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Hare Krishna
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 05, 2005 07:42PM

lets not get too hard on each other.


Shall we not get back to the issue at hand, your less than spirited defense of gurus and all the ignoble platitudes that they have been hurling upon mankind for centuries?

Dervish has given a spirited support to the board, contributed lots of helpful information, and wants people to have necessary information for informed decisions and that leader who has committed spiritual malpractice be called to account for harm done.

There's lots of room for debate whether authentic gurus exist or not & whether the guru-disciple model remains valid or not.

This is a situation where many of us have experienced horrendous betrayal or stood by helplessly as someone we love had their trust betrayed. We come to terms with this ordeal in different ways.

The main thing is you're both concerned that justice be done and do not approve of deceit and spiritual exploitation. You've got that in common.

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Hare Krishna
Posted by: supermonkey ()
Date: January 05, 2005 11:19PM

eric is right about the myths and the brainrot. ALL gurus are bad as they are ALL selling myth and deceiving innocent people they are anti thinking a and ALL CULTS ARE BAD there is NO middle ground and if you say that they are ok this is not the truth as they hurt innocent people. I thought that haris were ok people and once I read more about them it made sense that they were up there with the moonies and eckankar as being against rational thinking. Lets not pretend that god and religion are ok as they are really darkness and lead to cultic irational mindsets,

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Hare Krishna
Posted by: Eric Blair ()
Date: January 06, 2005 12:42AM

I appreciate the effort on the part of Dervish and agree with him/her on many issues, in fact I would go further to state that we probably have more in common than we have differences.

That said, discussion boards are by design intended to foster debate and often times this debate can have rough edges, but is not sent forth with any malice or ill-will towards partys involved.

In life we make progress by conflict and in mental life by arguement and often times passionate disputation and if you care about what you are saying you had better be prepared with points of arguement.

Dervish is making points and I am making points that I think are important. We haven't descended to the point of ad-hominem attacks or senseless vitrolic and I for one vow not to take it there.

Still, if someone wants to make a contention that is unsupported by empirical truth or is rationally unsound, I think it only right that they be challenged.

I know the damage wrought upon people through cults. One I was involved with murdered at least two people, used their own children as human shields, and has threatened my life for speaking out against them.

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Hare Krishna
Posted by: Dervish ()
Date: January 06, 2005 04:47AM

I apologize if I gave anyone the wrong idea, I'm all for awareness of these bad organizations and the crazy gurus who control them. I'm very sorry to read about EB's experiences; I too briefly experienced an eastern organization where there was a moneyminded guru who wasn't devoted to pure spirituality. It took me a few months to see it, and even though it wasn't so much time compared to the stories of others here (and no money invested, thankfully), I still give myself a hard time for falling for it even for a relatively short amount of time.

I wasn't trying to support an unhealthy ideology, but I thought perhaps there may be teachers out there who don't demand the moon, or the unhealthy for that matter. Perhaps God hates the guru system, maybe he likes Christians best, or maybe we'll all get surprised and find out Zoroastrians were the closest. I'm not going to even allude what systems are right and wrong, because like Corboy said, these debates can get involved, and I'm too young to know for sure, and I don't want to detract from the true problem at hand; destructive cults. I'll stick to speaking about groups that I know about.

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Hare Krishna
Posted by: Eric Blair ()
Date: January 06, 2005 10:59AM

For the record, it was not an Eastern religious sect that I was involved with (although for a very short time I was involved with the Hari Krishnas) rather it was a group known as MOVE which is based in Philadelphia and is known primarily by the fact that the police bombed the groups HQ back in 1985.

I agree with Supermonkey's overall analysis of religion, but also believe like Freud, that so long as there is darkness and fear that there will always be those who look to the heavens for serenity.

I don't look at people like Dervish, who would disagree with me on these matters as an enemy, rather I see them as fellow travellers who are simply trying to make sense out of what is often incomprehensible.

I offer my disputation as a kind of warning to people not to be fooled into believing that there are cults, or gurus, or spirit-guides or whatever out there that are without an oppressive mentality.

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Hare Krishna
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 06, 2005 08:10PM

a friend has list on her refrigerator of various signs that one is making progress. My favorite is:

'You lose interest in the games of domination and submission on offer in various theatres of cruelty.'

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Hare Krishna
Posted by: zeroland ()
Date: February 18, 2005 01:46AM

Greetings to all on this forum. As you can see, I'm new (this being my first post). First of all, I'd like to thank Rick Ross for providing this forum, and for all of the work and effort that he has put into making this space available to us. I've been "lurking" for the past week or so, reading and learning a lot. I'd like to contibute to this particular thread, because of my long-standing association with ISKCON. I see that the originator of the thread seems to have moved on. Still, I'd like to add my .02 cents worth.

