on leaving ISKCON
Posted by: ex-krishna ()
Date: January 04, 2004 03:25AM

I joined the Hare Krishnas in 1989. I was 18 years old. I left in 1995. So I was in for 6 years and I've been out for almost 8 years.
I was a dogmatic, hard-core devotee - very strict - for a long time.
I'm really writing in to this forum to share my experience of leaving that movement.
If you are still in ISKCON or if you have recently left it, I hope this will help you.
ISKCON says / Prabhupada said that if you leave, you will go back to the life you were living before you joined. For many of us, we were in a bad way just before joining and so that scares us and helps stop us from leaving.
I did go back to what I was doing before I left. Drugs, sex, partying - in my case "raving" because they didn't have that when I was 18 and because I liked the mass worship of music - it was reminiscent of my experiences in big kirtanas (singing and dancing) with the Krishnas. Then I crashed, just like I did when I was a hippie before joining ISKCON.
This time, however, I picked myself up.
That is very important to understand so I will say it again: I picked myself up.
I had issues to resolve. Issues I tried to forget about in ISKCON. I thought/was told that spiritual life would take me to the root of my problems and by pulling out the root of the "weeds" remove them. It did not.
It took me years to find a balance after leaving the Krishnas. I have it now. I am in school (finally) and working towards a degree and a career. You do not have to be resigned to living on the periphery of society, to poverty because of your former involvement in the Krishnas or any other group.
Don't stay in the movement out of fear of who you were. You were never all bad. Leaving will force you to see yourself again. To deal with yourself again. You can do it.
Good luck.

on leaving ISKCON
Posted by: Dervish ()
Date: January 04, 2004 11:24PM

Although I NEVER joined ISKCON, nor did I ever have any such intention (Thank God!), I did attend several of their programs in various temples (I probably could count the occassions on one hand). I also read various texts about the history of ISKCON (read "Betrayal of the Soul" by Nori Muster if you haven't already. It should help you). It appears you joined them on the tail end of their 1980's trail of fanaticism and crazy gurus (Not that there is no longer fanaticism or crazy gurus, but it seems toned down in comparison, still a cult that you don't want to join).

One thing I noticed about them today is that their temples now mainly have people from South America and Eastern Europe/Russia -- some from India too. Mostly people that would do anything to live in the US. One temple even seemed to have these wayward souls who just wanted free food. It was a real dent into their credibility.

One thing I noticed about the women is, they seem to be fighting this battle between fanaticism, and "letting loose". One time I was told to "stop staring" at this devotee woman (which I wasn't, maybe took one glance or two), and then I see her flirting with these strange guys, going off in the car with them.

Apparently you can't get to know people of the opposite sex, it's either be a monk, or get married quickly, which leads me to ask, what is the purpose of having a spouse? Is your spouse supposed to be the receptacle for your lusts? Isn't there much much more to a serious relationship? This is the main reason why ISKCON divorce rates are so incredibly high.

Also, their policy of bowing to and worshipping their gurus is extreme. The vast majority of them are on ego power trips. They can't seem to admit that they are out of spiritual inspiration, so all they have is a heirarchy where the rank and file bow to the so-called "Gurus" and perform mechanical ceremonies without feeling. ISKCON will probably never change for the better, and will always remain ignorant, which is very sad.

Two questions, ex-Krishna:

1) Do you still believe in Krishna?

2) Are you still friends with any of the devotees you used to know? It seems once you're not on institutional common ground, then they have nothing more to say to you. Again, very sad.

