Sunday, September 18, 2011

Why I left

   For many years I wrestled with my conscience, integrity, and my common sense as to why I should stay in a movement that I no longer believed in or felt at home in any longer. It always bothered me that ISKCON leadership valued the buildings and rituals more than the members themselves. Like many members I was disturbed by how ISKCON treated the sick, old and the burned out. I remember one instance when I was extremely sick with a sinus infection so badly my face swelled up on my left side to the size of a grapefruit. Their reply to me was, "chant more". A devotee with a little more common sense took me to the hospital, I had a severe sinus infection that had almost ruptured and if it had spread to my brain it could have killed me.
   On another occasion at a meeting at (New Raman Reti) the Alachua Farm in 1994, Gunagrahi Swami told me when asked, "what rights do we have in ISKCON" he replied, "You have the right to do what we tell or to do or you can leave". I left a week later and returned to New York to a personal hell, post traumatic stress and jobless. After some time in NYC and working a job, I decided to give ISKCON a second chance, not because I trusted the leadership but I missed my friends and thought I could live on the fringe of the movement without being under the thumb of the GBC (Governing Body Commission). I lived on an ISKCON farm for a while but the dire conditions and failing health forced me to leave, after all medical care is maya (illusion). I left for Gainesville where I met my now ex-wife, got a job but soon we were on the move again to New England.
   Married life in ISKCON is an impossible situation, you're expected to practice celibacy with the exception of having children and then only with the blessings of Guru. ISKCON marriage is a 3 way relationship, husband ,wife and guru till death do you part. This is the reason why most marriages in ISKCON fail, there is no sense of privacy and devotees live under constant scrutiny. Senior devotees are always evaluating what you eat, who you talk to, your conversations, what your wearing, even when and how you use the toilet. Heaven forbid if you use toilet paper or take a shower with your genitals exposed. Every bit of the tiniest minutia is scrutinized by people who are flawed themselves and who are looking for your weaknesses.  You are taught to except unwarranted criticism from people who are ego maniacs. Once a new temple president who was on a power trip tried to bully me around till I pointed out the fact that if he were to walk outside the temple and inform the first Karmi (non-devotee) of who he was and try to order him around that he would find out first hand that outside those walls he was a nobody just like the rest of us. ISKCON leaders are drunk with power and quote mythological texts as proof to assert their authority when the fact is, that outside of their imaginations no such authority exists. they use religious texts as proof and exclude actual evidence as maya (illusion). Take the Moon landing for example, they believe the astronauts landed a planet called Rahu. Rahu is a demon's head that swallows the Moon and Sun, it's what really causes eclipses, they believe scientists are wrong . They still believe in the geocentric model of the Solar System where the Sun revolves around the Earth and the Moon is further away than the Sun.They also believe there is only one Sun in the universe and that there is an ocean at the bottom of the solar system and hold a belief in an ocean of milk where their god sleeps on a giant snake.Their basis of science is the Vedas and if the two conflict then science is flawed.
   I will high light the beliefs of ISKCON in regards to science in another article but my point is reality for the Hare Krishna is what is inside their books and the realm outside of their books is illusion. Their reality is a fantastical realm that they aren't pure enough to see because of spiritual contamination. But, if you asked them where are all the "Pure Devotees" in ISKCON were then they'd be hard pressed to answer.
   Their cavalier attitude towards child abuse and children in particular is abysmal. I have to admit that till 1998 most devotees didn't know the extent of the abuse due to the fact that they happened in the Gurukalas (boarding schools) mostly over seas out of the sight of most devotees. I was floored when I found out that Murlivadika dasa was involved in that scandal and that Rupa Vilas who had convinced me to move in the temple was also involved in it's cover up as well as physical abuse of children himself. It made me sick to my stomach. I knew others as well that I had trusted and I held with the highest regard as people of integrity but it was all a sham. I absolutely despise anyone who would harm a child but ISKCON's answer was,  "well, they must have done something in a past life to justify the karma", it's a cop out ludicrous answer and if the answer is true then why even bother to have a justice system at all, if everything is cosmic payback. Why prosecute murderers, thieves and rapists if the victim deserved it. ISKCON loves to play blame the victim game especially when they are at fault. They throw people away when they lose their usefulness or when they wise up. They despise people who don't need them or who able to stand their own ground.
   The ultimate reason I left was, I could no longer tolerate how ISKCON treats it's members, children and dissidents. I no longer feel a need for any theistic philosophy, I'm finally at peace with myself but I'm writing this blog to warn others who might have an interest in joining ISKCON or for those looking for the courage to leave. There will be more to follow.

6 comments:

  1. If he thought women are less intelligent because in India women get married at 11 and aren't allowed to have an education, then isn't it saying all Indian men are Sudras, as Queen Victoria was the Indian empress and she ruled India. If they're going to insult other people, then they should take it themselves. It takes a man and woman to have a child, and there's no reason one has to be superior than the other.