I have been hanging around on the edges of ISKCON for many years. I never took initiation. I guess you could say that I'm a "fringie" (someone who is considered to be friendly to the movement, but doesn't "go all the way", so to speak). I am aware of the many controversies and abuses that have taken place in ISKCON over the years. My experinces with ISKCON have to do mainly with the local temple here in town. I'm not an expert by any strech.

There have been many, many horrible things that have taken place by ISKCON devotees over the years. None of these can be excused, no matter what the rationale. That being said, none of those abuses reflect the spirit or teachings of Caintanya. He was the founder of the chanting movement, which started in Bengal around 500 years ago. One thing to keep in mind is that ISKCON is a man-made organization, with all of the short-comings of any human endeavor. ISKCON is seperate from the spirtual teachings that it espouses, just as all of the churches and doctrines that have existed since the time of Jesus are not Jesus Himself, or His teachings. Some people may see that as an inconsistancy, but it's the same with all the major religions of the world. I can only offer my deepest-felt condolances to all of the many people that were abused, decieved or taken advantage of by unscrupulous "leaders".

One of the things that has always been problematic for me is the fact that ISKCON is based on an actual, authentic spiritual traditon, but at the same time, it is definetly a cult, by almost any common definition of the word. I don't want to tell everything about myself in my first post. And I do want of keep a cerain degree of anominity (sp?) . I will say that in the earliest days of ISKCON, things were fairly simple and straight-forward. Of course, the 60's were a different time; the world was maybe a more innocent place? But things changed quickly. A quick example-The Summer of Love in 1967 (peace, love, dove-flower power) gives way to someone being murdered at the rock concert at Altamount in 1969. By 1970, Prabhupada (the founder of ISKCON) wrote in a letter to one of his disciples that there was (this is my paraphrasing, not an actual quote) "an evil presence" in the movment itself. So the founder himself was aware that things were not as they should be, as early as 1970 (only 3 years after he started the organization).

And after that, things got progressively worse. The power struggles and abuses went un-checked, and megolamaniacal "leaders" displayed just how corrupting absolute power can be. There is a huge body on data available on the net to back this up; there's no need for me to repeat it all. I do think that all the scandals, lawsuits and (deserved) negative press coverage helped to expose what was happeining, and to bring the light of day to what was a festering cesspool of human abuse and tragedy. ISKCON has attempted to deal with some of these issues, but it has not done enough, or "come clean" enough. And it's true that some of the perpetrators are still in the organization. They continue to cling to their power, and basically to live in a fantasy-world.

However, I do think that ISKCON has learned some lessons. In my experience, they now realize that you can't "trick" someone into joining. You can't hold someone against their will, or move them around from temple to temple to keep someone from being in contact with family or friends. I'm sure that they still "target" young people that are in transition... But I don't think that they are anywhere near as strident or militant about it as they were in the 70's.

I guess that's all for now for a first post. I'd be happy/interested in talking with any current or former ISKCON members about their experiences, as well as anyone who might feel like learning more or sharing their experiences. Especially if it will help someone to either get their head straightened out, or help them with their recovery, if that is whats needed. Also, one last thought---I really highly recommend the article that Rick has here on his site -- The reprinted chapter from R. J. Liftons book. It is very insightful and would for anyone to read, not just people that have experience with cults.

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Hare Krishna
Posted by: ataloss ()
Date: February 18, 2005 06:45AM

I have had my dealings with ISCKON, too, quite recently, actually. I can respectively assure you that they are still deliberately lying to people in order to get them to join.
My old guru from the Hillsborough, NC temple was known for his lecture about getting people to join "by hook or by crook." This argument was not from his own brilliant mind, either. It was one of his favorite's from Prabhupad, himself.
I think that often people who get burned by cults want to defend it's founders. The arguments that I constantly keep hearing are how after the founder died, rouges took it over and corrupted it.
I was both in ISKCON and a group called MOVE based out of Philadelphia (a political cult). I noticed that the same arguments surrounding people who stood in support on the periphory of the groups always said that the leader was different. That they were profound people, peaceful and wonderful.
The truth is that there are more genuinely good people who may lie about their weight or cheat on their taxes (being their worst offenses) then there are rapist, murderers, and mobsters. So the argument that somehow the congregation is at fault, not the person who taught the congregation, to me, is a very dangerous argument that leaves people to believe that those like Prabhupad and John Africa were saints.
The truth is that Prabhupad taught a belief structure that says that his way is the only way to be good. Everyone one else is bad. No grey areas existed for him.
John Africa said that the world (or system) was evil and vile and that only those in MOVE were righteous.
The result is that people feel as though they have no options. They become trapped. They are preyed upon and manipulated. Prabhupad and John Africa both knew that they were isolating their little groups from the rest of the world except to get more members.
This creates a climate of desperation. Members of groups like this feel as though they can't breathe without the group, that there is no hope of anything good if they ever leave. It is cruel to make someone believe such a thing. It literally destroys someone from the inside out.
Both of these cult leaders commanded their ideas over their congregations and demanded absolute loyalty. These leaders are what creates the atmosphere for cults. They brought these sects into existence. They are not without guilt.
I just hope that you understand this. Many of Prabhupad's followers were acting under orders directly from him. In a court of law, if someone were sent out to murder someone else by orders, the person who gave the orders would be just as guilty as the one who pulled the trigger (metaphorically speaking).

