The Heart of Instruction
Posted March 2, 2004
Though we haven't seen the content yet, the Sastric Advisory Committee has written a paper on the topic of how gurus and the GBC should interact. Since the study of sastra and the giving of advice on it is not the prerogative of a select committee, but rather is open to everyone, I am taking the initiative to give some advice, spontaneously, voluntarily, and free of charge. I hope they will find it useful.
Actually, provided we take "fanfare" out of the equation, most of us have been gurus at some time or another. Whenever we preach and thus infuse someone with enthusiasm to take to the bhakti path, we are a guru of the first kind-no less important than any other! After this initial step, ongoing help requires the second type of guru, the siksa guru. This is a person by whose words and shining example we gain faith progressively, even as we are on the path, doing all the motions of being a devotee. He helps us clear our way through our unseen obstacles to growth in love of Krsna, by showing us that weed that we thought was plant, and that plant that we thought was weed. He gives us courage and empowers us to uproot these weeds through sastric vision, and so tests our sincerity to not use bhakti as a crutch for a weakness or material desire, but as a powerful tool in that most important mission in life- self realization.
Now, generally, according to Rupa Goswami, the siksa guru becomes the third type of guru, the diksa guru, from whom one accepts a mantra and formalizes one's commitment to the path- not to him personally, nor to ISKCON, as some think! So all of us who are being siksa gurus in this way can be expected to be diksa gurus, or if the need has arisen, be so already. Srila Prabhupada expected it, telling a room full of disciples "you all be gurus!" Lord Chaitanya also.
Unfortunately, the GBC- and the ritviks as well- will tell us" yes, you can become siksa gurus, but not diksa gurus", which is a criminal restriction, as the reason that the siksa guru generally becomes the diksa guru is that this is the person whom the disciple naturally has faith in. He has done the work on the disciple's heart- laid the foundation for strong faith in bhakti to Lord Krsna. Naturally (and bhakti is a very natural process) one wants to accept the mantra and offer one's commitment to Krsna through him. Maybe this is the only time in history that such natural development of faith is subject to control and even legislation by a managerial body, our GBC.
They have instead reduced this natural faith to a fanfare of over bloated sentiment for certain persons whose primary qualification is to be able to hear, unembarrassed, vastly exaggerated praises of themselves on a daily basis. The focus of faith has shifted from Krsna, to a person- not a transparent one- but very opaque indeed. He is opaque to the degree he imitates Srila Prabhupada rather than following his footsteps. The GBC have carefully protected the interests of these diksa- daksine- and- glory- acceptors, by passing a resolution which forbids those not approved by them, regardless of qualification, to initiate. In addition they have passed a resolution which has shocked all those that know that the meaning of diksa is not to become institutionalized, but devoted to Krsna: that new initiates should take extra vows at initiation, promising to stay within ISKCON.
As a general rule, we should follow higher authority, but the example of Bali Maharaja is clear- to reject any instruction which is not based on strict adherence to the path of bhakti to Lord Krsna, regardless of whom it emanates from. All instructions are subservient to the injunction to accept what is favorable to Krsna consciousness and reject what is unfavorable. This is the heart of all instruction.