on leaving ISKCON
Posted by: ex-krishna ()
Date: January 05, 2004 03:36AM

No, I am not friends with any of the devotees anymore but some of them were very good friends to me for the six years I was in the movement and I recently met up with one of them again and it brought tears to both of our eyes to see one another again. I have an open invitation to visit her (we live in different cities) but I haven't yet. I am shocked that I am the only one of the devotees I knew to have left. I wouldn't try to talk her or anyone else out of being a devotee although I openly state my opinions on the society and the philosophy but what I would like to encourage her and other devotees to do is to get an education and a better job. She works as a waitress - many devotees end up in crappy jobs like that or collect money from people in the street in the name of invented charities to support themselves (something we were still trained to do in the early nineties for ISKCON which many devotees continue(d) to do for their own maitenance when they moved out of the temple because it's easy and it's what they know how to do).
So much to say.
No I do not believe in Krishna. I think it's all a metaphor and not a divine one at that. Nonetheless I do think that the Vedic philosophy is poetic and in that sense art and also philosophic and in that sense, reason and that it stands up to the best Western philosophies and metaphors and goes way beyond many of them as a way of trying to understand the world and the human heart and mind. But I wouldn't worship it anymore than I'd worship Shakespeare. I do not believe in absolute truth or divine scripture. I loathe societies built up on absolute systems of philosophy - I hate to see veiled women - and I can't help but laugh at the high heels on the other ends of their bodies - what total hypocrasy. I hate to hear about women not allowed to go to school or to work and I hate to hear anybody parrot scripture to try to back up backward ways of living which are really control systems designed to keep men in power and keep women down. ISKCON is such a society. I am very passionate about this belief because I have lived through an abusive relationship supported by ISKCON. My guru knew my husband was abusive. He knew I was suicidal. He denied me permission to try to change my life. Two authority figures in ISKCON - one a male guru (not my own) and one a female senior devotee (women can't be gurus but otherwise she would be one) helped me by acknowledging the injustice of my situation. But it was only when someone fell in love with me (in a platonic relationship) that I realized I had self-worth and was loveable. I never saw that person who fell in love with me again. But I knew - I felt - that he loved me for all the beautiful qualities I possess which my husband hated because they marked my individuality and my power. The expression of my individuality and love were things I feared - they are risky - and that fear had everything to do with why I was in ISKCON (from such a young age and for so long). But being loved again - feeling that - gave me the strength to leave. It gave me hope and courage. I could love myself again.
One of the reasons I've been drawn to this forum is because there is nothing on the internet about exdevotees like myself. It's all about the big big scandals of decades past - not about the reality of people more recently involved in the movement.
One thing I'd like to add - devotees avoid recently "blooped" devotees or those who have just left because newly blooped devotees can be ragingly angry about their ISKCON experiences and not much fun for believers to hang out with. All forms of fanaticism mellow with age however and it becomes more possible to have some kind of relationship over time. Except both parties continue to have a repugnance for the beliefs and lifestyle of the other so it's very hard to be friends truly even if you love the person still in your heart and cherish the friendship you had which transcended the dogma.

on leaving ISKCON
Posted by: ex-krishna ()
Date: January 06, 2004 08:14AM

Hello again,
I went overboard there: I do not hate veils. I hate them on me... not on other women. A woman can find a balance between a headscarf and high heels - why not? Her traditions are represented by the scarf, her sexuality by the shoes -- it may look hypocritical if the scarf is all about neutralizing her sexuality but who's to say that she wears a headscarf for that purpose and whose business is it anyway? Not mine. So I apologize for my earlier comment.
My face is red, not my neck.

on leaving ISKCON
Posted by: Pandu das ()
Date: February 27, 2004 07:32AM

I'm currently in ISKCON, and I love it. My history is a little different from the usual, so that might have something to do with it.

Going back 10 years... I was in college, studying environmental science officially, but more dedicated to studying and practicing yoga. When I graduated I moved from Buffalo, NY, to Olympia, WA, to get away from my busy social life for better focus on my yoga practice. My first day in Olympia (Friday), I went out to see what was there. I bought a Bhagavad-gita As It Is, a painting of Krishna, and learned of a shaman's gathering called "energy circle" that was on Sunday. At that time I knew very little about Krishna, despite having read well over 100 books on yoga.

So Sunday came and I went to energy circle. It was pretty far out. Before I left, the hostess told me, among other things, that a belief going through the psychic community was that soon an earthquake would plop us into the ocean. (I remembered crossing a fault line on my way to Olympia, and they took earthquakes seriously around there.) I had wanted work toward renounced life, but not quite that fast.

I began studying Bhagavad-gita very intensely, trying to understand it along with the brahmavadi philosophy of the Yoga Vasistha that I had been studying for about 2 years. I couldn't comprehend them side by side. Bhagavad-gita says the Absolute Truth is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, and the world is real but temporary as Krishna's inferior energy; Vasistha's Yoga says the world-appearance is entirely false, and the self that remains when the world is no longer seen is the Absolute Truth. Studying these together gave me a headache.

Wednesday I wrote in my meditation journal, "If Krishna is a real, and is who Prabhupada says He is, I need to see Him. I don't think it should be very difficult for Him, and I need to know this." The next day I put down both books, and continued practice of rajayoga under the instruction of The Fundamentals of Yoga, by Rammurti Mishra.

Friday came, and I needed a break. I heard about a film festival in Olympia, and I went there. I watched the movie "Kids," a shocking movie dubbed as "written by kids, about kids." It's all sex, drugs, and violence -- very intense. I went home and opened Bhagavad-gita, and started studying, intensely, all night.

At around 4 a.m., I started to feel a little sleepy, and thought I would read just a little more. I remember looking at Krishna's name and wondering if this was really God's name. I stared at the name Krsna, with the 3 dots below. I felt my mind spiral into the center dot, and a shift. I turned the page, and saw a blank page except for a big 108 there. I looked over at the painting of Krishna, and my heart stopped, as did time itself. Krishna stood there, blowing on His flute. I could see the creation of the world every moment, sprouting up from His breath touching His flute.

