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Nowadays we encounter many disillusioned and discouraged devotees, who feel their idealism has been betrayed... Nostalgia, however, is a species of illusion, a yearning for a past that never existed.
By Ravindra Svarupa dasa
om visnu-padaya krsna-presthaya bhu-tale
sarasvate deve gaura-vani-pracarine
Please accept my fallen obeisances at your lotus feet. You are my savior, and I know well the difficulty you underwent to save me:
(1): How many disciples do you now have, sir, in the U.S.? Prabhupada: You
cannot expect many disciples, but still, there are two thousand. Because I
have got so many conditions and the fact is so difficult to understand,
Krsna consciousness. They have forgotten Krsna, they have forgotten God,
and I am trying to make them Krsna conscious. It is a very difficult job.
I have to shed my blood three tons before I make one convinced in Krsna
consciousness. That is my experience. (Room Conversation -- April 18,
1972, Hong Kong)
saw personally how hard and how tirelessly you labored to create the
unified preaching mission, “a worldwide organization under the name and
style of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness” (SB
2.4.18, purport). Once in the mid-seventies, a devotee showed me something
I was probably not supposed to see: your correspondence files for a few
years, filled with all the letters you had received. We had all read the
letters you had sent; few knew what you received.
was shocked by the volume of problems within our movement, by the maya
bedeviling your followers, not excluding many leaders like temple
presidents, sannyasis, and GBC. It seemed not a day went by without your
mail delivering to you setbacks, perplexities, quarrels, and failures. The
combination of the world’s resistance and the movement’s weaknesses
seemed to present an overwhelmingly fatal obstacle. It was a
disillusioning and discouraging few hours of reading for me.
during a fretful night, I came to realize I had no right to be
discouraged. For you, my leader and master, never showed yourself
disheartened or discouraged. You had the quality of a great general who,
in the thick of the mortal challenges and painful reverses of pitch
battle, remains calm, clear-headed, and fixed single-mindedly upon
victory. His very confidence inspires the troops and thereby carries the
understood then more of your greatness. I realized that I had been
foolishly idealistic about ISKCON; for years I had stupidly ignored or
disregarded many anomalies that undercut our prevailing ideology that we
in ISKCON alone were pure, holy, and could do no wrong. In truth, to great
extent we had replaced righteousness with self-righteousness and sanctity
knew better; you knew with chilling clarity of vision all the shortcomings
and failures of your followers and your institution. You corrected as much
as possible and kept on advancing Lord Caitanya’s mission with whatever
flawed and imperfect instruments came to your hands. You never quit trying
to distribute Lord Caitanya’s mercy just because your means and
instruments were defective. The fact is, that as fire is covered by smoke,
even a transcendental endeavor must have faults. It will produce good and,
inevitably, bad. What we need to know is: in the calculus of this endeavor
the good will be eternal; the bad, temporary.
we encounter many disillusioned and discouraged devotees, who feel their
idealism has been betrayed. Some indulge an intense nostalgia for the
“good old days,” for the golden past as opposed to the leaden present.
Nostalgia, however, is a species of illusion, a yearning for a past that
never existed. They fondly think there was a time when, simply because of
your magical presence, everyone was Krishna conscious and enthusiastic and
cooperative. I know better. This rosy picture does not acknowledge what
you were actually dealing with from the very beginning, your ceaseless
daily labor to hold the movement together and moving forward.
forced at last to acknowledge the truth when the nostalgia is dispelled,
go from being idealists to cynics. It is an unfortunate tendency in human
history that when we realize we have been engaged in something foolish, we
rectify it by embracing the exact opposite thing, which is another
foolishness. In this way, foolish idealists convert into foolish cynics,
managing to bypass altogether actual wisdom.
we may be tempted to become discouraged and disheartened. However, it is
not allowed to us. It is another form of maya. Indeed, I have discovered
that whenever we pass a blanket judgment on ISKCON--either in hope or in
despair--we are inevitably reporting on ourselves. It seems that here the
“I” in ISKCON indicates “I” the speaker. Whenever I find myself
becoming disheartened about your mission, overwhelmed by the problems and
difficulties, I have learned to recognize this state a warning sign of
personal weakness, and I need to mend the fabric of my own spiritual life.
When the remedial actions are done on myself, ISKCON at once looks
Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and you
Srila Prabhupada: all have had a vision of a world-wide unified preaching
movement, and each has pushed it toward further and further realization,
and it is our job to continue. Many have given up on this effort. Some
have formed their own enterprises to work separately. Still others spurn
“the institution” to cultivate a “higher” practice. For myself,
Srila Prabhupada, I confess to being not so bold or enterprising. I admit
that I know of no higher practice than to follow your order. Prabhupada, I
want only to be true to you and to your mission. Nothing more. Please
grant me this request by your mercy.
to be your everlasting servant,
© CHAKRA 14-Sep-1999
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