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Comments Posted By bhaktarob

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ISKCON: More Gurus Needed!

I entirely agree with what is written in this article.

I hope one day these aspirations can be translated into a tangible practical programme of support for those willing to take up this task. I’ve seen here on Dandavats that younger devotees are often decried for their lack of willingness to take responsibility. My experience is that those who are may often be unsupported, or even criticised for their efforts.

Prabhupada encouraged an “enterprise” culture. He backed good ideas, he encouraged people to use their initiative and make their own decisions, and he liked people who thought for themselves. In order to foster a culture today where individuals feel inspired to take up this kind of grass roots preaching work, the same spirit of enterprise needs to be encouraged. Institutions and their methodologies, whilst often trying to act in the best interests of preservation and continuity, frequently end up stifling dynamism and growth. It is very important to the future of our society at grass-roots level to empower and enthuse young people to have ideas, and guide them to see those ideas through to reality. There will surely be no senior devotee who will become offended if I say that 20 year old man has a better sense of how to connect with the next generation than someone far older than he. So let the youngsters have the big ideas, and let the seniors train them in the practicalities of realizing their ambitions. That, in fact, is Prabhupada’s own example.

No new leaders, big or small, can be fostered in a system which frowns upon initiative and “independent” behaviour. No individual will be enthused to act in a structure under which he feels too much of a burden of pressure and regulation. It’s worth noting here maybe that Prabhupada set up ISKCON to act as seperate self-registered individual yatras acting under the auspices of an international governing body. When this important administrative instruction is realized in practice, then only will dynamic growth be able to begin again.

» Posted By bhaktarob On Sep 19, 2008 @ 2:33 pm

The Yoga of Love – Beyond illness and psychotherapies

Actually, on the point of context… it’s such a common error we make, to detach Srila Prabhupada’s words from their context. Many devotees have commented on this over a wide range of issues, particularly more recently. If I could be daring to suggest… maybe it would be nice to open up a thread on this topic one day. I’ve heard a lot of great devotees make points on this and it would be nice to read a discussion on it.

» Posted By bhaktarob On Jun 12, 2008 @ 11:35 am

Words are very nice, but context is priceless – thanks, prabhu,

This is it – the distinction is sincerity. This is from a letter by Srila Prabhupada:

“Don’t be disturbed in mind. Whatever irregularities you have and with chanting your rounds or with Gayatri Mantra, that you __ to now and Krishna will forgive you.

I am praying to Krishna for steadiness of your mind. I am very encouraged by your work in the Hamburg streets which you sent me a photograph of. This picture was reprinted here and I have shown your example to many friends and temples here. I am sure that if you keep to that spirit you will be a great preacher in the future.”

So mental disturbance should not be the subject of admonishment, but of encouragement, where the individual is trying to act sincerely in Krishna consciousness. Such a supportive atmosphere would be very conducive to the spiritual advancement of all.

dadāti pratigrhnāti

guhyam ākhyāti prcchati

bhuńkte bhojayate caiva

sad-vidham prīti-laksanam

» Posted By bhaktarob On Jun 12, 2008 @ 11:19 am

Thanks for what you’ve said prabhu.

Just for the record, on austerity: a lot of devotees didn’t understand why I was doing “Pedalyatra”, especially in the winter months. But actually, in many ways, I’ve never been happier. I had space, time to myself, freedom to wander at will and opportunity to meet new people.

Severe austerity for me is dealing with living in close proximity to others, dealing with conflict, living in the city, dealing with paperwork and finance, etc. Waking up to see the stars in the sky is for me very wonderful, as is breathing fresh air. They are very healthy for me.

So each person has their own view of what constitutes austerity and must find appropriate service accordingly. Many people advised me to “come and live in London” or “associate with devotees more”. That might seem like good advice, but for me, it’s the worst. It’s way too austere. Constant association or busy environments aren’t what I need. Head-space is at a premium.

Where Pedalyatra wasn’t working is that it depended too much on me being fit and able mentally each day to distribute books. Clearly someone with my nature is not always going to want to do that (though I manage it sometimes) but having money to eat was depending on it. That’s taking it a bit too far. So the formula needs tinkering around with, but I hope to dig it out again one day, once I’ve ridden out this present shockwave.

