What was the point?

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gangster_of_love
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Post by gangster_of_love »

Pamu I guess different zones and temples at diferent times had different types of leadership. I only had experience of Ramesvara's zone and also a few other temples I visited when I was traveling around the U.S for 4 months. I visited Puerto Rico for a few weeks and the temple president there was always surrounded by young pretty girls and did nothing but enjoy life as far as I could see, in Honolulu the same thing, in St. Louis the same thing, in Cleveland the same thing, in New York I couldn't tell what was going on because it was too chaotic, in Miami beach the same thing, in Toronto the same thing, in Mexico City the same thing, New Orleans the same, so all of my experience was more or less the same with respect to how the leaders lived their lives and how they treated those under them.

Maybe that type of leadership was unique to where I went, maybe in Europe it was different?

When I was in Iskcon I at first believed the hype that it was so very important to preach to "the fallen souls" because they may not get another chance "for milllions of lifetimes" to "get the mercy". That ideology was drilled into our heads. We had to preach and try to reach as many people as we had energy to do so because the "karmis" were dependent on us. Therefore we were pressured constantly to give up all aspirations and all activities but working to "save the conditioned souls" because otherwise they were doomed to lower life forms for millions of lifetimes.

Of course the "highest" service one could do and the service which gained the most respect in Iskcon at that time was "sankirtan". By the time I joined in '77 "sankirtan" no longer meant chanting, it primarily meant giving people stickers or buttons, or fake flowers, and asking them for money to support some bogus charity. Although some people did sell books, unless they couldn't make a lot of money doing that. Mostly it was women devotees who would prey on men at airports and get them to buy books, although most of the books were then thrown into the garbage after the men would flip through the pages after giving the pretty girl who was flirting with them 20 or 40 dollars.

After a couple years sankirtan changed into asking for "donations" for record albums, oriental rugs, cheap paintings etc. All the while the same propaganda was used to get people to devote themselves to doing nothing with their lives but being slaves i.e "the conditioned souls NEED US otherwise they are going to hell or something for millions of years". This was a psychological trick being played by the leaders on innocent sincere people in order to fill bank accounts.

The scam was to prey on the guilt of the gullible devotees. The devotees were being led to believe that they were "saved" from being reborn as "worms in stool for millions of years". Therefore it was their duty to save others from the same dire fate, if they didn't dedicate their entire waking life to doing just that, then they were guilty of sending those people to hell by inaction, AND of pissing off the oh-so-divine spiritual master which pissed off Krishna.. Therefore we "had a mission" to "save the conditioned souls" and please the holy guru. And of course the highest service that you could do was to facilitate the distribution of Prabhupadas books. But because there was no real market for those books and therefore you couldn't make money from trying to sell them unless you were a pretty girl expert at flirting or a guy who could sell anythig, then making money by hook or by crook became the highest service you could do with your life because it paid for giving out Prabhupadas books which in turn saved people from hell.

The way I looked at it was that people have a destiny, if they are meant to experience Krishna consciousness then they will regardless of whether I do anything or not. That is what is taught in Gaudiya Vaisnavism. A person's life is a product of destiny and when his time comes then he comes into contact with Krishna by the will of Krishna. Yet that philosophy was ignored by Iskcon leaders and changed into "we were the saviors". We had to go out and save people from going to hell. Of course that was the opposite of the actual philosophy that Iskcon was supposed to represent. I understood this reality after being in Iskcon for a little while and studying the philosophy daily. It was clear to me that Bhagavat philosophy taught that Krishna is guiding the wanderings of all living entities. That a person's journey through samsara was guided by God and that when the time was right God led them to Krishna. Therefore logically there was no dire need to go out and "save people". They would find you by the direction of God. That is what I saw as being the actual philosophy of Gaudiya Vaisnavism. So I rejected the hype of needing to sacrifice every moment of my life in a rush to save others, it made no sense.

