Krishna group in Hawaii
Date: March 26, 2007 05:48AM
[b:249463f268][u:249463f268] An Open Letter
to Chris Butler, aka Kris, Sai, Siddha,
Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa Prabhupad,
Prabhupad: [/b:249463f268][/u:249463f268] [/size:249463f268]
[b:249463f268][i:249463f268] “We are never deceived; we deceive ourselves”. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“If one person tells you that you have ass's ears, take no notice; should two tell you so, procure a saddle for yourself”. – Yiddish Proverb
As SpongeBob SquarePants said to Plankton, when the latter said he was fomenting a plan to take over the world: "Well, good luck with that." [/b:249463f268][/i:249463f268]
I left you in good standing. I left when I realized you were utterly fallible. I left for a thousand reasons over a thousand days. I have no regrets about leaving. I no longer have regrets about staying. You never forced or coerced me. I was always free to go. I chose to stay in my nicely decorated prison cell for a decade. I always had the key in my pocket. For many years I gave you the benefit of the doubt. No benefit came. I left early in the first exodus of the 1980’s. The changes since then have only confirmed my decision. I survived because of the sheer ferocity of my own stubbornness and the love of my family. Not everyone who left feels as fortunate as I do.
[b:249463f268][i:249463f268] “For many years I was known as a monk. I shaved my head and wore robes and got up very early. I hated everyone but acted generously and no one found me out. My reputation as a ladies man was a joke. It caused me to laugh bitterly through the ten thousand nights I spent alone.” ~ Leonard Cohen [/b:249463f268][/i:249463f268]
If I have suffered at all, it is only from the illness of nostalgia, the pain of leaving friends behind, and the faded embarrassment of having been a fool. I could dwell on other damages, but don’t. The curious thing is that good always comes out of bad for those who have the right intentions. It is a Law even beyond your fantasies of your own ‘g0dliness’. What years I lost, I gained manifold in other ways.
No, by leaving, my life did not turn into some cursed disaster like a chain letter threat. I did go through some arid spiritual years, but came out the other side like the medieval illustration of the man breaking out of the layers of the cosmos.
You remember the cover of your friend’s book “The Ontological Primer”. He left you too. I did expect damnation. I kept waiting for my spiritual end. I waited for the yamadutas and sudarshan chakras to torment me. They never came. They never will. Another thing didn’t happen. I did not become a “gross” materialist, a madman, alcoholic, druggie, or ‘beeper-watch-wearing sex addict’! I also didn’t become involved in another ludicrous cult, nor religious, spiritual, psychological, or political movement! I found true outlets for my spiritual longings and creative expressions, as well as my desire for service. I also learned about gratefulness.
Yes, the world is a place of misery, but it is also a place of goodness and beauty. And you find joy and meaning in life by giving of yourself to others. That is why your followers will always be the real winners in spite of your tirades, in spite of their misguided affections.
[b:249463f268][i:249463f268] “Love seeketh not itself to please, nor for itself hath any care, but for another gives its ease, and builds a Heaven in Hell's despair.” ~William Blake[/b:249463f268][/i:249463f268]
I do thank you for some of the happiest days in my life along with the darkest nights when I had to face the outcome of my decisions made based on your teachings, without considering their source. I thank you for the music and drumming at Koolau, Haiku, Diamond Head, the farm on Maui, and dozens of parks. I thank you for that piece of paradise in my youth; the beaches and gardens, the mango trees, the fresh green coconut meat, the feasts, hard work, the sweat drenched floors during kirtans, carrying huge bunches of bananas from the jungle, scavenging wild pineapple from abandoned fields, the horses swaying their heads to the beat of the Maha Mantra, eating breadfruit and comfrey leaves, smelling sweet ginger by the stream on japa walks, the profusion of purple tulasi bushes that enthused devotion, and the birds madly singing with our cries to the spiritual sky church.
I thank you for quiet contemplations and conversations late into the night lit by utility candles in gallon jars. Thank you for allowing me to accompany you on walks down trails lined with guava bushes and lilikoi vines. It made me dream of other realms beyond my childhood. We both grew up with bohemian parents and were raised by the French philosopher, Rousseau and 50’s America Dr. Spock. You told us your favorite stories from the Chaitanya Charitamrita and spoke of Krishna’s warrior from the Bhagavad Gita. You compared Arjuna to a surfer. Thanks too for the surfing.
Thank you for rejecting ISKCON and dispensing of the practice of shaving our heads and the wearing of “Brahman underwear”! Nothing worse than purposefully wearing a “wedgie” up your ass! Thanks for not encouraging a fake Indian accent or lingo.
