisnava sampradayas, today we neophyte American devotees desire to change.

““That is your American disease. This is very serious that you always want to change everything.” — Srila Prabhupada”

www.oneiskcon.com/2013/03/06/diksa-or-ritvik-part-one

I never saw the “rtvik” view as a change proposed by neophyte American devotees. My review of the history indicated that Srila Prabhupada instituted a system of initiations that incorporated rtviks, and that he never said to end it. The GBC changed it despite a general order to change nothing. Changing something back to what it was before an illegitimate change isn’t an ordinary change, and portraying it as such seems dishonest to me. If one somehow finds oneself driving on the wrong side of the road, that is not the proper time to emphasize the rule against crossing the double yellow lines. One must cross to get back to the correct side.

To me this doesn’t mean “no gurus.” We all know Srila Prabhupada wanted regular diksa gurus, and I see this “Diksa or Rtvik” concept as a false dilemma. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma If a guru has ten disciples and says “I want my disciples to preach East, and I want my disciples to preach West,” and then passes away, should his disciples argue over whether he wants East or West? The order is for both. It doesn’t mean two disciples go East, three go West, and the other five fight each other and go nowhere, which is a tragedy that seems to be what’s happening now.

“In effect, eliminating the diksa guru is tantamount to spiritual abortion.”

I have no idea how Danavir considers continuing the initiation system Srila Prabhupada instituted to be eliminating the diksa guru. Obviously Srila Prabhupada would be the diksa guru. Later Danavir says it prevents the year-long examination of the disciple and guru, but I always thought the July 9 letter gave full authority to rtviks to do that. It’s easy enough for an aspiring disciple to examine Srila Prabhupada by studying his books and the other products of his work.

Danavir makes the point in Part 2 of his essay that the initiation method facilitated by rtviks denies Srila Prabhupada the choice to reject aspiring disciples. The absurdity of this argument is astonishing to me. As I said in the previous paragraph, I always thought the July 9 letter authorized the rtviks to accept disciples on his behalf, and when I read it again, it says the same thing:

In the past Temple Presidents have written to Srila Prabhupada recommending a particular devotee’s initiation. Now that Srila Prabhupada has named these representatives, Temple Presidents may henceforward send recommendation for first and second initiation to whichever of these eleven representatives are nearest their temple. After considering the recommendation, these representatives may accept the devotee as an initiated disciple of Srila Prabhupada by giving a spiritual name, or in the case of second initiation, by chanting on the Gayatri thread, just as Srila Prabhupada has done.

That’s what it says. The bold and italics are my emphasis.

Danavir’s argument is hypocritical and seems disingenuous, because his position denies Srila Prabhupada his choice to accept disciples through the institutional mechanism he created, as if Srila Prabhupada’s mood was to reject aspiring disciples. Maybe Danavir is mixing up Srila Prabhupada with Gaur Kishore Das Babaji.

Danavir ends his Part 2 with a familiar argument that I always found easy to refute:

If it were so easy to jump up the ladder and become the direct disciple of Srila Prabhupada, then why couldn’t one just as easily double jump up to become Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati’s direct disciple. Going a bit further one might eventually imagine proceeding directly to the Lord Himself without the need of intermediate gurus.

We would not be talking about this if Srila Prabhpada had not created a system for accepting disciples in his absence, without asking his permission each time, by employing rtviks. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati did not do that, nor did anyone else as far as I know. However it’s a clear historical fact that Srila Prabhupada did. After his disappearance, the GBC scrapped that so the rtvik-acaryas could become zonal acaryas, and they concealed the real facts. Later the facts emerged, and many disciples wanted to reinstate Srila Prabhupada’s system. The GBC’s refusal to accept it is a problem that has caused ISKCON to splinter and become quite insignificant to the world. How can devotees present a solution to the world’s problems if they can’t even stop fighting among themselves?

Srila Prabhupada wanted his disciples to become qualified initiating gurus, but he also created an initiation mechanism to allow him to accept disciples through the institution. How can a disciple dare to destroy what the Founder-Acarya has created, when there is no order to do so? If an aspiring devotee primarily has faith in Srila Prabhupada, then why force the devotee to put his complete faith in someone else? It’s unnatural. On the other hand, if another qualified devotee is the primary inspiration for an aspiring devotee, and that qualified devotee wants to accept the disciple, then it also is natural. These two systems do not have to interfere with each other, but can unite everyone under the ISKCON banner. All that is required is for the GBC to accept it, and I really wish they would, so we can end this stupid enmity between devotees and work together instead of criticizing each other so much. Please. Hare Krsna.

I also want to offer my humble obeisances to HH Danavir Gosvami. I wish I could have kirtan with him again. It’s been a long time since I have had the opportunity for such a joyful occasion because of conflicts like this which just seem unnecessary to me for the reasons described in this blog.

