Chakra Discussions

"Final Orders" for Recovery

by Niscala d.d.

Posted September 18, 2003

In a recent article, Rogue anti-ISKCON flyers disrupt L.A. Rathayatra, Brahma das cited Prabhupada's will, in which he declared that ISKCON's Governing Body Commission was to be "the ultimate managing authority" for ISKCON.

I have no disagreement with this, but why should Brahma prabhu refer to this in an article about succession? The GBC are clearly the managerial authority of ISKCON, not the spiritual authority. To equate the two is a serious mistake -- one that ISKCON has committed, to its own undoing.

Since "final orders" are a popular discussion point, certainly some of Srila Prabhupada's final orders were to inculcate varnasrama within ISKCON -- "to bring our members to the mode of goodness". Clearly, he assessed we were not operating in that mode. And still we are not, as varnasrama is supposed to be under the guidance of the brahmanas, not the law of management. When this is turned on its head and varnasrama is commited to a nice idea and nothing more, then we have the kind of chaos Brahma writes against: a society with laws banning Sadhus, of all things! What about a law banning paranoia and other symptoms of the lower modes?

With ISKCON operating, in my opinion, in raja and tama guna, the association of those outside our group is seen as more conducive for spiritual advancement. They have a good point, which we can only answer by cleaning up our own dirty laundry. Until this is done, we will continue to have the phenomena of serious devotees distancing themselves from ISKCON, and others being attracted (and promoted) for the wrong reasons. We have to recognize this problem and own it, rather than scape-goating outsiders. Srila Prabhupada indicated this when he said, "ISKCON can only be destroyed from within."

Unfortunately, we can expect more laws like the one above, for we have placed the group's survival over the spiritual needs of the individuals within it.

This often happens when the founder of a spiritual or religious organization passes on. His followers don't have his vision or his qualities to lead and inspire, so they try to hold the whole thing together by laws, by reward of those who are obedient to those laws and by punishment of dissenters. The group then becomes inbred; any criticism of it, however truthful, is seen as threatening; and praise becomes the only acceptable means of communication. Naturally, this is stifling for any person serious on the spiritual path.

Varnasrama prevents this gradual degradation from happening, for it rewards truth-speakers; indeed, it honours them. Power is not the thing controlling varnasrama, but truth, based on spiritual principles. In varnasrama, titles of "guru" are not given out in meetings held by managers, as happens in Mayapura, nor is sannyasa, for the basis of everything in varanasrama is guna and karma. A person who has spiritual qualities and the ability to enlighten others is already a guru. This should be obvious, but it is blurred when laws replace siddhanta and reason.

Like Brahma prabhu, I would like to see ISKCON stop banning sadhus, not just Gaudiya Matha sadhus, but any thoroughly truthful person -- for that is what a sadhu is. I would like to see the labelling of such persons as "envious" stopped, the ban on their books lifted and our managers cooperating and benefiting from their insights. Real humility and thoughtfulness should replace the group pride, zealotry, narrow minded fanaticism, and sectarianism that has driven away some of our most sincere members.

As for flyers on car windows, they are a band-aid solution to ISKCON dysfunction, as is the banning of their distribution. These are symptoms only, which we can expect to get worse as long as the real deep-rooted inner problems continue to be ignored. Symptoms should not be covered, but be an impetus to look within and see what we are doing wrong. Thus, all our so-called failures can be our pillars of success, but only if we have such an orientation.