Thank you for your soft heartedness towards the local Hawaiians. Through you I was able to enter the native worlds and meet many wonderful people. At one time you really seemed sincere about being of service to the people of Hawaii. Even though you denied him, this was the legacy your father tried to pass on to you.
You had a tremendous impact on my life and much of it was good. I skipped drugs while my peers were burning and crashing on cocaine. I never contracted a sexually transmitted disease, nor gambled a day in my life, except for when I gambled on you. I learned to cook amazing vegetarian food that still gets rave reviews. I never wear shoes in my house and learned how to play the harmonium and kartals, but don’t any more. I learned many new job skills. The one thing for which I am most thankful is that I missed the whole disco music era!
I am thankful for all the extraordinary people I came to know that showed up at your feet. You had a knack for attracting some of the most talented and interesting people; musicians, artists, carpenters, engineers, builders, gardeners, simple folk and university educated alike. We were all moving towards this great eco-spiritual ideal. Not everyone was always kind to each other, but I have a hard time being angry with your followers, because outside of the trauma of your “service” we could have been great friends. I’m even grateful for the crazy people and space cadettes who would show up for awhile and were graciously tolerated.
I no longer remember everyone’s names or faces. But I remember playing music together, laughing, working hard and getting “punch drunk” from staying up all night to finish a project. Sleep deprivation was the only form of intoxication we knew. It would bring out spontaneous explosions of music, chanting and laughter in the middle of the night. You’d show up and it all became bowing down, scraping, and waiting for a word, new directive, or someone getting chewed out. Upon your appearance we would suspend all of our own thoughts, ideas and personalities, like chameleons changing colors to suit your whim. You were funny too, but always at the expense of someone else. Your humor would humiliate and hurt. You modeled unkindness, unfriendliness, arrogance. It kept people humble before you, but aggressive and bitter towards others when you were not around. A grand chain of pecking fowl emerged in your wake.
The Sai remnants. The local “aloha aina” devotees. The New Zealand contingency. The Filipino with the golden voice. The three bros from Texas. A working class guy from England. The Oz boys and girls. Wanderers from the mainland. The Duke graduate. Closet lesbians. The football hero. The Hell’s Angel. The master guitarist. The television actor. Such a wonderful confluence of people. Had I not met you, I would never have met them. Some were not so bright. Some were snakes. Some were assholes. Some were friends I really loved. I am grateful for having met them all.
Over time you became ambitious and simple living and teaching the Gita was not enough. You always had a lone hunger and needed an adversary to battle. Political thinking and self-righteousness was in your upbringing. A sense of grandeur was emerging. The pleasure of becoming a puppet master was being tasted. You began to live vicariously through your political mannequins.
Change came. Everyone but a few farmers were moved out of the peaceful countryside to warehouses and rented spaces in the city. Simple living and high thinking was exchanged for dumpster diving and back stabbing. Talk of the battlefield of Kurukshetra changed to organized crime and politics. Putting on feasts changed into political campaigns or selling cookies for a phony rehab clinic. Meditation on japa beads carved from holy tulasi wood changed to chanting on ‘clickers’, those hard, cold contraptions used to count crowds. Transcendental sound vibration became door-to-door campaigning for political candidates or talk of multiple business enterprises.
Daily congregational kirtans became rare events led by the exhausted or the haughty who enjoyed the sound of their own voices. Bead bags changed into gun holsters for your body guards. Your simple sadhu huts with no electricity turned into mansions lined with tin foil and elaborate air filtration systems. You became ill, or it has been suggested, feigned illness to procure more services and money.
I left you stealthily and slowly. I had more to fear from your followers than from you if I pointed out that the ‘emperor had no clothes’. There were too many things that you should have known about, but did not. I tested you on many occasions. You failed. You should have realized how much people loved you and yearned for real spiritual advancement. You should have been concerned about how people were treating their godbrothers, spouses and children. You should have cared when people were poor, sick and in pain, or lonely. You should have cared that young men and women were sleeping alone in cars, on cardboard boxes in warehouses, or in crawl spaces between floors, just to serve you. But it was never enough, never right, never appreciated, rarely pleasing. You were more upset about the expiration date on a container of milk or the setting of a thermostat than about the death of a young woman follower. Do you even remember her name? You didn’t care that Katyayani’s babies were neglected and crying when she was out campaigning. You didn’t care when your cook was on the verge of a nervous breakdown from exhaustion. You didn’t care when a little boy was run over by a car. You didn’t care about the child with autism who was molested because his mother and husband were too busy serving you. “All nothing” you say, compared to how your food is cooked and your shirts are laundered.
