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A Welcoming Environment
by Charles Ellis

Dear Devotees:

I read CHAKRA occasionally—mostly because I hope to find morsals of helpful information concerning spiritual practice as well as an opportunity to associate with other devotees.

I have been visiting CHAKRA regularly for the last 6 months and as an "outsider" the level of conflict and arguement and sometimes plain "cattiness," I find discouraging. I realize that folks need to vent problems that they have with organizations and people. I also realize that the movement is going through changes and no human institution will be without its share of troubles. I understand that debates/venting allows greater clarity and dedication to spiritual goals to blossom. However, the amount of conflict and "nanny boo booing" (for lack of a better word) makes me want to run in another direction. Some of the responses to the the charity debate illustrated to me what happens when the letter of the law is placed before the Spirit, and from this person’s perspective it is really off putting.

I have seen on these pages much lamenting that qualified gurus are becoming extinct—but what of devotees? Please remember that your pages are not only being read by seasoned devotees but new devotees and friends of ISKCON who are trying to learn about worship and loving God.

On another note—a few weeks ago someone posted an observation about how new visitors to temples were welcomed or not welcomed. I would like to comment on that. I am a part of another spiritual tradition and much of what I have read of Paruphada's writings has illuminated my own spiritual path and makes good sense to me. I try to follow the regulative principles, I chant, I try to visit the temple occassionally although it is over an hour away and I have had very little personal contact with devotees—I have stopped going to the Sunday feast because I have grown tired of suspicious looks and generally not feeling welcomed.

I finally had a real conversation with a devotee after visiting the temple several times and he confirmed the chilly reception. I guess that is why I wrote about the standard of discussion on the CHAKRA web page because the conduct is not welcoming. The word karmi gets thrown around a lot on this page—Is that how I am seen?

Thank you for the opportunity to share my perspective.

© CHAKRA 17 October 2001

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