Jan 10, 2017 FRANCE (SUN)
On the New Year day, like every year, we could see on Dandavats.com some articles about the New Year resolutions which we should take and, of course, we all know that to go from one year to another one gives special spiritual strength and mercy... it may be written somewhere in Sastras... And it looks like some still have the feeling that they are the controller of their own will, determination, enthusiasm etc.....
In another article, some time before, there was Romapada Swami's answer to a devotee's question: "How can we understand that we are not the doer?" Maharaja gave a bona fide answer, but a little complicated. Personally, I would have answered:
How can you think you are the doer???!!! You did not decide the place and moment of your birth, nor your country and family, nor the color of your eyes, if you will be tall or little, big or not, ugly or handsome, you did not decide the people you will meet in your life, the teachers you will have. You don't control the world in which you live and how it functions. You did not decide the personality which will be yours, what you will like and not like, and you did not decide which desires will be yours. Even at the moment, you don't control who you are! I suppose that if you could become immediately an uttama-adhikari, you would sign the contract, but unfortunately that is very little in your hands... So, how can you think you are the doer of anything? And this subject is very interesting.....
Related to that, there was on the 7th of January, a very good article from Kesava Krsna das named "The right to know. The vaisnava way". But it also could be entitled: "How to maintain a little corrupted mundane spiritual system in place" or "We are the doers and the controllers" or also, "How I am naively cooperating with a watered down spiritual process". "How to make things complicated when they are simple" could also have been a good title.
Before commenting, I want to say that I am not in any illusion that rhetoric from anyone can really be sufficient, by itself, to change an institution! S, personally, I will not insist too much and lose my time! Especially in Kali-yuga, people can be defeated philosophically but will not change anything in their way to function. ISKCON leaders have power and many basic devotees don't see very far, so, the leaders don't care so much about what is said about them. This is a feature of the demoniac nature. So, something more than dialectic is necessary to reform an institution. But it will happen with no doubt! ISKCON leaders are a little naive and ignorant about it. And until this moment, if we all can give some useful information to some, it is good!
So, Kesava Krsna das expressed how we must deal with truth and information. The resume of this article is: "we must not say the truth to all". Personally, I would have said: we must say truths to everyone or, at least, the necessary minimum which gives them enough information to be able to discriminate. But we can not say those truths to everyone in the same way! We face different persons with different material conditionings and characters. So, we must tell the truth with some psychology if we address ourselves to particular individuals or categories of people. Which, of course, is not possible when we write on a newspaper and when we don't know exactly who are the readers. In this particular case, we have only the choice between expressing some truths in a non-differentiated way or to stay silent.
Srila Prabhupada told us that non-violence is to tell people about Truth. And we understand that. So, we don't really have a choice if we want to be nicely situated and have some compassion. Some may choose violence, but it is not our choice. Of course, according to many, if we say truths it is only because of resentful feelings or similar things. It cannot be in order to help. Good-will is an ISKCON exclusivity. In ISKCON, to hide things is a long-time tradition. Even today, articles are very much filtrated on Dandavats newspaper, for example. They must not raise any controversial point! Don't disturb the family peace! Only add some sugar cane juice!
Unfortunately for big leaders, the Internet has brought information. They cannot stop that, and can no longer do all that they want without any leaks. At the time of the Zonal Acaryas and even into the 1990s, we knew only what the leaders wanted us to know and almost nothing on the international level. Of course, we had our personal feelings about what was going on around us but nothing more... a little insufficient to share our ideas with others. So, that was a very comfortable situation for big leaders and they took full advantage of that to do their non-senses. For Krsna, of course!!! So, today, when the situation is different, the only weapon they still have is the argument about not to say things because of protection of the Movement and devotees. And perhaps they believe it... All that is only about illusion and paternalism, but we will come back later to those points.
So, let's take some subjects in Kesava Krsna prabhu's article...
