Re: Chris Butler, Jagad Guru, Science of Identity
Date: July 30, 2021 04:55AM
I think I am visiting an offshoot sect of ISKCON but I am not sure, can anybody help? Did anyone experienced the same and can tell me what group it is and if my judgment is right?
Sorry for the text, maybe sombody has the patience to read it. I would happily appreciate it! :)
I moved to a new city and tried to hook up with people that also have an spiritual interest, meditate and maybe read Hindu and Buddhist scriptures. This city is not that big, so there are not many options. I went to a place that advertises itself simply as an meditation center. So I went there and understood that they do mantra chanting as meditation also the maha-mantra that I knew before. The maha mantra is not “owned” by ISCKON but it was my first association. I also met people from ISCKON where I lived before, but I was not attracted to go to any of their serious meetings or lectures. I have only very basic knowledge about ISCKON. In the center they also talk about bhakti yoga as a path to God and I didn't see anything wrong in that because I think bhakti is a beautiful path. So I thought I am just in a group of people interested in spiritual practice, though it seemed to me that many new people who where coming there but also steady people, didn't had any other meditational or spiritual practice before they went in this center. So I started to talk to one man who was in the organisation group there and he asked me about my spiritual practice and I told him that I did Tibetan Buddhism meditation for years and that I am interested in Advaita Vedanta and Kashmir Shaivism. His reaction, even if he didn't show it so strongly, seemed very hostile to me. He started to throw with arguments why non-duality is wrong and that Advaitins think they are Gods themselves, so they are megalomaniac.Then later I sent him a link of what I enjoy to read and he answered he does not want to offend me but he thinks he is on the path of greater happines. This seemed weird to me - if there is greater or less greater happiness in spirituality, why shall I engaged in finding god at all? Then I can climb any other ladder in society and feel the same way - superior or inferior towards others. This attitude didn't make any sense to me. But I love chanting the holy names, so I just go there to have a nice time. Since then though he behaves very rejective towards me when I come to the center to chant. I made friends with another man there who is also in the group and if I tried to talk to him about my practice I also sensed some irritation from him especially when it comes to the topic about personal and impersonal god and when I try to talk about the Upanishads and other scriptures apart from the Bhagavad Gita. They also invited me several times to come to their philosophy lectures but I refused so far. I just went to some introduction lectures, but not more than that. Just questions about the Vedas in general, that are not Krishna-related are always refused or answered with a weird feeling that is underlying. After a while he invited me to his place. The organisatoral people of this center live all in the same area or the same house together. All of their homes I have been so far are pinned with pictures of Krishna and Radha. Then I saw a picture of Bhaktivedanta Swami and another picture of some older man I have never seen before. So because of Bhaktivedanta I thought that this must be an ISCKON group. Later on the man sent me a mantra video and this video was released by an organisation called Science of Identity foundation. I researched who the man behind this organisation was and recognized the guy whose pictures are pinned in the house of the meditation center people. So when they chant in the house they use long mantras with the names of their spiritual masters (Bhaktivedanta and Jagad guru siddhaswarupananda) and the - -Bhagavad Gita as it is- was laying around there everywhere. They don't sing this mantras in the center and they are also not open in their introduction lectures about the master they worship to, the kind of Gita they read and so on. They say they are just friends who love Krishna but to me they seem very sectarian and very one-minded about the Vedas. It feels also that nobody else is interested to bond or deeper interact with me there, also not this one specific woman, who is seen as some kind of authority in the group when it comes to questions about the scriptures. I am slightly getting the feeling that the man I am friends with is set on "dealing" with me. But it all seems so subtle and weird, this is why I am not sure. Before this experience I only read the Bhagavad-Gita with commentary from Adi Shankara and Paramahansa Yogananda. I also know some things about secterian and scholaric arguments of dvaita, advaita and other schools and the arguments between Vaishnavism follower or Shaivism follower. It is also reasonable that some Bhkati followers fear an attack on Bhagavan by Advaita. But as I understood from my own practice and the scriptures the heritage of the Vedas is spiritual not religious, and I met many people who agree with this. It belongs to all of us and nobody, no master or deity, is superior. I also think to understood that karma, bhkati and jnana is equally important. Bhakti is suggested as the easiest path for our age but it does not dismiss the other paths. When I read - Bhagavad-Gita as it is-for the first time some weeks ago I felt terrible. The whole language that is used there seemed very hostile to me and antagonistic. On top of that it reminded me a lot of the Bible. I am not a scholar just a simple practioner and I know how honored Bhaktivedanta Swami is but this commentaries just felt wrong. The introduction was so obsessed with proofing to the reader that this is the best commentary, very triumphalistic, self-righteous and arrogant. This appared, unusual to me, because usually scholars try to argue with pure logic, and not personal offense or even insult. Somehow felt inappropriate and clumsy. I could not sense any spiritual knowledge or experience in the words and the way it was written. This is maybe harsh to say of me cus I am young and quite a small light in my studies of the scriptures. But one thing why I enjoy reading the vedic scriptures is the pure experiences of godly presence in them. When you read some of the Upanishads for example, also the Puranas, even the hymns of Shankara or the biographies of other great saints and teachers and you are devoted and receptive to the knowledge you cannot not experience it. In the -Bhagavad Gita as it is- there was no spark of that for me, more the opposite, it felt dogmatic and antagonistic.On the website of the american master of this group is also very visible, that he tries with many statements to stress storngly to be non-secterian and legitimite. This gives an suspicious impression. Many people in this group are educated and intelligent but I do not understand why they don't ask the right questions there. Maybe because most of them haven't read anything else before. I won't go to the center anymore but I like this man who I made friends with there and I would like to talk to him about this but how? Maybe I am judging this people too fast but I just feel a very awkward dogmatic vibe there and maybe somebody can tell me what kind of group this is and if they are a sect and how I can talk to them? And if sb experienced something similiar? And last statment: I am not attacking any organisation or person here, I don't feel I am in the position to do so - I just talk about an subjective experience and I am aware of that. Any mistakes, also scholarly or fact-based, shall be forgiven in this - I am not trying to be mean or omniscient. Thank you.