Posted March 14, 2007
This is being written externally as a reply to the article "Time to Get Real" by an anonymous author. Internally, however, it is not meant to try and convince the author - as I suspect due to his or her attitude that this is impossible - rather it is meant to help those whose faith might be damaged in reading the article. I will humbly try to mark each point made, and reply with my own understanding of such things, showing how I - a foolish, unintelligent, rank-and-file devotee - can keep his faith even amongst so-called leaks in the boat of ISKCON. May guru and Krishna bless me to write lucidly and straightforwardly on such an endeavor, as I have no influence myself and possess a tendency to be arrogant in my writings.
1. The Guru system is totally outdated and probably only worked well when life was simpler and people did not get proper care in general in life, so they could be taken care of by their Guru at least to that previous old time sub-standard of living they maintained while diving wholeheartedly into their Bhakti Yoga practice.
This is the first statement made in the article, and if one scrutinizes it they will easily see the lack of any basis. Even from a simple look at the meanings of the statements, rather than the meaning they hold, will show it's errors. First, that the guru system is outdated gives no information as to what the author means by "guru system." Do they mean that learning knowledge from a teacher is outdated, or more likely that a person becomes a disciple by making the teachings of the guru their life and soul. Nor is there any information as what a more "dated" system would be, or when exactly this system became outdated. It is left to the reader to suppose that the system became outdated when life was no longer simple, or perhaps when people began to get "proper care in general" in life. *Evam paramparam praptir* - "In this way, this supreme science was passed down from teacher to disciple and the great saintly kings understood it in this way. But in the influence of time, the succession became broken, and the science as it is became lost." (Please forgive my lack of proper quotations, I am a terrible student when it comes to memorizing verses and I am working only with my memory and Krishna's grace.) The Bhagavad-Gita explains that this guru system has been going on since the beginning of the universe and before this, why then should we understand that such a system is no outdated? Rather, it explains that when it appears to be so, it is not the the system that is wrong, but rather the adherents that are unqualified - breaking the succession. In recent times, we have the perfect guru - Srila Prabhupada - who has expressed that his disciples were very nicely following his order, so there should be little doubt as to the qualification of the student. Now the students have become the teachers, and by continuing to follow the instructions of guru, they become qualified for such a position. Thus the only people who can be seen as unqualified to continue the "guru system" is the current student - myself and the author and anyone else who can be seen as a "next gen Hare Krishna."
This statement can be seen to hold an underlying idea that the guru is responsible for all aspects of a diciple's life: spiritual, financial, physcological, martial, etc. This is not the case. The guru - or more specifically the spiritual guru - is meant as the guide and the link to one's spirituality only. Any instructions involving aspects of material life given by the guru should be seen in relation to furthering one's spirtiual advencement. The guru is not a doctor, not a broker, not a marriage counselor, not a social worker to find someone a job. The guru is Krishna's mercy to help - to completely enable - one's journey back home, back to Godhead. The disciple is servant of the spiritual master, and to try and use the guru to further some arrangement for material enjoyment is in my opinion rather offensive. "Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth." (BG 4.34)
2. Also it is truly ridiculous to present that 5000 years ago people were so smart and now we are so stupid.
The bias here is that instead of being simply wrong, one is considered stupid and ridiculous to present anything other than what the author is declaring. This removes any attempt to refute - a well-known logical error in debate. Actually, it isn't ridiculous to declare that people were smarter 5000 years ago, but we must understand what is meant by smarter. I would prefer to use the word intelligent rather than smart, the reason for this is as follows. Smart can simply mean having an abundance of information on a subject, but intelligence means knowing what is best to be done. There are people smarter than me in regards to the exact events happening in the TV soap operas, but does this mean they are more intelligent? Does having the periodic table of elements memorized mean one knows what is best to be done in life? While looking materially at today and at the Vedic civilization of 5000 years ago, one might be tempted to say that today we are "smarter" as the basis of material knowledge seems greater, and so many material facilities are present. However, we cannot say that today we are more intelligent as there is a great abundance of ignorance regarding the supreme goal of life - or any goal at all. Most people I meet in preaching and simply walking the streets of my city are working just to live and survive without ever stopping to figure out why, or what the ulitmate payoff is. This results is rampant stagnation and hedonism - which I used to be a part of. All those who actually have golas in life, but who are not of a spiritual demeanor can also be seen to be less intelligent due to their ultimate goal becoming destroyed by time, thus their endeavors being futile.