I remember asking this question in class once "Why are the jiva souls dependent on our actions to save them, won't Krishna bring them to us if that is what Krishna wants?" At that time classes were usually all about the dire need to save people from rebirth as dogs, hogs, camels, and asses, or worms in stool of course. That was the center point of almost all classes. Stories about getting people to take Prabhupadas books became mini dramas about our glorious heroes saving souls from damnation. It was all a very emotional theatre of the absurd. When I pointed that out, in my subtle way, I was ridiculed as being without mercy and "magnanimity".

Of course all the money that was collected was managed by the temple leaders in secret. The devotees who made all the money got nothing if they were single, and a small allowance if they were married. Therefore temple leaders made sure to get rid of anyone who questioned their authority and preaching style. People were kicked out of the community left and right if they weren't producing money and weren't showing enough respect for the leaders. The leaders were skimming money from the collections into their own bank accounts, property, cars, etc. The leaders didn't want to lose their position because they were essentially slave masters raking in money for doing pretty much nothing but maintaining control and cutting a profile of a "sincere devotee".

Maybe it was different elsewhere.
The soft and pliable overcomes the hard and inflexible-Lao Tzu

To subjugate the enemy's army without doing battle is the highest of excellence-Sun Tzu

And some guy'd laugh and I'd bust his head-A Boy Named Sue
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harsi
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Post by harsi »

gangster_of_love wrote:
... Therefore we "had a mission" to "save the conditioned souls" and please the holy guru.
Hey, you are becomming better and better in your "mission of love".
Please move on. :wink:
Open up your mind and heart to new experiences of consciousness.
pamu
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Post by pamu »

Mr Gangsta`, I feel it was and still is pretty much the same everywhere. Some places for some time might have been a little different, but like in most of all human endeavours, they tend to boil down to lowest common nominator, sooner or later.
It was interesting to hear about your journey. I wish more people would dare to share theirs, too. 8)
Janus
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Post by Janus »

In 1975 a devotee confided in me that he’d been so long in the movement that if he desired to leave it, he’d no place else to go. His name was Swapna.

I’d never intented to stay in the movement so long, my days with the Hare Krsna’s, living among them as a devotee were stolen moments, moments stolen from a reality that brooked no service to a God that it believed to be unknowable by definition. I escaped that reality for what I thought would only be a moment, but carried it afterwards as the hidden treasure of my heart.

But a lifetime among the Hare Krsna’s was not something that I ever considered to be something in the cards for me, so I had never thought about what would happen to Swapna or all of the rest of the devotees if the movement did not pan out as they expected that it would, but that night I did.

That night and all the next morning I wondered around so deep in contemplation with this question on my mind that I almost missed the morning’s prasadam offering to the devotees, almost, but not quite. As it was, however I was the last devotee to come in to the temple room that morning and only one other devotee remained. Her name was Pashupati.

Pashupati was an older devotee, or at least so she seemed to me, for either years or a hard life had etched the lines of care deep into her face. She was seated on the floor honoring prasadam when I came into the room, oblivious to every other thing.

I helped myself to the offering and then seated myself across from her, one body length to the right of her so that we were not directly opposite to each other. Back then the men and woment in our temple did not associate together freely, or even speak with one another unless it was demanded by their duties. When we passed each other we never looked into each other’s eyes, and we never, ever allowed ourselves to thnk of each other, not for even a moment sexuallay. That wasn’t any problem for me, not because I do not like women, but because Krsna made it possible, but Krsna hadn’t alays made it possible for Pashupati, not at least with me. But this morning I might have as well been invisible for all the attention that she payed to me. This made it easy for me to drift off again into deep concentration on the question that now bothered me, and soon I became oblivious to everything else around me, including Pashupati, oblivious that is until she began to change.