9 comments to Trying to find peace among devotees again

  • Corey

    I’ve read your new blog posts because I’ve found that you were pretty much one of the very very few people I met in ISKCON who had any real honesty, integrity, intelligence, or sincerity, and your present situation mirrors a lot of what mine is too. I’ve also completely disgusted with ISKCON and the “devotees”.

    I do not think I will ever be a part of a religious organization again, especially ISKCON. Over the course of the 5 years that I was actively associated with ISKCON devotees, I can say that 98 percent of the people I met in ISKCON were either dishonest, unintelligent, criminals, sick, or just outright evil people. I’ve been screwed over in so many ways by these evil pieces of shit that call themselves “devotees”, with the most recent case being of a group of indian devotees who actually tried to extort a large amount of money from me, and when I refused, they threatened to call the police on me.

    Now, the question begs. If 99 percent of the people who worship Krishna are sick, evil, screwed up people, then what does that tell you about the religion?

    I’ve read Prabhupada’s books fully, as I am pretty sure you have too, and I do not understand how such a high level philosophy can attract such low class, scumbag types of people.

    And what about Krishna? What kind of sick fucking evil god just sits there and does nothing and allows children to be molested, especially “devotee children”? That is not a kind of god that I want anything to do with.

    So your situation is bad because a few devotees criticized you and ostracized you from their cult community? I’ve had these sick fucking devotees threaten to murder me, try to extort money from me, threaten to beat me, make up completely false slanderous accusations about me, and so on. I am not making light of your situation but dude, I REALLY got fucked over pretty bad. And Krishna controls everything, right? Both you and I just wanted to be sincere devotees. And Krishna allowed us both to get completely burned out, while he allows the criminal pedophile guru club to go on? Fuck you, Krishna. I mean really, fuck you.

  • Corey,
     
    It’s always nice to hear from an old friend.   I can relate to your expressed feelings about my recent writing here. 
     
    I remember when the “last straw” came upon me in 2010, and I just couldn’t take it anymore.  I felt I had given my best to become Krishna conscious, but failed.  All I could see was problems with the Hare Krishna movement, and I was completely alienated.  I remember when my ten-year mark for chanting Hare Krishna came, I was fighting with my guru because he had told me a little lie, apparently to cover up the fact that there was a conspiracy operating to get me impeached from the Gita-nagari community board.  By all material considerations, I was acting according to dharma but was being abused by devotees because of it.  Somehow I kept my faith and continued believing in Krsna for five more years.  Then I went from 16 rounds a day to zero and haven’t chanted a single round since (I’ve been thinking about it).
     
    At first it was in protest.  I wanted Krsna to see how upset I was.  I considered having been taught that studying mayavada philosophy would be the most offensive to Him, so I did that.  I already studied mayavada philosophy for years before finding out about Krishna, so I just went back to that.  From there I got into material science, and atheist philosophy.  I have a science degree (Environmental Studies, B.S.), so this was familiar too.  I had cut off all my devotee friends and acquaintances and made friends with atheists instead.  I started watching videos of prominent atheists speaking and used their arguments to help me forget Krishna.  That’s what I wanted, to forget Krishna rather than continue suffering feeling rejected by Him.
     
    It was going fairly well for a while.  It took me a year to quiet the constant chanting of Hare Krishna in my mind, but then I felt what I guess is normal for most people for a year or so.  One day I “discovered” Christopher Hitchens and spent much of the day watching his recorded speeches and debates.  The next day the news said he had died the same day I had been watching him so much.  It’s an obvious coincidence, but none the less, it made me remember Krsna for the first time in a while, and the feeling began to nag me.  I considered how the atheists all mostly argue against Christianity, sometimes Islam, and also sometimes Judaism.   They seemed to consider Hinduism just weird, and didn’t mind Buddhism too much, but I couldn’t find anyone who could critique Vedanta, either the Vaisnava or Advaita schools.  In two years, I couldn’t find even one atheist who could speak about Vedanta at all.
     
    I thought that would not do.  Their philosophy was weak, so I took the “devil’s advocate” position and presented Vedic arguments, but nobody could counter them.  Since they were atheists, it seemed appropriate to present Vaisnava arguments, but I didn’t find their attempts to counter it persuasive.  Moreover, they did not seem to be honest.  One day someone would say “There is no evidence for God,” and in response I would explain how the Vedas are evidence of God, for example, the fact (and ways) that the Sanskrit language is perfectly crafted despite being so old, and that this should spark the curiosity for studying them and finding the further knowledge contained therein.  I presented mundane facts from the Vedas such as pi encoded to 31 decimal places in verse praising Krsna, and an accurate representation of the speed of light mentioned in a 14th century commentary on Rg Veda.  None the less, a week later I would find the same person saying there is no evidence for God.  I posed a question in an atheist forum asking hypothetically what evidence for God would any reasonable atheist have to accept, and not even one response came other than someone saying it was a good question.  Eventually I realized that the atheists simply did not want to believe in God.
     
    That fit with what I had learned of Krishna consciousness.  It fit my belief that Krsna only allows people to approach Him if they have no other desire.  Although intellectually I know I want to serve Krsna, I also am aware that I have other desires that are usually more prominent.
     
