“The Rude Truth. Who Are the People Who Need to Hear This Message?”
Tamal Krishna Gosvami:
“People wonder about Kundali’s motives.”
“But Maharaja, that argument applies equally to the people trying to shut him up.”
Tamal Krishna Gosvami:
“Granted. Actually, every institution needs people like Kundali, but our institution is not ready for it.”
In the previous chapter it was mentioned that a reader expressed concern that the people who most need to heed the message of the Our Mission series may not read the books, because of the tone being like a personal affront. This seems like a telling criticism. It deserves some discussion. One consideration, is that perhaps these books are not for people who hide behind this excuse, because most likely these are the persons whom Prabhupada said should be “completely neglected.”
Then, who are the people who need to hear this message? No doubt devotees will have different opinions as to the best answer. My own view simple: Those who come up with “the tone” or some other excuse not to read, perhaps making ad hominem attacks on the author and other irrelevancies, are not the persons for whom I write. I consider, categorically, that people who put form above content, already have a fundamental character flaw, and I am only too pleased to give them an excuse not to read my books. It is a relief to me. Perhaps someday I shall write for them. But this series is not for them: rather, it is about them.
The upshot is that the person who needs to heed the message of the Our Mission series, is the one reading these words right now. Let there be no misunderstanding of this point. If you are reading this book, the message is for you, and no one else. It is not for the leaders, for your wife or husband, your son or daughter, not for your authority, not for “the other guy,” not for anyone else. It is for you. Others may need the information here, but if they do not read these books, I am not writing for them: I write for the receptive—those who read the books. As for “sweet tone” I do not deny that there is value to tact in dealing with anyone. It is infinitely better than a state of all-out war. But tact and all-out war are opposite poles. Between these two extremes there is simply stating the truth in a straight forward way, which is the Vaisnava standard, although in our society we term this aparadha.
I also do not deny that as human beings, we all need a certain amount of stroking from each other, but when tact and stroking are imposed as the very terms whereby, we keep our illusions, rather than dispel them, then it is time to cast tact, and stroking, to the wind and speak what Kaviraja Gosvami called “the simple truth.”
This takes courage. If one cares about ISKCON, however, such courage is not difficult to muster. If one loves his profile more than ISKCON, then it is a different story. In any event, I’m write for all concerned about Prabhupada’s legacy, and who have dedicated their hearts to the parampara, and, do not want to deceive or be deceived. This could be a brand new bhakta, two minutes in the society. It could be anybody who is concerned and wants to tell truth from illusion (and do not forget that half-truths are also illusions).
Prabhupada’s legacy is not the sole monopoly of the leaders. His legacy is for whomsoever is fixed in following him. As he said, “Whoever follows is a leader.”
I’m writing for the person holding this book, and reading this line right at this moment. Your age, your education, your gender, your position in the Krishna consciousness movement or in society at large, does not matter. Whether you are a Prabhupada disciple or not, whether you have a title or not, none of these things matter. If you care about content over form, I’m writing for you. If you are reading this sentence, I’m writing for you. If you want to live free of illusions, whether in or out of ISKCON, I’m writing for you. If you understand that the candle of enlightenment must throw its light in all directions, I’m writing for you.
If you appreciate the central point of this quote from Emerson, I’m writing for you:
“Who so would be a man, must be a nonconformist. Nothing is at last sacred, but the integrity of your own mind. . .. I ought to go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways.”
If your heart’s desire is to be an independently thoughtful person for Srila Prabhupada, as per his desire, I’m writing for you. If you appreciate this description of a person of integrity, I’m writing for you:
“One of the things a calling to be an individual of integrity means, is a calling to speak out, to be outspoken. We are called to overcome the psychology of helplessness, of reticence. If we see a lie, we are called to name it a lie. If we see insanity, we are called to name it as such. If you are a preacher, you are called to preach the gospel, no matter how unpalatable it may be to your congregation. . . Yes, there are some who may find it upsetting, but perhaps they need to be upset. There are others who will respond to your outspokenness with gratitude for that leadership that gives them the courage to speak out about it.” (M. Scott Peck)
If you appreciate self-deception is a highly elusive mental fact, even in a group, and that the ticket to group deception is the unspoken fear of challenging the group’s way of doing things, and that the way out is to have the courage to break the silence and speak the truth, I am writing for you.
If you appreciate this passage from Daniel Goleman’s book on group and individual self-deception, I’m writing for you:
“It is the paradox of our time, that those with power are too comfortable to notice the pain of those who suffer, and those who suffer have no power.”
To break out of this trap requires, as Elie Wiesel has put it, the courage to speak truth to power. (Vital Lies, Simple Truths)
You could be a big leader, a sannyasi, a kid in gurukula, a shy mataji, an initiated or uninitiated devotee, it does not matter, I am still writing for you. The whole Our Mission series is for no one else but you.