Rabbi Isaacs Schorr – USA:
In attempting to look at rationale why the leadership of ISKCON modified (deviated from) Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on how to develop and grow ISKCON over the years since he entered into Samadhi, one may look to cultural bias or more precisely, ethnicity, as a contributing factor.
Culture can influence understanding and this may affect the way in which a person understands any concept or idea. How this relates to the problems within ISKCON is yet to be fully researched. One may argue that the cultural milieu of the country that a person was raised may influence a person’s ability to accept or interpret Srila Prabhupada’s instructions, but there are too many variables to obtain a definitive outcome. Any definitive conclusion on cultural bias is further complicated by the fact that most devotees have been acculturated / normalized in a similar urban based educative process which has been designed for a middle class consumerist demographic, therefore they necessarily have similar ‘cultural backgrounds’ which are only slightly differentiated according to the particular country that they were raised.
Culture in this context is distinct from a person’s religious / ethnic background, where they obtain influence, samscars, from their family traditions. While culture may include a person’s social background it may not affect or influence a person as much as their ethnic background. Ethnicity can be seen as cultural diversity within any given social structure. For example, Italian immigrants to the US may have been domiciled in the US for several generations, attended the same schooling and socialized in the same social systems as their non Italian friends, however strong, largely sentimental ties to their Italian heritage still exist and in many cases they are strongly influential on their social systems.
How or if a devotee’s past (karmic) ethnic traditions and backgrounds affect a person’s ability to appreciate and realize the ‘you are not this body’ principle of Vaisnavaism as taught by Srila Prabhupada may be an important field of study in the future. This is especially so when we have experienced many devotees who have left the shelter of Srila Prabhupada and reverted back to their pre devotee state of being.
Ethnicity may also be present in devotee socialization process as many times we see that devotees mainly associate with other devotees who are coming from similar ethnic backgrounds which are similar to the trends found in the non devotee social systems. How this affects their ability to understand and accept Krsna Consciousness is yet to be studied.
To understand why many devotees have lost their respect and allegiance to the ISKCON leadership needs further discussion. In an attempt to understand why the devotees who hold leadership positions within the ISKCON institution have deviated, some devotees are beginning to suspect ethnic bias as a serious influential factor.
This discussion has proven to be a controversial subject and has provoked some provocative ideas which led to emotive responses from some members. It has been posited by devotees who support (pro) the idea that ethnic bias does play a role in ISKCON; that the main negative influence comes from devotees in leadership positions within ISKCON who hail from a Jewish ethnic background (giving rise to the term JBD or Jewish background devotee).
The pros present their argument in terms of the; disproportionate prominence of the Jewish Background Devotees in senior leadership and influential positions within ISKCON, citing them as forming an oligarchy and having a negative influence on ISKCON leadership and management, with the inference that the JBD influence is causative rather than symptomatic of our problems. While the cons present; that to bring this point up in ISKCON is racist, Anti-Semitic and based on a mundane level of consciousness.
The Administrators believe that ethnicity and ethnic bias are two different concepts. A person’s ethnicity may have some impact on their appreciation of Krsna Consciousness, however, ethnic bias or a person’s attachment to their ethnic background has a much greater impact on the ability of a person to assimilate or acculturate to a particular culture. For example many South American Catholics still hold strong to the traditional beliefs of their particular ethnic background while simultaneously practicing Catholicism.
We understand that the issue of ethnic bias, if it were not associated with the ideology of Anti-Semitism, can be and should be maturely and intelligently discussed.
The fact that this discussion has already occurred in ISKCON makes it part of ISKCON’s history and merits that we record it and discuss it further if necessary.
The Administrators believe that an ISKCON leader, whether they be a Jewish Background Devotee or not, is not displaying the symptoms of a true follower when they choose to change or subvert any instruction of Srila Prabhupada and implement their own programmes and policies. The onus is us to find out what are the causative factors of this disloyalty to Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON and take the appropriate measures to correct the situation.
However, we will not post arguments or papers that are based on dogmatism but provide a thoughtful pragmatic view to the subject matter.
Article of Interest
*This paper was widely distributed within ISKCON however it was never posted on any website although it was posted on the PAMHO forums for a short time. Please note that the views here while very informative are very controversial and disturbing and reader discretion is strongly advised.
As far as the administrators have researched the philosophical views expressed by Rabbi Schorr have been corroborated by Jewish sources. However, the aspect regarding the ‘infiltration’ into ISKCON has yet to be corroborated.
All efforts to contact the Rabbi have been fruitless. The administrator was in receipt of an ‘anonymous sourced’ reply to a devotee (who will remain undisclosed) by the Rabbi and is posted herein.
The Judaic Vaisnava (JuVai)
After being informed on the debate occurring in your ISKCON society, I decided to make our position clear regarding our influence within ISKCON. In order to enter into discussions on the Jewish influence in ISKCON one must first have a greater understanding of the Judaic belief system. On a personal note my parents are practicing Jews and daily study the Torah. They rarely attend the Synagogue for they prefer to practice their belief in the privacy of their home, as they believe their home is their temple. They consider themselves “Progressive or Reform Jews”. Although from a Reform Jewish background I lean towards a more conservative approach to Judaism that I have gained through my Theological training. Due to my contacts in the Hare Krishna Movement I have followed its progress for many years now and so I would like to explain some fundamental points to aid you in your spiritual quest for a higher consciousness.
Please bear with me as I offer a brief and basic synopsis of our ancient system. I understand that many of the points that I am presenting may seem contradictory to your beliefs, however if you can look at them not only in the context that I am presenting them, but also from a critically analytical perspective you will see the real message that I wish to convey.
