Put your money where your mouth is:
back noble words with action
Posted June 10, 2003
Help each other in real life;
Help each other in real life;
Help each other in real life . . .
. . . and let us take all risks to do so.
In speeches, declarations and apologies around the world, we hear more and more about compassion. If there is compassion in our many Vaisnava associations, if we are more open and liberal, not cripple-minded, if we show less prejudice and cruelty and instead deeper spirituality is awakening in our realizations of who we are and how we should treat each other, then we should see real life evidence of support and cooperation from our leaders, centers and each other. Such actual, tangible "money where your mouth is" support would reveal whether these words, speeches and promises have a drop of sincerity or any substance of truth to them.
Some leaders are now on their podiums confessing how they contributed to ruining opportunities for gentle devotees to be fully happy and to stay healthy and enlivened in their spiritual lives.
Their public statements are encouraging:
"I'm sorry I demonized and objectified you", "I'm sorry I kicked away your friends, your brothers, your sisters, your lovers, your children", "I'm sorry I closed down the opportunity for third gender, intelligent, delicate women, sensitive people of color, or unbiased, nonsexist, gentle men to come into Prabhupada's spiritual shelters" (in which, we said, the whole world could live).
"I am so sorry; my heart aches; and I won't do this anymore, for now, suddenly, I see you as spirit soul in human form too." Brothers and sisters, these are easy things to say, though they should be said, but such cleanup begins to look like previous past damage-control methods, like another form of well-used but thinly veneered corrective politics.
For these words, these words, mostly-empty-so-far words are merely cut glass, sparkling pretty and neat in the setting of a golden ring of politics. Again and again, this cut-glass ring is inserted into the noses of the common oxen, plodding along in silence, asking for nothing much while pulling the plows and wagons of the elite class. Though contributing to the building of vast temples, they feel mostly unwanted, and these elaborate buildings may stand ghostly, echoing and empty.
In the fields there is rumor of suicides; the oxen are requested to ignore such things and stick to their nose-ringed labor, trimming dome after dome with grotesque layers of glittering gold leaf. In the end, superficial displays will weather away in the wind and storms and the domes will stand largely empty.
Should the dumb oxen (for they aren't allowed to speak as a rule) be expected to wear these sparkling cutglass and showy political nose rings with pride, while being pulled and jerked around by vogueish but still-hollow apologetic words? Should they remain undernourished until they fall dead from exhaustion, used up after doing all they could for the greater whole of the Sankirtan Mission and our Vaisnava Societies, which are still bound in shackles of bodily identification?
While the oxen work endlessly on, mired in drudgery but without support in their daily lives, they continue whatever way they can in service to Srila Prabhupada and Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Meanwhile, 'the rich get richer and pay their lawyers by our wagonloads.'
I do believe the words of regret for wrongs past are an attempt at sincerity. I love, respect and cherish those who are my sisters and brothers and who hang the banners of apologies, for they are brave, humble, and advanced spiritual members of our Movement. At present, however, these are all words only; they really don't mean a thing without action.
Our creative empowerment to build temples and ashrams for Krishna consciousness will be better evident when we unite with our mothers, our children, the innocent, the non-political, the earth, the healers and nurses, the cows, bulls, and oxen, the queens (yes, pun also intended), and all those Vaisnavas of simple, selfless, saintly character.
Among these we could fill our wagons with loads of true riches, attractive but not gaudy: determination, honest labor, compassion and kindness, simplicity and natural beauty, gentility and grace. Quite eagerly would we pull those wagons up to the doors of our modest but warm, well-lit Radha-Krishna temples and, with these treasures of quality, welcome everyone with open arms into spiritual shelters to worship Gaura-Nitai and Radha-Krishna.
This good association and cooperation with love and trust was a main ingredient in the original map Srila Prabhupada gave us to success and happiness. I have lost my trust in politicking leadership, which lingers shadowy above us in a peeling, gold leafed, teetering tower of Babel . . . and I long ago gave up the nose ring.
Let us share our individual wealth and spread Krishna consciousness round the world in an unbiased spirit. We common folk need to turn our attention to the real matters of the heart and help each other for a change. We need to take responsibility and help each other in the real world -- the spiritual world of compassion and love.
This unification and concern among even our women alone could flood our own temples with abiding love. (We can very simply build our temples where we feel welcome, you know). Imagine temples with many eager souls coming to the doors who have been just waiting for us to wake up and extend our hands and hearts to them and to each other. Many of these will be our own godsisters and godbrothers returning home.