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Everything posted by sanatan

  1. Suchandra...that's a comprehensive list of Srila Prabhupada's opinions on the subject! I just haven't personally seen people become ISKCON devotees with the motive of "wanting to be cheated", or with the desire to cheat others. The lifestyle has always been too demanding, and this didn't change in the post-Prabhupada era; there has to be a sincere motive at first. Certainly many came and still come with anarthas mixed in with a desire for the spiritual: those with strong material attachments (me), those with unresolved pschological issues, those looking for shelter from a very nasty world, and on and on, ad infinitum. I've seen also seen more than a few good souls join and their spiritual lives blossom. The ones who ended up becoming domineering power freaks and criminals were very certainly like that pre-ISKCON, or had the tendencies lying in wait for the right opportunity. But their motives in joining...at least they were sincere at the beginning.
  2. Good points. Yes and no. Entering spiritual life is a complex and individual, psychological and circumstantial process. Very many factors can come into play. Just saying a person was cheated because he/she deserved to be cheated doesn't excuse much on the part of the organization. IMO, the people who followed Rajneesh deserved to be cheated much more than those who came into ISKCON in the ZA era. Comparing Srila Prabhupada's life with the average devotee's is ridiculous.
  3. If the effect of offenseless chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra is the reduction to zero of all karmic influences and liberation from control of subtle material influences, including the mind, then the continued influence of such karma must be the result of long-unresolved or ongoing offense.
  4. Some questions raised: Is there a prevailing assumption in the Vaisnava world as a whole that anyone who comes to ISKCON as a new bhakta is going to get screwed over in some way or another? Isn't it better for a new ISKCON bhakta to follow the program with faith that is perhaps blind, until he/she has gained sufficient maturity and spiritual strength to objectively evaluate the unfortunate circumstances of the past and their ongoing effects? Is ISKCON, in truth, an intransigently horrible organization, or is this a conclusion that is often erroneously drawn from information available online? Personally, my experience with ISKCON has been 95%+ positive, but then I was never a live-in bhakta. However, the trusting innocence of many years ago is gone; I've heard and read too much, a large part of it online. Mybe a fifth principle should be renunciation of the internet for two years?
  5. Last time I was in NYC was Nov. 1984, on a fun trip with my wife. I had bought the first volume of Lilamrta and read it at that point, but hadn't reconnected sufficiently to desire visiting Srila Prabhupada's pastime locations, and my wife was very "green" about Krishna Consciousness back then. We're going to make a trip up east sometime in the near future, and this time intend to do the SP pilgrimage while in NYC, as you did.
  6. I couldn't describe my feelings about Srila Prabhupada better. The sense of personal connection I have with SP is mainly from reading Satsvarupa Maharaja's Lilamrta and having known famous disciples Visnujana Maharaja and Tamal Krishna Maharaja, as well as a number of "regular" direct disciples. 15 years as a siksa disciple of TKG and SDG's Lilamrta and other writings were essential foundational elements in my spiritual life. I will not take part in the vilification customarily heaped upon TKG and SDG. Apologies for diverting from the thread topic.
  7. I'm not the outgoing preacher-type at all, another grievous shortcoming. Yes, the Jews have been badly ******-over throughout history; little wonder Israel is such a militant state. From my dim memories of long-past readings about Egyptian religious practices, they did hold some views much similar to those of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity: belief in one earthly lifetime, in-detail concepts and descriptions of the post-death judgement process, and very large importance placed on the body, with belief in a transformation of the physical body into a spiritual or subtle one that lives eternally.
  8. Recently, I was typing out a post here and spelled Krishna as Krsna, a habit I've picked up on AF. My wife was looking over my shoulder and asked "is that the way really hip, in-the-know devotees spell Krishna?" Thinking about it, the easiest-to-pronounce spelling is the best, as the Names are for all.