Diaspora is the spread of the Jewish people from Israel throughout the world. After leaving Israel the Jewish people initially settled in the European Continent. They were pressed to leave due to religious intolerance and persecution. After all is said and done we understand that this was all part of G-d’s plan and we bear no animosity. The Jewish people throughout the world originate from three main backgrounds who hail from the ancient Israelites of the Middle East. They form five basic groups; the Sephardic, Ashkenazi, Khazarian, Mizrachi and members of the 10 lost tribes of Israel. The Sephardic Jews are from Spain, Portugal and North Africa, The Ashkenazi Jews are from Germany, France and Eastern Europe and the Khazarian Jews were considered convert Jews when in 740 CE, the Khazarian King, his court and military ruling class all embraced the Jewish faith. However, contemporary genetic research has identified genetic markers which prove that members of the Jewish priestly class the Levities were present in the Khazars who eventually blended in with the European Jews after the collapse of the Khazar kingdom in the 12th or 13th century. The Mizrachi/Oriental Jews are the Jews of the Middle East. We are currently engaged in genetic research to ascertain the various family lines connected to the 10 lost tribes of Israel in order to notify them of their genetic and spiritual heritage and subsequently bring them back into the fold. The Jewish people now number approximately 14 million and are found in nearly all countries of the world. The majority of Jewish people reside in both Israel and New York.
Judaism is usually classified in three denominations: Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform. Orthodox Judaism falls into two broad categories: Modern Orthodox and Hasidim. The Modern Orthodox Jews are usually more academic, while the Hasidim Jews are more mystical. One of the more “high profile” groups within Hasidism is the Lubavitch (also called Habad). Hasidic men usually wear black or dark gray suits and always wear skullcaps (in Hebrew, kippah; in Yiddish, yarmulke). Orthodox Jews insist on traditional Judaism, with few accommodations to modernity. Reform Judaism, on the other hand, has embraced modernity, liberalism, and humanism in an effort to enhance a sense of relevance. Although there are a variety of beliefs within Reform Judaism, it generally maintains a more inclusive position regarding feminism, homosexuality, and agnosticism. Conservative Judaism “fills the gap” between Orthodox Judaism and Reform Judaism. This is the largest denomination within American Jewry, and it is important to point out that “Conservative” applies to their approach to religion and should not be seen as a political label. Their desire is to make allowances for modern culture, while conserving, as far as possible, traditional Judaism. Again, there is a variety of perspectives within Conservative Judaism. Some conservative synagogues are closer to Orthodox Judaism, while others are closer to Reform Judaism. There are other, smaller groups within Judaism, but these are the principal ones.
Zionism and the Jewish Diaspora:
Zionism or the return of the Jewish people to their homeland in Israel has been in the hearts and minds of the Jewish people for millennia and it has only become a political movement as such in the early 1900’s where we were able to use our influence, through peaceful diplomacy, to arrange for our homeland to be given back to us after the Second World War. Zionists have no particular religious affiliation and the politically active tend to be more secular. Now the Jewish people situated in the homeland can be counted as a nation again and under G-d’s divine grace we will flourish and grow to fulfill our righteous purpose on earth.
As you can see Judaism is basically a “pluralistic” tradition. Jewish pluralism has two forms. The intra-religious form where Jews basically accept different denominations such as the ones described above within their own faith. Then there is the Jewish people’s willingness and promotion of a pluralistic greater society where there is harmony and liaison between differing Religious faiths. As we are heavily involved in the Humanistic Sciences and the development of a Standardized Global Education System we promote the Secularist approach to the development of societies which aim to be more tolerant of Environmentalism, Multiculturalism and Interfaith. We see that Secularism is the most effective way to create healthy and tolerant societies that seek to harmonize our economic, organizational and spiritual systems with the aim to develop the fullest human potential in the service to G-d.
Conversion in the Jewish Context:
Certain Jewish denominations allow conversion, however the general understanding is not conversion to Judaism but for gentiles to follow Noahide Law, so there may be harmony amongst peoples of the world. Basically Jews are happy that one remains in his or her faith but strictly observes the seven Noahide Laws and diligently studies the Torah.
Jews and the Concept of Being ‘The Chosen Ones’:
Many gentiles believe that since we have entered into a covenant with G-d and that G-d has a personal and intimate relationship with us, that we believe we are superior to all other peoples. We do have this special relationship with G-d which we do not deny, however we have been given the special responsibility to provide spiritual guidance to mankind. To this end we have been working diligently for centuries to assist mankind in taking advantage of G-d’s love for us all by following his commandments and therefore ensuring world peace.
Monotheism and the Judaic Understanding of G-d:
In Judaism the central concept is Monotheistic. Judaism describes G-d as being neither matter nor spirit but is the creator of both. There are two aspects of G-d: G-dhead, which is ultimately unknowable and the revealed personal aspect of G-d, his “light”, which created and preserves the universe. G-d’s “light” which is transformed into “force” which is the force of transformation and healing. G-d’s Force of Healing and Transformation calls the world to love and mutual caring. We are beings created in G-d’s image with the inherent tendency to goodness and holiness that is capable of being spiritually embodied. The true meaning of transcendence is to be able to bring out the inner germ of spiritual and moral energy that infuses every atom of our being and enables man to be able to recognize G-d in the world, others and ourselves. G-d created the world and us and leaves us to recognize our true inner nature which is pure spiritual energy and morality. It is when we do this, when we bring back G-d into the world through knowing our true inner nature and path that we become truly human and partners with G-d. Then through this we can begin the process of repair of this world. In Hebrew Tikkun means healing, repair and transformation and olam means this world. So Tikkun Olam means the transformational healing and repair of this world.
The G-d of the Abrahamic faiths is a very personal G-d and he has specifically directed us on how to properly worship and serve him. It is due to the fact that the Israelites listened to him and followed his instructions faithfully that he entered into an eternally binding covenant with them thus sealing our personal relationship with him for all eternity. As you can see by our power, influence and success he has been true to his word over the centuries and we have prospered and spread throughout the world.
