Pages: 12Next
Current Page: 1 of 2
Setting a Standard for Ethical Behavior in ISKCON
Posted by: The Whirlwind ()
Date: October 28, 2021 05:58AM

What are your thoughts on this, everyone?

"After two years of research, writing, and debate, the GBC recently ratified and voted into ISKCON law a Code of Ethical Behavior. We spoke with the Code’s author, Yogesvara dasa, about the background to the Code and what changes he hopes to see in Srila Prabhupada’s movement thanks to its passage."

[iskconnews.org]

[gbc.iskcon.org]

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Setting a Standard for Ethical Behavior in ISKCON
Posted by: RUN_FOREST_RUN ()
Date: October 29, 2021 02:32AM

Words. But promising words in the proper direction of an accountable religious institution that is responsible for the welfare of its members worldwide, and owes it to them to create safe environments for rational spiritual progress. It is not the first time an institution like ISKCON N has tried to implement such "codes" It's up to the leadership to see them through and also be held equally accountable under such codes.

As usual, progress is often impeded by leaders who are stubborn to change or hold to a different standard than the flock is expected to adhere to. This happens in all types of institutions, but in spiritual ones, it's the delicate and fragile faith and mental health of new recruits and long-standing members that is at stake. Such codes of ethics are there to even the playing field and create a system by which everyone is held to a standard. Don't like it? Go to a different group. Or practice the religion in your own way and not within the structure of the organization.

Such institutions become cults often because they do not adhere to such codes of ethics and conduct and simply create an artificial hierarchy and abstraction around leadership/superiority of certain members (gurus/swamis/temple presidents etc). In such a structure secrecy and dishonestly eventually abound. Ultimately

I think Prabhupada expected that his followers would naturally be inclined to follow such codes, but alas, we are all human, and unless someone is telling us what As long as these codes also apply to those in leadership/guru positions, I think it can go a long way. Too many devotees have had their lives deeply affected by trying to explain away their guru's behaviors/words and make justification—or imply live in fear and confusion about something they have seen and know is not right, but leaves them with little recourse to address it.

The next step would be to have psychologists and consolers in such groups that can act as unbiased ears and soundboards for frustrated devotees who feel affected by aspects of their lifestyle, relationships with other devotees including their own guru or other leaders. It's imperative there are ways to address concerns that may arise in devotees' minds about their guru or aspects of the teachings they need to reconcile. Such therapists, support groups, and counselors should be well acquainted with the teachings and movement, but unbiased and able to give critical guidance and feedback.

The relationship of surrender/subservience to the guru that is promoted as a way of advancing spiritually is fine, but the larger and more organized an institution gets, the more there is a need for qualified people to deal with the eventual fallout of those who are unable to process those types of dynamics and relationships.

How refreshing would it be to have doubts, or feel any manner of real emotions and be able to have a temple president or other fellow devotees suggest a therapist that actually knows your faith inside and out and can guide you through some of those feelings? I mean, let's face it. When is a guru able to do that for his ever-growing league of disciples? What temple president has the time to sit with any number of devotees struggling mentally or with certain aspects of their feelings surrounding the organization and actually give unbiased feedback and listen to concerns?

We all like to think that chanting an extra round will do the trick or reading some verses etc, and it may, no doubt, but when it doesn't? What can the organization offer? Let's say, hypothetically, a dedicated disciple whiteness what they may consider inappropriate behavior on the part of a leader/guru? Traditionally there would be no one to really talk to without possibly risking offending people or being judged or even threatened or silenced because of the fear and scandal that may result.

How refreshing would it be to feel that your secret and dilemma can be safely conveyed to appropriate parties responsible for dealing with such issues? It is a great service to the organization to provide such dynamic and safe support for its members.

Anyway, my 2$c.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Setting a Standard for Ethical Behavior in ISKCON
Posted by: The Whirlwind ()
Date: October 29, 2021 10:21AM

What I want to know, in general terms, is this. First: how is this Code to be implemented and enforced? Next: what are the systems of accountability and penalty/punishment which are to serve that end? Where are the bylaws to which all members are to be held accountable (in addition to the Code itself?)

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Setting a Standard for Ethical Behavior in ISKCON
Posted by: RUN_FOREST_RUN ()
Date: October 29, 2021 01:02PM

Well, I assume this directly relates to ashram and temple life and devotee communities and official centers. I doubt it has much reach for those who simply identify as devotees and visit the temple on Sundays. It's likely for those with direct services within the structures of the organization. it would be impossible to implement it otherwise. I am sure much of it is based on trust and when and if there is blunt violations or suspicion thereof, it is inforced in some way. But yes, how and when and by whom?

