Bhakta Mark – New York: What holds us back from cooperating in an organized fashion, face to face? I have thought about this long and hard and believe I have something to offer. Those who accept the words of HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada as final, and who will patiently analyze his instructions to rectify apparent contradictions, can be considered sincere candidates for group coooperation.
Those who recognize their faults, accept constructive criticism, and work towards their rectification, can be considered honest as well as sincere persons. We each have faults in multiple categories, and probably will until death, and perhaps even another birth or two.
I have not seen Guru or Sastra state that if there is some arbitrary percentage of any type of fault or sin (anartha) that we each still carry with us that we are required to reduce it by some other arbitrary percentage, in order to cooperate in basic Sankirtana activites.
Srila Prabhupada cites Rupa Goswami over and over regarding enthusiasm, patience, and conviction/determination being key ingredients for progress in association with devotees. While the only requirements for “people in general” to join the movement have always been a little honesty and sincerity to begin with.
“Please rest assured that in this movement there is no question of imperfectness. This is a solid, genuine movement for the total spiritual rejuvenation of the human society. I am requesting in this letter through you that every honest and sincere boy or girl must immediately join with us in this movement. If one is actually serious to understand the problems of life, he will surely find the right answers in this movement.” [Letter to: Mr. Jim Doody: 2/8/69]
“If you follow these six principles, namely enthusiasm, determination, patience, and executing the regulative principles and keep yourself honest and in the association of devotee, if you follow these six principle, then your success is sure.” 2/25/75 Caracas
“So one thing is guaranteed. If you engage in Krsna consciousness and suppose you do not become perfectly mature, some way or other, you fall down… We should not fall down. Because if we have got enthusiasm and patience, we shall not fall down. But suppose we fall down. Sastra says, tasya abhadra abhud amusya kim. There is nothing inauspicity because whatever you have done sincerely, that is recorded in the book.” 10/20/72 Vrndavana
Today, students and disciples who are honest and sincere are now separated and not engaging in practical day to day sankirtana activities in organized association of devotees, which should include congregational chanting and the gosthanandi aspect of public street chanting and book distribution.
The problem seems to have begun in the 70’s when the Founder’s assistant leaders withheld vital instructions given by the Founder, as to how to proceed in a cohesive and lasting way.
The Founder, Srila Prabhupada, was constantly observing his disciples activities and adjusting his instructions to them in order to enable them to stay true to the essential principles that he knew best, while helping his disciples to adapt to circumstances in the world based on his view of their assets and liabilities in that regard.
When the co-leaders disagreed with his assessments, they began to instruct according to their own whim, and those who followed were mislead and wound up in disastrous situations where they could not maintain group cohesion.
These co-leaders had enough money and land to ignore these disasters as they did not directly affect their lifestyle. Today they are just beginning to face the music as their own situations collapse into disaster.
Today, the followers of these co-leaders find themselves without the proper instructions, and only very loose association of like-minded devotees if any. Thus many have lost enthusiasm. They may have conviction but without proper guidance, determination becomes confused and even dangerous. Many are running out of patience as well.
Yet, over this period of time, slowly and gradually, the instructions that remained obscured and hidden have come to light, have been generally compiled, and are now being cobbled together in a way that they may be freely distributed, analyzed and their knowledge received by those kept in the dark for so long.
When enough sincere and honest students and disciples know what to do, then they can get together and do it with success instead of failure. It is that simple.
To come together before understanding what to do from proper authority, would bring disastrous results as it did in the past. Many have tried and failed rightly proving the point.
So there is really no instruction to give than to tell someone to acquire the knowledge, hear it, think about it (study and discuss it), feel it (consider it deeply and personally), and then when fully inspired, will oneself into action.
Thinking, feeling, and willing.
Srila Prabhupada instructed the division of tasks according to guna and karma/ Varna and asrama, according to his principles of Daiva Varnasrama. After studying these thoroughly, I have been able to understand so many other concepts that were thrown at me piece meal and inconclusively argued about for so many years between persons and on the internet, such as Ritviks, Gurus, Adhikari, Varnas, Aparadha/offenses, service, etc. They all find cohesive definition and clarity in the context of an institutional effort guided by Daivi Varnasrama Dharma.
The Founder-Acarya stays in the center.
His books and other recorded instructions are the standard and ultimate source of spiritual knowledge.
Everyone who comes to Iskcon, will hear these exact instructions directly through the books, or indirectly when repeated exactly by a representative. This is called Siksa.
This transmission of spiritual knowledge initiates one’s spiritual life by initiating spiritual awareness of one’s true Self, keeps one from sin, maintains one’s progress, and brings one to the spiritual goal. This is called Diksa.
Members will live an ever increasing spiritual life by serving according to their Varna and Asrama.
It seems we need to keep reading and discussing and eventually greater physical action will follow.