  9. Beggar...I'm looking at this more in a self-critical/self analytical way than anything, lamenting my own lack of simple acceptance and my tendency to think over-critically. I wasn't referring to theist or vedusu prabhus at all. But, now that you ask...I consider theist to be a critical and very insightful thinker. Vedesu, I've only recently encountered here, and haven't formed an opinion about beyond that he seems intelligent, knowledgeable, and respectful of other members. Simple acceptance can happen on a lot of levels...on some levels I do accept spiritual things simply, on others I don't, and that probably holds true for most of us here...otherwise, we wouldn't be hashing it out. ys, sanatan
  10. Absolutely. Sigh...seems like those who do the least critical thinking are the happiest, in any spiritual endeavor or material area of life. Simple acceptance and subservience without even inward questioning...self-realization or zombiehood? Surely, self-realization must include the facility to enter a transcendental-egoistic and critical state of consciousness at will, to become a madhyama-adhikari as circumstances dictate.
  11. Like cbrahma, in order to keep my sanity, I've had to step back from active ISKCON participation and mentally re-program. Have I lost the baseline, essential aspects of faith? No. Have I become (more) hard-hearted and inwardly critical and doubting? Unfortunately, I think so. Is the above condition a transitional position? I pray that it is. Well, around 1990 (waaay pre-internet), an outfit called Kennedy-Western University sent me an application and description of by-mail degree programs offered. Among these were doctorates in nuclear physics and electrical engineering. I filled out and sent back the app to enroll my cat in the EE Ph.D course, but they never replied back. Google them; I think they're still around and now online. Nobody said the books are a person. I'm no Guruvani, a shastra-meister with instant verse, chapter, and date recall, but I do know that Srila Prabhupada stated that the guru and his teachings (contained in his books) are non-different.
  12. No and Yes. If the devotees in the temples are also confused, then what? But somewhat-confused association is better than none at all, for sure.
  13. I'm still confused on this issue. Srila Prabhupada clearly indicated that association with him through his books was as good as personal association. Then, there are the proponents of the need for a "Living Guru" that state the above isn't sufficient in itself. Theist, I agree that ongoing association with those of decidedly devotional inclination is essential. Whether this includes having a "living" diksa-guru is what's questionable.
  14. Saw devotees chanting at a rock festival, 1969.
  15. Suchandra, I can see that many of us on this board are taking the steps into total honesty. IMO, it's totally forgivable when someone with an obviously sincere background shows genuine anger and frustration with aspects of their ISKCON experience, and is seemingly-offensive...I'd term this "shadow offense"...it'll go away. These people aren't offensive personalities; the "leaders" who shafted or merely misled them are. Regarding the Lilamrta, I collected the original books as they were published, and they are a treasured part of my library. I'm a little bemused when devotees squabble back and forth over the style of presentation or dispute the portrayal of Srila Prabhupada in a personal and human way. For me, these books have been a great substitute for never having known SP, and SDG did wonderful and irreplaceable service in writing them, no matter what else he did or didn't do. I've read volume one, A Lifetime In Preparation, at least twenty times.
  16. To take this a step further: Requiring across-the-board complete celibacy for properly married men and women as a "principle" was and continues to be a huge mistake. St. Paul, who can correctly be considered a guru in the line of Jesus Christ, had a strict-yet-reasonable approach to the matter nearly 2000 years ago, as discussed in 1 Corinthians, particularly verses 7, 8, and 9 (italics mine) : 7. For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. (In an ideal world, everyone could observe complete celibacy, as I do, but each person is an individual, with his/her God-given dharma.) 8. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I. (Yes, the ideal state for single people in spiritual life is celibacy.) 9. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. (However, I realize that not all single people can maintain celibacy, so it's best for them to get married and have a sexual outlet than to burn with frustrated natural urges.) I love Srila Prabhupada, and will always give him the personal benefit of the doubt. In the case of strict celibacy, I think that his faith in Krishna in general, and the the traditional sadhana-bhakti process in particular, was so great that he had no doubt that the India-standard spiritual practices would enable all disciples to overcome personal obstacles...but, in his totally transcendental and pure faith, he over-estimated us Westerners.
  17. theist, regarding post #17: Thanks for openly sharing where you're at...and you've also happened to have described my own spiritual experience, situation, and realizations quite accurately....they're in many ways identical to yours, but you have the great literary gift for expressing it all. And cbrahma...I also know where you're coming from, very well. I've been through many gung-ho, 16-round, follow-all-the-principles periods, but now I just keep a 54-bead mala on the bedpost, and naturally wake up about 5, chant three or four 108-bead rounds very softly or silently so as not to wake my wife, and go back to sleep. I heard Tamal Krishna Maharaja say in a lecture many years ago that if once you chant the Names sincerely, Krishna will never let you forget him, even if you do your best to forget or neglect him. In my case, that's proven to be true...a day has not passed in 25 years when I haven't done, read or even just thought something related to Krishna and devotional service, even if I've been badly messed up on some substance or otherwise very fallen and negative psychologically. theist, cbrahma, me...we're marked men, like it or not.