It all sounds rather culty and draconian and once again, hyper idealistic. Communistic if you will. Ultimately all morality and ethic can only be suggested but adherence is up to each individual.

Such rules can end up being virtue signalling tactics for some and I can only imagine it can be used to get people in trouble. The gesture and idea are noble. But more realistic is something like an unbiased committee that deals with individual cases of blunt abuses of power or misconduct by leaders in the society since they hold the most sway and influence and control over their disciples and followers.

The rules are already clear. They include the 4 regulative principles and some basic rituals that people follow to varying degrees based on ability and commitment. Things like smoking pot or using alcohol or illicit sex are not things that society will have any success controlling in followers. But a guru/leader should be held accountable and held to standards as they are the ones who hold the most sway and power and are the face of the institution. The public will care little about followers who break a rule here and there, but a leader/guru who does will have many implications both inwardly for those who look up to them for guidance and outwardly as a sham spirituality that has no real power or profound effect even on supposed advanced members.

I assume like the catholic church, a few hail marys or an extra round on the mala will suffice for the garden variety slip ups. Lol. Who knows, by 2050 every temple may have a confessional and prabhupada will be the new jesus.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Setting a Standard for Ethical Behavior in ISKCON
Posted by: The Whirlwind ()
Date: October 30, 2021 05:38AM

Here's what I'm trippin' on, RUN_FOREST_RUN: here I am, an initiated ISKCON devotee who finds this new Code to be pretty embarrassing. Why am I embarrassed, you ask?

Well, here's why: I ask myself "Do we ISKCON devotees really need a thirty-page document which basically just says 'Be nice to each other, don't abuse one another, and always obey the law'? Aren't we supposed to be doing that anyway? Why is this even necessary?"

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Setting a Standard for Ethical Behavior in ISKCON
Posted by: The Whirlwind ()
Date: October 30, 2021 06:40AM

ISKCON is a classic cult which is run (at its highest levels) by sociopaths and narcissists. I do not have to explain how these things work to you, RUN_FOREST_RUN. The mentality is, that whatever bad things happen to you are your own damn fault; you have nobody to blame for your own misfortunes but the person you see in the mirror.

For somebody who REALLY BELIEVES that others' misfortunes are no fault of anybody other than the person who is experiencing them, this mentality gives one license to treat others any way they want to treat them. To be "nice" to somebody (as in, showing kindness to others) is redefined and re-operationalized as meaning that you are helping them to escape the cycle of death and birth and all that.

In the world of the Hare Krsnas, to chastise someone is to show them the greatest "mercy." To abuse someone IS TO be "nice" to them.

In other words (think about it): if I believe that what bad things happen to you are your own fault (since you are being karmically punished for things you did either in this life, a previous life, or some combination thereof) then the concept of "abuse" becomes meaningless. A person who ACTULLY BELIEVES that bullshit will no longer think himself capable of "abusing" others. Whatever you want to do, is OK if you believe that other people are only getting what they deserve. It's a sociopathic way of looking at the world and the people in it.

Am I lying, RUN_FOREST_RUN?

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Setting a Standard for Ethical Behavior in ISKCON
Posted by: RUN_FOREST_RUN ()
Date: October 30, 2021 08:26AM

No, I agree, it is certainly one of the paradoxes of karma theory and reincarnation that I feel are at the heart of India being unable to take care of many of its social problems/ills. And modern Indians are sick of it.

I think rationally speaking we are responsible for our actions. Absolutely. But being responsible for our actions does not negate that others have a dramatic effect on our life at all times. Being stoic and accepting that life has any number of miseries built into it and learning to accept that or work around it is one thing. Having a guru tell you that some "unknown" offence or sin is keeping us from progressing spiritually and our only bet is to grovel in humble self-depreciation and hope the lord smiles on us, and hey, meanwhile go do some "devotional service", is, and has always been a recipe for abuse. And devotees burn out all the time in this trap.


These "codes" get created because the movement is rotted through and through with many who are not nice, abuse each other, and don't obey the law. and yes, that is embarrassing. If you find it insulting, I totally get it. No one needs ISKCON big brother looking over their shoulder. But let's think about how Prabhupada mentioned on several occasions that he favors a dictatorship approach. Well, this is a dictatorship approach.

