A very enlightening seminar on different aspects of the issues of faith & trust, morality, leadership, surrender and guru-disciple relationship.
This seminar starts out with an sociological overview and an analysis how devotees deal with morality: Krsna and the Devotees are not beyond goodness, they are in pure goodness, which means goodness which is not mixed with motives. Then H.D. Goswami looks at the issue of whom to trust and how we can become more trustworthy in the eye of the public.
The whole universe is created to bring living entities back to Krsna and if He gives them certain facilities (like flowers which devotees shouldn’t steal) it is part of His plan and we shouldn’t interfere with it.
We have to speak a cultural language that people understand, which means to behave decent and moral.
Next, it deals with guru-disciple relationship and how it can become dysfunctional.
Leaders have to be careful not to push people around in the name of Krsna and not keep them immature and dependent. Everything a gurus does in relation to the disciple should help the disciple become autonomous and mature. That doesn’t mean the disciple should at some point reject the guru.
A large part of the discussion in the end deals with the reaction of a disciple to spiritual difficulties of the Guru. Due to different psychological dispositions people tend to react in different ways. Had we had a more realistic understanding of the guru earlier we could have avoided cultish behaviour and disappointments. There should be mutual respects between guru and disciples who should be treated like adults.
Too much awe and reverence (implying also a wrong concept of a mystical superman-guru) can be an obstruction in the relationship of guru-disciple.
There is a danger if leaders see themselves through the eyes of their followers.
Certain people in ISKCON are cult-followers and that is what they want. It is unhealthy for the guru to surround himself only with such people.
Finally, H.D. Goswami explores the topic of trust in Krsna, the meaning of surrender and various misconceptions in ISKCON
If we trusted Krsna we would surrender to Him. In ISKCON there is a misconception or immature conception of surrender which is tinged with impersonalism. This lingering impersonal notion of surrender can infiltrate and influence our conception. It is the idea of trying to give up ones sense or will & desire. Impersonalists and stoics try to give up this wilfulness. Impersonalism is the disposition to avoid a personal concept of God because it becomes too uncomfortable.
There is philosophical and psychological atheism (which means to be self-centred and absorbed in mundane consciousness so that there is not place for God). To the extent we are self-centred we are indulging in psychological atheism.
In the Hare Krsna “boot camp” we experienced “Do what you are told, don’t speculate”. Many devotees thought this is the meaning of surrender.
To surrender means presenting ourselves to Krsna and placing ourselves in His hands. The essence of surrender is to trust Krsna to do what is best for us and to believe that Krsna is not a religious fanatic.
Do you believe that Krsna is practical and knows what He is doing? Krsna is the most practical person in the word. If we found a place and it works for us it means that this is Krsna. If it wasn’t Krsna it wouldn’t work for us.
There is also a misconception of a pure devotee being a denatured person, without personality, an instrument Krsna speaks and acts through you without individual preference & nature. Some devotees think it is offensive to attribute a specific nature of SP as opposed to the notion that he is simply channelling Krsna because he is transparent via-media. Denying the individual nature of the soul is in between personalism and impersonalism. This is a misunderstanding of our philosophy which permeates the movement.
Devotees are individuals. Pundarik Vidyanidhi is a pure devotee, but people thought he was eccentric and out of control. Pure devotees are people, they have their nature. A guru wants his disciples to become free, pure souls.
In every community when certain behavior is repeated often enough it becomes tradition. In the beginning of the movement when devotees joined the movement there was a lack of maturity, of elders and the background was rebellious. This often lead to irrational, immature behavior which over time became sacred.