In the Judaic tradition the ultimate destiny of G-d’s chosen people is not clear as this is not our purview and in the hands of G-d. It suffices to say that the only certainty is death itself. After death man’s future is only open to speculation, for there is no clear knowledge gained by; experience, revelation or reason of man’s future. To claim otherwise is illogical and displays a lack of understanding of the essential truths of logic, reason and history. Persons of lesser realization see this world as a place of struggle and hardship and have developed over time ideologies that seek to escape this world and the suffering therein to a utopian heaven. Therefore we have found that mankind in their ignorance of the one true G-d takes shelter in escapist’s theology, whereas the Judaic people, under the guidance of G-d see mother earth as a place of transformation and spiritual growth. To heal ourselves through G-d’s loving energy and heal the earth, in keeping with G-d’s will, is the real goal of life. We do not seek to escape to a transcendent mental utopia that is only revealed to us by the unsubstantiated speculative ideas of the subjective mind. Jews accept their life on earth. My parents for example have accepted that there is no heaven and so they live their lives in humble submission to the tenets of Judaism and have accepted the American way of life and are at peace. This of course is until the beginning the Messianic time when a descendent of King David is enthroned in Israel and Jews from all the twelve tribes of Israel will be reunited.
Judaism as an Iconoclastic Tradition:
Judaism is similar to the Islamic tradition not only via our early biblical traditional roots we are also Iconoclasts. This means that we both believe that G-d is formless and so it is not possible that G-d can be represented in Idols or Statues etc. Although the G-d of the Judaic and Islamic traditions abhors idol worship and demands their destruction we of the Jewish faith understand that in the present modern context this is not practical therefore we aim to educate the gentile races that G-d is within the heart, mind and intelligence and therefore in the modern context the archaic worship of the form of G-d is unnecessary.
King David the King of the Israelites:
G-d has stated that the family line of King David has been given the task of stewardship of this earth and he instructed that when the next King is anointed in Israel he will bring peace to this earth. He will build the third Temple on Mount Moriah and he will establish the Sanhedrin (the supreme judicial and ecclesiastical council) and through them he will govern the earth. He will control crime by the universal implementation of Noahide Law amongst the Gentile nations. He will disarm all weapons of mass destruction and unite all countries and peoples under his rule. He will bring all peoples of the earth together under one Religion, Judaism, and so put an end to communalism and sectarianism. He will destroy all idols or representations of the form of divinity and stop the manufacture and worship of such. He will also reintroduce animal sacrifice in the Third Temple for the atonement of the peoples of Israel and followers of Noahide Law.
King David (1000 – 970 BCE), was the ‘David’ who killed Goliath and gathered the 12 tribes of Israel together and formed the Jewish people into a nation. He ruled with an iron fist and conquered the surrounding lands giving no quarter to the enemies of Israel, including approx 50 Semitic Tribes, sparing only a few (which includes the modern day Arabs). King David was succeeded by his son Solomon who was not militant but more academic. Solomon built the first temple in Israel in 960BCE and it was destroyed in 586BCE by the Babylonians. King Solomon, not having the warrior instinct, relied heavily on the taxation of his people. When his son and successor, King Rehoboam took the throne he promised to be more heavy on the people than his father and so the people grew resentful which eventually led to 10 of the 12 Tribes of Israel to split away from the his rule. They took the land north of Jerusalem and became known as the Tribes of Israel. King Rehoboam’s line became known as the Tribes of Judah.
The Northern Tribes of Israel were eventually dispersed and have to all extents and purposes been lost to history. The remaining tribes that is the Tribe of Judah and the Tribe of Benjamin exist to the present day. These two Tribes form the majority of the present day Jews. Although G-d has promised that he will bring the members of those lost and scattered (amongst the gentiles) tribes back to Israel and unite them once again.
Rebuilding of the Temple took from 516BCE to 70BCE to complete and was called the Second Temple. The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70ce, when the Jewish people rebelled against Roman rule. It was after the destruction of the second Temple that the Jewish people disbanded the Sanhedrin. The current attempt to re-establish the Sanhedrin is generally referred to as the “nascent Sanhedrin”, or the “developing Sanhedrin”. This is because the prevailing opinion of the senior members of the Sanhedrin is that the Sanhedrin has not yet achieved halachic [Jewish legal] status on par with its previous position. It does however have the full authority of a Rabbinical court, and is working diligently and with much discussion to satisfy all halachic requirements for complete restoration as soon as possible.
Many of the Jewish people await the coming of the next King in David’s bloodline and to this end we have been preparing his way over the centuries. The sons of the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim have been in power for over two hundred years. Our wealth, power and influence are widespread across the earth as we engage in beneficial work for mankind. No field of activity has been at a loss due to our presence but has gained exponentially. Academics, Philosophy, Business, Finance, Science, Art, Literature, Entertainment, Religion, Defense, Politics, Mass media etc have greatly benefited by the strongly influential presence and leadership of the Jewish people. This is evidenced by the superior numbers of our people in all of the above areas when we count for barely 1% of the total world population. This fact alone attests to our level of consciousness and can only be understood in terms of our grasp of the fundamentals of human consciousness as it relates to not only G-ds material creation but also relates to the Jewish people being exclusively empowered by him.
Judaism and its Relevance in the Modern Context:
Due to the “heaven on earth” ideal of Judaism, our desire to leave this mortal world is not a factor and so we work hard to make this world a better place. Therefore we tend to lean more towards a Humanistic approach to life. Although Humanism promotes the idea that truth cannot be found via revelation, mysticism or tradition it has strong affinity with Religions which stress individual and joint human potential that is based on the observable and logical world as opposed to what it deems the ‘ unknowable transcendental world’.
Humanism rejects the transcendental world as being constructs of the mind and not of the rational or critical enquiry of man. Therefore an object, or an idea, which includes dreams, visions, hallucinations, the written or spoken word, must be able to withstand the scrutiny of logical, critical thinking that is based on empirical study and is falsifiable. The transcendental world, Heaven or the transcendent personal form of G-d is a man made construct that has no existence separate from the thoughts and ideas of the subjective mind and is a mere reflection of the material world.
Judaism is more akin to Agnosticism where the question of the existence or non existence of a Deity is unknowable due to our inability to verify its existence in any other way except by someone else’s subjective experience. In Judaism G-d possesses two aspects. One is transcendent and is unknowable and the other is manifest, as light, and through this medium G-d creates and maintains the material universe and interacts with his people.
