Honesty is the best policy
Posted June 1, 2004
I felt a bit uncomfortable after reading Zack Sunderman's post "To be a Guru". I don't wish him to take it personally, but I always feel uneasy after reading letters about so-called falldowns. I couldn't exactly pin it down at first, but then it jumped right at me. The sentence "He is not supposed to be someone about whom we can say, 'Well, he's human'." He's guru, right? Superhuman! I found that interesting: Guru doesn't equal human.
Another thing: "A guru is meant to be someone who has risen far above the platform of the material world and is in no danger of going back." Also intriguing, maybe because it's not my definition of guru.
I'm more leaning towards the idea that guru is one who is honest. especially truthful with himself. If that means being able to have gentle loving emotions, to be in touch with one's own and able to be (more) Krishna conscious doing so, I'd say, "Good on him."
We have more than enough devotees, celibate or married, who aren't in touch with their own . Gosh, what might happen? People would think we fell down, although, when we're real, the only place we can fall down from is from some artificial pedestal -- an image of what a society pictures us as, of who we are supposed to be: A repressed, unhappy, caged soul, more so than any Tom, Dick and Harry walking down the street, a robot, fearful of what other people would think. We might lose our social status; starry-eyed devotees might not bow down to us anymore; we wouldn't be considered good association -- a high price to pay, isn't it?
It is scarier, though, that religious vows are to be observed at the cost of personal growth, fulfilment, happiness and dignity. We have both the right and responsibility to make first and successive choices that suit and further our spiritual growth as our lives unfold. Vows made to God do not become, once they are uttered, cut-and-dried juridical commitments that must last unchanged forever. Vows to God are expressions of dedication and intention made at a given moment in given conditions of a person's spiritual development. If the conditions of the one who make the vows were never to change, then his or her obligation to those vows would never change either, to quote George Fowler.
In this light, I'd say we have no business judging Satsvarupa Maharaja. The only one who is to judge his experience is himself. He decides what to do with it. It's between God and him. He considers himself very fit to continue guiding his disciples and others. Sounds good to me.
For God's sake! How old is he? How intelligent is he? I think he's
quite capable of figuring this out for himself. I don't think we, who
still have to figure out how not to twist that sari once too much
around our shoulders, or think that, the longer our sikha is, the more
advanced devotees we are, have any say in this. Geez, we're
disappointed because someone learned something about himself and works
with it in whichever way he sees fit. Our true hope in ISKCON is