It was a bright day in Seattle and the sun light from the many windows of the temple room illumined the room and the face of the older devotee. It shown on her age, and then another thing. All thought fled and my mouth dropped open as the lines of care vanished from her face, her flat brown hair became curly dark and lustrous and spilling out from over the top of a scarf tied up like a bandana, part of a costume that had also changed from an old cotton sari meant for temple drudgery to the time of costume that one would wear if one were a citizen of Vrndavan and had gone out the day to tend the cows in the pastures. Even the temple room had changed and where were only two devotees before they were now all around, laughing and talking, and always about a person who wasn’t around that I could see. And it was all oblivious to me, at least that was my impression until I heard a voice answer my question. Speaking from behind me it said, and said to me.

"Declare boldly. My devotee never perishes."

Swapna left sometime in the night, evidently he had some other place to go. I never saw him again. I was never able to tell him this before he went into his parents garage, closed the door and started the cars engine and just sat there chanting Hare Krsna until the exhaust overcame him. I never told Pashupati either, a silly reason. I was afraid that I’d hurt her feelings by telling her that she looked old to me.

One think puzzling, when we were setting there in the forest, her in her youth, although she had been completly oblivious to me in the temple she had looked directly at me at the height of this experience. I often wondered what she was looking at. Was there a point to it?
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pamu
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Post by pamu »

To you obviously there was a point. You felt what you felt and I suppose that was good for you. I just felt sorry for Swapna.
So I suppose you have stayed ever since happily in the temple? 8)
Janus
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Post by Janus »

pamu wrote:To you obviously there was a point. You felt what you felt and I suppose that was good for you. I just felt sorry for Swapna.
So I suppose you have stayed ever since happily in the temple? 8)
"The death of an individual is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic."
Joseph Stalin

I don't like looking at my friends as statistics.

To answer your questionn; no, I left the movement shortly afterwards. I was in college, in science lab when I heard that Srila Prabhupada had died.
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pamu
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Post by pamu »

Hmm....not too many are inclined to reveal their stories. Fair enough, we have to try something else. Or am I in a wrong place :?:
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Post by harsi »

pamu wrote:Hmm....not too many are inclined to reveal their stories. Fair enough, we have to try something else. Or am I in a wrong place :?:
I would say and that is just my personal opinion, would one formulate the beginning of your discussion forum in the following way:

"I am sure pretty many of us have been either directly or indirectly been involved with exploring their spiritual self and the Supreme Self, in the association of like mindet people in the past. What got you interested? Why did you stop doing it, if it is so? What do you think was or is the point or reason why you dedicated your life to this? In this case I would also like to write much more about myself and my motivations and intentions about this matter, even more than having to point with the finger to a period of my life, or a I call it now so, some imaginary society with the name ISKCON.

I personally was never interested in Iskcon as such, why should I, not even in it,s leadership, although at that time and in that part of the world, it was under the leadership of the person who initiated me in that spiritual path of Krsna consciousness. That was also so when I joind so to speak in 1986 in the Nava Jiyada Nrsimha Ksetra farm in Germany. I came in the association of the "devotees" because I wanted to have the association of like mindet people, at least I thought that was the case at that time. And thus explore together the truth about myself as a spiritual being and the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna. That was allways for me the obvious reason of my involvment in that society. Iskcon, what or who is Iskcon? Nothing! A name nothing more without any meaning whatsoever in a spiritual sense. Even when I went to Romania, in the beginning of the year 1990 after the revolution there, my dear Lord Krsna was in my mind not Iskcon. That was so even when in 1991 I registered the romanian branch of Iskcon in Bukarest the capital of that country, just to make everything more legal. I went there in that country, without even asking my templepresident or my guru for permision because I wanted to make known the Supreme Lord there and not a so caled society. I just folowed my intuition and everything became very well. Why should it be otherwise?
Open up your mind and heart to new experiences of consciousness.
pamu
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Post by pamu »