Monotheism comes from the Greek ‘Mono’ – which means one and ‘Theos’ which means G-d. There are basically two types of Monotheism, Exclusive and Inclusive Monotheism. Judaism is considered an Exclusive Monotheistic tradition, similar to Vaisnavaism where the adherents believe in a single supreme G-d that is the source of all spirit and matter. In the Judaic concept G-d has no form and more importantly human form, and is experienced in this material world as force. ‘G-dhead’ or the source of G-d is unknowable whereas in the Vaisnava concept G-dhead is knowable and claims that he reveals himself personally to his followers through Scripture and mantra meditation on his personal form. Inclusive Monotheism is the belief that there is also only one G-d (Brahman) and that all other G-ds are different names and forms of that one formless G-d. All G-ds are one. This is the belief of the majority of Hindus and comes under the denomination of Smartism.
Due to Judaism’s affinity to Humanism we are very active in the Educative fields. We encourage and actively promote secular education and academia both for our own communities and for the gentiles as we view this to be the best way to achieve full human potential. The Jewish people have proven themselves to excel in all aspects of human society from being model citizens to being great innovators and reformers.
Due to the strong affiliation with our culture we are necessarily drawn to creating a better world for all. Our Scriptures predict a time when we will rule the earth and bring peace to mankind under the Judaic law and culture and it is to this end that we have influence and presence in most if not all the cultures of this world. Our process of tikkun olam, or healing the world, is already in full swing as evident by our involvement and support for not only the environmental movement but also the Interfaith Movement. Interfaith is a very important aspect of our work here on earth. Many of the Religious doctrines teach the escapist mentality that is offensive to G-d who has told us what to do to obey him. So we are gradually teaching other religions the process via intelligent and open dialogue how to make the change to accept G-d’s instructions on how to properly live their lives in his service. This does not mean that you have to change your faith. It simply means that you become more free thinking and develop the ability to accept higher truths.
The Judaic Support of the Secular State:
Most Jewish denominations are in full support of the Secular State for the simple reason that secularism assures that there is a clear distinction between the Government and a person’s religious belief system in order for there to be a fair and just governmental system. This also assures that the educative process is unified and aims via the Humanistic sciences to create a baseline understanding of true human potential. To this end we have greatly assisted in the establishment of a global standardized education system in all civilized countries. This secular education system is being instituted into all developing nations in order for them to be able to modernize in a systematic and a highly controlled manner. In this way we have ensured all peoples from all nations and religious beliefs a fair and equal footing in their endeavor for self-determination and modernization.
Liberalism Feminism and Homosexuality:
The Jewish people have always been a tolerant people that wish to live in harmony with mother earth, G-d and other faiths. Due to the progressive and modernistic view of most Jewish people we are very concerned about the way in which people relate to each other. Our input in the Humanistic sciences, law and civil rights have seen the Jewish people and the Jewish lobby make many changes that favor the civil rights and self determination of all citizens in society not just the privileged. We view a person’s civil right to self determination as the utmost priority of a civilized nation and the birth right of every human being. In this way we support the rights of the individual to choose the type of lifestyle they wish to live, whether it be; Heterosexual, Homosexual, Lesbian, Transsexual, Pro Choice – Birth Control/ Abortion, Feminism or Freedom to choose which Religious practice they desire to follow, etc people should be free to make these decisions without Societal and Governmental interference.
The Judaic Perspective of Freedom of Choice:
The Jewish perspective on freedom of choice is very simple. A person must have the right to choose what they will and will not do, think, or accept in their lives. Society or Governments should not interfere with a person’s right to choose. We have endeavored to provide civilized societies with a standard education and moral code in which to live and it is up to the individual person to make up their own mind on the choices they make. However, once a person has chosen it is easy to ascertain their level of consciousness. When a person makes a choice it is well understood that along with that choice comes its subsequent consequence. Therefore G-d in his infinite wisdom has provided us with moral, civil and scriptural law that we must ultimately follow in order to have a peaceful society that is based on a high level of spiritual consciousness.
The Noahide Law and World Peace:
The peace process has not been easy over the years as many people don’t appreciate the difficulties in creating real lasting peace and they see our activities as being controlling. We acknowledge that peace is not cheap and it will not come easy and that there must be sacrifice and change to help the peace process. In order to create world peace there has to be Law and Order. Over the centuries we have worked tirelessly to have our Noahide Law become the base of all civilized nations of this earth. The Law of Noah is here for the non Jew to follow and by doing so there is a chance of the peace process being successful. To date we have been able to have many governments accept Noahide Law as the foundation of their societies in Europe, South America and North America.
The US House and Senate fully understand the importance of both education and the righteousness of our Noahide Law and to this end they have passed the following resolution;
H.J. RES. 104 : To designate March 26, 1991, as “Education Day, U.S.A.” (Enrolled as Agreed to or Passed by Both House and Senate)
Whereas Congress recognizes the historical tradition of ethical values and principles which are the basis of civilized society and upon which our great Nation was founded; Whereas these ethical values and principles have been the bedrock of society from the dawn of civilization, when they were known as the Seven Noahide Laws; Whereas without these ethical values and principles the edifice of civilization stands in serious peril of returning to chaos; Whereas society is profoundly concerned with the recent weakening of these principles that has resulted in crises that beleaguer and threaten the fabric of civilized society; Whereas the justified preoccupation with these crises must not let the citizens of this Nation lose sight of their responsibility to transmit these historical ethical values from our distinguished past to the generations of the future.
The Noahide Law presented below is a summary only, as the actual details of the law are much more thorough, but this will suffice to display the simplicity and practicality of its function in a healthy, happy and peaceful society.
The seven Noahide laws:
- Prohibition of Idolatry: You shall not have any idols before G-d. This includes the manufacture and worship of an idol. The punishment for worshiping the form of G-d is death according to Hasidic Law.
- Prohibition of Murder: You shall not murder. (Genesis 9:6)
- Prohibition of Theft: You shall not steal.
- Prohibition of Sexual Promiscuity: You shall not commit any of a series of sexual prohibitions, which include adultery, incest, bestiality and male homosexual intercourse.