    I do not think dealing with Krsna is like dealing with an ordinary person.  Krsna has His own way of doing things which may not make sense from a material perspective.  I don’t actually understand it in full, but it does seem like attraction to Krsna brings one closer to Krsna, and attraction to maya puts one in maya.  That’s the basic Vedic philosophy as I know it.  I remember reading that Yuddhisthira’s reluctance to lie when ordered by Krsna was a fault on his part, so I am warned that mundane morality isn’t the consideration in Krishna consciousness.  Whatever pleases Krishna is considered good, and what is done for some other purpose is considered bad.  I remember that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada appreciated seeing blaspheme against Krishna in the newspapers because it was mention of Krishna.  There seems to be an esoteric principle at work with that.
     
    I considered that I have not been content since I was actively trying to serve Krishna.  It’s not that I never felt happy, because I have a nice life in many ways, but something always felt not quite right.  Maybe it was like how one would feel in a dream finding oneself married to a pretty lady who is a different woman from one’s wife while awake.  She may be pretty and loveable, but is not the right person.  Not feeling love for Krsna in my heart was a noticeable hole that nothing else could fill. 
     
    The thing that always troubled me about my criticism of devotees, for whatever reason, was that they almost (?) always had a better sadhana than I did.  They almost (?) always had more elevated service, or were more dedicated than me in practical service.  They had done a better job than me of molding their lives around Krishna, and while I was criticizing and becoming more removed from Krishna consciousness, they were practically unaffected by it.  By mundane standards I may have been right, and in fact I can’t figure out how I could have been wrong by material standards, from the perspective of Krishna consciousness it was hard to avoid concluding that I was wrong.  Just as two people can argue who is stronger but the question can actually be settled by a physical contest, similarly I can understand that in a dispute in matters of Krishna consciousness, the person who is wrong will become covered by maya while the one who is right will continue advancing toward Krishna. 
     
    I have a faint memory of tasting Krishna consciousness once and a mental note that it is the best there is in life.  I understand the science of Krishna consciousness to be transcendental, which material science cannot touch.  I expect material intelligence to lead everyone away from Krishna.  However despite my materialist intelligence, I feel life without Krishna is empty.  I have a wife and children whom I love, but how can I protect them from the pains of life and eventual destruction?  I only know Krishna consciousness as the solution.  I don’t believe any other process of religion, but I believe deeply in Krishna consciousness and chanting Hare Krishna, enough that I cannot give it up despite trying to do so.   I am so far out of it now, with all my devotional habits broken and seeing so many problems among devotees, that I don’t know how I can make it work, but I have to try again anyway.  Having once gotten a sense of transcendence, it does not appear that I can be satisfied forgetting about it or pretending there is no transcendental reality.  However I feel about Krishna from time to time, I just don’t want to forget Him again, and someday I hope that my behavior will be worthy of Krsna’s protection.

  • Corey

    You’ve raised a lot of good points.

    I also stopped chanting in protest, that why should I worship a God that allows all of this bad stuff to happen?

    I also started hanging out with an old friend when I went back to America in 2009, and he gave me the God Delusion book by Mr. Dawkins. I read it and remember him saying in the introduction that this was basically a refutation against the 3 western religions. He didn’t really have any beef with Hinduism, much less understand it. So I read the first few chapters and just gave up on the book, as it made no sense from a Vedic point of view. He was just refuting the childish arguments of the western religions.

    Then around that time, I started realizing that I don’t need to “search” for a guru as I already had one. I remember seeing on your website the interview between Gaurahari (another complete asshole who I actually met in INdia and turned out to be a total sahajiya, and constantly changing his philosophy- one day he’s ritvik, next day he’s a christian, next day he’s promoting bogus gurus like Radhanath, next day he’s an “avadhuta”, etc. The guy is a real asshole when you get to know him) and that older Prabhupada disciple from San Francisco, I can’t even remember his name anymore. So I started promoting ritvik for about a year, and what did I get in return for such service? I got death threats from a few psychotics, I got people making up false slander about me, and so on.

    So I gave all that up and said “it isn’t my duty to try to ‘fix’ ISKCON. It’s a broken cult, and it’s Krishna’s responsibility to fix it, since he is the controller, right?”

    Then went back to India and associated with the ISKCON Bangalore temple there. I found them to be quite nice people, but still less than satisfying. Indians have this anti-western mentality, which I do not disagree with, but it is still disturbing to see people who claim to believe in a philosophy that “you’re not your body” still identifying so strongly with their race. Indians are pretty much the most racist people on earth and there is no way to change them. Indian men, not all, of course, but the majority of men in India are also very disgusting people. Remember, India is the rape capitol of the world. That about explains the mentality of indian men in a nutshell. Rather than appreciate what good women they have, they exploit, abuse, and rape them and do not give a damn about their actions.

