Re: Chris Butler, Jagad Guru, Science of Identity
Date: October 24, 2021 05:47AM
The concept of the moiety, becoming whole only in conjunction with the object of love/affection/desire/focus/meditation and any number of variants on the theme are not new, but rather as old as day. Early myths recognized the paradox of life, the yin and yang structure of macro and micro, of space, time, of being and non-being, of light and darkness, love vs. lust etc. These concepts and varying notions of it have expressions in many if not all major religions, primal myths, cults and philosophies and poetry. It's really a fundamental concept. How it is applied, practiced and realized varies by tradition, culture, philosophy and religious doctrine. But suffice it to say, it's at the crux of most spiritual systems.
We can argue its origin and who gets it has the right idea, or if it's even the right idea to begin with. Some try to experience this practice through intense emotional states created by sex, drugs, breathwork, meditation, cold exposure, kirtan, japa, reading the love stories of krishna and radha/gopis or Samkhya, Advaita, yoga and other processes. The goal is essentially the same. To dissolve one's sense of self/autonomy/difference/separateness and unify it with the
The whole point of a religious doctrine is to establish a system/blueprint for how to go about realizing/experiencing that state or reality. And religions/cults go to great lengths to really complicate that. You will be asked to chnat on 108 beads, some mantra, 16 times, follow xyz rules, shave your head, leave a sikha, tie the sikha, wrap the brahman thread 3 times around your thumb, take achman 3 times, while fucking twirling around and clapping behind your back. You will be asked to read all manner of crazy myths and told that they are factual historical people, events and situations. You will be asked to wash your gurus dirty jocks, make complicated videos for him, post them on social media to "purify humanity" and vote for his political candidate. You get the idea.
When all is said and done you will be standing on your head, offering a ghee lamp clockwise to a plastic statue while being no closer to any realistic state described above. It's not that you will not have your blissful moments or get used to and comfortable with your new reality. Unfortunately, youu will. You may even reject the reality at hand altogether and pretend it is "Maya" and live in a mild state of fear of engaging with the world around you. Or you may tend more towards a practical approach of "karma yoga" and engaging in your "dharma" and living a "saatvik" life. And these are all nice and usful ways to remain a part of society. In fact, it can be argued that the gita largely advocates karma yoga, i/e/ doing your duty, engaging in that which you are naturally talented and trying to just be an all-around responsible, decent person. I'm all for that. But i take it a step further that you need not really fill your mind and time with all the other stuff these cults proote to be that. You can in fact and should in fact study and question why your cult even requires you to do half the stuff it does and by what authority and measurable process. The answer will be a resounding echo.
The scriptures of all faiths suggest a simple idea when all is said and done: Man proposes, God disposes. Krishna, god, reality, the universe, brahman—reacts to our ebb and flow because we have invented and created them. And so we can argue them or find a reason for them into our existence. The varying expression of reality that we have, are as unique as we can imagine them to be. But until we have valid proof or a consistent method with uniform reuslts and application, it is simply an opinion and can be taken as such. No need to hang up your coat if it is not something that makes sense to you or makes you feel like you are stuck, emotionally, spiritually or materially.
I see on here many comments that devotees are kind or successful or do good welfare work etc etc. Yes, that's great and if that is what their Krishna consciousness helps them to be and they need it to be that way, by all means. But it is not the Krishna consciousness that is responsible for those things. Some of the most intelligent, kind, generous, and happy people I know as well as successful and inspirational are not devotees. Not by a long shot. Sp we can say it is their karma, their choice etc. But all that aside, karma, reincarnation and any number of ideas we like in Gaudiya Vaishnavism are not the philosophical property of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Even the achintyabedhabedha concept is not new. Yin Yang is precisely that and predates any Chaitanya saint or Nimbarka or others.
The point is that every novel concept is simply a remix of a previous novel concept going back to the day some ape discovered how to control fire, harness the ability to make sounds, communicate in a language, create art, music and discover and convey concepts of what beauty is, what truth is, what meaning, purpose and life is about. And trust me, every culture, prehistoric and contemporary has played and toyed with these ideas endlessly to "remix" what they consider paramount and of utmost importance.