- Prohibition of Blasphemy: You shall not blaspheme G-d’s name.
- Dietary Law: Do not eat flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive. (Genesis 9:4)
- Requirement to have just Laws: You shall set up an effective judiciary to enforce the preceding six laws fairly.
It is important to note that transgression of the Noahide Laws come with prescribed punishments. These may seem harsh at first glance but we must remember that this is the only way to achieve true peace on earth. In Capital Punishment it must be understood that the killing of the person is not direct punishment to the offender as he or she will answer to G-d, but as an example to others to not transgress G-d’s Law.
Capital Punishments include – Stoning: for idol worship / witchcraft etc. Burning: for incest etc. Strangulation: for preaching other religions etc. Slaying: (decapitation with a sword) for converting to another religion. The forms of capital punishments that we utilize are approved by man and G-d as being the least painful and therefore the most humane method of killing. We understand that the person must not suffer unduly even though they have sinned against G-d.
All transgressors of the Noahide Law will be tried by the local Sanhedrin and the trial will be expedient as it only needs one Jewish witness to convict a felon. The King has executive power and can implement the law at his discretion. These may seem harsh to many people but they are necessary in order to create harmony and peace amongst people. Especially in these times, where murder, rape, theft, prostitution, illicit drug use, homosexuality and child sex is rampant. As you can see from your own life how the escapist mentality of religion has created a people who wish to leave this earth for a illusionary transcendental realm have very little concern for this world of G-d’s creation and so have allowed rampant crime and disease to spread with very little control and so people live in fear and misery rather than peace, love and harmony with nature and G-d.
Judaic Environmental Concern:
Through the process of Tikkun Olam or healing the world we acknowledge that G-d has given us the earth or Gaia and it is the Jewish people’s duty to understand that our role is to lovingly protect and tend to mother earth so we can harvest its goodness and riches without damaging it. Mankind to date has been more interested in taking from Gaia than nurturing the earth and the resulting damage and degradation has occurred. We need to seek ways in which to heal Gaia and restore the delicate equilibrium of ecology and economics and so to this end we have been not only in full support of Environmental matters but also world leaders as we aim to develop policies and technologies aimed at healing mother earth.
Our deep concern for the welfare of others has of course created much envy and cynicism from the gentile nations and has lead to Jewish persecution for centuries. Many “conspiracy” theories have sprung up claiming that the mission of the Jewish people is more to do with world domination than the welfare of humanity at large. This view is strongly protested by the Jewish people as our purpose and influence is peaceful and our real goal is peace.
Jewish people have also been accused of being behind the various secret societies such as the Free Masons, Illuminati, Skull and Bones Club, the Bilderberg Group, the Bohemian Grove etc while we do have connections with these groups our purpose is strictly to do with creating world peace.
We have been accused of being behind the Roman Catholic Church and various Protestant Churches as well as behind the Saudi Arabian families who control the Islamic Religions. Our accusers claim that we will eventually use this control to align all major world religions with the Judaic Religion under the Torah. These accusations are completely unfounded and mischievous, however, we do not worry too much about them for in the end the truth always prevails.
Jewish people have been accused of being behind many of histories revolutions for example the French Revolution and the more modern day spread of Communistic ideologies and consequentially the Russian Bolshevik revolution and the formation of the Russian Secret Police, the Cheka thru to the KGB who under both Lenin and Stalin orchestrated the mass murder of tens of millions of people.
In the area of history we have been accused of rewriting history to write out or censor any of our alleged crimes or manipulations so as to appear the victim instead of the aggressor. This we find impossible to fathom for not even we have such long reaching influence.
There are also many accusations of animal and human sacrifice leveled at our community. Animal and Human sacrifice (Holocaust – burnt offerings) while being an integral part of Orthodox Jewish rituals of atonement to G-d for our sins, have not been practiced officially since the destruction of the second Temple in 70ce. Under the label of ‘blood libel’ we have also been accused of human sacrifice throughout our times in Diaspora. As previously stated, offerings of animals and humans, into the sacrificial fire or the ritualistic sacrifice of humans and animals have not been officially practiced since the destruction of the second Temple.
Zionism is another area where the gentile has misunderstood our purpose. The reestablishment of our birthright homeland, Israel, has generated much envy and misunderstanding. Accusations of conspiracy and genocide have been leveled against the Jewish people by our accusers who claim that we used foul and manipulative means to obtain our homeland. Claims that the First and Second World Wars were instigated by Zionists whose aim was to secure our homeland by sacrificing our own people in order to spur on the Daispora to the US, United Kingdom and our homeland in Palestine are of course absurd and unfounded.
We have been accused of being behind the rise and fall of Adolf Hitler who, it is claimed, main aim was to aid in the formation of the State of Israel. They claim that by the killing of many Shepardic Jews leant sympathy and gave an excuse for the mass Diaspora of millions of Jews to powerful countries throughout Europe and America who normally disallowed our migration. They claim that this afforded our people a stranglehold on world economies and powerful political influence particularly with the US, United Kingdom, France and the United Nations which helps us to maintain the State of Israel. They even go as far as claiming that the present day War on Terror is merely an excuse to secure and militarize the countries bordering Israel so that we can grow and flourish in our Homeland.
The fact that providence has shined upon us in the 19th century is only due to our intimate relationship with G-d who by his special grace and divine benevolence has allowed our people to immigrate to many gentile nations where they have prospered and has created the State of Israel. G-d has now ensured that we his people are safe in our homeland to again begin the unimpeded worship of G-d in the manner which he prescribes and befitting the one true G-d the G-d of Israel.
In summary the Jewish people have a very great beneficial impact on world politics, education, economics, governments, law and religion. Our struggle and mission is G-d given as we follow Biblical Law given by genuine Religious leaders and thinkers who have carefully and critically studied our religious text and the word of G-d and no other religion can lay claim to this. Most Religions have been profoundly influenced and directed by the Jewish people from the Roman Catholic Church to the Christian Fundamentalists, Buddhists, Hindus, the New Age Movements and Humanism. Our influence has seen them change from religious fundamentalism by making the shift towards true enlightenment through Modernization and Pluralism.
