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.