    “The thing that always troubled me about my criticism of devotees, for whatever reason, was that they almost (?) always had a better sadhana than I did. They almost (?) always had more elevated service, or were more dedicated than me in practical service. ”

    What kind of “sadhana” or “service” are they doing if they are offering it to conditioned souls? I remember one thing that Bhaktisiddhanta said “You cannot give up anarthas without understanding the siddhanta, the philosophy”. Clearly, anyone who is worshipping conditioned souls as their gurus does NOT have a clear understanding of the philosophy. And even if they do, then that means they have COMPROMISED that standard just so that they can “fit in” with the cult.

    So what’s the use of chanting thousands of rounds if you are worshipping a guy like Bhavananda, who molested many devotees and children? You may be offering “service” to him, but is that service really going to save you? What about the people who offered service to Hitler? Cooking for him, washing his clothes, etc. Are they going to get liberated too? Just for washing some guy’s clothes and cooking for him and worshipping his picture?

    You also understand, that the psychopaths who are posing themselves as gurus (think about what kind of lunatic you have to be to actually believe that you are “god’s living representative” on earth), they are putting on a SHOW. They put on a show of devotional service, chanting, etc. All of it means nothing. They are not sincere, or honest people. Remember the story from the Bible about that arrogant and pompous rich man who went into the temple and made a big show of donating thousands of coins to the church? And then remember the old woman who only gave one coin, but that one coin was all she had? Who was God more pleased with?

    The most important thing is maintaining a purity of heart- maintaining one’s honesty, integrity, character, intelligence, and sincerity. If an ATHEIST is actually SINCERE in his beliefs, I think God would be far more pleased with that atheist than he is with some big big “devotee” “guru” like Jayapataka, who goes around shouting “GOURANGA!” and putting on a huge show, with thousands of disciples.

    Yes, I also am in the same position, once you have understood the Vedic philosophy, there’s really no where else to go. But you keep talking about “making peace with devotees” and indirectly suggesting that you are trying to get back into association with ISKCON. That is the mistake that I hope to God that I will never make again. If you want to be Krishna conscious, you can do that in your own home- chanting, reading, or whatever. You do not require a big temple, a bunch of bogus devotees, or any of these bogus conditioned soul gurus. At the same time, I am afraid to ever get back into “devotional service”, considering what has happened the many times I have tried. So to put it plainly, I have no desire to chant or to do any sadhana, because I don’t want to become a brainwashed cult member again. Haven’t you ever noticed how blindly fanatical people get when they do all this sadhana? How insensitive they get? Now that I no longer chant or do any of this bullshit, I feel 1000 times more balanced, sane, stable, and generally a much nicer person. If chanting and sadhana is so good, why does it have the tendency to turn people into insane, insensitive fanatics? So no, I am too afraid to get back into Krishna consciousness because I do not want to again turn into some brainwashed fanatic.

    You and I both had such great faith in Prabhupada, so it is quite painful to ask these questions. But why is it that the majority of his followers are such assholes? Remember, Prabhupada painted the world in very black and white conditions. You’re either a devotee or a demon.

    Really? Because I found that the majority of these “devotees” actually fit the definition of a demon. And I’ve also found that the majority of nondevotees are actually pretty nice people. Imagine my shock when I figured out that most karmis have a much greater sense of morality, integrity, and honesty than any of these “devotees”, who pay lip service to such qualities? I am not trying to criticize Prabhupada but it’s kind of hard to ignore the fact that the majority of his followers are extremely unbalanced, unhealthy people. Is it perhaps a possibility that Prabhupada was not as absolute as we once believed him to be?

    So yes, even though I have not found any refutation of the Vedic philosophy, I am far too afraid to even consider getting back into all of the chanting and sadhana, for fear of the kind of person it will turn me into. I thought chanting and all that was supposed to turn one into a soft hearted devotee. Why then does it turn most people into hard hearted evil people? People that become willing to even worship pedophiles and criminals as their gurus and saviors?

    Remember, if you point out to a common man “Hey, is it acceptable to worship criminals as your guru?”, the common man will immediately say NO, that is wrong. It then appears that the average man has a far greater sense of integrity and morality than the average “devotee”.

    Prabhupada painted the world in such blatant black and white points, and I think that may be part of the confusion you and I are undergoing.

    Either way, I don’t think God is as judgemental as what Prabhupada or these fanatical devotees paint him to be. God sees what is in your heart. I believe he is unconditionally compassionate. He’s not just going to damn someone to hell forever because they stopped chanting.

    I’ve met a few gurukulis over the past few years and found them to be amazing people. They are very humble, very nice, really sincere hearted people. And they do not have any tinges of the unhealthy fanatacism of ISKCON. Some of them kept long hair, some of them smoked pot, some of them had sex with women (god forbid), but they were actually quite pure hearted people. What I am trying to say is, I do not think God judges us as harshly as god’s “living representatives” like these bogus gurus or their disciples do. Also, most of those gurukulis I met, they don’t chant or do any sadhana. But they are actually NICE PEOPLE. They actually have a sense of morality that they are not willing to compromise. Remember back in ISKCON, some devotees were actually saying “It’s okay to cheat karmis because they are just demons anyway”? Yep, such “spiritually advanced” people, LOL.

