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Setting Reform Priorities
By Krsnacandra dasa

Dear CHAKRA readers,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

While commending the desire to seek reform I believe that in order to understand not only what in ISKCON needs reform, but also how will that reformation be accomplished is a matter of perspective and prioritizing. Setting priorities are extremely important. Especially when aligned with a developmentally sound plan. We must first learn to crawl before attempting to run.

There are three main points that I would like to present with this in mind;

Point 1

First, we have two aspects to our preaching mission. For the sake of this point both may be considered as external (internal is becoming Krsna Conscious ourselves).

The first external aspect is to give Krsna Consciousness to others. The second is to provide an environment that will enable not only us but also others to be able to practice and experience Krsna Consciousness in their daily lives.

The first aspect is already being prosecuted with some success (although it will always be in need of improvement and growth). The second is an aspect that we have not yet fully embraced. Yet it is one that forms the basis of all the other aspects. One may call it our foundational operating principle - daivi varnasrama dharma (said at the risk of sounding repetitive).

Some questions that we must ask in order to see if we have in fact embraced this aspect of our mission;

Do we have a system for ascertaining a person's varna? Are the various positions within ISKCON structured according to varna? Do we place devotees in these positions according to their varna? Do we train devotees according to their varna? Do we educate our children according to their varna? Do we provide educational curriculum and syllabus according to varna?

If we have not adopted daivi varnasrama dharma then what are we embracing? How are we appointing devotees? How are we training our children and adults?

These are questions that must be answered before we attempt any further re-arrangement of our present systems.

Point 2

Another important factor in effecting change is to understand how we are interacting with each other. Since our process can be described as descending. That is descending both in knowledge and in authority, then it is vitally important how the upper levels, of our earthly authority, interacts with others.

One way of looking at what I am saying is to look at how a person in authority interacts with others. This can be divided into two general methods. One method is to talk at someone. This is the authoritative method commonly used by parents lecturing their children (This method is effectively used as a part of an intimate relationship between guru and disciple). The second method is to talk with someone. This method immediately forms a consultative relationship.

The first method is extremely open to abuse and more or less places the person being talked at in a dependant/subordinate position, while the second method while demanding honesty, caring and sharing primarily places the other person in an empowered position.

I believe that how we interact with each other is a vital aspect of change and one that needs to be addressed on an individual as well as organizational basis.

Point 3

In 1997 as a member of the Social Development Committee established by the GBC to look into restructure, we developed and submitted a comprehensive plan.

In this plan I was pushing for the formation of local community representative councils to be established both locally and internationally. These would provide not only support for local temples but also much needed feedback to the upper echelon. The councils would also provide more involved and decision making service options for congregational (grhastha) devotees.

Summation

We should train and place devotees in positions (and careers) that are in accordance with their natural propensities. We should relate with each other in a more open, sharing and caring manner. And we should have structured systems of feedback to exchange information and resources from a more grass roots level. Then we would have a very good chance to look at reform that will be both effective and relevant to Srila Prabhupada's desires.

Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada,

Krsnacandra dasa

© CHAKRA 16-May-2000

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