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To me it is no longer a question of simply accepting and trusting the devotees who are assigned as substitutes for the ones that happened to fall down during recent events. No, it has rather become a question of assuming that it is only a matter of time until this substitute also falls down and has to be replaced.
Writes from Sweden
I Trust ISKCON Anymore?
Hare Krishna! Please
accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
By regularly reading
all kinds of Internet reports on the activities of ISKCON - from ISKCON
itself, from "branches," from resistance and reform movements,
etc. - and by being an “outside” ISKCON devotee, I am always left with
one essential question: How can I trust ISKCON anymore? Similarly, I ask
myself, how do I trust any branch or reform version of ISKCON?
After 13 years of
having tried to become a devotee in the mood of ISKCON, and throughout
those 13 years simultaneously having tried to overlook all the nonsense
that is going on in the name of Krishna consciousness, there comes a point
when one loses all hope, which also means losing track of where you stand
as an aspiring devotee.
To me it is no
longer a question of simply accepting and trusting the devotees who are
assigned as substitutes for the ones that happened to fall down during
recent events. No, it has rather become a question of assuming that it is
only a matter of time until this substitute also falls down and has to be
In the light of this
kind of negativistic mood (which cannot come as a surprise to anyone) in
an aspiring devotee as myself one comes to the conclusion that it must be
more or less a waste of time and spiritual energy to pay any more
attention to the ISKCON path back to Godhead. Because whenever one regains
the strength to once again identify with this movement, the main question
turns out to be: Who is going to deceive me and desert me next?
As you may perfectly
well understand, this starting-point in itself makes it extremely
difficult to seek guidance from any devotee coming in the line of ISKCON.
The main issue for someone like me is not whether to trust or not the GBC,
or whether to trust or not some branch trying to reform the GBC. The
fundamental issue is far deeper.
Crazy as it may be,
I have been forced to come to the sad conclusion that the
ISKCON-environment itself must be more or less a "constitutional
colony of bacteria,” where anyone who comes in touch with it will sooner
or later develop the ISKCON disease of divergence from the original bhakti
which Srila Prabhupada institutionalized. Or in other words - ISKCON
should be a spiritual hospital where one recovers from the material
disease and upon total recovery leaves for the eternal spiritual world.
But instead of this, it seems that ISKCON suffers from the "hospital
malady" (just like any other hospital that is often full of
infections) and that the infection is not only contagious but hereditary
Isn’t this a sad
thing? Isn’t this something worth focusing on? Because simply correcting
superficial mistakes among devotees, expelling devotees, transferring
devotees from one temple to another, from one branch to another, etc. is
like polishing the leaves of a sick tree.
This polishing is
still going on without uncovering the true facts behind managerial actions
concerning people in general.
As an example I just
happened to see a particular devotee mentioned on the CHAKRA "BBT
2000 Symposium" page; mentioned only in terms of being "a great
source of inspiration to the symposium and all the assembled
devotees." Having repeatedly experienced this person myself, and
judging from all the evidence from other people’s encounters with his
tyrannical character, I could only tremble in horror when reading that he
is still active on a big scale as an ISKCON representative.
So in the light of
my state of general hopelessness - as depicted above - the first thought
coming to my mind was that he may well be the next “Bhagavan” or
“Hamsaduta” or at least one of the next devotees in the future to
cause major trouble and leave.
My personal judgment
within this letter to CHAKRA may well be biased and non-objective. That is
quite natural since I have been in and out of association with the
movement for 13 years. But objectively speaking we can also see that
ISKCON is having a hard time recruiting new bhaktas. Newly recruited
bhaktas leave shortly after; the "currency" of ISKCON is almost
nil on the "spiritual stock market." People in general have a
negative impression of the Movement and even people with spiritual
inclinations find it hard to be attracted to nowadays.
So I wonder why we don’t focus more on re-establishing some good standing and trust in the eyes of people in general (i.e. the potential newcomers) instead of simply trying to superficially clean the inside of the ISKCON house at the expense of those standing in its gardens ready to decide whether or not to enter.
© CHAKRA 3-January-2000
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