"Finding Fault" in Hypocrisy
Posted January 2, 2005
Many thanks along with deepest sympathy and best wishes to Rambhoru Prabhu who recently shared with us her tragic journey through ISKCON, for while it was shocking, it was timely and valuable food for thought, nevertheless. Needless to say, we should seriously consider how we can avoid this happening ever again, and to any degree whatsoever. Anything less would be hypocrisy.
What attitudes and misconceptions are in place which are so wrong that they could turn a society on its head, so that the "positive alternative" experience becomes a real life horror story? Impersonalist leaders with not a trace of vaisnava qualities being viewed as "senior" "advanced", even "gurus"? Scary.
First thing, who is actually advanced? We should know. Sastra lists many qualities of an advanced spiritualist and strangely enough, social approval, position or acclamation are not any of them! Neither is serving a number of years in an institution, nor type/quantity of service rendered, nor being a disciple or "intimate associate!" of a great guru. Srila Prabhupada once said that the mosquitos in his room were intimately associating with him, but physical proximity is not real association necessarily. These popular myths should be dispelled and one's advancement solely judged by the qualities as given in sastra: compassion, gratitude, respect for every living entity, the endeavour to do good for others, tolerance, lack of ulterior motives and most importantly truthfulness. To the extent that one manifests these qualities, his advancement is clear for all to see.
The problem is we are afraid to see, for that vision bestows a type of responsibility that we shun- the responsibility to become fully human, fully sensitive and responsive to other's suffering. It is easier to remain aloof and stone hearted when there are transgressions of vaisnava behaviour especially among our leaders, for one can easily use various parts of the philosophy to justify such a callous, narcissistic approach. One can rationalize: "I don't want to be a fault finder", for instance. Fault finding is certainly condemned in sastra but as the story of Amogha illustrates, it is only condemned in regard to minor and inconsequential imperfections, such as the pockmarks that are to be found on the moon's surface which do not hinder its illumination, or such as the falldowns an honestly struggling devotee may experience due to past bad habits. The injunction to avoid fault finding is never meant to protect blatant hypocrisy and stuff one's eyes with wool when so-called advanced devotees are acting in contradiction to their position. We are advised, nay warned, in many places to choose our association carefully. For example, Bhaktivinode Thakur warned that the association of a "materialist in the dress of a vaisnava" is more harmful than association of a mayavadi. Srila Prabhupada warned that many of such pseudo vaisnavas are in this Krsna Consciousness movement and one must be very careful to avoid them. Of course this is impossible if one refuses to see any faults in them, and by hiding behind this false motive one does a great disservice to this society by allowing hypocrisy to flourish.
Another rationalization is given for avoiding our duty: "physician heal thyself" or in other words, I am not perfect so how can I be justified to see faults in others? And of course one can quote Jesus thus: "before seeing the splinter in you neighbour's eye, try to see the log in your own" This is true and a very good instruction when the log is in your own and only a splinter in another's, in other words when you are so focussed on the minor faults of others that you are ignoring your own major obstacles. A balance must be maintained; one must be honest and scrutinizing of oneself and others also, because if one thinks about it, how can one scrutinize oneself and ignore the sense of duty to others so integral to our development of honesty and compassion? One would find these lacking in one's character if one were to ignore a potentially disastrous situation for others such a the acceptance of a pretender as "advanced" by popular acclaim, while it is glaringly obvious that he is not even a neophyte vaisnava in his relationships. How is that being honest or compassionate? Bhaktisiddhanta in his essay "The Enemy of Hypocrisy" instructs us that if we want to qualify ourselves to chant the holy name, we must speak the truth always "regardless of person, place and circumstance" It is always purifying.
Unfortunately, a lot of devotees are afraid to speak or even see the truth, due to being told that they have "imperfect senses" so that they "should just surrender to authority". This is abuse of the philosophy for the purpose of control, for if one examines how sastra uses the "four imperfections", it is in relation to investigations of transcendence, not in judgments of character. And "surrender to authority" does not mean to social position as is the assumption, but to the sastra and those who embody its principles.
If we are not clear about these things, we can be castrated by those with
the ulterior motive to be unaccountable in their dealings while being
gratfied by the perks that come with the position. And then we will have
more of what Rambhoru described. And more. And more, until ISKCON will
become synonymous with hypocrisy and all decent human beings will keep at a
distance of ten cubits (prescription of Dr. Siddhanta Sarsvati). That is
already started and it will go on until we learn the value of truth, and of
where "fault finding", the "four imperfections" and other concepts fit into
our philosophy. Then we can learn the vaisnava art of being straightforward
in all our dealings and avoiding the anartha of diplomacy, as advised by
Rupa Goswami. Then with his blessings we may even become real sadhu sanga- a
society of thoroughly honest persons, dedicated to upholding vaisnava
principles, and uncompromising of hypocrites regardless of their social