a personal case of removing obstacles
Although I began this blog with the full intention of describing how wonderful is the process of advancing in devotional service from my perspective, many readers have remarked that it’s overly negative. In fact, the theme of this blog is in describing my journey, and I’ve stuck to that even though it’s not been nearly as smooth and ecstatic as I expected. Although it may not be as inspiring to some people, I still think it has value.
But why must I be negative, peope ask. I don’t see it that way. To advance in any endeavor, obstacles must be overcome. What is an obstacle for one person may not be an obstacle for another, and visa versa. My challenge is that so far I have found that the men acting as gurus in Iskcon are a huge drain on my inspiration, enthusiasm, and hope for advancement in Krishna consciousness. There’s not much I can do about that externally; but it feels like they have some sort of psychic tentacles reaching into me, and I need to get them out. My writing here is a way of doing that.
I can appreciate them as aspiting devotees, but my spiritual connection is through Srila Prabhupada. Before my so-called initiation, I reluctantly accepted their version that serving them was the key to coming closer to Srila Prabhupada, but at least for me that has proven false. My initiation felt more like betraying my relationship Srila Prabhupada, and I am still struggling to recover from that mistake.
I could probably coexist peacefully even with these men posing as gurus, but they don’t allow it. They’ve labeled people like me as heretics and enemies. When I go to an Iskcon temple and someone asks me who is my guru, I’m obliged to lie. I’m not permitted to say Srila Prabhupada is my guru, and if I formally enter into a guru-disciple relationship with him, I expect I may be banned outright. At least I would have to pretend it didn’t happen.
Sometimes it’s said that one can be Srila Prabhupada’s disciple by following his instructions, but in Iskcon culture that does not hold true. For example, last year I debated with an anti-rtvik crusader, and when I did not find his arguments at all persuasive, he posted a series of derogatory e-mails about me to the “Prabhupada Disciples” PAMHO e-mail group. Because he is recognized as a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, he could do that, but I was not permitted to answer in my defense. It was only a few weeks earlier that he told me that following Srila Prabhupada makes me his disciple, but then he quickly proved the real value of that idea in Iskcon. I wonder if he noticed the irony.
This is the kind of stuff that has been going on in my interfacing with Iskcon devotees lately. A few weeks ago I remarked on a Facebook status update that my predominant feeling about my initiation in the six years since has been regret. One local mataji responded saying that attitude would destroy me. I countered by questioning her judgement based on the fact that she was worshipping a guru who, as a somewhat elderly sannyasi, had tried to have sex with his disciple, who was married to another disciple, after several years of manipulating her life based on his lust. (http://www.chakra.org/announcements/persDec26_07.html). That’s so spiritially abusive that it seems almost unreal. Being or accepting such a person as guru strikes me as a gross insult to the guru parampara. This was the same man who directly asked Srila Prabhupada on May 28, 1977, how initiations were to be conducted after his disappearance and was answered “Officiating Acarya,” a.k.a. “Rtvik.” Yet he went on to be a zonal acarya instead, which put him in a position to accept his crush as a disciple. He and his GBC/guru peers concealed Srila Prabhupada’s answer to the May 28 question for many years (the Lilamrta version is vastly different from the various transcriptions), undoubtedly because it stood as a threat to their desire to enjoy the role of guru. Even the tape itself was apparently doctored, as revealed in a professional forensic analysys commissioned by the GBC. How anyone can trust these people is beyond my comprehension.
Then in the past week one devotee took it upon himself to harrass me. I posted to the PAMHO Free Forum a link to the petition for the release of the rest of Srila Prabhupada’s audio recordings, which prompted a personal response from the Bhaktivedanta Archives. Then somehow this other devotee, who had harrassed me before before in e-mail, in the comments here, and in an online devotee forum. This instance was similar to the others, with his telling others that I’m just like a barking dog and should be ignored. As it turned out, I figured out that ignoring him was the only way to make him go away.
So I have so many people like this always trying to intrude on my sacred relationship with the man whom I’ve accepted as spiritual master and whom I believe intended to accept people like me. It is highly offensive to me, and sometimes it makes me angry. All I want to do is cultivate my relationship with Srila Prabhupada and with Krishna, being accepted in their temples, and not have people trying to force me to do it their way. For me, putting my spiritual life in the hands of another man is very difficult to do, but I trust Srila Prabhupada. I do not trust these other men at all, and I think there are more than enough reasons why.
This is my life, or at least part of it. My spiritual life at home is very nice, peaceful, and happy. But these self-appointed and voted-in gurus are a big obstacle to me, and moving forward includes getting their influence out of my life. I also feel like I should be free to attend and serve at the temples Srila Prabhupada established. I think he would want that. Ignoring the gurus won’t make them go away, so here I am writing and working through my issues with a little hope that a few more people will understand. Hare Krishna.
P.s. Please forgive any typing errors; I’m using thumbs on a BlackBerry.