The singular purpose for writing this book is to generate a similar kind of open discussion about issues confronting our society like I mentioned earlier about the experience in Towaco. Moreover, now it is no longer practical to have meetings. Or maybe we should have meetings. However, we are not one to call meetings or to organize them. What is preferred is to communicate by writing and with the hope, that readers will discuss what is written, and perhaps the meetings will follow.
This presentation is by no means meant to be the last word. This presentation is simply throwing out views on certain crucial issues in our society with the hope that it will generate awareness, and then discussion, and then, hopefully, intelligent problem-solving action. It is realized that some will consider the writer of this presentation as a problem. That must be risked; for the courage of this presentation’s conviction. It is assured that those inclined to think this presentation is “the problem”, and think that if we were rid of this presentation, it would not be a problem. They can think like that if they desire: the truth remains, and that is, the problems the presentation brings out will remain.
Naturally, given the present dynamic in our society, this presentation’s humble attempt will be taken as brash, outlandish, and controversial. Even offensive. That is because issues are not discussed openly. We specialize in putting a happy face on everything, “for the preaching.” This would be okay if we were oriented towards addressing our problems and finding lasting solutions, but we are not. We are oriented towards cosmetic solutions, and we thrive on good news. Hence, problems are usually neglected until they reach the status of crises, then a hasty solution is applied. The mode of passion, which in time results in misery.
In short, the human reality behind all our wonderful philosophy is that we function in the lower modes of nature (the mode of passion and the mode of ignorance). This presentation believes that to address this, and all the phenomenon that naturally accompanies or follows the problems in our society, it is required to pool the talents of more than the leaders. We need to call on the whole society.
We will not get specific here about the problems that are defined and address in the presentation, because you will find out soon enough. Now we shall devote a few paragraphs, however, to give you a sense of the presentation so you do not feel confused.
The first four chapters are based on the popular book by M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Travelled, which many devotees have read and appreciated. Naturally some do not like the book, for no reason than it is not a sastra.
The fact that we have a tenet about taking gems from stool, or that we practice utility as a principle is somehow overlooked.
In any event, Peck stresses that a human being must grow in spirit in order to feel satisfied with himself or herself. To do that certain predictable elements are required.
One must have the capacity to delay gratification, which is another way of saying that one must seek happiness in the mode of goodness; one must take responsibility for one’s life and a necessary part of that is taking responsibility for problem-solving; this problem solving, in order to be successful, one must be dedicated to the truth; subsequently, one must be open to challenge. So, the first four chapters are on these four topics. This presentation will show that these are in fact Krishna conscious concepts and, also shown is how they are not only true for an individual who wants to be oriented towards growth in spirit, but they are also true for the organization that wants to grow in spirit. As a preaching mission, we want to grow in size, as well as in competence.
Following that, this presentation discusses the value of criticism, because in ISKCON, the word has only a negative connotation, nevertheless, there is a positive connotation as well. Criticism really means to evaluate the positive and negative merits in a thing or event or person. This can be immensely valuable, However, that is often overlooked in our present societal dynamic. The result is that critical thinking is curtailed and people’s minds, instead of becoming keen edged, become enfeebled in the name of Krishna consciousness.
Following the chapter on criticism, this presentation analyses various aspects and dynamics in our society, which it is understood, and believed with great emotion, do not move us in the direction of fulfilling Srila Prabhupada’s vision. It is also understood, that we are many, many miles away from Srila Prabhupada’s vision, and the readers of this book will appreciate why this presentation feels this way.
After considering these points for a few years and discussing it with some confidential friends, the decision is to address these problems by making them known to the mass of devotees. Solutions will not be offered. All this presentation has to offer is what it thinks are solutions. They may not be even close; however, there is a strong thought of “having faith in the power of Krishna to act through the assembly of sincere Vaisnavas”.
Placing our full faith in that process This presentation is not as a conclusion, but as a beginning.