Where’s the House the Whole World Could Live In?

Home is where the Heart is.

This is a recent post published on the Sampradaya Sun which we felt was noteworthy, and worth re-printing here.

Where’s the House the Whole World Could Live In?
Dec 08, 2011 — CALIFORNIA (SUN)

Anonymous das writes…

I recently received the email below (my reply follows) from an old Bhakta friend who I contacted after several years of separation. It’s very revealing, as it tells the same story I and many Godbrothers and Godsisters speak and write about almost on a daily basis. However, it is even more telling because it gives the same perspective from a non-initiated well-wisher of ISKCON who happened to also be present to experience firsthand the potency of the Krishna consciousness movement during the latter days of Srila Prabhupada’s presence, through the Zonal Acarya period on up to the present. It really gives a birdseye view of what’s happened to the house Srila Prabhupada built for the whole world to live in.

“Hare Krsna.

As I mentioned I have been to the temple a handful of times since 1988. This is between you and I what I’m now writing and I would appreciate your feedback. Over the years I had a lot of difficulty due to my involvement with the temple. Let’s call it disillusionment. I had gone there religiously since 1976 and it was an integral part of my life. Over time my enthusiasm gradually diminished as I felt the place changed dramatically. With the advent of the new breed the temple culture became highbrow, clickish, judgmental and downright cold hearted. The priorities changed to how much money you had…it became quite yuppy.

I no longer felt comfortable there whatsoever. I can truly say that I don’t care for any of the devotees. In general I found it had become anything but personal. Let me add that I felt branded as some kind of low-class sudra due to not being initiated. I never aspired to be initiated and never requested that. I lived in the temple and followed the principles long enough but never inquired into it. I viewed the lifestyle and responsibility as being too serious of a commitment… generally I never knew what I was doing the next week.

My understanding was that the guru suffered for my mistakes and I simply could not accept that responsibility. I never knew clearly what I was going to do in the future and most certainly could not accept a lifetime vow. To me that was honesty. How many people remain that took those vows? I could not have lived with what I would have considered a failure.

When you were last here something hit me that I really hadn’t thought of. That being the cataclysm the result of a generational gap. With the new group that came in things were different for everyone and there may have been a certain animosity generated between the older generation of devotees and the new ones.

Another thing that crossed my mind is that a number of rather harsh judgments are made regarding people. It came to mind that many people do want to play God. Of course a lot of people want to espouse truth for a number of reasons… psychological reasons eminating from insecurities and such.

My own pursuit at the temple was to eradicate the tremendous suffering I had encountered in life. I certainly had my lackings and my bent was far more towards attempting, through speculation, to find truth. I did not want to simply accept truth but rather experience it. That was my pursuit…my life was such suffering I attempted to deconstruct it…take everything apart…look at everything…constantly trying to find who and what I am…and find that point beyond suffering.

I can say I had mystical experiences from chanting. Three or four stand out and I remember them to this day. I desired to arrive at that mystical point through chanting… that point of truth beyond suffering. I never had that experience.

It seems that most everyone left the temple and few return to visit. As I mentioned, I go there to eat once or twice a year but otherwise feel little attraction. I’m not saying that I’m some extremely worthy individual… I don’t believe I ever came off to you as being puffed up or grandioise. Is my experience like many others? It really was a pity. Now I believe that due to the sordid past there is a lot of defensiveness and such. Many feel they are the chosen ones. I don’t carry a grudge anymore…or, perhaps not nearly like I did, but these experiences at the temple were a painful experience. I always appreciated you as a person…I’ve had the experience of knowing a handful of people that are truly exceptional and I place you there. I would appreciate your feedback regarding the above mentioned issues.”

My response:

Hare Krishna.

As sad as I am to say this, yours is the story of many devotees, initiated and otherwise. I’ll be very frank. The ISKCON you experienced in 1976 in Srila Prabhupada’s presence and for some years after has changed drastically. So much so that I dare to say it’s almost not the same movement. The changes are both subtle and gross, but represent what I consider a departure and deviation from the instructions of the Founder/Acharya, Srila Prabhupada. For me there is a lack of purity, both of individuals and in the general thrust of the movement.

Your lack of attraction for the temple, devotees, etc. is not unusual and, to me, is a validation of what I stated. What you initially saw in the Hare Krishna Movement, it’s great leader Srila Prabhupada, the devotees who lived in the temples, the compelling philosophy, the rousing and ecstatic kirtans, for all practical purposes no longer exists, at least not to the same degree it did back then, and you can sense this because you are sincere. It’s sad, but true. And the causes are various and I don’t want to go into detail about that right now. But suffice it to say that good leadership has waned.

Your own personal evaluations of the new management, the generational gap, the change in the temple culture, etc. are all symptomatic of what I briefly described above. And you were right to be honest in your assessment of yourself and not get initiated. Yes, where are all the devotees who took their vows right now?

The good news is that it’s not going to stay that way forever. Somehow time has favored degradation, but this is Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s movement and it is destined to thrive by His divine will. There will certainly be obstacles along the way and this is not the first time in history this has happened. Not long ago the movement started by Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual master Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati went through a similar but more drastic fallout, but it was Srila Prabhupada who revived the message and movement. Even after the disappearance of Lord Caitanya, Gaudiya Vaishnavism went through much turmoil until Bhaktivinode Thakur revived the pure spirit.

I suppose the way we can look at it is that purity is a very difficult thing to maintain in this contaminated material world. Otherwise, why would Krishna say that whenever there is a decline in religiosity He makes His appearance? The very nature of the beast makes purity hard to maintain, especially in this corrupt and fallen age of Kali.

There is much more I could say on the matter, but I think you get my drift. We can talk more when (if) I visit in January. Otherwise, I will be happy to stay in touch with you whenever you feel like writing.

Keep chanting and I’m sure those mystical experiences will come back again. All suffering will be relieved by a nice program of chanting, dancing, feasting and philosophy.

Pasted from http://www.harekrsna.com/sun/editorials/12-11/editorials8029.htm

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. The Hare Krishna Revolution
    Dec 10, 2011 @ 07:16:18

    As long as we keep accepting conditioned souls as gurus, we cannot hope to make any genuine progress in Krishna consciousness. Instead of advancing, we’ll degrade. Acceptance of Srila Prabhupada as the exclusive guru is the only way to keep the Hare Krishna movement vibrant. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!


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