Aspects of Vaisnava Theory & Practice
Varieties Of Dysfunctional Experience
Introduction Part 3
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When advancement of knowledge is applied in the service of the Lord, the whole process becomes absolute

In this connection, Srila Prabhupada writes in Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.5.22 Purport:

“Human intellect is developed for advancement of learning in art, science, philosophy, physics, chemistry, psychology, economics, politics, etc. By culture of such knowledge the human society can attain perfection of life. This perfection of life culminates in the realization of the Supreme Being, Visnu. …

When advancement of knowledge is applied in the service of the Lord, the whole process becomes absolute. The Personality of Godhead and His transcendental name, fame, glory, etc., are all nondifferent from Him.

Therefore, all the sages and devotees of the Lord have recommended that the subject matter of art, science, philosophy, physics, chemistry, psychology and all other branches of knowledge should be wholly and solely applied in the service of the Lord. …

Scientific knowledge engaged in the service of the Lord and all similar activities are all factually hari-kirtana, or glorification of the Lord.”

When I read these lines, I understand it to mean that not only can we use donations from persons in these fields, but also their knowledge and wisdom.

When directed to sense gratification, it is a zero. The same knowledge, however, when directed to “the service of the Lord” by bringing out a clearer understanding of practical Krishna consciousness, is “factually hari-kirtana, or glorification of the Lord.”

Therefore, a far better alternative to irrational arguments against using these things in devotional service, is for us to divorce ourselves from irrational thinking, speaking, and acting on all levels of our society. Let us become sober, rational men, men of integrity and of dignity, as Prabhupada asked us to be. Instead of demanding respect, let us command respect by displaying virtue and consistent character.

Let us become men of integrity, who respect a self-evident truth no matter by whom and how it is presented. Let us refuse to accept fear and trembling as the genuine experience of Prabhupada’s positive alternative socio-spiritual revolution. Let us have the integrity and courage to say “This is a fact,” rather than be swayed by shallow rhetoric.

Let us culture the conviction that we are servants of the truth, not just pay lip service to the idea.

Let us make a concerted effort to give Srila Prabhupada, what he wanted: Simple living and high thinking—not high talking, high living, and simplistic thinking.

There is no magic or mysticism in achieving what is being proposed— it is purely a matter of desire, followed by the required effort; it is simply a matter of relinquishing the desire to control outcomes, and instead live with a moral compass, attuned to our conscience.

If we would commit to being such rational men and women, we may not have a need for a series like Our Mission. As long as we suffer from moral malnutrition, however, those who care deeply enough about the fate of Prabhupada’s legacy have no choice but to speak out, for silence, as Camus[1] said, would be immoral. 

The GBC’s denial about certain problems made this volume necessary to press home the concerns. There no doubt that if the first volume failed to convince any reader of the severity of the problem of dysfunctional dynamics ISKCON, then this volume will do the job. Dysfunctional dynamics can appear in all sorts of relationships—guru/disciple, authority/subordinate, husband/wife, parent/child, student/teacher, and even in routine social dealings. Hence this volume is vital reading for all devotees. Ultimately, my hope and prayer, is that this volume will motivate readers to refuse to participate in such dehumanizing behavior either as the perpetrator or the victim.

The hope is that it will do much more: That readers will be equipped with the eye to detect the symptoms of dysfunctional dynamics, with the language to define it, and discuss it, and realize that it can never be justified by reason or philosophy, and that “authority” and “Cooperate to show your love for Srila Prabhupada”, are not valid justifications for it.

Studies have shown that by its very nature, authoritarianism precludes any genuine attempt at rational discussion, which was my experience with my godbrothers on the GBC. The only appropriate response to it is rebellion, not in the sense of a violent overthrow—for that will only assure more of the same with a new set of faces in the old authoritarian roles—but in the form of a calm yet firm refusal to comply, because complying with it empowers it to continue.

