Aspects of Vaisnava Theory & Practice
Rasing Our Spiritual Standards
Chapter 8
The Answers Lies Within
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Part 1

Srila Prabhupada Warned us That the Greatest Threat to ISKCON is From Within

We have described a number of negative symptoms that we should look out for. They are like reefs upon which the good ship ISKCON can actually take anyone across the ocean of nescience. If we are applying Krishna consciousness as a science, these are all things to be on the lookout for, just as in sailing, the ocean there are things the ship’s captain must look out for. The captain is irresponsible if he is oriented to solving problems only after they become crises. He must spot reefs, for example, before the ship founders. The responsibility is primarily on the captain, but it is not that his crew is oblivious. They also know the symptoms of danger. They are also on the lookout. After all, the fate of the ship is their fate as well.

Please note that all the dangers described previously,

  • The mundane person in the dress of a “Vaisnava”, the leaders’ need to consolidate power.
  • The power of rationalization.
  • The risk of authoritarian dynamics.

These ultimately come from within.

Note further, that Srila Prabhupada warned us that the greatest threat to ISKCON is from within. He summed up these threats in one expression,

“Personal Ambition”.

Personal Ambition has previous been discussed in this Treatise.  Careful analysis of these dangers shows that they all stem from a heart that is nursing some form of personal ambition. Like the ship’s captain and his crew, our task is to assess these dangers, to know what their symptoms are, and to spot them before it is too late.

It is not difficult to discern, why the mundane person in the dress of a Vaisnava, the need to consolidate power, or the implementation of authoritarian dynamics, can be traced back to personal ambition. Rationalization, on the other hand, if by definition it is not a conscious or premeditated desire, how can we understand that it, too, stems from personal ambition?

Our reason functions only to the degree to which it is not flooded by greed. The person who is a prisoner of his irrational passions loses the capacity for objectivity[1], and is necessarily at the mercy of his passions; he rationalizes when he believes he is expressing the truth.

Greed (lobha) is a symptom of the mode of passion—just another name for personal ambition. Persons under the influence of raja guna are overwhelmed by lust and greed. Consequently, they lose their capacity to reason objectively. They become prisoners of their irrational passions, which they then rationalize. They are calculating how to achieve their schemes, and to them, this scheming passes as intelligence, as reason. They subsequently believe they are expressing truth.

Reason does not function when one is in the grip of the mode of passion.

Reason functions when one is equipoised, in the mode of goodness. The function of reason or intelligence is to serve our long-term benefit by discriminating. That is a symptom of the mode of goodness.

 Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.25.2:

“Mind and sense control, tolerance, discrimination, sticking to one’s prescribed duty, truthfulness, mercy, careful study of the past and future, satisfaction in any condition, generosity, renunciation of sense gratification, faith in the spiritual master, being embarrassed at improper action, charity, simplicity, humbleness and satisfaction within oneself are qualities of the mode of goodness.

Material desire, great endeavor, audacity, dissatisfaction even in gain, false pride, praying for material advancement, considering oneself different and better than others, sense gratification, rash eagerness to fight, a fondness for hearing oneself praised, the tendency to ridicule others, advertising one’s own prowess and justifying one’s actions by one’s strength are qualities of the mode of passion.

Intolerant anger, stinginess, speaking without scriptural authority, violent hatred, living as a parasite, hypocrisy, chronic fatigue, quarrel, lamentation, delusion, unhappiness, depression, sleeping too much, false expectations, fear and laziness constitute the major qualities of the mode of ignorance

Now please hear about the combination of these three modes.”

Satisfying our greed is never the purpose of intelligence. The conclusion is that we have to rise to the platform of goodness, sattva guna as the overall solution to the mode of passion and the power of rationalization.

The problem comes when we think we are already beyond goodness. Despite the symptoms of politics, diplomacy, intrigue, personal ambition, and so on, we believe we are transcendentally situated. Despite our inability to live consistently by these values—a capacity for the experience of concern, responsibility, respect, and understanding of another person, and the intense desire for that other person’s growth—we think we are beyond goodness. That cannot be the fact. Naturally, however, if we think we have arrived at our destination, why should we endeavor to go further? Therefore, we will remain where we really are, in raja guna, as prisoners of our irrational passions; and although we have no capacity for objectivity, we will believe we are expressing truth when we are really rationalizing.

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