Coming Home to ISKCON
Posted February 7, 2005
Dear Maharajas, Godbrothers, Mothers and Friends,
Hare Krsna! Please accept my humble obeisances at your feet. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
Those of you who know me, or have been reading my articles published on VNN and elsewhere, know that in the past I have been very critical of ISKCON. To you, this announcement may come as somewhat of a surprise. To others, it may seem trivial--what's the big deal? Well, it is a big deal when one wakes up to the realization that one has made an enormous mistake, and must immediately begin the process of correction.
To all of you, and especially to the stalwart devotees of ISKCON, I owe my deepest apologies. I am very ashamed and embarrassed by some of the things I have said about ISKCON over the last decade. I beg your forgiveness for my offenses, and your blessings that I may never again become so overcome by illusion.
And to the non-ISKCON devotees and friends who may have read my online writings over the years, I regret to inform you that I was wrong about many things, especially my negative attitude towards ISKCON and devotees of ISKCON. That was a very bad example and I implore you not to follow it. This is not the place for explaining why I adopted such negative attitudes; suffice it to say that they seemed like good ideas at the time. But in my humble opinion, this might be a good time to express succinctly how and why my attitude has changed.
Just after New Year 2005, I was in Washington, DC visiting a friend who I had been preaching to over the Internet. I was on a japa walk near the National Cathedral, meditating on the events of the past several years. Suddenly as if directed by Supersoul, I thought, "But what if my mind is wrong?"
Examining this idea, I was shocked by the growing realization that I had in fact been misled by my mind into rejecting some of Srila Prabhupada's most important direct instructions: to remain within the ISKCON society, to accept the authority of the GBC, and to cooperate together with my Godbrothers to further the Krsna consciousness movement. I further realized that, even if I disagreed with ISKCON's management policies or did not like the service I was assigned, nevertheless it was my duty to accept and perform them to the best of my ability. My rejection of ISKCON was simply in illusion created by my fault-finding mind.
There is a saying, "You can choose your friends, but not your family." We may like to think that we chose Srila Prabhupada as our guru. But in reality, he chose to bring us into Krsna's family. Once we are part of that family, we cannot simply turn our backs and walk away without being guilty of gross dereliction of duty.
All of us disciples are related through Srila Prabhupada, and that spiritual family relationship is eternal. We may like or not like our Godbrothers or their actions, but we cannot resign from the ISKCON family without also rejecting Srila Prabhupada's direct instruction not to do so. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur wrote that we should find the faults in ourselves, not in others. Our spiritual destination is determined by our own actions, therefore we should not care what others do, but simply perform our own duty to the best of our ability.
I realized that I should not be critical of my Godbrothers, since I was not being held responsible for their activities and attitudes, but for my own. A tremendous weight lifted from my shoulders, and my heart was relieved of a stressful burden. I immediately walked down to the Metro station and went to the Potomac ISKCON temple, where I tearfully saw the Deities, ecstatically participated in the Sunday feast kirtan, and became reacquainted with many old friends.
A short time later I rejoined ISKCON, and am now serving in Srila Prabhupada's mission once again. It is wonderful to see how the devotees who remained steady have matured while I was away, and this is very gratifying. There are still problems in ISKCON, but I feel very optimistic that they can be resolved. The recent installation of Sri Pancha-Tattva Deities at Mayapur is a milestone in accomplishing Srila Prabhupada's vision for ISKCON. The Spiritual Strategic Planning Team initiative is the most exciting new development, giving me great hope for the future of the society.
But even if problems remain, much more importantly, now I am properly situated in service at the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada. I am doing my duty: attending the morning program and performing my assigned service with humility and enthusiasm. I am doing my best to see the good in my Godbrothers and brush aside their insignificant faults. After all, they are also devotees, and also have the right to service in Srila Prabhupada's ISKCON family. And I have become very skeptical towards my rascal mind.
There are literally thousands of devotees in a similar situation to mine: disconnected and alienated from ISKCON, yet yearning for the safe shelter of Srila Prabhupada's lotus feet. In the future I think we will see more and more senior disciples of Srila Prabhupada have similar realizations, and desire to return to ISKCON to serve his mission. I beg all devotees to clear their path to reunification with ISKCON, and not to shatter their hearts by placing obstacles in their path of reconciliation with their eternal spiritual family.
Begging to remain your insignificant servant,