YS Rob

» Posted By bhaktarob On Jun 12, 2008 @ 8:05 am

Really, no offense taken. I can see how what I wrote on the other post would make you feel uncomfortable if you didn’t have the context of my personal situation. The internet is always a bit vague like that.

Yes it is a great struggle. A lot of devotees seem to go through it, either by circumstance or by predisposition, but feelings of isolation are a common factor, for a lot of the reasons you were outlining. Attitude is an area we need to address as devotees when it comes to the suffering of others, whether through mental illness or otherwise. “It’s your karma, prabhu!” is not a sufficiently compassionate response to anything from a genuine Vaisnava. Something more personal and constructive would demand more effort (or even love) on the part of the speaker.

“No crazies, no lazies,” said Srila Prabhupada, and thus I have seen inexcusable attitudes touted by the usual trick of hiding behind remarks taken out-of-context, a tactic familiar in other areas. People with “problems” in ISKCON are distinctly lower-class citizens. But I am neither barking mad, nor drooling at the mouth, nor am I resting on my laurels, nor are many other devotees who are trying to deal with their minds. It might be more complex to accomodate us, but we often have a lot to offer in return, insight being one thing.

I think what Matsyavatara Prabhu suggests here is very nice, although for me it’s a bit complex to concentrate on… no offense, Matsya Prabhu! Krishna consciousness can give us a new sense of perspective and lift us out of a feeling of being condemned to exist within the mind. Or at least it can show us the possibility that it can be so. Light at the end of the tunnel…

What makes me hesitant generally when it comes to these things (and maybe you also, Suresh Prabhu?) is that queasy feeling I get whenever someone approaches me to tell me they’ve “got all the answers” when it comes to my personal situation. It’s part of the reason I feared disclosing it to others. It’s amazing how much damage some over-confident individual can do in the temple corridor, wading into a situation he knows nothing about, and thinking he’s got the one-and-only “Truth”. Suresh Prabhu gave good examples on this point.

Perhaps I’m just a hopeless egotist, but all I want is to be listened to, have my feelings and needs respected, and be facilitated to offer service to the best of my ability. They are desires that I guess everyone would have in ISKCON, right?


» Posted By bhaktarob On Jun 11, 2008 @ 2:25 pm

Just an afterthought – I think the point came up in the other thread that people who have “emotional issues” don’t make good devotees. My points there, and here, are intended to be a refutation of that. People who have “emotional issues” understand what suffering is. That makes them very competent to understand the philosophy, and also to be inspired to help others. Extra determination has to be there on our part. But Krishna is seeing that.

Your servant

» Posted By bhaktarob On Jun 10, 2008 @ 12:39 pm

Dear Suresh Prabhu,

I am, according to modern psychiatry, a sufferer of Asperger Syndrome. My entire life will be affected by this condition, which makes it very difficult for me to make real friendships or spend too much time in the company of others. Nothing will make it “go away”.

In my previous comment on “Who’s To Blame?” I don’t think I was making the point to chant Hare Krishna and everything will be alright, but rather that if we learn to look outside ourselves and try to help others, then we increase our own sense of worth (not pride!) and feel like the world and our own society has a place for us. In fact, I think I was trying to tell someone else that just chanting Hare Krishna by ourselves is not enough.

I say it as an autistic person. I don’t say it as a happy-go-lucky full-of-confidence bravado brahmacari. It’s not an easy thing for me to say at all. Of course, others can argue the rights and wrongs of identifying myself in such a way according to a western definition, but I do so in the same way as I identify myself as a man, or as an Englishman, and so on. I know it’s not who I really am. BUT IT IS what I have to deal with in this lifetime. It’s the best immediate explanation I’ve got for the things I am experiencing in this life, and understanding it in these terms represents my best chance of overcoming some the specific difficulties I face.

I totally agree with you, prabhu, that just ignoring depression and mental illness are incredibly dangerous. Certainly I would never post something that encouraged people in that way. “Disease” is one of the three things that should be dealt with immediately. Just because it’s not something visible like a wound or a broken leg, doesn’t make it any different.

I know how hard it is when I feel that devotees don’t respect the difficulties my own psychophysical nature presents me in my pursuit of Krishna consciousness, and I understand the point you are making. All too often, whether inside or outside the devotee community, mental health issues are viewed as evidence of “weakness” and “maya” and are “blamed” on the individual, who is treated as a culprit rather than a victim.