All religions of the world are now almost fully integrated with modernity as they are accepting academia and their place in the secular world. Via our schooling system, which is designed along the Humanistic line, to produce intelligent critical thinkers who can balance empirical experience with rational thought through to our higher educative process where we will educate the masses to accept the critical analytical approach. This will open their minds to higher realms of consciousness and see them integrate with the earth, its resources and live in peace and harmony with each other and G-d under his divine law.
The Jewish Influence in ISKCON:
Now I come to ISKCON – the Hare Krishna Movement. As you all know very well the Jewish people have had tremendous influence and impact upon ISKCON over the years. Most if not all the senior and well spoken of devotees have been from Jewish roots and have greatly expanded your movement into a worldwide enterprise. It now must be clear to you why we think and act in certain ways and so now you can better understand the changes that have been occurring around you as being for your own benefit and to lovingly bring you all to a higher consciousness.
The Hare Krishna Movement occupies a highly exclusive role in world Religions. Very few religions have the understanding that G-d has a personal form that exists in the transcendental or supramundane plane. The Hindu tradition differs greatly from, and is at loggerheads with, the Caitanyaite tradition, in as much as their beliefs assume that all G-ds are one, that they only exist on this mundane earthly plane, and are incarnated manifestations of the divine formless and unknowable G-dhead. The erroneous conceptualization of G-dhead propagated by the Caitanyite Tradition which is not based on factual evidence or Scriptural doctrine will require substantial assistance by intelligent and thoughtful preceptors who know the truth and can guide you onto the correct path to attain true and lasting G-d realization and ultimate human potential.
Philosophical Similarities and Differences:
You also must understand that no matter where we are as a Jewish person, our inner nature has been ingrained in us for generations dating back to Abrahamic times. We are people of G-d who have a shared genetic lineage and purpose. Our purpose has been instilled into us for countless generations and therefore it is our duty and responsibility to provide authentic wisdom for the spiritual upliftment of mankind. G-d also implants in the heart of the more advanced Jew a piece of his nature or spark that makes him a leader of men. Our people who are in your movement have this spark called Meshach and so it is in their very nature to be leaders of men. You can see how we are not followers but leaders who have great understanding of G-d’s plan and how best to achieve his plan within your ISKCON.
We understand that Swami Prabhupada was a charismatic leader of men who used his considerable charisma to bring you all to another level of consciousness where you will be better able to accept him as your guru or spiritual leader. We are not concerned about this in anyway. We see this as being good and necessary for your spiritual growth and nourishment. He afforded you a higher platform in which to understand still higher truths. From this new platform you can critically analyze his message, learn from it and move on with your spiritual lives.
His presentation that G-dhead was anthropomorphic, knowable and reachable by both the gentile and Jew is not consistent with the understanding of G-d in our Abrahamic tradition and is in need of careful rational analysis and revision. His presentation that G-dhead was an actual person with human form, qualities and intimate relationships is not consistent with our Abrahamic tradition where G-dhead is the unknowable aspect of G-d which lies beyond his actions or emanations (as it were). The fact that no other religious tradition accepts this opinion and views it as an; unverifiable and highly imaginative mental construct rather than an authentic understanding of G-dhead, requires more investigation by the Academics in ISKCON. His idea that this material world is a perverted image of the so called transcendent world is considered a naïve escapist view that typifies a utopian state which is nothing more than a dreamlike reflection of the real waking world in which we actually exist.
Krishna’s Factual Position in Relationship to G-d:
Krishna was quite possibly a historical character (like Jesus) and had many followers, and so was Chaitanya who formed the Chaitanyaite tradition that Swami Prabhupada followed. The same as the Hindu personalities such as Vishnu, Shiva or Ganesh etc, which are incarnate or flesh and blood personalities of this mortal world who aid people in living a life in a higher consciousness. When a person can understand that all of mankind’s so called G-ds such as Buddha, Jesus, Mohammad, Krishna, Vishnu, Shiva etc are incarnated manifestations of the light of G-dhead then there will be true peace on earth. All of these personalities have their duties and responsibilities but are only creations of the ‘Light’ (Brahman) of the unknowable G-dhead. The only difference being that the G-d of Israel is the only true G-d and the Israelites the only true race of man who G-d has given, by his covenant, the right and duty to rule the earth.
Secular Academia and its Relationship to ISKCON:
When your Swami Prabhupada came to the US he held an unrealistic assumption that his religious tradition could acculturate with our deeply ingrained influence on western culture. As history attests Swami Prabhupada had to make many adjustments in an attempt to make his mission a success. As you can see soon after his demise his disciples and followers quickly embraced a more contemporary approach to the mission as a natural and realistic development of his mission. History also attests that this attempt to seek relevance in the modern context is proving highly successful for ISKCON.
Western Academia now has a very supportive and beneficial grip on ISKCON via various Academic bodies in both the US and England through their Theological or Hindu studies departments. Through our control of the most prestigious Universities in the US and England we liaise and educate ISKCON members (and other Religions) with Academia, Humanism, Liberalism, Feminism, Psychology and Counseling etc. We also teach its members the value of developing a more Pluralistic society where there can be harmony between not only the Secular State, specifically Academia, but also inter religious harmony. To this end we have embarked upon an educative process where we are breaking down ISKCON’s sectarian approach to the Hindu community. The Vaisnava tradition is typified by its intolerance, alienation and vilification of other schools of thought such as the Shankyaite School of whom most Hindus belong. Via our ‘interfaith’ process we intend to break down ISKCON’s sectarian approach to the Abrahamic Religions – Christian, Muslim and our own Jewish faith and begin open dialogue, liaison and ultimately integration with our Ancient Religious tradition.