That´s interesting. I do not think that many of us could separate things like you did. At least I did swallow the whole package at once. After all, it was presented that way. Everything was supposed to be spiritual and I accepted it that way. In due course of time it became more and more difficult but I was stubborn and hung on to my beliefs. Finally I had to face the facts; it was just something I wanted to believe in. Then I had to strip my beliefs in to a bare minimum, to a point where I could say with a clear concience; yes, behind these thoughts and ideas I am able and willing to stand. A tough job, but I am happy to have done it. 8)
Janus
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Post by Janus »

pamu wrote:Hmm....not too many are inclined to reveal their stories. Fair enough, we have to try something else. Or am I in a wrong place :?:
Many people are inclined to talk about their lives and experiences within ISKCON, but it is a general rule that "Les gens heureux n’ont pas d’histoire", that "Happy people don’t make history." I think that is why Indian history isn’t so historical, because they were happy, and that is a cause why now so many people are shouting out, and to such an such claim that is still being made about ISKCON, about the Krsna Consciousness movement, there are all of those individual histories, all those "This is what happened to me, in the service of Krsna, in the service of the pure devotee." Most of these tales are not stories of success, and quite a few of them are tragedies and very keen observances like the one by gangsta that opened this thread.

My experiences were entirely positive and very spiritually rewarding beyond my expectations, but I am not happy. How could I be what went on and is still going on, and so I also hope and help to make a little history.

I loved Srila Prabhupada. I loved the way he;d get so excited at each new shipment of the Bhagavatam. How a devotee would rush it to him and how he'd caress it, saying that "there are no books like these." So wonderfully childlike. A failed marriage, a miserable home life, nothing to live for except a marvelous obsession. So like charities who take termainally ill kids to Disneyland we banded all together and made sure that he lived his dream.

But his dreams turned into other peoples nightmares, so he was either just a delusional old man or Krsna owes a lot of people for the cost of his devotees dance. Maybe we have to twist his arm a little.
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Post by harsi »

Janus wrote:My experiences were entirely positive and very spiritually rewarding beyond my expectations, but I am not happy. How could I be what went on and is still going on, and so I also hope and help to make a little history.
What would you say by trying this out: "The good life is one inspired by love and guidet by knowledge"
- Bertrand Russel found on http://www.atheists.com/moduls.php?name ... pic&t=2360

It´s for me also surprising to find out, where one could find some inspiring guide for ones life, from where one would hardly expect it to come. It´s almost like what George Orwell should have said ones: "A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing." 8)
Open up your mind and heart to new experiences of consciousness.
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harsi
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Correction..

Post by harsi »

Correction... :cry: the www should corect be http://www.atheists.com/modules.php?nam ... pic&t=2360 otherwise you may get the warning file, of not being able to display "this Weapons of Mass Distruction..." :wink: Very much humour have this so caled atheists actually, as you may have experienced yourself, due to my fault in spelling the word "modules" not correct.... I have just experienced it myself shortly before.
Open up your mind and heart to new experiences of consciousness.
pamu
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Post by pamu »

Happy or not with ones own personal past, I find honest reflections of ones own whereabouts always interesting and enlightening!
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Post by harsi »

pamu wrote:That´s interesting. I do not think that many of us could separate things like you did. At least I did swallow the whole package at once. After all, it was presented that way. Everything was supposed to be spiritual and I accepted it that way.
Well, of course, I would say I was also showing to others around me that I would have "swallowed the whole package at ones" like you said, after all that was the meaning or better said the overall understanding at that time of the concept of "surrender". But in my heart I allways felt like something is strange with this concept. I allways thought that if there is a God who is also present in an expandet form in the heart of my heart, why should I not be able myself to come in conection to Him and "feel" or be aware myself of His presents there and His talking to me or beeing intuitively aware of His guidance in life. Why do I have to give up this possible ability of myself and accept only the "ability" of doing this or becoming aware of this things, of someone else or some "spiritual institution" or society and its leadership. What do you think about that.
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pamu
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Post by pamu »

Good for you, what else can I say? Ultimately I came to somewhat similar understanding like you did, but it was not easy. I must say that the whole experience turned me into a sort of an agnostic. Nowadays I do not take anybodys "understanding" of spiritual things too seriously.
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