Perspective or Marginalization?
by Madhava Gosh
Posted December 27, 2002

While I have been itching to write a reply to Hare Krsna dd's idea that the institution of sannyasa should be suspended (hint - I would change the status quo but keep the institution) for the time being that project has been side tracked by another concern. A concern that in a time of transition Chakra will become marginalized. While I know that many devotees have been disappointed by their experiences with institutional ISKCON, and that venting can be a therapeutic tool, I would hope the editors don't let it get out too far out of perspective. Does the GBC and ISKCON need continued transformation? Yes. Does the internet need another website devoted to the shrill and incessant pointing out of this reality? No.

I have noticed over the decades at New Vrindaban, that when someone leaves, if they return for a visit after a period of time, their conception of what New Vrindaban is tends to be pretty much what it was when they left. We still get flack for the indiscretions of Kirtananada, regardless of the reality that he has been gone for a decade himself, and a lot of devotees have made a lot of personal sacrifices to try and preserve New Vrindaban, not as a relic of the Kirtanananda era, but as a project blessed and loved by Srila Prabhupada himself. I am sure that this is similar for ISKCON as a whole. Past perspective is valuable and helps prevent the repetition of mistakes, but there is a danger in dwelling too much in the past.

While I certainly don't perceive myself as a blind follower of the GBC, I do recognize that it also is in the process of transformation. I have seen a lot of positive steps, like the creation of the Cow Ministry and others. Now a cynic may say that these are merely token gestures meant to co-opt the opposition, but I prefer to think they are the first step in a journey, even if that journey is a 1000 miles. I know there are new energies working in the GBC that need to be supported positively, that may even be hobbled by those who take every opportunity of openess as a signal to attack. This can give the reactionary elements justification to circle the wagons and make the hands on transformer's jobs even tougher. There are two ways to change old habits - positive and negative reinforcement. While I see a lot of the negative, I would be encouraged to see more of the positive.

There is no need for another site that focuses solely on the shortcomings of institutional ISKCON, the web abounds with them; that position is well staffed and competently organized. I hope Chakra doesn't fall into that trap. I hope that Chakra would apply the criterion that any critical analysis of the GBC or institutional ISKCON be given in the context of a vehicle for specific realistic and positive suggestions, and not just nagging and focusing on the negatives. I would hope that we all remember the pastime where Krsna entered the wrestling arena of Kamsa:

When Krsna entered the wrestling arena with Balarama and Their friends, He appeared differently to different people according to their different relationships (rasas) with Him. Krsna is the reservoir of all pleasure and all kinds of rasas, both favorable and unfavorable.
(Ref.: Krsna Book 43: The Killing of the Elephant Kuvalayapida)

Or as my Lakota friends have stated it "The Universe is a Mirror". If all we see is the negative in ISKCON, it is a reflection of our consciousness as well. I know that that statement is capable of being abused in the hands of an administrator with an agenda, but I hope we can be mature enough to know the difference.

When I go to high school soccer games as a fan, it is easy to see there are different ways of cheering on your team. One is to yell at them for making a bad kick, another is to laud them when they make a good one, and there are also those who cheer "Good idea" when they can see that the player was trying to do the right thing, even if his technical execution was imperfect. Sometimes I will even get involved in the game directly, using the terminology of the players, as when a player is concentrating on receiving the ball and an opposing player is bearing down on his back, I yell "Man on" just as his teammate might (and should), or if he has the ball and is being tightly marked and I see his teammate open on the opposite side of the field, I might yell "Switch" indicating he should send the ball to the other side of the field. If he has confidence in me, he will be enabled to do so without having divert his attention from the ball or the opposing player.

When I go to Chakra, I appreciate articles like the one about the bark fiber, or positive things happening around the movement, like the house going solar, what is happening in faraway places I can never visit. While some constuctive criticism is in order, if there gets to be too much of it, I am afraid devotees will abandon Chakra, both as contributors of positive articles and as readers. This would be sad both for the devotees who lose a place to go, and for Chakra for losing their reader base.