    So once again, what is the use in your chanting if you are a guy like Bhavananda, who chants in morning kirtan, and then right after the kirtan takes a male disciple into a backroom and has anal sex with him? All while posing yourself as a guru? Who do you think God will punish more harshly? The average man who may eat meat, drink alcohol, have sex with prostitutes, or a man who is posing himself as a guru and MISLEADING others, and doing all of these sins at the same time?

    I think yours and mine anger towards Krishna is justified. What kind of God punishes his sincere devotees while allowing criminals to promote themselves as gurus and devotees? Or here is perhaps another option. Perhaps it was God’s MERCY to drive guys like you and me out from the association of such a nest of vipers.

    I share your feeling of hopelessness, that there doesn’t seem to be much hope for spiritual advancement in this lifetime. It’s very hard to be Krishna conscious outside of the association of devotees, but then it is impossible to find any real or bonafide devotees to associate with. Krishna has created a catch-22, but it is our fault? From reading your messages, it sounds like you are still blaming yourself for what has happened. You are blaming yourself for actually being an honest man who is not willing to compromise his moral standards, his integrity? You’re an ‘offender’? And child molesters and criminals like these bogus gurus aren’t?

    I noticed you mention you are still reading devotee websites. That is one thing that has helped me, is that I blocked all of those sites and do not read them anymore. I’m basically just trying to forget about the many painful experiences I had in ISKCON and with “devotees”. Everytime I tried associating with them again, I got burned one way or another. Maybe God is trying to send me a message? Maybe that message is “Stay the fuck away from ISKCON”. I am thankful that I finally understood that message and will not be making the same mistake ever again (of associating with ISKCON or with the bogus devotees and cult). But I would also strongly protest against anyone saying “You are a fallen devotee”. Oh, and the guys who are running ISKCON aren’t? The leaders of ISKCON who have kicked out tens of thousands of sincere devotees and destroyed their spiritual lives. Those leaders, they AREN’T “fallen” just because they put on some small show of chanting? Guys like you and me are the unfortunate and innocent victims of the real DEMONS, the leaders and “gurus” of ISKCON. There is no group of people MORE evil and demoniac than ISKCON’s gurus/leaders. Even the Catholic priests who molest children, at least they don’t present themselves as pure devotees. Do you get what I am saying? The MOST FALLEN AND EVIL people on this planet are ISKCON’s leaders/gurus. You will not find any type or group of person MORE evil than they. Even a normal pedophile doesn’t promote himself as a pure devotee, and so they are actually more advanced than ISKCON’s gurus/leaders.

    Now anyone who is part of the guru cult, like Danavir, and ALLOWING themselves to be worshipped as a guru, is promoting himself as a pure devotee. Vedas say pretty clearly that only a pure devotee can be a real guru. I believe that THIS is the one offense that God cannot tolerate. To promote yourself as a pure devotee and LEAD OTHERS INTO HELL.

    So basically, the picture you are trying to paint, that “ISKCON and the gurus are not fallen, while sincere and honest guys like you and me ARE”, is not correct. The darkest of hells is awaiting these bogus gurus (and Isopanisad says that their disciples who follow them will also go to hell).

    Let’s just keep trying to be honest men of integrity, because THAT is what the world really needs more of right now. Maybe one day we’ll both receive new spiritual direction in our lives, maybe not. But what we should definitely NOT do is compromise our moral standards, our sense of honor and integrity, and go join some sick pedophile cult.

  •  
     
     
    Why does Krsna allow bad things to happen to good people?  http://vedabase.net/bg/5/15/en  Srila Prabhupada taught that it’s the choice of each soul to associate with material nature, and that the suffering of aspiring devotees should be taken as a “summary” of one’s store of reactions to their own prior activities.
     
    Actually it’s not our duty to fix ISKCON.  Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhupada said “the world doesn’t need any reformer.”  It’s each of us who needs to reform ourselves to achieve permanent happiness. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said His guru told Him, “‘In this Age of Kali there is no religious principle other than the chanting of the holy name, which is the essence of all Vedic hymns. This is the purport of all scriptures.’”  So reforming ISKCON isn’t a religious principle.  Apparently it’s my job to reform myself, and let Krishna worry about ISKCON if He wants.  Nobody asked me, and presumably not you either, to reform ISKCON.
     
    None the less, if one cannot resist trying to reform ISKCON, then what use is it to leave?  People in ISKCON care little about how outsiders think ISKCON should be run.  It’s an illogical position.  If I think there I should reform ISKCON, then I can only seriously try from within.  If I don’t care about reforming ISKCON, then the association of other Hare Krishna chanters provides encouragement to always chant Krishna’s names alone and with other devotees. 
     
