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Letters on CHAKRA

(name withheld on request)

To whom it may concern:

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and the other Vaishnava Acharyas.

Today was my first visit to your web site. I have been involved with ISKCON for more than twenty years and have found that honest and open discussion concerning ISKCON problems is rare. Your web site is the most open venue for honest discussion with devotees I have seen yet. Problems cannot be solved until they are addressed. Srila Prabhupada provided the answers that we seek within the translated Vedas that he so freely gave to us. We, as Vaishnavas, know that something is right if both Guru, Sadhu and Sastra are in agreement.

I was particularly moved by several articles written by devotees who said they were suppressed when they tried to address particular issues. I can recall one article, if I may, where the author mentions that devotees have tried to rationalize the behavior of fallen gurus. He also noted the tendency to criticize Gaudiya Math Gurus.
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After considerable thought on this matter, it seems to me that much of this behavior has been born out of fear. We are afraid that the gurus are going to fall down. We are afraid of other groups taking away devotees. We are afraid of losing money—something Prabhupada told us not to be so concerned with. Where is our faith in Srila Prabhupada and the other Vaishnava Acharyas? Where is our faith in the Sastras and Krishna? True faith should erase all fear from our hearts. Certainly there have been difficulties. There can be no rationalizing of things like bad habits other than that of Maya's influence. Her spell is everywhere, how can we be completely immune? Still, we should not be so fearful of these things.

Prabhupada has written that the Guru is not chosen. One can be elevated to that position by his personal qualities or qualifications. We need to seek out personalities within the movement who are qualified as compassionate leaders. These people may not necessarily see themselves as being qualified. Prabhupada wrote that the proper attitude is to consider oneself as the most fallen. Conversely, this should not be interpreted as leaving an open door to act as the most fallen, or to use "being fallen" as an excuse for bad behavior. If a Guru acts abominably, automatically that individual should lose his position. Prabhupada wrote specifically that someone who remains attached to sex life is not qualified as a guru. We know from what he has written what qualifications to seek out. Teaching is by example. Respect comes naturally to those who show respect to others. Respect is not demanded, but is earned by one's character. Among his many instructions, Prabhupada also instructed us to show respect to other Vaishnavas, specifically mentioning four other Sampradayas. Why is this so hard?

Prabhupada also wrote that we should not deride a devotee for an occasional fall down. This is without a question a problem within our society. Not all criticism is bad. Sometimes it is necessary to correct behavior or a given situation. But we are too eager to criticize fallen devotees. I have seen this bring so much suffering into the hearts of many devotees. And like a dog with a bone, we cannot drop the issue. A pure devotee sees everyone as serving Krishna. Our tendency to criticize is kanishta adhikari, or seeing Krishna only within the temple. It's time to mature and move beyond this. There are so few of us comparatively, why spend so much time alienating one another? We need to make an extra effort to get along and be supportive of one another while executing our service. Just going through the motions of executing one's service to the guru is pedantic. We cannot survive as a society or as individuals within our society without one another. There is no becoming a devotee without the association of other devotees. There is a need to increase cooperation, communication, and compassion in our dealings with one another.

I hope that we as a society have grown from the experiences of recent years. I do believe that many changes for the better have been made. There is room for more. Prabhupada believed that Krishna consciousness was so attractive that we should always be increasing our numbers. I agree with that, at least as a purist. Perhaps we will soon again be moving in that direction.

CHAKRA 17-Oct-98

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