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Hare Krishna
Posted by: zeroland ()
Date: February 19, 2005 01:54AM


You make some good points. I will say that at least in the case of ISKCON, not every temple in every location is the exact same. I did preface my remarks my saying that my main experiences are limited to the local temple that I am familiar with. I certainly don’t want to give the impression that my limited experience allows me to make blanket statements concerning either ISKCON or all cult-like groups in general.

If I’m not mistaken, isn’t the place in North Carolina some kind of attempt at a pseudo-rural setup? The reason I ask is that there is a different sort of dynamic at work here. In my city, things have sort of shifted to an Indian social-club, if you will. There are still a few western devotees, and they still go out and try to sell books everyday. But there is practically nothing going on in the way of recruiting new members, as in the past. There is an Indian temple president, and he has brought in some Indian devotees. The main focus seems to be having “home programs” in the houses of the (mostly) Indian community. The Sunday feast is now predominately attended by first-generation Indians. I do get the impression that most of them don’t know much if anything at all about all the different fiascos that have gone on in the past.

“The truth is that there are more genuinely good people who may lie about their weight or cheat on their taxes (being their worst offenses) then there are rapist, murderers, and mobsters. So the argument that somehow the congregation is at fault, not the person who taught the congregation, to me, is a very dangerous argument that leaves people to believe that those like Prabhupad and John Africa were saints.”

—Sorry, but I don’t understand the analogy that you are using here. In the case of ISKCON, members of the congregation became the leaders that committed or allowed the abuses to take place. I personally don’t know of any instances of Prabhupada committing any of the atrocities. In fact, a lot of (but not all) the atrocities occurred after he died. Also, there are different conflicting statements that Prabhupada made in regards to his way being the only way. Early on, he would say things to the effect that “If you are a Christian, continue doing that, but actually follow what Jesus taught.” Or “Keep your current position, but add Krishna Consciousness”. In other places, he says things to the effect that “all the worlds’ major religions are true, but that Krishna Consciousness offers the most information about the spiritual world”. Forgive me if you think that I’m splitting hairs.

I would make the case that Prabhupada introduced elements of a completely foreign culture, without much in the way of a context to put it in. While the spiritual teachings of the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition may be valid, single-handedly transplanting them to the west was a lot more problematic than even he probably anticipated. The single biggest issue that comes to mind is that basically none of his disciples were qualified to so much as carry his water, what to speak of put themselves in any kind of position of authority.

I agree that charismatic leaders are certainly symptomatic of the cultic mentality. And as such, they have a large portion of responsibility (or culpability, if you like) for the atmosphere created. But is the Pope responsible if some Catholic commits a crime somewhere in the world?

“I just hope that you understand this. Many of Prabhupad's followers were acting under orders directly from him. In a court of law, if someone were sent out to murder someone else by orders, the person who gave the orders would be just as guilty as the one who pulled the trigger (metaphorically speaking).”

And I hope you understand that much of what went on with all of the scandals in ISKCON was the result of people that were not acting under direct orders from Prabhupada. Do you actually believe that Prabhupada ordered people to commit murder, child abuse, run drug and prostitution rings, break up peoples marriages, etc? I for one don’t. But if you do, that is your prerogative.

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Hare Krishna
Posted by: yoursister ()
Date: June 24, 2005 03:15AM

Anyone here know where one Siddaswarupananda aka Jagad Gura aka Chris Butler fits into the scheme of things vis a vis power plays, ISKON politics, history, the complex positioning and power games evident among guru deviants? What was his reputation within ISKON and so on....
Is there any info regarding his large and exclusive following and where the excessive secrecy comes from? Why their obsessive ideas about his supremacy, germ-phobias and arrogant stance?

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