I've had a couple of dreams recently that Hrdayananda appeared in. It's a bit unusual, since i hardly know the guy and i never liked him. I didn't serve in Iskcon with him and rarely saw him since the zonal acaraya fiasco. But there he was, in technicolor, in a couple of my recent dreams. Both times i tried to confide in him, to share with him my grief over what happened in Iskcon. I spoke to him in hushed tones from the heart. I reasoned. I cried.
Why my mind chose Hrdayananda for its catharsis i don't know. But the grief i experienced in these dreams is similar to the sadness of a marriage gone bad. When my first marriage was falling apart, i had to grieve to let go of the attachment. A strong commitment binds the heart.
For those of us who joined Iskcon as idealistic youth, it was like a marriage. As young monks with our hopes, our fears and our devotion, we married Iskcon because it was the vision of our great spiritual master. Sure most of us --if not all of us-- were totally unqualified to make such a commitment. But who knew that then?
All our karmic endeavors that followed-- our wives, our children, finances, businesses and hobbies-- were important to us but always remained subordinate in our hearts to our first big commitment, our unrequited bond to Iskcon. This tie, this great responsibility given to us, a vow and contract signed with the invisible ink of bhakti, was challenged and finally broken for most of us in the months and years following Srila Prabhupada's disappearance.
The details of how this happened i will leave to the historians and commentators. The official line is that we just "disappeared," thousands of us. But the reality is that we were humiliated, starting with being forced to obey and participate in the worship of wholly unqualified peers who sat on high seats in Srila Prabhupada's temples. Those 11 men controlled everyone. Now those men are gone. New ones have replaced them, the seats have been lowered and the externals look more democratic, but in practice, the same sore lack of genuine respect, give and take, openness and brahminical principles remain. The highly centralized control, the censorship, the sweeping corruption, the fundamentalism, party spirit and corporate mindset are all very much on display if you visit Iskcon and have the eyes to see it.
Recently i corresponded with one godbrother whom i haven't met in 25 years. I wrote:
"I think most of us, the godbrothers, are pretty depressed. We all wanted to do something wonderful for Prabhupada, but it didn't turn out the way we had hoped. That was a result of everyone's immaturity and impurities, but especially the disqualification of the leaders. Ironically, almost all of them fell down and became disgraced, but the system didn't fall with them. Instead, it became institutionalized, and it was the godbrothers who scattered and went their own ways.
"A few godbrothers started their own missions and are doing well. There is Paramadwaiti Swami (formerly Alanath) who is a very successful guru in South America, Jagat Guru (now Narasinga Swami) in South India and Tripurari in California. I'm sure there are other godbrothers getting some results on their own. But most of us do not have the ambition or the sakti to act as gurus. This is the problem. Unless we create it, we will not find association. Unless we pay the price of being co-opted by a Hindu-corporate structure or join a personality cult. And that is a Faustian bargain."
I haven't done a survey, but the godbrothers i know and still communicate with are feeling like they lost something that they will not be able to find again and seems impossible to recreate. The hopes of their youth have been smashed. The bride of Iskcon died in their arms just after the honeymoon and transformed itself into an apparition. That is reason enough to feel depressed.
But we must digest this grief and move on. Even if we completely fail, we can be satisfied knowing that failure is the pillar of success.