    I don’t think of devotional service in terms of offering it to conditioned souls.  Gurus, other than Srila Prabhupada, don’t seem to have helped me, so I don’t rely on them and just try to serve Krishna. If a guru is a cheater, then he’s only cheating himself.  Krishna sees it. If the disciple trying to please Krsna and is offering his activities to Krishna and is otherwise not interested in the results, then he is situated in spiritual life. 
     
    Are you happily engaged in serving a pure devotee now?  If not, then how is serving a typical atheistic businessman an improvement over serving under a perhaps less-than-pure devotee?  
     
    One thing I noticed upon leaving ISKCON was that regular people are still almost all meat eaters, but devotees are practically all vegetarians.  I quit eating meat based on environmental science without knowing the Hare Krishna movement existed.  It’s been more than forty years since the environmental movement was informed of the devastating consequences of meat eating by several billions of people, but regular people seem unable to give up meat even to save the planet.  As an environmental scientist, I recognized the lacto-vegetarian diet to be the best diet (though Krsna prasadam is better). However, other than devotees, almost nobody is vegetarian.  Vegans are almost all atheists unless they are devotees. Those who do care about animals and the environment are most often vegans who disparage vegetarians and thereby discourage meat eaters from giving up meat.  Veganism looks to me more about pride than taking a thoughtful approach to managing the planet.  The point here is that devotees almost all have a diet that is scientifically the best in the world, while others are really harming global ecology with how they eat.
     
    So you’re not chanting anymore or interested in devotional service, and now you feel better.  (I just recently began to try a little japa again after quitting for over 2.5 years.) Yet you indicated some belief in Krishna and a hope that you will be recognized for your past service.  I felt that too when I was trying to be an atheist.  I was trying to not believe in Krishna, but also hoping He would forgive me or recognize my great attempts to serve Him.  It’s contradictory.  Serving one’s senses produces attraction to the sense objects, which perpetuates material existence.  Krishna won’t likely rush to save us if we act like don’t want to be saved.
     
    I’m also afraid about surrender and devotional service, but mostly because I think it will be difficult to give up my bad habits and false pride, and it may sometimes conflict with wanting to enjoy my senses.  I think I can chant without becoming a jerk though.  About being hard-hearted, again the question of unnecessarily killing animals for meat comes to mind, and a society of vegetarians offering food to Krishna, whether one’s guru is pure or not, seems like an improvement.
     
    Last night (Wednesday) and this morning I watched a video about book distribution, and I didn’t especially like the indirect approaches that devotees often make, but the opportunity for me to become the next big book distributor through straight-forward preaching always exists if I have the courage and conviction to do it.  My own work is my own account and will be recognized by Krishna.  He says in the Bhagavad-gita that assuming another’s duty is dangerous.  I understand now that my duty in Krishna consciousness is to become the pure devotee that I expect others to be.  I don’t think Krishna will damn any of us to hell for stopping chanting, but if we don’t cultivate love of God through devotional service when we’re alive and know something about Krishna, then when will we do it?  Krishna is not in a hurry to award prema to anyone.  If I don’t begin again in this life, then I will have to wait who knows how long for another opportunity to learn about Krishna and begin again.  I may have to be born again many times, but I want to at least make sure of being born into a family where Krishna’s names are always heard.  I don’t want to take the chance of dying while thinking of material whatever instead of serving Krishna’s lotus feet.
     
    To think Krishna shows mercy to aspiring devotees by driving them away from other Hare Krishna chanters is complete maya, I believe.  Krishna does not recognize any self-proclaimed Vaisnava.  Again, Yuddhisthira fell from grace by refusing to compromise his moral standards, and Bhishma is still criticized for sticking to his vow when he was advised that breaking it was necessary for a higher good.  Of course, it doesn’t mean that morality should be abandoned, but that there is a transcendental morality of serving Krishna which must be observed to approach Him.  I don’t understand everything and am actively looking for answers to how regular devotees can tolerate the apparent misbehavior of leaders, but my understanding is that if someone wants anything other than to serve Krishna on His terms, then Krishna reciprocates our material conception with material perception. 
     
    Isopanishad Mantra 1 says everything belongs to Krishna.  He owns it and controls it, but if we want to try for enjoyment, then we are placed here and are governed by material laws.  We don’t know what we or anyone else has done in previous lives, so we can’t see why someone who is suffering is being punished for something.  We just don’t have the ability to know that, but the system in principle makes perfect sense.  Understood in the context of other Vedic teachings such as reincarnation and the distinction between soul and matter, the law of karma means that there is justice, or balance, and this justice is ultimately meant to gradually purify us of foolish desires.  From the perspective of material vision, lacking real knowledge, the teaching of karma seems extremely wretched, blaming victims for their suffering.  However, if it’s used like that with such a cruel emphasis, then the person promoting such a view is creating more suffering which he will also have to endure in due time.  So IMHO a wise person emphasizes the future aspect of karma, that our material activities produce appropriate material results.  Moreover the concept of karma allows an aspiring devotee to simply serve Krishna and let Krishna manage the punishment and reward of others as He sees fit.  If we think of devotees, those who chant Hare Krishna, as deserving punishment for what appears to be misconduct, then it is our aparadha, and we fall under the jurisdiction of karma while the devotee who is the object of our disdain continues to approach Krishna.  Don’t you see this happening? It is bitter on the false ego, but a wise person wants especially his enemies to actually become Krishna conscious, because then they turn into friends.
     