In Vedic culture 5000 years ago, life was simpler, and life was not as "convenient," but the people in general understood that material life is destined to be hard, and fraught with anxiety, thus they paid little attention in trying to alleviate material distress, instead working on making sure they never come back to such a miserable place as this material world. It is also seen in the puranas that such people had knowledge of great machinery, but decided to not utilize such knowledge knowing full well that indulgence in such things led to degredation of spiritual life.
At this point the author distracts the reader with two examples having nothing to do with the intelligence of Vedic civilization, which the Hare Krishna movement understands to be the ideal for spiritual advancement. First, there is the example given of Egyptian civilization, but looking at this civilization, we can see there was rampant demigod worship, and by reading the Vedas, we also understand that this civilization came about by a large group of people rejecting the Vedic teachings. Thus to use them as an example for rejecting Vedic civilization is in error. Rather, we can use Egyptian civilization as a reason to NOT reject the Vedic paradigm! Second, the point of artwork without perspective is given. This can be easily removed as flighty at best, but the point was made so I will respond. To imagine that even a unartistic thug would draw a picture, and not realize that it didn't look like what they were drawing is rather presumptuous. Instead, it is more rational to consider that the artist was less concerned with drawing something exactly as it is seen and more concerned with drawing a picture that evokes certain unerstandings. Realism and other such artistic styles were not as important as a style that showed a certain mood or conveyed a certain message. If we want to get really specious, we could also simply assert that the simplistic style was what people liked at that time, so why not cater to the audience?
3. Let's face it, as we gather confirmable factual information at blinding speed, these silly ideas are going to make it more and more difficult for the movement to be effective.
I do not know what information the author is referring to, or what ideas the Hare Krishna movement is preaching that now looks silly. Looking at the information part of this statement, it can be refuted by the studies on such things as the mind-body connection and other consciousness studies, remote viewing, confirmation of ayurvedic principles, the benefits of vegetarianism, the constant redrawing of anthropological understandings, the continued confusion in cosmological fields, and even the huge unanswered question in such basic life fundamentals like "what is matter?" and "What is life?" that in fact we are not gaining confirmable information at blinding speeds. As for the effectiveness of the movement, I do not understand where the author seems to think that the basic goal of this movement - to lead society into a God-centered way of life based on Vedic principles - is becoming less effective. I have yet to see or hear anything that has shaken my basic understanding that there is no lasting goal other than spirituality, and that the Vaishnava paradigm is the most inclusive and topmost of such spiritual goals. As for the sun revolving around the Earth, this has been put into question by several prominent scientists (such as Einstein) as to its relevance and its confirmability.
4. I have contacted most of the preachers in ISKCON U.S. and ultimately they present a "take it or leave it" mentality because they either do not care if it is true or not, or again, they do not believe it themselves. The Guru system breeds an elitest mentality and a system of "authority rules" and the Guru system is also very militaristic.
What preachers are we talking about, and what were their replies besides saying basically it was "take it or leave it"? As this might very well be the case, the connotation of the author is one that suggest this was done dismissively, or that such preachers were arrogant. Rather, if I say to you the answer to a mathematical problem, the answer is also "take it or leave it." The science of math is very straightforward, leaving no room for perspective. The science of the soul is also rather straightforward and while complex, is exacting - leaving no room for speculation or changes based on individual perspective. It is actually quite honest to present it as "take it or leave it." Srila Prabhupada himself expressed that we are simply presenting the science of Bhagavad-Gita, and if people do not accept, then what can we do? It is in error to suggest that such a "take it or leave it" response is due to an uncaring preacher or a hypocritical one.
