Renewal process itself is flawed
Posted March 4, 2005
The initiative to reform ISKCON, to make the leaders accountable and to achieve other similarly laudable resolves, is now the appointed responsibility of an initiative committee and its handpicked teams, but will the process of bureacracy itself come under scrutiny? Speaking unpleasant, necessary facts to "senior vaisnavas" is never offensive. When will rank and file devotees be encouraged to speak up when something is amiss, and such action be acclaimed as courageous, rather than branded offensive? When Duryodhana criticized Vidura for his birth, that was offensive, but Dhrtarastra appreciated and acted on the criticism of Vidura. Honest leaders appreciate critical feedback; they do not try to protect position by manipulating philosophy.
Whether the problem is abuse of philosophy, people, children, cows or finances, the witnesses are the everyday rank and file -- the potwashers, the sweepers, the cleaners of bathrooms, the very fresh newcomers. Everyone has a conscience and a wish to protect what is right and reject what is wrong. This inborn sense is the Supersoul within, guiding us. Srila Prabhupada advised us to keep conscience paramount: if someone observed a leader transgressing vaisnava principles, he was to complain directly and, if that was ineffective, to complain to the leader's superiors. Never did he request that the individual be silenced because he might commit aparadha. He wanted change from the bottom up.
The pyramid on the strategic committee's website seems based on marketing strategy instead of spiritual values. It is upside down: it is not our strategy that supports our values but vice versa. Truthfulness in all circumstances is brahminical -- an indicator of an independently thoughtful person -- and therefore qualifies one as a leader or reformer. On the other hand, one who is affected by power, either to worship or possess it, is not in the category of brahmana. For him, profit, control or comfort are more important and, accordingly, one is vaisya, ksatriya or sudra, respectively. A brahmana will be in no one's pay or favour, even if it is offered.
When leaders are recognized by their guna and karma and when our
powerful mundane executive heads listen to them and go to them for
advice, we will have some sattva-guna in our society -- purity,
steadiness and integrity. Srila Prabhupada instructed us to introduce
varnasrama within ISKCON specifically for this purpose: "to bring our
members to the mode of goodness". We have ignored this instruction,
ignored his warning against bureaucracy, and are using this disregard
for his instruction as a means to achieve his mission. Thus we have no
faith in the process itself, but hope to spread it all over the world.
This problem cannot be solved by a committee.