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  2. pt.2
    We acknowledge our faults, accept them and learn from it. Especially after Prabhupad left us there was a series of experiments in decisions, most of which failed. They simply didn’t know what to do, so they tried many things. Besides that they have to deal with fall-downs of many devotees, many leaders, and deal with deviations in philosophy, misconducts, and bunch of many other serious problems. We have to take all this in account when judging our movement.
    Here you mainly focus on negativity, negative statements of Prabhupada, which are indeed perhaps few, spoken in special circumstances times and surroundings. But why don’t turn to the positive side? There are innumerable good instructions of Prabhupada, which can improve life of anyone. Even if one doesn’t accept Krishna as the Supreme, or Prabhupada as his representative, there are so many beneficial instructions to improve our lives. You have your, unfortunate, experience with this movement, but thousands of others have different experience, like me. Out of bitterness you rejected this path, this philosophy and everything else. Fine, you have a free will to do as you like, but in the same time as you try to turn other people from this path, I’m trying to show the other side based on my own experience.
    I take these teachings as a map of unknown place. I made a few ‘’miles’’ on this road and experienced that it works, that it is true so far and have faith that the rest of it is also true, even I’m not able to comprehend fully now. Like for example, you mentioned the boar incarnation, or other ‘’far out’’ things from the Vedic scriptures. Srila Vyasadeva who wrote them was ‘’a bit’’ more intelligent than me or you. These are not interpretations of Prabhupada. There are many things that require a multidimensional intelligence, which we on the earth do not posses and there are described as far possible by our mundane words whose capacity is not so high. But those things are not very important for one’s self realization. We mainly stress chanting and hearing, or in other words add Krishna to whatever you do at the present and see it for yourself. Some do not accept, but some do. People are still joining to this movement, accepting philosophy and improving their lives. There are many Prabhupada’s disciples still in this movement who love Prabhupada, immensely thankful to His Divine Grace and are happy people.
    I appreciate sharing of your experience, but there is another story also. We may choose to see the cup half empty or half full, or to look for negative or for positive. You made quite endeavor to dig up negative things, but there is far more of positive things. I‘ll leave everyone to dig what they want for, but it is far better to look for positive. Especially on internet you will find good and bad information about everything possible, so take it with a grain of salt.
    Thank you,
    Here is the link where you can download and listen the seminar ''True history of ISKCON'' to better understand what actually happened. You will be amused, shocked, and better understand the difficulties ISKCON has faced in the past.

    http://iskconleaders.com/seminar-on-iskcons-true-history-audio-lectures-by-ravindra-svarupa-prabhu/

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  3. Part 1
    I appreciate your articles and I’m empathic towards your experience within ISKCON. It was indeed a mad time in those days. That I joined in that time I would probably have all reasons to leave. I’m in this movement for the last 20 years already and definitely I have vastly different experience within ISKCON than you. I can’t recall ever since I joined that I was let down or mistreated exploited or so even once.
    I can say that I have fulfilled life in this movement. I was always pretty independent in nature, always questioning instructions I get. Just to mention that all these years I’m staying within the ashram not outside.
    Prabhupada used to say ‘‘you may surrender everything but your intelligence’’ . So make your discrimination when you get the instruction. ISKCON is now vastly different than before, we learned a lot trough our mistakes.
    When Prabhupada came to the west he was hoping that he will get the first class men, but as he said Krishna didn’t send me any first class man but only third class and fourth class. Those early disciples were very unqualified, the double drop-outs. First they dropped out from general society, abandoning any rules and restrictions, and then dropped out from that and joined to the movement and accepted even more strict rules than people outside. Of course one could accept that this was artificial, just an external attempt, or fanaticism. They were strongly still attached to the ‘’hippy’’ life style, fall downs were almost inevitable. These were the young boys and girls in their 20-es or so, they didn’t know anything, no experience about life, not knowing what the proper codes of behavior and dealing with others were, etc. Prabhupada knew what he has to deal with but he gave them chance. Those were people he got and he accepted them and he had only a short time to leave. He tried to manage and organize the society and appreciated their help but he knew they made many mistakes. He has sown the seeds and he knew it will grow. Mistakes are temporary and it will grow better and better in future but benefit will be eternal. Every movement, spiritual or any other have passed through a great difficulties initially, and indeed we are only a ‘’baby’’ movement right now, which will grow better in future. Even now, I would say from late 90-ties ISKCON is improving in its quality. I would definitely not be still its member that this is not my experience. Prabhupad used to say a few times, ok don’t expand anymore, now is time to ‘’boil the milk’’, or in other words to improve its quality and this is the thing we focus on in a big degree.
    Read the part 2 above.

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    Replies
    1. I joined in 1974. We were basically treated like dog s##t. However I am still a Prabhupada man. Who is your guru?

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    2. Escape for your life. ISKCON is just another destructive cult, them all operate with the same model. Read Steve Hassan web page and about the BITE model. May God bless you and set you free.

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  4. After spending personal time with Prabhupad in Los Angeles and India,I discovered that he no better than the crazy tyrannical people he gave authority to. Follow Jesus, and you will be saved.

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