As for the guru system breeding elitist mentality, without an explanation of how this is so, all I can say to refute such a baseless statement is "no it doesn't." As for being militaristic, upon introspection I agree wholeheartedly. Militaristic means having the qualities of a military, which is designed to effectively fight off an enemy. The Hare Krishna movement is also designed to effectively fight off the influences of Kali yuga and an illusion-centered society. The fact that we are organized so that such a critic will make such a comparision is actually a compliment to our leaders.
5. Frankly it is about time that devotees humble ourselves to the public, and ask why do we try to accept things that are simply not true, when we could easily update and then take the many wonderful blessings of Bhakti Yoga and truly help people from their perspective as well as a true perspective?
There is some truth in this statement, but it has been mixed with an incorrect conclusion. First a devotee should indeed be humble, and Bhakti Yogis can and should be dynamic in their preaching, so that the general mass will become attracted. However, to be humble doesn't mean to give in to the wishes of the unintelligent, and to be dynamic doesn't mean to water down or alter the truth. Humility means that despite the harrasment, one understands that spirituality is the best thing to give people, and so the devotee will repeatedly try to present people with love of God no matter what abuses are given to them. Lord Nityananda never changed his message to Jagai and Madhai, but neither did he present Himself as an "elitest" or as better than the two brothers - even though He was the Supreme Lord Himself. A dynamic preacher is one who can understand the people he or she is preaching to, and can find a way to best give the medicine of Krishna Consciousness to them without changing the essential message. In our movement today we can see this also going on. Such new musical bands are adding Krishna Consciousness into the styles of sound that people prefer, such new ideas such as Atma Yoga are bringing Krishna to the huge group of people finding fondness with the yoga exercies, and not to mention the numerous restaurants that bring people an eternal delight - food - in the form of Krishna's prasadam.
6. Even Bhaktivinode Thakur said that the Vedas are allegorical, so what? The "what" is that we lose our position of "authority" if we insist they are literal. It is a false position because it can only be accepted by very sincere and/or incredibly ill informed and/or uneducated people.
While Bhaktivinode Thakur gave a way to view the Vedas as allegorical, he also stressed the literal readings of such pastimes as more important. This requires more reading on the author's part. The literal stance cannot be seen as a "false position" as it is the position of our previous acharyas and gurus - the position we have given our lives to take up. As for such people accepting such a position being uninformed and uneducated, I would advise that the author look into the intelligence, the "smartness," and if it impressses the author more, the university degrees of some of the Hare Krishna movement's leading preachers before making such a claim.
7. The senses are more than adequate to navigate ourselves through this existence and Yogis go by their senses too.
For anyone even remotely aware of the Vedic philosophy and Bhakti Yoga, this statement is not even worth arguing. The senses are devious and by nature delude, yogis are sastra-caksur - they see by the light of the scripture. The following statement if better to discuss.
8. For something to be "absolutely" true, then it should also be confirmed by the outer as well as the inner self.
Srila Jiva Goswami has also stated in his explanation of different evidences that the senses can be used as confirmation. However, this is to be seen as a lower - if not the lowest - form of evidence. Using this statement after all, the author should admit, then, that sun does indeed revolve around the Earth - for that is what the senses see.
9. The only thing that is specific to KC that is true to our basic society standard of truth that we all live by, like it or not, is that chanting lowers stress and that is based on Harvard studies. Other than that, what does KC have to offer that is not a fantastic untrue idea attached to a universal truth?
While it has been shown that chanting lowers stress, this is far from the "only thing that is specific to KC." This shows a lack of understanding to the maha-mantra as not only a prayer - something all major qworld religions have - but also a direct appeal to Krishna and His devotional energy. It also shows that the author has had no direct spiritual experience with the chanting of the Holy Names of Krishna. As countless Vaishnavas, myself included, have has such experiences, and they have been quite consistent with one another - even for those outside of the Hare Krishna movement such as the Christian saints St. Francis, St. Theresa, St. John of the Cross, and others in Sufi and Kabbalistic traditions - indicates to me that the author was not properly performing such chanting and thus did not receive the mercy of Krishna. Most likely - due to the statement above - the author considered the glories to chanting to be imagination, gave a mundane interpretation of the Holy Names, and did not have complete faith in the chanting. Three of these, along with other offenses the author must be honest with himself or herself about, will easily impede realization.