  18. What you've posted is very informative, but isn't it from an offshoot of Judaism that is rarefied, esoteric and mystical, rather than what was referred to as "mainstream Judaism" in the other thread? Yes, Origen was an early Christian church father who believed in reincarnation, but if I'm not mistaken, recanted on that belief...I'll check up on it. Mainstream conservative Christians would rather sweep such historical aspects of faith under the rug.
  19. Regarding varna, I'm clearly a vaisya; no personal problems with where that's at, and I also understand the concepts of varnasrama-dharma perfectly well. Yeh, "brahmanas" and "kshatriyas" certainly don't have a problem recognizing and declaring themselves as such...it's dog-eat-dog world, a person has to make a place and it might as well be at the top.
  20. Agree here with your big picture, but the losses among the troops..."regular" devotees, women, children...were heartbreakingly incalculable, while many of the corrupt generals and officers got golden parachutes, or are still in power. If there's no larger spiritual compensation for those that suffered the most and got no material compensation, then the whole thing is a sham, a house of cards.
  21. You're right, "sudra" is a dreaded designation! This brings back a funny memory...I was a degreed professional in my working life, and around 20 yrs. ago a devotee at the temple here told me that people in my profession were "sudras"...I was a bit miffed but kept it to myself. Actually, this whole topic is hot air.
  22. cbrahma, In no way do I believe that varnasrama-dharma as a formal system is practical, desirable, or implementable. All I'm saying is that for human beings it exists in nature and is observable, as are animal heirarchies: one animal will be dominant in its group or herd, and the others will function in deferential and supportive roles.
  23. In one way, I think you're missing the point. Varnasrama-dharma, in a widely-general sense, is observable in human typology and inherent in human affairs, even though it doesn't formally exist as an implemented system. In another, you're dead-on correct. The idea of fixed varnas or occupational duties grates against the deepest convictions of many of us who were born into the post-WWII democratic-meritocratic environment of the USA, and who consequently view the open choice to move occupationally, socially, and economically upward through personal effort as an "inalienable right". Perhaps Kipling was truly onto something: "East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet".
  24. No thought of offense on your part crossed my mind! Your points about Judaism were interesting and informative and I was commenting in return. That's an awesome and also very scary story, definitely one for the ISKCON history books. I never distributed books or was close to Srila Prabhupada...as Beggar pointed out, you are indeed fortunate. As far as Christian fanatics go, I've met and debated my share. Never been close to a violent or dangerous incident, but there are stories around here about devotees being harassed and threatened physically. The best local story I've heard is about two Christians who sat in front of the temple in their car, praying for hours, then walked into the main temple room during the quieter part of a major festival and very loudly announced "In the name of Lord Jesus Christ, we command this place to be gone!!!". After several identical repetitions over maybe ten minutes, and the temple still standing, they sheepishly turned around, got back in their car, and drove away.
  25. That's a new one...I've always assumed mainstream Judaism rejected the idea of reincarnation and left it to fringe or mystical sects of the faith, as Christianity has historically done. Now that's a philosophical aspect for Judaism that I've always taken to be true across-the-board. There's a current raging debate in Christian thought on the point of Jesus', true position, going by many names: Who Was Jesus, the Historic Jesus, Christianity vs. Paulism, Christianity vs Jesusanity, others. Of course, the conservatives are employing all means possible to defend positions that were once held as, well, Gospel Truth. An observation: A majority of those of of Jewish and Christian convictions suffer from the effects of what Srila Prabhupada would term a "poor fund of knowledge" and an obstinate and ingrained unwillingness to look outside their own faith traditions and supporting evidence for answers to those stubbornly unanswerable questions. But that doesn't diminish the significance of the day traditionally held to be the birthday of Jesus Christ...IMO, Christmas is no less important than Janmastami, Gaura Purnima, or the appearance days of great Vaisnava acaryas.
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