Maybe you knew all along. The word misanthrope comes to mind.
I find out years later that those you once said were pure devotees are now considered envious and have left your service. If you were really God’s best friend and they were also God’s best friends, why doesn’t everyone agree? How is this possible? Pure devotees are not supposed to fall down or change their minds. The curtain has fallen away and the ‘great wizard’ is just an ordinary man after all.
Some of your followers were crooks and thieves. They stole from me, they stole from you. Your pal God should have clued you in on these guys. If we complained, you would say, “No one is perfect. You are all in the same hospital. Don’t be surprised if the guy next to you has a broken leg.” until you got ripped off! If something happened to us, it was our karma. If something happened to you, it was an offence. There is no way you could be responsible. Blame the disciple game. Blame them for your colds and viruses. Blame them for your wife’s head injury. From thousands of miles away disciples were all viewed as trying to murder you if the thermostat was a few degrees off. The word paranoia comes to mind.
There was a turning point when you could have done something of real significance and benevolence for your followers, along with the people of Hawaii. You were in a position of leadership and authority. You could have helped people who were suffering simply with a kind word, encouragement, advice, but you only laughed and scoffed at their problems as meaningless compared to your own. You had great ideas for Hawaii. Simple Living and High Thinking. Small is Beautiful. Eco-spiritualism. But your penchant for negativity and putting everyone down crippled any chances of you becoming a man of substance. Your movement was no longer pleasurable, no longer inspiring.
[b:249463f268][i:249463f268] “We won’t come to your revolution if we can’t laugh and dance.”
~ Willis Butler, your father[/b:249463f268][/i:249463f268]
I became unsettled as you delighted more and more in humiliating others. It started with puerile delights like making a man go on all fours and eat a watermelon with no hands while mocking his appetite and calling him a pig (he was neither fat nor lazy). You made a woman stuff a huge cookie in her mouth because she had an opinion. Afterwards, you would lead everyone in a kirtan of mocking laughter. The disgraced ones did not laugh. I left before you made people put bags on their heads. It was easy to put down politicians and ‘materialists’, but you reached down into your own pool of followers. You could raise an asshole up and bring down the most innocent and sincere person with a glance or a comment. A person would instantly be shunned or fawned over by your minions whether they deserved it or not. The atmosphere of brotherhood became a competition for proving to you who was the most ‘serious’. You could not see into the hearts of others, only how to use them to your advantage. The word narcissism comes to mind.
There was once a great meeting at the “Warehouse”. The question was how to motivate people without some kind of remuneration. Everyone was working their asses off producing your books and videos, running your businesses. You were never satisfied. Morale was low. The problem was that you had taken away the one motivating force. You stopped teaching. You stopped giving meaningful lectures. You stopped coming to kirtans. You stopped sharing. You became upset and continually blamed others for your failures and frustrations. You yelled at and degraded people who were sacrificing so much for your service. You became more secretive and isolated with your new wife. She never looked at anyone in the eye. You began living an increasingly luxurious lifestyle and demanding more and more tithes. The more you called people idiots, the stupider they behaved and all the more uninspired. Why try? You sent your bull dogs to relay the most unpleasant messages and directives. You started to punish people with fines for the most inane infractions. Many of us learned the art of invisibility during these years. Others became empty rag dolls in your hands or pathetic dogs desperate to please.
Your marriage to a previously wedded disciple with children made me rethink everything. You showed me her letters from China. I saw how enraptured she was with you. I saw you were infatuated with her. You were in love. It was odd seeing your supposedly dispassionate spiritual master trying to conceal a flood of emotions. My inner sannyasi was screaming, “What the fuck is going on!???” Urgent and defensive communiqués went out. I did not dare question and hid my doubts behind my placid exterior. I did not mind seeing you break with tradition, but it undermined your authority as you rationalized away the whole disciplic succession, just as Sai did. At that moment, I too broke with the lineage that did not belong to my soul. It was a blessing in disguise that catapulted me towards wonderful experiences and opportunities. In this case, thank you for not giving a shit. Actually, I was pleased that you would finally enjoy some intimate companionship. You always seemed so lonely. And it freed many of us to do the same.
