"Wandering thru this universe, can't be seen and can't be heard,
can't be understood with words, but amazing."
From "Jivatma Express" by me!
The world really is an amazing place, filled with jivas who are crisscrossing each other's destiny. So creative, so destructive, so vulnerable and dangerous, this world. The more we try to control other jivas for our own enjoyment or control, the greater the reaction. Ask George Bush. Or Bill Clinton. Or one of the former 11 zonal "acaryas."
Today i took a walk by the lake, Lake Michigan, near where i live now. I walked along the shore up to Northwestern University, the school i attended as an undergraduate (and later dropped out) 40 years ago. For a moment, i had a flashback of my consciousness from those days. I remembered my state of mind from my youth. I was swept up, like most of my peers who went on to become devotees, in an idealistic mood that our generation would change the world, make it more human, more spiritual, more just and more beautiful. Anyone over 30 was suspect. We were age racists.
But internally, when i flash back to my personal consciousness, i was walking around in a bewildered condition. I was searching but without a solid sense of what i was to look for. I was confused but way too independent minded to trust any of my professors or even the great philosophers of the past. The only godly quality i can remember was a sense of sincerity that came up when i took drugs and my mind entered an altered state. In that condition only i felt a genuine sense of humility in relation to the universe and to God, although both remained mystical and beyond my understanding. That drug-induced humility led me to prayer and prayer led me eventually to the devotees and Srila Prabhupada.
So there is a place for everything. Even drugs can lead you to God if taken in the right mood. I'm not advocating a "Jayatirtha-approach" to bhakti, but am just stating how the Intention is everything. As Prabhupada once commented when he was on Second Avenue in NYC in 1966, referring to the winos who would loiter outside his storefront temple: If when they drink wine they think this taste is God, that appreciation will lead them to Krishna.
The debate going on now on the internet about gays in Krishna consciousness should reflect the importance of intention over externals. Everyone is having sex in this world. Straights, gays and in-betweens. Even sannyasis, sorry to say, can sometimes be found in Bangkok with their arm around a Thai woman after an exhausting preaching tour. What else is new? Sex is all in all in this world, this amazing place where the jivas can't remember who they really are. So the point is, not homosex or heterosex, but the Intention to appreciate God and to engage in the process of bhakti. Sure, with intention proper behavior and actions should follow, but unless the intention is firmly fixed, no amount of posturing will do any good. "Better a sincere street sweeper than a charlatan yogi."
The "homosex" debate by devotees on the internet has brought Hrdayananda into conflict with the traditionalists in Iskcon. He recently posted an article to defend his position titled, "Never Break a Devotee." The article had some good points i thought, describing how Srila Prabhupada, while speaking with great force against politicians, scientists and clergy, when dealing with members of these professions on a personal basis, was respectful and practical. And that "Prabhupada once personally taught me that we should never "break" a devotee, that is never push a devotee to the breaking point."
I have also seen how gentle Prabhupada was with me when he stayed with us in Tehran for 10 days. Although he could easily understand my disqualification as his disciple, he never once threatened me or used his authority to minimize me. Rather he perfectly reciprocated with my feeble attempts to be receptive to him. But compare that example and Hrdayananda's quote of Srila Prabhupada about never breaking a devotee, to what went on in Iskcon. Even during Prabhupada's time, many devotees were abused to the point of breaking. It was "my way or the highway" with almost all Iskcon leaders.
After Prabhupada left the world, this abuse culminated in the wholesale slaughter of the faith of Prabhupada's disciples. Led by whom? Well, coincidentally, by Hrdayananda and his 10 partners who paraded themselves as the appointed successors to Srila Prabhupada. Sitting smugly on their vyasasans in Srila Prabhupada's temples in front of their godbrothers and sisters they proclaimed: "Don't break a devotee --break all of them! Divide and conquer! Carpe Diem!"
Yes, the jivas are amazing in this material world, an amazing plaze. One of these days or in a future lifetime, a strong fervent desire to get out of here will arise in my heart. At that time i will become indifferent to all that is heard or will be heard. All the material noise will subside and i will learn to listen with great greed to the eternal sound vibrations in the core of my heart. Until then, i will be wandering around this place, learning the lessons i need to reach that defining moment of realization.
Don't break a devotee. Be a devotee.