He said to me, "You think you're a yogi?" And He laughed. Then He asked, "You want to know what samadhi is?" In a flash I felt millions or billions of lifetimes that I've lived, come and go, as I went into nondistinct existence. A moment later, I was back, looking at Krsna. Then He said, "Prema." I had never heard the word before, but I felt it. It was as though I, the soul, was stretched as a wire, and all the love shared between Krishna and His innumerable devotees was passing through me. In that one moment I knew this was my eternal Lord.

For the next two hours or so, He instructed me in Bhagavad-gita, leading me back and forth from mundane to transcendental, showing me opulences and perspectives that I doubt I'll ever be able to describe. He demonstrated complete mastery over all the material elements, including time, and showed me the door to His realm. He offered me the choice, to go immediately, or to live the remainder of my life, and go then. I chose to wait. My prayer was to walk the balance between the spiritual and the material, so I could know precisely what I was doing when I went on.

Before He left, advised me, "Always chant My names; get some association with My devotees; and if you want your family to also come to Me, name your children after Me." I had asked about how my parents could ever understand this. He had also recommended a certain woman for my wife. The next morning I had forgotten almost the whole thing, except for a faint memory.

The woman He recommended I marry, I had met a few months earlier. I had actually told her before I went to Washington, after I returned from a sweat lodge, that I would marry her, and immediatly forgotten that too. Anyway, I asked her to come to Washington (I wasn't yet conscious that this would become romantic and lead anywhere like that). Almost every day I would have deja-vu feelings, and with each occurrence, I remembered a little bit of that night with Krishna. Now it's been over 8 years. My wife and I are very happily married, with three daughters, Radha, Vrinda, and Visakha. We have a lot of deep friendships with devotees, and we are very happy and comfortable in our religious activities.

I can understand why people think this is a cult. I remember at one point Krishna showed me Lord Caitanya's sankirtan movement, devotees chanting in the street. I thought, "You can never get me to do that!" Well, it's my favorite thing now. Ten years ago I would have thought this is the most nonsense, ridiculous thing, but now I understand. It's not mental at all for me. It's my life, and I love it.

Hare Krishna,
Pandu das

on leaving ISKCON
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: February 27, 2004 08:19AM

Re: Pandu Das

Anyone interested in Krishna, or to be specific the ISKCON organization, should investigate its history.

See [www.culteducation.com]

ISKCON has a horrific history.

Besides the historical information, which is overwhelming, I have received recent complaints that demostrate the organization still has the same serious problems that have persisted for many years regarding accountability for its leaders and continued abuse.

Current leaders in ISKCON, many who reigned through its worst period of abuses, continue to control the organization today.

Members like Pandu Das often ignore this and attempt to apologize for such behavior.

But this pattern of denial and obfuscation can be seen as much like other groups called "cults" such as the Waco Davidians, followers of Jim Jones etc.

Indian Hindus have condemned ISKCON as a "cult."

on leaving ISKCON
Posted by: Cosmophilospher ()
Date: February 27, 2004 08:41AM

What Pandu describes sounds to me like a hallucination, or a delusion, or slipping into Mania, or even just a dream while partially awake, or could be related to a mental illness.
Or of course, he/she could have just made it all up, to use as a "sales-pitch" to get people interested in this sort of thing.

Personal psycho-emotional experiences have little to do with the structure and damaging practices of a cultic organization.
Those anecdotes are totally useless.


on leaving ISKCON
Posted by: Pandu das ()
Date: February 27, 2004 09:18AM

Does anyone know if Rick is a human being or a robot? I have sent him a few e-mails, and he just says the same things over and over. He doesn't seem to consider anything I say, and appears to be just pasting canned comments into his messages. I'm beginning to think he might just be a piece of poorly programmed software or something.

I wasn't there in the 70's, 80's, or early 90's. All I know is what's happened to me and people I know. It's all been good. I wonder if Rick could chill out a little, try to take things in perspective, and stop sounding like a broken record. I'm beginning to think he's the one trying to run a cult. (Maybe you're the one who's "projecting," Rick.)

Hare Krishna
Pandu das

P.s. Rick, I think we're all adults here, and we're all perfectly capable of reading all the bad things posted on your web site about a hundred different groups and religions. Why don't you let the people I was talking with come to their own conclusions about my story. Thanks.

on leaving ISKCON
Posted by: Pandu das ()
Date: February 27, 2004 09:30AM

I think I'm on moderated status, because there seems to be a big delay in my messages going up. One message I posted after this one (which I am now editing from saying that the previous messages weren't being posted) hasn't gone up yet although it is about 9 hours later.

on leaving ISKCON
Posted by: Cosmophilospher ()
Date: February 27, 2004 11:13AM

Pandu is showing his true colors and intentions in posting here.
Pandu, you will find people here with critical thinking skills, and common sense.
They won't be convinced by flim-flam and mystical stories of enlightenment, or blatant lies.

All of that cultic nonsense will blown out of the water in about 5 seconds.

Rick Ross allows lots of criticism on this website.
Name ONE cultish group that allows criticism.

This webboard is the opposite of anything cultish.
Its about critical thinking, and Individuality.


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