    The main thing according to my understanding is that, as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu stated in CC Adi 7, the chanting of Krishna’s names is the only religious principle for this age.  That excludes any supposed religious principle of checking the behavior of others; it is only chanting Krishna’s names.  I can’t tell you what to do or think, but I think if you put aside your upset and consider Krishna and the teachings of Srila Prabhupada again, you might find that chanting Hare Krishna again and again perpetually is actually the most important thing if one wants to live a transcendental life full of perfect happiness and really save the world. You must already know that the potency of chanting Hare Krishna with offenses is inhibited, so why not see if you can find out what chanting is like while carefully avoiding the ten or 11 offenses? That’s my plan, which I think is at least worth a good try to get it right.

  • Corey

    My point is pretty simple. ISKCON and pretty much any other organized bhakti society or even any other religious society is corrupt and full of so many flaws which will only divert you from Krishna consciousness. At the same time, it is pretty difficult to maintain any desire to engage in bhakti without some association. So, we can’t tolerate being a part of a really screwed up religious cult like ISKCON, but at the same time, without the association of devotees, it is very hard to have any motivation towards spiritual life.

    It is my desire indeed that we could all go back to that happiness we once enjoyed in Krishna consciousness. But until both ourselves and ISKCON as a whole matures, I don’t see what is the use in it.

    I’m glad that you have found some small motivation to chant again, but I unfortunately have pretty much lost all motivation at this point. In the future, that might change. As for now, I just don’t really have much interest in direct Krishna consciousness.

    Your 2nd to last paragraph, no offense, but it sounds like the typical kind of brainwashed cult justification that we should just totally blind ourselves and not worry about other’s behavoirs, even when they are doing something as sadistic as child molestation. And so what? Krishna continues to allow corrupt and evil people to remain in power in ISKCON, while the innocent common devotee continues to get shit on? As I said before, fuck that. If that is how Krishna wants to conduct things, then I don’t want any part of such a movement and I sure as hell am not offering any respect to such a god like that.

    It just sounds to me like you are trying to justify within your own mind going back to ISKCON, and if that’s your choice, that is okay, I have no problem with that. As for myself though, after the seemingly endless amount of total bullshit I experienced from these cult members, I’d rather shoot myself than ever join that sick cult again.

    So as for karmis. Yea, a lot of them are meat eaters. And most of them have a sense of morality, too. They wouldn’t ever even consider joining a cult that promotes the worship of child molesters as gurus.

    You’ll say not all of the gurus are child molesters. Well, there is something called guilty by association. It is beyond a doubt that some if not most of the top leadership of ISKCON are directly involved in many criminal activities, both in the past and in the present. Someone might suggest “What about the gurus who haven’t fallen down?” Sorry, but just by being associated with such criminals, and by SUPPORTING THEIR LEADERSHIP, they are also guilty.

    I find it incredibly disgusting that people who eat beef seem to have a higher sense of morality and common sense than all of these so called “transcendentalists”. Is it possible that they are really not as transcendental as they claim to be?

    I also don’t think Krishna is as sectarian as religious fanatics make him out to be. I think he sees the sincere desire in the heart of the person, and he doesn’t even look at the external things such as what religion he is a part of, how much religious knowledge he has, or whatever. I’ve met so many people outside of ISKCON, in different religions and beliefs, who are far more sincere than most ISKCON people.

    Basically, why does the highest philosophy, the Gaudiya Vaisnava philosophy, have to attract the worst and most low class people? What about all that stuff about the chanting being able to REFORM people? So far, I didn’t really see much evidence of any reformation at all. People who joined ISKCON and have been chanting for 30 years still exhibit the same material conditioning that they had when they first joined. Some people remained child molesters, some people remained violent criminals, etc. So to be honest, I am really not sure if this chanting purifies people, as the sastras claim it does. I’d really like to believe that it does, but I haven’t seen a whole lot of evidence to prove it.

    All I am asking for is some evidence, is all. Until I see some real evidence or some real proof that really justifies this whole philosophy, and that it actually works, I just don’t think I can justify wasting much time on it anymore. What’s the point of chanting for years if zero purification comes?

    The onus is on God, is it not? I mean, can’t God give at least some small proof of his existence? Or is it that we small beings who have no capacity to see or understand God are DAMNED if we don’t blindly accept his existence and methods for trying to realize him?