You lived explicitly through your political creations. I often wondered why you didn’t run for office yourself instead of pushing the reluctant and the unlikely into the arena? But this would force you to stand on your own two feet. You would need to be scrutinized and accountable. You would have to become a man. Your delicate moth wings would have burned up in the light. And politics should lead to service of the people. You chose to be the hidden director and the served one. You had a great cast to work with; The Good Japanese Girl, The Local Boy Surfer/Green Grocer, The Tennis Pro with Aloha Spirit, The Golden Boy with No Scruples. They had several things in common; good looks, complete submission of their will to yours and the ability to cover up your tracks like cats vigorously burying shit in a litter box.
[b:249463f268][i:249463f268] “Love work, despise lordliness, and do not become overly familiar with the government.” ~Pirkei Avos, Ethics of the Fathers[/b:249463f268][/i:249463f268]
I ignored the beginning signs of your paranoia and phobias. Your irritability could be chalked up to your annoying followers who in your estimation always seemed to be saying and doing brainless things. The secret trap door built in your closet so you could escape to the jungle and the guns could be justified by your publishing newspaper articles against an organized crime boss. Yes, you were the one behind it all. The obvious reason for your chronic illness (mental and physical) could be blamed on past drug use and the burning of your kundalini by sucking too much light into a western vessel greedy for a Luciferic experience. Perhaps it opened up the perfect channel for a possession or a psychiatric disorder. But you blamed it on the karma you claimed to take on from your plebian initiates. I knew you were insane when you told the world that they were all going to hell because a piece of ceiling hit your consort in the head. You could never just hire and pay a professional to do your jobs. Some poor devotee probably killed himself one way or another over that accident. You never could take responsibility for yourself or your wife’s well being. You told us it was because we were not giving enough money and the only way to atone was to give till it hurts.
Twenty years later you still are living off of a pretty oriental woman, a Katyayani clone. Both do yoga. Both did television. But it is beyond my comprehension why you have marketed your wife in clown outfits and makeup. There is only one number one wife in Chinese culture. There is only one alpha male in a troop. BT was not envious. He and Kat simply followed in your footsteps perfectly. He took your prized disciple and started his own troop. Animal behavior teaches us much. Do not believe you are beyond its template.
You did not trust the affection and devotion of your followers. Not everyone was sincere, but you lost sight of who really loved you, not for attention, not for liberation, but for no reason. They really believed you were the conduit to God, but would have followed without that claim. God is what they were seeking and they naturally turned to you for guidance. But you became contemptuous because you were never really able to guide them back to Godhead. You must have known this. That is why you hide behind a thousand barriers. The level of cynicism and hatred towards humanity must have become so deep for you to offer your followers the most disgusting and dirty of things, full of darkness and impurity, while claiming it to be holy--- your toenail clippings and foot bath water. That you claim it to be maha prasadam is the height of arrogance and disrespect for other spirit souls.
You claim to take on the karma of others. This is a very dangerous option, if it were really possible. Karma is a God-given system to help a person make corrections in their life. It’s all about cause and effect. Place your hand too close to the fire and it gets burnt. Cut off a plant from its roots and it will die. Learn. If you convince people that you have removed a natural consequence, then you have taken away a God-given lesson. You help no one. It is not kind or merciful. It makes people irresponsible. It’s not a very godly thing to do. How can a pure devotee go against God’s intention? So Chris, you will end up getting karma for stealing other people’s lessons away and preventing them from evolving.
[b:249463f268][i:249463f268] “You know what I think it really was? He was a narcissist. I love narcissists---even more than they love themselves. You don’t have to buoy them up. They are their own razzle-dazzle show and you are the blessed, favored with a front row seat.”
Who is to blame and who is culpable? My karma is my own. Your karma is yours. I forgave you years ago. I only recently forgave myself. I can critique and judge all I want here, but ultimately the mea culpa lies in my lap. I chose to follow. I chose to stay. I chose to blindly accept. The work was all volunteered. And I also needed to free my self. But you are accountable for your lies, your scams, and for misleading others. I was lucky because I left before I raised a family inside of your spectrum disordered assemblage of lost souls. I got to return to my family. Other families have been torn apart. Children have been devastated or became psychologically and cognitively disabled. Chris, you will be accountable karmically for every instruction you give that is followed that leads someone into a spiritual, emotional or material disaster.
You are surrounded by men and women who believe you can blackmail their souls for any slight offence. No one dares to tell you the truth or question the lies. They are afraid that you will flush them out of your Vaikuntha airplane 25,000 feet in the sky without a parachute. They don’t know that you never left the runway.
If you were to die now, your legacy and reputation is as thin and receding as your hair line. There are several paths you can take at this juncture.