As for other offerings of Krishna consciousness, a practicioner develops spiritual characteristics, greater appreciation for Krishna's creation, a softened heart, humility, tolerance, forebearance, loving relationships based on eternal reciprocation rather than exploitation, compassion, truthfulness, honesty, and so on. I would say that there is much more than stress-lowering here.
10. Free veggie food with prayer is the most amazing preaching and promo tool of ISKCON but unfortunately most Temples now charge money for prasadam and some even charge for chanting sessions.
Again I don't know where this information comes from, nor do I know of any occurences of this. The only thing I can think of is that restuarants will charge for prasadam. However, as I work at a Govinda's restaurant, I know for a fact that we make little to no profit - all income goes directly into maintaining the restaurant.
11. Face it, Guru is a business and except for Radanath Swami, who sleeps in the Temple room and a few others. Business is thriving and we have no idea what they do behind closed doors, nor will we ever know. Many Gurus sit around in private talking about diciples in terms of income.
Again presenting an unconfirmed statement as a fact that we should face, the author first explains that we have no idea what gurus do in private, and then explains to us what they do in private. While I am happy to see at least one compliment in this article to a Vaishnava, I would again request to know where the author gets such information as to what these "many gurus" are doing when they talk with each other.
12. Many ISKCON Guru's "cash out" with a wonderful retrement and others just keep enjoying the fruits of their business.
Again an unsubstantiated claim, I personally have serious doubt as to any guru "cashing out" at all. Most devotees who have taken the position of guru have undertaken serious hardships in travelling and preaching, often working up until the end of their life. Can the author give an example of a "cashed out" guru?
13. A really easy way to test this is to get your philosophy together, which they discourage as "speculating", and challenge them with confirmed truth.
By "getting your philosophy together," I suppose the author means looking at the small piece of the world a single person can see and, based on limited experiences and tainted views, develop truth that is true and accurate for all places, all people, and all times. Yes, I would call this speculating - in fact that's a perfect defintion of the word. Then I would again wonder what is meant by confimed truth. I can only surmise that the author meant taking the limited views one has obtained as confirmed truth. We can also see by the word "challenge" that author intends the person performing this experiement to already have an answer, and see if the nearest spiritual authority can defeat it, instead of inquiring submissively, which means that a person is confused due to an apparent disharmony between scripture and the perception of the world, and is going to the spiritual authority for clarification.
14. So if ISKCON wants to even slightly approach the former glory made possible by the "love "generation, then we must stop being "museum" curators, "historical re-enactment sociteies" and get out there and feed people and realize that they are all devotees.
Because the devotees of ISKCON, and all Gaudiya-Vaishnava branches, see the entire world as devotees, such members preach Krishna Consciousness. While all are devotees, this does not mean that all are behaving in a devotee manner. The person addicted to drugs is a devotee covered by maya - our job as preachers is to lovingly help remove such coverings. While prasadam distribution - NOT simply food distribution (The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin. BG 3.13) - is an effective and wonderful preaching method, it is not the fastest and not the end-all, be-all in preaching.
15. Make your choice, save everyone and yourself, or stay into the elitist club of people who are "in" with the spiritual crowd and leave everyone else here to rot.
The author here tries to make it seem like the choice of "save everyone and yourself" is not inclusive of being within ISKCON. The author seems to think that the point of ISKCON is to be "in with the spiritual crowd and leave everyone else here to rot." This is far from the truth - the purpose of ISKCON is to preach. That means to develop compassion for those not understanding their identity as devotees and to forsake our own pleasure in the material sense in order to save them. If we do not understand that ISKCON is meant for saving everyone, then we are most definately NOT "in with the spiritual crowd." While it is unfortunately true that any spiritual tradition will also attract "lazies and crazies," who will try to divide and stagnate - simply being comfortable within the bare minimum for living in a temple and leeching off the society in this way - the great majority of the Hare Krishna movement is intent on exapanding to the point where everyone regardless of caste, creed, gender, culture, and even religion is on their way back home, back to Godhead.
