Aspects of Vaisnava Theory & Practice
Making a "Case" for the Reconstitution of Srila Prabhupada's "Mission"
Rasing Our Spiritual Standards

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Chapter 17
Let’s Make ISKCON All It Can Be

Part 1

“Review of Previous Chapters” 

In the first five of the preceding chapters, we saw that the essential requirement for a stable individual and a stable organization are similar—both must take responsibility for problem-solving. We saw that farsighted problem-solving entails the ability to delay gratification while the problem is defined and a solution is worked out. This requires accepting responsibility for the problems in the first place. It also calls for us having a dedication to the truth and being open to challenge. These in turn must lead to the practice of welcoming honest critical feedback about our performance. Thus we get a realistic sense of our problem and can then pursue the optimal solutions. All of this requires exercising of our critical thinking ability, exercising our discrimination.

In Chapter Six we discussed some of the things Srila Prabhupada warned us about that can be a threat to ISKCON’s progress. We discussed some additional warnings as well, namely the historical patterns that pertain to most groups and organizations whether political, social, or religious. We saw that after the founder’s passing one of the main dangers is that the mission may become secondary to the preservation of the power structure or the bureaucracy of the institution. This information alerts us to the signs we should look out for in ISKCON. Thus I concluded by proposing that in light of history it would be prudent for us to routinely examine ISKCON for signs of such possiblity.

In Chapter Seven we learned about the distinction between authoritarian and humanitarian dynamics and the outcome of each on the individual. We also showed how by the power of rationalization it is possible to be deviated from the original spirit and intent of the mission without realizing it. Rationalization is discussed further in Chapter Eight in terms of the modes of nature and some criteria for diagnosing the kind of dynamic prevailing in ISKCON are given.

In Chapters Nine, Ten, and Eleven the idea of forming a body to help the GBC in making the most effective managerial decisions is proposed and other aspects of the proposal—for example, it would be a first step in implementing varnasrama dharma—are discussed.

In the chapter, Our Mission, we saw that the grand scheme of Srila Prabhupada is to establish a brahminical class of men who by their exemplary character would emerge as de facto leaders of society. We also saw that we are not working deliberately and systematically towards that goal. We are working, but we do not have the end in mind. Rather, by our internal dynamics, we are functioning as an anti-intellectual organization and achieving the opposite of what Prabhupada wanted. In the chapters following Our Mission I bring out some of the reasons why I’ve come to this conclusion.

These are not all the problems we have. I have mostly discussed the problems that impact on my life. Different devotees will have different problems in relation to the society. I could have done a much more extensive work—conducted interviews, collected facts and figures, and other data—but it would take me considerably more time to gather the information, organize it, and present it. Besides the time consideration, I did not want the book to be too big nor did I want to overwhelm the general reader with chapter upon chapter of the problems we have.

 But we do have considerably more problems than are mentioned here. For example, I did not bring out the guru-issue, the problem of the ritvik-guru advocates, women’s issues, and other matters of concern to the society at large.My hope is that when we organize ourselves into a united body, determined to enumerate the problems, fully define them, then formulate farsighted solutions and enact them, at that time all these problems will be addressed. Therefore I did not attempt to write the definitive book on problems and their solutions. That is beyond my capability, so my goal is less ambitious. I simply want to create a general awareness in the mass of devotees just to start the ball rolling.

The topics and some of the analysis and views expressed herein may incline the reader to think I am pessimistic about ISKCON. I am not. I am extremely optimistic about ISKCON and the spread of Krishna consciousness, not because of anything we are doing to bolster that hope at present, but because my faith in Srila Prabhupada and in Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, inclines me to such hope. In the long run, I believe, despite my prediction, that one way or another Krishna consciousness will spread, because it is the will of Lord Caitanya. If, however, we can participate in the effort and become pure devotees in the process, that will be to our benefit. I also have faith in the devotees of Srila Prabhupada. At heart they are sincere and as such they are ready to do the needful.

We need good leadership. Specifically we need to see examples of selflessness and simplicity and austerity. We need to see examples of simple living and high thinking. We need to see less politics and intrigue and more spirit of sacrifice. We need to see less attempt to intimidate, control, coerce, and manipulate the lives of others and more letting Krishna’s will prevail. We need to see more accountability. We need to see less bobbing and weaving, less laying of blame, less face-saving schemes, and less closing ranks to uphold each other’s image against their subordinates. We need leaders who can admit mistakes and be embarrassed at improper action, as opposed to defending themselves by counter-accusing others. We need to see more teaching by example among our leaders. We need to see a greater spirit of sacrifice and a lesser spirit of enjoyment from our leaders. We need leaders who routinely display character, integrity, who keep their word and are reluctant to cause others to shrink back upon themselves. That would inspire us all.

We need leaders who urge us on rather than hold us back while they figure out who will get the credit, who are not too eager to put their stamp on our work. Above all, we need leaders who are oriented towards bringing out the best in us for the mission of Lord Caitanya, our mission. We need leaders who understand and apply the principle that to lead is to serve. In both leaders and followers, we need to make it a top priority to bring out the best in each other for Krishna. If we serve each other in this way, I believe there is no goal we cannot accomplish. Further, I believe that the mentality of bringing out the best in others will assure us a confirmed seat on a Vaikuntha airplane after the demise of this body.

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