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 9
The Conscience of ISKCON “I”

Part 2

“The Basic Tenets of Krishna-consciousness, to Rise Above ‘The Three Modes of Nature’”

As transcendentalists, however, one hopes we are able to rise above conditioned nature. Is this not one of the basic tenets of Krishna-consciousness, to rise above of “The Three Modes of Nature, goodness, passion, and ignorance. Time will tell if we are successful or not. Moreover, it is noteworthy, and a no-brainer, that if you are not successful, it is not because of any lack of instructions by Srila Prabhupada, the Past-Äcaryas, and Lord Krishna.

The present dynamic is that those who are managers in ISKCON tend to see all outside input as interference. Whoever is not “lined up” with our way of thinking is a troublemaker.

ISKCON’s attitude is,

“Hey, look, if you know so much, how come you are not a leader yourself?”

This is a bit like saying that to comment on Hamlet you have to be on the level of Shakespeare yourself.

Another ploy is,

“Look, go prove yourself, do something big for Prabhupada, then come and talk to us.”

In the varnasrama system, does a brahmana have to do a ksatriya’s work before he can give some guiding words to him?  There is no rational basis for such an attitude of

“Let me see you do it better.”

Yet we often fall for such empty logic. To show the inherent absence of Krishna-consciousness in the above attitudes, let us boil that down:  Only those who have an official leading position have a brain, understand Krishna-consciousness, and are capable of any valuable observation or input.” That means only the leaders are Krishna conscious. Only leaders have a real shot at going back to Godhead. It also implies that if everybody became Krishna conscious they would all be leaders. In which case, taken to its logical extension, every man would be his own GBC and the world would be broken up into hundreds, nay, thousands of zones. From a practical point of view the above attitude is absurd.

Those in executive roles are meant to take counsel from others, especially those who can be relied upon to see things from an objective, impartial, or detached stance, and through the eyes of the sastra. The more unbiassed, the better—the more reliable the advice. In practice, and unfortunately however, ISKCON gravitates towards the “yes man”. If not the “yes man”, then the sort of man who can be relied upon to give a “soft” response over a “hard” one. Moreover, it is the “hard one” that is vital to our growth and success.

Another way of showing the absurdity of ISKCON’s popular response to critical feedback goes like this:

Say a car mechanic, inexperienced at sawing trees, is somehow obliged to saw one down.

Someone sees he is not doing it in the most economical way, so that person gives some pointers to the mechanic, however, the mechanic, out of false ego, is insulted. Seeing your advice as a put down, he responds,

“Look, I am cutting down this tree, if you do not like how I do it, you can do it yourself. “

Even more silly is,

“Buster, when you learn to fix cars like me, then you can discuss how to cut trees.”

A step further is,

“What have you done for Prabhupada?”

The effective assumption being that one must excel in another area than cutting trees in order to give good advice about cutting trees. This does not add up. After all, whatever a person may or may not have done for Srila Prabhupada has little, if any, bearing on whether the tree is being cut in the most efficient fashion.

Further, the advice is being given for Srila Prabhupada, so what is the difficulty?

All these pat responses culminating in “what have you done for Prabhupada?” has nothing at all to do with applied Krishna consciousness, which includes the concept that utility is the principle, and gold may be taken even from a filthy place. If, however, something has nothing to do with Krishna consciousness, we may say that it is a manifestation of false ego. False ego is something we are supposed to shun; how is it then, that we find devotees consistently display excessive symptoms of false egoism? Moreover, if they happen to be leaders, instead of calling them on it, we tend to go with the flow, in which he outcome of which can only be more false egoism. The reasons we do not challenge this conduct are diverse. One reason without doubt, is that we know there is no real openness in ISKCON. We fear repercussions from ISKCON. This is indicative of an authoritarian dynamic, which Srila Prabhupada loathed.

In the varnasrama society the top thinkers, the brahmanas, have no administrative responsibility, yet their input in administration is considered so vital that they are the head of the social body. It is but a symptom of the mode of passion that we often resent input from those who have no managerial role, or other prominent leading role, in our society. We do not like to consult and use each other as sounding boards in decision-making, unless ready acceptance of our view is a foregone conclusion, or in the name of honest feedback, we only expect half-hearted fairness, nothing with real bones or teeth in it.

We may consult; however, we like to handpick whom we consult with.  Moreover, by that approach, where is our assurance that Krishna wants to speak to us through those whom we pick?

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