The Hindu Religious tradition is more in line with the Diacritical Theological viewpoint and so we are finding that the practicing Hindu is more inclined to take advantage of our educative processes and Academic support and training than the ISKCON devotee. Although ISKCON is involved in nearly all of our Academic and Interfaith Projects they tend to be more discrete as your tradition is seen as being less tolerant of other belief systems, especially the Hindu Community. A case in point is your Oxford program in England which is administered by ISKCON devotees who must pose as Hindu’s in order to gain acceptance in the Academic fields. The sectarian aspect of ISKCON requires rigorous modification if it is to engage in more open and rational dialogue with other religious faiths at not only an Interfaith level but also at an Academic.
It is by no chance that the senior devotees of ISKCON have attended and obtained their Doctoral qualifications under the guidance of our members in these various teaching institutions. Nor is it by chance that ISKCON has gradually moved its adherents to Academia in the form of Theology, Humanistic Sciences and Services. We have also extensively educated ISKCON members with the need to be more ‘home based’ and less monastic in orientation, similar to my parents who are Reform Jews. To this end we have emphasized Namahatta and deemphasized external preaching practices in order to enable devotees to be more contemplative in their practice of service to G-d. We have also educated your members to critically analyze and move away from the vertical authoritarian herd mentality process towards the lateral process where teacher and student are on the same platform in the service of G-d.
By the introduction of the western academic model of critical thinking we intend to educate ISKCON members to assess the instructions given by their spiritual authorities in order to reduce the incidence of blind following and to enable a more academically acceptable approach to Scriptural injunctions. The methodology of the guru based system to date has been a vertical authoritarian approach where instructions and injunctions must be accepted by adherents without reason or question. The Vaisnava tradition and especially the Chaitanyaite tradition demands its adherents to accept as an axiomatic truth their opinion of theology without question. We on the other hand are attempting to create independent thinkers and not blind followers of tradition.
The modern thinkers and academics of our time have reviewed at length the various texts that are made available to followers of ISKCON and found that the approach of its Charismatic Leader to be similar to the philosophical viewpoint termed Direct or Naïve Realism. That is, he has accepted the knowledge of his preceptors without question and so demands this of his disciples. This manner of thinking implies blind following, which denies a person his or her full potential for growth and development in G-d consciousness.
The astute amongst you will notice a gradual breakdown of the guru system since Swami Prabhupada’s demise from the top down authoritarian approach to the more rational and analytical approach that Diacritical Theology offers. This more academic approach to spiritual leadership is breaking down the esoteric elitism which predominated in the old guru system to a more relaxed and open system, which allows for more access to the hierarchy than the extremely restrictive and male orientated older system allowed.
ISKCON’s Level of G-d Consciousness:
The level of consciousness that following a naïve realistic ideological format will produce is a very low form of human consciousness. Unless ISKCON adherents understand that the aim of human development is to move past the level where one sees G-d as the creator and controller and to blindly follow rules, regulations in order to know how to think and act, they will never understand higher truths. In Judaic thought this level of the soul is an intermediate level that needs to be understood in order to move into the more higher and esoteric levels. The rational understanding of the soul in the Judaic sense is explained below.
The nephesh is the living mortal being (man and animals); it feels hunger, hates, loves, loathes, weeps, and most importantly, can die (cease to breathe). The nephesh is simply an “air-breather”. Animals also are a nephesh (they breathe air). It is the source of one’s physical and psychological nature. This nephesh disintegrates upon death – returns to dust. The soul of a gentile is qualitatively different than the one of a Jewish person. The Jewish soul is more refined due to the presence of the divine soul derived from when G-d shone his light into Abraham. This divine presence affords the Jewish person a unique character which gives them ability to grasp abstract and subtle concepts which is why the Jewish people are more interested in secular fields.
The next aspect of the soul is the ruach contains the moral virtues and discriminates between good and evil. In modern terms it is the ego or personality. Then there is the Neshamah – the higher soul, higher self or super-soul. This distinguishes man from all other life forms. It relates to the intellect, and allows man to enjoy and benefit from the afterlife. This part of the soul is provided both to Jew and non-Jew alike at birth. It allows one to have some awareness of the existence and presence of G-d. At the time of death the nephesh disintegrates, the ruach is sent to a temporary paradise for purification and goes on to join the neshamah after resurrection in the Messianic time. Many religions are at this second level of human development and that is why we have been involving ourselves in the various religious traditions to make people aware of the true nature of the development of human consciousness.
The ‘Neshamah’ level of the present ISKCON adherent needs to be critically analyzed in order for them to increase their level of consciousness and begin to understand that G-d has given us this world and its resources in which to learn how to control and use. One learns the rules of the game that G-d has created, and seeks to escape the herd mentality of their present level of consciousness. The human develops an individualistic objective consciousness via scientific and rational analysis of the world in which we live. At this level we can understand that G-d has set this world in motion and it is up to us to realize that G-d has created this game of life in order for us to learn how to master it. When we have mastered the game and are able to control the earth, its people and its resources we can then begin to understand that this was always G-d’s plan.
In order to transcend this stage and attain the next level of G-d realization one must have received the Neshamah Kedosha – Provided to Jews at the age of majority (13 for boys, 12 for girls), and which is directly related to the study and fulfillment of the Torah commandments. It exists only when one studies and follows Torah; it can be lost and gained depending on one’s study and observance. Only then can one enter into the realm of Raaya Meheimna where the person can obtain Chayyah – The part of the soul that allows one to have an awareness of the divine life force itself and then Yehidah – the highest plane of the soul, in which one can achieve as full a union with G-d as is possible. It is only once one attains this stage of realization that one can truly know the nature and purpose of G-d.
The Raaya Meheimna describes a higher level of human consciousness which can be translated as pluralistic relativism, where one is free of dogma, greed and divisiveness and operates purely on the levels of feelings and love and cherishes mother earth. G-d is envisioned here as the network of human relationships, therefore the need to see G-d as having a human body is relinquished as one has accepted the higher realization. G-d is now experienced as feeling and love–and has no demands. Whatever feels good is what G-d wants. The consciousness here is decidedly anti-hierarchical–everything must be laterally linked. The self is permeable; the emphasis is on relationships and dialogue. Collective communities connected through freely chosen affiliations based on shared sentiments are seen as the only rational foundation for people being together. Decisions must be reached through reconciliation and consensus. This consciousness is strongly egalitarian, anti-hierarchical, pluralistic, valuing diversity and multiculturalism, and emphasizing relativistic value systems.