Of course, we all created our own karma, there’s no escaping that. But since everyone is suffering in different ways, we should all try to do to others as we would be done by. Hence the quote from my friend in my original comment: “Just try to help others.”

Hope this clarifies things.

Your servant

» Posted By bhaktarob On Jun 10, 2008 @ 12:19 pm

Who’s To Blame?

I entirely disagree with Gaurav Mittal Prabhu. It does not at all assume that we are saved. The point is that our OWN process of salvation or purification is to spread the sankirtana movement of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, under his direct instruction. This is what we have forgotten, and I think that Mahatma Prabhu has done a great job in reminding us in this article. The idea that by some internal process we can make spiritual advancement is rejected in two steps:

1. Purification is dependent on the satisfaction of the Lord and cannot be achieved independently of Him
2. The Lord’s direct order, the spiritual master’s direct order and the dharma-yuga for the age is to make endeavour for the expansion of the glorification of the Lord. One cannot achieve the mercy of Krishna without achieving the mercy of the spiritual master, and that is not possible without following his instructions, which are in turn non-different from the Lord’s.

As Prabhupadanugas, as Gaudiya Vaisnavas, we are preachers. This is the highest process. Any suggestion or subtle shift to the contrary is to be rejected. As Sri Nityananda Prabhu instructs Jiva Goswami – to enter into the pastimes of Sri Sri Radha Krishna, one must satisfy Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. One satisfies Lord Caitanya by becoming his servant. And to serve Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu means to expand His mission for the deliverance of all conditioned souls. As Srila Prabhupada said we may be imperfect, but if the message is perfect, then it is perfect.

Prabhupada himself prays in this way at the beginning of his translation of Srimad Bhagavatam. Asking forgiveness for his faults in presenting the work, he quotes the famous verse – “such transcendental literature, even though it may be imperfectly composed, is still heard and relished by purified men who are thoroughly honest.”

So not yet being purified doesn’t let us off the hook of spreading the sankirtana movement of the Lord – a point we should all remember.

» Posted By bhaktarob On Apr 9, 2008 @ 12:50 pm

Just to add a couple of points:

First – we are salesmen. Krishna and Prabhupada are our “products”. Sri Krishna is specifically “the all-attractive one”. Srila Prabhupada is his pure representative. So how hard can our job of selling really be if we actually have faith in these facts?

Second – in my limited understanding, Srila Prabhupada is his vani, not his vapuh. Therefore, miracles are not dependent on his vapuh, but on his vani. “It won’t ever be like the 70s when Prabhupada was around,” it is often said. But the point is, he is as “around” as he has ever been. Right there. Waiting to empower anyone who follows his instructions, in ever-fresh miraculous and inconceivable ways.

Your servant

» Posted By bhaktarob On Apr 8, 2008 @ 9:38 am

Dear Mahatma Prabhu,

Hare Krishna!

This is the best article I ever read on dandavats.

Years ago, I used to have issues with depression, and I used to think that the whole world was against me, and that whatever I did would never be successful. That’s regarded clinically as a kind of insanity. Essentially, we are going through the same thing collectively, and we need to pull ourselves out of it. Lack of confidence in ourselves becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy with the public, but, just like the depressed person, due to our condition, we can’t understand that it’s ourselves that’s the source of the problem. And just like the depressed person, those who are depending on us to be strong for them become neglected, and take shelter elsewhere.

What might it take to persuade everyone to come out of this? I spent years going to counselling and taking medication, and none of it worked. But then I got a job looking after others who were sick, and my own sickness disappeared. A few years later, when I joined the devotees, I heard one prabhu, when asked what is the best cure for depression, reply: “just try and help others.”

I guess the more you try to help others, the more your concentration is fixed outwards and in the present, rather than inwards, where it often acts destructively, pointlessly chewing over the past. You see that many others are suffering a lot more than you imagine that you are, and so you re-evaluate your own incredible good fortune. And you develop a much needed feeling of self-worth and a sense of having a role in the world, instead of feeling isolated and dejected.

So maybe you’ve prescribed the cure for our disease, prabhu. And if just a few people took it, then anything is once again possible.

Many thanks

Your servant

» Posted By bhaktarob On Apr 8, 2008 @ 8:53 am

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