About our dynamics, this must be kept in mind: that refusal to participate in patterns of authoritarian dynamics does not call for a refusal to follow the process of Krishna consciousness. To accept the process, does not require us to accept sub-standard dynamics; and to reject bad dynamics, does not require us to reject the process. I cannot stress this point enough.

Abandoning the process is never an option. Our Vaisnava doctrine is one thing, our dynamics are another. The former is flawless, but our application, to the degree that we are still touched by the modes of nature, can be flawed, and result in bad dynamics. This distinction was made clear in Our Mission (Rasing our Spiritual Standards), in the chapter “Authoritarian and Humanitarian Dynamics.”

Note also, that refusal to comply with dysfunctional dynamics naturally, will make us more selective in choosing our association, for we cannot shed our illusions by participating in a system that is, based on illusion itself. That would be like attempting to lift oneself by tugging on one’s shoestrings. Hence greater discrimination about dynamics, and in choosing our association, may mean having to relocate, so we can have better association for following the process. For many of us, that will require courage, especially if one is a householder, but courage is the first item on Krishna’s list of divine qualities.

Our commitment to Srila Prabhupada should be such that we achieve the willingness to do whatever is favorable for the mission of Lord Caitanya. When we achieve that courage, our success on this path is guaranteed.

It saddens my heart to see my godbrothers, whom I want to respect in every way, behave with less integrity than people I have known that have never chanted a round of jap a in all their lives. It truly saddens me. Some of them I have known for decades, and counted as my friends, and at some stages, they were even guides for me. When I see them engage in transparent verbal sleight of hand, out of attachment and personal ambition, I feel dismayed, let down, and my concern, worry, and fear for Prabhupada’s mission only heightens.

However, the only tools I have received from Srila Prabhupada, to grapple with the entwining of truth with illusion, is preaching—specifically, encouraging others to distinguish reality from illusion, as mandated in the second verse of Srimad-Bhagavatam. Hence in The Varieties of Dysfunctional Experience, I offer the results of many months of research into group dynamics, in the hope that Krishna and Srila Prabhupada empower me to empower my readers to see and to claim their right, to a voice in the legacy given to us all, by our Founder-Acarya.

Some say that my writing has “too much emotion.” This is supposed to have the merit of disarming one. It is but another of our nonsensical conventions, rooted in impersonalism. I cannot imagine Srila Prabhupada or Srila Bhaktisiddanta addressing the issues in our society without appropriate emotions—namely, anger, disgust, and indignation. I do not accept the notion that our predecessors have license in the preaching field, that we do not have. These are the questions of real concern “Are the facts factual?” and “Is the analysis of said facts true to logic, common sense, and the parampara philosophy?”

This of course the reader is free to judge. Unless done by a corpse, there is no such thing as an impartial presentation, only a pretense of it, which can be as manipulative as emotionalism, when used to manipulate the reader. In court, the jurors know where counsel for the defense stands and counsel for the state stands, because their summation is not done with cold impartiality, yet it is up to the jurors to decide among themselves how the evidence adds up.

Finally, out of necessity, some of the key points from Our Mission are repeated in this volume, and some points are further developed. Still, for several reasons I recommend those who have not read Our Mission, (Raising Our Spiritual Standards), to get hold of a copy and read it. All readers wishing to pursue further discussion on any points are most welcome. Devotees are urged to write and publish their experiences in the Krishna consciousness movement. This would serve the mission of Mahaprabhu in two ways: in the long range, keep the movement’s history from becoming mythical, and, in the short range, serve as a conscience to help the powerbrokers to sober up. Let us selflessly do the needful for Srila Prabhupada. Hare Krishna.

Servant of the servant of the servant of the Vaisnava’s servant’s servant,

Hare Krishna.

Kundali Dasa

Srila Prabhupada’s Vyaspuja Centennial Day 6th. September, 1996 Sr! Vrndavana Dhama


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[1] Albert Camus was a French philosopher, author, and journalist. He was awarded the 1957 Nobel Prize in Literature at the age of 44,

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