I think it's good to see this "code" in more detail and post it here. What does it consist of? My hope was that it was a way to offer devotees the opportunity to report behaviours of leaders and those in posts of power in the society without risking ex-communication, suffering threats and other restrictions that have plagues ISKCON in the past. I did not feel it applies to the random Prabhu who lives in town and comes by the temple once in a while.

Seems like it's not very well-conceived and thought out as it stands. Wishful thinking about ways to make the society more accountable and transparent. It's a noble concept, but how will it function practically. I think in the long run, like all religious institutions, ISKCON is just trying to figure out ways to make the society appear as if it holds on to certain standards and these things act more as a way to remind followers that there is more to being a devotee than just showing up for prashad.

Ultimately ISKCON promotes some moral and ethical boundaries for its followers in hopes of them leading a more "pure" lifestyle. The basic idea is to stay in the "mode of goodness" if one hopes to see some "advancement". I think that what many are finding is that after years of following rather strictly, they are not advancing much. It's either that or everyone is rapidly turning into a bunch of raghanuga bhaktas who need not follow any strict rules any more and are on the plane of spontaneous devotion.

As you know, I am an atheist, so I don't care personally about this all, but as an ex-member, it fascinates me how it all unfolds and how they play it all out. Before they realize it's all a bunch of hooey.

I know that you have personal sentiment to chant and adhere to some aspects of the teachings and I think that is honestly all ISKCON can ultimately hope for: That people remain attracted to some simple aspects of the teachings and apply them in their daily life.

Eventually, as time goes on, there will yet again be another bhakti reformer who will demand that everyone pull their pants up and get serious about it all if they ever hope to go back to godhead. Either that or kalki will come and cut of your head.

The paradox of karma theory is philosophically resolved for hare Krishnas by virtue of dovetailing our actions in the service of god. Karma yoga. Hence we stop the cycle of reaction by burning it in the fire of sacrifice to the supreme. Be that as it may, it changes little in our predicament. It's the same with the Atma theory. Sure, we can say we are not this body and some abstract soul, but that does little for how we navigate the world for practical purposes. even the society does not negate the differences in men and women and everyone identifies as some varna or other. For practical purposes.

At the heart of all religion is the failed attempt to resolve the paradox built into every single phenomenon. Without suffering we would have no concept of happiness. Without pain, we would not know freedom from it. The construct is classic Yin Yang. Absolutism is only absolute in acknowledging that the paradox is part of the whole. That is why I tend towards Advaita. It's a simple and elegant concept to immediately see the beauty of the whole, in everything, and everything (duality) in the whole. No need for complicated rituals, mantras, beliefs and gods and gurus.

One love, one heart, let's get together and feel alright.—Bob Marley

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Setting a Standard for Ethical Behavior in ISKCON
Posted by: The Whirlwind ()
Date: October 30, 2021 09:05AM

Dictatorship, RUN_FOREST_RUN? Not exactly. Close, but not exactly.

Prabhupada said in his books that a monarchy with a righteous king is the best government system, and that American democracy is "demon-crazy."

So, then why did he set up the GBC to adopt a democratic system with a chairman and voting system?

If a theocratic monarchy with a righteous leader/king is the best government system, and if democracy is demon-crazy, then why would the GBC itself be using a democratic system of government?

And what if the leader(s) are not "righteous"? What are devotees to do in that case?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/30/2021 09:07AM by The Whirlwind.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Setting a Standard for Ethical Behavior in ISKCON
Posted by: RUN_FOREST_RUN ()
Date: October 30, 2021 02:01PM

Prabhupada did vouch for and prefer a dictatorship approach to leadership (his words. Maybe if pressed about it and if people felt they were allowed to question him or ask him to clarify if he really felt that way we would have more answers, but alas, and the topic of the evening, he was never held to such scrutiny).

His only stipulation for such governance is that the dictator be "spiritually advanced", i.e. Krsna Conscious. Functionally there is little way of proving or knowing if that is the case with any leader. Public words and outward actions are fine and dandy, but behind closed doors, in private and in ones mind, they can be any number of things. Point is that democracy allows for people to vote in and out people who no longer able to stand for the needs of the people.

Prabhupada made a GBC on the recommendation of his senior followers. He was an old man with literally dozens of advisors helping him form legal entities, publish books, deal with trusts, financial matters etc etc. We like to think it was all Prabhupada calling the shots, but even in his lifetime, there were many instances where things were well beyond his purview and direct control. Naturally. Case in point, abuse in his gurukulas during his lifetime. When he caught wind it was happening, sure, he was upset, but did he kick devotees out and get child services or police involved? Of course not. again, I think his sentiment and message was that of a well-wisher, but he was only human and his influence and well-wishing only went so far.

