How can I, someone who has only been 2 years in the movement, be anywhere near understanding Prabhupada’s mood? What you say resonates with me, but my concern is how can I know who to trust, and at what stage of development is it actually reasonable to trust that a devotee is representing Prabhupada in the correct way?
Regarding your key question, whom can you trust, here are a few thoughts. Prabhupada always emphasized that philosophy without religion is dry, limited speculation. And religion without philosophy tends to be fanatical or sentimental. Prabhupada advocated philosophy and religion together. Prabhupada often used the term philosophy in its traditional Greek and academic sense, a love of wisdom. For that reason, one receives a Doctor of Philosophy degree, PhD, in biology and in so many fields that are not ‘philosophy’ narrowly construed.
Personally, I was inspired in 1969 to give my life to a spiritual science, not to an ethnic, dogmatic, religious tradition. Of course I see the need for organized religion on practical grounds, but Prabhupada himself strongly encouraged me, from the beginning, to adopt a rational, educated approach to Krishna consciousness. I do not think that ISKCON conservatives are untrustworthy in any radical sense of the term. In their own way, they are trying to serve Krishna. But social science and history clearly demonstrate the need for something like Krishna West, and in his purport to the Srimad Bhagavatam verse 1.5.22, Prabhupada insists that we must engage all the sciences and academic disciplines in Krishna’s service.
In fact, a study of world religions shows that in every major religion there are those who prefer a more rational faith and devotion, informed by history, and there are those who think that history and philosophical reasoning are ‘maya.’ That’s just the way the world is. Prabhupada had his heart set on attracting intelligent people to ISKCON, and he urged me to acquire a top education so that I could present Krishna consciousness to “similarly educated people.” That is what I am trying to do. Prabhupada understood very well that this movement must attract educated people, lest it degenerate into a dogmatic movement for the less educated. Clearly, if we attract educated people, we can also attract the masses.