16. It is so easy to "humble" ourselves to each other in a system where you move up in the ranks like the army. What is truly humble though, is to go out and help people from their immediate perspective and also in a way that is lasting too.
I agree completely, and I hope that others in ISKCON and especially myself will imbibe this and begin going out more and more to help the fallen, conditioned souls of the world. I also invite the author to join us, as the author has understood this better than myself.
17. It's easy to preach to people who give you money and also agree with you.
Actually, I hgave found that it is difficult to effectively preach to people who give you money. If someone is concerned about a continuing donation from someone, then they will be hesitant to correct them in any scenario, as this might upset the donor and thus remove the financial support. A precher must be unconcerned about where money comes from, knowing full well that Krishna is in control and thus not be afraid to preach to any donor in a loving mood, but always in such a way that the person advances in Krishna Consciousness. Preaching to a person who agrees with you is natural, and is not preaching but called Krishna-katha. "The thoughts of My pure devotees dwell in Me, their lives are fully devoted to My service, and they derive great satisfaction and bliss from always enlightening one another and conversing about Me." (BG 10.9)
18. ISKCON's idea is that the world is not "up to spec" and God could easily fix it with a simple glance but He doesn't because we are less than perfect and therefore do not deserve it.
This is incorrect siddhanta. The true understanding is that this world is perfect. "The Supreme Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from are Him are also complete wholes." (Iso Invocation) There is misery in world for two reasons. tha main reason being that we are eternal servants of Lord trying not to be - this creates an incompatible situation and thus misery arises. The other, secondary reason is that misery can be an impetus for one to inquire into reurning home, back to Godhead. Neither of these indicate that world is not "up to spec." This world is perfect - it is simply also miserable. ISKCON devotees preach (or should preach, if they understand correctly) that there is a better existence in the spirit, thus why settle for this world when you can have the ideal?
19. ISKCON presents an idea of karma as punishment and that idea not only does not add up, but it is also a very unhealthy mind set. To add insult to injury, Iskcon presents that God does not even afford us the basic rights people receive from a run of the mill mundane county court.
Karma is not an idea of punishment, but of reaction. Good and bad are labels the conditioned soul adds onto an experience, otherwise they are simply actions and reactions. Krishna provides the living entity much more than the "basic rights" of a county court. The ability to do so lies in the fact that Krishna knows exactly what we have done and for what reason, thus the reaction such such activity is precisely in an equal response. It is true there is no cheating allowed in the material courts of karma, thus to one who does not have full information it may seem unjust. In the material world we have the right to live here as long as we wish (life), we have the right to perform whatever action we desire (liberty), and we have the right to try and enjoy material nature (pursuit of happiness). What is eesentialy being projected in this statement is the author lack of accountability. If a person does something wrong then whether they remember or not the law of karma enforces a similiar reaction to them. For a person not willing to accept responsibility, then immediately they will try to find someone else to blame, going all the way up to Krishna.
20. ISKCON philosophy is that if God wants to be abusive then it is OK becasue He is supreme.
Not only does Krishna not want to be abusive (show one example of when He acted in such a way), but He gives countless opportunites to receive His mercy. Nor is this ISKCON's philosophy. ISKCON philosophy is that Krishna's actions are all supremely good, as can be seen if anyone closely studies His actions.
21. Most ISKCON devotees are into a "save yourself" mind set and they are in a sense sitting this life out in hopes of getting a better one. Is this really accepting God or rejecting God? What if this is simply the best that God can do? Why must the problems of this creation be blamed on us?