It was also a common practice in his Guru's mission and in India, in general, to set up governing boards/trusts and so forth that manage the affairs of a religious society/community/temple. What to speak of when the guru passed on—both Siddhanta Saraswati, Shridhara Maharas=j, Puri Maharaj and pretty much every Gaudiya Math Guru appointed an Acharya Board when the main guru died. In fact, the appointment of acharyas is a fundamentally accepted practice in all Gaudiya math and just about every major Vaishnava sect with focal gurus. i,e. cults/sects.

If the leaders are not righteous, then people will either stay or leave. Same with adherence to ethical and moral codes. There will always be those who break the rules. In a philosophy that preaches so-called mercy and saving the lowest sinner, that should extend to your average pot-smoking bhakta. However, what these groups do not want is disgruntled ex-members whistleblowing. And to that end, they have, at least in the past and with groups like Science of Identity, even recently used Law Suits or other scare tactics to keep people from speaking out about the underbelly.

What you are pointing out is at the very crux of my problem with these cults. There is too many illogical rules and restriction to expect any cohesive and sustainable adherence in the long run. Something that has no sustainable application and measurable example of progress is subject to endless debate.

Regardless, if the society is to maintain its presence, it should offer its followers a safe way to report leaders behaving badly as well as questioning leadership structures when those leaders no longer seem to be effective. And by effective, I mean a guru who actually is preaching daily and not holing up in a beach house "chanting" while his disciples are left with no sanga and inspirational guidance.

I definitely think a code should be there for leaders/gurus in the society. They are the ones holding the most power and influence (and making the bold claims). By virtue of the philosophy, they are also the ones least questioned and held accountable when they do "fall" or in some way confuse followers. Bringing it up is immediately labeled a mad elephant offense and many devotees suffer in silence or live many years in a stunted state stuck between a wall and a hard spot.

Even when there is an idealistic "spiritual dictatorship" (almost feels like a paradox saying that), there is no guarantee that such leadership will please everyone nor that it will represent everyone fairly and equally. As we see in many krishna cults, there are old-time members who are treated with abstract reverence mostly because they have been in it longer, and new, serious bhaktas are being ground to the bone in "service oportunites".

I once knew a brahmin disciple who was a pujari, a phenomenal lecturer and kirtaniya, very inspiring to listen to, but he would shoot up heroin at night with my godsister and have sex all night. Bright and early he was on the alter slipping a flute into the deities hand. You know, so, like was he a raghanuga bhakta who was above the rules or was I to report him to my senior godbrothers? and that was just one prabhu I knew. I had to see him every day and it confused me a bunch as a young devotee, but leaving the cult was simply not an option.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Setting a Standard for Ethical Behavior in ISKCON
Posted by: The Whirlwind ()
Date: October 31, 2021 08:35AM

RUN_FOREST_RUN Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> As you know, I am an atheist, so I don't care
> personally about this all, but as an ex-member, it
> fascinates me how it all unfolds and how they play
> it all out. Before they realize it's all a bunch
> of hooey.
>
> I know that you have personal sentiment to chant
> and adhere to some aspects of the teachings and I
> think that is honestly all ISKCON can ultimately
> hope for: That people remain attracted to some
> simple aspects of the teachings and apply them in
> their daily life.

RUN_FOREST_RUN, I am not here to preach Krishna consciousness to anybody, much less yourself. I for one would appreciate it if you would not preach use this venue to preach atheism to me. After all, for one thing, it's against the rules to preach anything here...

The purpose of this message board is not to promote a specific religious and/or political viewpoint. Don't use it to preach or proselytize.

[forum.culteducation.com]

...and for another thing, it's hypocritical on your part to be a "preachy atheist."

I used to be an atheist myself, until I started to study what Prabhupada was teaching. That is my honest experience. Ohers' milage my vary (so to speak).

In other words: I am not trying to persuade you (or anybody else) of anything at all. Please do the same for me (and whatever other theists might be reading this). I am only here to share information, with respect to this stupid Code the Good ol' Boys Club (GBC) has come up with.

I will not preach my thing to you, and you will not preach your thing to me. Can we agree to that, please?



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 10/31/2021 08:39AM by The Whirlwind.

Options: ReplyQuote
Pages: 12Next
Current Page: 1 of 2


Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.
This forum powered by Phorum.