    And my practical experience shows the exact opposite. Instead of people becoming purified, it appears that many of these devotees became much worse after they started this whole process. They became MORE materialistic, more greedy, more hateful, more selfish, more evil, and so on. Sure, I’d love to believe that this process works and that it will lead to the ultimate goal and spiritual liberation and all that, but until I see some fucking tiny shred of evidence that that is true, I don’t really have any motivation to waste any more time on a process that has proven itself practically to be fruitless and simply a waste of time.

  •  
    It’s only because of ISKCON that I have any idea of Krishna consciousness.  Actually the first bhakti text I found and read was by the Caitanya Saraswati Matha, but it didn’t seem to affect me.  On the other hand, Bhagavad-gita As It Is pulled me out from my immersion in explicit mayavada philosophy.  It was even a 1983 printing, I can’t even object to the book changes.
     
    I’m just trying to focus on the core philosophy and act upon it better than before.  Lately I’ve been listening to the “Spiritual Scientist” podcasts and getting some good understanding from it.  One that I recently listened to was explaining that lust causes sins but pride causes offenses.  Consequently sin often brings remorse, but the same pride that causes offense prevents remorse.

    Lord Caitanya explained in His Siksastaka that to continue chanting one must be completely humble.  Krishna explains in Bhagavad-gita that the devotional process quickly purifies anyone, and Srila Prabhupada explained that Krishna “summarizes” the devotees remaining karma, but we don’t know what’s there to be purified or summarized.  The Acaryas have described it like sweeping a dirty room, that one should expect some dust to pollute the air by the cleaning process. 
     
    Personally I don’t know of _any_ gurus who have molested anyone.  I heard that Bhavananda did some nasty stuff, but I suppose it’s been a while.  One has to give people the opportunity to reform.  I don’t know if he has or not, but it seems severe to condemn and quit the whole program because someone had a problem.  People bring their problems when they join, and maya makes us carefully protect them. 

    I joined because Srila Prabhupada to some degree revealed Krishna to me through Bhagavad-gita As It Is.  When I hear about Krishna’s activities, especially Krishna’s relationships with His devotees, I cannot resist becoming choked up with emotion.  I feel this to be purifying.  Sometimes there are things I want to do in pursuit of sense enjoyment, but then I remember that Krishna bhakti is superior pleasure, and sometimes that changes what I end up doing.  Love can inspire people to improve themselves.

    If the process seems to have an effect on me, it makes sense that it would affect others similarly, even if I can’t see their mind to understand how they would behave otherwise.  One thing is that purification of the senses seems to make the senses more sensitive, which I suspect could lead to perversions if a person’s mind is not strongly fixed on Krishna.  Maya does not require a big hole to enter and wreak havoc; any gap will suffice.   However, Krishna says the mind can be controlled with suitable practice and detachment.  My sense is that when I happen to remember Krishna a little, I should take advantage of that and try my best to get His mercy.
     

  • Corey

    Let me make it clear that I am not opposed to the process of Krsna consciousness. The process, if performed independently of any organizations, will most likely result in purification.

    But, if you associate with bogus devotees, it will degrade you, instead of elevating you. There are tons of statements both from Srila Prabhupada and from Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati stating the same- that one should avoid the association of bogus devotees.

    ISKCON, as a whole, has been subverted by demoniac elements. Associating with ISKCON is like drinking poison.

    “Personally I don’t know of _any_ gurus who have molested anyone. ”

    This is a point that many people seem to have a difficult time understanding. If you are AWARE of crimes going on, and you fail to report them, and even go so far as to cover up those crimes and protect the criminals, YOU ARE JUST AS GUILTY AS THE PERSON WHO DIRECTLY COMMITTED THE CRIMINAL ACT THEMSELF. They are ALL guilty by association.

    And even if they had never engaged in a gross falldown, their disobeying Prabhupada’s final order to act as ritviks IS a falldown. Either way, associating with these bogus gurus and their brainwashed followers is like poison to real spiritual life.

    Please continue on with your Krsna consciousness, but it’s my strong suggestion to totally avoid ISKCON and avoid the association of the bogus guru cult and their followers.

  • Corey

    Please read the Brhad-Bhagavatamrta, it is like a concise summary of all the points of the Bhagavatam. It follows the story of Gopa Kumar as he travels to the different planets in the material and in the spiritual world also, and he eventually achieves Goloka Vrindavan.

    http://www.bvml.org/SSG/0.html

    It so clearly describes the siddhanta and situation of the material and spiritual worlds perfectly. It is the ripened fruit coming from Sanatana Goswami.

  • JAHNAVA

    As we make spiritual evolution, there comes the time when we come face to face with the ultimate……BG 18:66. ‘Give up all varieties of religion and surrender unto me…’ we see our devotional service extends past pot washing, and expands into every interaction, every moment. Our preaching opens to every interaction, every moment. Iskcon has turned into organized religiosity, full of ego, cultural influences, and a focus on fear based dogma, rather than compassion and unconditional love. When we reach the point of release, we will feel the fullness of Krsna prema. Release attachment even to organized religion and the need will fall gently away, replaced with the unshakable faith in Krsna’s presence and love manifest without aid of temple or rules and regulations.

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