What census is cited that most ISKCON devotees are simply "saving themselves?" ISKCON devotees are trained to preach and thus save others. If they do not take to this training, what can be done? As for the questions, forgive my colloquialism, but if frogs had wings, then they wouldn't bump their buts when they hopped. In other words, saying "what if" is pointless when dealing with truth. What if 2+2 equaled 22? It doesn't matter because 2+2 DOESN'T equal 22. Wondering if this is the best God can do completely rejects the very definition of God by limiting it to a "best He can do." As for the blame, I repeat that this world has no problems, it has miseries. Those miseries are due to actions performed by living entities. Where do you think the blame should be laid? I recommend laying blame on those who are responsible - in other words, those resonsible for a reaction are those who performed the action.
22. God's authority is not just in some books that ancient students of theistic science wrote, it is in the reality of God's own creation. For example, God made it so that only humans, apes, and dolphins are able to have sex outside of procreation. So God's authority is above the ISKCON idea that we should only have sex for procreation. It is a proven fact, as our surgeon general reiterates that sex is extremely healthy on many levels. If devotees want a realistic principle that we can actually follow, how about no "exploitative sex"?
The author here indirectly implies that the books of Sruti and Smrti are not stemming from Krishna, thus we should reject them. For example, Krishna says in Bhagavad-Gita He is sex life not contrary to religious principles. This means that He has restricted sex life for humans, but the author claims that due to physiological nature, humans should not restrict sex life. Thus we are let with the choice - listen to God or listen to the author. It can also be seen that not only humans, apes, and dolphins have sex outside of procreation, but it is true that many have natural breeding cycles. The ISKCON "idea" of restricted sex life is directly based on the instructions of Krishna and the previous acharyas, thus the author creates literary paradox by stating that the principles elucidated by Krishna are not the principles elucidated by Krishna. The author then goes on the cite a conditioned soul in a materailly appointed position of surgeon general as having knowledge based on imperfect studies that sex life is healthy. In other words, the advice of the surgeon general supercedes the advice of Krishna. For the sake of argument, even if we accept the advice of the sugeon general, I would state that while it might be seen to help the physical body, or even the mental body, the act of unrestricted sex life is exceedingly unhealthy for the soul - the actual person. Even taking it further, one can easily see that ISKCON does not deny sex life, but simply asks that like all things in material life - one keep it controlled by having sex once in a month with the intent to use such an act to bring about a child and raise this person in Krishna Consciousness. In this way we can use this and all activities in the service of Krishna. As for what devotees want, they do not want "realistic principles," they want to serve Krishna with everything possible - thus changing the instructions given to us by Krishna is outside fo what a devotee wants.
23. This idea also presents God as a monster because God obviously realizes that the person desired "human" sex and not pigeon sex. ISKCON seems to suggest that God is looking for any excuse to mess with us
Srila Prabhupada explains that the enjoyment from sex life is the same in any species. Why would a person think that my sex pleasure is different from another persons? Thus to think that Krishna would be monstruous putting a person in a different body to better facilitate sex life when the person was "obviously desiring human sex" is in error. Krishna is not looking for any reason to mess with us, He is looking for any way to bring us back to Him. It is our own speculative mind that messes with us at any chance.
24. Yogis say that kids are like animals and truly Yogis walk a very thin tightrope when they present the idea that some humans are on the "human" platform and others are on the "animal" platform. This is the basis of racism and the KKK. The KKK believes that blacks are a form of monkey and therefore animals. Devotees think monkeys are a species of human. Interesting correlation..... no wonder there is so much racism, male chauvenism, war glorifying, and tons of socialy outdated and negative concepts with ISKCON presentation. Also ISKCON shows it's ancient ignorance here because the true definition of species is based on breeding and humans cannot breed with apes.
The understanding of species in the Vedas - as explained by H.H. Bhakti-Svarup Damodar Maharaja - is based on consciousness, and not just physical form. Thus when a person is defined as a human on the animal platform, what is meant is that such a person is concerned only with eating, sleeping, mating, and defending, and that the search for spiritual truth is not manifest. It does not mean that such a person has less rights or is spiritually inferior with one on the human platform. That is the difference between such sayings and the sayings of the KKK and other groups. Actually, they are completely opposite, for while devotees may make such a statemtn, they also understand that all life forms are to be shown respect and care. This shows not that ISKCON has "ancient ignorance" but rather a spiritual paradigm in its view of the world - including species separation.
