There were many reservations about writing and presenting this book. In the end it was decided to do it. The reasoning was like this,
“Daily, we pray to Srila Prabhupada to make us not show fear or hesitation in the face difficulty or danger in the preaching field. There were periods of heavy self-doubt about presenting this book to the society of Vaisnavas. Then a thought came; that if this book is not presented, then we would be making an instinctive reaction to fear. After years of praying to not to show fear or hesitation in the face of difficulty. we end up realizing, that we ‘could not show fear or hesitation in the face of difficulty.’”.
Prabhupada guided the writing of this book and it is presented to all; as a duty to him.
This book is not another rah-rah tract about the centennial. It is not another self-congratulatory publication about preaching and the mission of Lord Caitanya, and how ISKCON will take over the world. This book is about problems we face, or rather the problems we do not want to face. If you are the sort of person who does not like to face and discuss problems, then best to put this book down.
It is very important to clear the air on one point–people will say that this book is against ISKCON, and against the GBC. Nothing can be further from the truth. It is gravely concerning that the direction of our society, because as it now functions, is simply not the movement that we joined. We joined ISKCON to learn the art of selfless service not the art of every man for himself. A specific concern, is the fact that we are not living lives of integrity. We are not living in a way that would make intelligent persons want to commit their lives to this mission. This is the opposite of what Srila Prabhupada had in mind. We are not against Prabhupada at all. We are for him, but not just by words. We are also for him in terms of trying to fill out the framework that he gave us. To do that we have to address the problems and obstacles that are between us and our desired goal.
There are symptoms of authoritarianism, totalitarianism, and cultish dynamics, in our society; that with confidence, Srila Prabhupada did not stand for. Instead of us bringing out the best in people and turning them into men and women of integrity, self-confidence, purposeful people, we are turning out enfeebled men and women who are fit for raising money and being celebrity fans and blind followers. There are lots of other disturbing symptoms, which will be mentioned further along, and in the book itself.
Back in the mid-eighties, I there were a series of North American Temple Presidents and Prabhupada disciples’ meetings, that were held in Towaco temple, New Jersey. Those meetings led to the attempt at reforming the society by disbanding the zonal acarya system and thereby pulling ISKCON back from the brink of disaster.
One of the things that was observed in those meetings, was the wonderful way in which sober devotees, by pooling their ideas often come up with great Krishna conscious ideas, which began with one person expressing a point of view, and proposing a solution of some sort. Then that would get discussed and invariably amended, and that would get discussed, and then get amended, until we had something that met a consensus.
This procedure took time; however, it was truly wonderful to see how Krishna worked through our cooperative effort and the commitment we all felt to the conclusion. Gradually, we mustered enough conviction and gravity and courage to confront the North American GBC at a meeting in New Vrindavana, and that lead to a resolution to call a full GBC meeting along with all Srila Prabhupada’s disciples from around the world to New Vrindavana to discuss the main problem confronting our society. That historical event was the death note to the zonal acarya system.
Unfortunately, the conditions that required reform the last time are upon us again. I will mention but a few examples: We have sannyasis who live lavishly, more so than householders; we have the phenomenon of sannyasis who have their disciples build them houses in Vrindavana, something which Srila Prabhupada condemned in the Light of the Bhagavat; we have sannyasis who elicit the details of their disciples sex-life; we have sannyasis who give saris to women as presents; we have bramachari gurus who play tennis with their female disciples; we have sannyasis who do reiki for women; and sannyasis with bank accounts. Moreover, there is rampant use of the sannyasi/guru position to simply recruit followers. A goodly number are completely unabashed about their motive in short, we have a mess on our hands in the name of Krishna consciousness.
To illustrate this there a story told by a Srila Prabhupada disciple:
“Recently, when I had a talk with my twelve-year-old son about his becoming training up in the philosophy of Srimad-Bhagavatam. Then I thought about his taking to asrama life under the guidance of ISKCON management,, and I realized I had a dilemma, because I could not picture him in any asrama in the movement where he would grow up to be a stable and balanced human being. Our society is simply not oriented to bringing out the best in others. In fact, I fear for the boy’s mental health. Then I began to consider that if I would not recommend asrama life to him, who can I recommend it to with a clear conscience? My answer was no one. However, I want to preach Krishna consciousness. What shall I recommend to those whom I attract?
I thought and thought about this and I prayed to Srila Prabhupada for guidance and the answer that came to me is that if I am not part of the solution then I am part of the problem. I decided to be part of the solution. I am a writer and so what I have to offer as my part of the solution is to create awareness of the problem.”