Clergy Who Lose Their Faith

Posted by in Devotional Community, GBC, Gurus

Kṛṣṇacandra Dāsa – Śrī Vṛndāvan Dham: What keeps us going through the ups and downs of our spiritual life is our faith in Śrīla Prabhupāda and a hope that Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa will have mercy on us in the final reckoning. Faith and hope are two different things. Faith means belief, loyalty or allegiance to someone or something while hope means to be optimistic that our desires will be fulfilled. For an aspiring Vaisnava devotee who has not; seen, touched, tasted, felt and smelt Kṛṣṇa we must have both faith in Śrīla Prabhupāda and hope that we will be delivered from this miserable hellish state of material life by following the precise instructions given by him in order to be engaged in pure devotional service.

However over the decades since the departure of His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda our ISKCON society has changed in ways that have brought about dissention amongst the older followers of Śrīla Prabhupāda. The main point which has created the dissention has been how the GBC has changed and gone against the teachings of Śrīla Prabhupāda and the paramparā by changing the qualifications of a Vaiṣṇava Guru to be a person who is elected or appointed by the institution rather than by dint of their spiritual adhikāra.

The question is; have the members of the GBC and the ISKCON gurus lost their faith in Śrīla Prabhupāda or are they being divinely inspired to make changes which are not in keeping with the paramparā and our Vaiṣṇava śāstra?

To understand this, one would have to examine our past to see what happened after Śrīla Prabhupāda entered into Samādhi leaving his GBC disciples to manage his society. As we know it was at this point that the original eleven GBC men decided that they knew better than Śrīla Prabhupāda and usurped his role as the Founder Ācārya of our society and took over his society instead of managing it for him. This decision to remove Śrīla Prabhupāda as the Ācārya of our society displayed not only their disrespect and disloyalty to His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda but proved beyond doubt that they had lost respect and faith in him somewhere along the way… Had they had respect and faith and had they had hope that Śrīla Prabhupāda could and would deliver them then they would not have changed what he had established and we would have a vastly different ISKCON today.

The fact that these leaders of our ISKCON society have accepted and practice themselves low moral standards is not the most dysfunctional problem in their loss of faith, it is their outright rejection of Śrīla Prabhupāda as the Ācārya of our society, and their blatant what to speak of their impertinently irreverent audacity to place themselves into that position that is the most offensive and destructive to the healthy development of our International Vaiṣṇava society.

Many of the original GBC / new Ācāryas’ /Gurus’ godbrothers and sisters, never lost their faith and hope in Śrīla Prabhupāda and the process he established and are sincerely practicing their Kṛṣṇa consciousness, as he taught them, to this very day. Of course many, well possibly most, of their Godbrothers and Sisters have left the association of devotees after losing faith in the institution rather than losing faith in Śrīla Prabhupāda and Kṛṣṇa.

So what happened? Did Śrīla Prabhupāda fail them or was it raw greed and ambition that caused them to disregard and disrespect Śrīla Prabhupāda? There is no question of Śrīla Prabhupāda failing anyone for he has not failed those who have been loyal to him for decades, so the question arises was it raw greed and ambition?

If it was greed and ambition then what changed? Once they had respect, faith and hope in Śrīla Prabhupāda and over the course of several years they somehow lost it and degraded up to the point of plotting to try and kill him only so they could usurp his role in our ISKCON society.

Some would argue that familiarity breeds contempt and that too much close association with the maha bhagavat made them lose sight of his actual position and stature as a Vaiṣṇava Ācārya and began thinking they were also – just as or even more great – than he was? Or did their hunger for admiration, worship, money and position blind them and drive them to commit guru aparādha?

If they lost their respect and faith in Śrīla Prabhupāda and were able to betray him to the extent that they did then how is it possible that they have any faith in Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself? Of course we presume that many of these devotees still have faith. Yet how can they have faith in Kṛṣṇa if they do not have faith in the process that the Lord gave to us in order to learn how to become conscious of Him? A process which is handed down in a succession of qualified pure maha bhagavat devotees of the Lord that He sent to us for the specific purpose of assisting us in becoming pure ourselves?

What if they have lost their faith? Is it even possible? Is it possible that a ‘believer’ can lose their faith and still make a show of following, or believing? In order to understand this we need to look at other ‘faiths’ to see if members of the clergy can still act in the role of a believer while they no longer believe…

An interesting extract follows from an agency that offers association and counseling for clergy members who have lost their faith.

Another participant, “Lynn,” writes:

“The Clergy Project has been a lifesaver for me. I am an active Methodist pastor who is also an atheist. I began the ministry full of great dreams and full faith in what I preached. However, over time I began to realize that the ‘truth’ I was preaching wasn’t so true. I resisted my doubts at first, but the nagging in my brain wouldn’t stop. So I embarked on a journey of researching and discovering that what I had believed for so long wasn’t true.

“I’m still in the pulpit, as I stated above. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, I made a commitment to my church and my denomination to serve this appointment. Second, the financial issue. If I walk away now, my family will suffer greatly. Trust me, this decision to stay for now hasn’t been an easy one. Every week I feel like a fraud. Every week I struggle with the fact that I’m lying when I stand before my congregation. I’m leading a double life.”

Double jeopardy

The toughest issue for these religious leaders is financial. Most of them would leave the pulpit immediately if they were able to change careers readily. Former clergy help by sharing their own success stories of finding gainful secular employment.

It is evident that a member of the clergy can still remain in spiritual roles even after they have lost their faith. As you can see the rationale for staying and maintaining the pretense of a believer may be sincere however that sincerity is mixed with selfishness. Their commitment was not to the position but to increase the faith of the faithful and not a financial commitment to family or career.

How many GBC and Rubber Stamped Gurus are facing the same dilemma? How many have to all extents and purposes lost their faith but still remain in position due to the fear of losing the worship, adoration, respect, money and followers? How many of them have yet to admit this even to themselves?

The moment they assumed that they can be a guru above and beyond Śrīla Prabhupāda’s instructions was the moment they lost faith in Śrīla Prabhupāda. This decision, for whatever rationale they possessed, severed their faith in Śrīla Prabhupāda and the process that he prescribed.

One’s bhakti lata bija requires the sweet water of mercy from one’s guru in order to grow and flourish. Should one intentionally sever the relationship with one’s guru then surely the creeper of devotional service wilts and perishes and all that is left is the impersonal empty husk of a career which can only be fueled by ambitious greed…

When we ask the question of how is it possible that a devotee who holds the position / job of a guru in our society can continually break the regulative principles, live an opulent lifestyle, take the worship of his followers, ignore śāstric injunction and the instructions of Śrīla Prabhupāda, destroy the lives of sincere god brothers and sisters and treat the Deity as a doll/idol… Perhaps what we are witnessing in our so called leaders is really a person who has lost their faith…