By comparing the level of spiritual advancement of the Academic leaders in your movement with the above levels you can easily see that they are on the highest platform of spiritual advancement, for they possess the spark of the Meshach.
Critical Thinking V’s Naïve Realism:
Swami Prabhupada was a powerful charismatic leader and he did well to wake people up from their apathy and G-dlessness. He allowed thousands of people to come to a higher level of consciousness, but his followers need to take the next step and keep in tune with truths that have both religious and academic support. In the modern context we have brought G-d to the discussion table by promoting the Intelligent Design Model which is gaining more and more support by the Scientific Community. In order to bring G-d into the modern context we have to prove his existence to the rational scientist and to do that we must be able to provide a rational and analytical interpretation of our Scriptures that hold up to rigors of scientific enquiry and scrutiny.
To have a religion without intelligent thought and critical thinking is simply naivety and escapism.
ISKCON leadership has recognized the limitations and restrictions of its philosophy and the needs of its followers to modernize in order for it to survive as a bona fide religion. What is left is for the adherents of ISKCON to fully accept this and move on with their devotional lives with the unshakable belief that its leadership has their best interests at heart and are working hard to make sure that ISKCON grows and develops into a true Religiously Brahmincal Vedic society.
The move to create academic diacritical theologians is now firmly established in ISKCON and their work is gaining increasing support and respect in both the academic world and the general ISKCON adherent. ISKCON’s Academics are already publishing their material via our Academic institutions and although your Academics are still at an entrance level with regards to their published work we expect the standard to increase as they become more on par with other academics in the field of Divinity studies. If ISKCON is to survive as a authentic modern day Religion it will have to prove to the Academic community that it trains its adherents to be rational and logical thinkers as opposed to blind followers of tradition and religious doctrine who are capable of making the progressive step to creating a highly sophisticated institution on par with the modern world. If ISKCON is able to meet this challenge it will survive and will be seen as intelligent educated inquirers of the substantiated truth. If it fails to do so ISKCON devotees will be seen as naïve fools to the Academic and Religious world and fade into obscurity.
G-d’s Spiritual Spark in ISKCON’s Leadership:
You have already observed the leadership, power and influence of our people in your movement and are beginning to see the superiority of their guidance and teachings. Please know the G-d of Israel has chosen, in his divine wisdom, to send his children to take birth in New York and other parts of the United States of America in order to assist you in your quest for higher truth and G-d realization so please avail yourself of their pure spiritual enlightenment. They are infused with the spark of Meshach so they will greatly assist you to grow in your love and service to G-d and in the process let us all come together in peace, love and cherished service to G-d and his creation.
The term demise when speaking of Swami Prabhupada’s death has been purposefully instilled into your vocabulary. Demise means: ‘the time when something ends’ and so let this be so. Swami Prabhupada’s time has come to an end. Now it is time that ISKCON accepts the inevitable and embraces change in keeping with modernity which will ensure its survival and the true enlightenment of its members under our divinely inspired leadership.
Rabbi Isaacs Schorr – Master of Theology
This is a copy of an email that was sent to me to have posted on PrabhupadaVision.com. I was informed by the sender (name withheld) that it was sent to an ISKCON Devotee (name withheld) who had written a comment on the ISKCON’s PAMHO Com – Open Forum where the “JuVai” paper was originally posted.
My dear (name withheld) I know that you are one of our people and you know very well that I am a Rabbi for there is no doubting the words of our Torah in my article and sentiments. You may be taken aback at my audacity to speak the truth and that is why you seek to protect our people in the Hare Krishna Movement. Thank you for asking your members to read my article carefully for it is in the words of G-d that we shall find salvation and peace.
My son our purpose is well defined and so is the reason why our people are in the Hare Krishna Movement. Many of the non Jewish devotees rejoice when they see their kind in other groups and working to convert or influence the ways of other faiths. Same with our Jewish people, we too rejoice in seeing our children in other faiths.
My son you know we always speak the truth. This is our curse. We are heavy with this burden that G-d has thrust upon us. I do not hold back on my words for they are the words of G-d and it is now time that we reveal ourselves and begin the work to repair human society.
We do not denigrate Swami Prabhupada; on the contrary we elevate him for bringing the level of spiritual consciousness up to a higher platform. Many of our people have been lost to atheism and so to bring them back to theism is a very great achievement. We must all learn to work together to bring about world peace and rejuvenation under the teaching of the Torah. Each one of us plays their part in the service of G-d.
You will eventually come back into our ways again my son as you cannot break free of your past, your birth right. You are a child of G-d, this is in your blood, in your spirit, your heart. The blood that flows in your veins belongs to G-d.
You know this in your heart of hearts. You know how you feel when you are with your own people, how we feel such strong bonding and love for each other. In this G-d given bond the gentile cannot compete. This is why our people work together and stay close even in your Hare Krishna Movement you see how we always remain dear friends even though we may compete with each other or argue with each other. This has always been our way my son. We are always arguing and fighting with each other yet in the end we are always united. For we understand this world and G-d’s hand in it in an entirely different way than the gentile.
Now we are in the times when our consciousness must be raised in preparation for the future. Please my son study the term “asher yihye” for it is a very important level of consciousness that our people must begin to achieve. When you do you will understand the full import of my involvement with you in the Hare Krishna Movement. We must now seek to work together in order to fully bring G-d’s will here on earth. We must live now as if our future is here with us at every step and breath. Our Jewish Renewal movement is in full swing and we are reaching out to all our people who have left their faith to come now and begin to work together to bring about world peace harmony and repair.
So please search your heart and you will find in it; our ways, our hope, our desires, our ancient search… You know this cannot be stopped as our mission cannot be checked by the gentile and only by G-d and his people can true peace on earth be fully accomplished.
Shalom my son
Rabbi Isaacs Schorr