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Comments Posted By Krsnacandra dasa

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COMPROMISE - Modern Secularism Vs Vaisnava Dharma

Dear Prabhus

I have been reading your comments and felt I needed to comment.

Having a professional background in Psychology I have worked in the fields of;

Juvenile Justice - Juvenile Prison Manager / Court: Representation / Remand Center: Supervisor / Family Counseling / Child Abuse Intervention and Counseling
(Under the “Community Development Model”) Substance abuse - Residential: Assistant Director / Outpatient Counseling: Director
(Under the “Cognitive Behavioral Model”)

I have also been professionally trained as a Homoeopathic Doctor.

The reason why I felt the need to explain this is due to the fact that I have some understanding of the way the secular world operates and we as devotees operate.

I have no problem with devotees who work professionally or otherwise in the secular world. I did for many years. But the last 11 years I have given up professional life and have devoted my time and skills to doing seva. Most of that time in Sri Vrindavan Dham.

The reason why I wrote the essay on Compromise is due to watching ISKCON develop over the years and I hoped to put some perspective into this. I have no problems with discussing the subjects that you have mentioned in your comments.

However, I am presently more interested in how we are changing the way in which ISKCON itself operates. For example over the last ten years we have seen an increasing amount of senior devotees going to university to obtain secular qualifications and/or training. When Srila Prabhupada wanted that we make professionals into devotees. Not the other way around.

Sure an individual must do the needful but it is vitally important that the senior devotees such as Sanyasis, Gurus, Senior Administrators and Advisors maintain strictly the principals that Srila Prabhupada clearly outlined.

The other issue is that I believe that we have to be extremely careful that we do not try and recreate what is happening in the secular world with regards to incorporating policies and programmes that are designed for the modern secular world.

My main professional experience is in the philosophy of Community Development. Are you familiar with it? This philosophy attempts to develop strategies in working with the community in ways that empower the individual as opposed to disempowering them. This, in a way is a radical way of seeing intervention and case work.

In simple terms it is this: We the professional do not see that we have the answers and the patient / client / NGO etc has to listen to us. We, the professional see our role as a form of cooperation. We try and meet the needs of the person without taking control. We work with them to provide support and encouragement. We had to change our attitude as well. The person ‘had’ a problem, and not that the person ‘is’ a problem. Another change was to talk ‘with’ a person as opposed to talking ‘to’ or ‘at’ the person. The person also has a family and friends who loved and cared for them. We let go of the total control of the person and networked with their family and friends.

Okay this is rather simplistic but it will have to do for now.

What happened in Australia in the early eighties was that this model changed the face of the country. Millions of dollars were spent on simply changing the atmosphere and decor of Government departments and the retraining of professionals, managers and office workers in order to change their attitudes etc. For example - the Police Department - The criminal was innocent until proven guilty, Serve and protect…

Welfare departments changed to Community Development departments. They became more personal. So did Social Security etc. In the state that I was working I was also responsible for training managers in the new philosophy.

In ISKCON today we are seeing the establishment of mega departments. These department are “fully loaded” with training packages that are ‘cutting edge’ corporate training practices and are philosophically supported by Academics. Departments like this tend to impersonalize and structure the care and welfare of devotees no matter what they may profess.

The reason why I wrote the essay was to open up discussion on this to see if this is the way in which Srila Prabhupada intended that we develop his movement. What to speak of what is the best secular system to use? Secular theories are constantly changing and statistically speaking secular educational philosophies and models are the most volatile.

ISKCON currently uses the government curriculum and syllabus in our schools. Yet there are many different systems to use, for example Rudolf Steiner. This later model is not based on ‘intensely pressurized memory recall’ but on bringing out the inner nature of the child and encouraging the child to love the learning process at the appropriate time in their lives. They also try and make sure that there is one primary teacher who follows the child through till they finish. This is very close to the way in which the Vedic system operates.

Just come to India and see how the children in the Indian schools are tortured with vast amounts of memory recall subjects and excessive homework schedules which they have to begin as early as three years of age in order to be able to successfully undertake the rigorous Indian educative process.

I remember when I went to school - one and half hour examinations only came in years 9 - 12. Now little kids as young as eight are doing exams in blocks of ten with each exam lasting one and a half hours. Just come and see for yourself.

India is rapidly westernizing with the educative and employment process lost in Credentialism and Professionalism. With practically no employment for most of its people, young Indians are staying for extended periods of time in higher education with the vein hope that the more credentials they have the better chance they will get a job.

Here like in Australia they have 12 years of schooling with the last year being for entrance to higher education. Now as in the Australian experience even a person who works behind the counter of a fast food joint must have year 12!

I say what about we do what Srila Prabhupada wanted?

An example that may clarify my points better, although it may be a little obscure (sorry) is Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur’s Jaiva Dharma. One can look at this masterful work in many ways. I have made a point of studying this book with great care and attention and I can see it in two ways. One way is that it is an incredible philosophical treatise and the other is that is it a wonderful and sweet example of Vaisnava culture and etiquette. This later way is the main way I like to see it. How sweet are the interactions between the Vaisnava’s! How beautiful is Godruma!

We have a choice how to develop our movement and how we see Srila Prabhupada and his instructions.

I personally do not believe that institutional ISKCON should develop along the lines it is presently developing. We need to change the way we are thinking. The Agrarian Culture is a beautiful culture and we will never achieve it if we become too institutional in the prosecution of Krsna Consciousness. Sure the balance must be there but I believe that the scale has already tipped too far in the bureaucratic way to be healthy for our good.

Reading your comments I see that you are both very scholarly and thoughtful, we need devotees such as you to look into this very carefully and thoughtfully.

Please forgive me for being long winded but thank you for commenting on my essay and allowing me to speak some more.

Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada Krsnacandra dasa - Not Krishnacandra dasa :)

Comment Posted By Krsnacandra dasa On 22.03.2008 @ 17:39

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