He says twice that "in ISKCON, we have a very high standard". So, I would like to know what prabhu is thinking about when he speaks of very high standards in ISKCON? Does he think about the kidnapping of Deities during the night in Belfast and the hidden unilateral decision to close this temple and put, in a rough way, the devotees out? Does he think about the autistic attitude of ISKCON towards devotees (and many very experienced devotees) living outside for very good reasons and who express their hopeless feelings about the way ISKCON is deviating and about the changes in Prabhupada's books? Does he think about those changes in the books and so to the very high standard which is expressed towards the acarya by doing that?
Maybe, one day, the GBC will understand that if we put together and add up the 7 billions of people on this planet, we will not get one Srila Prabhupada, one Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaja or one Bhaktivinoda Thakura. The quantity does not make the quality. It is within our philosophy, but it looks that it is very difficult for many to understand it. So, you can add as many still imperfect GBCs and Trustees as you want and make them check Jayadvaita Swami's "improvements" in Prabhupada's books (and it looks like they don't even do this job, according to Ramesvara prabhu), but it will never equal the Acarya's advice on this subject. Which is, of course, not to change Sastras, except for some very very little corrections. And even that is not so necessary! People could understand that English was not Prabhupada's natural language and find it pleasant, in the same way we find pleasant the accents of some foreign people who speak our language.
Or was prabhu maybe thinking about the very high standard in self-importance which is expressed by ISKCON? The GBC knows everything and does not have to listen to anyone anymore.
Another interesting point in Kesava Krsna das's paper was:
"It normally takes a trustworthy official statement to put a matter to rest. In between the official statement and an incidental cause for emotion and betrayal, our vaisnava approach to how knowledge or information should be revealed, is tested. If the brahminical quality of truth rules in all of our dealings and interactions with other devotees and the public, then to what extent should truth be revealed – in different circumstances – that could possibly cause loss of faith, betrayal, hurt, emotional reactions and so on?"
So, let's take first the first sentence. To clarify things, according to him, we should wait before saying or accepting any truth, that those truths, which are exactly denouncing and are exactly opposite to the voluntary or (and) illusory basis on which lays today's ISKCON, a little corrupted power and abuse of power should be officially accepted, authorized and put on the ISKCON window by the same who are doing their maximum to avoid those truths. Even after some dozen of Brahma's lives, I don't see how it will be possible... I am sorry not to be patient enough!
Sometimes it happens that the materialists are more intelligent than devotees... In 2010, in France, we had a very big scandal about the football (soccer) national team and its Federation Institution. The managers of this institution proved to be very corrupted and incompetent. So, at the end, they say: "Ok! Ok! We made mistakes... we will reform ourselves and reform all the system!" But people were intelligent enough to say: "No no no.....!!!! You made those mistakes because of your own limits in the fields of honesty and intelligence! So, you are not able to correct yourselves alone! You can not live in a closed world! You go out and others will take your place and do the necessary reforms!"
And this is actually our philosophy! Srila Prabhupada wrote that a prisoner who has his feet and hands tied can not liberate himself alone and needs external help. And it is true! But it looks like, on this point, karmis understand our philosophy much better than our leaders and many devotees!
Another point in prabhu's paper is his argument that saying truth can weaken devotees' faith. Maybe he could be more precise... faith in the GBC? In second-class gurus? Yes! I do confirm! But our faith must be in Krsna and His sampradaya, which is not different from Him. So, I am very curious to know how Kesava Krsna prabhu could explain, not through material speculative concepts, but through rigorous Krsna conscious philosophy, how relative truths, which belong and are parts of the Absolute Truth, Krsna, and so are Krsna Himself, could weaken devotees' faith in Krsna? I am very much interested in that. Is he sure that he does not materialize Krsna Consciousness?
