Friday, April 11, 2008

Love Is As Love Does

Today's headline comes by way of a comment made by Ananda Swarup prabhu in the comments section of my last post. It was in response to another comment about how love should be the standard devotees have for dealing with each other.

Love is the most used and most abused word in English today. "All you need is Love, Love is all you Need." It was true when the Beatles sang it on the first live world television broadcast 40 years ago. And it will always be true. But what is love? Obviously the Beatles didn't know. Neither did anyone else in our "Love Generation" or any other generation. Love is actually fiction in the material world, an illusory condition.

The first time we got a glimpse of what love really is, is when we had our first darshan of Srila Prabhupada. We couldn't see love or Prabhupada properly then, because of the spiritual cataracts in our eyes. But we could sense it. It was very intense, emotional, penetrating and controlled. We had never experienced anything like that before.

Love's first quality is that it is searching after itself. When Prabhupada looked at you (and practically everyone had a similar experience), he could look right thru you, right into your heart. You felt that he was looking at your being, someone you did not know yourself. It was embarassing. Prabhupada, who was overflowing with love for Krishna, was looking for that love in us.

Love is also connected to service. Prabhupada knew we were completely covered by our senses, so he focused our attention to service. He was very expert in encouraging us to engage, to "dovetail" our abilities in service to Krishna. We serve what we love. On the material plane, if someone is our master, we serve him for money, or sometimes, in dire situations, for fear of our life. Everyone loves their life. If someone is our lover, we serve him or her for the enjoyment they give us. If they are our children, we serve them because we identify with them; we see them as extentions of ourself.

Somehow, Prabhupada inspired us to serve Krishna, whom we didn't know at all. None of us were Vedic scholars; most of us had never heard the name "Krishna" before. And Prabhupada also convinced us to live together as a spiritual family. He named that family Iskcon. It was not a new church or religious cult he was founding. It was an association of devotees to cultivate love for Krishna. He created us as devotees. He did not create a hierarchy. He did not create an elite. He wanted us to cooperate as equals. He wanted us to focus on bhakti for the Lord. And to practice tolerance, humility and appreciation for each other.

As my godbrother said, love is as love does. If you see that love in Iskcon, that example of how Srila Prabhupada wanted the devotees to associate, then you don't have a problem. As i've been writing on this blog, i don't see that. I see ambition, greed, incompetence, lack of respect and intolerance. I also see a huge hierarchy in place of the fraternity that Prabhupada wanted. That's why i'm not associating with Iskcon now. But that does not mean i am free to just sit and criticize. I should accept the responsibility to search for love of Krishna, and for the qualities of Prabhupada that are missing in Iskcon, in my own heart. Once i get a glimpse of that in myself, i can easily share it with others. Until that time, at least i can practice kindness, openness and respect for other jivas. And i can share my experiences with others, as i am doing in this blog.

All of this is easier to say than to practice. But this is the great challenge and great blessing given to us by our master. He who showed us what love really is, and what love really does.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Why I Write

One devotee who read my last post questioned my motives for writing. That's a fair question.

I write because it's the only thing i am inspired to do right now. It may surprise some that criticism can be a form of preaching. Preaching or kirtan means to glorify the absolute truth. To tell the truth, you need to see the truth, not as it's packaged by so-called authorities, but with your own eyes. There are real authorities who can give us the truth. Those are pure devotees. The worldwide community of neophyte devotees is suffering due to a lack of pure devotees who can guide them. No material solution can replace this great scarcity of unmotivated and uninterrupted bhakti in our world today.

So when i write, i try to express my experiences and my humble realizations. Of course, you can ask me if i'm pure. And the answer is clearly NO. My heart is at least as polluted as the next one, if not more. So then what's the difference between me and the devotees i'm criticizing? Not much. Except, i'm admitting who i am. I'm saying i can't lead you, but neither can your so-called leaders lead you. The emperor has no clothes. In other words, you are being mislead. Open your eyes.

I'm not against my godbrothers. Those who stayed in Iskcon and those who started their own groups are all devotees. Some are better or purer than others. Some can actually help you to a degree. But beware of cheating, hypocrisy and deceit. These are the qualities that allow Kali to infiltrate and sabotage a spiritual movement. These are qualities that should be exposed. Don't be fooled by saffron or silk. The pen is mightier than the danda.

I don't have the answers or the solutions. The younger devotees want positive examples and solutions. I don't blame them. But before you get answers, you first need to ask the proper questions. First question is: why did 95% of Prabhupada's disciples leave Iskcon after Prabhupada left? Did they stop loving Prabhupada? Or did they stop feeling the mercy of Prabhupada in Iskcon? Before you cure a disease, you need to diagnose the patient. No diagnosis, no chance for a cure.

You can't be sentimental. Krishna told this to Arjuna. You need to face the truth and act from the truth. Not from sentiment or attachment or aversion. Look at the truth and hope and pray for some inspiration. And the truth is that Iskcon has deviated from Prabhupada, and while it may look and talk as if it represents Prabhupada, it no longer does. At least not the Prabhupada i knew. Today's Iskcon represents the desires of its less-than-pure leaders who wave the flag of Prabhupada to promote their own agenda. For many devotees, that's a hard pill to swallow.

I certainly don't get any money or prestige from writing these posts. Neither do i have a political agenda. I'm not a ritvik or a follower of a competitor group. What i want from writing is more clarity and inspiration to make progress on my spiritual path. That's probably what everyone reading this post also wants. But this inspiration must come from above, not from matter. Not from a committee, not from laws, not from a rubber stamped sadhu, or from loyalty to an autocracy. It must come from spirit, from Krishna, from the words and examples and blessings of paramahamsas. Do you get it?