For so many years you have focused on building straw men to punch out; the fat materialist; your angry, meat-eating father; the organized crime boss; the Ninjai baddies; opposing politicians; homosexuals; all reflecting parts of your own image in the mirror. You become what you focus upon. If you focus on peace, you get peace. If you focus on anti-war you get war. Mother Teresa taught this. She told people she would never attend an anti-war rally, but she would attend a peace rally. She understood this simple truth.
Perhaps you should admit you are a fraudster and sincerely apologize to all of your followers for ripping them off for years. I’m sure with a good lawyer you won’t be liable for back wages. In the ‘Court of Heaven’ it may be a different story.
Then you could take up the order of sannyas for real and give up all power and possessions. Go to India and surrender to a learned Vaishnava and become a genuine sadhu. You are certainly the correct age for this. (What was Bhaktivedanta thinking making young, western men in their early 20’s celibates!?) There are several ashrams that would lovingly accept you. They have good doctors who would take care of your health. Your wife and step-children could continue the businesses and donate to the ashram for your support and give charity to the needy. This will help Wai’s karma as well as your own. You’ll gain your self respect and the esteem of sincere Vaishnavas by doing this. And maybe God will take away your illnesses, phobias and paranoia. You’ll create a tremendous legacy this way. Work as a gardener, feed the poor, tend the lepers. You will stop aging so rapidly. Maybe you’ll even be able to take on a few followers in about twenty years, but they should never let you have a cell phone, internet access, or a credit card again! And no more politics!
[b:249463f268][i:249463f268] It’s better to be “…a tail to lions rather than a head to foxes.”
~Pirkei Avos, Ethics of the Fathers[/b:249463f268][/i:249463f268]
If taking sanyass and renouncing the world is too difficult, then just come clean. Free your slaves and honestly tell them that you are getting out of the guru business. Be willing to rehire the productive ones back for living wages. Let everyone live their own lives without you promising Krishnaloka or threatening Karmaloka. Be an accountable and straightforward business man. Pay your taxes. If you want to live as a materialist, at least be honest about it. Take your cues from Donald Trump. You can still have fun firing people. You can’t stand most of your followers anyway, and “you get what you pay for”. All of this free labor has left you co-dependent and miserable. Now you can pay for professional help and won’t waste any time with sickening, dewy eyed, incompetent people bowing down and groveling. You can still have people fawn after you and kiss your ass though. You want to be left alone and in peace? Check out the life of Howard Hughes. He’s got plenty of tips for you. Never cut your toe nails and stop feeding them to your employees. It’s better to be an honest eccentric than a disingenuous spiritual charlatan. Just imagine how free you will be. No more hiding and pretense. Karmically, it’s a safer bet.
[b:249463f268][i:249463f268] “Anyone whose good deeds exceed his wisdom, his wisdom will endure; but anyone whose wisdom exceeds his good deeds, his wisdom will not endure…Anyone whose wisdom exceeds his good deeds, to what is he likened? – to a tree whose branches are numerous but whose roots are few; then the wind comes and uproots it and turns it upside down; as it is said: ‘And he shall be like an isolated tree in an arid land and shall not see when good comes; he shall dwell on parched soil in the wilderness, on a salted land, uninhabited’ (Jerimiah 17:6”)” ~Pirkei Avos, Ethics of the Fathers[/b:249463f268][/i:249463f268]
I suppose there is a third option. Grow a beard, wear plaid flannel shirts and jeans, and disappear to a trailer park in the Mohave Desert. Become a regular Joe. Just become an honest person and do good deeds. Make peace with your father while he is still alive and honor him and the memory of your mother with your love and beg them for forgiveness for the years of neglect and slander. Bruce is the holiest man in your family. Maybe you should bow down to his feet for a change, for his kindness and loyalty to his dying mother. Entertain the possibility that you never really knew the Supreme Being and all your actions were not in His service.
There are thousands of biographies to be told, and sadly, from people who have been more deeply hurt by you and your group. I hope you hear all of their stories. But they need to know a few things. Any one of your followers could have become what you became, done what you have done, for good or for bad, if only they wanted that. Nothing can destroy the imperishable soul (not even Siddha). No one can ruin your life. Anything can be overcome. You can learn from everyone, but you are responsible for your own destiny. And the only distance between you and the Cause Above All Causes is zero.
[b:249463f268][i:249463f268] “This above all; To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man. ~ William Shakespeare[/b:249463f268][/i:249463f268]
Once truly yours,
Zelig and company [/color:249463f268]