It is right that truth can shake and hurt people, and so disturb them for a short time, but in the medium and long term, are always beneficial. And there are so many devotees that nobody is alone! So, our faith can resist some truth! If someone favors short term time to long term time, he(she) is more a materialist than a devotee. For example, demons in Gita 16.10 are said to be fascinated by what is impermanent, so exactly the contrary of the medium and long term perspectives. We can also see in Gita 2.16 that Truth is associated with no cessation. And no endurance is associated with illusion. And we can check that in our life and environment! So, we can conclude that long term vision is closer to the Truth than short term vision. On the contrary, lies maintain illusion and material comfort on the short term and later, ruin the devotees' faith. That is sure!
We must also take into account that even neophyte devotees are adults. So please, don't decide for them what they should know or not! That is paternalism and never gives good results.
Anyway, the success of ISKCON not saying truth has been abundantly proved... More than 90% of Prabhupada's disciples are outside and angry with ISKCON. And reject ISKCON's present philosophy. And it is not much better for the following generation. Only young devotees who don't know much are in ISKCON. And, of course, also those who took advantage of this situation and preach very vigorously against the brahminical cast system, but have created their own new cast and defend it at any price.
I think there is also something about Vaisnava etiquette or attitude. Yes! But if we don't care so much about this etiquette and so-called Vaisnava attitude because they lost their purity and mainly serve unilaterally to maintain on the top some people who abuse many things and are not really qualified, then what is the procedure to say and do things?
So, we are not the doers and the controllers! Neither myself nor anyone nor the GBC nor the ISKCON gurus. Krsna is the only controller. So, let's have and transfer some of our faith, from the GBC and gurus, to Krsna and the Sampradaya... and our faith and everyone's faith will easily resist those horrible and unbearable attacks of truth!
To conclude, Kesava Krsna's article is actually very good but reminds me a little of what Krsna said to Arjuna in Gita 2.11:
"While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief."
We had wonderful articles in the Sun in recent days from D. das, Gadi das, Nitya Krsna das and others who say obvious truths. For instance, non-necessary useless resumes of books which don't bring anything and distract the attention of devotees from the original ones. I was thinking the same... The problem is that the GBC became deaf to any advice! Or would accept advice (only to be heard) if said in the way they like. Which means the advice will have no effect!
To end in a joyful and funny atmosphere, one friend sent me Bhakti Caru Swami's pranama and also, his speech about Vaisnava etiquette from a seminar in 2011.
"Snigdḥa cetaḥ supraṇeta
vāgminaṁ ca rasāplutaṁ
Prabhupāda gata prāna
naumi Bhakti Cāru padaṁ
I offer my obeisances unto the lotus feet of His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami, who is very soft-hearted and expert at compiling devotional literature. He eloquently speaks the pastimes of Lord Krishna, his heart is full of the mellows of devotional service, and his life and soul is Srila Prabhupada."
Personally, my opinion is that something is missing... I would add: "and is an active intimate associate of the gopis and manjaris in the service of Radha-Krsna".
From the seminar:
"And therefore Srila Prabhupada created a very wonderful arrangement, a wonderful management structure, and a collective management through the GBC. On top of ISKCON, those who are guiding ISKCON society, it is a group of devotees, a body of devotees collectively. They are managing the society. In order to work together in a body, collectively we must develop a spirit of co-operation. Therefore Srila Prabhupada, very emphatically told that: "your love for me will be shown by how you co-operate with each other". Srila Prabhupada wanted us to co-operate with each other. That is how to show our love for Srila Prabhupada. Those days devotees used to very eloquently tell Srila Prabhupada: "oh Prabhupada, I love you, I love you, I love you". But Srila Prabhupada's response was: if you love me, then show that love through your spirit of co-operation. Show your love through your co-operation. For the sake of our love for Srila Prabhupada we should co-operate. So the spirit of co-operation is very important. So please take up this mission very seriously. I know many of you are householders. As householders you don't really have so much time and energy. But whatever time and energy you have, please use it in spreading Krishna consciousness.''