India, the "holy land" and where this particular faith and others like it find their orgin is not superior/better or in any way blessed in any meaningful way because of these religions/philosophies. Like everyone else, they are subject to the raw realities of an often unloving, uncompassionate, and very violent universe. It's greatest and lasting and standing contribution is found primarily in Brahma vidya and Samkhya systems of philosophy. All other religions that grew out of that to encompass theistic ideas are somehow directly or indirectly a remix of those central ideas—with added layers of complexity often totally irrespective and irrelevant to the core tenants. it's almost as if the idea was too simple for man to grasp so they needed to make it more complicated. And then the endless remixes started. But as is often the case, the remix is never really as good as the original. And the fact is that the remix would have never existed had there not been the original to begin with.
Many devotees will often take to drugs and alcohol when they leave the cult or even remain in the cult as fringe devotees doing these things because lets face it, the practices/philosophy did not leave them any happier, blissful or content. Some even engaged in such activities because they hate themselves and feel fallen and well, what the fuck, I'm just a worm in stool so might as well get shitfaced. Maybe then God will finally notice me. After all, Nitai is the savior of the most fallen, so might as well be as fallen as I can be. Such people will continue to go to the temple/center and pretend it is purifying them etc. In fact, we are even told such nonsense in the cult that when we are sincerely chanting "many impurities rise to the top of our consciousness". As a general rule this is why sometimes these practices are really not the best way to deal with mental health issues. They create a sort of vortex of spiraling emotional states that are hard to contain and often lead to depression and self-loathing. and in extreme situations suicide or severe mental breaks/psychosis etc. Ex devotees or those in between cults can often find themselves in a very lonely and isolated space as there are not many people who can relate to what they went through and experienced. Krishna consciousness can be a very complex web of rituals, rules, philosophical concepts, traditions, cultural nuances etc—this can literally scramble your brain over time and make it difficult to relate to anything and anyone outside the structure of the cult dynamic. Floundering bhaktas will keep wearing neck beads, keeping sikhas or occasionally chanting a round in desperation. and it's near impossible to explain to a therapist the details of your situation let alone anyone outside the cult. To make matters worse, the cult, from an institutional standpoint, has no mechanisms/process, or systems in place to help such devotees. They are essentially "on their own". There is no unbiased party that can hear their plea, doubt, argument or views without risking judgment, ex-communication or cheap-n-fast advice that butters over the crux of the issue, "just keep chanting Prabhu! All will be revealed in due time by gurus grace".
Anyway, it's a tragedy I'm sorry to say the state that most find themselves in, in such groups. And to say that it "works for some" is highly subjective. What exactly is working for them? Some temporary aspects may work for them for some time. Everything that is new is a novelty in the beginning. So the badge of honor in any such cult is defined by the length of time you've been in it. No one wants to admit that wasted their time for 20, 30, 40 years. In the beginning, Prabhupada was everything to his followers. But when he passed it became quickly apparent that they really just sort of built their life around this personality/persona with little in the way of any personal growth/advancement. To perpetuate the illusion/sentiment, they made plastic statues of the founder and put them in every temple. Old-time disciples, endlessly recount the grand stories of the past that have since taken on almost mythical tones. Not much unlike the old man at the bar who is reminiscing about the good-old-days. But of course, they paint such recollections as "transcendental" because it recounts the pastimes of their perfect teacher. But what kind of life is this? The devotee sitting on FB recounting the good-ol-days of early ISKCON or Butlers group is trying to appeal to the new generation by posting on Facebook or Instagram and everyone blindly shouts "jai jai" and moves on to the next post. Is this a substantial spiritual life? Is this even remotely what the sages of the past were trying to discuss and convey? Emoji namastes and rabid haribols?
These are the things I ponder when I look at it all and it gladdens me I no longer have to worry about it. Well, besides trying to convey it to all of you and ask, "is it not so?"