25. ISKCON comes back with this amazing conspiracy theory that God is also in the dis-information business as he will leave dinosaur bones to allow us to be in illusion about the truth of the Vedas and God makes the layers of ice "seem" like there were ice ages, but that is only to throw off the Godless atheistic scientists. In the meantime, had not the scientists, many of whom gave their lives and were mercilessly killed by the Churches in the old days, found out how to heal people through confirmable knowledge, most of us would not be alive today!
The dinosaurs did exist, thus there is no trying to "fool atheistic scientists" and I have never heard of a statement to suppose that ice ages did not happen. Krishna - through His bona-fide representatives - is trying desperately to give the conditioned souls the remedy to dis-infomration about the soul. In the meantime, while very few scientists were giving their lives, the general move towards materialistic, mechanistic science has further deluded people into a false sense of advancement by supplying many remedies to material discomfort without actually removing the source of disease, old age, and death. The author stresses that "most of us would not be alive today" without such things, but how is it that people lived without them before? The world was not a mass of wailing sickness before aspirin or tetanus shots, and to think shows an arrogant bias towards so-called modern advancements.
26. So truly if ISKCON could let go of its "authority rules" mind set and inspire people to turn to God by truly helping them with unconditional love and devotion to the modern standard, a standard that more closley fits the realities that we all live by, then we would have something special indeed.
The nature of the word "authority" implies ruling. What I suppose the author means is that instead of a person in authority, no one should be, or more subtly that he should be - at least in charge of himself and his actions. This is the exact reason why the Vedas stte we are in this world of misery. There is no denial of such a request - as long as one understands that such a request will lead to more misery. However, if one wants to have such a change within spiritual life, this is no possible. Krishna - a person - is in the position of "authority rules." Other than this, I would agree that ISKCON has more work until we reach an ideal state of unconditional love in our service to humanity, but I also don't think that any other group has a better chance at it.
We can also see a dangerous sentiment in the phrase "a standard that more closely fits the realities that we all live by." The false reality most of the world lives by is that there is nothing after this life, the soul does not exist, and that material enjoyment is the ultimate goal. ISKCON is specifically here to counteract such a reality, thus to try and more closely fit this is to effectively kill the Hare Krishna movement.
27. I used to make tons of devotees, now I must constantly define my "self evident unconditional love platform" as absolutely non-religious. ISKCON took me part of the way, now it can only hold me back, unless enough of the leaders miraculously decide to "get real".
I am very happy to hear that the author has served Krishna by "making tons of devotees," though in the future I hope that he or she sees that it was Krishna's mercy working through a soul who had decided to serve Krishna. "The spirit soul bewildered by the influence of false ego thinks himself the doer of activities that are in actuality carried out by the three modes of material nature." (BG 3.27) Now, this soul has decided to once again reject the shelter of Krishna and take to enjoying this material world - such a condition is very distressful. If we take the definition of "religion" from Srila Prabhupada as following the laws of God, then we see that the author states his or her "self-evident unconditional love platform" as not following the laws of God. That or, perhaps, the author would redefine his or her platform. The only thing ISKCON holds a person back from is indulgence in illusion and ignorance. The only way ISKCON does this is by instruction, never by force. This is a volunteer movement and I have yet to see a person or hear of a person forcefully held within the movement. If the author means that by stayng in ISKCON, one cannot reach the highest spiritual goal, then again he or she is in error. ISKCON teaches the Bhagavad-Gita, which in Krishna's own words teaches the highest of truths, and it is the best way for me to simultaneously end this article and refute the author:
"The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Arjuna, because you are
never envious of Me, I shall impart to you this most confidential knowledge
and realization, knowing which you shall be relieved of the miseries of
material existence. This knowledge is the king of education, the most secret
of all secrets. It is the purest knowledge, and because it gives direct
perception of the self by realization, it is the perfection of religion. It
is everlasting, and it is joyfully performed. Those who are not faithful in
this devotional service cannot attain Me, O conqueror of enemies. Therefore
they return to the path of birth and death in this material world." (BG